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March 11, 2007

Comments

I'm trying to figure out if nabalzbbfr is trying to pull a floyd  alvis  cooper. If so, he's not too shabby.

Otherwise, nabalzbbfr (if that is even your real name), you do realize that Robert Kagan, who wrote the Washington Post Op-Ed is the brother of Frederick Kagan, the primary architect and public advocate of the surge. The other points in the comment are of course equally hilarious.

Brett: My point all along here has been that they didn't collect the data necessary to determine that.

In what way is the data incomplete as to what the Bush administration is doing? I've seen you demonstrate quite capably that "they" -- whoever they are, I've lost track at this point [and that's not snideness directed at you, I really have] -- haven't proven that this is unprecedented, but, as others have noted, that's not at all the same thing.

Wow. That opening question is one of the most awkward I've ever written. If it doesn't make sense, I'll try rephrasing it when I have a functioning brain cell.

Anarch, if we're all on the same page that Brett rightly points out that no one's proved that what the Bush administration is doing is unprecedented, Brett is also asserting that it isn't proven that:

the reason these prosecutors are being sacked

(for refusing to investigate Democratic politicians, or for insisting on investigating Republican politicians)

isn't because the Bush administration is biased against Democratic politicians (not proven, Brett says, without data from earlier administrations)

but because Democratic politicians are just way more corrupt than Republicans, and (without data from earlier administrations)

it's possible that earlier administrations tended to protect Democratic politicians at the expense of Republican politicians

and these firings are just reversing that policy.

I think this is the theory.

we have to establish what Bush is doing

we already know.

More or less, anyway.

I would say that the relevant evidence with regards to whether the current high rate of investigating/charging Democrats is a result of bias, would be the conviction rate. If those excess charges are a result of bias, rather than excess Democratic corruption, then presumably they're bringing a lot of weak cases, which ought to produce a lot of aquittals.

If the aquittal rate for Democrats is substantially higher than for Republicans, I will readily concede that we're in the middle of a partisan witch hunt. If it's the same, or lower, that's evidence that we're not.

I personally find that 7-1 ratio rather hard to swallow, so I won't be much suprised if it turns out to be a witch hunt. But I don't think it has been proven to be such, and I'm rather suprised at the failure of the study to collect obviously relevant data.

Cleek,

"It’s not what you don’t know that’s so dangerous. It’s the things you think you know that just ain’t so."

Mark Twain

"It’s the things you think you know..."

ah, Rumsfeld's famously-unmentioned fourth category of knowledge.

Brett, if half of all people stopped for speeding on the Beltway are black, but all those stopped are guilty, would you think something fishy was going on?

What if you knew that only 15% of drivers on the Beltway are black?

Then what if a couple of cops were fired for not giving enough tickets to black people? I think that would be enough right there.

The only thing missing is whether or not its unprecedented. Even if it isn't, there's still a problem, and it still needs to be fixed.

I would say that the relevant evidence with regards to whether the current high rate of investigating/charging Democrats is a result of bias, would be the conviction rate.

Unfortunately, this wouldn't prove much since it presumably wouldn't include those cases where GOP investigations were dropped or put on the back burner.

Nor are outcomes necessarily germane in this matter. In a close election, an indictment or the threat of one, could be the difference.

"Brett, if half of all people stopped for speeding on the Beltway are black, but all those stopped are guilty, would you think something fishy was going on?"

I'd think it was worth checking to see if something fishy was going on, but I'm not going to assume, a priori, that all groups have identical proclivities to violate traffic laws. Or engage in political corruption...

"Nor are outcomes necessarily germane in this matter. In a close election, an indictment or the threat of one, could be the difference."

LOL! Bush's daddy sure learned that, didn't he? Indictments right before the election, and "Never mind!" right after...

Anyway, I've already stated what evidence would prove to me that this is a political witch hunt. Mind explaining what evidence would convince you guys that it isn't?

The 8 U.S. attorneys he's fired were ones he (like all other U.S. Attorneys) appointed

OK, Gary, I'll grant you that "fired" is technically too harsh a term. My point still remains that Bush would've been better off refraining from renewing the terms of the Clinton holdovers, and appointing new ones. As for the eight who were fired, they are subject to removal by the president, as is any other U.S. Attorney, but if there's evidence that their ongoing investigations were obstructed, then those responsible for should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

It also looks like McNulty was being less than truthful when he said they were fired for performance reasons. It would have been more honest had he said that the administration wanted its own people in the jobs. I agree that the firings were wrong. Whether there was illegality involved, who knows, but what this mess does show is that this is another example of political mishandling by this administration. Rove was politically savvy enough to get Bush elected twice but when he's not on a campaign, he's a major liability. I also agree that the Patriot Act needs to be changed to restore the limit on interim US Attys.

I'll argue your point about ambassadors' being 'unfortunately' appointed by presidents.

I spent 25 years in the foreign service, working with both politically appointed and career ambassadors. Neither was categorically better or worse than the other. Some political ambassadors were jerks, but so too were some career ambassadors. Many career ambassadors reach that level simply by having put in their time and not creating problems. You often find the 'Peter Principle' in action among career ambassadors.

Political ambassadors have a distinct advantage in that they are personally known by the president and consequently have direct access. They can cut through the bureaucratic red tape. That's why the most important ambassadorships--UK, Japan, Germany, etc.--always go to political appointees. Ambassadors are the personal representative of the President. 'Personal' is the operative word.

CB, it's simply impossible to link ordinary change of administration change-overs with this thing. There is no sense at all to your assertion that GWB would have been better off had he released all Clinton era USAs. In what way? Has one of the holdovers done something? It's really so totally unrelated to the current matter -- which is about GWB appointed USAs being pressured to behave in an overtly partisan fashion -- that it seems to me that the continued harping on it is bad faith.

Can you give a coherent explanation for the statement that GWB would have been better off letting holdovers go?

Again I agree with Brett on procedure, although I probably disagree with the default assumptions

Did anyone actually bother to READ the study and look at the data?

It's NOT "8 to 1." It's 4 to 1 overall. And if you bother to check the data for federal & statewide officials (as separated from purely local officials) that portion drops out of the range of statistical signicance entirely, being about what one would expect within margins of error. At the federal/statewide level prosecutions are roughly equal to percentages of party affiliation. What has apparently been "overinvestigated" (at first glance) by party affiliation are local (municipal/county) officials, at 7 to 1 based solely on individuals named in news stories as under investigation, whether or not they were ever indicted.

Now, follow the chain of what Shields and Cragan ignored entirely: US Attorney's offices are found in bigger cities, not in West Bejeebus. Big cities have a MAJOR tendency to be dominated by Democrats. Bigger cities also have many more opportunities for corruption. If officials are equally inclined to corruption regardless of party affiliation, and you investigate local corruption where your office is located, are you going to be investigating more Republicans or more Democrats? Uh huh.

Do we need equal opportunity in municipal corruption investigations? Can't investigate a Democrat unless you also investigate a Republican, even though the "pool" of available "suspects" leans heavily Democratic by simple opportunity and political demographics? What a crock.

Shields and Cragan don't even attempt to adjust for such things or even acknowledge such realities exist, and they openly include investigations begun under the Clinton admin in their database as Bush admin investigations. The Toricelli investigation began in 1996, for Ghu's sake. The Traficant investigation was ongoing throughout the Clinton admin. Shields and Cragan put those on their "Bush admin" list. Same with the Carson and Colton investigations in California, begun under Clinton (nine of the "D" database points) when one of the principals involved walked into the US Atty's office and confessed!

BS methodology at best, egregious cherry-picking and data-stacking at worst. This isn't even close to good social science, for more reasons than just those laid out by Brett.

There is no sense at all to your assertion that GWB would have been better off had he released all Clinton era USAs

It's just my opinion that liberals and the left side of the blogosphere would not have been so incensed if those fired were non-holdovers. It's based on common sense, that Democrats aren't going to pay as much attention to intra-party maneuverings, and that the folks who were fired wouldn't (as a rule) trash the president who gave them the job in the first place. Most Republicans still adhere to the 11th Commandment.

Most Republicans still adhere to the 11th Commandment.

[must resist snark]

It's just my opinion that liberals and the left side of the blogosphere would not have been so incensed if those fired were non-holdovers.

I'm pretty sure none of them were holdovers -- US Attorneys generally serve a four year term. I looked through a couple of articles, and I'm not immediately seeing anything explicitly stating that the fired attorneys were Bush appointees, but given the timeing it doesn't make sense that they're anything but.

We're not incensed because Clinton appointees were removed from office, we're incensed because it appears that US Attorneys were fired for being unwilling to politicize law enforcement.

Charles,

"It's just my opinion that liberals and the left side of the blogosphere would not have been so incensed if those fired were non-holdovers."

Then your opinion is remarkably uneducated. To my knowledge, none of the US attorneys were appointed by Clinton. The Wikipedia articles on the ones generating the most headlines:

David Inglesias

Carol Lam

John McKay

Further, Wikipedia has an article on the entire contraversy. To the extent separate articles were written about each, none were holdovers.

Dantheman, you can also add H. E. Cummins to the list.

I'm not immediately seeing anything explicitly stating that the fired attorneys were Bush appointees

i believe i heard on NPR last week that they were Bush appointees.

Brett Bellmore <3

I hope someone takes his suggestions and looks up the acquittal rates and the behaviors of previous administrations. Before my father retired, he worked in public health service and he would talk about the political interference that started after the 2000 election. I've always wanted to know whether it was a government-wide partisan effort, or just the luck of his department that they had to deal with guys obsessed with being "on message".

Possible Instalanche? Not that anyone will actually care, mind you.

And if they had been Clinton appointees, Charles appears to imply that Hilzoy et al. were maliciously concealing the true source of their outrage -- the commentariat was in fact furious that a few held-over political appointees finally got terminated, and just pretended to be angry about widescale abuse of power and practical disenfranchisement of half the population. After all, Hilzoy, Marshall, Krugman, and all of us librul commentators have so much more of a stake in the former than the latter.

Whodaheywhaa?

Charles, please, put down the KoolAid and step away slowly. You can still be saved.

Tully -- Not sure if you're right. You assume that corrupt municipal/county officials tend to be Democrats because big cities tend to be breeding grounds for corruption and to swing Democratic. But there are also a lot of small cities and rural counties in this country -- are all of them simon-pure? It seems unlikely. Even if I grant your analysis, I would also like to point out, that the lack of statistical proof that the effort to intimidate AUSAs worked does not at all show that the effort was not made. It's nice, if true, that we dodged the bullet; it's also true that we did get shot at.

trilobite,

"Charles appears to imply that Hilzoy et al. were maliciously concealing the true source of their outrage"

Yes, he does. And of course, this cannot be mindreading, in light of Charles's frequently expressed outrage when he thinks others do that to him.

The top three states with an endemic culture of political corruption are: Illinois, New Jersey, and Louisiana. All of which are primarily dominated by Democrats. And most public corruption cases are urban in origin, which means that they are likely to be overwhelmingly Democratic.

You assume that corrupt municipal/county officials tend to be Democrats because big cities tend to be breeding grounds for corruption and to swing Democratic. But there are also a lot of small cities and rural counties in this country -- are all of them simon-pure? It seems unlikely.

Trilobite, read it again. I don't make that assumption at all. Of course smaller municipalities are not exempt, but there's less opportunity for major organized corruption in them in the first place. Smaller cities/towns/counties are oft corrupt as well, but in a more genteel and less-provable Good Ol' Boy way, where Cousin Billy gets more concrete contracts by being related to Councilman Bubba, no cash exchanges involved, just back-scratching social connections. MUCH tougher to prove in court. Especially when the local jury pool is limited.

And they don't tend to have US Atty's offices in West Bejeebus. If as a US Atty you're going to chase municipal corruption, you're going to do it [1] where you are, and [2] where it's most widespread and concentrated and blatant and therefore easiest to find and prove. Both big-metro-bias factors. And big cities are MAJORLY demographically inclined to be under Democratic control.

So just on the logistics of US Atty prosecutions alone one would expect such investigations to disproportionally have Democrats under the microscope in the first place, with no active bias involved at all, simply from the major urban weighting of Democratic-control concentration.

That does not mean elected Democrats are individually more inclined to corruption--you'd have to do a lot of adjusting to even approach that kind of conclusion with such flawed raw data. And it doesn't mean that the investigations aren't politically biased--simply can't tell with junk data like that. But even with a completely nuetral application, the "available suspects" for such investigations are going to incline heavily towards the party with the greatest political representation in major metro areas with US Atty's offices.

Bad study, invalid methodology, not remotely science. Fluff.

Again, I urge all commenters who have not done so to take a look at the Senate testimony of Lam, Iglesias, McKay, and Cummins.

Go to C-SPAN (for the next week, before the video scrolls off) and search videos for 'Carol Lam'.

I especially recommend the passage where Bud Cummins describes reassuring his wife, while explaining to her the kinds of pressures to which the U.S. Attorney job might subject them, that "the Department [of Justice] will insulate me." Also remarkable is the description by each of them of the call that ended their appointments.

Screwing around in the weeds of this study is fine if you're having a good time doing it, but it doesn't affect anything about the big picture of political corruption of the justice system.

To add to what Tully said, it is more likely that smaller fry rural corruption would be targeted by the States Attorney General than the US Attorney anyway. US Attorneys generally go after the big fish, they don't have time for minnows. But when I do a search for recent public corruption cases in my state, which is pretty clean, this is the only one I find:

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2003475831_webbribery13.html

Its is a small city case in the hinterland, and since Washington does not record party registration I can't tell what party the targets of the investigation are. And that is the way it should be.

"OK, Gary, I'll grant you that "fired" is technically too harsh a term."

For who? I'm sorry, I'm not clear what or who this is in reference to.

"My point still remains that Bush would've been better off refraining from renewing the terms of the Clinton holdovers, and appointing new ones."

Which Clinton holdovers? Who are you talking about? And why? I'm sorry, I'm not following your point, Charles, or what you're talking about.

Possible Instalanche? Not that anyone will actually care, mind you.

Well, it's nice to see that Insty's found someone to take over for him who's got a similar lack of care for the actual truth. (I'm referring to the "revolt" in the comments.)

Nell:
"I would welcome information on any U.S. attorneys who have been relieved of their duties for whatever reason, over the course of the last six administrations. Placed in that context, I think the events of 2006 will speak for themselves."

"March 24, 1993, Wednesday
By DAVID JOHNSTON, (Special to The New York Times); National Desk
Late Edition - Final, Section A, Page 1, Column 1, 1053 words
DISPLAYING ABSTRACT - Attorney General Janet Reno today demanded the prompt resignation of all United States Attorneys".
All as in all 93 US attorneys nationwide.

http://select.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F00612F73C540C778EDDAA0894DB494D81

I have access to the NY Times archives, and there are some sentences in the article worth forwarding:

While prosecutors are routinely replaced after a change in Administration, Ms. Reno's order accelerated what had been expected to be a leisurely changeover.

And...

Ms. Reno said United States Attorneys "are absolutely integral to the whole success of the Department of Justice," and her aides said today that she did not intend to immediately remove any whose presence was required to complete an investigation.

One official suggested that even Mr. Stephens [investigating Democrat Rostenkowski] might be asked to stay on until a successor is named, saying Ms. Reno had made no decisions about who she may choose on an interim basis.

Reading along further, US Attorney Jay Stephens did resign, but the prosecution of Rostenkowski continued....

Mr. Stephens, the Republican-appointed prosecutor, whose sudden replacement prompted suspicions in Congress that the Clinton Administration might be squelching the Rostenkowski case, said in an interview today that he believed the investigative phase of the case had been brought to a proper conclusion. He credited the career prosecutors who stayed with the case from the beginning.

INDICTMENT OF A CONGRESSMAN: THE LEGAL CASE; Prosecutor No Stranger To Corruption in Politics
LEWIS,, NEIL A.. New York Times. (Late Edition (East Coast)). New York, N.Y.: Jun 2, 1994. pg. A.20

And yeah, Rostenkowski was later pardoned. Empirical proof of Clintonian suckitude.

True about smaller cases getting stateinvestigation rather than federal, Kazinski. I should have noted that corruption cases also have to rise to the level of federal attention, which cuts out a lot of the little fish--and also tends to concentrate attention on major metros.

Basically, if the corruption doesn't extend upwards into the state or federal government, the feds don't bother unless it's handed to them on a platter or federal money is involved.

Tully,

Fancy meeting you here. (And your style is too unmistakable for you to just be another Tully.) I'd give you my id from the other blog where I know you from, but it would give me away to someone around here who knows me personally whom I like to harass incognito on occasion. I figured this place would be too left of center for you - too far a field. Get it?

@Kazinski: How many times does someone in this thread have to explain that U.S. Attorneys are political appointees, that it is absolutely routine for an incoming administration to replace them, whether en masse or in a leisurely fashion?

My challenge is: Point to any U.S. Attorney forced out by the administration that appointed him or her, in any administration since the end of WWII, that was not a case of malfeasance or inadequate performance. Much less eight or ten.

Although Bush signaled on Friday that he would drop his threat to veto it, Sen. Jon Kyl still apparently intends to try to block the repeal of the language slipped into the Patriot Act conference report that made this purge possible. Surely Republican Senators will not be so stupid as to vote against cloture.

(And before anyone starts in on snark about 'reading bills before they're passed': until the Republican takeover of Congress in 1994, it was absolutely unheard of to make changes to legislation after the conference report was produced. The conference report is the product of the joint House-Senate committee to reconcile differences between House- and Senate-passed versions of bills. In the old days, and now once again with Democratic control, the conference report is the final version of legislation that will be sent to the President for signature. There's no need to look it over every four hours in case some overzealous Republican staffer has inserted a poison pill.)

And if anyone believes that a staffer, however senior, can insert new language into the conference report of an important piece of legislation without his boss's knowledge and permission (much less language that removes the hearing and confirmation powers of the committee his boss chairs), then you need to learn more about how things work on Capitol Hill.

Damnit, once again, the ObWi "The requested URL was not found on this server" response to too many links. It's really frustrating that the better one supports one's argument, the harder ObWi makes it to post.

I'll split the comment.

"It's just my opinion that liberals and the left side of the blogosphere would not have been so incensed if those fired were non-holdovers."

I'm sure it's your opinion. Can you name these "holdovers," please?

Did you bother to, you know, check the facts, or did you just imagine that they must be so?

Because, you know, the entire controversy is about the DOJ firing Republican Bush appointees. That's been reported countless times, in pretty much every one of the innumerable, hundreds, of articles, published daily, for weeks. There have been House and Senate hearings.

Carol Lam:

Carol Chien-Hua Lam (born June 26, 1959), a former U.S. Attorney (interim) for the Southern District of California. Lam was sworn into office on September 4, 2002. On November 12, 2002, Lam was further sworn in as a presidential appointment.

[...]

From 1997 to 2000, Lam was the Chief of the Major Fraud Section at the Southern District of California. For the 11 years before that she was Assistant US Attorney at the same office.

David Iglesias:
(49) was appointed by President George W. Bush as the United States Attorney for the District of New Mexico in August 2001 and confirmed by the US Senate in October 2001.[1]
White House notice.

Part II:


John McKay:

McKay was appointed United States Attorney by President George W. Bush in October 2001.
DOJ bio:
President George W. Bush nominated Mr. McKay to serve as the United States Attorney on September 19, 2001, and the United States Senate confirmed his nomination on October 24, 2001. Mr. McKay began his tenure as United States Attorney for Western Washington on October 30, 2001.
All of them:
The officials repeatedly have cited poor job performance to explain their decisions to oust the eight prosecutors, all them Republicans appointed by President Bush in his first term.
I realize that political discussion is much easier for you when you simply imagine the facts, and then leave it to others to look them up to cite to you, but it's putting a bit of an unfair effort on those of us who actually have the slightest idea as to what we're talking about before we put fingers to keyboard, Charles.

CharleyCarp:
A study 3-4 years ago looked at the disproportionate issuance of tickets. Blacks received about half but were only about 20% of the drivers. (anyone that can find the actual details, please do.) Because of community outrage over profiling, a commission was formed to actually review videotape of traffic to determine what % of actual violations were committed by which ethnic groups. This commission was multi-ethnic and all members has to agree on what a violator's race was or that person was not figured into the results. Bottom line, blacks were actually under-represented in the results. They actually committed a higher % of infractions than their ticketing level would indicate.
Brett's points are right on. Data has no prejudices. It is the prejudices of the observor that lead to false interpretations of the data

hairshirthedonist: "...but it would give me away to someone around here who knows me personally whom I like to harass incognito on occasion."

Charming.

Brett's points are right on.

so Bush & Co are acting perfectly honorably, and there is nothing here to see. good to know. thanks.

I took a look at the study Krugman publicized (alleging partisan prosecutions) and wondered why retired professors of communication are writing about a non-communication subject.

Turns out that one of the co-authors, Donald Shields, is a Democrat Party campaign contributor. See www.opensecrets.org.

Guess that explains the "hit piece", intellectually inadequate nature of the "study".

livermoron: "A study 3-4 years ago"

A cite requires an actual cite, to be credible. You might as well not post a cite that contains no actual cite. A study several years ago indicated that no one has any reason to believe such non-cites.

As always, if people wish to link to something, a reminder that the format is: <A HREF="URL">words</A>

(Posting broken, non-clickable, HTML is also not very useful; here is a reference.)

@Bruce: That's 'Democratic Party' to speakers of English.

Keep swimming in the weeds, fellas. Doesn't change a thing about the big story: corruption of the justice system for partisan benefit.

"Guess that explains the "hit piece", intellectually inadequate nature of the "study".
Indeed. Anyone who has ever made a political contribution certainly has no credibility as regards any study, peer-reviewed or not, or opinion. Useful principle to always keep in mind.

I expect that Tom Maguire's link will bring a number of comments that are equally dispositive.

If you are intellectually so open and curious, find it yourself. I don't need to prove it exists, as I know it does. Whether you believe it or not, the underlying point about data misinterpretation remains valid.
Please now proven that you are really who you say you are. Nevermind. I do not care.

Turns out that one of the co-authors, Donald Shields, is a Democrat Party campaign contributor. See www.opensecrets.org.

$250 to Claire McCaskill. Incredible.

In support of livermoron, here's an article from the WaPost dated July 2004 on the ticketing of drivers in Montgomery County, MD. It notes:

Police say this indicates that officers are not stopping people based solely or largely on race. When officer discretion is removed from the equation, the percentages of African Americans ticketed or stopped are similar to those in situations where officer discretion is applied.

For example, 26 percent of cars ticketed by red-light cameras were owned by African Americans during the most recent reporting period, police said -- the same percentage of African Americans stopped for all traffic violations combined. Fifty-four percent of cars ticketed by red-light cameras were owned by whites, and 11 percent were owned by Asians -- similar to the proportions in the data for all traffic violations.

Brett is right. The data doesn't prove what it claims.

In support of livermoron, here's an article from the WaPost dated July 2004 on the ticketing of drivers in Montgomery County, MD. It notes
First paragraph of article:
Data released recently on traffic stops made by Montgomery County police show that police continue to pull over African American drivers at a higher rate than their proportion of the county's population or registered drivers.
Thanks for the link.
[...] The question raised for many is: To what should the traffic-stop data be compared, if not the proportion of county residents or registered drivers?

The answer, most seem to agree, is to compare the traffic stop ratios with the "driving population" -- the people who travel on Montgomery County roads.

But those numbers can be hard to get. The Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration tracks the race of registered drivers, but that offers no clue as to where those drivers travel.

To figure out the racial makeup of the county's driving population, police have hired a consultant to conduct a study of Montgomery County roads. Capt. Tom Fitzpatrick, who heads the police department's community services division, said the county has hired Lamberth Consulting, a Pennsylvania company that specializes in what it calls "racial profiling assessment."

The company has designed surveys that study intersections across a given jurisdiction, said Chief Executive Officer John Lamberth.

Observers tally the drivers who pass through the intersection at various points of the day over a certain period of time, noting their apparent race or ethnicity, Lamberth said.

Lamberth said the study in Montgomery began last month and will probably be finished by midsummer.

So the cite goes, at present, to a report of an unfinished study. Just noting.

I didn't pick the example of drivers on the Beltway because I wanted to make a point about stops in Montgomery County, and so the fact that the actual data in Montgomery County is different from the premises of my question is completely beside the point. (Which wasn't about stops in Montgomery County anyway).

I assume, and based on experience I think this is a same assumption, that upwards of 90% of drivers on the Beltway speed at some point in their trip. Flow of traffic, outside rush hour, is nearly always north of 60, and often north of 65.

The real point, though, is the one that Brett avoids: would you think there's a problem if you heard that cops were getting fired for failing to let white drivers go without a ticket, or for not getting enough tickets of black drivers? Yes, unless you had some reason to believe that the cop in question was corruptly biasing ticketing in the opposite direction. There is no such allegation here. These USAs were not corrupt, but were fired because they weren't corrupt.

I have no earthly idea why CB doesn't understand my question: why, given that these people aren't Clinton holdovers, is he talking about Clinton holdovers?

Gary,

Did you notice that the "higher rate" mentioned in that first paragraph is 26%, the same as the rate for traffic camera tickets to cars registered to black owners. In other words, unless the traffic cameras are racist, the problem is disproportionate offending.

Also here is a published paper from the Journal of the American Statistical Association on the topic which also finds no bias in the rate of traffic stops.

Just noting...

"I have no earthly idea why CB doesn't understand my question: why, given that these people aren't Clinton holdovers, is he talking about Clinton holdovers?"

Apparently he thinks they are, because why else would liberals be complaining?

Charles, please do correct any error in this reading.

"Also here is a published paper from the Journal of the American Statistical Association on the topic which also finds no bias in the rate of traffic stops."

Thanks; to be clear, if anyone hasn't noticed, I've not, myself, been debating the content of any study; I've simply been pointing out that if one does wish to debate a study, it's necessary to cite it, rather than to say some variant of "well, I once read something that proves my point, so therefore my point is proven correct."

I actually have no interest in, at this time, and no comments about, traffic stats, or what percentages of smalltown corruption is Democratic, or whatever the actual topic is that studies have been non-cited as regards to in this thread, myself, but y'all carry on, and thanks to "John" for an actual cite.

"so Bush & Co are acting perfectly honorably, and there is nothing here to see. good to know. thanks."

Are you actually as incapable as you appear, of distinguishing between, "Nothing here to see." and "Why didn't they bother to prove their case?" I've come right out and said that I didn't find the ratio plausible, (Though the explaination that it was present in local corruption cases, not federal, changes that. There's no good reason to expect a witch hunt to be limited to local offices.) and pointed out what sort of evidence they should have presented, if indeed they do want to make the case.

If it is perfectly OK for an incoming adminstration to fire US attorneys when they take office, so they can get their own team in, why isn't it just as accecptable to occaisionally prune their team to make sure that the reasons they appointed the US attorney's in the first place are still operative? I think for the most part the replacements are to give up and coming Republican prosecutors experience and a significant accomplishment on their resume for the future. Here is one example of a very young very qualified candidate getting an appointment to US Attorney in Minnesota. And if you can think of any reason she shouldn't have gotten the job there is something wrong with you.

http://powerlineblog.com/archives/016994.php

Young, Smart, Good Looking, Civic minded, Minority, Conservative, Republican, Refugee from Communisim. She has got it going on.

If you can't see what's going on, Kazinski, it's because you won't. You're not exactly covering the conservative Republican side of this discussion in glory.

Turns out that one of the co-authors, Donald Shields, is a Democrat Party campaign contributor. See www.opensecrets.org.

Guess that explains the "hit piece", intellectually inadequate nature of the "study".

Actually, no, but I leave the reasoning why as an excercise for the student (which you're pretty obviously are....)

why isn't it just as accecptable to occaisionally prune their team to make sure that the reasons they appointed the US attorney's in the first place are still operative?

Depends on the reasons, I would say.

if you can think of any reason she shouldn't have gotten the job there is something wrong with you.

Nothing wrong with me, but I don't think 33-year olds ought to be US Attorneys. As OCSteve points out, these people have the power to make someone's life absolute hell. Before we grant someone that power I'd like to be sure that she has enough experience and judgment to use it wisely, which I'm dubious someone maybe eight years out of law school has. I'd also like to be sure she's not consumed with political ambition. I have no reason to think this nominee is, but young on-the-make lawyers as US Attorneys make me nervous. And that holds for Democrats as well.

Did you notice that the "higher rate" mentioned in that first paragraph is 26%, the same as the rate for traffic camera tickets to cars registered to black owners. In other words, unless the traffic cameras are racist, the problem is disproportionate offending.

Please note that this depends also on where traffic cameras are -- and are not -- located.

White Americans favor driving 10 mph below the speed limit, thus resulting in a higher stoppage/ticketing rate for African-Americans.

Are you actually as incapable as you appear, of distinguishing between, "Nothing here to see." and "Why didn't they bother to prove their case?"

if you look closely, you'll see that i'm not the one shouting that there's nothing to see here. i'm the one asking a very simple question (third time now): regardless of what Clinton did, what the ratio of traffic arrests is, regardless of what the ratio of prosecutions is, yadayadayada, is what Bush did right, or not?

and, you're the one who's not answering it.

go ahead, give it a shot. it's a Yes or No question.

Just in case anyone is wondering, I thought I had heard that all the US Attorneys in question were Bush appointees. Since I didn't think that mattered, I didn't bother to check it out. So no, my outrage has nothing to do with my having operated under the erroneous assumption that they were Clinton holdovers.

Also: I have no problem with people occasionally firing political appointees for performance-related reasons. If that were what was going on here, I wouldn't have any objection to that either.

Please note that this depends also on where traffic cameras are -- and are not -- located.

Good point, Phil.

BTW, congratulations on the new house.

I don't even have any objection to them being fired for sheerly political reasons. They know when appointed that they serve at the pleasure of the appointer. Now, saying you were firing them for performance reasons (and thus somewhat tarring their reputations in some circles--while raising it in others) when it was really for political reasons would be obnoxious--but not even vaguely criminal.

The firings may or may not have been strictly political. The hearings by Congress are most assuredly completely political.

It's neither here nor there who Shields donates to. Bad science remains bad science. That study proves nothing, and proves that badly. Laughable that we pay academics for producing such.

(Hey hairshirt--there be some bright people 'round here. I have to agree with all of them to enjoy reading what they say? Heh.)

I don't even have any objection to them being fired for sheerly political reasons. They know when appointed that they serve at the pleasure of the appointer.

I do.

Ambitious prosecutors are bad enough. Those whose ambition is tied to pleasing a particular political faction are a serious danger.

"As OCSteve points out, these people have the power to make someone's life absolute hell."

Actually, they have part of the power to end someone's life, as it's they who tend to decide whether or not to ask for the death penalty in federal cases (although Washington also has some say, most particularly in the G. W. Bush Administration).

"Nothing wrong with me, but I don't think 33-year olds ought to be US Attorneys."

I wouldn't agree that this means there should be a blanket ban on 33-year-olds, those immature kids, ever serving as a U.S. Attorney, though.

Thanks to all for finding the citation. I spent my time on other things. Gary doesn't seem to understand the difference between a citation and an allusion: I purposely did not cite the study as the study itself is not important per se. What was important was the point about drawing conclusions from incomplete data... precisely the point made by Brett and which so many on this thread seem unable to comprehend. I could present other examples but you need to educate yourselves and develop your own powers of critical thinking. A good place to start would be by asking yourself "what info do I not have?"

CharleyCrab or whatever his name is doesn't see that he undermines his own argument. His initial use of this example (note Gary, he provided no links either, but I am capable of understanding his point) only reinforces my contention as he jumps to conclusions with incomplete and non-contextual data.

Lefties upset the Pres. removed his own appointees? Why, next thing you'll see is the Left taking offense at a joke that makes fun of Pres. Bush!

PS: Bernard - so you were up in arms when Clinton et al fired all those US attorneys en masse?

"I could present other examples but you need to educate yourselves and develop your own powers of critical thinking."

Thank you for that helpful tip.

"CharleyCrab or whatever his name is"

It's actually written down, for your aid in reading it.

Yes, please be condescending. That really supports your argument.
Brett's points, as well as mine were written down too, but you failed to understand them.
Smugness is a nice retreat when you have nothing cogent to offer.

Wait for it...here comes his 'I know you are but what am I response'

"Yes, please be condescending. That really supports your argument."

Exactly.

"I could present other examples but you need to educate yourselves and develop your own powers of critical thinking."

Possibly you didn't notice how condescending you were there, and perhaps you didn't understand that noting this out was my point: that's an excellent way to get people to think you may not be interested in productive conversation; it's certainly not a way to induce people into productive conversation, and neither is it an example of how to converse productively or pleasantly.

HTH. HAND.

And boom! there it is. Note, he still fails to address the issue.

Where has been your "productive" conversation? What I see are strawmen and an inability to recognize and argue an obvious point, irrespective of the rightness or wrongness of that point. In other words, you cannot productively converse because you don't address the underlying basis of the argument.

and your mother wears army boots.

Um, sir, It wouldn't have been the first time that a person has misremembered or misread a study. And since you did bring it up first, I do think the onus is on you to get an accurate cite.

I think this reflect more on you than it does on Gary.

His initial use of this example (note Gary, he provided no links either, but I am capable of understanding his point) only reinforces my contention as he jumps to conclusions with incomplete and non-contextual data.

OK, once more, and real slow so even people not used to adult conversation can get it: as is absolutely and perfectly clear from the context, my hypothetical about the ticketing on the Beltway was not intended to reflect any actual facts of who gets stopped on the Beltway, but merely as an example from which to illustrate the principle. I could as well have said "the Looking Glass Highway" but didn't because many people haven't heard of it (which is their loss).

I'm not saying that the study referenced in the post proves the point for which it is offered. I don't need the study, or to know whether what the Administration is doing is absolutely unprecedented, to know that firing prosecutors because they are not behaving in a corrupt way is itself corrupt. If someone can point to an example of Bill Clinton, or Harry Truman, or Grover Cleveland firing a prosecutor for corrupt purposes, it doesn't change anything at all about what this Administration is doing.

Now, saying you were firing them for performance reasons (and thus somewhat tarring their reputations in some circles--while raising it in others) when it was really for political reasons would be obnoxious--but not even vaguely criminal.

Let me get this straight: a USA getting fired because the person who appointed them didn't want their party investigated is, to you, "not even vaguely criminal"? That seems... wrong. Really, really wrong. Lock-you-in-federal-prison-for-aiding-and-abetting kind of wrong.

livermoron: being snide to CharleyCarp is not a way to win friends here.

hilzoy -- you're obviously still reading. You obviously know that Tully and Brett's points above are right on target (e.g., it's bullshit to put out a study claiming that the Bush administration is the "first" to do something when the study didn't even look at anything pre-Bush; the study counts Democratic investigations that began under Clinton; the study doesn't control for the fact that Democratic local officials control most of the major cities in which corruption might arise). Do you seriously disagree with any of these points? If not, oughtn't you issue a correction?

John Doe: do I say that the study shows anything about being "first"? No. Does Krugman? Does the study? No.

What I do think is that this administration seems plainly to have fired a bunch of USAttorneys for political reasons, often because they were not prosecuting Democrats aggressively enough. Krugman asks: shouldn't we be wondering about the USAttorneys who didn't get fired? What are the odds that only the ones who got fired were pressured, and all of them resisted? Wouldn't it be a lot more serious if some were pressured and yielded?

The study is supporting evidence for Krugman's argument, not its point. Moreover, I don't think it's wrong at all. It would be different if the claim that Bush were first was in any way its point, but it is not.

Also: profanity violates the posting rules.

John Doe gets the issue. And writes on point.
Gwangung: I wasn't trying to prove that blacks are worse drivers or whatever. Nor was I trying to prove CharleyC wrong about the particulars of his example, I simply illustrated that a point he was making was incorrect because he commits the same error as the original posting: A lack of benchmark data (in his example, the percentage of drivers of a given racial class who actually break traffic laws). Charley was fine with pulling an arbitrary example to communicate a concept. I understood that the content of the study was irrelevant and worked purely as a hypothetical construct. I alluded to a non-hypothetical study that came up with a different conclusion based on more data and used it to illustrate a logical weakness in Charley's post, i.e. that higher traffic tix cited to drivers of a given racial class is prima facia evidence of racial profiling.

I could have used other examples, real or hypothetical to disprove Charley's reasoning, I just responded in the scenario he raised and refuted it.

With so many obtuse comments (not yours Charley...your position was on point) I see one needs to be more remedial in one's argumentation.
I see I am being condescending and snide. I did that just by actually speaking to the issue. How interesting.
I'll try to live with myself.

Gwangung: I wasn't trying to prove that blacks are worse drivers or whatever. Nor was I trying to prove CharleyC wrong about the particulars of his example, I simply illustrated that a point he was making was incorrect because he commits the same error as the original posting: A lack of benchmark data (in his example, the percentage of drivers of a given racial class who actually break traffic laws). Charley was fine with pulling an arbitrary example to communicate a concept. I understood that the content of the study was irrelevant and worked purely as a hypothetical construct. I alluded to a non-hypothetical study that came up with a different conclusion based on more data and used it to illustrate a logical weakness in Charley's post, i.e. that higher traffic tix cited to drivers of a given racial class is prima facia evidence of racial profiling.

I could have used other examples, real or hypothetical to disprove Charley's reasoning, I just responded in the scenario he raised and refuted it.

No, no. You're being condescending and snide by being over pedantic and not relating it to the overall point.

Given that, I don't you quite refuted it (not to mention that i don't quite consider it quite cricket to consider it a refutation when the point itself is built on shifting sand).

"go ahead, give it a shot. it's a Yes or No question."

It's a yes or no question which can't be answered without further data. So, not knowing what Bush did, I'm not going to answer it.

By saying that we don't know what Bush did, of course, I'm not denying that in some way he arranged for some people under him to lose their jobs. But that can be right or wrong depending on the circumstances. And it's the circumstances which are contested.

Brett: So, not knowing what Bush did, I'm not going to answer it.

I am uncertain how you could claim you don't know what Bush did.

I understood your assertion that we don't know if previous administrations haven't done the same thing: but we know what Bush did: he had his own appointees fired because they were not pursuing investigations against Democratic politicians.

But that can be right or wrong depending on the circumstances. And it's the circumstances which are contested.

The circumstances don't appear to be contested: it appears to have been openly acknowledged by Gonzales that the eight he has been specifically questioned about were sacked because they declined to take the direction to investigate Democratic politicians.

And it's the circumstances which are contested.

methinks he contests too loudly. careful you don't find yourself having defended the indefensible. what we know already is plenty damning, and it just keeps getting worse and worse every day.

as to precedent for this kind of thing... i'm sure you know what tu quoque means.

Gary,

Charming or otherwise, you have no idea what sort of relationship I have with my friend, whom I harass in only the most friendly way and I intend at some point, of my choosing, to let him know what I've been doing so we can have a good laugh over it. I'm (not) sorry if that offends you in some way.

Tully,

There are some very smart people around here. The opinionated Gary I responded to above comes immediately to mind. (I wish I were one of them. None of this is snark, btw.) At any rate, my closing was not to seriously suggest that you shouldn't enjoy this site, but just to put forth some code words to hint at where I know you from.

"The circumstances don't appear to be contested: it appears to have been openly acknowledged by Gonzales that the eight he has been specifically questioned about were sacked because they declined to take the direction to investigate Democratic politicians."

Right. And unless you think that Democratic politicians should be immune from investigation, whether or not it was appropriate to sack prosecutors because they refused direction to investigate Democratic poiticians is dependent on the circumstances.

"And unless you think that Democratic politicians should be immune from investigation, whether or not it was appropriate to sack prosecutors because they refused direction to investigate Democratic poiticians is dependent on the circumstances."

Umm, no. One can also believe that it is the US Attorney's decision on whether to bring charges, a decision that should be made free from influence from the Administration, and once the decision is made, it should be respected by all parties. And that does not appear to be the case here.

As evidence that the Administration wanted charges brought where the US Attorneys had determined none were merited, see today's Seattle Times.

Gwangjun:
By arguing the details of an hypothetical example instead of its underlying point you lead the pack in obtuseness. Why don't you actually come up with a comment that reflects back on the point under discussion?
How does data restricted to the years of Pres W's admin provide you with enough of a benchmark to compare him with previous administrations for whom no data is given?

Come on guys, the question ain't that tough if you are intellectually honest.

Here's the remedial version: How can you know I am taller than my brother if you are only given data on my height (6'4") but none about the sibling in question.

I guess the next step is to draw pictures...but that would be worthless because it assumes that the reader actually cares to understand the point.

John Doe: do I say that the study shows anything about being "first"? No. Does Krugman? Does the study? No.

I'm not giving the NYT a dime to read Krugman, who long ago squandered his considerable intellect to become a political faction hack, and Ill take your word that you didn't say that upthread. But the study itself does indeed say:

The current Bush Republican Administration appears to be the first to have engaged in political profiling.

Clear enough? And that is clearly NOT supported by their so-called "study," which fails pretty much all the touchstones for validity. They offer ZERO evidence for same, simply allege it.

The study itself is where the comparison to racial-profiling traffic stops begins, as the authors both use it as a comparitive and an examplar for their preferred "solution." Methinks they set out with their "solution" in hand, seeking to find the problem for it. My friend Pat over at Stubborn Facts (himself a former DOJ atty and state prosecutor with experience in corruption cases) has some further analytic deconstruction showing how truly awful that "study" really is.

The subject of the firings themselves is a separate issue, but I note that when partisan politics becomes involved, some folks treat rumor and allegation as proven fact. I still don't have any problem with those holding what are political patronage appointments being dismissed by their patron for political reasons. Politics ain't beanbag, and it's not illegal. Partisan hatreds won't make it so.

If someone shows an actual investigation into actual wrongdoing was thereby derailed or averted, or that any of the investigations called for and NOT undertaken were simply completely lacking in evidence of wrongdoing, that's a different story and something worth examining, even though it STILL would likely not rise to illegality. But we ain't there yet.

Tully: Krugman, who long ago squandered his considerable intellect to become a political faction hack

That generally codes out to: Krugman is consistently critical of the Bush administration: the only reason anyone could have for being so consistently critical is that he's a "political faction hack". He is not: it is not political factioning when the President says that 2+2=5 and Krugman civilly points out that the answer remains 4.

I still don't have any problem with those holding what are political patronage appointments being dismissed by their patron for political reasons. Politics ain't beanbag, and it's not illegal.

In theory at least, however, the law is supposed to be above partisan politics. If a politician has done something criminal, it should be irrelevant how well-connected he is or if he is a member of the party in power. Likewise, if he has done nothing criminal, the mere fact that he is in opposition to the party in power should not be a valid reason for a legal investigation to be launched. John Ashcroft, though a man with many failings, did appear to understand this concept.

In fact, this principle is sufficiently important that, while it would be worth knowing if it has occurred before, it is not the most important thing to know now:

If someone shows an actual investigation into actual wrongdoing was thereby derailed or averted, or that any of the investigations called for and NOT undertaken were simply completely lacking in evidence of wrongdoing

Given your reluctance to examine the evidence that Krugman is still a considerable intellect and that the Bush administration deserves his consistent criticism, I imagine that you are equally reluctant to read Josh Marshall's well-grounded criticism, and are therefore unaware that your condition has already been fulfilled.

Let's clear some things up here, for people following the instalanche.

#1. These firings are in not comparable, nor equivalent to the beginning-of-administration blanket removal that happens at the beginning of every new admin. Clinton sacked all the attorneys at the beginning of his term. Bush II did the same. Already. In 2000. This is about mid-term firing of your own prosecutors.

#2: It's become extremely clear that these Attorneys were fired - clear through the testimony and statements of Republican political officials - in many cases, at least, due to complaints from local Republicans that Democrats weren't being indicted. Now, I want to ask a question here - does anyone think the George Bush's own personally selected employees are secretly partisan Democrats looking to protect Democrats from corruption? It's ridiculous and baseless. They're all Republicans. The only imaginable reason that a Republican prosecutor would avoid indicting a Democratic politician would be that ***they believed the allegations on the case in question were baseless**.

#3. But, clearly, the Republicans at the White House and in the local areas didn't care if the allegations were baseless or not. They wanted Democrats indicted to help win elections, knowing full well the media would never delve deep enough into the allegations to figure out innocence or guilt one way or another.

--Recap ended.

#3. Tully, who are you to talk about junk social science? It's possible that the demographic reasons you suggest may mitigate the apparent *fact* that Democrats are being investigated for corruption at 8 to 1 over Republicans at the state level - or, to clarify, may mitigate the implication of pervasive political persecution behind the fact - but first: that's speculation, not evidence - where are your facts? How do I know what percentage of cities are controlled by Democrats, or for that matter, that major cities are the only places to obtain corruption convictions and that somehow makes it okay to only convict Democrats? What about state (and municipal) legislatures? No corruption there? Please.
But more importantly, second: whether or not the survey deems to investigate every possible mitigating circumstance doesn't make it "junk science" - the survey reports a fact, and a disturbing one. It the fact is accurate, it has no further obligations. So back off.

Whoa, missed this upthread:

Tully: The firings may or may not have been strictly political. The hearings by Congress are most assuredly completely political.

For someone who's claiming that the facts aren't in about the firings, you're being awfully cavalier in your assumptions about the hearings. Can you provide concrete factual evidence to justify not just "political", nor even "completely political" (?!), but "most assuredly completely political"?

If someone shows an actual investigation into actual wrongdoing was thereby derailed or averted, or that any of the investigations called for and NOT undertaken were simply completely lacking in evidence of wrongdoing, that's a different story and something worth examining, even though it STILL would likely not rise to illegality.

I remarked on this upthread but I'll reiterate: how is firing someone for investigating one's own party -- or for failing to investigate one's political opponents -- not illegal?

Tully said it, but I'll say it again:

Hilzoy: John Doe: do I say that the study shows anything about being "first"? No. Does Krugman? Does the study? No.

Does the study? Yes. If you look at the link in your own post [http://www.epluribusmedia.org/columns/2007/20070212_political_profiling.html], you find this text: "The current Bush Republican Administration appears to be the first to have engaged in political profiling."

It apparently bears repeating: You can't know whether something is "first" unless you look at what came before. You can't know whether Tuesday is hotter than Monday if you only know Tuesday's temperature. You can't know whether Los Angeles has more people than New York if you only know the population of Los Angeles. Is there anyone who still doesn't grasp this basic point?

Also, in response to the other criticisms of the study, Hilzoy says: I don't think it's wrong at all.

Well, that's very persuasive, but it needs to be backed up with reasoning and facts, don't you think? Would you accept this kind of completely unsubstantiated defense of a bogus study purporting to prove the evil of Democrats? Come on. Look at the many criticisms outlined here -- http://stubbornfacts.us/politics/partisanship/political_profiling_study_is_fatally_flawed -- and tell me with a straight face that you'd just as blithely cite this sort of shoddy work in any other context but the present one (i.e., leveling accusations at the Bush administration).


John Doe, I think you're missing the point.

For a historian, it will matter whether Bush was the first President to do this, or merely the first President not to get away with it.

What matters in the here and now is not whether Bush was "the first", but whether we accept that what Bush is doing is wrong - or even, criminal.

If it's criminal to fire attorneys because they refuse to conduct investigations with the political bias you require of them, then it's criminal no matter who does it.

And because it is the current President doing it now, it matters more to confirm that this is what he is doing and to stop it, than it does to find out if other Presidents before him did the same thing.

As I point out here in the post cited by Tully earlier, I found, with just an hour of Google searching, SIX Republican elected officials or candidates who were under investigation by the Bush Justice Department during the time period covered by this "study" but who were not included in the data table provided by Professors Shields and Cragan. Just one hour of public domain searcing increased the number of Republicans investigated by 10%. Imagine what one might find with TWO hours of searching, or searching through a more comprehensive news source like Lexis/Nexis.

Anarch... whether something is "completely political" or not is not really capable of being objectively proved with "concrete, factual evidence." That's because it depends on the state of mind of the people taking the action. You obviously despise the Bush Administration, so you're going to continue to believe the firings were political, made to derail some investigations and enhance others. The only way to establish "concretely" that that's not the case would be to read the minds of the people who made the decision to fire them.

Glasnost... before you again criticize Tully for spouting off "junk science" of his own, go read my analysis, which Tully cited. The "study" does not actually report any "facts" sufficient to support their claim. They missed AT LEAST 6 investigations of Republicans and made numerous other errors which have certainly biased their results. Worst, from an academic standpoint, they utterly fail to describe their methodology which would allow us to review them and determine if they would show what they claim to show.

If somebody issued a study claiming that there were no deer in America, because they went to 367 spots and found no deer there, we'd say they were loony, wouldn't we? Such a study would be worthless, even though each specific data point was true (there really were no deer at any of those spots).

John Doe: OK. But the claim that the Bush administration is first is tangential to the study's point.

To recap this post: I was saying that the firing of prosecutors because they declined to accept political orders about things like whether or not to bring charges, whether to wrap up investigations before the election, etc., is wrong.

I then cited Krugman, who makes the very good point that while one part of this story concerns the prosecutors who were pressured, said no, and were axed, another part ought to concern the question whether there were prosecutors who were pressured, bowed to pressure, and were not axed.

Good point, I said.

Krugman cites evidence that USAttorneys investigate seven times as many Democrats as Republicans as evidence that something might be going on. But the study is not his main point, nor is it mine in citing him.

People are now criticizing the study on the grounds that the study said something else that it did not justify -- namely, that the Bush admin. "appears to be the first to have engaged in political profiling." This is not relevant to the study's actual conclusion, which concerns the numbers. It is not relevant to Krugman's purpose in citing the study. The study itself is only supporting evidence for Krugman's larger point, which is that we need to check out the US Attorneys who were not fired to see whether they carried out any politically motivated prosecutions. (Note: this conclusion does not depend on the study; the study just adds support to it.) It is also not relevant to my point in citing Krugman, which was to agree with his conclusion.

So we are talking about the study's failure to answer a question it did not ask, when that fact does not invalidate the study, and the study is not crucial to Krugman's main point, or to mine.

I fail to see why this is a big deal.

PatHMV: Anarch... whether something is "completely political" or not is not really capable of being objectively proved with "concrete, factual evidence."

Then one should be more circumspect in making similar complaints about the political nature of the firings, no?

You obviously despise the Bush Administration, so you're going to continue to believe the firings were political, made to derail some investigations and enhance others.

I do believe that's what we call mind-reading around these parts. 10 yards, loss of down.

[It's also wrong, which is why that sort of thing is frowned upon.]

The only way to establish "concretely" that that's not the case would be to read the minds of the people who made the decision to fire them.

Ah, the classic dodge: if it can't be proven with mathematical rigor, it can't be proven at all, so why bother? Which is precisely why I didn't ask for "absolute proof" or anything synonymous; I used "concretely" because I was asking for concrete evidence to justify the claim that these firings were "most assuredly completely political" -- as in, Congress had no interest whatsoever in the legal or ethical ramifications of the firings but was purely seeking political advantage against the President. Things like a public declaration of same, or a documented history of this Congress' complete politicization of the judicial process, something like that. It seems reasonable that if one can in good faith claim not just that the hearings are "completely political", but "most assuredly completely political", such evidence shouldn't be hard to come by.

I'm not going to hold my breath, btw, but -- contrary to your confident, yet erroneous, claim above -- I'm certainly amenable to being convinced.

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