Saturday Night Massacre Redux

Gerald Walpin


Byron York:

Gerald Walpin loses appeal; court guts protections for agency watchdogs

The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia has rejected fired AmeriCorps inspector general Gerald Walpin’s lawsuit seeking reinstatement to his job. In a ruling issued Tuesday morning, the three-judge panel — one appointed by the first President Bush, another appointed by President Clinton, and the third appointed by the second President Bush — agreed with a lower-court ruling that Walpin does not have a “clear and indisputable right” to his former job.

In June 2009, Walpin was the inspector general for the Corporation for National and Community Service, which oversees the AmeriCorps service program. He had been aggressively investigating the misuse of $800,000 in AmeriCorps grant money given to a program run by Kevin Johnson, the mayor of Sacramento, California who also happens to be a prominent Obama supporter. As a result of Walpin’s investigation, Johnson was, for a while, suspended from receiving any new federal grants. Later, an acting U.S. attorney who was seeking a post in the Obama administration refused to pursue the Johnson matter. Inside the Corporation, Walpin expressed his unhappiness with that decision and his desire to continue investigating corruption in Sacramento.

On June 10, 2009, Walpin received a call from the White House counsel’s office in which he was given one hour to resign or be fired. He chose not to resign and was fired. The action alarmed Republicans on Capitol Hill, particularly Sen. Charles Grassley, because it appeared to violate a law designed to protect the independence of inspectors general by requiring the president to give Congress 30 days’ notice, plus an explanation, before firing an IG.

Later, the White House told Congress that Walpin had not been summarily fired; he had been placed on “administrative leave” for 30 days and then fired And as a reason for the firing, the White House told lawmakers that the president no longer had the “fullest confidence” in Walpin.

Walpin sued, arguing that his removal clearly violated the law. In June of 2010, Walpin lost his case before U.S. District Court in Washington. Now, he has lost before the Court of Appeals. The three-judge panel ruled that the White House’s decision to place Walpin on administrative leave for 30 days (after telling him he was fired) did not violate the law. Further, the judges ruled that Obama’s explanation that he no longer had “fullest confidence” in Walpin “satisfies the minimal statutory mandate that the president communicate to the Congress his ‘reasons’ for removal.”

Back in 1973 Archibald Cox was appointed to be an independent special prosecutor investigating the Watergate break-in. When Cox issued a subpoena to the White House for Oval Office tape recordings, Richard Nixon ordered Attorney General Elliot Richardson to fire Cox.

Richardson refused and resigned. Nixon then ordered Deputy Attorney General William Ruckelshaus to fire Cox and got the same result. Finally Robert Bork did the president’s dirty work. The incident became known as the “Saturday Night Massacre.”

The inspector general is an agency watchdog position. They are supposed to be independent. It defeats the purpose if they can be fired for doing their jobs too well.



The truth is biased


Big Tent Democrat:

There is a new celebratory quality to journalism that manifests itself in different ways. In the Beltway, it’s being in with the government In crowd. That means sacrificing objectivity and the truth.

Davies seems to have allowed, indeed he appears to be celebrating, his belief that Assange is a loathsome figure (not about the sex he makes clear) interfere with his duties as a journalist.

Can Nick Davies be considered an objective reporter on Wikileaks or Assange in the face of that admission? Similarly Wired magazine appears to have made similar moral judgments about Assange. In an e-mail he sent to Glenn Greenwald, the entirety of which he published himself, Wired’s Ryan Singel wrote of Assange and Wikileaks:

Suffice it to say I’m disappointed by your article, which I find to be warped by your allegiance to Wikileaks, which gets nothing but glowing accolades from you, despite ample evidence that Assange and Wikileaks aren’t acting in good faith.

Now whether Assange or Wikileaks are acting in good faith is an important part of the Wikileaks story, but it strains credulity to believe that a reporter who has concluded that Assange and Wikileaks “aren’t acting in good faith” can present itself as, in the words of Newsweek, “objective and nonpartisan.”

First of all, let me remind you that BTD thought media bias was a good thing when it came to selecting the Democratic nominee:

As most of you know by now, the difference maker for me in supporting Barack Obama in the primaries was the fact the he is the Media Darling of the election.

Secondly, while the media should be somewhat objective and neutral at the beginning of researching/investigating a story, by the end they should have formed an opinion. They can’t put aside their own knowledge and experience and that will affect their perceptions.

More importantly, we rely on reporters (and cops) to evaluate what they see and hear and give us an accurate picture of what they think really happened. But, just like cops, they need to present us with ALL the information they have gathered so we can double-check their conclusions.

How many times in recent years have we seen the media present both sides of as story as equally credible when they’re not? How often have they given us a completely one-sided presentation?

Both approaches are equally wrong.


Caveat: I’m talking about what’s called “investigative journalism.” When reporting on something like a political debate the media should try to present both sides as accurately as possible so the voters can form their own opinions. But even then they should fact-check misstatements and incorrect information.


The Tuesday TC News Break

Just when I thought politics and the economy was too depressing for words, it turns out regular people aren’t doing too well. And when things start going bad? Well, as often as not they just get worse.

These people sound just like my next door neighbors:

Pamela Rozzelle Sets Boyfriend on Fire Because She Can’t Find Her Car Keys

They were both getting hammered Thursday night at Richard’s home in Audubon, New Jersey. At suppertime Pamela called police to say they’d been arguing. But while she’d been living at Richard’s house for the past few months, she was too drunk to remember exactly his house was. And because she was calling from a cell phone, police had no idea where to go.

Two hours later, Pamela called again, this time to say Richard was on fire. She says she couldn’t find her car keys, and she couldn’t wake Richard to help her find them. So she lit a cigarette, then claims she accidentally dropped the match on the blanket Richard was sleeping under.


Steve Chapman: Does pornography cause sexual violence?

Indianapolis passed a law allowing women to sue producers for sexual assaults caused by material depicting women in “positions of servility or submission or display.”

The campaign fizzled when the courts said the ordinance was an unconstitutional form of “thought control.” Though the Bush administration has put new emphasis on prosecuting obscenity, on the grounds that it fosters violence against women, pornography is more available now than ever.

That’s due in substantial part to the rise of the Internet, where the United States alone has a staggering 244 million web pages featuring erotic fare. One Nielsen survey found that one out of every four users says they visited adult sites in the past month.

. . .

So in the past two decades, we have essentially conducted a vast experiment on the social consequences of such material. If the supporters of censorship were right, we should be seeing an unparalleled epidemic of sexual assault. But all the evidence indicates they were wrong. As raunch has waxed, rape has waned.

There’s a lot more information, speculation and thought but the punchline:

But if expanding the availability of hard-core fare doesn’t actually prevent rapes, we can be confident from the experience of recent years that it certainly doesn’t cause such crimes. Whether you think porn is a constitutionally protected form of expression or a vile blight that should be eradicated, this discovery should come as very good news.

Is a little dubious to me. “Very good news” …. would have to be something a little more valuable than this story.


Some young adults with STDs say they’ve never had sex

Of 14,000 people (whose mean age was about 22 years) included in a study published this morning in the journal Pediatrics, fully 10 percent of those who tested positive for one of three common STDs (chlamydia, gonorrhea trichomoniasis) reported they hadn’t had sex during the previous 12 months.

And 60 percent of that 10 percent said they’d never had sex at all.

The numbers held even after researchers controlled for such variables as gender, race, age and education. The authors acknowledge some room for error: for instance, study participants were only asked about penile/vaginal penetration, not about oral or anal sex. The timing was such that a person could have had sex during the study period but not within the 12 months before the question was asked. And there’s some small possibility of false positive readings on the urine tests used to detect STDs.

And this is a surprise?


After all this is it any wonder that a Florida man would rather hang out with lions?

Florida Man Says He’ll Live Among Lions for 30 Days

A Florida man says he’s going to spend the next month living in a fenced enclosure with two African lions.

James Jablon of Spring Hill told WTSP-TV that he hopes the stunt will raise money for his wildlife center, Wildlife Rehabilitation of Hernando.

Jablon entered the lions’ den Saturday. He says he’s going to sleep on hay near the lions, named Lea and Ed, and eat when they eat.

He says he’s also going to build a place to sleep and hide in the trees in the enclosure, in case the lions fight with each other. His adventure is being streamed live online through Jan. 31.


Me? I’M going to find a nice cave in Viet Nam:

Massive Caves In Vietnam, Some Large Enough To Fit Skycrapers, Explored By National Geographic

This month’s National Geographic features an in depth look at a mammoth series of caves discovered in Vietnam. Inside one of the caves, there’s enough room to park a 747. An excerpt from the article reveals more about the massive cavern:

“An enormous shaft of sunlight plunges into the cave like a waterfall. The hole in the ceiling through which the light cascades is unbelievably large, at least 300 feet across. The light, penetrating deep into the cave, reveals for the first time the mind-blowing proportions of Hang Son Doong. The passage is perhaps 300 feet wide, the ceiling nearly 800 feet tall: room enough for an entire New York City block of 40-story buildings. There are actually wispy clouds up near the ceiling.”

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