November 21, 2014

MY COLLEAGUE BEN BARTON has a book forthcoming from Oxford University Press: Glass Half Full: The Decline and Rebirth of the Legal Profession. Here’s an early review. Conclusion: “It is, however, a general lack of rose-colored glasses that is precisely this book’s strength. Barton offers some plausible positivity without being Pollyannaish. For its comprehensive and accessible (and often entertaining!) account of where we have been, where we are, and where we are headed, this book should be included on the 2015 ‘must-read’ lists of members of the profession.”

I’ve read this in manuscript and it’s excellent.

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: VIDEO: Poli sci prof dresses as Cheney for Halloween, pretends to shoot up class.

IN THE MAIL: Hieroglyph: Stories and Visions for a Better Future.

TAXPROF ROUNDUP: The IRS Scandal, Day 561.


On Wednesday, Portland, Ore. police arrested Terrence Patrick Bean, who has been charged with two felony counts of having sex with a minor last year. This man is not just any old guy accused of having sex with a 15-year-old – he’s a big-money Democratic donor and liberal political activist with connections inside the Obama White House. Bean raised more than a half-million dollars for Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign. . . .

A search of the Federal Election Commission’s campaign-finance database turns up thousands in donations every cycle by Bean to the Democratic Party’s most powerful leaders, including Hillary Clinton, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Sen. Dick Durbin, and Rep. Barney Frank, among others. Photos of Bean posted online show him flying on Air Force One with Obama.

Although this report is in USA Today, I assume the major TV networks — which haven’t even covered Jonathan Gruber — will give this story a pass. Remember: Making sure you know what they want you to know is job #2 for them; making sure you don’t know what they don’t want you to know is job #1.

DISCIPLINE AND PUNISH: The University Policy That Fails Everyone.

Amid growing concern over sexual misconduct on American college campuses, the idea that the accused don’t deserve full legal representation has put some feminists and university administrators on the wrong side of morality and of the law. Fortunately, the reaction against this overreach is gaining ground, according to a new piece in the New York Times on lawyers who are pushing back against the way colleges handle these kinds of disciplinary proceedings. . . .

Rape is a horrible crime. To say that young people accused of rape are entitled to fair legal protections isn’t to endorse, defend, or enable rape. Nor is it to ignore the struggles that victims have in being believed or getting justice or protection. Sadly, some people have lost sight of these obvious facts.

Nevertheless, sending a few more lawyers to college campuses will not change the cultural conditions that have led to widespread sexual assault. The dysfunction of campus sexual assault policy—for the victims and the accused alike—traces to the mess that college life has become for many students. Where binge drinking, drug use, and the hook-up culture have taken hold, vulnerable young people are exposed to painful and damaging interactions. Meanwhile, administrators are often reluctant to address these toxic trends, and ill-equipped to handle the fallout.

Young women (and not only young women) are not helped by a culture that celebrates casual sex in an atmosphere of unrestrained use of alcohol and other drugs. Feminists and others are right that the situation on some campuses is unacceptable, but the “affirmative consent” paradigm seems like a dubious solution in this context.

The upside is that it will make some lawyers rich.

SO, BASICALLY, IT WAS A FAILURE THEN: Children Still Struggle to Read in the Neighborhood Where the Latino-Rights Movement Began.

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HOWIE CARR ON DEMOCRATS’ DESPERATE FLIP-FLOP ON AMNESTY: “These illegal aliens are willing to do the work that Americans will no longer do — namely, vote Democrat.”

UPDATE: You know, if one of the GOP big-money donors — I’m looking at you, Sheldon Adelson — is smart, he’ll fund a welcome-wagon operation in swing states. Reach out to these newly-amnestied immigrants, help them get jobs, connect them with social services, offer them American civics education to help integrate, register them Republican. . . .

DAVID DAYEN: Why Gruber-Gate Is So Devastating To Democrats. “The growing impression that politicians don’t play straight with their constituents is completely toxic, particularly to Democrats, who actually want to use government to improve people’s lives. It’s one thing to downplay unpalatable choices made in the law; it’s another to never disclose the consequences of legislation until it’s too late for anyone to react. Combine that with the moustache-twirling of a Jonathan Gruber, saying that the idiots should be happy for what they got, and you have basically every conservative stereotype about liberal elites confirmed.”

GOOD: Tennessee District Attorney Restricts Use Of Civil Forfeiture. This policy seems like a good policy for law enforcement in general.

TRANSPARENCY IS FOR THE LITTLE PEOPLE: IRS thinks its employees’ income info should be kept away from investigators.

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: VIDEO: Berkeley students prefer ISIS flag to Israeli flag.

JERRY POURNELLE: Don’t Panic Over Obama’s Executive Amnesty.

VIA VOLOKH: The Justice Department’s memorandum on deferring deportation of some categories of illegal aliens.

LIFE IN THE OBAMA ERA: Poverty Number Highest Since Records Were Kept:

The official U.S. unemployment rate has indeed fallen steadily during the past few years, but the economic recovery has created the fewest jobs relative to the previous employment peak of any prior recovery. The labor-force participation rate recently touched a 36-year low of 62.7%. The number of Americans not in the labor force set a record high of 92.6 million in September. Part-time work and long-term unemployment are still well above levels from before the financial crisis.

Worse, middle-class incomes continue to fall during the recovery, losing even more ground than during the December 2007 to June 2009 recession. The number in poverty has also continued to soar, to about 50 million Americans. That is the highest level in the more than 50 years that the U.S. Census has been tracking poverty. Income inequality has risen more in the past few years than at any recent time.

Related: Number of Ultra Rich Increased 6% in 2014.

Hey, they don’t call him President Goldman Sachs for nothing.


USA TODAY EDITORIALIZES: Obama’s wrong way to do the right thing: The sweeping nature of his immigration plan amounts to executive overreach.

Best-case scenario: The Supreme Court knocks it down quickly, as in the Steel Seizure Case, and then he and Congress have to actually come to something mutually satisfactory if anything is to happen. You know, the way the Constitution says.

Worst-case scenario: Americans decide we’re not living under the rule of law anymore, adopt third-world strategies of evasion, passive resistance.

BOMBSHELL: Email Proves that White House, DOJ Targeted Reporter Sharyl Attkisson.

Judicial Watch reports that the Obama administration has turned over about 42,000 pages of documents related to the Fast and Furious scandal. The administration was forced to turn the documents over to Judicial Watch in a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit. Judicial Watch is posting them on its web site. The administration turned them over on November 18, 2014.

One of the documents provides smoking gun proof that the Obama White House and the Eric Holder Justice Department colluded to get CBS News to block reporter Sharyl Attkisson. Attkisson was one of the few mainstream media reporters who paid any attention to the deadly gun-running scandal.

In an email dated October 4, 2011, Attorney General Holder’s top press aide, Tracy Schmaler, called Attkisson “out of control.” Schmaler told White House Deputy Press Secretary Eric Schultz that he intended to call CBS news anchor Bob Schieffer to get the network to stop Attkisson.

Schultz replied, “Good. Her piece was really bad for the AG.”

Schultz also told Schmaler that he was working with reporter Susan Davis, then at the National Journal, to target Rep. Darrel Issa (R-CA). Issa led the House investigation into Fast and Furious. Davis now works at USA Today. In the email chain, Schultz tells Schmaler that he would provide Davis with “leaks.”

Davis wrote a critical piece on Issa a few weeks later.

Attkisson was later subjected to hacking of her computer by people who remain unknown, but who likely belong to a government agency. She and CBS parted ways earlier in 2014, and Attkisson has since said that the network blocked her reports from airing.

As Michael Barone says, gangster government.

POLL: Lukewarm Latino support for Obama executive action.

A six-percentage-point margin of approval is far short of overwhelming. A higher number of Latinos, 56 percent, told pollsters they would support congressional action on the issue, and 69 percent supported the idea of a pathway to citizenship for those now here illegally. But a core of Latinos opposed those measures too: 32 percent opposed congressional action, and 30 percent opposed a pathway.

And even more oppose unilateral Obama action. It turns out Latino support for the president’s strategy, which doesn’t even amount to a majority, is not quite as decisive as some advocates hope.

Plus, from IowaHawk: “LOL at all those Latin American immigrants who came here to escape tinpot dictatorships.”

INVESTOR’S BUSINESS DAILY: Obama’s Amnesty Threatens To Shut Constitution.

There’s more at stake here than mere political fortunes. We are at the constitutional tipping point that Georgetown University law professor Jonathan Turley warned us about as Obama continues to wield executive authority that he himself once said he did not have.

We live in a constitutional republic, and the president who says he cannot wait for the Congress to act ignores a Constitution that says he has to. Article I, Section 8 gives Congress exclusive authority to “establish a uniform Rule of Naturalization” and Article II, Section 3 says that it’s the president’s duty “to take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed.”

Yeah, he doesn’t care about that.

JAMES BOVARD: The Closer Intellectuals Get To Power, The More They Deceive.

November 20, 2014

CIVIL RIGHTS UPDATE: “The Court does not know how [the state] prioritizes projects, but dealing with an unconstitutional law should be towards the top of the list.” “In August, U.S. District Judge Anthony Ishii struck down the California 10-day waiting period to buy guns for people who are known to the state to already own guns — a narrow but significant Second Amendment decision. Today, Judge Ishii declined to issue a stay of his decision; here’s part of the reasoning.”

MEANWHILE, IN BRITAIN: Labour Front-Bencher Sacked For Mocking Patriotism.

IOWAHAWK: “If he’s gonna pretend to make the law, we should pretend to obey it.”


IMPERIAL PRESIDENT: The Hill: Obama moves to give legal status to 5 million illegal immigrants.

Plus: Obama Would Veto Any Bill Undoing Immigration Executive Action.

And: Sen. Sessions reacts: We must stop Emperor Obama.

Plus, this observation on tone from Moe Lane, which is spot-on: “Barack Obama wants you to be angry. The Democrats NEED you to be angry. So don’t be. Smile, shake your head ruefully, and say no. Nicely.”

Plus, from Mickey Kaus: Don’t Count Out the Court.

With Obama’s executive amnesty imminent, anonymous White House aides are cockily dismissing John Boehner’s threatened lawsuit against it as a stunt. Even among opponents of executive amnesty — and I’m with them — there’s a tendency to pooh pooh the suit. It’s a loser, it will take forever to decide, it’s an attempt to ‘redirect Republican rage’ away from budgetary remedies like denying funding, etc.

Not so fast. I’m all for giving defunding a try — also holding up appointments — but don’t sell the lawsuit short. I’ll even go so far as to lay down an Yglesias style marker: If Obama’s executive action is as broad as described, the Supreme Court will strike it down.

I think he’s right. I agree that this is comparable to the Steel Seizure Case. And I’m also a fan of Richard Neely.

Plus — Exclusive! Must Credit Instapundit! — a photo of President Obama immediately after his speech.


NEWS YOU CAN USE: 6 Ways To Make Sure Your Daughter Doesn’t Become A ‘Mean Girl.’

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TEACH OBAMA SUPPORTERS NOT TO RAPE: USA Today: Top Obama bundler accused of child rape.

Conservatives complain that President Obama gets a free pass from the media, which acts as a de-facto public-relations shop for the Democrat in the White House. Never has that charge seemed truer than now as an ugly rape scandal unfolds on the west coast.

On Wednesday, Portland police arrested Terrence Patrick Bean, who has been charged with two felony counts of having sex with a minor last year. This man is not just any old guy accused of having sex with a 15-year-old – he’s a big-money Democratic donor and liberal political activist with connections inside the Obama White House. Bean raised more than a half-million dollars for Obama’s 2012 reelection campaign.

“Bean has been one of the state’s biggest Democratic donors and an influential figure in gay rights circles in the state,” reports “He helped found two major national political groups, the Human Rights Campaign and the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund and has been a major contributor for several Democratic presidential candidates, including Barack Obama.”

A search of the Federal Election Commission’s campaign-finance database turns up thousands in donations every cycle by Bean to the Democratic Party’s most powerful leaders, including Hillary Clinton, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Sen. Dick Durbin, and Rep. Barney Frank, among others. Photos of Bean posted online show him flying on Air Force One with Obama.

The scandal is escalating. Earlier today, according to local media Kiah Loy Lawson, allegedly 66-year-old Bean’s 25-year-old former boyfriend, was arrested by the Portland Sex Crimes Unit for sexually abusing the same boy. After the relationship between the two men ended, Lawson went public with claims that Bean had a practice of secretly videotaping himself having sex with others.

​This story was first reported by the local press, and there have been vague references to sexual trouble for Bean and Lawson since June, but the national media has not picked it up. That oversight is politically convenient for President Obama as he tries to pull off one of his riskiest political moves ever with his amnesty executive order.

Telling you what they want you to know is job #2; not telling you what they don’t want you to know is job #1.

TAKING ON THE SICILIAN MAFIA WITH GANDHI TACTICS. “Palermo, the largest city in Sicily, is at the heart of mafia country. In the past, trade association surveys have shown that about 80 percent of the town’s shops were paying pizzo. But now more than 900 Sicilian firms, a majority of them in Palermo, are publicly refusing to give money to the mob, thanks to one of the most remarkable social movements to emerge in the last decade. Addiopizzo—Italian for ‘Goodbye, protection money’—is resisting the racketeers with tactics you’re more likely to associate with Gandhi or the Arab Spring than a campaign against organized crime. The store mentioned on that tapped telephone call was affiliated with Addiopizzo, and the mafiosi didn’t think that trying to collect from it would be worth the inevitable trouble.”

Can we apply this approach to the IRS?

GALLERY: Buffalo Snow Photos.

WHEN POPEHAT turns poet.

SPYING: Feds To Apple: If We Can’t Read iMessages, A Child Will Die. Well, if that happens it will be because people don’t trust the feds to act appropriately.

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BY NOW EVERYONE HAS HEARD OF BOLLYWOOD, but the #3 film industry in the world — and it’s #2 by some measures — is Nigeria’s, known as “Nollywood.” My lovely and talented sister-in-law has started a service called Nollyland that lets you stream films to pretty much any device — the tech is really slick as it auto-sizes for different data rates and displays. Here’s an article on the service. And the films aren’t just from Nigeria, but also from Ghana and other African film industries.

Related: NollyLand app snapped up ‘like hotcakes.’

UPDATE: In the comments, people are asking for specific film recommendations. I emailed my brother, who’s watched a lot more of them than I have, and he replies: “King of Shitta is one of the most technically/artistically impressive movies. I’d go with that and A Christmas Passion, which is a tender love story.” And he relays that his lovely wife recommends Love of My Life. (Bumped).

WELL, NHTSA HASN’T COVERED ITSELF WITH GLORY LATELY: Obama nominates Mark Rosekind for next NHTSA administrator. “Rosekind has served the past four years as a member of the National Transportation Safety Board, the independent government organization that investigates transportation accidents and makes recommendations to other agencies on how to strengthen safety. His appointment is still subject to Senate approval, but safety advocates believe he’ll be an effective new leader for the beleaguered agency.”

NICK GILLESPIE: Uber’s Real Crime Is Giving In to Politics as Usual. Well, once they hired David Plouffe, that was pretty much a given, right?

SADLY, AN “ACTUAL DEBATE” ABOUT A CHARGED SUBJECT AT AN IVY LEAGUE SCHOOL IS NEWS NOWADAYS: An Actual Debate About Rape At Brown. But don’t get too excited: “Since this is Brown, where then NYC police commissioner Ray Kelly was shouted down and prevented from speaking, the planning for the debate came with several indicators as to how students are supposed to feel.” Over sixty grand a year tuition for that. . . .

MICHAEL TOTTEN’S NEW BOOK, Tower Of The Sun, is now shipping. That’s the Kindle link. Here’s the paperback link.

A STRONG GENETIC COMPONENT for male homosexuality. “For gay rights activists, it’s a dilemma. Does it help or hinder their cause if science shows that homosexuality is partly or largely biologically determined, rather than a lifestyle choice?” I dunno, but for scientists, it should just be a question of, you know, what the facts are.

STEVE WOZNIAK on innovation.

IT’S POTEMKIN VILLAGES ALL THE WAY DOWN: Report: White House secretly counted dental plans in Obamacare enrollment numbers; Without counting dental plans, Obamacare would have missed its goal. When your Potemkin Village is so unconvincing that even Vox is pointing out the papier-mache and chickenwire. . . .

AND NOW FOR SOME GOOD NEWS: ‘Bubble Boy’ Disease Cured With Stem Cells. “Evangelina, a twin, was born with a severe immune disorder caused by a genetic aberration that makes her vulnerable to any and all bacteria and viruses; even a simple cold could be fatal. But doctors at University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) Broad Stem Cell Research Center gave her a new treatment, using her own stem cells, that has essentially cured her disease. She’s one of 18 children who have been treated with the cutting-edge therapy, and the study’s leader, Dr. Donald Kohn, says that the strategy could also be used to treat other gene-based disorders such as sickle cell anemia.”

FREE SPEECH IS LIKE A TRAIN: WHEN YOU ARRIVE AT YOUR STOP, YOU GET OFF. Oxford cancels student-group-organized debate on abortion.

WELL, THIS IS THE 21ST CENTURY, YOU KNOW: Video: How living-donor transplants can save — and transform — lives.

IN THE MAIL: From Peter Lloyd of the Daily Mail, Stand by Your Manhood.

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TAXPROF ROUNDUP: The IRS Scandal, Day 560.

ED MORRISSEY: Obama’s Immigration Ploy Smacks of Contempt for ‘Stupid Americans.’


So let me finish by noting what I actually find disturbing about the whole Gruber episode. It is not that voters aren’t particularly well-informed; voters could not possibly be well-informed about all the issues that our government deals with. No one can be, which is why, when people ask me my opinions about foreign policy nowadays, I say, “I don’t know. Looks like a hard problem to me.”

Nor is it that politicians lie to voters. We reward them for lying, because we want to be told that we can have everything we want, plus a pony, and the only cost will be that some undeserving layabout will get their benefits cut off, or some very rich person we don’t like will have to sell the second yacht and pay higher taxes instead. We should not be surprised when they tell us exactly that. I’m not saying that I approve of this, mind you; I’m just saying that the way to stop it is not to tut-tut at the politicians, but for voters to stop demanding that they give us the pretty moon.

No, what really disturbs me is the sight of so many journalists acting like insiders. . . .

That politicians should try to exploit the accounting rules was inevitable; that is what people do with accounting rules. I’m not saying that’s what the rules are for, or that they do no good; I’m just saying that about eight seconds after your rules are made, some bright Johnny will start figuring out a way to game them.

What is not inevitable is that journalists should effectively sanction this by saying it’s no big deal. We don’t have to get elected, after all. And those politicians and policy makers aren’t our bosses; the reading public is. We shouldn’t act like we’re part of the insider clique that decides what other people need to know — no, worse, that decides what other people do know. If we knew this all along and voters didn’t, that doesn’t mean voters don’t have a right to be outraged. It means that we’ve lost track of whose side we’re on.

On the contrary, I think it means that most journalists have chosen a side, and are sticking with it come hell or high water.

Related: ABC, NBC Nightly Newscasts Now 10 Days into Ignoring Gruber Scandal.


TRIFECTA: Slouching Toward Liberty: Can America Survive without Common Values?

ASHE SCHOW: The coming war between sex-positive feminism and affirmative consent.

UPDATE: As predicted, the growth of a new, “fast-growing” legal specialty: Suing colleges on behalf of the falsely-accused.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Ayaan Hirsi Ali destroys American ‘feminism’ by discussing the real war on women. “Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a harsh critic of Islam’s treatment of women, said Wednesday that modern American feminism is focused on ‘trivial bullshit’ and needs to be reclaimed.”

Yes, there are two Ashe Schow links in this post. She’s really been on fire lately.

ROGER KIMBALL: A “particularly dangerous moment.”

UPDATE: NBC poll: Executive amnesty is… pretty unpopular with just about everybody. “Shockingly, only 63 percent of Democrats in that survey expressed support for an executive order. Even more surprisingly, that poll found that immigration reform via executive order is not especially popular with even Hispanic voters. Just 43 percent of Hispanics polled support an executive action creating legal status for millions of illegal immigrants while 37 percent disapprove.”

ANOTHER UPDATE: J. Christian Adams: Obama, Our Modern John C. Calhoun.

CHARLES BLAHOUS: Gruber and Barro Are Wrong to Assume the Public is Stupid. “Jonathan Gruber, Josh Barro and others are trying to persuade you that others’ failures of integrity, analysis, and policy design are your fault, simply for wanting a better healthcare market. Do not believe them. They are wrong on the ethics and wrong on the substance.”

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: University of Maine latest college to adopt ‘yes means yes’ consent policy. Trouble is, it’s really more like a “yes means maybe” policy.

The policy allows consent to be withdrawn at any time and makes clear that silence is not consent (which kind of negates the consent-through-actions part) and a history of past sexual activity does not equal consent. The policy also states that consent for one sexual activity does not equal consent for another activity, meaning consent must be ongoing throughout the encounter.

And of course, consent from someone who has had alcohol cannot be taken at face value, either. (An accused student, however, cannot plead drunkenness in arguing that he believed he had obtained consent.)

How does an accused person prove they obtained consent? That’s unclear. The only obvious way to prove one’s innocence in these situations (filming the encounter) is prohibited by the policy.

A representative from UMaine did not respond to a Washington Examiner request for clarification prior to press time.

The tuition goes up, the college experience goes down. How long can that go on?

UPDATE: From the comments:

My son just went through a mandatory meeting at his school and he came away with this:

“Everything is sexual harassment and there is nothing you can say or do to keep out of trouble.”

Sounds like a hostile environment based on sex to me. And again, it seems to me that colleges are overestimating their attractiveness to applicants in light of this kind of stuff.

PRIMARY SOURCES: How a New FOIA Bill Could Force More Government Transparency.

ROLL CALL: End of the Road for Michael Boggs Nomination? “Nominated in December 2013, Boggs came under fire by civil rights groups and Georgia Democrats for votes he cast as a Georgia legislator between 2001 and 2004, including a vote to keep the Confederate insignia on the Georgia state flag, one to pass a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage and a vote to restrict access to abortion.”

TEACH WOMEN NOT TO RAPE: Connecticut woman, 25, had sex with friend’s 10-year-old son while babysitting: police.

ALEXA SHRUGGED: My ObamaCare Story In 1 Picture. “THIS is why Obama had new insurance premium prices held until AFTER the election! Last year, they were posted October 1st.”


WHEN YOU HAVE NO SHAME, EVERYTHING IS A BADGE OF HONOR: White House: Obama wears GOP criticism as ‘a badge of honor.’

But, you know, it’s not just the GOP. They’re getting criticism even from places like the Washington Post and the New York Times. And if blacks understood how much harm they’d get from expanded illegal immigration, they’d be criticizing him, too. Heck, according to NBC’s new poll, even Latinos aren’t so hot on it.

So why’s he so eager to do it? It seems like an effort to do what Labour did to Britain. How’s that working out for ‘em?


It’s technically true that this year’s crop of grads was “less able” than before, if you use their pre-law-school test scores as a proxy for their smarts. The median LSAT score among students at American law schools has declined every year from 2010 to 2013, according to an analysis by Jerry Organ, a law professor at the University of St. Thomas. Last year, Organ found, law schools admitted 50 percent more students with low LSAT scores than they did three years ago.

Those numbers suggest that students might have been less prepared, but the figures may not be dramatic enough to explain this year’s bar results. Organ analyzed how LSAT scores have tracked with scores on the exam in the past, and he found that this year’s J.D.s should have performed slightly worse. Instead, they bombed.

Organ and additional law professors point to another culprit: a software glitch that affected test-takers for hours in July. At the end of the first day of testing, people who took the test in one of 43 states in which test company Examsoft administers the bar exam were unable to upload their answers for hours, stretching into late evening. The error eventually led states to extend the upload deadline; students went back to work on the test the following day. Examsoft said no answers were lost, but many feel that the time spent contending with software issues and the anxiety that resulted may have hurt students’ performance on the rest of the test.

Back in the ’90s I chaired a committee that looked at our grads’ bar passage rates, and we found that the LSAT score was a very strong predictor for bar exam performance — much stronger than college or law school grades, for example. That’s not really surprising, given that they’re both big standardized tests aimed at similar populations. But declines in LSAT scores are only sort of declines in student quality. LSAT scores are pretty good predictors of first-year grades, and of bar passage, but not especially good predictors of career success in lawyers.

CHICKS DIG JERKS, WRIT LARGE: Lovesick over Charles Manson. Really? “Often characterized as ‘killer groupies,’ this pattern of attraction is sufficiently common to have been assigned a clinical label: hybristophilia, a paraphilia in which someone is sexually aroused or attracted to a person who has committed a particularly vicious or gruesome crime. In its more common form, hybristophiles merely seek to be close to some ‘bad boy.’ Occasionally, however, it can lead to behaviors far more dangerous than mere adoration and devotion.”

November 19, 2014

PETER WEHNER: Obama Is About to Commit an Act of Constitutional Infamy. So what’s the country going to do about it?

HYPOCRISY, SMOKE, AND MIRRORS: Feminists And Shirtstorm.

I had missed the one where Rose Eveleth wrote, “I assume the lander is just saving its harpoons so it can hunt down that bearded idiot in the gross shirt.” She really is a horrible person, and a horribly childish one as well. I mean, really, you’re covering a huge scientific event for the freaking Atlantic and you’re tweeting that a scientist is an “asshole” and suggesting he should be hunted down? Because his shirt has “ruined” the event for you? What is this, middle school?

Related: “The overreaction to Taylor’s shirt doesn’t just implicitly send the message that women are helplessly vulnerable to the smallest of unintended slights; it makes feminists look witlessly censorious and absurdly humorless.” Look?

Also: Julie Bindel in The Guardian: Feminism is in danger of becoming toxic.

UPDATE: Oh, and I’d somehow missed this by Cathy Young in Time: How to Turn a Cool Moment Into a #ShirtStorm. “Sadly, the brouhaha over Taylor’s shirt overshadowed not only his accomplishments but also those of his female teammates, including one of the project’s lead researchers, Kathrin Allweg of the University of Bern in Switzerland. More spotlight on Allweg, Grady, Alexander and the other remarkable women of the Rosetta project would have been a true inspiration to girls thinking of a career in science. The message of ShirtStorm, meanwhile, is that aspiring female scientists can be undone by some sexy pictures on a shirt—and that women’s presence in science requires men to walk on eggshells, curb any goofy humor that may offend the sensitive and be cowed into repentance for any misstep. Thanks for ruining a cool feminist moment for us, bullies.”

They are bullies. And, like Mean Girls everywhere, they are lacking in any real talent besides that of making other people unhappy and stirring up drama. I do not respect them, and there is no reason why anyone else should. Most cuttingly, I see people on Twitter calling them #WestboroFeminists. That seems about right. They’re willing to invade any event and make it all about themselves.

Also: My mistake. The “harpoon” item was a retweet by Rose Eleveth, not an original tweet, which explains why it was new to me. Retweets aren’t necessarily endorsements, though I suppose all the hearts in front of it from Rose indicate that in this case it was. Also, pretty darn middle school.

MORE: Uberfeminist: “The problem, of course, is not so much the shirt itself – it is that a man, Matt Taylor, chose to wear it.” “We have irrational fears and behaviors, such as crossing the street to avoid the misogynist terrorist in the Halo shirt. We have extreme leaps to condescending conclusions such as the idea that pinups rendered in cotton on the chest of a previously unknown scientist is forcing women into majoring in art history – staying there until the dark day when a professor will choose to get a Matisse tattoo.”

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RACISM IN OBAMA’S AMERICA: Ferguson Protester Wants To Target People Who ‘Don’t Look Like Me.’

IT’S COME TO THIS: Sharpton denies fathering ex-City Hall aide’s troubled teen.

IT’S A FRIGHTENING THING, when poetry comes to Popehat.

THE GO-IT-ALONE PRESIDENCY: Obama to host 18 Democrats, no Republicans, for immigration dinner.

PROFILE: Will Happer: Princeton’s Galileo.

I STILL HAVEN’T UPGRADED: It’s Official—iOS 8 Is Apple’s Buggiest Release to Date.

WHY PUTIN IS buying so much gold.

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FASTER, PLEASE: Rice yield increase of 30 percent enabled by use of a photosynthesis ‘switch,’ researchers learn. “Scientists at the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture have found that they can harness photosynthesis – the process that plants use to convert light energy to chemical energy – to increase rice yields by up to 30 percent.”

CHURCH OF GAIA: Maryland County To Churches: Preach Environmentalism And Get A Tax Break.

I’M SORRY, BUT I CAN’T ACCEPT THIS STUDY WITHOUT MORE THOROUGH RESEARCH: Moderate drinking is healthy only for some people, study finds. “A new study confirms that moderate alcohol consumption can protect against coronary heart disease. But only for the 15% of the population that have a particular genotype.”

NEWS YOU CAN USE: How to carve an axe handle from a log (and a little gratuitous Hipster-bashing). Should I put a “Lumbersexual” trigger warning on this?

ROGER KIMBALL: Watching The Democrats Commit Suicide.

IRS EMPLOYEES APPARENTLY SPEND THEIR TIME sitting around and reading blog comments.

JAKE TAPPER: Obama promised Obamacare wouldn’t do exactly what Gruber says it will do. And what it’s now clear it was intended to do all along.

At a town hall meeting where he campaigned for health care legislation in 2009, President Barack Obama pledged to voters that he did not want any tax on health insurance plans he perceived as wastefully generous to ever impact average Americans. But in recent comments by one of the men who helped draft the legislation, MIT economist Jonathan Gruber, that is not only precisely what will happen — but that was the intention of the tax. White House officials had no comment, despite repeated requests by CNN.

It’s Potemkin Villages all the way down.

UPDATE: Academia Runs Interference for Obama: Universities Are Now Taking Down Their Jonathan Gruber Videos.

ROGER SIMON: Oh, Jerusalem.

IN THE MAIL: From S. M. Stirling, Eric Flint & David Drake, Hope Reformed.

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And, also today only: Rubbermaid 42-Piece Easy-Find Lid Food Storage Set, $14.99 (44% off).

TAXPROF: The IRS Scandal, Day 559.

RESET-BUTTON UPDATE: “Salami Slicing” and Deterrence.

The second way deterrence can fail is gradual, through a chipping-away at the credibility of the leading power in the system. This is not mutually exclusive of catastrophic failure, in that gradual collapse can degenerate into a large-scale war, with the unforeseeable outcomes such a conflict brings. The difference lies in the fact that one of the parties is intentionally seeking to readjust the status quo undergirded by deterrence by means of a gradual alteration of expectations and credibility. The revisionist side wants to engender a gradual failure of deterrence because it considers the existing geopolitical order not to be attuned to its interests or prestige. But it also does not want to jump into a large conflict with the power or powers that underwrite the status quo because it may be the weaker side, or simply because war is dangerous business. The objective is to alter in a steady and almost stealthy way the expectations of future behavior that keep deterrence alive. That is, the revisionist power wants to make all parties involved—the rival as well as his allies—believe present promises of behavior will not be honored in the future. Once such a belief sets in, the options for the targeted powers are limited to accepting the new geopolitical reality or restoring the status quo ante. In either case, deterrence has failed—not violently, but in the realm of perceptions and expectations.

America’s international rivals today are seeking to cause the failure of U.S. extended deterrence using this latter method. Aware of their weaknesses against the United States and its allies and cognizant of the incalculability of engaging in direct confrontation with the world’s most powerful nation, they are engaged instead in a cautious game of “salami-slicing.” Their strategy is to break deterrence bit by bit, through repeated demonstrations of its insolvency in small, hard-to-counter crises.

The proper response, of course, is to punch back twice as hard, making such efforts disproportionately painful. But — and this is the key — it’s not so much that Obama is weak, as that he just doesn’t care. He has more flexibility to ignore this stuff after the election, and he’s using it.

Related: Putin Targets The Scandinavians. If it were me, I’d give the Poles nukes. Instead, we’re letting the Iranians develop them. . . .

JUSTICE: Lynch’s Attorney General Nomination Slipping to 2015.

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HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: Cost of College Crosses $260,000 Threshold.

Related: Forget the Rise in Tuition and Fees, What About Living Expenses? Yeah, they gouge you even more on those.

CULTURE OF CORRUPTION: Gruber’s Obamacare payday highlights ulterior motives behind ‘do something’ cry.

For all the cursing of congressional gridlock, one of the greatest sources of Washington’s evils may be the bias in favor of doing something.

As voices chime in from the major media, from K Street, and from party leadership for the new Republican Congress to do something, it’s worth pausing, taking a breath, and looking at the recent problems caused by this urge — and the less-than-noble incentives that sometimes drive it.

The Beltway media’s predominant bias is that, for every issue, Washington politicians should do something. The simplest explanation for this bias: it gives reporters something to write about. Inaction is bad for readership.

Democratic politicians’ uncontrollable urge to do something is tied up with their view of government’s role as the champion of justice, the wise arranger of the economy and shaper of culture.

But there’s a deeper motivation to do something, and the Republican leadership shares it: When government takes a more active role in the economy, it creates private-sector employment opportunities for the policymakers — and for their advisors, like Obamacare architect Jonathan Gruber.

Gruber, the MIT professor who won almost $400,000 in contracts from the Obama administration in a non-competitive contract process, came into the spotlight again this month when a new video surfaced in which he admitted that “lack of transparency” was crucial to passing Obamacare.

My colleague Byron York pointed to a more interesting Gruber detail: After the bill passed, Gruber won hundreds of thousands of dollars in contracts with state governments setting up the exchanges under Obamacare.

Gruber, then, had to mislead Americans (or maybe just their senators) in order to pass Obamacare, and that opened a gusher of lucrative contracts for him. There is no doubt that Gruber sincerely thought the country needed health-care reform. But still, his financial interest in the bill ought to have raised some skepticism about the numbers he was peddling.

Nonsense. Only greedy conservatives advocate policies out of greed.

TAXES ARE FOR THE LITTLE PEOPLE: NYT: Al Sharpton’s Influence Grows, Along With His Unpaid Taxes. The big story is that the NYT is reporting on this, though notably it’s doing so after the elections.

ROLL CALL: Will Republicans Need a New Message on Climate Change in 2016? Not if it stays this cold.

Note that Lake Superior wasn’t ice-free until June, and is already icing up again, earlier than normal. Argue about whether that’s weather or climate, if the cold cycle holds, nobody’s going to be getting traction out of global warming.

THE HILL: White House prepares activists for Obama’s immigration order.

The White House held calls with activist groups on Tuesday to prepare them for President Obama’s executive action on immigration, sources tell The Hill. . . .

One source said the White House sought to “temper expectations,” on the executive action, cautioning that while some advocates have pushed for him to carry out the Senate’s immigration reform bill, Obama doesn’t have the legal authority to go as far by acting alone.

“They’re setting expectations, making it clear he has the legal authority to do what he’s going to do, but that he’s not going beyond his authority, as some advocates would like,” said one source familiar with the calls on Tuesday.

The source predicted that, given the timing of the calls, that the White House could announce the executive order as early as Wednesday, but cautioned the president could also wait for the government funding fight in Congress to run its course.

“My guess is whatever they have teed up is already ready,” the source said.

Multiple reports have suggested Obama is poised to dramatically expand his deferred action program, allowing the parents of children who are legal residents or citizens of the United States to avoid deportation proceedings. Obama might also expand the eligibility for the current deferred action program, which allows children who were brought to the United States and remained in violation of the law to remain.

The president is also reportedly poised to expand specialty visas for high-tech workers. In total, an estimated 4 to 5 million illegal immigrants could be eligible for the program.

Stay tuned.