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Turns out Ken Starr hasn’t exactly been fired after all

[ 72 ] May 26, 2016 |

Apparently he’s being demoted all the way down to to adjunct professor custodian assistant vice president for bureaucratic redundancy Chancellor:

On Thursday Baylor University put out the following news release:

Board of Regents apologizes to Baylor Nation; Dr. David Garland named interim University President; Ken Starr transitions to role of Chancellor and remains professor at Baylor University Law School

Previous LGM coverage here.

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Dan Markel killing being investigated as a murder for hire

[ 19 ] May 26, 2016 |

One arrest; more expected shortly.

Where is my mind?

[ 298 ] May 25, 2016 |

fight club

Going to do this in bullet points:

  • A couple of years ago Matt Bruenig published some very poorly reasoned stuff about why lawyers should make less money. He got the facts regarding what lawyers and law graduates actually make all wrong, and then took a bizarre theoretical position: that lawyers making less money was simply a good thing in and of itself, without any regard to whether this result would produce any beneficial effects for anyone else.
  • I wrote a brief thing on LGM criticizing him, to which he responded in a sophomoric way, doubling down on his previous mistakes and throwing lots of gratuitous insults around for good measure.
  • Last week Bruenig lost a freelancing gig writing for Demos because he got the facts all wrong about a policy issue, then doubled down on his previous mistakes and threw a lot of gratuitous insults around for good measure. He may or may not have then refused to promise to the people at Demos (a partisan think tank) that he would stop gratuitously insulting people whose good opinion Demos would like to cultivate. In any case he was fired.
  • He then squeezed $25,000 out of the internet by posting an appeal on GoFundMe that was less than scrupulously straightforward about his actual employment situation.
  • I posted something about the ironies of the above series of events, which in the first line disavowed any opinion on whether the loss of his freelancing side job was a fair outcome under the circumstances.
  • This then inspired several luminaries of the People’s Front for Judea, or possibly the Judean Peoples’ Front, to attack Erik Loomis for failing to stand up for labor rights, or something.

Thoughts:

  • My interactions with Bruenig have been limited to these two incidents. Scott and djw avow that substantively speaking his stuff in general is very good, and I have no reason to doubt them.
  • To wax avuncular, Bruenig is in his mid-20s, and I more than suspect I would have been similarly obnoxious on many occasions if they had had the internet and the twitter and the snapchat etc. back when I was a snotty young know it all. He is apparently a talented young person and I hope he does great work in the future.
  • Twitter in particular seems like a terrible medium for any kind of exchange of views. It’s apparently the cyber-equivalent of getting real drunk before getting into an argument.
  • Blaming Erik for failing to opine on these matters is the very definition of absurdity, even by Twitter’s abysmal standards or lack thereof.
  • Yesterday I had an extensive phone conversation, at her request, with Matt’s wife Elizabeth Bruenig. She is very distraught about these events, and although I’m not free to discuss the details, our conversation left me with a strong sense of how toxic the social network has become in regard to political debate and commentary in particular, and how this toxic atmosphere has particularly bad professional and personal effects on women journalists and commenters.
  • The people who are trying to get Matt Bruenig fired from his primary employment, and who are harassing Elizabeth Bruening, are the scum of the earth and should be treated as such.

[SL] [UPDATE] Since someone asked in comments whether Elizabeth Bruenig was “really being harassed,” the answer is “yes.” When someone says that their tweets are damaging their family and ask to take the discussion offline and you refuse, that’s unambiguously “harassment.” Foust also contacted Matt Bruenig’s day job employer, which is scummy behavior and threatening their employment whether you explicitly ask for them to be fired or not. Foust writes to dispute that he contacted Bruenig’s employer. Since his Twitter feed is now private I can’t dispute his characterization, so I withdraw the charge. MY apologies; I should not have made the claim without access to the original Tweets, and I regret the error. The first I obviously stand by.

If lawyers make too much money why is Matt Bruenig panhandling on the internet?

[ 525 ] May 23, 2016 |

lawyersed

Updated below

I don’t have any comment on the substance of the Matt Bruenig/Demos kerfuffle, but I do have something to say about this:

This GoFundMe was to raise funds for me, Matt Bruenig, and my family. I reside in the District of Columbia. I had a little gig at Demos Think Tank until I lost it on Friday due to my rude tweets at Neera Tanden of the Center for American Progress. I started this GoFundMe to replace the income I would lose as a result of the termination. I had counted on that income to handle the costs of a child on the way (leave and child care) and I am grateful that my comrades have come through to keep me financially stable in light of the unfair situation.

Apparently outrage at Bruenig’s firing from his “little gig” was intense enough to net him nearly $25K in a few hours, before he shut down his GoFundMe appeal.

A couple of years ago, Bruenig made some shall we say naive (I’m trying to be nice) arguments about why “lawyers” make way too much money.

After I pointed out that quoting a median income of $113,000 for “lawyers” was misleading for a bunch of reasons, (short version: (a) more than 40% of current law school grads are never becoming lawyers at all, which seems very relevant to the question of whether people with law degrees make too much money; (b) the $113,000 figure doesn’t include the large plurality of lawyers who are self-employed rather than salaried, and the mean earnings — the median is much lower — of the 50% of lawyers in private practice who are solos are $49,000) Bruenig wrote a reply in which he claimed, shall we say rather implausibly, that I was making these arguments to protect the income of law professors.

He also said this:

Campso’s next move is to say that new graduates aren’t the same thing as established lawyers. After my mind was blown by this observation, I regrouped and then thought of this: people getting legal credentials now will be established lawyers in the future and the more credentialed people we can flood into the market, the more long-run downward pressure on these exorbitant salaries there will be.

Right now, it is objectively great that supply is outpacing demand for lawyers, especially for entry-level lawyers. That means downward wage pressure and less money spent on lawyers. But I am saying we need to ramp it up further. We need absolutely merciless downward salary pressure on lawyers until they reach a much more reasonable and decent median salary. This is a long-run project, but one worth undertaking, and one reducing credentialing requirements will aid. We might have to sacrifice some of those sweet rents Campso lives off of, but it’s worth it.

Bruenig graduated from law school in 2014, and got a job as a lawyer for the NLRB. This outcome is in roughly the 99th percentile of desirability for recent law graduates. While an entry-level NLRB lawyer has a salary of “only” around $70,000, it’s a fantastic job outcome because of the hours, the work, the benefits, and most of all the job security. The large majority of the 15% of law graduates who get big firm jobs with big starting salaries — and essentially 100% of law graduates with Bruenig’s political commitments — would trade places with Bruenig in a New York minute, because:

(a) They’re probably getting paid little if at all more per hour

(b) Their work consists of something like trying to help somebody pave over Lake Tahoe

(c) They have crummy benefits (relatively minor factor but still); and, most germane to the issue at hand

(d) They can be fired at any moment for essentially any reason, and almost all of them will in fact be fired eventually (“asked to leave”), or quit voluntarily, because the conditions of their employment — hours, Lake Tahoe etc. — are literally unendurable to them.

And that’s for the 15% of grads who get big-money jobs. As for the 85% who don’t, almost all of them would consider Bruenig’s day job a unicorn-type outcome.

It’s apparently not such a great outcome for Bruenig, even though his wife is a staff writer for the New Republic[edit: she’s now an assistant editor for the Washington Post], and their household income is surely north of $100,000, even subtracting whatever income he got from moonlighting for Demos. Of course people are free to make charitable contributions to somebody in Bruenig’s shoes, although I suspect that he wouldn’t have gotten $25,000 out of his new fan base so quickly if he had been a little more straightforward about his actual situation. They might have been even less inclined to donate if they had known he thinks (or perhaps thought?) “lawyers” make way too much money, and that he has one of the best jobs a lawyer can get.

BTW when I first read Bruenig’s complaints about lawyer incomes, I assumed they were based on some sort of efficiency-based argument that legal services would be more widely available if lawyers got paid less. This is actually not true — again, the mean earnings for a solo practitioner are already less than $50,000 per year — but at least it’s a superficially plausible basis for the claim. But far from it. From my exchange with him two years ago:

Campos: Amazingly, you expressly deny that you want to lower the wages of lawyers for utility-regarding reasons. Apparently you’re simply offended that lawyers on average make more money than the average working person! Given that, what *should* the median wage of practicing lawyers be? The same as that for the working population as a whole? Less? More? And what’s your justification for your goal, assuming you’ve thought this through to the point where you have an answer to this absolutely central question.

Bruenig: I never argued I was interested in improving access to legal services. You imputed that argument into me for some reason when I have never written it anywhere. I just want lawyers to make less money. That’s the only thing I have ever argued.

Update: Someone who knows Bruenig sent me the following, which I’m posting with the writer’s permission:

I write as a longtime admirer of your work puncturing the sacred nonsense of the powerful, in the hope that you might see Matt Breunig in the same way.

I did not think your post on his professional situation was constructive, and it came at the cost of a high degree of privacy invasion. Breunig told me personally that the reason he launched the gofundme thing was that both he and Liz had to take unpaid leave for the baby, and he was planning on relying on the Demos income for that. To me, that’s good enough–evaluating where precisely he falls in the distribution of young lawyer wellbeing is outside my province. And hitting back at some obvious trolling beef you and he had from years ago isn’t all that great a payoff. The only reason I personally didn’t donate was that I didn’t find out about the whole mess until after he closed it.

Breunig has done excellent work deploying cogent analysis to decimate the received wisdom of the fake social scientists of the right and center–the pinnacle of the DC establishment on domestic policy. We’re worse off for however much his influence has diminished.

I think you should take down the post–not because you’ve crossed some sort of clear line, but simply out of decency.

Nefarious LGM

[ 137 ] May 21, 2016 |

clare

Thomas A. Clare, Esq., has sent a letter to a documentary filmmaker, who is working on a film about recent law school graduates:

I write on behalf of my client, The InfiLaw System (“InfiLaw”), regarding your inquiry into
interviews with Florida Coastal School of Law officials for a documentary you are making. I write to caution you as you proceed with fact-finding and information gathering associated with your planned documentary.

Prior reporting on the issues you plan to address, including law school attrition rates and student success, has been plagued by gross misinformation, factual errors, and a general misuse and distortion of available data and analysis. This is especially true as they have been applied to InfiLaw schools such as Florida Coastal. Individuals, such as Paul Campos, have distorted facts and data and engaged in nefarious and inappropriate investigative tactics in order to accomplish a false agenda attacking law school admissions and career advancement policies. As such, I caution you to carefully assess any information and facts you gather from Mr. Campos and any other purported “authorities” on law school success metrics and the risks and rewards of attending law school in this day and age. InfiLaw and its affiliated schools will carefully analyze and assess any statements made about them and will not be afraid to pursue legal recourse to protect its reputation against any false and reckless statements.

In addition, InfiLaw requests that you notify me immediately upon any decisions to include any references to or subject matter about InfiLaw or any of its affiliate schools in your documentary, and provide InfiLaw the opportunity to review and comment on them prior to any public dissemination.

Preparatory to anything else, why do so many lawyers write so atrociously? For instance, what does it mean to say that “individuals have distorted facts and data and engaged in nefarious and inappropriate investigative tactics in order to accomplish a false agenda attacking law school admissions and career advancement policies?”

I mean I get the general idea, which is that I’m supposedly lying about the scamminess of scam outfits like Infilaw, but good grief what prose! Note this and similar verbal atrocities are committed in the course of a one-page letter, which Thomas A. Clare, summa cum laude graduate of the University of Notre Dame Law School, probably charged his clients (which is to say the bill is being paid by Infilaw law students, and ultimately U.S. taxpayers) a couple of thousand bucks to excrete.

Anyway, as to the substance of that charge, two years ago I wrote an article that, among other things, pointed out that the Infilaw schools were slashing admissions standards drastically in order to keep a stream – more like a water cannon — of federal educational loan money flowing into the coffers of Sterling Partners. I predicted this would lead to a collapse in bar passage rates for the graduates of those schools. This is exactly what has since happened:

Bar-passage rates at the InfiLaw schools are now in a free fall. (The following percentages are for first-time takers of the July exam in the schools’ home states.) Florida Coastal’s bar-passage rate has fallen from 76 percent to 59 percent, Charlotte’s has fallen from 78 percent to 47 percent, and Arizona Summit’s has gone from 75 percent to an astonishing 30.6 percent.

This collapse has taken place despite the fact that, according to allegations in a lawsuit filed by a former Arizona Summit administrator, all three schools have been offering money to graduates who the schools identified as being at especially high risk for failure, to get them to hold off on taking the bar exam. Indeed, in July Arizona Summit’s dean confirmed that she had called various graduates the night before the exam, imploring them to consider the “opportunity” to withdraw from the test, in exchange for a $10,000 living stipend, that would be paid to them if they enrolled in enhanced bar-preparation courses provided by the school.

In other words, you might say there’s a trend in the data. For example here’s the bar passage rate for Arizona Summit graduates who are first time takers of the Arizona bar:

2012: 75%
2013: 70.5%
2014: 54.7%
2015: 40.3%
2016: 38.1% (February)

And it’s going to get worse, since over the last three years the Infilaw schools have thrown what little was left of their admissions standards out the window, and of course those victims people haven’t taken the bar yet.

Some other notes and questions:

*A few weeks ago the ABA passed new accreditation standards in regard to bar passage which, if they are actually enforced, will put the Infilaw schools – and quite a few others – out of business.

*My most vociferous critics in the law school world are very fond of threatening to sue people, but they never threaten to sue me. Mysteriously, even though according to their counsel I’ve been egregiously libeling the good folks at Infilaw and Sterling Partners, I’ve never heard from Thomas Clare, et. al., Instead these people direct their energies toward trying to get other people to avoid disseminating the poisonous fruits of my “nefarious and inappropriate investigative tactics.” (Those tactics consist of analyzing publicly-available data and then asking interested parties to comment on them).

*Speaking of libel, is Infilaw libeling me via its consigliere? The claims about me in this letter are false and defamatory, so do I have a cause of action against any or all of:

(a) Infilaw
(b) Sterling Partners
(c) Thomas Clare, and/or Clare Locke, a limited liability corporation?

Please identify the legal ISSUE, state the relevant RULE, provide an APPLICATION, and reach a CONCLUSION.

Letting go

[ 399 ] May 18, 2016 |

sanders

Bernie Sanders ran a remarkably successful campaign against overwhelming odds, and in doing so pushed Hillary Clinton at least rhetorically to the left on a number of key economic issues. But now . . .

Sanders speech tonight was right in line with his statement out this afternoon. He identified the Democratic party as an essentially corrupt, moribund institution which is now on notice that it must let ‘the people’ in. What about the coalitions Barack Obama built in 2008 and 2012, the biggest and most diverse presidential coalitions ever constructed?

Sanders narrative today has essentially been that he is political legitimacy. The Democratic party needs to realize that. This, as I said earlier, is the problem with lying to your supporters. Sanders is telling his supporters that he can still win, which he can’t. He’s suggesting that the win is being stolen by a corrupt establishment, an impression which will be validated when his phony prediction turns out not to be true. Lying like this sets you up for stuff like happened over the weekend in Nevada.

As Marshall notes, it’s hard to say to what extent Sanders’ increasingly problematic response to the fact that he’s lost is a matter of personal temperament, as opposed to the natural psychological difficulties any candidate who has gotten as far as he has must deal with when coming to terms with the reality of that loss.

It’s reasonable to expect that in three weeks all this will be water under the bridge, and Sanders will make nice with Hillary, DWS, and the rest of the establishment. But that’s not inevitable, and it would be a shame if he threw away much of the good will he’s won over the past year.

Work and “work”

[ 82 ] May 17, 2016 |

chart

coal miners

Robert Samuelson thinks Americans should work longer and retire later:

For most of the last century, Americans’ health has slowly improved. Mortality rates — the share of the population that dies at a given age — have dropped. The result is, for example, that the mortality rates for today’s 55-year-old men equal rates for men who were 49 in 1977. Suppose, ask the economists, today’s 55-year-olds worked in the same proportion as the 49-year-olds in 1977. Eighty-nine percent would be working now, as opposed to the 72 percent of 55-year-old men who actually work.

The study performs similar estimates along the 55-to-69-year-old age spectrum. In 2010, 37 percent of 65-year-old men worked; the rate would have been 77 percent if the 65-year-olds had worked in similar proportions as men in 1977 with the same death rates. The assumption is that people with the same death rates have roughly the same health and are equally capable of working.

“Americans” make up a pretty broad category. Let’s engage in a bit of class warfare, statistically speaking:

Wealthy and middle-class baby boomers can expect to live substantially longer than their parents’ generation. Meanwhile, life expectancy for the poor hasn’t increased and may even be declining, according to a report published Thursday by several leading economists.

Call it a growing inequality of death — and it means that the poor ultimately may collect less in money from some of the government’s safety net programs than the rich.

As of 2010, the average, upper-income 50-year-old man was expected to live to 89. But the same man, if he’s lower income, would live to just 76, according to the report. . .

Peter Orszag, one of the chairmen of the committee that wrote the report and a former senior official in the Obama administration, said he was surprised by the differences among this group by income.

“The bottom of the socioeconomic distribution isn’t experiencing any material increase in life expectancy,” he told Wonkblog.

A more accurate description of the situation would be: in recent decades, the health of upper income older Americans has improved drastically, while that of low-income older Americans hasn’t improved at all. Combining these two trends leads to Samuelson’s overall moderate improvement. (The old statistics joke is that if you have one foot in a campfire and the other in a bucket of ice water then you must be comfortable, because the average temperature of your two feet is quite pleasant).

Samuelson gestures vaguely at these facts, by acknowledging that “even a gradual increase in Social Security’s eligibility age would fall hardest on the poor, who have shorter life expectancies.” But the real story isn’t that the poor (broadly defined) have shorter life expectancies than the upper class. This has always been true. The real story, in regard to debates about old age entitlements in contemporary America, is that this gap is much larger than it used to be and is growing rapidly.

Samuelson’s crusade to raise the social security retirement age (which has already been raised from 65 to 67 for everyone born after the 1950s) also ignores a couple of other awkward issues:

(1) Less than half of adult Americans have full-time jobs, and only about 57% are working for money period. Now this may be because our overly generous social welfare system is handing out T-bone steaks to strapping young bucks etc., or it may because surplus labor is an endemic issue in a technologically-advanced economy, and will become even more so as robots are designed to do everything from drive cars to assemble Washington Post op-ed word collations. A social structure that expects 69-year-olds to get along without social security benefits will only exacerbate this issue, driving down wages even further (needless to say from the perspective of capital this is a feature, not a bug).

(2) Speaking of Washington Post op-eds, it’s remarkable (this is a rhetorical gesture; it isn’t) that Samuelson doesn’t even gesture at the difference between expecting 69-year-olds to keep cranking out the same stupid opinion pieces year after year and expecting them to do real jobs, as opposed to bullshit jobs.

Even when you watch the process of coal-extraction you probably only watch it for a short time, and it is not until you begin making a few calculations that you realize what a stupendous task the ‘fillers’ are performing. Normally each man has to clear a space four or five yards wide. The cutter has undermined the coal to the depth of five feet, so that if the seam of coal is three or four feet high, each man has to cutout, break up and load on to the belt something between seven and twelve cubic yards of coal. This is to say, taking a cubic yard as weighing twenty-seven hundred-weight, that each man is shifting coal at a speed approaching two tons an hour. I have just enough experience of pick and shovel work to be able to grasp what this means. When I am digging
trenches in my garden, if I shift two tons of earth during the afternoon, I feel that I have earned my tea. But earth is tractable stuff compared with coal, and I don’t have to work kneeling down, a thousand feet underground, in suffocating heat and swallowing coal dust with every breath I take; nor do I have to walk a mile bent double
before I begin. The miner’s job would be as much beyond my power as it would be to perform on a flying trapeze or to win the Grand National. I am not a manual labourer and please God I never shall be one, but there are some kinds of manual work that I could do if I had to. At a pitch I could be a tolerable road-sweeper or an inefficient gardener or even a tenth-rate farm hand. But by no conceivable amount of effort or training could I become a coal-miner, the work would kill me in a few weeks. . .

Watching coal-miners at work, you realize momentarily what different universes people inhabit. Down there where coal is dug is a sort of world apart which one can quite easily go through life without ever hearing about. Probably majority of people would even prefer not to hear about it. Yet it is the absolutely necessary counterpart of our world above. Practically everything we do, from eating an ice to crossing the Atlantic, and from baking a loaf to writing a novel, involves the use of coal, directly or indirectly. . .

It is not long since conditions in the mines were worse than they are now. There are still living a few very old women who in their youth have worked underground, with the harness round their waists, and a chain that passed between their legs, crawling on all fours and dragging tubs of coal. They used to go on doing this even when they were pregnant. And even now, if coal could not be produced without pregnant women dragging it to and fro, I fancy we should let them do it rather than deprive ourselves of coal. But-most of the time, of course, we should prefer to
forget that they were doing it. It is so with all types of manual work;it keeps us alive, and we are oblivious of its existence. More than anyone else, perhaps, the miner can stand as the type of the manual worker, not only because his work is so exaggeratedly awful, but also because it is so vitally necessary and yet so remote from our
experience, so invisible, as it were, that we are capable of forgetting it as we forget the blood in our veins. In a way it is even humiliating to watch coal-miners working. It raises in you a momentary doubt about your own status as an ‘intellectual’ and a superior person generally.

Orwell, The Road to Wigan Pier (1936)

Coal mining is not as awful work today as it was in 1936, just as it was far “easier” in 1936 than it had been in 1856. But it is still awful work in comparison to what the knowledge class gets paid to do, or not do. And of course the reason it’s less awful is that it has been mechanized and automated, which in turn has eliminated the vast majority of the jobs in the industry.

Which gets us back to the whole issue of surplus labor, not that Samuelson ever got there in the first place.

The three highest-paid people at (or by) the University of Notre Dame in FY2014

[ 46 ] May 16, 2016 |

weis

Scott Malpass

Money manager

Total compensation: $4,781,608

Michael D. Donovan

Money manager

Total compensation: $2,084,027

Charles J. Weis

Former football coach, fired seven years ago.

Total compensation: $2,054,744

Source

Weis was fired two years ago by the University of Kansas, which is paying him $5.6 million in buyout money through the end of this year.

I’ve been told that at Purdue University’s first commencement, the speaker was the governor of Indiana, who delivered himself of this dictum (transcribed freely here into Hoosier dialect): “Edducate a boy and he wunt work.”

The search for the perfect pop song

[ 234 ] May 16, 2016 |

brian wilson

Pet Sounds was released 50 years ago today.

The story of Pet Sounds is the story of art versus commerce, youthful optimism versus adult cynicism and the independent spirit versus the mundane status quo. It’s also a story of tremendous courage. In 1966, 23-year-old Brian Wilson hijacked the Beach Boys, a multi-million-dollar industry consisting of his two brothers, cousin and childhood friend, to give voice to the sounds he heard in his head and the emotions he felt in his heart. The result was an album that had leading musical figures struggling to match his technical innovation, lyrical depth and melodic genius. Half a century later, it’s questionable whether anyone has. . .

4. “God Only Knows” was written in under an hour.
The track has become one of the most beloved in the band’s canon, famously praised by Paul McCartney as the greatest song ever written. Its legendary status is even more remarkable considering that it came together in less than an hour. According to a 2015 Guardian interview, Wilson claims that he and Tony Asher composed the song in just 45 minutes. “We didn’t spend a lot of time writing it,” confirms Asher. “It came pretty quickly. And Brian spent a lot of time working on what ended up being the instrumental parts of that song. But the part that has lyrics really was one of those things that just kinda came out as a whole.”

Author Jim Fusilli theorized that the song’s title was born out of a love letter Wilson wrote to his wife Marilyn in 1964, signing off with “Yours until God wants us apart.” Whatever the true genesis, this reference to God created a dilemma for the two collaborators. “We had lengthy conversations during the writing of ‘God Only Knows,'” remembers Asher. “Because unless you were Kate Smith and you were singing ‘God Bless America,’ no one thought you could say ‘God’ in a song. No one had done it, and Brian didn’t want to be the first person to try it. He said, ‘We’ll just never get any airplay.'” Though a handful of Southern radio stations banned the song for blasphemy, it was warmly received nearly everywhere else. . . .

For the album’s emotional closer, 23-year-old Brian Wilson cast his mind back to his teenage crush on a cheerleader named Carol Mountain. He had been obsessed with the girl as a student, rhapsodizing about her beautiful complexion and long dark hair. By 1966, Wilson had discovered that Mountain was married and still living in their hometown of Hawthorne, not far from his Hollywood home. Though also married, Wilson began to call his unrequited high-school love, who had no inkling of his true feelings until decades later. “He didn’t sound drugged or anything, but it was very strange,” Mountain told author Peter Ames Carlin. “He’d call at 3 a.m. and want to talk about music. … But it was nothing inappropriate. It was just a strange thing he was going through, calling and connecting.”

Though they didn’t meet in person, Wilson grew depressed that the torch he carried for Mountain had begun to dim. “If I saw her today, I’d probably think, ‘God, she’s lost something,’ because growing up does that to people,” he explained decades later. He relayed this story to Tony Asher, who penned a chorus in the form of a dialogue between the two: “Oh, Carol, I know.” Wilson misheard this as “Caroline, No,” giving the song its pleading title. The recording became one of the most heartbreaking tunes ever committed to wax, plodding ahead at a depressive crawl. He played the song to his father (and onetime band manager), Murry Wilson, who advised his son to speed up the tape a full tone to give his voice a sweeter, more youthful quality. The effect made him sound like the lovesick teenager that, in many ways, he still was.

Ralph Nader’s vote is too precious to give away to someone who doesn’t make him feel really special

[ 9 ] May 14, 2016 |

nader

Also both sides do it and not a dime’s worth of difference.

Ralph Nader, the former Green Party presidential candidate and lifelong consumer activist, says Donald Trump’s dizzying presidential candidacy hasn’t been all bad, while Hillary Clinton is winning the Democratic nomination by “dictatorship.”

And though he has heaps of praise for Bernie Sanders, Nader still won’t say whom he voted for in the 2016 primary or which candidate he plans to cast a ballot for come November. He’d actually prefer there was an option for “none of the above.” . . .

[I]n an interview with U.S. News, Nader expressed more positive thoughts about Trump’s candidacy than Clinton’s.

The liberal activist says Trump has brought some important issues to the fore.

“He’s questioned the trade agreements. He’s done some challenging of Wall Street – I don’t know how authentic that is. He said he’s against the carried interest racket, for hedge funds. He’s funded himself and therefore attacked special interest money, which is very important,” Nader says. “But he’s lowered the level of political debate to unheard-of depths of salacious, slanderous and vacuousness, garnished with massive self-boosterism and repetition.”

“And that’s not good, because that brought a lot of money into the media and that’s the kind of debates they’re going to want to goad.”

When asked what positive contributions Clinton has made to the 2016 campaign, Nader called her a “corporatist, militarist Democrat” who would have been defeated by Sanders if every state held an open primary.

“She’s going to win by dictatorship. Twenty-five percent of superdelegates are cronies, mostly. They weren’t elected. They were there in order to stop somebody like Bernie Sanders, who would win by the vote,” he says.

To date, Clinton has captured 3 million more total votes than Sanders, but Nader argues the results would be different if independents were allowed to participate in each state.

. . . Scott does the light lifting of picking apart Nader’s nonsense.

American psycho

[ 40 ] May 14, 2016 |

bateman

The voice is instantly familiar; the tone, confident, even cocky; the cadence, distinctly Trumpian. The man on the phone vigorously defending Donald Trump says he’s a media spokesman named John Miller, but then he says, “I’m sort of new here,” and “I’m somebody that he knows and I think somebody that he trusts and likes” and even “I’m going to do this a little, part time, and then, yeah, go on with my life.”

A recording obtained by The Washington Post captures what New York reporters and editors who covered Trump’s early career experienced in the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s: calls from Trump’s Manhattan office that resulted in conversations with “John Miller” or “John Barron” — public-relations men who sound precisely like Trump himself — who indeed are Trump, masquerading as an unusually helpful and boastful advocate for himself, according to the journalists and several of Trump’s top aides.

In 1991, Sue Carswell, a reporter at People magazine, called Trump’s office seeking an interview with the developer. She had just been assigned to cover the soap opera surrounding the end of Trump’s 12-year marriage to Ivana, his budding relationship with the model Marla Maples and his rumored affairs with any number of celebrities who regularly appeared on the gossip pages of the New York newspapers.

Within five minutes, Carswell got a return call from Trump’s publicist, a man named John Miller, who immediately jumped into a startlingly frank and detailed explanation of why Trump dumped Maples for the Italian model Carla Bruni. “He really didn’t want to make a commitment,” Miller said. “He’s coming out of a marriage, and he’s starting to do tremendously well financially.”

Miller turned out to be a remarkably forthcoming source — a spokesman with rare insight into the private thoughts and feelings of his client. “Have you met him?” Miller asked the reporter. “He’s a good guy, and he’s not going to hurt anybody. . . . He treated his wife well and . . . he will treat Marla well.”

Some reporters found the calls from Miller or Barron disturbing or even creepy; others thought they were just examples of Trump being playful. Today, as the presumptive Republican nominee for president faces questions about his attitudes toward women, what stands out to some who received those calls is Trump’s characterization of women whom he portrayed as drawn to him sexually.

“Actresses,” Miller said in the call to Carswell, “just call to see if they can go out with him and things.” Madonna “wanted to go out with him.” And Trump’s alter ego boasted that in addition to living with Maples, Trump had “three other girlfriends.”

Miller was consistent about referring to Trump as “he,” but at one point, when asked how important Bruni was in Trump’s busy love life, the spokesman said, “I think it’s somebody that — you know, she’s beautiful. I saw her once, quickly, and beautiful . . . ” and then he quickly pivoted back into talking about Trump — then a 44-year-old father of three — in the third person.

Trump is a narcissistic weirdo, so there’s almost certainly a lot more stuff like this out there.

Did John Roberts’ unwillingness to overturn legislation cause Donald Trump’s nomination?

[ 138 ] May 13, 2016 |

roberts

That’s the novel theory being put forth (independently I guess) by Randy Barnett and Ilya Shapiro:

The vast majority of constitutional law scholars don’t believe Obamacare violates the Constitution, but never mind that. The far loopier claim is that John Roberts, of all people, upheld Obamacare because he doesn’t believe in striking down democratically-enacted laws. This is the same Roberts who provided the deciding vote to gut the Voting Rights Act, to overturn decades-worth of campaign finance laws, and to strike down gun control legislation, to name just a few of the many cases in which Roberts has shown no hesitation to overturn the decisions of political majorities. . .

Leave aside that this supposed unwillingness is, as noted above, completely fictitious. How delusional do you have to be to believe that a significant number of the people voting for Donald Trump are doing so because they are upset about the theory of judicial review John Roberts employed in the Obamacare case? This is such an obviously preposterous idea that to restate it is to refute it.

The American right has been throwing a six-year-long temper tantrum about the passage of Obamacare. It’s hardly surprising that part of the right’s strategy for attacking the law has been to cook up a bunch of “creative,” i.e., dubious, legal arguments about how the law is supposedly unconstitutional. That, after all, is how the legal-political game is played in this country.

Do people like Barnett and Shapiro actually believe their claims that a series of highly technical (and again, highly dubious) legal arguments failed to overturn that law because John Roberts values democracy more than a correct interpretation of the Constitution? Furthermore, do they really believe that widespread anger about this supposed preference is what has led to Donald Trump’s impending nomination?

Because if they do, that’s actually crazier than Trump’s nomination itself.

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