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If you build it they will apply

[ 123 ] February 17, 2016 |

dream

Let’s just say that, hypothetically speaking, you were looking for a new university president, or chancellor, or provost, or dean, or director of a proposed Center for the Interdisciplinary Study of Entrepreneurial Synergies. What words or phrases should set off the loudest alarm bells when emanating from candidates, either spontaneously or from their application materials? Some nominees:

Entrepreneurial

Synergies

Startup

Actionable

Innovate

Accelerator

Capital

Venture

Venture Capital

Horatio Alger

Henry Ford

Silicon Valley

Leverage

Vibrant

Disruptive

High-growth

Value added

Invest

Austin

Empower

Niche

Ecosystem

Chief Financial Officer

Marketplace of Ideas

List inspired by via.

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America

[ 63 ] February 16, 2016 |

GOP backrunner Jeb Bush’s latest tweet.

Is this performance art? Another desperate cry for attention? A literal trigger warning?

America I’ve given you all and now I’m nothing.
America two dollars and twenty-seven cents January 17, 1956.
I can’t stand my own mind.
America when will we end the human war?
Go fuck yourself with your atom bomb
I don’t feel good don’t bother me.
I won’t write my poem till I’m in my right mind.
America when will you be angelic?
When will you take off your clothes?
When will you look at yourself through the grave?
When will you be worthy of your million Trotskyites?
America why are your libraries full of tears?
America when will you send your eggs to India?
I’m sick of your insane demands.
When can I go into the supermarket and buy what I need with my good looks?
America after all it is you and I who are perfect not the next world.
Your machinery is too much for me.
You made me want to be a saint.
There must be some other way to settle this argument.
Burroughs is in Tangiers I don’t think he’ll come back it’s sinister.
Are you being sinister or is this some form of practical joke?
I’m trying to come to the point.

Why have law schools increased payroll spending so drastically?

[ 41 ] February 16, 2016 |

gilded age

According to Rick Bales, dean of Ohio Northern’s law school, there are three reasons that those mean “scambloggers” (this term is now used loosely to encompass pretty much anyone who criticizes the legal ed status quo) never mention:

The first is Baumol’s Cost Disease. The idea here is that in certain labor-intensive industries (such as education), there is little productivity growth over time. Car manufacturers automate; farmers have better equipment and pest-resistant seeds; but law school is still taught much the same way it was 50 years ago. Unless and until we see widespread adoption of online learning technology or other types of teaching-efficiency enhancements, the cost of higher education likely will continue to increase more than rate of inflation.

The second is increased reporting requirements. Twenty years ago law schools gave some basic data to the ABA and that was it. Today we collect and give a lot more data to the ABA, and then we format it exactly like they want it for our website, and we do the same for U.S. News, and the transparency movement wants still more. Many law schools now have a full-time data-reporting officer. Our Career Services Director spends almost as much time tracking student outcomes as she does helping students find jobs. Transparency is great in the abstract, and abuses in the past make today’s demands for more transparency reasonable. But all this data collection and dissemination isn’t free – it comes at a cost that ultimately must be paid from student tuition. . . .

The third factor contributing to higher costs is that faculty (and decanal) salaries are influenced by the anomalous bi-modal wage distribution of starting salaries for lawyers. As this chart makes clear, lawyer salaries follow more-or-less a normal bell curve in the $45,000-85,000 range, then spike strongly in the $155,000-165,000 range. The problem for law schools is that many of the faculty we want to hire (especially the folks who can teach corporate, tax, and estate planning law) are in that right-hand spike, and to attract them we need to be at least in-the-ballpark competitive. Even so, although law faculty may earn modestly more than the average (mean, median) starting salary of a practicing lawyer, they earn far less than the lawyers on the bigfirm partnership track.

In the classic example, Baumol’s cost disease is supposed to explain why it continues to cost so much, relatively speaking, to perform a string quartet, relative to the declining cost of farming an acre of wheat, etc. (Because you still need four musicians duh). But what if the American String Quartet Association decided that a Fully Accredited String Quartet now required eight musicians? What would that do to the cost?

Law school student-faculty ratios declined from 27.1-1 to 13.6-1 between 1980 and 2013, and are certainly lower than the latter figure today: what downsizing of faculties has taken place over the last couple of years hasn’t come closes to matching the decline in overall enrollment. Part of this decline can be attributed to the ABA’s Section of Legal Education’s (aka law school deans and faculty reveling in the joys of regulatory capture) accreditation standards, that used student-faculty ratios as a proxy for meeting quality standards.

But wait, there’s more. What if you doubled the salaries of the eight people now performing in your string quartet, at the very time that compensation for other musicians was plunging?

Let’s compare the compensation of an up and coming seventh year professor, who has just been promoted to full, at the University of Michigan Law School thirty-five years ago versus today. How much was this guy making in base salary back in the day? The answer is $31,500, which when we plug in our handy-dandy inflation calculator is about $91,000 in 2015 dollars. (His total comp for his academic labors had risen to $4.6 million in 2013, so don’t fill out a SNAP form for him just yet).

How much was a seventh-year law prof, just promoted to full, making in base pay at Michigan in 2014? The answer is $205,000 (In both 1980 and 2014 base pay numbers didn’t include a 15% summer research stipend, or the 10% of base pay that the university contributed to the faculty member’s retirement account).

Meanwhile, in the rest of the American university, average faculty compensation plunged between the 1970s and today, largely because of rampant adjunctification. (Law schools don’t/can’t use many adjuncts, relatively speaking, because adjuncts greatly increase student-faculty ratios per the ABA’s accreditation standards, since an adjunct who teaches a full course load counts as only .2 of a faculty member relative to a tenure-track person. True story).

Moving right along, what about those burdensome reporting requirements? In fact, contrary to Bales’ claims, the ABA reporting requirements haven’t changed a whole lot over the past 20 years, which anybody can confirm by checking out an ABA reporting form for 1996 and comparing it to today’s equivalent document. And really, compiling that data and putting them up on a website isn’t close to a full-time job for even one admin, so this rationale for skyrocketing costs is specious on its face.

Speaking of administrative personnel costs, in 2014 Michigan’s law school was paying the head of its admissions office (someone whose professional career experience consisted of two years being a lawyer and three years clerking for a judge before heading into university administration) $199,000 per year, which in inflation-adjusted dollars is quite a bit more than the dean of the law school was paid 35 years ago. (These days the dean is pulling down $450K).

Meanwhile, is it really true that you have to pay law faculty twice as much today as a generation ago or they’ll scurry off to corner offices at Cravath?

Cravath was paying entry level associates $141,000 in 2015$ 30 years ago; today the figure is $160,000. It’s true that compensation for Cravath partners has gone through the roof during the new gilded age, but the notion that legal academics are people with realistic career options that include equity partnership at mega-firms is about as plausible as the idea that they (we) are incurring the opportunity cost of not choosing to become NBA power forwards when we decide to dedicate ourselves to public service via the academic life.

Furthermore, as anyone who has been involved in law school faculty hiring knows, it has become an extreme buyer’s market: entry-level qualifications for tenure-track jobs are literally higher now than qualifications for tenure were even twenty years ago. (A senior professor at an elite law school told me recently that he’s quite confident law schools could collectively pay entry-level hires 60% of the current market rate with no loss of quality at all).

So the answer to the question posed by this post is the same answer one can give for so many contemporary economic transactions: because they could.

. . . Michigan Law School tuition (2015$):

1980: Resident: $2,008 ($5,775 2015$)

Non-Resident: $4,300 ($12,369 2015$)

1n 1980 Michigan was the most expensive public law school in the country.

2015: $53,153 resident/$56,153 non-resident

Also, the law school’s endowment is certainly larger today, in real dollars, than the entire university’s endowment 35 years ago. (The entire university’s endowment was $115,300,000 in 1982, which is $284,000,000 in constant dollars. The law school’s endowment was $248,000,000 fifteen years ago. About 3% of the university’s students are enrolled at the law school.)

Smoking and class status

[ 176 ] February 15, 2016 |

smoking

First graph of a NYT op-ed by law professor Jamal Greene:

Antonin Scalia was my hero. He was deeply conservative. He belittled lawyers. His opinions, especially in dissent, could be downright nasty. No justice in the Supreme Court’s history insulted his colleagues more, or more memorably. He was as aggressive and outspoken as I am reserved and cautious. He was a smoker. He was, in short, everything I am not. But I have looked up to him for years.

Sociologically speaking, one difference between Scalia and himself that Greene chooses to highlight is particularly interesting, especially considering how many he had to choose from (For example Greene is black, while Scalia was born the child of Italian immigrants, and eventually became white).

He was a smoker. He was, in short, everything I am not.

Greene is probably not yet 40 — he graduated from college in 1999 — so he grew up amid sharply declining smoking rates: 50 years ago 42.4% of American adults smoked: today less than 17% do. Yet that is an oversimplification.

The relative distribution of this decline in the American population appears to be remarkably uneven. Current rates of smoking by education level:

Nearly 23 of every 100 adults with 12 or fewer years of education (no diploma) (22.9%)
43 of every 100 adults with a GED certificate (43.0%)
Nearly 22 of every 100 adults with a high school diploma (21.7%)
About 17 of every 100 adults with an associate’s degree (17.1%)
Nearly 20 of every 100 adults with some college (no degree) (19.7%)
About 8 of every 100 adults with an undergraduate college degree (7.9%)
More than 5 of every 100 adults with a graduate degree (5.4%)

The two most striking aspects of these numbers are the extremely high smoking rate among people with GED certificates relative to those who are high school dropouts or who have only a high school diploma (perhaps this number is a product some sort of sampling error or other statistical mistake) and, of more relevance here, the roughly 65% decline in smoking rates between Americans with at least a four-year college degree — this is currently about a third of the adult population — and everybody else.

On an anecdotal level, I can’t remember the last time I encountered a legal academic who I knew to be a smoker. This suggests that smoking among Greene’s professional cohort is both a rare and carefully hidden habit — hence its status as a marked category when he considers the “relevant” differences between himself and the late justice. (I wonder how this marking arose for Greene: did he, during his days as a Supreme Court clerk, witness Scalia transgressively lighting up within the quasi-sacred confines of the SCOTUS itself?)

I don’t know what the situation is at Columbia, where Greene is employed — although I suspect after Mayor Bloomberg went about inflicting his personal obsessions with various types of social hygiene on New York City, it’s probably pretty repressive — but at the University of Colorado you are forbidden to smoke literally anywhere on campus, and indeed it’s very hard to find any space other than a private residence within the entire city of Boulder where smoking doesn’t make you an outlaw. (The average sale price of a single-family house in Boulder last year was $946,175).

Smoking, in other words, has increasingly become a key class marker in America. I wouldn’t be surprised if the figure of 5.4% of adults with graduate degrees who smoke is strongly affected by age-related demographics, and that within another couple or three decades cigarette smoking among the upper classes will have more or less achieved the status of an abominable crime against nature.

Calling it

[ 80 ] February 14, 2016 |

moore

Who said this?

They lied. They said there were weapons of mass destruction, there were none. And they knew there were none. There were no weapons of mass destruction.

If you guessed Noam Chomsky or Michael Moore you guessed wrong. (They’ve said this many times, just not in those exact words).

The answer is Donald Trump, at last night’s GOP debate. As Jon Chait notes, to say such a thing, especially so straightforwardly, is the heresy of heresies for the post-9/11 Republican party:

Republicans invoke Bush’s response to the 9/11 attacks, but they must discuss his record on terrorism as if he took office only after the attacks. The copious evidence that the administration received, and ignored, extensive warnings of a forthcoming attack has never pierced the Republican bubble. Conservative intellectuals treat any indictment of the administration’s terrorism record as conspiratorial blather tantamount to denying 9/11. Rubio, whose mastery of Republican consensus outstrips that of all his competitors, stated what all good Republicans believe when he blamed the 9/11 attacks on Bill Clinton. “The World Trade Center came down because Bill Clinton didn’t kill Osama bin Laden when he had the chance to kill him.”

That Trump brought up this fact is incredible. That he did so in South Carolina is even more so. South Carolina is a military state, with a hierarchical political culture that makes its conservative voters loyal to their past leaders. It is not an accident that Jeb Bush waited until South Carolina to bring his brother out to the stump, or that it is the state where Ted Cruz emphasized his opposition to drafting women in the military. It is the worst possible place to associate yourself with the concept that the president who oversaw the deadliest terrorist attack in American history had anything but a stellar record in the field of counter-terrorism, or that the war he launched afterward was mistaken.

As Trump has defied his skeptics, evaluations of his political acumen have grudgingly embraced the conclusion that there is a method to his madness. But on Saturday night, he took the madness to a completely new level. By the normal standards of politics, Trump swallowed enough poison to kill himself ten times over. If he survives, it will be the strongest evidence that he has forged a connection with Republican voters that resides beyond any plane visible to the rest of us.

I’ve been fascinated by Trump’s ascent since its beginnings last summer. How many times since then have people said “OK this is it. Now he’s really gone too far?” And yet his popularity only grows.

I suspect that Trump has decided that the way to win, not only the GOP nomination but the presidency itself, is to run a deeply counter-cultural campaign: that is, a campaign that violates every rule of political consulting and horse race punditry. And the evidence continues to mount that he may well be right about that.

Why Trump is winning

[ 69 ] February 14, 2016 |

golf

From last night’s debate:

STRASSEL: Mr. Trump, you have made a lot of promises and you have also— you’re the only candidate who has said he would not touch entitlements. The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget has estimated that your ideas would cost an additional $12 trillion to $15 trillion over the next 10 years and that we would have to have annual economic growth of anywhere from 7.7 percent to 9 percent annually to pay for them. Are you proposing more than you can actually deliver, at least not without big deficits?

TRUMP: First of all, the— when you say I’m the only candidate, if you listen to the Democrats, they want to do many things to Social Security. And I want to do them on its own merit. You listen to them, what they want to do to Social Security, none of these folks are getting elected, whether they can do it or not. I’m going to save Social Security. I’m going to bring jobs back from China. I’m going to bring jobs back from Mexico and Japan, where every country throughout the world— now Vietnam, that’s the new one— they are taking our jobs. They’re taking our wealth. They are taking our base. And you and I have had this discussion. We’re going to make our economy strong again. I’m lowering taxes. We have $2.5 trillion offshore that I think is 5 trillion because the government has no idea what they say 2.5, they have no idea what they’re doing or saying, as they’ve proven very well. We’re going to bring that money back. You take a look at what happened just this week, China bought the Chicago Stock Exchange, China, a Chinese company. A carrier is moving to Mexico, an air conditioning company. Nabisco and Ford— they’re all moving out. We have an economy that last quarter G.D.P., didn’t grow. It was flat. We have to make our economy grow again. We’re dying. This country is dying. And our workers are losing their jobs, and you’re going— I’m the only one who is going to save Social Security, believe me.

STRASSEL: OK, but how would you actually do that? Can I ask you? Because right now Social Security and Medicare take up two-thirds of the budget. [This is a serious exaggeration. Together they take up about two-thirds of mandatory spending, which is far less than two-thirds of the budget as a whole]

TRUMP: You have tremendous waste, fraud, and abuse. That we’re taking care of. That we’re taking care of. It’s tremendous. We have in Social Security right now thousand and thousands of people that are over 106 years old. Now, you know they don’t exist. They don’t exist. There’s tremendous waste, fraud, and abuse, and we’re going to get it. But we’re not going to hurt the people who have been paying into Social Security their whole life and then all of a sudden they’re supposed to get less. We’re going to bring our jobs back and we’re going to make our economy great again.

Yes Trump is a master manipulator of the contemporary media, but he’s also got another big edge on his GOP rivals: his policy positions are much more popular than theirs with the vast majority of voters, including Republican voters.

Cutting Social Security is a wildly unpopular position with the American public as a whole. It is, however, a very popular position within the upper reaches of the plutocracy, which calls the tune to which the rest of the GOP field dances.

Now of course the details of Trump’s “vision” as he (speaking loosely) articulated it last night consist largely of demagogic nonsense, but underneath the xenophobic ranting is a coherent political position: don’t cut Social Security benefits. That is a winning message, for the very old-fashioned reason that it is the preferred position of a very large majority of American voters, although admittedly it does not command a current majority among New York billionaires with active presidential ambitions.

The political implications of Scalia’s death

[ 190 ] February 13, 2016 |

I would be very surprised if we don’t spend the next year-plus with at most eight SCOTUS justices.

Every four years we hear that the winner of the presidential election may well play a key role in shaping the composition of the Court for decades to come. This will not be a hypothetical scenario in 2016, as two things seem highly likely: Senate Republicans will not approve anyone President Obama nominates to replace Scalia, and the next president will at the very least end up choosing two Supreme Court justices, if not more (Justice Ginsburg’s departure from the Court prior to 2021 seems practically certain, — she turns 83 next month and is in precarious health — and one or two other current justices may well be gone by then as well).

Obama will surely take into account that an increasingly radicalized and confrontational GOP is not going to allow its senators to approve anyone to the Court that Democrats would consider minimally acceptable. This suggests he will nominate someone whose rejection by the Senate will do maximum damage to the electoral chances of both the Republican presidential nominee, and of the GOP senatorial candidates who will be in competitive races in November.

In fact it’s quite possible that the rejection of Obama’s nominee (or nominees) will become the central issue of the presidential campaign, as we are now poised to spend the next year, if not longer, with a fundamentally deadlocked Supreme Court.

Indeed, it’s well within the realm of possibility that the politics of this situation will play out in such a way that public disgust over how a radicalized GOP reacts to Obama’s nomination(s) ends up playing a crucial role in handing both the presidency and the Senate to the Democrats.

And should that happen, we can then look forward to Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders choosing Barack Obama to succeed Antonin Scalia.

The Gilmore boys

[ 34 ] February 12, 2016 |

gilmore

Time has a nice little photo essay about Jim Gilmore’s quirky presidential campaign. Gilmore’s campaign staff appears to consist largely of his brother-in-law, and the photographs of the two of them tromping around in the New Hampshire snow while being ignored by everyone around them are affecting in an odd way.

Why a former governor of a large state would spend many months engaged in an extended Stephen Colbert sketch as directed by Werner Herzog is something of a mystery.

. . . an hour or so after this post appeared, Gilmore suspended his campaign. I hope it wasn’t the last straw.

Larry Tribe protects the Rule of Law at $5,000 an hour (est.)

[ 39 ] February 12, 2016 |

london

That’s really more of a guess than an estimate but whatever.

The most improper aspect of Tribe’s behavior is his very public and continual insistence that he really believes the arguments he’s making. Here’s why those claims in particular are an abuse of his position: Under the rules of professional conduct, lawyers owe a duty of zealous advocacy to their clients. That means that, once Tribe agreed to represent Peabody Coal, he was, as a matter of professional ethics, obliged to make whatever legal arguments would, in his judgment, advance Peabody’s interests, without regard to whether he himself thinks those arguments are valid.

By officiously advertising the supposed sincerity of his arguments in favor of Peabody, Tribe is trying to have it both ways. Tribe is trying to advance Peabody’s legal interests by claiming that he’s not really trying to advance Peabody’s legal interests, but merely sharing the legal views held sincerely by Even Liberal Harvard Law Professor Larry Tribe.

In other words, Tribe is claiming he’s not just a lawyer being paid to advance a client’s interests. But that is in fact exactly what he is, and indeed, under the circumstances, he would be violating the professional obligations he has chosen to incur if he were to be anything else (such as, for example, a disinterested constitutional law scholar, limiting himself to giving his sincere opinion regarding what the law requires).

I don’t care whether or not Tribe actually believes the arguments he’s making. After all, when somebody is being paid the stupendous sums Tribe is surely getting from Peabody Coal, that person’s evaluation of his own psychological sincerity is essentially worthless, precisely because if you pay a man enough to believe he believes what he says he believes, you’ll probably manage to get him to believe it eventually.

I do care that he’s trying to confuse the roles of an advocate and a scholar, in a way that improperly blurs the lines between those roles. That he is blurring those lines to better advance an especially bad policy outcome is both deeply irresponsible, and an abuse of the privileges of his academic position.

Law school stuff

[ 26 ] February 12, 2016 |

ggr

(1) Applicant totals, which crashed between 2010 and 2014, appear to have stabilized at the 2014 level. This is the third cycle in a row that is going to feature around 55,000 applicants.

(2) The ABA is considering a couple of important proposals that cut in opposite directions as regards law school reform:

(a) The reformist proposal is to simplify and toughen up bar passage requirements by requiring schools to get 75% of the graduates of a class who take the bar to pass it within two years of graduation. This still rather lax standard (note that students who don’t graduate or don’t take the bar don’t count) is something a whole bunch of low-ranked schools couldn’t meet now, and a whole bunch more won’t be able to meet as plunging admissions requirements are reflected in declining bar passage rates.

(b) On the other hand, the ancien regime is still slinging crack rock, with a proposal to eliminate not only the LSAT but any standardized test at all as a requirement for ABA law school admission. This would mean that literally anybody with a four-year college degree (in Michigan, anyone with 60 credits of college; Donald LeDuc says hello) could apply to law school on a sudden whim, which of course is very much the idea.

(3) Access Group, the consortium of almost all ABA law schools that used to originate loans to students in the bad old days before GRADPLUS removed any barriers to borrowing the full cost of attendance from an indulgent Uncle Sam, commissioned a paper by an economist to investigate the question of when law school is and isn’t a good investment. The results were, to put it mildly, problematic from the perspective of the status quo, with the analysis suggesting that for large numbers of potential matriculants, it’s not a good idea to borrow more than $100,000 to get a law degree (the average educational debt of current law graduates is probably about 50% higher than that).

Unlike the much-publicized MILLION DOLLAR PREMIUM study from a couple of years back, which didn’t bother to try to make a distinction between, say, a Harvard and a Cooley law degree, this paper acknowledges that asking whether people should go to law school is an unduly and indeed misleadingly broad question.

h/t OTLSS

(4) The University of Minnesota, a top 20-ranked law school, is estimating that it will have incurred $16 million in net operating losses by the time it prospectively balances its budget two years from now. Sacrifices are being made:

“We cut the coffee in the faculty lounge, and I get more complaints about that than all the other faculty cuts combined,” dean David Wippman told the Board of Regents’ finance committee Thursday.

Obligatory video.

As far as I can tell, the difference between Minnesota and a huge number of other university-affiliated law schools (90% of ABA schools are university-affiliated) is that the central administration has put its foot down in regard to further subsidization. A couple of years ago I estimated that somewhere around 80% to 85% of law schools were running deficits, and given the sharp decline in total enrollment since then, that number has if anything probably increased.

h/t Law School Truth Center

The tragi-comedy of the commons

[ 87 ] February 10, 2016 |

commons

Jon Chait points out that the looming Trump Tower casting its shadow over the Babylon of the GOP nomination struggle is a product of a classic collective action problem: it’s in the interest of the Republican establishment as a whole to unify to stop Trump (and Cruz), but doing so isn’t in the interest of individual establishment candidates, unless and until they become the Anointed:

Before New Hampshire, National Review’s Tim Alberta reported that, if Bush finished ahead of Rubio, it might “prove crippling” to the younger Floridian. That proved prophetic. After Rubio’s debate choke, Bush can claim vindication that Rubio is not up to the challenge of a presidential campaign, let alone the presidency. Yet Bush is nowhere close to consolidating Establishment support. He carries the fatal burden of a last name that is a general-election branding disaster, while also being a massive liability within his own party (a shockingly high percentage of Republican voters disapprove of Bush — perhaps as a reaction against his brother, and perhaps as an expression of contempt for his status as a regular victim of Trump bullying). John Kasich has neither the money, the organization, nor the message to plausibly unite his party.

That leaves Bush and Rubio in a death struggle to be the sole alternative acceptable to a party Establishment that loathes both Trump and the candidate who has given Trump his strongest competition, Ted Cruz. The Texas senator may have finished third, but he enjoyed a strategic victory greater than his outright win in Iowa. Cruz saw the crippling of the strongest competition for a candidate of the conservative movement, Rubio. If he finds himself ultimately matched up against either Bush or Trump, Cruz will enjoy something close to unified conservative-movement support.

Trump has performed better than any of his critics (myself included) imagined possible when he first seized control of the race last summer. If he has a ceiling, it’s no lower than that of any of his competitors. His internal opposition has declined. He has gotten better at politics. But he has also benefited from a hapless Republican Establishment that now faces the prospect of a takeover by an outsider it cannot control, and that richly deserves its predicament.

The problem here is not merely game theoretical but ideological: Since the contemporary GOP got a gentleman’s C- in Econ 101 and never took any of the advanced courses, it doesn’t believe in collective action problems, because such concepts suggest that a blessedly unregulated Market might not always be a source of omniscient beneficence for rich people society as a whole.

Anyway the odds of Trump being the next president of the United States are now 24.763% (approximately).

New Hampshire

[ 283 ] February 9, 2016 |

hb

On the GOP side, this was the best possible result for Trump: a blowout win, combined with a continued fracturing of the Not-Trump/Not-Cruz vote. Kasich is polling at around negative two percent in South Carolina and Florida, but it’s not completely unreasonable for him to hope that somehow he’ll now emerge as the establishment darling. Jeb! did just not-horribly enough to trudge on. The night was a total disaster for Rubio, but since he was the favorite to win the nomination until about 17 minutes ago among the very large contingent of pundits etc. who continue to assume that Trump certainly can’t win and Cruz probably can’t, he’s not going anywhere soon. Christie may well stay in it for a couple of more weeks just so he can steal Rubio’s milk money a couple more times.

This is probably the end of the line for both Fiorina and Dr. Carson’s Traveling Medicine Show and 24/7 Griftathon, but they have been total non-factors for weeks now, so their departure affects nothing.

Trump has got to be the solid favorite at this point, as bizarre and terrifying as that prospect is.

As for the Democrats . . . I’m not sure what to think. Yes New Hampshire is a much better state for Sanders than almost all the others going forward, but Clinton did beat Obama here, and she got destroyed tonight. My guess is that this is going to be a real battle now.

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