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Mass workplace shooting in Orlando not terrorism-related

[ 73 ] June 5, 2017 |

Therefore CNN will give it approximately .172% as much coverage as it gave and is continuing to give the London Bridge attack, even though the odds of an average CNN viewer being killed in a non-terrorism related shooting are approximately 17,531% higher than the odds of that viewer being killed in a terrorist attack.


Also, too, Maggie Haberman made a good point about Trump’s twittering:

And calling them “tweets” minimizes them. They’re statements from the president made on Twitter.

Apparently there’s now a bot that turns Trump’s tweets into official White House statements. Hours of fun for the whole family!


Backwards Christian soldiers

[ 183 ] June 2, 2017 |

Two days before his presidential inauguration, Donald Trump greeted a pair of visitors at his office in Trump Tower.

As a swarm of reporters waited in the gilded lobby, the Rev. Patrick O’Connor, the senior pastor at the First Presbyterian Church in Queens, and the Rev. Scott Black Johnston, the senior pastor of Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church, arrived to pray with the next president.

From behind his desk on the 26th floor, Trump faced the Celtic cross at the top of the steeple of Johnston’s church, located a block south on Fifth Avenue. When Johnston pointed it out to Trump, the President-elect responded by marveling at the thick glass on the windows of his office — bulletproof panels installed after the election.

It was clear that Trump was still preoccupied with his November victory, and pleased with his performance with one constituency in particular.

“I did very, very well with evangelicals in the polls,” Trump interjected in the middle of the conversation — previously unreported comments that were described to me by both pastors.

They gently reminded Trump that neither of them was an evangelical.

“Well, what are you then?” Trump asked.

They explained they were mainline Protestants, the same Christian tradition in which Trump, a self-described Presbyterian, was raised and claims membership. Like many mainline pastors, they told the President-elect, they lead diverse congregations.

Trump nodded along, then posed another question to the two men: “But you’re all Christians?”
“Yes, we’re all Christians.”

Marge: I have a responsibility to raise these children right and, unless you change, I’ll have to tell them their father is… well, wicked.
Homer: [to Lisa and Bart] Kids, let me tell you about another so-called wicked guy. He had long hair, and some wild ideas, and he didn’t always do what other people thought was right. And that man’s name was…
Homer: I forget. But the point is…
Homer: I forget that, too.
[to Marge]
Homer: Marge, you know who I’m talking about! He used to drive that blue car.

U.S pulling out of Paris climate agreement

[ 186 ] May 31, 2017 |

Per various sources.

Imagine Donald Trump’s answer to this question: What is a greenhouse gas?

Time for a drink.

Quite an experience to live in fear

[ 122 ] May 30, 2017 |

Thanks to Dan Kois of Slate I now have an answer I can submit to Mike Kinsley’s ongoing “Say Something Nice About Donald Trump” contest. (BTW WTF NYT?)

The Washington Post’s Ashley Parker has a comprehensive story about Donald Trump’s “snubs and slights,” which somehow spins one of the few truly admirable qualities of Donald Trump’s personality—his glee in belittling and humiliating the boot-lickers and opportunists who choose to work for him—into a negative. Working in the Trump White House, Parker reports, is basically like working for an insult comic who’s always trying out new material. From casually shattering Sean Spicer’s dreams of meeting the Pope to warning everyone from his U.N. ambassador to his sons that he can fire them any old time he pleases, Trump regularly rewards his employees’ loyalty with undermining pettiness.

To respond to this assertion that working for Donald Trump is awful, the White House’s Hope Hicks released a remarkable statement that was absolutely not dictated by her boss while he paced behind her, furiously chewing gum:

President Trump has a magnetic personality and exudes positive energy, which is infectious to those around him. He has an unparalleled ability to communicate with people, whether he is speaking to a room of three or an arena of 30,000. He has built great relationships throughout his life and treats everyone with respect. He is brilliant with a great sense of humor . . . and an amazing ability to make people feel special and aspire to be more than even they thought possible.

Law professors behaving badly: A potentially unlimited series

[ 119 ] May 30, 2017 |

George Fletcher is a famous — or “famous” — professor of criminal law at Columbia. He’s been on the Columbia faculty for 34 years.  He started teaching at UCLA in 1969.  Fletcher is 78 years old.  12 years ago, he entered into an arrangement with the CLS administration whereby he would teach his full required course load (nine or ten credits, i.e., three classes) in the fall semester, thus allowing him to retain his full-time appointment while only spending four months per calendar year in Morningside Heights and environs.  (Apparently he spends each spring now at various academic institutions in Israel).

This sounds like a pretty sweet deal, especially since Fletcher is probably getting paid something like $400,000+ per year.   CLS salaries aren’t public, but UC-Berkeley’s — a comparable law school — are.  The available data are two years out of date now so you can probably slap 5% to 10% on these numbers:  The average salary for tenure-track law faculty at the school in 2015 was $317K.  Eight senior professors were making more than $400K, topping out at $472K.  (For any law professors who may be reading this, it may help your eyebrows descend slightly to learn that this salary number includes all direct compensation, including summer research grants. For any non-law professors who may be reading this, law professors get paid extra money to spend their summers, at least in theory, doing research and writing. I kid you not).

Anyhow, Fletcher is suing CLS for age discrimination.  The complaint is here.  What has upset Fletcher is that his new boss — the first woman to be dean of that august institution (edit: Gillian Lester is the second woman to be CLS’s dean, thanks to an anonymous commenter for the correction) — has told him that that administration wants him to stop teaching a required three-week introductory course for foreign students, for which he gets two teaching credits, and to replace it with an elective upper level course.  Fletcher doesn’t want to do this because in recent years some of his elective courses have had to be cancelled because of insufficient enrollment, and, when this this has happened, the school has let him make up the lost teaching credits by advising individual students during formal office hours. The new dean isn’t willing to promise that she’ll continue this policy.  From Fletcher’s complaint:

34. Columbia declined that proposal, stating that Fletcher would have to substitute IAL  [the three-week intro course for foreign LLM students] with an upper year elective which, again, would place him at risk of having his course under-enrolled and ultimately cancelled. Lester also wrote to Fletcher that if that “option is not acceptable to you, we will have to revisit the arrangement whereby you load all of your teaching into one semester, or we will need to discuss moving to a fractional appointment.”
The complaint features many other lulz as the kids say, including claims that the administration is favoring a couple of “younger” professors who are apparently in their late sixties, as they are described in the complaint as being “at least ten years” younger than Fletcher.
Note that Fletcher’s entire case amounts to claiming that it’s possible he may in the future be scheduled to teach an elective which could be cancelled because nobody wants to take his classes, which in turn could lead to the possibility that he would be asked to be within twice a week commuting distance of his employer for eight months out of the year, instead of four, in return for his gargantuan salary and associated emoluments.
On a totally unrelated note, the majority of teaching at American institutions of higher learning is now done by adjunct instructors, who teach six classes per year for $25,000 and a parking pass if they’re lucky.



Another day in Trump’s America

[ 112 ] May 26, 2017 |

Two people were killed in a stabbing on a MAX train Friday when they tried to intervene as a man yelled racial slurs at two young women who appeared to be Muslim, including one wearing a hijab, police said.

A third passenger also was stabbed, but is expected to survive, said Portland police spokesman Sgt. Pete Simpson.

Officers arrested the suspect as he ran into the neighborhood near Providence Portland Medical Center in Northeast Portland, Simpson said. Police are still working to identify him and the people stabbed.

The man was ranting about many things, using “hate speech or biased language,” and at one point focused on the young women, Simpson said.

The suspect then turned on the passengers who tried to help, Simpson said.

“In the midst of his ranting and raving, some people approached him and appeared to try to intervene with his behavior and some of the people that he was yelling at,” Simpson said. “They were attacked viciously.”

One good Samaritan died at the scene and another at the hospital, he said. The third victim was undergoing evaluation, but didn’t suffer life-threatening wounds, he said.

“These were folks just riding the train and unfortunately got caught up in this,” he said.

“We don’t know if he’s got mental health issues,” Simpson said. “We don’t know if he’s under the influence of drugs or alcohol or all of the above.”

Evelin Hernandez, a 38-year-old Clackamas resident, said she was on the train when the man began making racist remarks to the young women. A group of men tried to quiet him, she said, and he stabbed them.

The attack occurred on a MAX Green Line train as it was heading east. A train remained stopped on the tracks at the Hollywood/N.E. 42nd Avenue Transit Center as police investigated.

Simpson said police want to talk to the young women and other witnesses to the rampage. They understandably left the scene, but can help fill in what happened, he said.

“It’s horrific,” he said. “There’s no other word to describe what happened today. For the victims, our thoughts and prayers are with their families. … For the witnesses, there is no other word.”

Friday marks the start of Ramadan, a month-long fast observed by most of the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims.

“Our thoughts are with the Muslim community,” Simpson said. “As something like this happens, this only instills fear in that community. We have already reached out previous to this incident to our Muslim community partners and the different imams about extra patrol during Ramadan. We want to reassure them that that will continue.”

Portland is home to a rough estimate of about 50,000 Muslims of different ethnicities.

Also, don’t speak Spanish in public if you would like to avoid being attacked by racist lunatics.

Support for presidential candidates at elite law firms in 2012 and 2016

[ 81 ] May 25, 2017 |

I did a survey of contributions to presidential candidates in 2012 and 2016 from people working at elite law firms.  (Data here.  The vast majority of contributors were lawyers, but contributions from non-legal staff are also included). The immediate inspiration for this was a question from a 2017 law grad about whether support for Trump was going to hurt him in his career at one of these firms, because if it was he was planning to stay in the closet.  I was curious enough about the question to track down all the contributions made to the major presidential candidates in the 2012 and 2016 elections from people at the following firms:

Wachtell Lipton

Cravath Swaine & Moore

Skadden Arps

Sullivan & Cromwell

Davis Polk

Latham & Watkins

Gibson Dunn

Kirkland & Ellis

Simpson Thacher

Paul Weiss

I also looked at a Denver firm (Holland & Hart).

The results were . . . striking.

(Note that I tracked individual contributions, not individual contributors.  Many people gave more than once to a candidate, and occasionally to more than one candidate).

Contributions to 2012 presidential candidates

Obama                                       1911 contributions

Romney                                      1476 contributions

Other GOP candidates                 49 contributions


Obama               55.6%

Romney             43.0%

Other GOP           1.4%

Contributions to 2016 presidential candidates

Clinton              4330 contributions

Sanders               401 contributions

Rubio                   136 contributions

Bush                       90 contributions

Cruz                        54 contributions

Trump                    41 contributions

The other 12 GOP candidates, plus Gary Johnson and Jill Stein:  103 contributions


Clinton   84.2%

Sanders  7.8%

Rubio   2.6%

Bush    1.7%

Cruz    1.0%

Trump   0.8%

Everyone else:  1.9%

Support for the GOP nominee at these firms declined by 98% between 2012 and 2016.

Here for example are the numbers at Kirkland & Ellis, a Chicago-based firm that by reputation at least is more GOP-friendly than many of its peers:


Obama:  272 contributions

Romney: 524 contributions

Other GOP: 9 contributions


Clinton: 479 contributions

Sanders: 70 contributions

Rubio: 38 contributions

Bush: 17 contributions

Trump: 14 contributions

Walker: 10 contributions

Fiorina: 8 contributions

Kasich: 4 contributions

Cruz: 4 contributions

I’ve done some breakdowns of the contribution patterns at some other elite institutions, which I’ll save for another post.


Net value: Approximately 1000 words

[ 25 ] May 24, 2017 |

Smile for the camera obscura.

A promising sign

[ 81 ] May 24, 2017 |

In a race for a New York State Assembly seat, Christine Pellegrino, who was a Bernie Sanders delegate last summer, racked up a 16-point win in a very heavily Republican Long Island district that had never before elected a Democrat:

Democrat Christine Pellegrino defeated Conservative Tom Gargiulo on Tuesday in the 9th Assembly District special election as the progressive and union-backed candidate pulled off an upset victory for the heavily Republican seat.

“This is a thunderbolt of resistance,” said Pellegrino, who becomes the first Democrat to hold the Assembly seat. “This is for all the supporters and voters who understand a strong progressive agenda is the way forward in New York.”

With all precincts reporting, Pellegrino won 58 percent of the vote to Gargiulo’s 42 percent, according to Suffolk and Nassau boards of election results posted Tuesday night . . .
While Republicans hold a 13-point registration advantage in the district, progressive activists hoped to capitalize on opposition to Trump by turning out motivated Democrats in the election, Long Island’s first since November.

The win will have little bearing on the makeup of the Assembly, where Democrats hold a comfortable majority, but progressive leaders believed it was a harbinger of a Democratic wave.

“Bold populism that puts working families’ issues front and center. This is how we win in Trump country,” said Bill Lipton, state director of the Working Families Party, Tuesday night. “This is the lesson for Democrats around the country.


What’s the difference between ageism and a prudent regard for statistics?

[ 241 ] May 22, 2017 |

This very-much-not hypothetical question is raised in my mind by Scott’s observation earlier today that Bernie Sanders is at this point one of the two leading contenders (along with Kirsten Gillibrand) for the Democratic nomination in 2020.

I’m far from a Bernie-basher and in fact preferred him to Clinton in the 2016 primaries, but the man will be 80 in 2021.  Prevalence of Alzheimer’s and related conditions by age:

There are also rumblings that Joe Biden (79 in 2021) is considering a run.

And of course dementia is just one of many strongly age-related health risks, although it’s one that seems especially germane at the present moment, given Trump’s staggering incoherence (he does seem to have gotten worse relative to interviews he did 10-15 years ago).

Anyway, this seems to me to be a difficult issue in a number of ways.






Crying won’t help you, praying won’t do you no good

[ 81 ] May 22, 2017 |

Your daily reminder that the POTUS is quite literally a very stupid person, i.e., significantly below average, or what they used to call “dull normal” before every [white] kid became officially gifted and talented:

Just ahead of a meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu today, President Trump told a group of reporters several times that he “never mentioned the word, or the name, Israel,” in his Oval Office conversation with the Russian foreign minister and ambassador earlier this month. He then leaned over to Netanyahu, who is presumably fully aware of what they’re talking about, and told him, “they were all saying I did.”

Who is “they”? Neither the original Washington Post story about Trump’s disclosure of classified intelligence to the Russians, nor the New York Times story that identified Israel as the source of that intelligence, suggest that Trump identified the country by name. Rather, the concern, as the Times put it, was that he had “provided enough details to effectively expose the source of the information and the manner in which it had been collected” to the Russian government, an ally of Israel’s rival, Iran. It’s also worth pointing out that neither the U.S. or Israeli governments have officially confirmed that Israel was the source, something Trump didn’t bother to mention.

It’s hard to tell who comes off worse in this clip: Trump, who thinks he should get brownie points for not actually disclosing the name, address, and passport number of the spy who gathered the intelligence he was passing to the Russian government, or Netanyahu, who desperately wants this visit to go smoothly, and stands there grinning, saying that the state of intelligence cooperation between the two countries is “excellent.”

Here’s the clip.

We’ll be lucky to get out of this alive.


In case anyone you know is inclined to take Louise Mensch and Claude Taylor seriously

[ 115 ] May 20, 2017 |

By Louise Mensch and Claude Taylor

Multiple sources close to the intelligence, justice and law enforcement communities say that the House Judiciary Committee is considering Articles of Impeachment against the President of the United States.

Sources further say that the Supreme Court notified Mr. Trump that the formal process of a case of impeachment against him was begun, before he departed the country on Air Force One. The notification was given, as part of the formal process of the matter, in order that Mr. Trump knew he was not able to use his powers of pardon against other suspects in Trump-Russia cases. Sources have confirmed that the Marshal of the Supreme Court spoke to Mr. Trump.

It was reported this week that Mr. Trump had texted Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn the message ‘Stay strong’. This might be interpreted as an attempt to intimidate a witness, sources say.

Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein met with the House Judiciary Committee this week in closed session.

The authors have previously reported exclusively on Patribotics that a sealed indictment exists against Donald Trump.

. . . I swear I hadn’t seen this before I put up the OP.


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