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Mysteries of Rutgers

[ 18 ] July 18, 2012 |

In recent weeks we’ve made a couple of visits to our friends at Rutgers-Camden, where we found them struggling to fill even half their normal incoming class, offering to admit people who had never applied, and soliciting applications from people who had never considered going to law school.

Here’s a question an enterprising journalist somewhere in the vicinity of the Garden State might wish to pursue: Why do graduates of Rutgers-Camden’s law school purportedly have such extraordinarily low levels of law school debt?

How low? Well for its class of 2011 Rutgers-C reported a mean debt of $27,423. And this was no one-year anomaly: the school reported mean debt of $28K and $32K for its graduating classes of 2009 and 2010.

While Rutgers-Camden is a fairly inexpensive law school, it still charges more than $25K per year in resident tuition and $37K for non-residents. And while scenic Camden is not nearly as expensive as some East Coast enclaves, it’s not nearly as cheap as going to school in the middle of flyover country. Per LST, the non-discounted debt-financed cost of attending the school for the class of 2015 (assuming there is one) will be $151K for residents and $192K for non-residents.

Could it be that Rutgers-Camden gives out extraordinary amounts of scholarship aid? To the contrary, according to the ABA Rutgers-Camden only gave scholarship money to 28.3% of its students in 2011 (a much lower percentage than the average law school), and most of those grants were quite small: the median amount was only $5000.

Compare the school’s reported graduate debt load to that of neighboring Temple Law School. Temple has a significantly cheaper sticker price — less than $20K resident and $32K non-resident tuition — and much more generous scholarship numbers: 46.2% of 2011 students got scholarship money, with a median amount 50% higher than that of students at Rutgers-Camden. Yet Temple’s far lower cost structure produced an average law school debt for its 2011 graduating class of $80,871. (This is a typical average debt load for schools in this cost of attendance range. For example: Ohio State has in-state tuition of $26K and average graduate debt of $87K. Rutgers-Newark’s numbers are $25K and $83K.. Texas charges $30K for in-state tuition but only 13% of students there pay sticker. Average graduating debt: $84K).

In theory it’s possible that Rutgers-Camden is attended almost exclusively by children of wealthy families, who are generous enough to pay almost the entire cost of attendance. In practice that theory is preposterous on its face, especially given that Rutgers-Camden reports that 98% of its 2011 class graduated with law school debt (the national average for all law schools was 87%).

So what’s going on at Rutgers-Camden? Perhaps Congressman Rob Andrews could launch an investigation. By, for example, asking his wife.

Update: Note the last paragraph in particular.

Update II: One striking aspect of all this is that Rutgers-Camden fails to mention on its website that the members of the school’s 2011 graduating class had 74% less debt than those of the average law school, and 67% less debt than those of its in-state public competitor, Rutgers-Newark. Indeed, if the numbers reported by Rutgers-Camden are correct, its graduates had less than half as much debt as the graduates of every other school in the top 100, with just two exceptions. You would think this is the sort of information the school would want prospective students to know.

Another striking aspect of the matter is that apparently no one on the Rutgers-Camden faculty has noticed these literally incredible figures — or if they have, they haven’t either corrected them or, if they’re actually correct, insisted that the school broadcast them to the world.

Update III: Mystery solved. Compare this and this with this. So for at least the last three years Rutgers Camden has reported one year’s worth of student debt to USNWR and apparently the ABA as well, when it was supposed to be reporting total debt at graduation. The school has under-reported graduate debt by a factor of three, whicch has led to a bunch of phony stories about what a “great value” it is — stories that the school hasn’t bothered to correct, despite being aware of this error for at least four months now, if not longer. It hasn’t even corrected its own press releases.

And the USNWR website — which is the only public source for school-specific debt information — still has the wrong numbers up. Awesome work Bob Morse & Co!

What a joke of a business.

Down and Out in Paris and Aspen

[ 58 ] July 17, 2012 |

common people

As you’ve probably heard from your favorite right-wing think tank by now, nearly half of all Americans pay no federal income taxes. The usual reason is that these people don’t make much money. They are, as we like to say at LGM, “takers” rather than “producers.”

Leave it to Mitt Romney to be far-sighted enough to try, while contemplating a presidential run, to find out how the other half lives. What would it be like, Romney wondered, not to pay any federal income taxes? It seems as if Romney may have gone even further in his personal journey into the lower depths, and paid no federal taxes of any kind in 2009.

Now Romney may have not gone quite that far. Perhaps he paid 3% or 5% of his income in federal taxes. (It would be irresponsible not to speculate.)

In any case he should be praised for trying to live like common people live.

Graham Spanier’s priorities

[ 68 ] July 15, 2012 |

spanier and sandusky

Dan Wetzel:

There is one instance in the Freeh Commission report where Graham Spanier, the disgraced former Penn State president, said enough is enough. One instance when he slammed down his authoritative fist to protect the welfare of his charges and the reputation of his institution.

It wasn’t against Jerry Sandusky, of course.Graham Spanier, left, allegedly hid Jerry Sandusky’s sex crimes while enforcing arcane rules.

It was December 1997 and Spanier was soon to learn that the longtime Penn State defensive coordinator had been accused of molesting a young boy while showering with him in the Penn State locker room, according to the Freeh report. But Spanier wouldn’t stand up to old Jer, because that wouldn’t be the “humane” way of handling it. Or so he wrote in an email.

No, Sandusky got to keep fondling right under Spanier’s nose for years to come.

That was a pardon not shared by star Penn State running back Curtis Enis and professional sports agent Jeff Nalley, who dared violate the document that directed Spanier’s moral compass, the NCAA rulebook.

Enis was immediately declared ineligible, and cited as a stain on Penn State’s so-called “grand experiment” of creating a healthy balance between academics and athletics. The agent, meanwhile, was reported to the NCAA and the local district attorney, banned from ever setting foot on Penn State’s campus (“persona non grata” Spanier declared), charged with a crime and publicly shamed by the president himself so everyone understood the evil and danger he represented.

“He fooled around with the integrity of the university,” Spanier said at the time, according to the Freeh report. “And I won’t stand for that.”

If fooling around with kids in the showers was something Graham Spanier could apparently stand for, then what was Enis and Nalley’s crime against humanity?

They bought a suit.

It was a nice suit, $325 retail at a Harrisburg clothier. There was a $75 shirt too. Enis was slated to appear on an ESPN awards show and didn’t have anything that nice to wear. The regular season was over and he was about to declare for the NFL. Nalley sprung for the outfit.

Spanier saw it differently. Since Penn State still had one game remaining, essentially an exhibition in the Citrus Bowl, he dropped the hammer. Victim No. 2 of Sandusky’s crimes apparently wouldn’t mean much to the Penn State president, but NCAA Bylaw 12.3 sure did. It’s the rule that prohibits players from receiving “benefits” from agents.

Even if the so-called benefit was appropriate attire for a made-for-television show to celebrate the multibillion-dollar industry Enis helped drive. According to the rule book, though, he couldn’t be provided a nice suit because, well, because people like Graham Spanier said so.

And continue to say so.

Read the whole thing

Also, a nice mea culpa from Rick Reilly:

I hope Penn State loses civil suits until the walls of the accounting office cave in. I hope that Spanier, Schultz and Curley go to prison for perjury. I hope the NCAA gives Penn State the death penalty it most richly deserves. The worst scandal in college football history deserves the worst penalty the NCAA can give. They gave it to SMU for winning without regard for morals. They should give it to Penn State for the same thing. The only difference is, at Penn State they didn’t pay for it with Corvettes. They paid for it with lives.

Scenes from this American life

[ 17 ] July 14, 2012 |

In January 2011, Joe Paterno learned prosecutors were investigating his longtime assistant coach Jerry Sandusky for sexually assaulting young boys. Soon, Mr. Paterno had testified before a grand jury, and the rough outlines of what would become a giant scandal had been published in a local newspaper.

That same month, Mr. Paterno, the football coach at Penn State, began negotiating with his superiors to amend his contract, with the timing something of a surprise because the contract was not set to expire until the end of 2012, according to university documents and people with knowledge of the discussions. By August, Mr. Paterno and the university’s president, both of whom were by then embroiled in the Sandusky investigation, had reached an agreement.

Mr. Paterno was to be paid $3 million at the end of the 2011 season if he agreed it would be his last. Interest-free loans totaling $350,000 that the university had made to Mr. Paterno over the years would be forgiven as part of the retirement package. He would also have the use of the university’s private plane and a luxury box at Beaver Stadium for him and his family to use over the next 25 years.

The university’s full board of trustees was kept in the dark about the arrangement until November, when Mr. Sandusky was arrested and the contract arrangements, along with so much else at Penn State, were upended. Mr. Paterno was fired, two of the university’s top officials were indicted in connection with the scandal, and the trustees, who held Mr. Paterno’s financial fate in their hands, came under verbal assault from the coach’s angry supporters.

Board members who raised questions about whether the university ought to go forward with the payments were quickly shut down, according to two people with direct knowledge of the negotiations.

In the end, the board of trustees — bombarded with hate mail and threatened with a defamation lawsuit by Mr. Paterno’s family — gave the family virtually everything it wanted, with a package worth roughly $5.5 million. Documents show that the board even tossed in some extras that the family demanded, like the use of specialized hydrotherapy massage equipment for Mr. Paterno’s wife at the university’s Lasch Building, where Mr. Sandusky had molested a number of his victims.

The details of Mr. Paterno and his family’s fight for money seem to deepen one of the lasting truths of the Sandusky scandal: the significant power that Mr. Paterno exerted on the state institution, its officials, its alumni and its purse strings.

Since Mr. Paterno’s death in January, Mr. Paterno’s family, lawyers and publicists have mounted an aggressive campaign to protect his legacy. The family and its lawyers have hammered the university’s board of trustees, accusing members of attempting to deflect blame onto a dying Mr. Paterno. This week, they angrily disputed the conclusions of an independent investigation that asserted Mr. Paterno and other top university officials protected a serial predator in order to “avoid the consequences of bad publicity” for the university, its football program and its coach’s reputation.

What pigs.

UPDATE [SL]: But he drove a Ford Tempo! What a welcome refreshment Saint Joe was from this venal world!

The saint and the sociopath

[ 115 ] July 13, 2012 |

33 years ago Joe Paterno had the poor judgment to remark in front of a reporter at a social gathering that he couldn’t retire from college football, because doing so would leave the game in the hands of coaches like Jackie Sherrill and Barry Switzer. Paterno meant that Sherrill and Switzer were willing to break NCAA recruiting rules in order to win football games.

As long ago as 1979, Paterno was already a sanctimonious windbag, who appeared to believe the nonsense he peddled so successfully to the ever-credulous media about how Penn State football was, in his words, a “Grand Experiment” — an island of old-fashioned virtues in the sordid sea of big-time college football, where doing things the right way while building moral character and molding tomorrow’s leaders took precedence over the won-loss record.

And even as recently as this January, if you believe his family and his lawyers, Paterno took the time to compose an op-ed about the glories of the Grand Experiment. Remarkably enough this piece wasn’t made public until the week Penn State’s independent investigation into the football program’s child rape scandal was scheduled for release.

This nauseating text exhibits a combination of complete moral blindness with something like a perfectly tone-deaf approach to public relations. We now know that Paterno, along with other high university officials, spent at least thirteen years carefully covering up and enabling Jerry Sandusky’s ongoing serial rape of an untold number of young boys, and that he lied about his role in all this while testifying under oath to the grand jury that indicted Sandusky.

Having played an integral part in enabling an atrocious series of crimes, and on the verge of having the extent of his participation in the cover-up of those crimes exposed, Paterno still could not stop himself from continuing to hold up the Penn State football program as an example to which others should aspire.

One lesson to take from this disgusting and horrifying spectacle is a very old one, taught by among others the religion whose services Paterno is said to have attended regularly. It is that spiritual pride is a far more deadly and dangerous sin than the sort of ordinary greed and dishonesty that Paterno believed coaches such as Sherrill and Switzer exemplified.

A man who breaks some rules in order to win a few more football games is likely to understand himself to be nothing more exalted than a hustler on the make. By contrast, a man who talks himself into believing that he is running a uniquely virtuous Grand Experiment, rather than just another successful college football program that mostly avoids the most egregious forms of cheating, is far more likely to develop the delusion that he’s some sort of role model for his peers, or even a quasi-spiritual leader of our youth.

Paterno fell so completely into this frame of mind that it seems he found it impossible to face up to the consequences of revealing that the Grand Experiment had ended up shielding and indeed enabling a predatory pedophile. Unable to handle the truth, Paterno spent more than a decade engaging in behavior a hundred times worse than anything Sherrill or Switzer were ever accused of doing. The legendary coach used the power derived from the cult of personality he had allowed to grow up around him to shield Jerry Sandusky from the legal process, which in turn allowed Sandusky to continue raping young boys.

In the end Paterno was so detached from the reality of what he and his program had become that, even as the carefully constructed façade of the Grand Experiment was crumbling all around him, he continued to present himself as something like a secular saint amid the fallen world of college football. It turns out the saint was indistinguishable from a sociopath.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it

[ 88 ] July 10, 2012 |

Is to successfully identify the source material. Is it:

(a) A passage from David Lodge’s new novel

(b) The result of a CIA black ops experiment that involved LSD, Martha Stewart, and an IPad.

(c) Something from the New York Times’ Lifestyle Section

(d) Pure evil from the 8th dimension

(e) Other (please specify)

ALEXANDRA SAGE MEHTA and Michael Robinson do not seem to belong to the Facebook generation that expresses itself in sentence fragments. In conversation, their sentences are grammatical and lovely and often sound as if previously written, if not rewritten. Both are writers and care deeply about words as well as opera, cooking, stick-shift cars, modern design and swimming in cold water.

Ms. Mehta, 27, who grew up on the Upper East Side, is working on a memoir and a novel, and is not easily typecast. She prefers writing in the darkest corner of the quietest library she can find, yet she’s also social and vivacious.

“Sage is alarmingly bright and disarmingly warm,” said Hilary Cooper, a friend.

She is slightly built, graceful and soft-spoken. Yet she has also been known, when cross-country skiing with friends who are falling behind, to shout, “Buck up!”

Mr. Robinson, 31, grew up in Bloomfield Hills, Mich., loving cars and French literature. He manages real estate investments for a family in New York and is writing a biography of Robert Cordier, a French filmmaker and theater director. He likes modern chairs and couches, partly because they are often uncomfortable and keep him from falling asleep while reading.

The two met in Paris in the summer of 2001. She was on a summer-abroad program for high school students; he was a counselor. For her, he was an anomaly: a boy she could talk to, for hours.

Most of her education had been in girls schools. “I just found boys terrifying and alien,” she said. Months later, she mailed him a long handwritten letter on her personal stationery. “I’d just hate to lose you, oh that was an awful blah line,” she wrote. And: “Now I’m 17, which seems so awfully old.”

He wasn’t sure whether it was a love letter or not. At any rate, he didn’t know how to respond, so he didn’t.

Years passed. She graduated from Princeton, then lived in Mumbai, India, studying yoga and writing. He graduated from Yale, then got a master’s degree in modern and medieval languages at Cambridge University, then moved to Paris to write.

By November 2009, both were living in Manhattan. They ran into each other at a “huge party given by three very popular Princeton girls,” she said. He recalls thinking that Ms. Mehta had grown up to be astoundingly beautiful, tall and lithe in a bright orange dress. She remembers wondering why she didn’t feel more of a spark. Nevertheless, they made a plan to have dinner and catch up.

They met at Lucien, a French restaurant downtown. He arrived on a black Bianchi bicycle, and this time she felt sparks. They talked about writing, bicycles and their fathers. Her father is Ved Mehta, the prolific, blind Indian writer who lives in New York; his father, E. Steven Robinson, owns a commodities trading company in Michigan.

“It turns out he grew up helping his father, who had rheumatoid arthritis and walks with a cane,” Ms. Mehta said. “We both grew up with fathers who needed our help.”

At one point during dinner, she asked him if he enjoyed swimming in very cold water. Growing up, Ms. Mehta spent summers at her family’s house on an island off Maine and swam in the frigid sea every day. “I was really asking if he jumped into things,” she said. “It’s about bravery to me. Unconsciously, I was asking him if he’d jump into a relationship with me, whether he’d just go for something.”

Though she learned that he swam in Lake Michigan as a child and dives into cold water without a problem, he was not a person who leaped into relationships easily, especially serious ones. “I very much didn’t want to be in a committed relationship,” he said.

That changed by the end of dinner with Ms. Mehta. “I was really quite captivated by Sage,” he said.

A few days later, he e-mailed her and asked, “Do you want to have dinner Monday or Tuesday?” She wrote back, “Both!” Then, she worried he might think she was too enthusiastic or intense. “I always thought I’d be too much for someone, and with Michael, nothing I said or wrote was ever too much,” she said.

She soon bought her own bicycle, a black one with orange wheels (Princeton colors), and they began taking long rides around the city. “What really struck me about Sage was her ability to describe the world, not only her thoughts but our activities together,” he said. “I think that comes from describing things to her father. She allows me to see things differently and amplifies everything we do.”

Without exactly discussing it, they began living together. “It wasn’t a conscious decision to move in together or live together,” he said. “We wanted to be together so much that to not live together would be weird.”

She moved into his tiny studio on the Lower East Side, which at that time had three pieces of furniture: a large desk with a glass top, an uncomfortable modern chair and an uncomfortable bed. Yet she was perfectly comfortable there. “He has the most amazing, joyful way of going through life,” she said. “He sings and dances and laughs and runs the shower too long before he gets in.”

They even write together at the desk, which becomes the dinner table when they cook for friends, which is often. “They managed to live in this tiny room and create a marvelous social life together,” said Katrina Cary, an aunt of Ms. Mehta. “Sage would come back and say, ‘Oh, we just had this huge gang of friends over.’ ”

One of those friends, Eliza Gray, an assistant editor at The New Republic magazine, said: “You can always count on them to talk about something interesting, whether it’s yoga or an artist or something in history or a place or a song or even politics. They’re never dull. They’re both unique.”

Months after they moved in together, they went swimming in Maine. She sat on the dock deliberating and stalling, as is her way, while he dived right in.

He proposed in Paris last summer, 10 years after they met there. He did not kneel, but stood so that they could be on equal footing and he could look straight into her eyes. He said he wanted their marriage to be “a continuous, personal, intimate alliance between our inner voices.”

On the evening of May 19, they were married in New York at the Century Association, chosen because it is one of Mr. Mehta’s favorite places; he knows where every piece of furniture is and walks around there like a person with sight. It was a Jewish ceremony with Hindu and Episcopalian elements performed by Rabbi James Ponet, the Jewish chaplain at Yale.

“I have never been so sure about anything in my life as wanting to marry Michael,” the bride said in a short speech before the 215 guests. “It is rare in life to be sure. Most of my feelings are the opposite, little inklings that with proper care and attention grow into more definite emotions and desires.”

Ms. Mehta and Mr. Robinson have read and reread all the epic love stories in literature, yet their own view of love and marriage is pretty simple. “You have to keep making these choices to love and turn toward the person you love,” she said. “It’s a daily practice, a good habit.”

Nail lady fails to understand socialism is bad for nail ladies

[ 109 ] July 9, 2012 |

rich person in pain

Via TPM and various publications linked therein, scenes from a Romney fundraiser:

While a group of Occupy Wall Street protesters assembled in the area, the Porsches, Range Rovers and BMWs streamed in. Here are some of the best quotes from the events.

A gem from the Los Angeles Times:

A New York City donor a few cars back, who also would not give her name, said Romney needed to do a better job connecting. “I don’t think the common person is getting it,” she said from the passenger seat of a Range Rover stamped with East Hampton beach permits. “Nobody understands why Obama is hurting them.

“We’ve got the message,” she added. “But my college kid, the baby sitters, the nails ladies — everybody who’s got the right to vote — they don’t understand what’s going on. I just think if you’re lower income — one, you’re not as educated, two, they don’t understand how it works, they don’t understand how the systems work, they don’t understand the impact.”

Peter Cohen, the former Shearson Lehman Bros. chief, told the Associated Press — while chewing on a cigar — that Romney is a “plain-talking guy.”

Ted Conklin, who owns the American Hotel in Sag Harbor, told the New York Times that Obama is a “socialist.”

“His idea is find a problem that doesn’t exist and get government to intervene,” Conklin added, his wife, Carol Simmons, nodding beside him in their gold Mercedes.

But wait, there’s more. From the Times:

Ms. Simmons paused to highlight what she said was her husband’s generous spirit: “Tell them who’s on your yacht this weekend! Tell him!”

Over Mr. Conklin’s objections, Ms. Simmons disclosed that a major executive from Miramax, the movie company, was on the 75-foot yacht, because, she said, there were no rooms left at the hotel.

George Orwell, Wartime Diaries, June 3, 1940:

From a letter from Lady Oxford to the Daily Telegraph, on the subject of war economies:

“Since most London houses are deserted there is little entertaining… in any case, most people have to part with their cooks and live in hotels.”

Apparently nothing will ever teach these people that the other 99% of the population exists.

Lady Oxford was Margot Asquith, widow of Herbert Henry Asquith, prime minister from 1908-1916.

Update: Things you learn from wikipedia: Helena Bonham Carter is Asquith’s great-granddaughter via his first wife.

Math is hard

[ 42 ] July 9, 2012 |

math

They say people go to law school because they’re not good at math.

BLS estimate of total employment in the legal sector, June 2011: 1,111,200

BLS estimate of total employment in the legal sector, June 2012: 1,119,700

Total increase in employment in the legal sector, year to year: 8,500

BLS estimate of percentage of employees in legal sector who are attorneys: 65.8%

65.8% of 8,500 = 5,593 (This assumes perhaps optimistically that the growth in the legal sector was not disproportionately among support personnel rather than attorneys).

BLS current estimate of annual outflow from the legal profession: 13,840 Update: This refers to outflow of attorneys.

13,840 + 5,593 = 19,433.

Total 2011 graduates of ABA law schools reported to have full-time long-term employment requiring bar admission in February 2012: About 22,632. (This is out of approximately 44,200 total graduates, approximately 93% of which had a known employment status. It does not include approximately 8000 graduates of non-ABA accredited law schools).

Close enough for government work? Maybe, especially when you consider that the latter figure is pumped up by a couple of thousand fake law school-funded jobs, many of which were structured to be categorized as full-time long-term employment requiring bar admission. The ABA’s estimate is also inflated by another 1300 or so 2011 grads who listed themselves in solo practices.

It can’t be said enough, so I’m going to say it again: The American legal profession is currently generating about 20,000 new jobs for lawyers each year. Roughly two-thirds of these are products of outflow from the profession, while the rest represent actual growth. This means ABA schools are graduating roughly 2.2 graduates per year for every available legal job.

The average educational debt upon graduation of the 90% of people currently enrolled in law school who have educational debt is going to be about $150,000. The average interest on that debt is going to be about 7.4%. This will require monthly payments of $1,774 for ten years or $1,100 for twenty-five years to service at the contractual rate.

The majority of current law school graduates are not going to have real legal careers, and the majority of the minority who will have legal careers are not going to earn enough money in those careers to service the debt the average law graduate is now incurring.

Despite all this the system remains in place, for the time being, for two reasons:

(a) Because government loans subsidize and amplify predictable cognitive errors, due to optimism and confirmation biases, committed by law students who continue to enter a system that will produce, on average, a sharply negative return for those who enter it.

(b) Because self-interest, institutional inertia, and regulatory capture ensure that those who profit from the system will do nothing to alter its basic structure until a combination of economic, political, and social pressure forces them to do so.

That pressure is now building. Those who are in a position to do so can increase that pressure by repeating, as many times as necessary, the basic economic facts underlying what has become an unsustainable system.

They mean to win Wimbledon

[ 52 ] July 6, 2012 |

I’m curious as to what extent the concept of Great Britain triggers nationalistic emotions in the context of sports (or sport). Do English tennis fans root for Scotsman Andy Murray because he’s “British?” Or is that a meaningless category except in regard to trivia such as “first British man to reach the Wimbledon final in 74 years?”

I notice that Great Britain competes as a single entity in the Olympics, but not in competitions such as the soccer World Cup. I imagine the politics of such decisions must be complex.

Yet more on the gestation of NFIB v. Sebelius

[ 43 ] July 3, 2012 |

In the wake of Jan Crawford’s scoop confirming that Roberts switched his vote I’ve been given a chance by someone close to the situation to clear up what I’m told are inaccuracies in the information being transmitted to her. I’ve written up the story in Salon.

I’ll just add that anyone who reads what is now the joint dissent up through Part IV Section E should be struck by how the only hint that this is a dissenting opinion is provided by the caption at the top of each page.

Update: For those who just can’t get enough of this story, I’ll be discussing it again (with Glenn Greenwald) on the Lawrence O’Donnell show at 10:00 eastern tonight.

The Crawford story

[ 32 ] July 2, 2012 |

I’m going to be on the Lawrence O’Donnell show on MSNBC at about 10:15 ET to discuss Jan Crawford’s story regarding the Roberts switch. I have what I think are very good reasons, based on both internal textual evidence and my own sources, for concluding that some key features of Crawford’s account are incorrect, and that she was spun by people within the Court who had their own reasons for creating an inaccurate narrative about the actual decision process.

Joe Paterno, moral monster

[ 98 ] June 30, 2012 |

It is becoming apparent that Joe Paterno not only knew that Jerry Sandusky was a child rapist, but that he was probably the person most responsible for covering up Sandusky’s previous crimes, and allowing Sandusky to commit many more.

CNN is reporting that a series of internal PSU emails between former PSU president Graham Spanier, former athletic director Tim Curley, and former vice president Gary Schultz reveal the following chronology:

*On February 9, 2001, former PSU quarterback and current graduate assistant coach Mike McQueary meets with Paterno and tells him that on the previous evening he saw Sandusky sexually assaulting a young boy in the showers of the PSU football facility.

*At some point between February 9 and on or about February 19th, Paterno informs Curley of what McQueary has told him.

*On or about February 19th, Curley and Schultz contact McQueary about the incident.

*On February 26th, Schultz writes to Curley to confirm that Curley is aware/approves of a three-part plan to deal with the potential institutional difficulties raised by having Joe Paterno’s former defensive coordinator continue to rape little boys on campus. This plan consists of talking to Sandusky “regarding the future appropriate use of the University facility,” … “contacting the chair of the charitable organization” [this is Sandusky's Second Mile foundation, which he used to procure victims] and “contacting the Department of Welfare.” [The latter step was the minimum legal obligation placed on Penn State officials by Pennsylvania law].

So, three years after Sandusky’s habit of sexually assaulting young boys was first reported to the authorities, PSU is finally about to do the right thing. Then:

The next evening, February 27, Curley allegedly writes to Spanier. Schultz, who’s out of the office for two weeks, is copied.

Curley refers to a meeting scheduled that day with Spanier and indicates they apparently discussed the Sandusky incident two days earlier.

Curley indicates he no longer wants to contact child welfare authorities just yet. He refers to a conversation the day before with Paterno. It’s not known what Paterno may have said to Curley.

Curley writes: “After giving it more thought and talking it over with Joe yesterday, I am uncomfortable with what we agreed were the next steps.”

The athletic director apparently preferred to keep the situation an internal affair and talk things over with Sandusky instead of notifying the state’s child welfare agency to investigate Sandusky’s suspicious activity.

“I am having trouble with going to everyone, but the person involved,” Curley allegedly continues.

Curley writes he’d be “more comfortable” meeting with Sandusky himself and telling him they know about the 2001 incident and — according to a source with knowledge of the case — refers to another shower incident with a boy in 1998 that was investigated by police, but never resulted in charges against Sandusky.

Curley writes to Penn State’s president Spanier that he wants to meet with Sandusky, tell him there’s “a problem,” and that “we want to assist the individual to get professional help.”

In the same purported e-mail provided to CNN, Curley goes on to suggest that if Sandusky “is cooperative,” Penn State “would work with him” to tell Second Mile. If not, Curley states, the university will inform both Second Mile and outside authorities.

Curley adds that he intends to inform Sandusky that his “guests” won’t be allowed to use Penn State facilities anymore.

“What do you think of this approach?” Curley allegedly wrote to Spanier.

Graham Spanier, president of a major research university, (and family sociologist, demographer, marriage and family therapist, and founding editor of the Journal of Family Issues) replies that he thinks this is a very fine plan indeed. “The only downside for us is if the message isn’t ‘heard’ and acted upon, and we then become vulnerable for not having reported it,” Spanier writes.

The downside for the many children Sandusky went on to rape was apparently not part of President Spanier’s pragmatic calculus.

Joe Paterno — the most powerful person on the PSU campus — decided to use his immense institutional influence to allow a child rapist who was about to be exposed and stopped to instead remain free to rape more children, which Sandusky proceeded to do for many more years.

And while it’s true we don’t know precisely what Paterno said to Curley, if we consider the evidence in the light most favorable to Paterno we would conclude that Curley told Paterno that he was thinking of backing out of the “three-part plan,” and Paterno — who could have had Curley fired on the spot with a single phone call — went along with this. If we consider the evidence in the most realistic light, it’s far more probable that Paterno ordered his putative superior to drop the plan to expose Sandusky. In other words, Paterno not only went along with the coverup, but in all likelihood initiated it.

With luck, Paterno’s entire estate, along with whatever assets Spanier, Curley, and Schultz possess, will be confiscated and distributed to those of Sandusky’s victims who can be identified. That, at least, would be a start on the road to something resembling justice.

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