The only surprising thing about this stuff is that none of these bigwigs (including a law school dean — apparently she never learned to think like a lawyer) can ever seem to remember that government emails are subject to FOIA requests.
In one e-mail exchange, University of Illinois Chancellor Richard Herman forced the law school to admit an unqualified applicant backed by then- Gov. Rod Blagojevich while seeking a promise from the governor’s go-between that five law school graduates would get jobs. The applicant, a relative of deep-pocketed Blagojevich campaign donor Kerry Peck, appears to have been pushed by Trustee Lawrence Eppley, who often carried the governor’s admissions requests.
When Law School Dean Heidi Hurd balked on accepting the applicant in April 2006, Herman replied that the request came “Straight from the G. My apologies. Larry has promised to work on jobs (5). What counts?”
Hurd replied: “Only very high-paying jobs in law firms that are absolutely indifferent to whether the five have passed their law school classes or the Bar.”
Hurd’s e-mail suggests that students getting the jobs are to be those in the “bottom of the class.” Law school rankings depend in part on the job placement rate of graduates.
The second-easiest job in Washington (next to this guy’s) is being a White House correspondent. You show up at press conferences, and ask questions like “Mr. President, are you still smoking?” and “Is the government doing enough about steroid use in baseball?”
You write down the answers, which are then printed in a newspaper.
All this makes you are a high-status journalist, which means you get paid six figures to do a job a chimp could be trained to perform.
And because years of being at the top of your profession have rendered you incapable of doing any actual reporting yourself, you get all your facts wrong.
…UPDATE [by SL]: And then there’s this. Milbank’s obsession with trivia would be a little more palatable if it were less, how do you say, painfully unfunny, or at least if it weren’t more smug than every Pajamas TV host combined.
Judge John J. Fleming thought this didn’t merit any jail time, because a two-minute vicious beating of an 115-pound woman by a 250-pound drunk psychopath only resulted in “some bumps and bruises.”
Of course part of this is that scumbag cops are protected routinely by the system (I had to laugh when I read that the perpetrator “had no previous criminal record” — this was the third person he beat up that day!), but the more interesting possibility is that the judge sincerely believes this wasn’t a serious crime, even though the victim testified to suffering serious long-term psychological damage.
He seems to be using an interpretive frame in which this is a “barroom fight,” as opposed to a vicious beating of a small relatively weak person by a big strong one. (The victim had refused to serve the assailant any more drinks).
At least the Chicago police department is trying to fire the guy. The determinative hearing is in a couple of weeks.
Meanwhile the learned judge has a retention election coming up.
It’s too bad not many Americans care about soccer, because what happened at the Confederations Cup yesterday might well have been the longest shot to ever come through in the sport’s history.
First, the US had to beat Egypt by three goals. The US never beats anyone by three goals in a major international competition. That’s a blowout at this level. But beyond that Egypt had just beaten Italy and was unlucky to lose to Brazil — two teams that had just routed the US. On top of that, Egypt knew that in all likelihood all they had to do to advance was not get routed by the US. So the US had the extra disadvantage of having to blow out a team that could go through simply by playing a hyper-conservative style.
Add that all up and the pre-game odds of the US winning by three must have been 50-1, at least.
But that’s only half of it, since winning by three wouldn’t help unless Brazil beat Italy by either exactly 3-0 or by at least four goals (4-1, 5-2, etc. would have put Italy through since it would have pushed things to the fourth tiebreaker, which was head to head results).
Now Italy is old and not playing well, but they lose 3-0 or by at least four when scoring in a big tournament about once every 20 years, plus this is a far from overwhelming Brazilian team. So the odds of that were hardly better than the odds of the US beating Egypt by three.
Add it up and I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that from a ex ante perspective it was literally looking like a 1000-1 shot for the US to go through.
The WAPO continues its descent with the firing of Dan Froomkin. That a newspaper which has no problem hosting the one-note rantings of the loathsome Charles Krauthammer, while going out of its way to hire the comically inept and (worse yet) totally boring William Kristol would fire such an eloquent and independent voice is . . . well I wish I could say it was a surprise.
Maybe somebody in Georgetown will throw a Martini in Fred Hiatt’s face (from dissent to resistance!).
This is a little story about a top high school football recruit whose life seems to be falling apart for all too common reasons. Of course you can multiply this story by literally a million similar, but completely invisible cases. The only reason anybody will ever hear about him or try to do anything about it is that he appears to have NFL-level talent.
The fourth season of The Wire is probably the best TV show I’ve ever seen, but I’m not going to watch it a second time.
Did this month-old MIT study get much attention when it was released? I don’t recall hearing anything about it, and given that it more or less predicts The End of Life As We Know It you would think it would have been bigger news.
Following up on Dave’s observations regarding doubts about the health benefits of moderate drinking:
(1) The politics of epidemiology are most obvious when you see people treat relatively weak correlations from observational studies as definitive proof of their pet hypothesis, and then turn around and come up with 100 reasons why such correlations don’t really prove anything when the correlations go the “wrong” way.
You see this all the time in obesity research, where slight increases in mortality risk at high weight levels are trumpeted as terribly significant, while much higher increases in mortality risk at weight levels within the supposed normal or recommended range are dismissed as products of other uncontrolled-for confounders.
On a related note, the NY Times story points out there are no randomized clinical trials demonstrating that moderate drinking is beneficial. Most people, I’m sure, would be surprised to learn that there aren’t even any observational studies suggesting that significant long-term weight loss is beneficial, let alone any randomized clinical trials demonstrating this.
(2) In a sense, the claim that the beneficial health effects of moderate drinking haven’t been demonstrated rigorously is rather beside the point. It’s true that the available data only suggest (more or less strongly, depending on how they are interpreted) this. But that data is much more powerful when considered in the light of a far weaker hypothesis: that moderate drinking isn’t a significant health risk. After all, while the somewhat better health of moderate drinkers in comparison with abstainers might be accounted by variables that have nothing to do with drinking, what’s extremely unlikely is that moderate drinking could have a significantly detrimental health effect, and yet produce these same correlations.
The relevance of this is that surely almost no one drinks moderately (as opposed to abstaining) because of the supposed health benefits. Whether moderate drinking is good for your health, or largely neutral (as opposed to being positively bad for you) is socially significant only if people were to treat moderate drinking like medicine — as something they’ll consume if it benefits their health, but otherwise not. The whole “is moderate drinking actually good for you?” argument is based implicitly on the assumption that it might be good for people to drink who otherwise wouldn’t, on, as it were, doctor’s orders. Which is a really bad idea.
Radley Balko and Jeff Winkler stroll down Memory Lane at Time magazine, where moral panic isn’t a sociological concept — it’s an exciting brand of contemporary journalism.
I was at the “obesity summit” Balko references in re the last cover, as pretty much the lone dissenting voice in an ocean of hysteria, and after I did my thing Time’s science editor said from the podium for the benefit of the audience “Paul, we may disagree with what you say, but we will defend to the death your right to say it.” (By “defend to the death” I think he meant “will invite you to conferences like this sometimes”).
If radical Muslims had carried out terrorist attacks in Kansas and Washington DC over the past five days, we might be trying to pass legislation giving the president the legal authority to place people in preventive detention, and Daniel Pipes would be implying that we need to round up Arab-Americans (correction: Muslims) and put them in relocation camps.
But it was only a couple of old white guys, so our civil liberties remain unthreatened.
Update: From the Holocaust Museum shooter’s website:
“In 1981 Von Brunn attempted to place the treasonous Federal Reserve Board of Governors under legal, non-violent, citizens arrest. He was tried in a Washington, D.C. Superior Court; convicted by a Negro jury, Jew/Negro attorneys, and sentenced to prison for eleven years by a Jew judge. A Jew/Negro/White Court of Appeals denied his appeal.”