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Law school pays graduates not to take the bar; 75% fail anyway

[ 47 ] October 20, 2015 |


Results for the July Arizona bar came out yesterday, confirming that the Infilaw scamsters have, as predicted, hit a new low. Some LGM readers will recall that the night before the exam, Arizona Summit’s dean was calling up some of the school’s new graduates, and offering them $10,000 not to take the test. That seemed to indicate a certain level of concern regarding whether the human-capital enhancing aspects of an Infilaw education had worked their pedagogical magic. That concern has been, shall we say, vindicated:

Results for the July 2015 Arizona bar examination

Pass rate for all first time takers: 65.7%

Pass rate for first time takers from the University of Arizona: 83.6%

Pass rate for first time takers from Arizona State University: 83.7%

[ETA]: Pass rate for first time takers from non-Arizona law schools: 74.2%

Pass rate for all first time takers who didn’t go to Arizona Summit: 79.5%

Pass rate for Arizona Summit first time takers: 30.6%

Pass rate for Arizona Summit repeat takers: 19.3%


When it Comes to American Constitutionalism, There Is No Silver Bullet

[ 119 ] October 20, 2015 |


Citizens United and vote suppression by state governments are serious problems. But the dysfunction of the national government wouldn’t go away if they were addressed, either.

Consider, for example, what would happen if Antonin Scalia resigns with Hillary Clinton in the White House and the Republican Party in control of the Senate. It would almost certainly produce a constitutional crisis in which Clinton can’t any nominee confirmed. It’s hard to see how “taking the money out of politics” would solve the crisis — essentially nobody votes based on the Supreme Court, and Republican senators have far more to fear from a primary challenge than from voters who remember that a senator wouldn’t vote to confirm a Supreme Court nominee (in some cases 3-6 years ago.) Electoral reform would help matters only to the extent that it makes Democrats more likely to hold the Senate, but no electoral reform can guarantee that we don’t have divided government. American separation-of-powers was always a hand grenade, and Mitch McConnell just pulled the pin.

Will Abuse Destroy Social Media?

[ 197 ] October 20, 2015 |


I don’t know that Twitter is dying exactly and certainly social media as a whole isn’t dying. But the inability and utter unwillingness of the designers of social media or executives of social media companies to take abuse and cyberbullying seriously–or to take actual human emotion and desire seriously in many cases–certainly challenges the viability of some of these companies because people will stop using products they find unpleasant. The obvious answer is for Twitter and other tech companies to hire people who work on these issues. Google already hires psychologists to understand its audiences for instance; hiring similar experts on abuse issues would do social media companies a lot of good. But the culture of these companies is very much not set up to care about these issues, preferring to isolate these issues while focusing on business models that don’t have to take people seriously.

As we host one of the only good commenting communities left on the internet, I feel like we are a last bastion of conversation. But given the overall tone of comment sections, what Michelle Malkin’s flying monkeys do on Twitter, all the MRA and Gamergate stuff, etc., that most of us would be better off personally shutting off social media entirely. That would be too bad I think but it would certainly make some rational sense to isolate yourself from awful people.

Can Gun Control Survive the Supreme Court?

[ 41 ] October 20, 2015 |


I ponder the implications of 2CA upholding the core of the post-Sandy Hook gun control legislation passed by the New York and Connecticut legislatures:

Given the supreme court’s reasoning, it was not difficult for Monday’s opinion, written by Judge José A Cabranes, to find the core provisions of the New York and Connecticut laws constitutional. The ban, as Judge Cabranes observed, does not eliminate the right to personal self-defense that was guaranteed by Heller: “citizens may continue to arm themselves with non-semiautomatic weapons or with any semiautomatic gun that does not contain any of the enumerated military‐style features.” Cabranes relied heavily on an opinion by the influential DC Circuit Court of Appeals, which reached similar conclusions.

This is far from the end of this constitutional question, however. The US supreme court will soon decide whether to hear an appeal of a 7th Circuit decision upholding an Illinois ban on semiautomatic weapons. The top court may decide to stay its hand, as there is not yet a direct contradiction among the circuit courts for the state to resolve.

If the US supreme court does decide to take the case, it’s unclear what will happen, as this is relatively uncharted territory in American constitutional law. Heller was focused on establishing an individual right to bear arms and did not do a great deal to clarify that right’s precise scope. What constitutes a “dangerous” and/or “unusual” weapon is not a self-evident question.

The fact that gun control laws are Democratic policies coming before a Republican-dominated court is not a good sign, but it’s certainly possible that Chief Justice John Roberts or Justice Anthony Kennedy could be persuaded to uphold the bans, or at least some aspect of them. (Despite the moderate language of Heller, I wouldn’t have much hope for the increasingly partisan Scalia.)

When Your Election Predictions Are Right 35% of the Time, They’re Wrong 65% of the Time

[ 43 ] October 20, 2015 |

trudeauwin[The incomparable Bruce MacKinnon]

Liberal majority. The Globe will get that Stephen Harper resignation it was looking for.  The key to majority rather than plurality was the Liberal resurgence in Quebec; it was interesting to see whether the NDP could consolidate its gains there, and the answer was a resounding “non.”


Framing 9/11

[ 132 ] October 19, 2015 |


I have a piece on the strange dynamics that turned George W. Bush into the president that “kept us safe” from terrorism.

Consider the power of what sociologists call “framing.” The cultural frame that the Republican party has so successfully managed to build up since the days of Ronald Reagan is one in which Democrats are weak—kneed appeasers and semi-pacifists, while the GOP is the party of strong, war-like Daddy figures, who know how to deal with foreign threats with unsentimental ruthlessness.

You would think it would be impossible to assimilate the 9/11 terrorist attacks to this frame, but you would be wrong. Such is the power of this pre-ordained narrative that, when America suffered a catastrophic terrorist attack under a Republican president, this inconvenient fact was, for enormous numbers of people, magically whisked down a kind of collective memory hole.

The power of this frame to distort perception is evident if we consider a counter-factual in which something like the 9/11 attacks happened during the term of any Democratic president. Imagine if 3,000 Americans had been murdered by foreign terrorists nine months into the Obama administration. It’s almost inconceivable that it would occur to anyone to claim subsequently that Obama had “kept us safe,” because such a claim wouldn’t be supported by the powerful distortions of a cultural frame that turned the combat-dodging ne’er do well son of George H.W. Bush into some sort of heroic warrior.

Finds from the Archives

[ 23 ] October 19, 2015 |

Found today in the archives: Your 1904 Portland City Directory, brought to you by the Pinkertons!


Election Day (Canada Edition)

[ 81 ] October 19, 2015 |


I suppose I should try to call it?  I see a Liberal minority:

Lib: 144

PC: 122

NDP: 65

Other: 7

As best as I can tell, Stephen Harper has not one-upped Larry Lessig and said he would not serve if elected. I assume the Globe and Mail therefore retracted its endorsement this morning…


Why People Immigrate to the United States

[ 181 ] October 19, 2015 |


Hondurans migrating north to the United States

The flood of children from Central America to U.S. borders that so freaked out conservatives last year has largely abated, but that doesn’t mean Central Americans have stop trying to get to the U.S. As part of our immigration policy, we need to understand why they are coming and what our own national complicity is in the reasons. This story on a detention center in Honduras for those deported back from Mexico on their way to the U.S. is a good entry point into why people migrate:

That’s definitely the plan for a 17-year-old arrival at El Edén named Keler. He was headed to Miami when authorities in southern Mexico booted him back. But almost his entire family lives in the U.S. — and he says if he returns to his town north of Tegucigalpa, Honduras’ capital, the violent gang that rules his neighborhood will either forcibly recruit him or kill him.

“They already shot dead two of my cousins,” Keler says, removing his New York Jets ski cap in the Honduran heat. “That’s what I’d be going back to.”

That’s still a dark dilemma for too many kids in Central America’s northern triangle — Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador — where vicious, tattooed streets gangs known as maras control whole swaths of territory, and homicide rates are among the highest in the world. Until recently, in fact, Honduras and San Pedro Sula were the world’s most murderous country and city.

Combine that with the region’s crushing poverty — about two-thirds of Hondurans are desperately poor — and it helps explain why the U.S. saw a massive migrant surge on its southern border last year. That included a record 68,000 unaccompanied children.

This is a refugee crisis that is not that much less horrible than what is happening in Syria and Iraq. Moreover, this violence is fueled by the United States in two important ways. First, it’s our insatiable desire for drugs, which is the economic basis for these gangs in the first place. Second, it’s that our ridiculous gun laws, or lack thereof, make it very easy for buyers to enter the U.S., purchase large amounts of guns, and drive them back into Mexico and Central America.

Given these two points, we should be allowing a nearly unlimited immigration flow from these nations. If we want to crack down on why these people have to migrate, OK, then I guess we could justify keeping the people out. But creating violence and then dooming people to die in that violence instead of entering the U.S., well, that’s pretty immoral.


[ 34 ] October 19, 2015 |

God’s biggest mistake, Milo Yiannopoulos, got tired of waiting yawning minutes between getting the attention he so desperately craves, so he decided to create a hashtag his GamerGate harem could masturbate to. It’s #WorldPatriarchyDay. In addition, he told the women of twitter to make him a sammich. Jeff Dunham was heard to exclaim, “Geez, dude, get some fresh material.”

Screechy, vagina-bleeding feminists everywhere decided to take him up on his offer.

What would you put on your Milo sammich?

The Power of Silent Film

[ 31 ] October 19, 2015 |


I am really excited to watch the 1920 film The Daughter of Dawn, once thought lost (like about 85 percent of silent films) and now found.

The Daughter of Dawn is more than just another Friday night flick. It is a cinematic wormhole into America’s past.

“The rediscovery of The Daughter of Dawn is a great historical find,” Jeffrey M. Moore of the Oklahoma Museum of Popular Culture tells NPR. “Not only is it significant because so few independent films from the silent era survived but it captures a time period often romanticized in a very real and authentic way. The imagery from American Indian culture on the Southern Plains is for the most part presented unfiltered by the non-Indian filmmakers.

In the movie, Moore says, “The viewer gets to see Kiowas and Comanches wearing their traditional clothing without the help of Hollywood wardrobe departments. Besides the scenes on horseback and hunting buffalo, there are scenes of traditional dances being performed that would have been forbidden by the federal government if not for the fact that they were part of the film.”

And the background landscape of the Wichita Mountains, he adds, “gives an environmental purity lost when later films portraying Plains tribes would be filmed in locations like Monument Valley.”

My only caveat to this is that a silent film being an amazing window into the past is not something limited to this film but rather is actually a quite common and wonderful feature of silent film. That’s especially true in the 1910s when people were still figuring out on the fly how to make films and before Hollywood methods and sets were common. So you have street scenes from New York in 1903 that are shocking to the viewer because that’s simply something you don’t expect to see, for example. The Daughter of Dawn is definitely not the only Native American based film that is a must see as well. In fact, there are a lot of really fascinating examinations of Native Americans in silent film. One of the best is the 1929 film Redskin, which is about both the transformation of Navajo culture through the Indian schools and the Navajo-Puebloan divide that went back centuries to the times when the Navajo were raiding the pueblos left and right. The film is actually partially in color, using an early technique that did not allow for the full palette of colors, but was still an amazing advancement (see also the amazing and 100 percent no holds barred exercise in Orientalism 1922 film The Toll of the Sea with Anna Mae Wong for use of early color in silents). Plus the scenes of the Navajo Nation, filmed at Canyon de Chelly and revolving around herding culture are filmed in color and the scenes after the main character is forced to go to an east coast Indian school are in black and white, which is more shocking. He then falls in love with an Acoma girl at the same school. They come back and of course neither are any longer accepted as full tribal members. The final scene consists of a near-battle between the Acoma and Navajo. In order to film this scene, the director had a road built up Acoma Pueblo. For those of you who have visited the Sky City in western New Mexico, this is the road you take today. It was built for a film. So once again, this is a pretty fantastic examination of Native American life, even if it directed by a white person and the main stars are white actors.

There are so many silent films like this. Not only are many silents great films on the merit, but the historical window they present cannot be replicated in any other way and on almost any issue of the day–radical politics, birth control, race, etc.,–you can find weird and wonderful silents.

Conservative Concern Trolling About the Poor

[ 15 ] October 19, 2015 |

classic david brooks now that

When a new trade agreement is about to be passed, all of a sudden big-business conservatives pretend to care about the poor. They never, ever, ever care about the poor at home, except to blame them for their own poverty. And they never, ever, ever care about the poor abroad either. But when it comes time to pass a trade agreement that would enrich corporations, all of a sudden, anyone who opposes it automatically hates the poor while those who support it truly have the best interests of Bangladeshi and Vietnamese and American workers in mind. Such it is with David Brooks who totally cares about the global poor now that the Trans-Pacific Partnership is on the table

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