I Guessed Wrong

Brett Kavanaugh wins coveted Roy Moore endorsement.

This is not the Onion. It’s real.

The original source is a TPM article, Moral Authority Roy Moore Urges GOP To ‘Take A Stand’ And Back Kavanaugh. It explains:

Failed Senate candidate Roy Moore, who was accused of sexual misconduct by nine women, has decided that the time is ripe to throw his support to fellow accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

Posted in Law: The Supremes, Onion/Not-Onion | Leave a comment

Kavanaugh’s Bright College Years

Seems that Judge Kavanaugh was a DKE as an undergrad. DKE was notoriously the most most drunken (well, maybe tied with a singing group) and least evolved student organization when I was an undergrad at Yale, only a few years before Kavanaugh. It is not a good recommendation for a Judge, much less a Justice. Certainly not disqualifying on its own, but it helps set a context for other things.

Someone kindly sent me a link to an old Yale Daily News article about what DKE was up to the year Kavanaugh was a sophomore, which includes the photo above. Kavanaugh was already a member by then. Nothing to be proud of, although one should be careful to note this is guilt by association; he’s not in the photo. But those guys hung together.

Posted in Law: The Supremes | Leave a comment

China?

Mexico Didn’t Pay For It

Brad DeLong writes, “I need to understand China. I do not understand China. How can I learn to understand China?”

They covered this at Yale. Jonathan Spence in his Introduction to Chinese History told us, when we got to the modern era, that there were three things we should never believe when we heard them: “1. ‘The check is in the mail.’ 2. ‘I’ll respect you in the morning'”…ok, it was the early 80s, … “and 3. ‘I understand what is happening in China.'”

Posted in Politics: International | Leave a comment

Vertebrate Paleontology

Congress gets a spine and nobody notices because it’s about Yemen.

Read this very interesting piece of Congressional vertebrate paleontology and thought, “Dan would like this; it’s the sort of thing he’d want for his rebooted White House Watch.”

But of course, it turns out that he wrote it.

Posted in Dan Froomkin, Politics: International | Leave a comment

Florida Bar Pass Rates July 2018

UM did fine; the news is the crash over at neighboring law schools, notably Nova Southeastern, Stetson, and Barry. What happened? (In reading this list I would not read much into small differences in pass rates; but big differences (over 10%, maybe; certainly over 20%, and likely less) do mean something.)

This year’s bar was tough, with the lowest pass rate on the multistate in 34 years. In that environment, UM’s 83.2% is credible, given that we have a lot more bar-takers than our close competitors, even if it is still lower than I would like.

The shockers on this list are Nova and Stetson and Barry.  Nova had an 86% pass rate in 2009, and almost 81% in 2010; last year was 70.2.  Where are they now? At 42.9%.  What happened?

Stetson, once the #1 or #2 in the State, and  at least  in the high 70s or low 80s less than 10 years ago, was 76.8% last year, and suffered less this year, but it was down to only 67.2%. These are schools that are (were?) known for solid teaching of doctrinal law, for producing reliable local practitioners year after year, if perhaps not for being national or especially academic in their ambitions.  Barry, which not long ago was comfortably in the mid-70% range,  and got 58.9% last year, cratered too, to 45.5%. Indeed both Barry and Nova were below Florida A&M, and FAMU’s 58.5 score wasn’t much to cheer about.

There won’t be much happiness at the University of Florida. They have a fine program, and students with excellent credentials, and yet only 70.9% passed? A blip, I trust.

I’ve long said that Bar pass rates are over-rated as a measure of law school quality. But, as I also said back then,

[T]here certainly comes a point where a substantially lower bar pass rate than other schools in the state is a sign of a problem that a law school should work to fix. Most people come to law school in order to become lawyers. If they can’t pass the bar, at least on second try, in most cases they have wasted large amounts of time and money. If this is happening to a substantial fraction of the class, and it isn’t happening nearly as much in other law schools in the same state, then something is wrong either with the teaching, the work ethic, or with the admission policy. Note that the latter may not be the school’s direct fault: as there are more and more law schools it becomes increasingly likely that some schools simply are unable to attract enough students with enough discipline or talent, which puts pressure on the school to either teach to the bar, or to flunk a greater fraction of the entering students.

I’m not sure where that point is exactly, but surely a 42.9% pass rate is below it, and probably 62% also, unless the school is self-consciously taking risks on admissions in order to further a social goal (which arguably describes FAMU) — and the students understand this going in.

I’m glad we as a school did well; I feel sorry for everyone at every school who tried hard and failed. Anyone can fail the bar once; many of you will pass on second try, if you work hard again.

Posted in Florida, Law School | 2 Comments

White House Watch is Back!

My brother is reviving White House Watch. It was his best journalism, back before he got sucked into management, and I’m really happy to see it again.

He even has a sort of manifesto, of which this is a part:

I see two ways it can add value above the din:

1. By relentlessly putting Trump’s incremental actions in their proper, alarming context as an ongoing, corrupt assault on pluralism, shared truths, and core liberal democratic values; and
2. By convening an ongoing online dialogue about what we need to do once Trump is gone, with an emphasis on strengthening our democracy and curbing executive branch powers that have grown unchecked.

We can’t allow this to become the new normal. So how do we restore pre-Trump expectations? And having learned some very painful lessons, how do we apply them to rebalance and reenergize our democracy?

I don’t have the answers, but I’m excited about asking the questions and reporting what I hear.

In addition to multiple postings using the latest news as a point of departure, I’ll do my own reporting and interviews. I’ll talk to experts about the weakening of the checks and balances intended to protect us from tyranny, and how to strengthen them. I’ll review literature on key topics, especially related to the violation and restoration of norms. I’ll experiment with online annotation of articles, essays and white papers. Depending on the site’s budget, there could be podcasts and even teach-ins.

I’m also intent on offering a megaphone to the growing community of groups and individuals already focused on the work of restoring and protecting democratic principles. The endless scandals, outrages and distractions of the Trump era have robbed them of the national attention they deserve. White House Watch will work with them on internet time to inject their important perspective into the daily political discourse.

(My only question is why I had to hear about this from Mom?)

Posted in Dan Froomkin, The Media | Leave a comment