Small item, but I did find this interesting.  My excerpt from Ezra Klein’s interview had an obvious error that Ezra and I both overlooked.  This is from what I originally posted, as Ezra has since corrected:

EK: You seem skeptical of the ability of policy to keep us safe, but doesn’t the relative safety of the last few years suggest that our post-9/11 policies have actually worked?

BS: The problem with rare events is that you can’t make those sorts of assessments. I remember then-Attorney General Donald Rumsfeld, speaking two years after 9/11. He said that the lack of a repeat event was proof that his policies worked. But there were no terrorist attacks in the two years before 9/11, and he didn’t have any policies in place. What does that prove? It proves that terrorist attacks are rare.

Obviously, Don Rumsfeld was Secretary of Defense and has never been Attorney General.  The link to this interview has corrected this with Rumsfeld’s correct title.  Interestingly, though, there’s no indication at all on the page that this is a corrected version.  Now, I’ve never taken a journalism class, but from voluminous on-line reading, it is pretty clear to me that the standard on this is to make a note of your corrections at the end of the article.  Quite interesting that Wonkblog, of all places, would fail to do so.

The law school job market

Really, really not good unless you go to a top-10 (top 7?)  law school.  Check out this chart:


If we were talking about undergraduate students, these numbers wouldn’t seem quite as awful. But JD’s consistently dive six figures into debt and give up three years of other opportunities for an education that prepares them with a very specific, not-so-easily transferred skill set (please forget the old saw that “you can do anything with a law degree”). There are some schools where the investment practically always pays off — a Harvard or University of Virginia degree is still looking good these days — but at many schools, reputation trumps results.

It’s amazing the number of students I see who want to go to law school because they are convinced that it is the path to a sure job and riches.  They’re wrong (Suffice it to say, I’m not seeing many Harvard/Yale applicants among my students).

Photo of the day

From a recent National Geographic gallery of Wrangel Island, Russia.

Photograph by Sergey Gorshkov

In August fledgling snowy owls begin to fly—sometimes with laughable results. This young owl, having nose-dived into a river, uses its wings like oars to propel itself across the water.


The “props” speak

Apparently Rand Paul accused Obama of using the Newtown families as props.  Obama was not happy:

I’ve heard folks say that having the families of victims lobby for this legislation was somehow misplaced.  “A prop,” somebody called them.  “Emotional blackmail,” some outlet said.  Are they serious?  Do we really think that thousands of families whose lives have been shattered by gun violence don’t have a right to weigh in on this issue?  Do we think their emotions, their loss is not relevant to this debate?

So all in all, this was a pretty shameful day for Washington.

Mostly, though, I wanted the excuse to post some quotes from some similar “props” who were at the Senate vote:

As police escorted them from the Capitol, Patricia Maisch and Lori Haas said they were angry. Maisch knocked a large ammunition magazine out of the hands of Jared Lee Loughner in January 2011 after he shot Giffords and other bystanders.

“They are an embarrassment to this country,” Maisch said as officers tried to remove her from the building. “I hate them,” she added of the senators.

Haas, whose daughter, Emily, was wounded in the 2007 Virginia Tech shootings, said: “We’re sick and tired of the death in this country, and these legislators stand up there and think it’s a bunch of numbers. . . . It’s a shame, it’s appalling, it’s disgusting.”

Tomasky on the Senate gun vote (and the 90%)

I’m going to write a post bringing together a lot of stuff (I hope), till then, I enjoy/share Tomasky’s pure rage:

You cannot oppose the will of 90 percent of the public and expect no consequences. You can’t have people saying what Rand Paul said, that monstrous comment of his about Newtown parents being “props,” and think that you haven’t offended and infuriated millions of people. You can’t introduce amendments that encourage moreinterstate transfer of weapons and give it the way-beyond-Orwellian name “safe communities” act and think that karma will never come back around on you. And you can’t sneer at the parents of dead 6-year-olds and expect that God isn’t watching and taking notes.

Sickening. The whole thing. The four cowardly Democrats, too. Max Baucus, Mark Begich, Mark Pryor, and Heidi Heitkamp. Heitkamp won’t face her voters again for five years. Baucus has been around long enough to be able to be bigger than this. Begich and Pryor, who face reelection next year, have the least lame excuses of all, but they are cowards too. They have to know they did the wrong thing. If Joe Manchin could do what he did—and trust me, I’m from West Virginia, and I know Joe, and our families knew each other, and the whole thing. If Manchin could do what he did, from a state every bit as tough on this issue as theirs, these four pygmies really have to be ashamed of themselves.

That said, I think Tomasky’s wrong about the idea that you can’t oppose the 90% without facing consequences.  Really, like this post from Drum:

The NRA certainly has the power to make life miserable for politicians who vote against them, but here’s their real power:

Generic support for gun control fell from 78 percent to 44 percent over the past two decades. Over that time, the NRA persuaded the public that gun control was a bad idea, and it paid off for them today. The upward blip in support following the Sandy Hook massacre is probably fairly ephemeral, but even if it’s not, 58 percent support just isn’t enough to pass contentious legislation. You generally need two-thirds or more. Even 70 percent support in 1994 was only barely enough to pass a modest assault weapons ban.

That’s the power of the NRA. They’ve worked hard to get the public on their side, and that brings politicians along automatically. They don’t really need to threaten conservative senators to get their support because conservative senators already agree with them. That agreement is strong enough that even a watered-down background check bill with 90 percent public support can’t overcome a filibuster, and renewal of the assault weapons ban is just flatly out of the question.

Blood on their hands

Shameful, disgusting, disgraceful.  But most importantly, those Senators (and those who aided and abetted them) who refused to allow for even the most weakened background checks will be responsible for the deaths of Americans.  Yes, of course they will.  This background check was way too weak and full of loopholes you could drive a mentally unstable lunatic through, but it was most definitely better than nothing and would assuredly have made it at least somewhat more difficult for bad guys to get guns.  Yet, some people will surely be successfully be deterred from getting guns.  Heck, if only 10% of the wrong people are successfully deterred, given our amount of gun violence, that could probably save hundreds of lives.  For every single person who is shot by a gun obtained through a sale that would’ve had a background check prevent, the NRA and these (almost all Republican) Senators truly have blood on their hands as far as I’m concerned.

You know what I would love to see next election cycle.  An ad like, “this is Hannah Jones.  She’s widowed with 4 kids.  Her husband was shot by an convicted felon with a gun that he purchased through a sale without a background check.  Senator X voted to allow ex-felons to buy guns without background checks.  Senator X, explain that vote to Hannah Jones.”   Not holding my breath that we’ll see any ads like that, and maybe I’m missing something, but it seems to me they could work.

Much more later.

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