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Barack Obama Open Thread.--

If you want to comment on Barack Obama, his candidacy, or any Volokh Conspiracy post relating to him, you may do so below.

Please be substantive and civil.

James Lindgren (mail):
Welcome.
7.19.2008 3:41am
GMUSL '07 Alum (mail):
Barack Obama by himself wouldn't be that bad (see, e.g., Clinton from '94-'00). Barack with both houses of Congress will be an unmitigated disaster from which we may not ever recover.

Vote for divided government. Otherwise, we have no chance to survive, make your time!
7.19.2008 3:44am
Laura S.:
So given Obama's policy positions would he have a chance at being elected in Europe? It seems he's pretty far left compared to most Europeans:

1) opposes school vouchers
2) supports a corporate income tax > 30%
3) wants to deploy military force within Pakistan
4) opposes personal accounts in partial lieu of social security
5) opposes public/private health plans
6) advocate of biofuel subsidies: helped push the ethanol bill through congress
7) does not believe that the primary responsibility of the central bank is price stability
7.19.2008 4:02am
iambatman:
Was '92-'94 such an unmitigated disaster? (Hint: even if your answer is yes, it would make sense to swallow the poison pill now, because Obama would likely lose the House and Senate in 2010. If McCain is elected, the Democrats have their third good Congressional election year in a row and usher the then 76 year old prez out two years later.)
7.19.2008 4:03am
Derrick (mail):
1) opposes school vouchers
2) supports a corporate income tax > 30%
3) wants to deploy military force within Pakistan
4) opposes personal accounts in partial lieu of social security
5) opposes public/private health plans
6) advocate of biofuel subsidies: helped push the ethanol bill through congress
7) does not believe that the primary responsibility of the central bank is price stability


This post is willfully misleading in its assertions. When did he say that he wants to deploy the military in Pakistan? I'm not sure what you mean by opposing public/private health plans, but his healthcare policy is allowing for private health care but also providing an option of a national health plan. He's actually pledged to lower corporate tax rates and I have no idea where you come to the conclusion that he doesn't believe in price stability.
7.19.2008 5:27am
Anon21:
1) opposes school vouchers

European voucher practice is fairly mixed. It hasn't been much of a winning issue for the Tories in Britain, and it varies in other European countries, although some (like Germany) are almost fully public. More obviously, most European countries (France being a notable exception) have no institutionalized separation of church and state; many have state churches. In such a climate, one of the primary points of contention between voucher advocates and opponents in the U.S. debate is taken off the table. So this is stop 1 on the absurd hypothetical train, revealing that if Barack Obama were a politician in a different country, he'd probably have some different policy positions on issues that don't really translate all that well between the U.S. and Europe anyway.


2) supports a corporate income tax > 30%


Maybe a nominal rate of higher than 30%, which is what we have currently. What we also have, which is not quite as common in Europe, is a bewildering maze of corporate tax loopholes that ensures that corporations pay nothing like the nominal rate.


3) wants to deploy military force within Pakistan


As someone has pointed out, a blatant misrepresentation. He has said that if we have actionable intelligence on high value terrorist targets in Pakistan and their government is either unable or unwilling to act, then the United States will act. I would hope any candidate running for President would be willing to commit to doing as much. Are we really going to let high-value al-Qaeda targets slip away because of the Pakistani government's weak grip over the northern tribal areas and occasional intransigence? I certainly hope not.

4) opposes personal accounts in partial lieu of social security


Where would this position supposedly make him too far left to compete? Germany, maybe? Almost all European countries have unemployment and retirement benefits far more generous than American benefits, paid out of general government revenues. If anything, Obama's American centrist position on Social Security (don't kid yourself, the Bush/McCain privatization view is a radical and unpopular position in the US) might make him unattractively conservative to European voters if he was running for election in a bizarre hypothetical.

5) opposes public/private health plans

What does this even mean? Public/private health insurance is exactly the model Obama has endorsed--employer-provided where possible, government-subsidized otherwise. Again, his lack of support for a single-payer system would assuredly make him too conservative to win election in the UK or most of the Norwegian countries, for example.

6) advocate of biofuel subsidies: helped push the ethanol bill through congress

I don't know...ethanol subsidization is a stupid position, but I don't see it as being confined to liberals. It's basically an easy way for a politician of any stripe to pander to farmers, and I doubt the set of incentives to do that is quite the same in Europe. Nonetheless, the EU had mandated standards for biofuel usage before concerns were raised about their contributing to food shortages. I think this rather arcane issue of energy policy is probably a little beyond most voters' interests, whether in Europe or the US.


7) does not believe that the primary responsibility of the central bank is price stability

I don't know what you're driving at here. Are you pretending that putting some additional regulatory tools in the Fed's arsenal to prevent the perverse incentives that develop when financial institutions are privately owned and subject to little regulation, but virtually assured of a taxpayer bailout if they should fail somehow undermines the Fed's responsibility to ensure price stability? Do you think there's something wrong with the Fed allowing higher inflation during a period of recession in order to combat unemployment? I'm betting it's the latter. In which case: no, actually, voters in Europe don't like high unemployment either; I'm pretty sure he'd be just fine running on a platform of higher prices as a temporary trade-off for more jobs. This is assuming he actually had some substantial influence on central bank policy, which he wouldn't in any European country (or in the US, for that matter).

Strange grab-bag of issues, seemingly cherry-picked in order to avoid issues like Iraq (where his commitment to ending the war and reducing American unilateral adventurism is completely in step with European public opinion) or the broader energy issue (where his commitment to introducing mandatory carbon caps is solidly in line with European elite opinion and not that important to average voters). And the unfortunate part is that it's a dismal failure to demonstrate that Obama is somehow too liberal for Europe. Or for the United States, for that matter. I know, I know...you're used to liberal ideas being by definition disreputable, to Democratic politicians like Bill Clinton who only succeed by adopting conservative policies. The '90s are over, friend. The Reagan Era is done. Bush and his gang have torpedoed American conservatism for the next couple election cycles. Obama is going to get elected on a doctrinaire liberal platform, and you can sit in the ruins of your permanent majority and wonder where it all went wrong.
7.19.2008 6:27am
Perseus (mail):
It's basically an easy way for a politician of any stripe to pander to farmers, and I doubt the set of incentives to do that is quite the same in Europe.

Europe's economically insane Common Agricultural Policy is evidence enough of European politicians pandering to farmers.
7.19.2008 7:14am
Ai:
Obama is affirmative action personified; Would he be where he is today were it not for racial preferences?
7.19.2008 8:18am
Federal Dog:
"Obama is affirmative action personified; Would he be where he is today were it not for racial preferences?"


He wouldn't even rise to the "stature" of John Edwards.

Listening to Obama talk about economics and foreign policy is like listening to a second- or third-year undergraduate "speak out on the issues." Yes, by all means, let's hope they don't close the oil-rich Straits of Hormuz.

Sheesh.

Further, to say that I am uncomfortable with cult worship is a serious understatement. Mob think is frightening.
7.19.2008 8:45am
A. Zarkov (mail):
BHO advocates a expensive government funded health care (actually sick care plan). He says:

My plan begins by covering every American. If you already have health insurance, the only thing that will change for you under this plan is the amount of money you will spend on premiums. That will be less. If you are one of the 45 million Americans who don't have health insurance, you will have it after this plan becomes law. No one will be turned away because of a preexisting condition or illness.
1. Does "American" include illegal aliens? He refuses to say. If it does I don't see how the term "American" applies unless one believes that anyone who crosses the border is an American.

2. If the 45 million (where does that number come from?) uninsured includes illegal aliens, that means from 12 to 20 million new people covered would include people who pay no income tax. Illegal aliens don't have a valid social security numbers; they must either commit identity theft (a felony) or work "off the books," which is tax evasion, another felony. In either case they pay no income tax. In theory an illegal alien could file a return using a "taxpayer identification number." However IRS rules clearly state the the taxpayer ID cannot substitute for a social security number. In using this number one signs a statement under penalty of perjury to the effect that he is not using the taxpayer ID instead of a SS number. Another felony for working illegal aliens.

3. BHO says that the amount of money people spend on premiums will be less. That means people's taxes must go up to cover the shortfall. If the US is going to cover anyone who can make it across the border, the cost of this program will skyrocket. BHO voted for the McCain amnesty bill which would have led to chain migration flooding the country with people who could make claims on this universal health care system. People who don't have to work an pay taxes.

4. BHO has an overly optimistic concept of preventative medicine. He seems to believe in the health care myths as discussed in the book Health Care Half Truths. For example, preventative medicine does not decrease life cycle medical costs; it can actually increase them. To understand why this happens you need to know about competitive risk and evidently BHO doesn't.

5. His plan covers pre-existing conditions, but as far as I can see, his plan does not have mandatory participation. Thus people can wait until they have an expensive illness to treat and then enroll.

In summary BHO proposes a new and very costly federal program that contains the seeds of its own financial destruction. Americans will have less health care so that millions of criminal illegal aliens who pay no income tax will have more. If an American needs an organ transplant he might find himself waiting in a longer line. If more people fully understood the implications of what he proposes BHO would not win come November.
7.19.2008 8:49am
J. Aldridge:
If Obama is elected people will be demanding a regime change soon after!
7.19.2008 8:57am
seadrive:
Being a mid-westerner, Obama may have not choice, politically, about seeming to support ethanol. I had thought, however, that the subsidies die out when the price of fuel rises, and the whole deal may be a lot closer to moot than we tend to think.

At any rate, most everyone, even Congress, has caught on that ethanol from corn is a dead end.
7.19.2008 9:07am
sheesh (mail):

He will establish a Classroom Corps to help teachers and students, with a priority placed on underserved schools; a Health Corps to improve public health outreach; a Clean Energy Corps to conduct weatherization and renewable energy projects; a Veterans Corps to assist veterans at hospitals, nursing homes and homeless shelters; and a Homeland Security Corps to help communities plan, prepare for and respond to emergencies.


so he's proposing corporatism...
7.19.2008 11:29am
Redlands (mail):
"Just as we must value and encourage military service across our society, we must honor and expand other opportunities to serve."
I can't wait for Sen. Obama to sell that in San Francisco. Better yet, I can't wait to see him actually say it in Frisco. The derisive booing will be exceeded only by the hysterical laughter.
7.19.2008 11:31am
Javert:

Because the future of our nation depends on the soldier at Fort Carson, but it also depends on the teacher in East LA, or the nurse in Appalachia, the after-school worker in New Orleans, the Peace Corps volunteer in Africa, the Foreign Service officer in Indonesia. . . .
Gruesomely fascinating for his view of what is not crucial to the future of our nation: the unfettered businessman.
7.19.2008 11:47am
Adam K:
I like the idea of a tax credit for community service. You can already get a deduction for giving away old, useless junk that you don't want anymore, so why not a comparable incentive for giving away time and services?
7.19.2008 11:54am
Just Dropping By (mail):
Obama is affirmative action personified

[sarcasm] Yeah, because they hand out honors at Harvard Law School on a quota basis. [/sarcasm]
7.19.2008 12:06pm
PhanTom:

Gruesomely fascinating for his view of what is not crucial to the future of our nation: the unfettered businessman.


I think the list was meant to be illustrative rather than exhaustive.

--PtM
7.19.2008 12:15pm
RKV (mail):
"so he's proposing corporatism..."

Yep. I wonder whether the uniform shirts will be brown or black?

IMO, "the civilian national security force that's just as powerful, just as strong, just as well-funded" as our military" already exists in our Constitution. It's called THE MILITIA. And we may need it the way Hamilton described in Federalist 28 before we're done.
7.19.2008 12:33pm
ChrisIowa (mail):
So where in the Constitution is the Federal Government given the power to do these things? Or does he cross his fingers when he swears "to protect and defend..."?
7.19.2008 12:36pm
David Schraub (mail) (www):
If Obama is a poster boy for affirmative action, I think you can chalk up one massive data point for AA.
7.19.2008 12:38pm
jolly green jack:
re:

[Jim Lindgren, July 19, 2008 at 3:17am] Trackbacks
Funding Barack Obama's "civilian national security force."-- A. Obama on National Service.
----------------------------------------------------------

I'm pleased to see someone connect this to Obama's pledge to increase the Americorps and Peacecorps rather than argue this is some call for a paramilitary force....

However, I think Jim might also like to reference Obama's "The War We Must Win" speech. Delivered at the Wilson Center over a year ago, the speech was written by an aide to Lee Hamilton. In this speech Obama also talks about an "American VOICE corps" that will (I assume) be created with the the increase of the Americorps and Peacecorps "volunteers". He vaguely hints at this in his Wilson Center speech.

His goal for America is "...to be the light of hope in the sky for the child..." looking up at the MIL HELO. He intends to carry this out by creating "America Houses" throughout the Islamic World. This is a expansive policy of American Exceptionalism, where Americans will be teaching American English and American Historical interpretations to Muslims populations.

I have been commenting on these pledges by Obama when I get a chance -for nearly a year. It's nice someone is starting to seriously question what Obama's goals are in context to his July 2 Speech, but it would be wise to also consider this speech in context to his Wilson Center speech and notice how both tie in to one another.

Obama pledges to increase the MIL by 100k, double the Peacecorps, increase Americorps, create an America Voice Corps and build America Houses all over the "Islamic World". Total increases of 350k?

1)How to pay for it?
2)How is any of this a new vision/change/post-pol rather than a relabeling of American Exceptionalism?

3)Was Americorps' original design intended to carry out domestic federal policy?

4)Is the Americorps volunteer a clever way to secure a labor pool for liberal domestic policy programs at the state level minus state min wage pay scale?

5)Will Obama recruit USMIL personal to retrain and reclassify into Ameri/peace/voice corps, thus integrating both foreign and domestic "forces" into one? (note: all former USMIL can currently apply for Peacecorps, but very rarely, can a former PC volunteer transfer to MIL)

6)Are the American Houses in the Islamic World nothing but a soft form of assimilation? Is Obama proposing such policy when pledging to teach Muslims about the goodness of America?

7)Will the progressive America backing Obama sign up to do a tour?
7.19.2008 1:12pm
James Lindgren (mail):
David Schraub wrote:


If Obama is a poster boy for affirmative action, I think you can chalk up one massive data point for AA.



Well said!
7.19.2008 1:15pm
Snarky:

So where in the Constitution is the Federal Government given the power to do these things?


As a substitute for asking an obvious question about the Constitution, why don't you try actually reading it.

I think its pretty clear, but I am not going to hold your hand.
7.19.2008 1:20pm
The Drill SGT:

So given Obama's policy positions would he have a chance at being elected in Europe? It seems he's pretty far left compared to most Europeans:


I don't know that he's left of some Euro's anyway. Met any German Greens lately?

However, I can't see Germany or France ever electing a Black. (their term). Though they talk and good game and the French like Afro-American entertainers, both cultures are fairly racist at the political level.

France: I think their legislature has 555 members and last I heard 11 were "Minority". No Black CEO's, French Minsters, etc.

Germany: I know less about the current state of affairs, but 30 years ago, our Afro-American soldiers faced some bad discrimination while living in Germany. Foreigners (all non-enthic Germans) do.
7.19.2008 1:36pm
Constantin:
I'm not sure Obama's status is a victory for affirmative action, when the kid gloves treatment didn't stop after admission to Harvard. It actually hasn't stopped yet. So I guess if "victory for affirmative action" means "employed as mascot for right-thinking people to feel better about themselves into his mid-forties" then, yeah, maybe.

I would love to see Obama's LSAT score. He's conceded he doesn't know whether he benefited from racial preferences in getting into college and law school. Watching him talk without a teleprompter tends to resolve the question in my mind.

I'd also be interested in learning about the process leading to his election as president of the Law Review.
7.19.2008 1:37pm
U.Va. 3L:
I would love to see Obama's LSAT score. He's conceded he doesn't know whether he benefited from racial preferences in getting into college and law school. Watching him talk without a teleprompter tends to resolve the question in my mind.

So, just to be clear, that whole "graduated from Harvard Law in the top 10%" has no bearing on whether you think he benefitted from AA when applying, but his extemporaneous speeches 25 years later do?
7.19.2008 1:50pm
Constantin:
I would add to my post that the one time in his political life that Obama wasn't able to use white guilt to get ahead--his run against Bobby Rush for Congress in 2000--he was beaten mercilessly. Running in the most heavily black congressional district in America, that tool just wasn't available to him.

I don't fault Obama one bit for taking advantage of this by, for example, changing the name he went by once he realized the game. If anything, this opportunism is his most appealing quality, for it acts as a hedge against his utter lack of experience or serious thinking on big issues and his seemingly instinctive far-leftism.
7.19.2008 1:52pm
Fub:
Adam K wrote at 7.19.2008 10:54am:
I like the idea of a tax credit for community service. You can already get a deduction for giving away old, useless junk that you don't want anymore, so why not a comparable incentive for giving away time and services?
Tax credit != deduction for tax purposes.

"Deduction" is usually subtracted from income. "Tax credit" is usually subtracted from taxes owed.

So a deduction yields a "tax credit" of (deduction * marginal tax rate).

The lower one's tax rate, the more valuable a tax credit becomes, relative to a tax deduction.

Redlands wrote at 7.19.2008 10:31am:
"Just as we must value and encourage military service across our society, we must honor and expand other opportunities to serve."
I can't wait for Sen. Obama to sell that in San Francisco. Better yet, I can't wait to see him actually say it in Frisco. The derisive booing will be exceeded only by the hysterical laughter.
One (likely heretical) idea that neither Obama nor McCain has suggested, which might actually get some traction even in San Francisco given current health care costs: let individuals pay health insurance premiums by some form of national service.

F'rinstance: for every hours' service in some certified national service corps, government will pay some portion of the individual's (or his family's) health insurance premium to some certified health care provider or insurance plan. Effectively, the wage paid for national service would be in "health care scrip". That would encourage part-time national service work by a broad range of individuals who are also gainfully employed elsewhere.

So, what's not to like? Probably plenty: just for starters, the usual bureaucratic expansion, waste, fraud, abuse and mission creep. But at least it would encourage national service work from a broader range of people, and address two issues of national concern simultaneously. So I wonder why no presidential candidate or other politician interested in encouraging national civilian service has even brought it up.
7.19.2008 2:00pm
dearieme:
I suspect that the key is that he is a politician.
7.19.2008 2:10pm
Federal Dog:
"If Obama is a poster boy for affirmative action, I think you can chalk up one massive data point for AA."

Why? Because he was given a lot in life by dint of preferential treatment? So what?
7.19.2008 2:10pm
LM (mail):
Constantin:

I'd also be interested in learning about the process leading to his election as president of the Law Review.

I've got one word for you: Google. That election and the events leading up to it have been well covered in the press, both contemporaneously and recently. There's nothing clandestine about it.
7.19.2008 2:18pm
LM (mail):
Federal Dog:

"If Obama is a poster boy for affirmative action, I think you can chalk up one massive data point for AA."

Why? Because he was given a lot in life by dint of preferential treatment? So what?

If graduating in the top 10% of his class at Harvard Law School on merit doesn't vindicate any help he may have received getting there, just what do you think a "massive data point for AA" could possibly be?
7.19.2008 2:24pm
byomtov (mail):
Federal Dog,

Tell me a few things. Do you think George W. Bush "was given a lot in life by virtue of preferential treatment?"

If so, have you ever objected to it? Do you think he has gotten more preferential treatment or less than Obama?

Constantin,

Why is Obama's statement that he doesn't know if he got preferential treatment a "concession," rather than a simple statement to be taken at face value - he deosn't know. That's all.
7.19.2008 2:38pm
Psalm91 (mail):
Neither the McCain nor the Obama threads to this post contain even one positive comment about Sen. McCain, his skills or qualifications.

Re the Sen. Obama affirmative action comments, do any of you critics contend that either Sen. McCain or Pres. Bush obtained their admissions to the Naval Academy, Yale or Harvard Business School based on their academic records, rather than the identity and standing of their fathers?
7.19.2008 2:39pm
Dave N (mail):
Even though I am not an Obama supporter, one thing that has impressed me is that he did not go the BigLaw route even though he obviously had the opportunity.

There is nothing wrong with BigLaw, mind you, if that is your cup of tea and it is mighty tempting to go that route (perhaps the advance from Faith of Our Fathers made the decision easier if he would otherwise have been burdened by a pile of law school debt).

But he didn't go for the big bucks when he could--and that is commendible.
7.19.2008 2:41pm
AF:
A program can be as well-funded as the military without having as large a budget as the military. It just as to have as large a budget relative to its needs.
7.19.2008 2:45pm
guest:
"These staggeringly huge numbers are driven in part by the large numbers of students in AmeriCorps, 1.3 million of them. If the students were paid only $4,000 each, rather than $70,000 in personnel costs, and the student program is assumed to be otherwise completely free to administer, and the rest of AmeriCorps cost $100,000 per member, then the budget increase needed would be about $100 billion."

This seems to be to reflect a profound misunderstanding of AmeriCorps, which makes me question the rest of the analysis. For most programs, volunteers work a forty-hour per week job in an organization. The jobs are in non-profits, schools, etc.--but they're not little part time things you combine with your undergraduate program. As a result, if you want to pay them $4000 per year, you're not going to get anyone to volunteer. You don't have to pay much--current pay scale runs around $9,000-$12,000 over the course of the year. But it's not just a stipend for a few hours worth of work each week. And administrators in AmeriCorps programs likely are not making $100,000.

This obviously does not address the impact of Obama's proposal--I'm not sure what my thoughts are on that aspect or how to fund it. But I was concerned about the analysis when I read the part that I quoted, unless I have some misunderstanding of what you were saying.
7.19.2008 2:54pm
David Matthews (mail):
"double the size of Peace Corps by 2011"

Given that Obama doesn't want the military to be stationed where/when it's not really wanted, I'd assume he'd have the same views about the Peace Corps. So I'm wondering where this doubled number of Volunteers would go?

Don't get me wrong. I'm a proud RPCV myself, but the fact is that the demand (by host countries) for Volunteers would not sustain a doubling of the numbers. Even when I was in, 20 years ago, many countries were opting out, often due to the neo-colonial stigma of having to be year-after-year grateful for the wonderful help provided by enthusiastic, well-meaning, but often clueless Americans.

While the focus has changed to more technical and ESL-type skills, skills the Volunteers may be far better able to provide than when 20-somethings from suburban Philadelphia would try to teach rural development in sub-Saharan Africa after a two-month crash course, I still don't hear any clamoring by other nations for more Peace Corps Volunteers that we are currently unable to fill due to budgetary problems.
7.19.2008 3:21pm
Snowdog99 (mail):
Mr. Obama's suggestion of a massive and expensive civilian "paramilitary" (security) apparatus, brings to mind the "war veterans" curently serving as domestic "security forces" in Zimbabwe, whose prime vocation it is to terrorize the citizenry of that nation. Paranoia, or ominous foreshadowing of things to come? I earnestly wonder.
7.19.2008 3:35pm
Federal Dog:
"Do you think George W. Bush "was given a lot in life by virtue of preferential treatment?"

Sure.

"If so, have you ever objected to it?"

Yes: I hate legacy admissions and admission based on cronyism or family connections/wealth.

"Do you think he has gotten more preferential treatment or less than Obama?"

Who knows? What is clear is that people regularly tear Bush to shreds based on his advancement on grounds other than merit. By contrast, people go straight into high dudgeon and racist indignation at any suggestion that Obama profited from unfair preferences.

As for advancement at Harvard, so what? I'm an alum (GSAS) and know how the place works. The entire system is designed to give everyone enrolled credentials that they can use on the market profitably. The only challenge is getting in to begin with.
7.19.2008 3:39pm
Displaced Midwesterner:
7 or 8 of the 28 posts currently on the "McCain open thread" are either attacking Obama or responding to it. This current thread is at about 40 posts long, and includes such witticisms as "If Obama is elected people will be demanding a regime change soon after!" and "It's called THE MILITIA. And we may need it the way Hamilton described in Federalist 28 before we're done." Godwin's law was validated by post 18.

Statistical summary complete.
7.19.2008 3:39pm
Smokey:
Jim Lindgren's article above is headlined: FUNDING BARACK OBAMA'S "CIVILIAN NATIONAL SECURITY FORCE."

Regarding our military, Obama states:
"We've got to have a civilian national security force that's just as powerful, just as strong, just as well-funded."
Not, "I propose." Rather: "We've got to have."

Either Obama is proposing to add another $500 billion to our taxes, or he wants to cut spending on our military by 50%, and give the other 50% to his new domestic force [as his handlers would certainly like, and which the media absolutely refuses to question him about]. Either course of action would have a couple of extremely undesirable results for our country:

1. It would directly equate Obama's "National Service Force" with the U.S. military. Guess who would be the Commander-In-Chief of Obama's new national force.

2. To fund this new "force" as well as the U.S. military would add another $500 billion per year to our tax burden. As if $4 gas isn't enough of a burden, that added tax would be in addition to the other really huge tax increases that Obama proposes to put on the shoulders of American workers.

Finally, regarding Just Dropping By's apology for Obama's Affirmative Action generated credentials:
{ [sarcasm] Yeah, because they hand out honors at Harvard Law School on a quota basis. [/sarcasm] }
In fact, they do hand out honors at Harvard; the mindset is that minorities need a leg up from all concerned. I will stand corrected on this point if Just Dropping By can provide Obama's SAT, LSAT and other test scores that were disregarded by Harvard. Let's see his high school transcripts. Where are they? Why are they kept hidden? Obama is incapable of even speaking without a prepared script.

Are we expected to buy a pig in a poke?
7.19.2008 3:42pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
LM:

"If graduating in the top 10% of his class at Harvard Law School on merit doesn't vindicate any help he may have received getting there, ...?"

To draw inferences about BHO's class standing, we need accurate information about HLS's grading system and the correlation between LSAT scores and grades. If the tests are easy enough (normed to the high talent pool they have) then a student's class standing could have a large random component making the correlation between grades and LSAT weak. In other words class standing might not be an indicator of ability. Thus a good but nevertheless middle ability student could end up in the upper 10% by chance alone.

We need to know things like the typical distribution of grades on tests (to see if they're too easy) , and HLS LSAT-grade correlation. Absent this kind of knowledge, I'm not going to draw conclusions about BHO's class standing one way or the other.
7.19.2008 3:44pm
Kirk:
PhanTom,
I think the list was meant to be illustrative rather than exhaustive.
Indeed--it's highly illustrative so see what it never occurs to him to include.

Dave N,
But he didn't go for the big bucks when he could--and that is commendible.
And here we see the anti-business bias again raise its ugly head. Why one earth would we presume being a "community organizer" is any more beneficial to society at large than being an attorney at a firm that serves businesses and government agencies? (Lots of smaller municipalities and agencies contract out some or all of their legal services, so just saying "biglaw" doesn't imply that working for eeeevil corporations is the only possibility there.)
7.19.2008 3:44pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
Even though I am not an Obama supporter, one thing that has impressed me is that he did not go the BigLaw route even though he obviously had the opportunity.

There is nothing wrong with BigLaw, mind you, if that is your cup of tea and it is mighty tempting to go that route (perhaps the advance from Faith of Our Fathers made the decision easier if he would otherwise have been burdened by a pile of law school debt).

But he didn't go for the big bucks when he could--and that is commendible.
Why is that commendable? Not that there's anything wrong with choosing community service if that's what you want to do (*), but why is it more commendable than BigLaw?


(*) Although there's something wrong with community service when it merely constitutes lobbying the government for handouts.


And I think you meant Dreams from My Father.
7.19.2008 3:44pm
Displaced Midwesterner:
Federal Dog said:


As for advancement at Harvard, so what? I'm an alum (GSAS) and know how the place works. The entire system is designed to give everyone enrolled credentials that they can use on the market profitably. The only challenge is getting in to begin with.

That may be true of the college (where there are also legacy admissions), I couldn't say for sure, but Obama sure as hell didn't get magna cum laude from the law school because the system was giving it away like candy.
7.19.2008 3:46pm
byomtov (mail):
Yes: I hate legacy admissions and admission based on cronyism or family connections/wealth.

Actually, Bush got a lot more benefit than just admissions. He was repeatedly bailed out of business failures, and got his deal with the Rangers because of political clout, not ability.

As much as you hate legacy admissions and family privilege, did you actually speak out about them when Bush was running? Or is this a new-found hatred?
7.19.2008 3:48pm
Displaced Midwesterner:
"Why is that commendable? Not that there's anything wrong with choosing community service if that's what you want to do (*), but why is it more commendable than BigLaw?"

I would have to agree with Dave N on finding this commendable. I'm not sure if we would agree on the reasoning, but for me its commendable because most law students do big law out of a need to either pay off debt, because of peer pressure, because it is the easiest, or from pure greed, or some combination of the above. Now if you actually want to go to big law, that's fine. But most people really don't. And given all the pressures pushing the other way, not doing so is generally a good example of having the courage of your convictions, if nothing else.
7.19.2008 3:50pm
iambatman:
al-Maliki praises Obama's withdrawal plan: "U.S. presidential candidate Barack Obama talks about 16 months. That, we think, would be the right timeframe for a withdrawal, with the possibility of slight changes."

And guess what? Obama has left the door open for slight changes, much to the cries of "OMG! flip-flops!"

As I've noted elsewhere, it seems to me that if we're there as liberators, we sort of should keep in mind the Iraqis wishes.

We now return to your regularly scheduled oh-so-clever mentions of Obamas middle name.
7.19.2008 3:52pm
Federal Dog:
"That may be true of the college (where there are also legacy admissions), I couldn't say for sure, but Obama sure as hell didn't get magna cum laude from the law school because the system was giving it away like candy."

GSAS is not the college. The system in the graduate and professional schools does, in fact, give credentials away like candy. It's in the school's best interest to place people after graduation in positions of power and wealth that can profit Harvard in the future. It therefore gives people plenty of treats to enhance their vitas and bring about that goal.
7.19.2008 3:55pm
Displaced Midwesterner:
Smokey said: "In fact, they do hand out honors at Harvard; the mindset is that minorities need a leg up from all concerned." Can you name some examples of these honors HLS hands out? Particularly any that Obama received on this basis?

A.Zarkov: The LSAT/GPA correlation is generally fairly strong, although it is far from perfect. Although if you want to be very skeptical about this, why are you even accepting that the LSAT would be an acceptable benchmark?
7.19.2008 3:56pm
Dave N (mail):
David M. Nieporent,

You are right. I got the title wrong. My point is that Obama was idealistic to want to be a community organizer when he went to law school and that is what he returned to Chicago to do after he graduated from law school.

I have nothing against making money, capitalism, or BigLaw in general. I choose to work for the government and in that respect I am glad I have been able to spend my legal career practicing a type of law I really enjoy (criminal prosecution) as opposed to doing something I would find less satisfying but more financially lucrative.
7.19.2008 3:57pm
Displaced Midwesterner:
"GSAS is not the college. The system in the graduate and professional schools does, in fact, give credentials away like candy. It's in the school's best interest to place people after graduation in positions of power and wealth that can profit Harvard in the future."

GSAS is bascially the college in the broad sense--graduate version of the same subjects. But anyway, again, specifically speaking of the law school that Obama attended, what are these credentials that are given away? And most importantly, which of these unmerited credentials did Obama receive?
7.19.2008 4:00pm
byomtov (mail):
a student's class standing could have a large random component making the correlation between grades and LSAT weak. In other words class standing might not be an indicator of ability. Thus a good but nevertheless middle ability student could end up in the upper 10% by chance alone.

This is grasping at straws. Obama did well in law school, so it must have been an accident. Is that right?

The trouble with your "analysis" is that if LSAT's and grades are poorly correlated you are going to take the LSAT score as the "true" indicator of ability rather than grades. Why? Why aren't grades the true indicator and LSAT scores somewhat random? Well, I know why you're doing it. Because that gives you the result you want. But what's the argument?

The amount of bending over backwards to find fault with Obama's academic performance is going to give some of the commenters here serious back trouble if they're not careful.
7.19.2008 4:01pm
David Matthews (mail):
"We now return to your regularly scheduled oh-so-clever mentions of Obamas middle name."

Hmmm, don't see it anywhere in this thread. But, I'm guessing you never read most of it, so you wouldn't know.

And as for al-Maliki's comments -- yeah, thanks to "the Surge," (remember, the one that had no chance of success, the one that up until a few months ago still supposedly hadn't even reduced violence to 2006 levels, the one that was supposed to create a window for political progress, but there was no political progress, the one that showed what a dismal failure the whole Iraq policy was, so that even up until last month Obama wanted to scrap the entire Iraqi government and have the United Nations oversee a whole new Constitutional Convention for Iraq?) we may (hope upon hope) actually be able to get out within 2 years of the next president assuming office -- something we should all be cheering, something both candidates would welcome, and something Obama had no hand in, whatsoever.
7.19.2008 4:02pm
Dave N (mail):
Displaced Midwesterner,

You expressed my reasoning better than I did. Thank you.
7.19.2008 4:03pm
byomtov (mail):
The system in the graduate and professional schools does, in fact, give credentials away like candy

You mean everyone at the law school is in the top 10%? How do they get away with that, I wonder.
7.19.2008 4:04pm
PC:
Actually, Bush got a lot more benefit than just admissions. He was repeatedly bailed out of business failures by terrorist financiers, and got his deal with the Rangers because of political clout, not ability.


Fixed.
7.19.2008 4:20pm
David Matthews (mail):
"You mean everyone at the law school is in the top 10%? How do they get away with that, I wonder."

Simple. It's Law, not Math ;-)
7.19.2008 4:23pm
iambatman:
But, I'm guessing you never read most of it, so you wouldn't know.

I definitely read the part that implied Obama is a Nazi, which is much more clever than the whole "Hussein" thing (I was of course, referring to a past practice that has mercifully resulted in bannings). I hereby withdraw any slights against the wonderful and insightful blog commenters of VC.
7.19.2008 4:26pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
zarkov:

To draw inferences about BHO's class standing, we need accurate information about HLS's grading system


I believe HLS uses blind grading. But I'm sure you have some theory about how Obama tricked the system into giving him grades he didn't deserve.
7.19.2008 4:31pm
iambatman:
Obviously he wrote "God damn America" at the end of every essay question so the leftist HLS profs knew to award him 20 extra Radical Black Muslim quota points.
7.19.2008 4:37pm
JAL (mail):
With all due respect -- I see where Mr. Obama is discussing community service type programs (expanded almost geometrically, it seems...) BUT what is with the actual LANGUAGE he used in the speech? Seems like a Freudian sharp left turn in the spiel.

"We cannot continue to rely only on our military in order to achieve the national security objectives that we've set. We've got to have a civilian national security force that's just as powerful, just as strong, just as well-funded."

Explain to me the use of the words "national security objectives." What does he say they are? What are they as defined by others? What does AmeriCorps (domestic) or the Peace Corps (foreign) have to do with that exactly?

The 'power' and 'strength' picture the military evokes in my mind bears no resemblance to the feel good (pie-in-the sky) plan for 250,000 AmeriCorps workers. (Please ... we do not need you in our lives. Go away.)

After all, as he has consistenty reminded us, he would be the Commander in Chief -- and HE sets the Mission. (!!) He wants to be Commander-in-Chief of [militant] Community organizers, so he creates them? Weird.
7.19.2008 4:56pm
PC:
"We cannot continue to rely only on our military in order to achieve the national security objectives that we've set. We've got to have a civilian national security force that's just as powerful, just as strong, just as well-funded."

Explain to me the use of the words "national security objectives." What does he say they are? What are they as defined by others? What does AmeriCorps (domestic) or the Peace Corps (foreign) have to do with that exactly?


From the Military Times:

I mean, we still have a national security apparatus on the civilian side in the way the State Department is structured and [Agency for International Development] and all these various agencies. That hearkens back to the Cold War. And we need that wing of our national security apparatus to carry its weight. When we talk about reinventing our military, we should reinvent that apparatus as well. We need to be able to deploy teams that combine agricultural specialists and engineers and linguists and cultural specialists who are prepared to go into some of the most dangerous areas alongside our military.
7.19.2008 5:03pm
Laura S.:
Derrick and Anon21 ask:

When did he say that he wants to deploy the military in Pakistan?

He did so in a speech August 3rd 2007. He declared that would attack inside Pakistan with or without approval from the Pakistani government. This is a pattern with him: he believes in "bullying" other nations to do Washington's bidding. e.g., in supporting his position on Iraq he often cites the benefit of making the Iraqis fearful.

I think there is a potential argument to be made that America's frequent use of soft power--such as Obama advocates--produces a lot of resentment.
7.19.2008 5:09pm
Toby:
In terms of job description, and function, and purpose, what are the differences between being a "Community Organizer" for ACRORN and its ilk, and being a "Ward Heeler" for Tammany Hall? The descriptions seem remarkably similar.

Would it be just as accurate to translate matters into the traditional format: "Instead of going to work for biglaw, BHO chose to go to work as a Ward Heeler for a Chicago political machine?" If not, why not?
7.19.2008 5:15pm
Laura S.:

Where would this position supposedly make him too far left to compete? Germany, maybe? Almost all European countries have unemployment and retirement benefits far more generous than American benefits, paid out of general government revenues.


I have to tell you I get most of my news from British publications: the FT and the economist. The former is avowedly Labor, and the latter is liberal and free-market. Personal accounts ala McCain is long-standing policy in several countries there. I am aware of such programs in: Germany, France, Finland, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Italy, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and Hungary.

Obama is very out of touch on retirement programs vis-a-vis those countries--as is most of the US based reporting on the topic.
7.19.2008 5:21pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
Displaced Midwesterner:

"The LSAT/GPA correlation is generally fairly strong, ... ... why are you even accepting that the LSAT would be an acceptable benchmark?"


But is the LSAT grade correlation strong at Harvard? The LSAT is a heavily g-loaded test, and g correlates with success at many cognitively demanding endeavors.

byomtov:

"The trouble ... if LSAT's and grades are poorly correlated you are going to take the LSAT score as the "true" indicator of ability rather than grades. Why?"

Harvard is a highly selective institution, (even the AA admits are good) producing a fairly homogeneous body of students with respect to ability. As such it's difficult to distinguish the outstanding students from the good, and very good ones. To do so would require carefully crafting the tests. Otherwise some of the very good students could get into the top 10% by chance alone. For example Stanford University has high admission standards, but low grading standards. The average GPA for Stanford graduates is something like an "A-." So what does it mean to have an "A" versus an "A-" at Stanford? Not much. Without more information, I don't know is being in the top 10% at HLS means any more than being in the top 20%.

Why is this important for judging BHO? As far as I know, he has no solid record of outstanding accomplishment in this chosen field: law. The top 10% of my graduate and undergraduate schools went on to do very significant things, like writing important articles and getting awards. What can we judge him on? If we knew his LSAT was above 175 (median for HLS is 172) that would tell us a little, better than nothing, perhaps better than class standing.

jukeboxgrad:

"I believe HLS uses blind grading."


Blind grading is not enough for the reasons given above.

"But I'm sure you have some theory about how Obama tricked the system into giving him grades he didn't deserve."

He could simply have been lucky.
7.19.2008 5:25pm
z:
Not to quibble, but if the tax credit for student workers isn't going to be refundable, it probably won't be as expensive as it looks. Many students are in very low brackets and don't have $4,000 of tax liability to consume the credit, after existing credits, even if it's spread over 4 years. Especially if it's fair to assume that the wealthier students are less likely to participate.
7.19.2008 5:26pm
Laura S.:
Anon21,

What does this even mean? Public/private health insurance is exactly the model Obama has endorsed--employer-provided where possible, government-subsidized otherwise. Again, his lack of support for a single-payer system would assuredly make him too conservative to win election in the UK or most of the Norwegian countries, for example.


I find that hard to reconcile with his recent Medicare vote. Words vs. actions. How Obama votes says more about the man than mere words.

Moreover, you're a bit out-of-date with your examples. Although Britain does have the NHS, most people have supplementary private plans and seek advanced treatment from private centers. Similar programs exist in Norwegian countries. You'd have been better off citing Italy as an example of a true single-payer system, but then you'd have to contend with their rationing program.
7.19.2008 5:26pm
James Lindgren (mail):
Guest suggests that I don't understand Americorps because members are poorly paid.

He is unintentionally making my point.

I think his comments might be better directed at Obama, who is proposing to change the underlying nature of Americorps by having it be as well funded as the military.
7.19.2008 5:29pm
Captain Ramen (mail):
Re: FUNDING BARACK OBAMA'S "CIVILIAN NATIONAL SECURITY FORCE."

I have the prefect name for it: The Freikorps.
7.19.2008 5:34pm
JFred (mail):
Veterans benefits are no longer in the budget of the Department of Defense.
7.19.2008 5:35pm
MarkField (mail):

This is a pattern with him: he believes in "bullying" other nations to do Washington's bidding. e.g., in supporting his position on Iraq he often cites the benefit of making the Iraqis fearful.


The Republican Party is disqualified from making this argument for at least 25 years.
7.19.2008 5:38pm
amr (mail):
Mr. Obama said, "We cannot continue to rely only on our military in order to achieve the national security objectives we've set... We've got to have a civilian national security force that's just as powerful, just as strong, just as well funded."

Now granted he was talking about increasing the size of the Peace Corps, Foreign Service, AmerciCorps, and create new civilian organizations previously, so maybe it was really just a poor choice of words. If not, what does he mean? What "national security objectives we've set". President Chavez of Venezuela has his civilian Territorial Guards Militia to suppress internal dissent and defend Chavez's presidency. Will President Obama need a similar civilian national security force? And why are the transcripts missing that statement and why hasn't Mr. Obama been asked about this or explained it on his own.

If one knew the details of his NATIONAL SECURITY objectives, one might feel a little more comfortable with what he said; excluding the costs you have calculated.
7.19.2008 5:52pm
Brian K (mail):
I definitely read the part that implied Obama is a Nazi, which is much more clever than the whole "Hussein" thing (I was of course, referring to a past practice that has mercifully resulted in bannings). I hereby withdraw any slights against the wonderful and insightful blog commenters of VC.

before you withdraw anything, you should ctrl-f for "BHO".
7.19.2008 5:59pm
Constantin:
I went to a law school where the Law Review had spots set aside for minority students regardless of grades or write-on abilities. I'm not saying that's what got Obama onto the Harvard Law Review, or that it resulted in his high finish in his class. I do think, though, that the same institutional diversity fetish that leads to this kind of tokenism might influence seminar professors, especially, to do the right thing. This would be accentuated when the school has a vested interest in not having the president of its law review finish in the middle of his class.

If we could see something of legal substance--anything--he wrote at Harvard, it might help to answer this question.
7.19.2008 6:01pm
trad and anon:
I'm surprised that there are so many people who make their hiring decisions based on LSAT scores and ignore the applicants' actual grades. I presume they ignore college grades and demand SAT scores too.
For example Stanford University has high admission standards, but low grading standards. The average GPA for Stanford graduates is something like an "A-." So what does it mean to have an "A" versus an "A-" at Stanford? Not much.
Actually, it means quite a bit. The mandatory mean is set at 3.4 (a" B+"), the grades are increments of 0.1, and most professors' grade distributions are pretty narrow. A grade of 4.0 (an "A") is actually quite impressive.

The issue isn't that the grading system is "lax" but that the mean has been set at "3.4". It would be as meaningful to call the grades 1 (the 2.5 minimum) to 19 (the 4.3 maximum), with the mean at 10. Or 2.3 to 4.1, with a mean of 3.2 The absolute number doesn't mean anything, just where it fits relative to the mean.
7.19.2008 6:16pm
Dave N (mail):
The funny thing is, on the other thread, people are saying that John McCain's military experience isn't particularly relevant yet on this thread the argument (at least based on the comments) seems to be that people think that Barack Obama's presidency of the Harvard Law Review is somehow hugely relevant.

I do not support Senator Obama. But I am not going to question his J.D. from Harvard, his membership in Order of the Coif, or how he became president of the Harvard Law Review.

There are serious, substantive reasons I oppose Senator Obama. The debate over his time at Harvard Law School is just silly.
7.19.2008 6:17pm
Laura S.:

The Republican Party is disqualified from making this argument for at least 25 years.


Okay Mark, I'll bite and ask for an elaboration, but as a Democrat I guess I still get to cry foul by your rules anyways. I think the paradox of my compatriots is that they recognize destructive effects of "bullying" but tend to miss that soft-power is bullying and by nature proceeds at a drawn-out pace that tends to breeds resentment.
7.19.2008 6:18pm
trad and anon:
Harvard is a highly selective institution, (even the AA admits are good) producing a fairly homogeneous body of students with respect to ability. As such it's difficult to distinguish the outstanding students from the good, and very good ones. To do so would require carefully crafting the tests. Otherwise some of the very good students could get into the top 10% by chance alone.
Indeed, that "could" happen. And some very bad students "could" get high LSAT scores by chance alone. And John McCain "could" have been turned into the Manchurian Candidate by Viet Cong brainwashing.
7.19.2008 6:26pm
MarkField (mail):

Okay Mark, I'll bite and ask for an elaboration, but as a Democrat I guess I still get to cry foul by your rules anyways.


The Bush Administration's only approach to foreign policy has been bullying. For Republicans now to criticize Obama on the ground that his foreign policy *might* be bullying, would be the height of hypocrisy.
7.19.2008 6:33pm
MarkField (mail):
You guys are wasting your time arguing with Zarkov about the LSAT. It's obvious that in his view, the LSAT is an end in itself. It's not that the LSAT is evidence of talent which might (or might not) be expressed as grades or performance in society at large. No, the LSAT is the only accomplishment which is relevant because it measures intrinsic merit -- the merit which need not be shown in any other way. In fact, it's foolish of law schools to justify the LSAT by its correlation to grades; that's bassackwards. The grades need to justify themselves against the LSAT.
7.19.2008 6:38pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
zarkov:

Blind grading is not enough for the reasons given above. … He could simply have been lucky.


You're basically saying that the student body at HLS is "homogenous," and there isn't much meaningful difference between the bottom of the class and the top of the class, because the grades don't mean much.

You should tell the professors. They put a lot of effort into grading. Imagine how much valuable time could be saved if they just used a dartboard instead. According to you, it wouldn't make much difference.

You should also tell the firms who recruit there. I'm pretty sure they pay a premium for students with high grades. What a scam! They're only getting students who are "lucky."

You might as well take your argument a step further and tell us that McCain was at the bottom of his class simply because he wasn't "lucky."

The top 10% of my graduate and undergraduate schools went on to do very significant things


You seem to be blatantly contradicting yourself. Unless you're claiming that they went on to do those things only because they were "lucky."

By the way, I think running a presidential campaign and winning a nomination falls into the category of "very significant things." Then again, this also might just mean he's "lucky."
7.19.2008 6:41pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
constantin:

the same institutional diversity fetish that leads to this kind of tokenism … This would be accentuated when the school has a vested interest in not having the president of its law review finish in the middle of his class.


You should explain how this works in the context of a system of blind grading.
7.19.2008 6:41pm
Dave Markowitz (mail) (www):
Respectfully, I think the equation of a Obama's "civilian national security force" is too dismissive of him wanting what many others have suggested -- a paramilitary organization equal in size to the military. Why would he specifically call it a security force if he was talking merely about something like Americorps? Obama's history shows him to be leftist. Leftists have a bad record of creating paramilitary organizations to push their agendas.

Methinks he let the cat out of the bag.
7.19.2008 6:42pm
Michael B (mail):
Wow. We very much are in the framework - and the meta-framework - that has resulted from the Gramscian long march. Outside the military per se, the entire U.S. government can already be conceived as a "civilian national security force." How else can it be conceived with reference to the themes Obama is imagining?

Obama's conceptions in this vein are of a decidedly corporatist nature, a type of updated Mussolini-lite, updated to au courant sensibilities, very much in the vein of Jonah Goldberg's Liberal Fascism. Resisting such indulgences has - e.g., from Truman to Reagan during the Cold War - helped to provide a more sound basis for genuine historic achievements in a pronounced ideologically faith based epoch.

What BHO is conceptualizing here is maladdictive at foundational levels. The U.S. is, it goes without saying, imperfect. Still, it can decide to continue to be an anchor or it can drift. That is November in a nutshell, which by no means imagines McCain to be an apotheosis or an ideal candidate, but McCain does carry some real-world gravitas and weight.

"Change" as a mantra and banner, absent the substance, is not what is needed, nor is a modified Mussolini-lite the prescription that needs to be filled.
7.19.2008 6:54pm
Brian K (mail):
"yet on this thread the argument (at least based on the comments) seems to be that people think that Barack Obama's presidency of the Harvard Law Review is somehow hugely relevant."

why do i get the feeling that you're reading a different thread than us normal folks?
7.19.2008 7:12pm
Brian G (mail) (www):
The second commenter hit in right on the head.


Barack Obama by himself wouldn't be that bad (see, e.g., Clinton from '94-'00). Barack with both houses of Congress will be an unmitigated disaster from which we may not ever recover.



Obama seems like a guy I could have over my house for a barbeque, go to a ball game with, or to a bar and have a few beers, and he would be a cool guy to hang with, as long he avoids talking about politics. But, he is too much of a Socialist for my tastes and I can visual a wimpy America with handouts galore under his Presidency.

As such, I have to vote for the old liberal over him. It's that simple.
7.19.2008 7:13pm
TLB (mail) (www):
Regarding the next Lindgren post, the only way to find out exactly what BHO meant is for someone with access to ask him or his aides. If you don't have access, shame the MSM into asking. Parts of the next Lindgren post also read like a joke.

If anyone doesn't want BHO to be their next president, go to one of his appearances, ask him one of these, and then upload his response to Youtube and similar sites. BHO's major vulnerability is that he's never had to face any real questioning, and he's gotten sloppy by frequently lying or being misleading. If someone calls him on that he's probably not going to be able to handle it. If he gets embarrassed by a real question, it's going to get hundreds of thousands or millions of views.

Search for his name at my name's link to learn much more about his lies, misleading statements, and policies than the MSM will ever tell you.
7.19.2008 7:14pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
MarkField and Jukeboxgrad:

I never said that LSAT is the only thing that counts or there was no difference between the top and the bottom of HLS. I said that the more homogeneous the class the harder it was it make meaningful differences. I specifically said I don't know it means much to be in the top 10% versus the top 20% at HLS. Not the top 10% versus the bottom 10%. If we knew more about grading other than "it's blind" and about the correlation between GPA and LSAT at Harvard, then we better decide how significant BHO's class standing is.

"You seem to be blatantly contradicting yourself. Unless you're claiming that they went on to do those things only because they were lucky."

Not at all. These places were not as selective as HLS, which is extraordinarily selective. Look if you had 50 Nobel Prize winners in physics in a room, how would you test for the best physicist in the group? It would be really hard if not impossible. If I had a group of 50 physicists chosen at random it would be far easier.

BTW this applies to anyone in the top 10% from HLS. I really wouldn't favor them over people in the top 20% at a hiring interview.
7.19.2008 7:16pm
Bad English:
It's false to claim that all grading at HLS is blind. Plenty of courses can't, by definition, be done that way (e.g., clinical, skills-based courses).

Obama is fluff. Listen to him speak without a script in hand and it doesn't take long to understand that he doesn't have the stuff to be chief executive. Which does not mean that he won't be elected. There are lots of people, including the UN, who mistake Angelina Jolie for a substantive voice about world affairs.

Maybe Obama should put Angelina on the ticket?
7.19.2008 7:32pm
Smokey:
The questions about Obama's LSAT score, his high school transcripts, his SAT score, etc., are all because his apologists are deliberately avoiding the central question: why does Obama refuse to disclose his scores/grades?

George W. Bush opened up his scholastic record. Why is Obama hiding his?

And why does the media emit the sound of crickets chirping when that question is asked?

Do they want us to buy a pig in a poke? And if so, why?
7.19.2008 7:33pm
Dave N (mail):
why do i get the feeling that you're reading a different thread than us normal folks?
I don't know, maybe because out of 95 posts (including this one), there are over 30 comments dealing with Barack Obama's law school education (8 since my original post on the subject).

BTW, I consider myself pretty normal. So do my neighbors.
7.19.2008 7:57pm
MarkField (mail):

I said that the more homogeneous the class the harder it was it make meaningful differences.


Now you're contradicting yourself. The whole point of your argument is that AA allows in people who are NOT homogeneous. Any blind grading policy would separate them out.* By making this argument now, you are in effect conceding that Obama was homogeneous with the rest of the class.


BTW this applies to anyone in the top 10% from HLS. I really wouldn't favor them over people in the top 20% at a hiring interview.


Then the whole issue is frivolous. If your only point is that we should treat "top 10%" as a somewhat imprecise designation that actually includes the top 20%, that's in no way relevant to Obama's qualifications to be President or his performance at HLS.

*If it didn't separate them out, that would undermine the claims of the LSAT for predictive accuracy.
7.19.2008 8:00pm
Dr. T (mail) (www):
A short post with no nitpicking.

Two things frighten me most about Obama: He talks as if he, as President, will have almost unlimited executive power. His plans to use the Presidential power to expand and strengthen the executive branch and to establish a nanny state controlled by militant and heavily armed federal nannies.

I am astonished at his level of public support. It seems as if people hear only the sliver of his message that they like and ignore the heavy club that is the bulk of his message.
7.19.2008 8:09pm
Displaced Midwesterner:
It's hard to be sure exactly what to make of this "civilian national security force" idea--especially since it was apparently a spur of the moment addition/reinclusion. People are spending an awful lot of time poring over 2 sentences when there is really very little sense of what it is supposed to mean as of yet. For my two cents, though, I wonder how much of this is a riff off of Defense Secretary Gates' comments about the militarization of American foreign policy, especially given that there is apparently a strong possibility that Obama would retain Gates as SecDef if elected.
7.19.2008 8:17pm
byomtov (mail):
Zarkov,

Do you believe that the score of a one-day LSAT is a more meaningful measure of ability than a three-year record in law school? That's patently ridiculous.

By the way, your point about physicists and grades applies much more strongly to LSAT scores. It's likely that, with a generally highly talented student body, there will be a poor correlation between grades and LSAT's. That's because the LSAT's will fall into a relatively narrow range. (Think of it this way: Height is correlated with skill at basketball, but once you restrict the field to guys 6' 8" or taller a lot of that goes away because the differences are small. Restrict it to 7-foooters and you probably get no correlation at all).

So the actual performance over three years is what tells the tale, just as actual performance will tell you whether the 6-9 guy is a better player than the one who's 6-10.

yet on this thread the argument (at least based on the comments) seems to be that people think that Barack Obama's presidency of the Harvard Law Review is somehow hugely relevant.

Go back to the beginning of the thread. The first two comments on this subject (at 7:19 and 7:45) were unsupported assertions that Obama is where he is only because of AA and that he is not too bright. I think it's fair to respond to this by pointing out his academic achievement. Of course then we haqve those claiming his grades were just blind luck, etc., so it's necessary to point out how stupid that is.

In short, the reason it's an issue is because some of Obama's opponents are making it an issue and, unlike you, refusing to take these things at face value.
7.19.2008 8:25pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
zarkov:

I don't know it means much to be in the top 10% versus the top 20% at HLS.


OK. So you're not saying he's in the top 10% on account of being "lucky." You're only saying that he's in the top 10%, instead of the top 20%, on account of being "lucky." Thanks for that helpful and meaningful clarification.

Look if you had 50 Nobel Prize winners in physics in a room, how would you test for the best physicist in the group?


This would be a good start: have them write papers, and then have judges apply blind grading to those papers. I bet there would be differences in quality. Funny thing: this is the system HLS uses. The result of that system was that Obama was in the top 10%. But of course all this proves is that he's "lucky."
7.19.2008 9:56pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
bad:

It's false to claim that all grading at HLS is blind. Plenty of courses can't, by definition, be done that way (e.g., clinical, skills-based courses).


Please tell us specifically which courses at HLS do not use blind grading. It should be easy for you to name them, since there are "plenty."
7.19.2008 10:07pm
Fiftycal (mail):
So Barry Obama wants a "National Security Force" made up of old Peace Corps members?? Who and/or what are they going to "protect" us from? And what are they going to do? Slap at people with their birkenstocks? Say "HALT or I shall say HALT again"? Maybe after Barry meets with all the terrorist groups and gets them to love the USA, all the "Security Force" will have to deal with is "bitter, clinging gun owners".
7.19.2008 10:56pm
Dave N (mail):
byomotov,

I am in agreement that Obama's years at HLS is a stupid issue. I say this as a McCain supporter. I am not faulting Obama supporters for defending him on this stupid issue. What I am saying is that those who oppose Obama should be talking about something more substantive than this.
7.19.2008 11:15pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
jukeboxgrad:

"This would be a good start: have them write papers, and then have judges apply blind grading to those papers. I bet there would be differences in quality."

How would I know the grades were reliable performance measures? If all I knew were the top 5 grades and who got them, how could I be sure that outcome was repeatable? If the grades show a good spread compared to the mean (large coefficient of variation) then I might have a good test. If I could repeat the grading process many times with a set of equivalent tests, and the same physicists always got the top 5 scores, then I would know I have a reliable measure.

If HLS would give us details about their grading other than it's "blind," we could have more confidence that being in the top 10% means something in his case. If BHO had followed up with documented performance as a lawyer, we ignore ignore his academic performance completely. It would be largely irrelevant. His supporters seem to bring up his class standing all the time because they have little else.
7.19.2008 11:30pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
Dave N:

I agree with you, and that's why I wrote a somewhat detailed critique of his health care plan. Let's stick to the issues. But his supporters keep promoting him on the basis of his campaign (does he really run it?) or other vague bona fides, such as his class standing.
7.19.2008 11:36pm
Hoosier:
Obama seems to be a great guy. But he is totally unqualified for the presidency. He has spent all but one year of his incomplete term in the Senate campaigning, first for others in 2006, then for himself. There is no way to know what he really thinks about issues. No way to know what he would do as president.

This is nuts.
7.19.2008 11:46pm
Hoosier:
Dave N: "BTW, I consider myself pretty normal. So do my neighbors."


Ha-ha!

My neighbors consider me a quiet guy who kept to himself. Not at all the sort you'd expect to do something like THIS.
7.19.2008 11:50pm
Bored HLS 3L:
I feel like I've had this conversion before with someone here, but as a recent HLS grad and (one of the few) non Obama supporters there, I feel like I should clarify some things in his favor.

First, as has been repeated, most HLS courses use blind grading. Want a list of course click here. Seminars and clinics tend not to have blind grading, but you could never earn enough credits just taking those classes to graduate.
Second, here are this years and some historical honors distributions. HLS much like FAS (but different from FAS) uses an idiosyncratic grading system in which A+=8, A=7 and so on. Thus you can see the grades needed to get you in the top 10% and the next 30%. Of course the grades are all relative, but top 10% of HLS is still pretty impressive no matter one's GPA or LSAT score going in.

Finally, although Zarkov and Smokey keep hammering on this point, I think the transcripts are just a distraction. What is the worse that they will show? Even if he was an abysmal high school and college student and he got bumped along because of AA, he has managed to do pretty well for himself. (How many other members of Obama's class are Senators?) Besides how far back to you take this kind of inquiry? Kindergarten? The guy wants to be president, let's ask what qualifies him to do that not what qualifies him to get into graduate school. Even if he's never had a grade lower than A+ in his life, that doesn't qualify him to be president.
7.20.2008 12:06am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
zarkov:

How would I know the grades were reliable performance measures? … how could I be sure that outcome was repeatable?


There are employers that recruit at Harvard graduate schools, year after year. And they seek out students with high grades. They are seemingly not so troubled by these questions that trouble you. I guess that means you're smarter than they are, even though they have actual experience observing the relationship between grades and job performance. And that experience seems to influence them to believe that the grades actually mean something.

Let's stick to the issues. But his supporters keep promoting him on the basis of his campaign (does he really run it?) or other vague bona fides, such as his class standing. … His supporters seem to bring up his class standing all the time because they have little else.


You must be joking. This thread is a perfect example. His supporters here did not spontaneously raise the subject of his "class standing." You've got it backwards. The subject came up because his opponents like to introduce statements like this:

Obama is affirmative action personified; Would he be where he is today were it not for racial preferences?


His opponents seem to bring up this bogus AA claim all the time because they have little else.
7.20.2008 12:17am
Hoosier:
"His opponents seem to bring up this bogus AA claim all the time because they have little else."

Neither does Obama. Perhaps we are supposed to just avoid discussing him altogether?
7.20.2008 12:26am
Laura S.:
PC,

German left-leaning publications would prefer things to do be other than they are. "Iraqi PM disputes report on withdrawal plan"

Government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said the possibility of troop withdrawal was based on the continuance of security improvements, echoing statements that the White House made Friday after a meeting between al-Maliki and U.S. President Bush.
7.20.2008 12:38am
hawkins:
Smokey &Zarkov -

It is quite apparent you've never been to law school.
7.20.2008 12:46am
Justin (mail):
Zarkov's argument that Obama finishing in the top 10% of HLS is not proof he belongs there is not only silly, it is logically incongruous. The reason why Zarkov claims you can't tell whether a person deserves to be in the top 10% or the top 20% is that everyone at Harvard Law is so smart (something, that, as a lawyer, I can tell you is PLAINLY not true, btw). But, taking Zarkov's own example - if you have 50 Nobel Prize winners and Average Joe in a room, and they all take a test, maybe it wouldn't be easy to figure out who finished first, but it would be pretty easy to find Average Joe's place on the curve.
7.20.2008 1:04am
Justin (mail):
PS - Harvard Law, in free advertising alone, has benefitted far more from Barack Obama than Obama has from Harvard Law, assuming someone of Obama's stature could have gotten into other top 6 law schools.
7.20.2008 1:05am
hawkins:

What I am saying is that those who oppose Obama should be talking about something more substantive than this.


Could not agree more. There are plenty of substantive areas to criticize.
7.20.2008 1:10am
Dave N (mail):
I am curious (it could be in his bio but I haven't read it), why did Obama choose Harvard over either Northwestern or Chicago?

Don't get me wrong, I probably would choose Harvard over either of those two schools too (and all 3 are ranked higher than my alma mater, but I digress). The puzzling this that Obama had already spent time in Chicago and was planning to return to Chicago. Why leave Chicago for three years? I have no doubt that both Chicago and Northwestern would have accepted him since Harvard did.
7.20.2008 1:18am
PC:
German left-leaning publications would prefer things to do be other than they are. "Iraqi PM disputes report on withdrawal plan"


Yes, I saw the correction issued out of the CentCom press office.
7.20.2008 1:28am
AKD:
Of course the great irony is that primary assumption underlying Obama's withdrawal by hard deadline (although it grows softer every day) strategy is that the Iraqi government needs to have its feet held to the fire in order to take responsibility for their country. So, is Maliki endorsing Obama's judgment of his incompetence and laziness, or is he saying what would be most politically advantageous to maintaining his power, i.e. talking about a future where he is in control of the country without the Americans while ensuring the Americans stay around until his power is consolidated? (A cynical view, but I am trying to adopt the Obama campaign's extreme cynicism when looking at Maliki's motives).

I predict that Obama's strategy for Iraq in January 2009 would be McCain's strategy for Iraq on November 6, 2008. Obama was propelled to his current position on a tide of anti-war sentiment, but he may find that his war has gone by, and he misses it so.
7.20.2008 2:00am
LM (mail):
A. Zarkov,

I'm willing to play devil's advocate to see if we can put this LSAT question to rest. First, for the purpose of this exercise a fixed percentile rank will work better than a range, so we'll start by converting Obama's class standing to an average of the range of indeterminate possibilities. In other words, since he graduated in the top 10% of his class, i.e., somewhere between the 90th and 99th percentiles, we'll call it the 94th percentile.

You say the homogeneity of the HLS student body could allow a lucky kid in the top 20% to sneak into the top 10%. OK, let's say Obama was in the top 20%, not the top 10%. That drops him to the 89th percentile. Here's the HLS page showing the LSAT quartiles for the entering Class of 2007-2008. This page has a table of the percentile equivalents for all LSAT test takers between June 1998 and February 2001. [A page with those years was just the first one I found on Google.]

"But wait," you say. Quartiles and percentile equivalents can drift a little from year to year. How do we know those are accurate for Obama's class? We don't, so even though that small potential fluctuation should be more than covered with the adjustment we already made, we'll knock off another 5 points. That takes Obama down to the 84th percentile. And even though I assume the homogeneity we adjusted for is just another way of saying there's a loose correlation between the LSAT and HLS's GPA, let's double dip and hack off 5 additional points. We can call that the "we hate affirmative action penalty." And finally, because one can never be too careful when dealing with a Stalinist like Barack Hussein Mohammed Obama, I say we ding him 4 more points, marking his adjusted class rank at the 75th percentile. That happens to be the number I was heading for all along, since HLS releases LSAT data at the 25th and 75th percentiles, but still... could I bend over backwards any farther to humor your doubts and suspicions than dropping Obama from the 94th to the 75th percentile?

The bottom line is the 75th percentile LSAT score for HLS's entering class is 175, which corresponds to the 99.67th percentile of all LSAT takers. I leave it to you to calculate how that would compare with McCain, Bush, Gore, Kerry, and/or anyone else for whom we have enough data to rough out some kind of hypothetical comparison. I'm anxious to see how many of our President(s) or major party candidates you can demonstrate by your Princetonian lights were smarter than Obama.
7.20.2008 2:06am
Laura S.:
PC,

Shame on your insinuation. The news first came out through a statement from Ali al-Dabbagh--essentially the press secretary for the PM to the Iraqi media. That the NYT choose to exclusively quote from yet another centcom echo is their choice.
7.20.2008 2:06am
PC:
Shame on your insinuation. The news first came out through a statement from Ali al-Dabbagh--essentially the press secretary for the PM to the Iraqi media. That the NYT choose to exclusively quote from yet another centcom echo is their choice.


I wonder if the AP uses the same translators as Der Spiegel? After the Iraqi national security adviser said Iraqis would not accept any security deal without a time table[0] for withdrawal, the White House said it was a transcription error.

[0] - which is completely different than a "time horizon"
7.20.2008 2:30am
A. Zarkov (mail):
jukeboxgrad:

"There are employers that recruit at Harvard graduate schools, year after year. And they seek out students with high grades."

Employers use grades because other objective measures are not available to them. A law student seeking a job does not reveal his LSAT score. Recruiters don't ask, and you don't put your LSAT score on your resume; it would be a faux pas to do so. As such we actually don't know if LSAT scores would correlate better than GPA with job performance. Obviously law schools would be very uncomfortable with that outcome, wouldn't they?

"This thread is a perfect example. His supporters here did not spontaneously raise the subject of his class standing. You've got it backwards."

Perhaps not on this particular thread. But on other threads his supporters do bring it up in response to his lack of experience.
7.20.2008 3:06am
A. Zarkov (mail):
Justin:

"The reason why Zarkov claims you can't tell whether a person deserves to be in the top 10% or the top 20% is that everyone at Harvard Law is so smart..."


What I actually said was that in a homogeneous class of high achievers it would be hard (but not impossible) to reliably determines who belongs in the top 10% and who belongs in the top 20%. In other words, it's hard to make fine distinctions among homogeneous groups.

"... if you have 50 Nobel Prize winners and Average Joe in a room, and they all take a test, maybe it wouldn't be easy to figure out who finished first, but it would be pretty easy to find Average Joe's place on the curve."

It would, but that's not what I said. I said it would be hard to design a test that would consistently identify the 5 highest performers. On any one test the top 5 scores and who got them are known. But unless we repeat the test we don't know if the upper 10% are reliably determined by the test. For example, suppose we test them again with a different, but equivalent test and now the physicists who previously got the 5 highest scores, now get the 5 lowest scores. Obviously the test is not reliable, so we have to redesign it. But unless we do repeat measures we wouldn't know that.
7.20.2008 3:19am
Laura S.:
PC, you need to read some books. :) The fact is "time table" is a bad translation in any situation b.c. its loaded in American discourse. Time table is code for immediate unconditional withdrawal--this is Obama's (historic) position and not what Iraqi's want.

I suggest you start reading the foreign press directly. American reporting is shockingly out-of-line on a whole range of issues. My eyes really opened when I started reading the left-leaning "pink" Financial Times. Here are some articles to get you started:

Bush agrees withdrawal deal with Iraq

Iraqis divided on pull-out plan


BTW, they've more or less endorsed Obama.
7.20.2008 3:31am
Laura S.:
PC,

This article about covers it.


Its amazing reading that; it just drives home that the American press really isn't "unbiased"--it shows in the choice of quotes and the phrasing. When you goal is to be fair and balanced, it helps to be a foreigner without partisan affiliations.
7.20.2008 3:37am
LM (mail):
A. Zarkov:

Employers use grades because other objective measures are not available to them. A law student seeking a job does not reveal his LSAT score. Recruiters don't ask, and you don't put your LSAT score on your resume; it would be a faux pas to do so. As such we actually don't know if LSAT scores would correlate better than GPA with job performance.

Sorry, but that's just flat out wrong virtually top to bottom. First of all, many students, especially 1L's who have thin transcripts, do put LSATs on their resumes, and it's not a faux pas. That said, only in rare cases does it carry any weight. I have no idea whether anyone's done a proper study of the question, but anecdotally based on many years of hiring at a biglaw firm, high grades from a top school are the closest thing there is to a sin qua non of predicting good lawyering skills.

In fact, off the top of my head I can think of a number of law students who had very high LSATs and moderately high grades who washed out because, though no doubt very bright in some respects, they had troubling gaps in certain types of "lawyer smarts". On the other hand, while I've seen lawyers with even the best grades from the best schools not work out for any number of reasons, none at the Harvard magna cum laude level were ever not smart enough.
7.20.2008 3:55am
Psalm91 (mail):
Dr T:

"Two things frighten me most about Obama: He talks as if he, as President, will have almost unlimited executive power. His plans to use the Presidential power to expand and strengthen the executive branch and to establish a nanny state controlled by militant and heavily armed federal nannies."

Is this a joke? Where have you been for the last 7 years during which the current Vice-President, President, and their various appointees and supporters have followed exactly these policies? Suspended animation? No-bid non-competitive (anti-"free market") cost-plus contract i.e., Halliburton and KBR (the "electrocution specialists"), under which perofmrance is irrelevant, are the epitome of the "nanny-state", yet these are now the norm for the administration. Have you missed Blackwater's domestic operations, the TSA, ICE? Your fears are the current reality. Thanks.
7.20.2008 4:01am
Diane:
I'd be interested to get the Volokh take on this election year and financing. One or more presidential cycles ago it was either scotus or the Fed Election Commission that gave the green light to internet donations. At that time I had commented on a blog that this particular method of financing a campaign was a disaster waiting to happen. The decision came a short while after one campaign was found to have accepted donations from Chinese nationals.

The fierce competition between two candidates for the Democratic primary produced (internet) donations of breathtaking proportions. But this week we find out that the controls on a candidate's web site to ensure that donations only come from eligible US residents are extremely lacking.

What legal laws/rules/regulations are available to audit donations to prevent the Chinese government as one example, or the Russian government or Russian mafia (protected no doubt by high ranking Russian officials, the same Russian officials that are protecting the Russian mafia that run the "bullet proof hosting" and other online criminal enterprises that are currently using botnets to perform identity theft, online financial crimes related to identity theft/phishing, etc.) from pumping foreign money into the current election using straw donors and who will be under most circumstances beyond the reach of prosecution if and when the FEC gets around to investigating a few years down the road?

Will the US be able to (or have the political will to) prosecute all the individual "donors" under the $200 limit if the "donors" never set foot on US soil?

Whether the US government would be able to differentiate between illegal foreign national donations and a concerted effort by hostile foreign governments using "straw men" to break up donations to below the $200 reporting threshold is a question left to the readers' common sense.
7.20.2008 4:12am
Hoosier:
"Smokey &Zarkov -
It is quite apparent you've never been to law school."

Flattery will get you nowhere.
7.20.2008 7:00am
Boose:
In regards to the next post (about Obama's civil group with military funding) I think it's much more likely that he'd slice the funding of the military to shreds and give some to the civil group than give them the 100s of billions of dollars you discussed.
7.20.2008 10:14am
Just Dropping By (mail):
Two things frighten me most about Obama: He talks as if he, as President, will have almost unlimited executive power. His plans to use the Presidential power to expand and strengthen the executive branch and to establish a nanny state controlled by militant and heavily armed federal nannies.

Accepting your framing, this is different from McCain how? Look up Matt Welch's articles at Reason Magazine which exhaustively document McCain's governing philosophy and support for federal regulation of basically everything he personally disapproves of and get back to us.
7.20.2008 10:26am
Anonymous #344:
"this is different from McCain how?"

Not different, just more. (This coming from somebody planning to vote for Barr.)
7.20.2008 10:54am
glangston (mail):
If, as Obama says, "American people are not the problem, they're the answer", then I ask, "just who is the problem"?
7.20.2008 11:17am
MartyA:
Hussein"s "civilian national security force" may include some of the existing domestic service organizations, but it's true purpose is clear (at least, to me); they will be Obama's brown shirts.
Obama is the creation of Ayers, Dhorn and Wight and, certainly some anti-Americans we don't know about yet. The changes in the culture and economy that they want will not come through an evolutionary process. Obama's brown shirts will quickly, for example, be able to analyze a neighborhood and determine who deserves to live there and those whose property should be turned over to those who deserve it.
Now, some will say this is an extreme view; that it couldn't happen. How could you know? What has this empty suit ever done to indicate he wouldn't? We know nothing about him. You wouldn't buy a used car from a guy so slick, inexperienced and uncheckable.
7.20.2008 11:39am
byomtov (mail):
Dave N.,

I am in agreement that Obama's years at HLS is a stupid issue. I say this as a McCain supporter. I am not faulting Obama supporters for defending him on this stupid issue. What I am saying is that those who oppose Obama should be talking about something more substantive than this.

Yes. I understood your position. It's not you I was criticizing.
7.20.2008 11:41am
byomtov (mail):
Jim Lindgren,

Obama's proposed increases in AmeriCorps alone would lead to at least the 175,000 new members mentioned in his speech, bringing the AmeriCorps total to at least 2,050,000 members, about the same as the military's 2 million members.

This is a serious distortion. As you yourself point out, 1.3 miilion of the current 1.875 million are students, who put in a few hours on community service projects. That's not a full-time work force or paramilitary organization or anything remotely like it.

Your comparison is just a scare tactic.
7.20.2008 11:52am
MarkField (mail):

If, as Obama says, "American people are not the problem, they're the answer", then I ask, "just who is the problem"?


Republicans.

Thank you, I'll be here all week.
7.20.2008 12:30pm
Tired Engineer (mail):
While thinking about the Heller Decision and realizing that in Tennessee, that decision changes nothing about my firearms ownership situation. Tennessee has a carry permit law, and I do not live where local registration and licensing requirements are in place. However, Heller hangs by a slender thread of one vote. All that BHO has to do is appoint a couple of "Ginsburgs", and Heller will be eventually changed.
7.20.2008 12:45pm
Michael B (mail):
PC, here's a quote from the Der Spiegel article, emphasis added:

Iraqi PM Maliki: "The casualties have been and continue to be enormous. But anyone who was familiar with the dictator's nature and his intentions knows what could have been in store for us instead of this war. Saddam waged wars against Iran and Kuwait, and against Iraqis in the north and south of his own country, wars in which hundreds of thousands died. And he was capable of instigating even more wars. Yes, the casualties are great, but I see our struggle as an enormous effort to avoid other such wars in the future."

As your biblicist-like faith in Der Spiegel and al-Reuters is so absolute, at least for the time being, don't be so selective.

And of course there is absolutely no discussion of Obama's proposal for a 16 month timeline for withdrawal - beginning back in January, 2007. A proposal he advanced because - in language that broached no doubt whatsoever - there was no way Petraeus's surge strategy was going to work. (Perhaps the trick is to propose a 16 month timeline about once every six months? Like a broken clock, bound to get it right eventually ...)

And let's say Obama had been in power back in January, 2007. In that vein, let's say Petraeus advanced his idea for the surge strategy - but an Obama presidency nixed it - reassurring the public in those same, unqualified, absolute terms that it was time to commence a sixteen month withdrawal, rather than commencing Petraeus's surge strategy. What do you imagine the outcome might have been? Genocide, similar to what occurred in Vietnam, post-1975? Something less than genocide but incredibly murderous nonetheless? You think al-Qaeda would have simply walked away from Iraq in that atmosphere? How about regional and wider stability issues, how do you think those would have fared? You think it all would have turned out swimmingly, because Obama's rhetoric would have carried the day?
7.20.2008 1:03pm
Michael B (mail):
Btw, referring to the hypothetical again, it's not so hypothetical, beyond the issue of the presidency itself.

Obama did not simply invest in rhetoric, he introduced legislation in January, 2007 - legislation that 1) would have blocked Petraeus's surge strategy and 2) would have commenced a phased, predetermined withdrawal of forces from Iraq. Obama was the sponsor of the legislation (S.433).

But I was wrong about the sixteen (16) month time frame in that legislation - it wasn't sixteen months, it was fourteen (14) months.
7.20.2008 1:32pm
PC:
MartyA - Wait until you get whiff of Barack Hussein bin Laden Osama's plan for black helicopters, the Amero and invading America with UN troops. Did you hear that Michelle Obama killed Vince Foster with a terrorist fist jab?

Michael B - I'll make sure to not trust ibn-Associated bin-Press as a news source either. What would you recommend? Fox &Friends? Perhaps World Net Daily?

Your proposal involving declaring something every 6 months is intriguing. Perhaps we could say a war with Iraq would take 6 weeks, but certainly no longer than 6 months. And it will pay for itself. But if we run into any snags with that plan, we can just say we are turning a corner and need another 6 months. Rinse, repeat until we are at the 6 year mark.

As to following Obama's advice to withdrawal rather than surge, I think it would have been disastrous. Soon after any sort of defeatism driven retreat we would have had al Qaeda in Iraq's navy, filled with jihadist strike forces, sitting off our coasts. Our cities would be overrun by fanatical Islamists, Sharia would rule the day, and Obama would finally be happy.
7.20.2008 1:43pm
FlimFlamSam:
I don't think anyone needs to worry too much about Obama. He will very likely lose. A large proportion of voters in swing states (which primarily surround the South: Ohio, PA, Iowa, etc.) are not likely to vote for a black man. That's unfortunate but true.
7.20.2008 3:03pm
M. Simon (mail) (www):
Clinton originally signed the no bid Haliburton contract. Bush renewed it.

It is hard to get good help in a war zone.
7.20.2008 3:32pm
M. Simon (mail) (www):
The war against Saddam lasted 6 weeks.

Then some new guys showed up wanting a piece of the action and that second phase has taken about 4 years.

The new guys also are leaving with their tails between their legs or leaving with no tail and no legs.

BTW I don't think the color of Obama's skin is his biggest problem. It is the color of his politics.
7.20.2008 3:39pm
Syd Henderson (mail):

We've got to have a civilian national security force that's just as powerful, just as strong, just as well-funded.


Giving nuclear weapons to the Peace Corps and machine guns to teachers in East LA?

Hopefully they'll be as well-funded as needed for the job they're doing. We're not going to be building weapons systems for them except maybe for gym class.
7.20.2008 4:06pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
LM:

"First of all, many students, especially 1L's who have thin transcripts, do put LSATs on their resumes, and it's not a faux pas."

Sorry, you are bringing up some rare exceptions. My daughter graduated law school in 2006 and now works for a big firm. I asked her last night and she confirmed that indeed it's a faux pas to list your LSAT on your resume or your application. And that includes applying for clerkships. We simply don't know if LSAT is a better predictor of performance on the job than grades. Just because you can point to a case here and there proves nothing.

See my next post for class ranking problem.
7.20.2008 4:06pm
TLB (mail) (www):
PC writes: Wait until you get whiff of Barack Hussein bin Laden Osama's plan for black helicopters, the Amero and invading America with UN troops.

That's horribly cute, but regarding the second see this and this. Regarding the last see this.
7.20.2008 4:11pm
Daedalus (mail):
Who is the real Barrack Hussein Obama? The one who attended a radical church for 20 years, or the one who just conveniently rolled his pastor under the bus? The one who associated with radical terrorist bombers for many years, or the one who denies that anything happened? The one who supported no amnesty for telecommunications companies, or the one who voted for the current FISA bill that gave them amnesty? There are many, many more of these flip flops. I just wish I knew who the "REAL" Obama was so I could make a better decision. He is truly a politician in the mold of Bill Clinton, do and say anything to get ahead.......truly a scary person.
7.20.2008 4:41pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
LM:

Asked for it and here it is. I will calculate the the probability of getting lucky.

Let X= true level and Y= measured level. The true level could be a latent variable such as the student's g factor or his LSAT which approximates his g factor. It could also refer to a students true skill level. For Y we can use GPA. The problem can be stated as follows:

We want P[Y gt y1 | X lt x2] where P[Y gt y1] = .9 and P[X lt x2]= .9. Thus y1 is the grade that gets you into the upper 10%, and x2 is the level that corresponds to the bottom 90% skill level. The conditional is the probability of over achieving by getting lucky. In this model a perfect grading system would reproduce the order statistics for the skill level.

We assume the grading is unbiased. So Y= X + e. Here e is the error term, so if e = 0 the grading system would be perfect and the correlation between X and Y would be 1. If the mean of e is zero then the grading system is unbiased. For convenience, we set the mean of X and Y to zero.

Now we need distributions for X, and e. To make things less complex, I'm going to make e have a normal distribution with some standard deviation s. I let X have a normal distribution with mean zero and standard deviation 1. Thus s is a "signal to noise ratio." The smaller the value of s, the greater the correlation between grades and true skill level. In fact, r^2 = 1/(1+s^2). If X and e have the normal distribution then so does Y. Thus X and Y are jointly normal. The covariance matrix has all 1s except for the (2,2) element which equals 1/r^2. Now that we have the joint distribution in a simple form we can get the answer with 2 integrations. The first we can carry out explicitly and get a closed form answer, the second must be done numerically. If you want the details email me and I will send you the Mathematica notebook. Thanks to Mathematica the whole thing can be done in less than 10 minutes. Here are the results.

For a correlation of r= .5 the changes of getting lucky is 4% (rounding). For r= .8, 2%. If the grading system were nearly perfect with r= .95, 0.3%. For a class of 800 expect about 32 for r= .5. Even with nearly perfect grading, we would expect about 2. We would need to have r greater than .97 to have no lucky guys-- not achievable.

Of course this is a highly simplified model and only provides an approximation to reality. Nevertheless it makes it credible that some HLS can make the top 10% and be somewhere in the bottom 90%. Of course the lucky ones would tend to be near the top of the bottom 90%. No doubt a median student has almost no change of getting lucky, and I said that. We could do additional calculations and see how low you can go and still have some reasonable chance of getting lucky.

This also shows how a law school could get some of its lower potential students into the top 10%: degrade the correlation. How would it do that? Have a few easy course or non-blind courses. I could calculate how many would be needed. In this way it might get just a few of the better AA admits into the top 10%.

Now I did this quickly and I could have made an error. If I were doing this for real (got paid) I would check everything much more carefully. Nevertheless it confirms my intuition that a few of students in the top 10% are there by luck.
7.20.2008 5:33pm
LM (mail):
A. Zarkov,

I don't doubt that your daughter and probably many of her former classmates considered putting LSAT scores on their resumes a faux pas. But that doesn't make it one. I remember many of my own law school classmates perseverating over what and what not to include. Some thought LSAT scores were geeky. Others thought they made you look desperate. Both are right to some extent. But when you're applying for a job, peer pressure isn't the final determinative of propriety. The employer is. What your daughter may not know is how many of her classmates put LSAT scores on their resumes anyway, and just didn't tell her.

From an employer's perspective, I can attest to 15 years at a biglaw firm, for several of which I was very actively involved in hiring. That said, what I've heard anecdotally about the practices of other biglaw firms and judges is consistent with my own. I've reviewed, I'm guessing, thousands of resumes and I can say categorically that though including LSAT scores isn't the rule, neither is it by any means a "rare exception."

But it ought to be, since to the extent anyone I know finds it geeky or desperate, it's because we know it carries virtually no persuasive weight. If grades are good enough, LSAT scores are superfluous, thus arguably geeky. If grades aren't good enough, mentioning the LSAT appears a desperate (and almost inevitably fruitless) attempt to compensate.

What I've never seen the slightest hint of is that anyone considers using LSAT scores a faux pas, or that they otherwise hold it against someone. We've all been law students and understand the perceived pressure to include everything that might be advantageous. And if indeed we thought LSAT scores were a useful predictor notwithstanding grades to the contrary, there wouldn't even be a hint of geeky or desperate stigma about using them at all.

If your daughter and her friends knew enough not to put LSAT scores on their resumes, good for them, since it's a virtually pointless exercise. But that doesn't make it a faux pas. It just confirms that the people who will evaluate their records don't consider it useful information.
7.20.2008 6:05pm
LM (mail):
A. Zarkov,

Nevertheless it confirms my intuition that a few of students in the top 10% are there by luck.

Doesn't it also confirm my assumption that even if we stipulated for argument's sake that Obama was one of those, the likelihood remains exceedingly high that his performance would correlate to an LSAT score well into the 99th percentile? In other words, leaps and bounds above what we can extrapolate about McCain, Bush, Gore and Kerry from what we know about their test scores and/or academic records?
7.20.2008 6:44pm
LM (mail):
determinative => determinant

can only attest

(Spell check is the bane of lazy proof readers (i.e., me).)
7.20.2008 6:51pm
byomtov (mail):
Nevertheless it makes it credible that some HLS can make the top 10% and be somewhere in the bottom 90%.

Let's be clear as to what you've shown.

It is likely that some number of students whose LSAT scores are not in the top 10% of their class will have grades in the top 10%. In fact, I'd say it's a virtual certainty. Big whoop. Who didn't know that?

You have not shown that result is a matter of luck rather than ability.

You are arbitrarily and unreasonably designating the LSAT score as the true level and grades as the measured level. Why? No reason except it lets you throw up a smokescreen of statistical terminology and calculations.

Here's a clue, Zarkov: LSAT scores are measurements too. They have error.

LSAT scores are used by law schools to predict applicant performance. They don't do that perfectly. Furthermore, once you have the actual performance - the academic record, you don't need the predictor. Once the game is over you know the score. You don't have to speculate on it.

Of course, you may claim that the LSAT predicts professional performance rather than law school performance. But it still has error, just as grades do. I ask you again, as I did above, why a one-day test is a better predictor than a three-year academic record.
7.20.2008 6:59pm
byomtov (mail):
To add to my previous comment, why not take grades as the true indicator and LSAT as the measure. Then your whole analysis shows that it is possible that some number of those whose LSAT's are in the top 10% will have grades below the top 10%.

This confirms my intuition that some of the students with top 10% LSAT's got them by luck.

Isn't this highly plausible? I assume LSAT's are multiple choice tests. If you don't know the answer you can guess. Won't there inevitably be some lucky guessers?
7.20.2008 7:05pm
LM (mail):
Daedalus:

Who is the real Barrack Hussein Obama? The one who attended a radical church for 20 years, or the one who just conveniently rolled his pastor under the bus? The one who associated with radical terrorist bombers for many years, or the one who denies that anything happened? The one who supported no amnesty for telecommunications companies, or the one who voted for the current FISA bill that gave them amnesty? There are many, many more of these flip flops. I just wish I knew who the "REAL" Obama was so I could make a better decision.

Yes, I can feel you struggling with whether or not to give him your vote.

He is truly a politician in the mold of Bill Clinton, do and say anything to get ahead.......truly a scary person.

... but if you only "knew who the "REAL" Obama was" you might want him to be President, right? What a shame he deprives himself of votes from open-minded swing voters like yourself by hiding his light under a bushel.
7.20.2008 7:06pm
Psalm91 (mail):
"Clinton originally signed the no bid Haliburton contract. Bush renewed it.

It is hard to get good help in a war zone."

Clinton's "endorsement" is irrelevant to objective reality because he is not the standard. Corruption is nonpartisan. The fact is that Halliburton/KBR is not "good help". As is widely reported, their billings are often corrupt, fabricated or nonexistent. No backup. No concern for their customers or clients: bad water, bad food, and apparent unfamiliarity with basic standards for construction sand electrical work. This is reality. However, they have been a very good investment.
7.20.2008 7:14pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
LM:

"Obama was one of those, the likelihood remains exceedingly high that his performance would correlate to an LSAT score well into the 99th percentile?"

No it's not exceedingly likely at all, or even likely. We could even calculate the actual probability by reversing the conditioning. We could calculate the probability that someone in the upper 10% had at LSAT score well below the 99 percentile. Moreover here is no reason to limit this to a single class. Over a period of 20 years (say) there must be quite a few graduates in the top 10% with with LSATS significantly below the HLS median and BHO could very well be one of them.

I have shown the sensitivity of GPA order statistics to the the correlation between GPA and LSAT. Moreover HLS or any other school for that matter can degrade the correlation. Many schools are extremely embarrassed that their AA admits tend to be a the low end of the grade distribution.
7.20.2008 7:19pm
byomtov (mail):
I have shown the sensitivity of GPA order statistics to the the correlation between GPA and LSAT.

You've shown that in absence of perfect correlation between X and Y, X and Y are not perfectly correlated.
7.20.2008 7:34pm
LM (mail):
A. Zarkov,

"Obama was one of those, the likelihood remains exceedingly high that his performance would correlate to an LSAT score well into the 99th percentile?"

No it's not exceedingly likely at all, or even likely.

I'm decades removed from Statistics, or for that matter from any math beyond arithmetic, and for that I've been known to resort to a calculator. So humor me and explain how your comment above reconciles with:

Of course the lucky ones would tend to be near the top of the bottom 90%. No doubt a median student has almost no change of getting lucky, and I said that.

... and the fact that the median LSAT at HLS is above the 99th percentile?
7.20.2008 7:45pm
Hoosier:
Barack Hussein Pol Pot Osama bin Laden Adolf Michael Richards Castration Anxiety Buddy Hinton Obama got into Harvard Law because of White Guilt Syndrome, and then got A's at HLS, got on Law Review, and was hired by U of C Law because all of these organizations were afraid of being blown-up by his Black-Panther wife.

OK?

NOW, can we get back to the real issue? (Which is that he has slightly more relevant job experience than I do.)
7.20.2008 7:58pm
Syd Henderson (mail):
That means you'll have to settle for the vice-presidency.
7.20.2008 8:09pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
byomtov:

Let's recall the question under consideration. Some BHO supporters assert that his class standing necessarily implies that he has a very high LSAT score because of blind grading. I've shown that's not so. Blind grading by itself is no guarantee; you would would need correlation greater than .97 to make such an assertion.

"Here's a clue, Zarkov: LSAT scores are measurements too. They have error."

That true and that's why I was careful to point that X could be a latent variable such as the students g-factor. Identifying X as LSAT score is but one possibility.

"LSAT scores are used by law schools to predict applicant performance. They don't do that perfectly. Furthermore, once you have the actual performance - the academic record, you don't need the predictor."

That's true, but besides the point. The LSAT is a highly g-loaded test and g is highly predictive of job performance across a wide span of cognitively intensive professions as shown in the book The Bell Curve. The material presented there is back up by extensive psychometric research as presented in Arthur Jensen's book The g-Factor. So the real question is, which is more heavily g-loaded, the LSAT or law school GPA? I suspect the LSAT because the GPA is more influenced by leaned skills. In short, for many non-law jobs I'd rather know a person's LSAT score than his GPA. Of course I'd rather have both if possible.

None of this would matter if BHO had a record of accomplishment. Look at TR, when he assumed the presidency at age 43. He had been president of the New York City Board of Police Commissioners, (functionally) Secretary of the Navy, Governor of New York State, Colonel in the Army with a command assignment and Vice President. That's a real record. No one would have cared about TR's grades or his LSAT score should one have existed at the time. But with BHO we have almost a blank slate. It would be nice to know if he's at least very smart.

"I ask you again, as I did above, why a one-day test is a better predictor than a three-year academic record."

The one-day test could very well be a better predictor of performance on some jobs than a three-year law school record if the one-day test is more g-loaded.
7.20.2008 8:17pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
Addendum to prior post.

The US armed forces give high school and college graduates the AFOQT another g-loaded test. Obviously they think a one-day test adds significantly to the information they get from high school or even a college records. If the grades were better they would hardly go to the expense of administering the test.
7.20.2008 8:22pm
AntonK (mail):

Senator/Presidential Candidate Barack Hussein Obama wants to create a civilian National Security force. I'm not sure the Senator, who is a constitutional law scholar, understands the US Constitution. We already have a civilian National Security force. He can read all about it in the amendments to the US Constitution. Specifically the Second Amendment.


A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.


The Militia is the US National Security force and it consists of all the able bodied persons who are armed and of a certain age group (I think it is all those people between the ages of 18 to 45 - but I need to look it up) by act of Congress. The people of the US are already empowered to defend their country. All that is required is that they visit their local gun store (except in Washington DC and a few other major cities - Chicago, the Senator's home town comes to mind) and get armed.

Don't get me wrong. I think this is a good idea. It is just that the Senator is 200+ years late to the party. I wonder if he slept through his Constitutional Law classes.


From here.
7.20.2008 9:03pm
byomtov (mail):
So the real question is, which is more heavily g-loaded, the LSAT or law school GPA?

No. The real question is which is a better predictor of performance. (Another is how much error there is in LSAT scores). Even The Bell Curve, hardly a non-controversial work, doesn't claim that g-factor is a perfect predictor. Performance in a complex job depends on lots of qualities other than g-factor, including conscientiousness, social skills, etc.

It's not hard to think of law school as a job. Obama obviously performed well. So however good the LSAT as a predictor may be in general, then if he had a relatively low score it made a bad prediction. You're a statistician. Surely you understand that possibility.

Some BHO supporters assert that his class standing necessarily implies that he has a very high LSAT score because of blind grading. I've shown that's not so.

Some do, but that's hardly the main argument here. I don't care at all what his LSAT was, for example. But some of his opponents suggested that he only got into HLS because of AA and must have had poor LSAT's. One reasonable response is that however he got in he performed extremely well. The way to evaluate his performance is to evaluate his performance.

If you want to argue that that doesn't mean he had a very high LSAT, fine. But again, all you're saying, despite the talk of what you've "shown," and your talk of distributions, etc., is that variables that are not perfectly correlated are not perfectly correlated.

All your conclusions stem from your belief that LSAT is a perfect indicator. Once you make this unwarranted assumption, which you do at the beginning, the rest is just for show. But the assumption is just false.
7.20.2008 9:17pm
EPluribusMoney (mail):
I definitely read the part that implied Obama is a Nazi, which is much more clever than the whole "Hussein" thing (I was of course, referring to a past practice that has mercifully resulted in bannings).

People were banned for using BHO's real middle name? Wow you guys really freak over that unfortunate middle name. Too bad Stanley Ann wasn't more of a feminist and less of a pushover and insisted that he at least be named Barack Stanley Obama.

Aren't there some states that REQUIRE the full name of the presidential candidate on the ballot? I think it came up in 1976 when Carter wanted to be Jimmy Carter but he had to be James Earl Carter. HA! Maybe you better start filing lawsuits now.
7.20.2008 9:33pm
EPluribusMoney (mail):
Even if he was an abysmal high school and college student and he got bumped along because of AA, he has managed to do pretty well for himself. (How many other members of Obama's class are Senators?)

Isn't he a senator because someone illegally released his senate opponent's divorce file? And he was a state rep because he got everyone else disqualified?
7.20.2008 9:40pm
Brian K (mail):
Over a period of 20 years (say) there must be quite a few graduates in the top 10% with with LSATS significantly below the HLS median and BHO could very well be one of them.

this works against your point that he is an AA admittee.
7.20.2008 9:41pm
Smokey:
After reading this endless thread speculating about Obama's undisclosed high school transcripts, SAT, LSAT, etc., I haven't seen an answer to my question repeated twice way upthread:

George W. Bush opened up his scholastic record. Why is Obama hiding his?

...*crickets*...
7.20.2008 9:43pm
Just got here:
Well, we saw what George Bush's presidency looked like. I don't want Obama doing ANYTHING like him.
7.20.2008 9:51pm
MarkField (mail):

Some BHO supporters assert that his class standing necessarily implies that he has a very high LSAT score because of blind grading.


Actually, nobody is making this assertion. It's the ODS sufferers who keep raising this issue.


The Bell Curve, hardly a non-controversial work


Indeed it is. For a thorough fisking, see here and here.


The real question is which is a better predictor of performance.


Exactly. As I pointed out above, Zarkov is consistently treating the predictor (LSAT) as the determinant. It's the other way around -- once we know the grades, the LSAT is irrelevant.
7.20.2008 10:00pm
Michael B (mail):
PC,

What would I recommend? Let's review.

Upthread I offered a link to Obama sponsored legislation - S.433, January, 2007 - and additionally offered a link to a set of excerpted quotes from Obama at different points during 2007. In return you offered, to be over-kind, not so much. So I wouldn't recommend a thing, I wouldn't bother.

Barack Obama: the Rorschach candidate. "Change" - from day to day, from minute to minute - "change" you can believe in.
7.20.2008 10:49pm
EPluribusMoney (mail):
Does anyone know how many states require a presidential candidate's full first, middle and last names to be on the ballot?
7.20.2008 11:34pm
Toby:
Pluribus

Dunno, but it brings to mind the controversy in another election between the Candidated (who wanted Jimmy Carter) and the states who at that time tended toward James E. Carter (IIRC)
7.20.2008 11:55pm
Hoosier:
That's James Earl Carter, Jr.

Which should have told us we were being had, since that's nothing but an anagram for "Reelect Jar-Jar's Arm".
7.21.2008 1:30am
PC:
Michael B - I'll be sure to review Obama's legislative record for his Brown Shirted tendencies. If Obama is as liberal as I've been told, he'll surely have many initiatives that attempt to merge corporations with the state. In the meantime I'll check out Jonah Goldberg's scholarly book "Liberal Fascism."
7.21.2008 10:23am
byomtov (mail):
That's James Earl Carter, Jr.

Which should have told us we were being had, since that's nothing but an anagram for "Reelect Jar-Jar's Arm".


No fair injecting humor into the discussion.
7.21.2008 10:59am
PC:
re: al-Maliki interview in the liberal fascist "news" source Der Spiegel, apparently al-Maliki's translator got it wrong.

But the interpreter for the interview works for Mr. Maliki's office, not the magazine. And in an audio recording of Mr. Maliki's interview that Der Spiegel provided to The New York Times, Mr. Maliki seemed to state a clear affinity for Mr. Obama's position, bringing it up on his own in an answer to a general question on troop presence.

The following is a direct translation from the Arabic of Mr. Maliki's comments by The Times: "Obama's remarks that — if he takes office — in 16 months he would withdraw the forces, we think that this period could increase or decrease a little, but that it could be suitable to end the presence of the forces in Iraq."

He continued: "Who wants to exit in a quicker way has a better assessment of the situation in Iraq."


Those defeatists have even permeated Arabic!
7.21.2008 11:07am
Hoosier:

July 20, 2008 4:45 PM

Today on CBS's Face the Nation, Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., in Afghanistan, told the paparazzi-pursued correspondent Lara Logan that "the objective of this trip was to have substantive discussions with people like President Karzai or Prime Minister Maliki or President Sarkozy or others who I expect to be dealing with over the next eight to 10 years.


IANAL. But I'm not sure how that full-decade thingy would work.
7.21.2008 11:26am
Eli Rabett (www):
It is quite clear that no African American could ever satisfy Zarkhov's requirements for earning a degree with honors at Harvard Law, which says more about Zarkhov than anything else.
7.21.2008 12:05pm
James Lindgren (mail):
On the affirmative action issue, I would make these points:

1. I see some of the top African American resumes when some apply for law teaching. Typically, the top black candidates get MUCH higher grades in seminars and other non-blind graded courses than in first year classes or big electives.

2. For Obama to graduate with high honors, even if he had stellar grades in seminars he would have to have done well in blind-graded courses. IMO, that means he is very smart in conventional terms, probably smarter in academic terms than any president of the last 40 years (with the possible exception of Clinton, who did well at Yale, but not as well as Obama did at Harvard).

3. The Harvard Law Review has affirmative action on its law review (and I believe had it then). I have not heard whether Obama benefited from AA in making the review, but it is a reasonable possibility, since most extremely smart students at Harvard nonetheless do not make the review.

4. Accounts of how Obama was elected President of the review suggest that he won because of support from the swing group--conservatives--who were persuaded that he would deal fairly with them.

5. Contrary to suggestions above, the Harvard class is not homogenous and it is unlikely that most African American students there have LSATs even close to the top of the bottom quartile listed for Harvard in US News (listed above as 175). I vaguely recall in the 1980s (when I was at the University of Connecticut) that only a few dozen African Americans a year scored above 600 on the old scale of the LSAT. I believe that the median at Connecticut was about 650 and the medians at top 5 law schools were well over 700. So the median African American accepted at Harvard in the 1980s would probably have had LSATs about the same as (or lower than) the median white student at Connecticut, though probably much better grades.

6. When I was at Chicago-Kent in the early 1990s, I remember the dean of a top-5 law school saying that no African American had ever gotten good grades at his school (by which I took him to mean grades such as would make the person a likely candidate for Kent to hire if he or she were white, ie, top 10-25%). He said that the LSAT/GPA credentials of African American students at his school were then comparable to those of white students at Kent.

7. As Rick Sander has found, median African American grades in law school would place at the 7th percentile in the white student distribution, which supports the data of a wide difference in entry credentials.

8. By any standard, Barack Obama did extremely well in law school. As David Schraub pointed out above, Obama would have to be counted as a success for Affirmative Action, someone who succeeded to an extraordinary extent when given a chance.
7.21.2008 1:49pm
James Lindgren (mail):
BTW, I don't think Bush ever released his grades. I think they surfaced because he had submitted them somewhere for some reason earlier in his life. Or they could have been improperly leaked. I don't think he ever released them, but I could be wrong.

Someone could read the old ca. 2000 NY TIMES article on Bush &Gore grades to check my recollection.
7.21.2008 1:55pm
Hoosier:
Bush's grades were leaked by someone at Yale. I don't recall if any desks were cleaned out as a result. I suspect not, but I would be pleased to learn that I'm wrong.
7.21.2008 3:00pm
Thales (mail) (www):
Smokey: "In fact, they do hand out honors at Harvard; the mindset is that minorities need a leg up from all concerned."

There is zero evidence of this claim presented. I challenge you to find a single member of the Harvard law administration, faculty or student body that believes that this is an accurate claim about either de jure or de facto policy.
7.21.2008 3:03pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
Mark Field:

"The Bell Curve, hardly a non-controversial work..."


The theory of relativity was also controversial at one time. Simply choosing to make something controversial does not automatically invalidate it. Tell us what material fact asserted in that book is incorrect, and why you think so. Otherwise you're just ankle biting. Have you even read the book? BTW just because one can find critical remarks about something with a google search proves nothing. But as I said if you don't like TBC, then read The g-Factor. Same stuff at a higher level. The material in TBC is mainstream psychometrics-- that's why a large list of researchers signed a letter that appeared in the WSJ backing it.
7.21.2008 3:07pm
PLR:
It's interesting to me that the majority of Conspirators support a volatile septuagenarian of limited intellectual capacity, over an obviously more intelligent and younger person of the same professional background. This is true even though it is clear which of the two candidates has a better appreciation of the rule of law.

The only argument that holds a drop of water is that it's better to have divided government over a unity government, even if half of that government is stupid, easily manipulated and /or corrupt. How has that theory worked since November 2004, VC people?

Or is the balance of power on the Fourth Circuit so critical that only John McCain can be trusted to appoint judges who will permit the President to seize American citizens and hold them indefinitely without charges? Is that what the Volokhs are professing in law schools these days?

Or do Professors of Law have a much greater percentage of their annual income in the form of capital gain income than I realize?
7.21.2008 3:08pm
p. rich (mail) (www):
So Obama, having been on a whirlwind trip to distant parts, will claim unlimited expertise and boundless prescience in foreign affairs, Iraq, Afghanistan, European politics... Did I miss anything? He has already begun spouting off about military strategy in Afghanistan. This is no doubt based on his extensive knowledge and experience in both the area and subject.

I have known "bright" people, quick studies with excellent grades who had difficulty differentiating one end of a screwdriver from the other in its application. Obama strikes me as one who is satisfied with superficial understandings guaged on their adequacy to serve his ambitions. That is a dangerous type of person to have in a position of authority.
7.21.2008 3:15pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
"It is quite clear that no African American could ever satisfy Zarkhov's requirements for earning a degree with honors at Harvard Law,..."


So what are those requirements?

If you read carefully all I said is that we can not assert with high confidence that anyone in the top 10% of HLS must necessarily have gotten a very high LSAT, say greater than 172. That applies to BHO and any other specific person. My statement does not assert anything about most of the top 10%. We must judge BHO on his accomplishments in his chosen field after graduation.
7.21.2008 3:22pm
Nate in Alice (mail):
Ah, lovely to see that even on this academic blog populated by somewhat intelligent conservatives everyone is mired in a discussion about affirmative action. Among conservatives, any discussion of a successful black person wouldn't be complete without contemplating whether his success came at the price of a more "qualified" white person having a go at it.

At least no one here is silly enough to "wonder" why blacks don't vote for conservatives.
7.21.2008 3:28pm
HLS student (mail):
Just as a quick correction, people are assuming that because Barack Obama graduated magna cum laude, he graduated in the top 10% of the class. That is false; that became the standard for magna cum laude in 1999. Prior to 1999, there were absolute GPA cutoffs for each honor, which resulted in many more people graduating with honors. See http://www.thecrimson.com/article.aspx?ref=97138 for details.

Also, magna cum laude is not the highest honor at HLS; summa cum laude is. Even in our era of grade inflation, however, summa cum laude is hard to come by at HLS; there have been only four summas since 1982.
7.21.2008 3:37pm
HLS student (mail):
One other observation. James Lindgren says this: "I remember the dean of a top-5 law school saying that no African American had ever gotten good grades at his school (by which I took him to mean grades such as would make the person a likely candidate for Kent to hire if he or she were white, ie, top 10-25%)."

If this is so, I suspect you remember incorrectly; although African-Americans tend to have far poorer grades than whites and Asians in law school, there are certainly numerous instances of African-Americans who achieve great success in law school. For instance, the last two years African-American graduates of Harvard Law School clerked for the U.S. Supreme Court; both were magna cum laude graduates, meaning top 10% of the class.

I suppose some people might think they got A+'s in enough clinicals to get up to magna and got B's in all their required classes. There are, however, plenty of instances of African-Americans achieving great success in fields in which high abstract intelligence is necessary. For instance, at some point in the 1990s, an African-American man (Jonathan Farley) graduated with the second-highest GPA in the entire Harvard undergraduate class (I believe he had 3 A-minuses and 29 A's) despite majoring in pure mathematics, a very intellectual demanding field.
7.21.2008 3:58pm
coxhb (mail):
I was a young kid when JFK was president. I remember he was popular and compared to Eisenhower much more hip. His death was a very sad event. It wasn't until decades later that I learned of his philandering and political missteps that gave us the Cuban missle crisis.

Obama seems similar to JFK except we are learning of his dubious past and deeds earlier. JFK was lucky in that he had common sense Russians as enemies. An Obama "Cuban missle crisis" with Iran would have a far different outcome. History doesn't suffer fools very often.
7.21.2008 4:08pm
Curious Passerby (mail):
Just as a quick correction, people are assuming that because Barack Obama graduated magna cum laude, he graduated in the top 10% of the class. That is false; that became the standard for magna cum laude in 1999. Prior to 1999, there were absolute GPA cutoffs for each honor, which resulted in many more people graduating with honors.

So maybe half of Obama's class or more got MCL? Can anyone find out what percentage got it in his class so we can shut up all those fools who keep repeating that he was in the top 10%?
7.21.2008 4:12pm
M. Simon (mail) (www):
Among conservatives, any discussion of a successful black person wouldn't be complete without contemplating whether his success came at the price of a more "qualified" white person having a go at it.

Best short argument against AA I have read in some time. From a liberal yet.

Thanks for that!
7.21.2008 4:29pm
M. Simon (mail) (www):
It's interesting to me that the majority of Conspirators support a volatile septuagenarian of limited intellectual capacity, over an obviously more intelligent and younger person of the same professional background.

Marx was a pretty bright guy. How did that work out?
7.21.2008 4:31pm
Federal Dog:
"It's interesting to me that the majority of Conspirators support a volatile septuagenarian of limited intellectual capacity, over an obviously more intelligent and younger person of the same professional background."


No evidence whatsoever supports the personal opinion that Obama is "obviously" more intelligent than McCain. He's younger though.
7.21.2008 4:31pm
Hoosier:
Federal Dog--Exactly. Where's the evidence? Obama did well in higher-ed. True. But no one is saying that he is not intelligent. Does the fact that McCain had a very poor class rank at Annapolis mean that he is less intelligent than Obama? He was certainly a less serious student. But that's all I can conclude from this evidence.

I think this is one of those cases where "obviously" means "what I'm about to say is not at all obvious."
7.21.2008 4:36pm
M. Simon (mail) (www):
"Clinton originally signed the no bid Haliburton contract. Bush renewed it.

It is hard to get good help in a war zone."

Clinton's "endorsement" is irrelevant to objective reality because he is not the standard. Corruption is nonpartisan. The fact is that Halliburton/KBR is not "good help". As is widely reported, their billings are often corrupt, fabricated or nonexistent. No backup. No concern for their customers or clients: bad water, bad food, and apparent unfamiliarity with basic standards for construction sand electrical work. This is reality. However, they have been a very good investment.


You must have missed the part where I said:

It is hard to get good help in a war zone.
7.21.2008 4:42pm
M. Simon (mail) (www):
MarkField,

Yeah. g is a myth. Now about those Ashkenazi Jews.
7.21.2008 4:47pm
byomtov (mail):
Yeah. g is a myth. Now about those Ashkenazi Jews.

Well, we do tend to vote Democratic pretty strongly.

Correlate that.
7.21.2008 4:59pm
PLR:
Marx was a pretty bright guy. How did that work out?

Groucho was one of our most beloved entertainers.

But you should have named the bright Ted Kaczynski if you were going to do a troll post.
7.21.2008 5:18pm
The River Temoc (mail):
I would like to interrupt this fascinating discussion of Harvard Law School's grading policy to ask whether the following characterization of Obama's views is accurate?


[Obama] does not believe that the primary responsibility of the central bank is price stability


I for one find that more troublesome than how well Obama mastered IRAC 20 years ago. But then again, I've never understood most of the norms of the legal profession.
7.21.2008 5:23pm
MarkField (mail):

The theory of relativity was also controversial at one time. Simply choosing to make something controversial does not automatically invalidate it.


I gave you two links. Did you read them?

Your counter-example is silly, btw. Science ultimately works because researchers come to agree on a theory. That did happen with relativity. Although the theory of "g" is now 100 years old, there is no such agreement.


Yeah. g is a myth.


True. And apparently only those with IQs above a certain level are capable of understanding that.
7.21.2008 5:24pm
PLR:
No evidence whatsoever supports the personal opinion that Obama is "obviously" more intelligent than McCain. He's younger though.

Since I have no IQ test results, and it is not clear whether IQ test scores correlate with what we call intelligence, I'll revise my comment.

A majority of people self-identifying as Republicans believe Obama is smarter than McCain.
7.21.2008 5:30pm
MarkField (mail):

I would like to interrupt this fascinating discussion of Harvard Law School's grading policy to ask whether the following characterization of Obama's views is accurate?

[Obama] does not believe that the primary responsibility of the central bank is price stability


From Wiki (sourced):

"The purpose and functions of the Federal Reserve System include:

1. To prevent banking panics
2. To serve as the central bank for the United States
3. To strike a balance between private interests of banks and the centralized responsibility of government
supervising and regulating banking institutions
protect the credit rights of consumers
4. To manage the nation's money supply through monetary policy
maximum employment
stable prices
moderate long-term interest rates
5. Maintain the stability of the financial system and containing systemic risk in financial markets
6. Providing financial services to depository institutions, the U.S. government, and foreign official institutions, including playing a major role in operating the nation's payments system
facilitate the exchange of payments among regions
to be responsive to local liquidity needs
7. Strengthen U.S. standing in the world economy"
7.21.2008 5:31pm
Srsly:
Let's get real people - Law School isn't that intellectually challenging; an obsessed moron could do quite well at a top 10 law school. I have 10 times more respect for an average physics/math PhD than I do somebody on Yale Law Review who clerks for a SCOTUS judge.

So - please - let's not use academic success to guage the intelligence of politicians. It's an inaccurate metric and furthermore, academic success isn't even a necessary indicator of intelligence. The smartest man I ever knew (an autodidact who taught himself quantum mechanics and all manner of advanced mathematics) lived at home when he was 27 and worked at a BestBuy. He was a high school dropout.

McCain scored quite well on his IQ test during admissions for Naval Academy - the grading system is just MUCH different there than normal colleges; he got into a lot of fights which lowered his "grades" substantially. Not to mention he was a rebel and just didn't give a crap about school.
7.21.2008 5:44pm
iambatman:
Hmmm, don't see it [gratuitous mentions of Obama's middle name] anywhere in this thread. But, I'm guessing you never read most of it, so you wouldn't know.

Guess I sure look pretty prescient now. Stick to writing music, David Matthews. Oh wait, on second thought, please don't. Weak blog comments do much less damage to popular culture.
7.21.2008 5:46pm
Eli Rabett (www):
Well, so much for our courteous hosts, obsessed morons everyone (well less, a couple of economics types in there)
7.21.2008 6:39pm
Angus:
Let me chime in that I'm also not thrilled about this strategy for comments. It leads to multiple conversations happening at once and drowning each other out. I'd favor each post having its own comment thread.
7.21.2008 7:28pm
JeanE (mail):
Obama is proposing a "civilian national security force" that will cost at least $100 billion a year. I thought one of the problems with the Iraq war is that we couldn't afford to spend $100 billion a year and the war was driving up the national debt. The costs of fighting a war end when you win the war, so the cost for the Iraq war should come down dramatically within the next 2 years, but we would be paying for a civilian national security force forever.

Aside from the concerns about what exactly the "civilian national security force" would be responsible for and what powers they would have, how can he possibly find funds for this in the budget? What else gets cut?
7.21.2008 7:45pm
wooga:
Srsly said:
Let's get real people - Law School isn't that intellectually challenging; an obsessed moron could do quite well at a top 10 law school. I have 10 times more respect for an average physics/math PhD than I do somebody on Yale Law Review who clerks for a SCOTUS judge.

I can back that up from personal experience. I did extremely well on my LSAT, and just 'good' in the first half as 1L. Then, I realized that the 'A' in 'IRAC' does not actually mean "analysis" (in the sense I learned as an undergrad philosophy/religion dork) but rather just "transition sentence between rule and conclusion." From then on, I dumbed down my exam answers, making them broadly conclusory and dismissive of any serious counter arguments. I jumped to the top of my class (even 1st in class).

Everybody in your law school is roughly in the same ballpark intellectually. What sets the grading curve is simply who can write in the clearest manner for a drunk law professor who is running out of time to finish grading a giant stack of exams written by obnoxiously arrogant students. Simple and superficial is better.

Was I 'smarter' when I was first in my class versus when I was towards the middle? Nope, I was actually writing at a lower level (and writing as if I assumed the reader was mentally retarded - that helped too).

BTW, I put my LSAT score on my resume, and got a top 50 firm job.
7.21.2008 8:01pm
M. Simon (mail) (www):
Yeah. g is a myth. Now about those Ashkenazi Jews.

Well, we do tend to vote Democratic pretty strongly.

Correlate that.


Proof positive that intelligence is overrated in the political field.

And then there is that Marx guy.
7.21.2008 8:25pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
"I have 10 times more respect for an average physics/math PhD than I do somebody on Yale Law Review who clerks for a SCOTUS judge."

Last week I had a long conversation with an IP lawyer here in Silicon Valley. He's worked both sides the street being a former electrical engineer from the aerospace world. He said basically the same thing. Moreover he said law and finance (especially finance) are attracting the best students away from science, engineering and mathematics as discussed here. He also said something very troubling-- he and the other engineers at his aerospace job relied heavily on the basic work done by prior generations of engineers. He changed careers because he saw the handwriting on the wall: today engineering is a poor career choice.
7.21.2008 8:31pm
M. Simon (mail) (www):
Science ultimately works because researchers come to agree on a theory. That did happen with relativity.

You are not keeping up. There appears to be a lot of disagreement with relativity these days. Check in with Lubos Motl for details.

BTW a g test really is not definitive for an individual. It works well on statistically significant populations (might be 30, might be 10,000 depending on the question).
7.21.2008 8:32pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
"Aside from the concerns about what exactly the "civilian national security force" would be responsible for and what powers they would have, how can he possibly find funds for this in the budget? What else gets cut?"

The question politicians want to avoid because the answer is either more debt or more inflation. When the bond purchasers disappear, the answer will be inflation and lots of it to cancel the debt. Then you start all over with a new set of unfunded promises.

One Senator has the guts to say the emperor has no clothes.
7.21.2008 8:44pm
Smokey:
Eli Rabett said:
"Well, so much for our courteous hosts, obsessed morons everyone (well less, a couple of economics types in there)"
Huh? That weird comment doesn't appear to have any relevance to the comments above, or to anything else. It's just an insult. Is Eli Rabett drinking on the job?

Eli Rabett misstates:
"It is quite clear that no African American could ever satisfy Zarkhov's requirements for earning a degree with honors at Harvard Law, which says more about Zarkhov than anything else."
Imbibing would explain Eli's incapacity to spell names, in addition to his insulting of the site hosts for no apparent reason.

Maybe Eli Rabett should put the bottle back in the drawer and learn to teach.

Tenure is overrated.
7.21.2008 8:52pm
James Lindgren (mail):
HLS Student:

I am VERY happy to hear that some African American students have earned truly stellar grades at Harvard in recent years.

Your comment in part makes my point about how well Obama did at Harvard.

At the top 5 law school I talked about (not Harvard), the dean in the early 90s said that no African American had ever gotten (very) good grades at that school. Although the dean didn't put it in these terms, his comment would imply that up until that time, no African American at his school had ever graduated cum laude. I expect that, because Harvard and Yale skim off many of the very top minority students, the experience at that school might have been different than at other top law schools, even twenty years ago.

This emphasizes just how extraordinary Obama's graduating magna cum laude at Harvard is. In traditional academic terms, Obama did better in school than any president in the last 40 years. And he writes extremely well, better than most of us Volokh Conspirators.
7.21.2008 9:13pm
M. Simon (mail) (www):
Here is a test given to NFL football players:

Wonderlic fun.

And the reason companies waste money on such tests? They seem to work - on average.

Also note: reliance on IQ tests was started by the US. Military.

===

BTW I'm a Republican who believes Obama is smarter than McCain. I'd put Obama in the too smart by half category.
7.21.2008 9:22pm
Eli Rabett (www):
Srsly said:

Let's get real people - Law School isn't that intellectually challenging; an obsessed moron could do quite well at a top 10 law school. I have 10 times more respect for an average physics/math PhD than I do somebody on Yale Law Review who clerks for a SCOTUS judge.

Eli said

"Well, so much for our courteous hosts, obsessed morons everyone (well less, a couple of economics types in there)"

and Smokey left em on the floor laughing

Huh? That weird comment doesn't appear to have any relevance to the comments above, or to anything else. It's just an insult.

The boy needs to see the sarcasm flag
7.21.2008 9:37pm
LM (mail):
Zarkov,

He said basically the same thing. Moreover he said law and finance (especially finance) are attracting the best students away from science, engineering and mathematics as discussed here.

Don't those contradict?
7.21.2008 9:59pm
LM (mail):
Jim Lindgren,

I'm throwing my two cents in in favor of the multiple-post thread, if, as I'm assuming, it's related to keeping the thread open longer than usual. I've found it pretty frustrating to be in the middle of an exchange and have it shut down. So if having only two threads to moderate obviates that, I'm all for it.
7.21.2008 10:07pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
"Don't those contradict?"

No, one statement refers to the past, while the other refers to the future.
7.21.2008 10:37pm
LM (mail):
In fact, these threads could become like soleras of old sherry, periodically topping them off with newer vintages, but retaining the original identity.
7.21.2008 10:48pm
Hoosier:
A headline in today's Politico has me VERY concerned about Obama's LACK OF PREPARATION on FOREIGN AFFAIRS:

"Obama clothing ban puzzles Mideast experts" (!)

Indeed. I'm sure he's (justly) proud of his fitness level. But these are VERY conservative societies . . .
7.21.2008 11:40pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
Since I have no IQ test results, and it is not clear whether IQ test scores correlate with what we call intelligence, I'll revise my comment.

A majority of people self-identifying as Republicans believe Obama is smarter than McCain.
Nothing in the linked article says anything close to that.
7.22.2008 12:10am
Smokey:
Apparently Obama's clothing ban doesn't extend to this.
7.22.2008 7:57am
Smokey:
Eli Rabett:
"Well, so much for our courteous hosts, obsessed morons everyone (well less, a couple of economics types in there)"
That's 'sarcasm,' huh?

Ri-i-i-i-ght.

Have another drink.
7.22.2008 8:02am
Smokey:
Sorry, I should stay on topic:

Since Obama's apologists insist that his high school transcripts, and his SAT scores, and his LSAT scores, etc., don't matter... then what's the problem with disclosing his record?

In fact, achievement, or the lack of it, does matter. This is a guy running for president of the United States -- and all we know about him is the kind of friends he keeps. There's not a standup guy among them; they're all far Left anti-American vermin. Obama's any different?

What has Obama achieved, that AA didn't hand him on a silver platter? [hint: "community organizer" isn't an 'achievement'].

The reason that Obama's record is kept secret is obvious to even the most casual observer: Obama was a mediocre student, at best. Heck, he can't even speak without a script. That must worry his handlers at least a little bit.

The message is clear: "Folks, look at this beautiful pig we got for sale in this here poke..."
7.22.2008 8:27am
LM (mail):
A. Zarkov:

"Don't those contradict?"

No, one statement refers to the past, while the other refers to the future.

Thanks
7.22.2008 8:53am
LM (mail):

The reason that Obama's record is kept secret is obvious to even the most casual observer: Obama was a mediocre student, at best.

Smokey, how do you account for Jim Lindgren's opinion (below)?

This emphasizes just how extraordinary Obama's graduating magna cum laude at Harvard is. In traditional academic terms, Obama did better in school than any president in the last 40 years. And he writes extremely well, better than most of us Volokh Conspirators.

And as far as I can tell, Jim's an "undecided" voter.
7.22.2008 9:00am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
Sorry this subthread is a little stale.

zarkov:

Perhaps not on this particular thread. But on other threads his supporters do bring it up in response to his lack of experience.


You were responding to this comment of mine:

His supporters here did not spontaneously raise the subject of his class standing. You've got it backwards


Let me restate our disagreement in the form of these two statements:

A) Obama supporters typically mention his class standing in response to claims that he lacks experience.

B) Obama supporters typically mention his class standing in response to claims that he lacks merit and got where he is on account of affirmative action.

You have claimed A. I am claiming B. I've looked around a bit (at VC) and I can find no evidence to support A. So if you can find some, it would be interesting to see it. However, I do find evidence to support B. What I see is that Obama supporters mention his class standing in response to comments like this:

… if Obama releases his high school transcripts, and his SAT scores, then each of us can decide for ourselves if he got into Harvard based on merit, or if he will be our first Affirmative Action president.


And this:

If anyone got an advantage from being born black it is him.


And this:

Does anyone know if he would have gotten into Columbia or Harvard if he wasn't half black?


In those threads, his class standing was mentioned, but it was subsequent to the comments I cited, and seemingly in response to those comments. I was not able to find an example of A. Can you?

Anyway, let's consider something else you said:

If you read carefully all I said is that we can not assert with high confidence that anyone in the top 10% of HLS must necessarily have gotten a very high LSAT, say greater than 172. That applies to BHO and any other specific person. … We must judge BHO on his accomplishments in his chosen field after graduation.


You're basically saying that Obama's academic performance doesn't mean much because "we can not assert with high confidence" that he also had "a very high LSAT." But you seem to be acknowledging that we can assert with confidence that he had a high LSAT. So what's the big deal? That we don't know for sure ("high confidence") that it was "very" high?

With or without the LSAT, it seems pretty clear that he's one of the smartest presidential candidates in modern history. The energy devoted to trying to chip away at this reality is a vivid indication that his opponents have very little to work with.
7.22.2008 9:33am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
smokey:

George W. Bush opened up his scholastic record.


Really? Can you show proof for this claim?

As others have pointed out, he did not. It was leaked without his permission.

Obama was a mediocre student, at best.


Really? Can you show proof for this claim?

As I have shown here and elsewhere, you have a long track record of making bogus claims. And then you cut and run when asked to show proof. It's obvious that you don't expect to be taken seriously.
7.22.2008 9:45am
Hoosier:
jukebox--

A) Obama supporters typically mention his class standing in response to claims that he lacks experience.


Well, his supporters have cited his intellectual "superiority" to McCain, and used McCain's poor class-rank at Annapolis as evidence. This line of argument certainly implies (A). Right?

You're right about Bush's record, of course. His Yale transcripts were leaked.
7.22.2008 11:37am
Virginian:

Let's get real people - Law School isn't that intellectually challenging; an obsessed moron could do quite well at a top 10 law school.


Let me join the chorus of those agreeing with this sentiment. Law school was a breeze compared to electrical engineering (my undergrad major). Law school requires a lot of work (at least the first 2 years), but it is not intellectually challenging. With hard work and mastering IRAC, any reasonably intelligent person can do well in law school.
7.22.2008 11:58am
jukeboxgrad (mail):
hoosier:

Well, his supporters have cited his intellectual "superiority" to McCain, and used McCain's poor class-rank at Annapolis as evidence. This line of argument certainly implies (A). Right?


It seems to me that his supporters (like me) cite "his intellectual 'superiority' to McCain" because intellect is inherently important in a president (especially after 8 years of the opposite). I don't see it coming up "in response to his lack of experience" (which is what Zarkov claimed).

And Zarkov's claim was even more specific: not just that Obama's intellect, generally, was cited "in response to his lack of experience," but that Obama's class standing at HLS, specifically, was cited "in response to his lack of experience." I think Zarkov was claiming we've seen exchanges like this:

- he has no experience
- but it's OK, because he's smart
- please prove he's smart
- his class standing at HLS is proof of his intellect

But I haven't. I've seen exchanges that look like this:

- his success is due to AA, not merit
- his class standing at HLS is proof of his intellect

Not really the same thing.

I'm not saying that first exchange has never happened (here or elsewhere). But when I look around, what I see is the latter. As always, I'm sincerely grateful to see evidence that has escaped my notice.
7.22.2008 12:08pm
PLR:
Let me join the chorus of those agreeing with this sentiment. Law school was a breeze compared to electrical engineering (my undergrad major). Law school requires a lot of work (at least the first 2 years), but it is not intellectually challenging. With hard work and mastering IRAC, any reasonably intelligent person can do well in law school.

As an engineering dropout transfer myself, I tend to agree with that, but the issue here seems to be that some people wish to demean a magna cum laude law degree from Harvard as no more noteworthy than the achievement of some random trial lawyer in Peoria who made it through SIU's law school.

Sure, there are a lot of Harvard alumni running around the country, many of them sucking on the government or corporate teat. But it's not common to see them at the top of the quadrennial ballot.
7.22.2008 1:12pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
Good point, but don't forget the very famous Harvard MBA who has done plenty of sucking, and has also been on a couple of quadrennial ballots.
7.22.2008 7:03pm
Dick the Cranberry Man:
Dude, I saw Barack Obama on a Gay Porn Site www.suckthetrousersnake.com he had a mouthful of dong and nut and was mumbling something about tort reform. I checked it out on Snopes.com and Yup, he is a big-ole' flaming prick-tease. He took a load of semen on the face and smiled at the camera as he shook some moroccas and said "oochie-koochie koo! That's a spicy Meatball-a".
Then his face peeled off and a beam of light shot from the screen and hypnotized my grandpa and now he thinks he has 13 nipples. He's always trying to milk himself. Anyway, I was just wondering, do you think it is a conspiracy? Or is that just a coincidence that we just Happened to be watching gay porn when Grandpa got hypnotized by Barack Obama's light beams? You can decide, but i hope you will see things clearly now.
7.24.2008 5:53pm
jukeboxgrad (mail):
"I saw Barack Obama on a Gay Porn Site"

Thanks, that's brilliant stuff. But you have to realize that we live in a post-satirical era (and that's why the New Yorker cover was problematic). What some people are saying with a straight face comes awfully close to what you said. Like this:

Jeff Rense is covering the stories that the MSM is ignoring. Last night Jeff Rense interviewed Reverend James Manning. Reverend Manning states with authority that he has proof that Obama and Jeremiah Wright are closet homosexuals and that Obama is a drug user. Reverend Manning found out about the homosexual aspects of Obama and Wright before he learned of Larry Sinclair's allegations of drug use and gay sex with Obama in November 1999. Reverend Manning further states that the reason Obama stayed at TUCC for 20 years was because he was engaging in gay sex with Wright. If you missed the interview last night, you can listen to it here


Manning was also on Hannity's show (on that page is a video of Manning that's pretty entertaining). He's also been on Fox's John Gibson radio show.
7.24.2008 10:35pm

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