Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

June 24, 2008
By: Kevin Drum

CHART OF THE DAY....This one comes from a report of the Justice Department's inspector general. It shows the approval rate in 2002 of applications for DOJ's honors program, a civil service initiative for hiring recent law school graduates into the department. As a civil service program it's supposed to be nonpolitical, but as you can see, the approval rate for applicants who belonged to the liberal American Constitution Society was 0%. The approval rate for applicants who belonged to the conservative Federalist Society: 93%.

The exact same trend shows up when you look only at "highly qualified" candidates; when you look at Democratic vs. Republican affiliations; when you look at the SLIP summer intern program; and when you look at the years 2003-2006. The official response from DOJ, however, appears to be that it's all just a big coincidence. At least one guy who was inadvertantly sucked into this project isn't buying it:

Daniel Fridman began his career with the Department in December 2004....[In] September 2006 [Michael] Elston assigned him to work on the Screening Committee along with Elston and Esther Slater McDonald.

....Fridman learned that McDonald was obtaining additional information about candidates on the Internet when he saw notations by McDonald providing information that was not contained in the candidate's application. When Fridman asked McDonald how she obtained the additional information, she told him she conducted searches on Google and MySpace.

....Fridman said McDonald also circled or otherwise identified items on candidates' applications about which she apparently had concern, such as membership in certain organizations like the American Constitution Society, having a clerkship with a judge who was perceived as a liberal, having worked for a liberal Member of Congress, or having worked for a liberal law school professor.

....We asked Fridman to review a sample of approximately 50 applications of deselected candidates who had outstanding academic records. Fridman said that he would have voted yes on each of the candidates....At the end of the interview, Fridman stated:

I'm still kind of reeling from the résumés that you . . .showed me . . . people from Harvard, Yale, Stanford who were deselected. There were a lot of them. And I am shocked and very disappointed about that. . . . I didn't know that this was going on. I thought that this was being conducted in good faith. I was conducting my reviews in good faith and making my recommendations based on merits and what I thought were the people [who] were going to be the most qualified candidates for the Department. And I'm sickened by this. And I'm not happy that I'm associated with this.

You can read the rest here.

Kevin Drum 1:49 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (44)

Bookmark and Share
 
Comments

Now I know what a spawning salmon feels like.

Posted by: Swimming Against the Tide on June 24, 2008 at 1:56 PM | PERMALINK

Good for them. Reducing the density of America-hating leftists in the Federal Government can only be a public benefit.

Posted by: a on June 24, 2008 at 2:06 PM | PERMALINK

I'm sure that these lovers of the free-market agree with me that markets work best when information is plentiful. Therefore they should be delighted that this is coming out now, so that future employers can fully evaluate their participation in the Bush dunce-ocracy.

I don't know if these clowns will be applying for any job outside of right-wing think tanks on lobbying shops, but if so they might want to do a little pruning of the resume.

Posted by: Equal Opportunity Cynic on June 24, 2008 at 2:10 PM | PERMALINK

Earlier today, I read - at TPM I think - that there was some indication that potential applicants to this program had been pre-warned (by their mentors I presume?) not to disclose their "liberal" affiliations. I don't know whether or not this is true, but the chart potentially exposes more than simply 100% deselection of the applicants claiming membership to the American Constitution Society. It should also be noted that applicants claiming affiliation with the Federalist Society exceeded those other applicants by 400%. It's possible that this simply reflects the sizes of those two societies and is, therefore, a direct reflection of overall membership. It's also completely possible that this administration has so effectively politicized every aspect of the federal government, that young liberals know they simply don't have a place. So why even bother applying?

Our taxes pay for these types of programs - whether you are liberal, conservative, or something else.

Posted by: HungChad on June 24, 2008 at 2:15 PM | PERMALINK

Fridman is a prosecutor from Florida. He joined the DOJ in 2004, so he is also probably a W. Bush Republican. He may be sorry that his political prejudices have been found out, but it is doubtful he did not know that the other W. Bush Republican scum from the DOJ were deselecting candidates based on their politics.

Posted by: Brojo on June 24, 2008 at 2:22 PM | PERMALINK

The official response from DOJ, however, appears to be that it's all just a big coincidence.

This sounds familiar. Where have I heard this before?

Posted by: US Attorney Firings on June 24, 2008 at 2:24 PM | PERMALINK

Our taxes pay for these types of programs - whether you are liberal, conservative, or something else.

Exactly. Big government conservatism at its finest.

"We want the government small as possible -- except when it's OUR government, paying welfare to OUR defense contractors and Federalist Society kids. They need a hand up, not a hand out!"

Posted by: Equal Opportunity Cynic on June 24, 2008 at 2:29 PM | PERMALINK

Actually, I was one of the "highly qualified" applicants who was deselected in 2002 (top 3 school, top 10% of class, federal appellate clerkship, and law review). One of my good friends was another applicant, and he had had an interview with a Supreme Court justice. He is now teaching at an elite law school, but he was not granted an interview either. Because my friend didn't do law review, he wouldn't be classed as "highly qualified" under this methodology. But under any more searching measure, it's impossible to understand why, on the merits, he wasn't at least interviewed. Both of us had "liberal" groups (groups listed in the appendix to this report) on our resumees, and neither of us had been warned to delete that experience. (Though we would not have done so in any event.)

We were suspicious then, and indeed several months later articles appeared indicating that there was improper political screening going on. Now that fact is abundantly clear. In politically screening applicants, the DOJ violated its own regulations, our statutory rights, and our constitutional rights. (And by "our," I mean a substantial number of qualified applicants in the pool with liberal affiliations.) The question is from where the direction to engage in these practices originated.

Posted by: christor on June 24, 2008 at 2:49 PM | PERMALINK

And by the way, what we have here appears to be the only kind of affirmative action that ideological conservatives are willing to get behind: ideological.

Posted by: christor on June 24, 2008 at 3:14 PM | PERMALINK

And by the way, what we have here appears to be the only kind of affirmative action that ideological conservatives are willing to get behind: ideological.

Posted by: christor on June 24, 2008 at 3:15 PM | PERMALINK

This all could be the gift that keeps on giving...or the evil that refuses to die.

When we consider the people who were hired, as opposed to the highly qualified candidates that were passed over, very little is made of the fact that they were hired into career civil service slots that a fair number of people will continue on from for their entire careers. The way things work there will be more than a few Regent University grads who will have worked their way up into middle management slots by the time Bush leaves office and it will be interesting (in the Chinese proverbial sense) to see how they react when upper management starts to gig them, instead of reward them, for their ideological purity. Hopefully they will mostly quietly resign, but I am sure a few will put up fights.

And this is all part and parcel of the more serious harm caused by seven+ years of Bush cronies. The politicization of the civil service has been a much overlooked phenomenon. There will be hard-core idealogues in positions of responsibility for many years to come after the Bushies are gone. If they wind up working for a Democrat I suppose they will work assiduously to undermine the policies of that administration in much the same way that they have accused true civil servants, who would stand up and tell the truth, of doing to Bush.

Hold on tight, it's going to be a bumpy ride.

Posted by: majun on June 24, 2008 at 3:22 PM | PERMALINK

If there is a selection bias - and on the face of it, it appears that there has been one - don't get your knickers twisted because I'm sure we can create a simple little chart reflecting similar biases that occurred during the Clinton administration. Soon all your outrage will dissipate as you can indulge yourself in an orgy of patronage after Obama is sworn in.

Posted by: Rocky Mountain on June 24, 2008 at 3:29 PM | PERMALINK

Rocky Mountain - If Bush shot someone in the face with the intent to kill them, you'd shrug and mutter something incoherent about Vince Foster. Fact is that these people broke the law and harmed the DOJ. Maybe you aren't bothered by that. But there is not a shred of evidence that this occurred in the prior administration. Saying it did doesn't make it so.

Posted by: christor on June 24, 2008 at 3:52 PM | PERMALINK

In response to Rocky Mountain above, you seemed to have confused the two parties. As a liberal Democrat, I can say unequivocally that your suggested future solution would not dissipate my outrage in the slightest. I have no interest in seeing a taxpayer program used to unfairly advantage conservative, liberal, or non-political individuals (if they exist today). I don't think it should be too difficult to create a much less biased selection process - and, of course, it should be an expectation for these types of programs.

Assuming Clinton also did it -an assertion for which you provide zero evidence - it's still wrong.

Posted by: HungChad on June 24, 2008 at 3:53 PM | PERMALINK

If there is a selection bias - and on the face of it, it appears that there has been one - don't get your knickers twisted because I'm sure we can create a simple little chart reflecting similar biases that occurred during the Clinton administration.

Be my guest. Put up or shut up.

Posted by: Gregory on June 24, 2008 at 3:56 PM | PERMALINK

I thought that this was being conducted in good faith.

Naive or disingenuous? You make the call.

Posted by: ed on June 24, 2008 at 4:01 PM | PERMALINK

From the report, here's an example of a reject for you:

...Honors Program candidate who had graduated from Yale Law School, had been a member of the Yale Law Journal, graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts degree from Yale College, was clerking for a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, had studied Arabic, and had worked with a human rights organization.

In the private sector, such an individual would be entertaining several job offers and looking at a starting salary in the $125,000 to $160,000 range. But in the Bush DoJ, they're not even worthy of a callback.

All I can say, is I hope there is an Obama administration and that he is absolutely ruthless about purging Bush political appointees as quickly as possible. No holdovers. No taking a year or two to get all the positions filled.

As for all the civil service positions packed with loyal Bushies...we are going to be living with the consequences of this idiocy for decades.

Posted by: Joe Bob on June 24, 2008 at 4:18 PM | PERMALINK

This makes me sick. In 1966, when I was accepted into the DOJ honors program, I was asked nothing about my political views. It turned out that my section chief, a career lawyer, but at the appointed Super Grade level (GS 16,) was a registered Republican, who was named to his post when Robert Kennedy was AG. The deterioration began in 1969 with John Mitchell, but that was minor league compared to these guys.

Posted by: Dave on June 24, 2008 at 4:23 PM | PERMALINK

similar biases that occurred during the Clinton administration

Do you mean the Clinton Administration that pulled cabinet and judge appointments because they were too liberal for a Republican Congress and replaced them with more moderate appointments (something the W. Bush regime has never done)?

The twisted knickers belong to the Repubilcans.

Posted by: Brojo on June 24, 2008 at 4:27 PM | PERMALINK

Man. I'd love to see Obama appoint a Czar of Debaathification for the federal government when he takes office. Someone whose whole job is to reverse the Bush administration's politicization of every office in the government and return to some semblance of hiring people who are qualified instead of people who just have the right memberships on their resume. Crimony.

Posted by: Wally on June 24, 2008 at 5:03 PM | PERMALINK

To Rocky Mountain: In previous administrations, both Republican and Democrat, career people in the DOJ chose the folks selected under this program: and it was a meritocracy. A.G. John Ashcroft changed the program, in 2002, I believe it was, so that political appointees in the DOJ did the selecting. And it became ideologically driven. The current AG has, apparently, changed the rules back to observe a more politically neutral selection process which is as it should be.

Posted by: Bobbi on June 24, 2008 at 5:21 PM | PERMALINK

Once Obama becomes President and appoints a new Attorney General, every attorney hired under these inappropriate circumstances should be required to submit a resignation and reapply for their positions with the pool of new candidates.

Posted by: JerseyMissouri on June 24, 2008 at 5:49 PM | PERMALINK

I just like to point out that the 2 Federalist guys who got rejected must really sucked big time.

Makes me wonder exactly what they had to do to screw the pooch....

Posted by: clone12 on June 24, 2008 at 6:06 PM | PERMALINK

Well, I am a member of the American Constitution Society, so I guess I know where not to apply. But seriously, the ACS at my law school had about three meetings the entire year, plus a happy hour. It would be a shame to be deselected just because of that.

But I do want to add a small point of information to this discussion.

Although most members of ACS may be politically liberal, and ACS may be perceived as liberal, ACS is not necessarily a liberal organization. It is an organization that is dedicated to the notion of a "living constitution" - a constitution that takes into account social changes. Living constitutionalism is not necessarily liberal, and has been used by both sides of the political spectrum.

Posted by: adlsad on June 24, 2008 at 6:57 PM | PERMALINK

If there is a selection bias - and on the face of it, it appears that there has been one - don't get your knickers twisted because I'm sure we can create a simple little chart reflecting similar biases that occurred during the Clinton administration.

OK. Do it. I will bet you $1000 right now that you can't.

Posted by: Stefan on June 24, 2008 at 7:02 PM | PERMALINK

Ah, remember Newt's whining self-righteous demand for "meritocracy"? (His repulsive mug graces Kevin's ad sidebar at the moment...) A party of hypocrites, utterly corrupt to its core.

Posted by: q on June 24, 2008 at 7:48 PM | PERMALINK

Fridman was shocked -- shocked!! -- that the Bush administration was riddled with corrupt, incompetent cronies.

They will be bringing back Claude Rains to play him in the movie version.

Posted by: jgs on June 24, 2008 at 10:06 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe it's just my 5-year-old engineering degree talking, but why can't people use something besides the default Excel chart settings? Light blue and magenta on a grey background....boring! Oooh, you toggled the Legend box to "on." Congratu-freaking-lations.

Posted by: Randy on June 24, 2008 at 11:42 PM | PERMALINK

Randy LOL! I was thinking the same thing. What? Are they using Win 3.1? ;-)

Posted by: b on June 24, 2008 at 11:55 PM | PERMALINK

Randy, nobody toggled the default box to "on", it's on by... wait for it... default!

I'm only relieved it's a proper GIF and not a pointlesss JPEG, such is the bigotry of low expectations. (hint: the "P" stands for "photographic", guys. JPG for a line drawing not only looks crap, it isn't even succeeding in compressing the file size)

Posted by: derek on June 25, 2008 at 12:03 PM | PERMALINK
Although most members of ACS may be politically liberal, and ACS may be perceived as liberal, ACS is not necessarily a liberal organization. It is an organization that is dedicated to the notion of a "living constitution" - a constitution that takes into account social changes. Living constitutionalism is not necessarily liberal, and has been used by both sides of the political spectrum.

There are certainly conservatives who are living constitutionalists, but a rhetorical devotion (even when completely empty in substance) to a particularly blinkered originalism is part of the orthodoxy of the dominant faction of the Republican Party, and membership in the ACS is inconsistent with that orthodoxy. The narrow factionalism of this administration includes a particular brand of conservatism, but it is not generic conservatism.

Posted by: cmdicely on June 25, 2008 at 11:19 PM | PERMALINK

rmtpqzy qfzyrec fmkx cqdayg uvlczft iqlo ndwuq

Posted by: ybmtriqp awcvrfyu on August 13, 2008 at 3:12 AM | PERMALINK

mfyvarg zwgjnys yhrwaxokv lpseh inerv jtzwcxroi wdpvxugf http://www.swzqi.fgjyqnrk.com

Posted by: ahtgikcoz ntplex on August 13, 2008 at 3:13 AM | PERMALINK

mfyvarg zwgjnys yhrwaxokv lpseh inerv jtzwcxroi wdpvxugf http://www.swzqi.fgjyqnrk.com

Posted by: ahtgikcoz ntplex on August 13, 2008 at 3:14 AM | PERMALINK

cfitsgjde kzixhqsy dvkgnarqe gwtacfmis edvsy bdslqfmwn wuptxmic ubnzm mfrxl

Posted by: fgcjzm ywcebmhvi on August 13, 2008 at 3:15 AM | PERMALINK

qkua aqwc ctbgpwh dtvceah qtofdj ixnpckreu jkudaph

Posted by: ktmdspb mzxrjkdfb on August 13, 2008 at 3:17 AM | PERMALINK

qkua aqwc ctbgpwh dtvceah qtofdj ixnpckreu jkudaph

Posted by: ktmdspb mzxrjkdfb on August 13, 2008 at 3:17 AM | PERMALINK

bsqc vknshdqe mtrbu hswypft zdeghb epgjsidx mjso http://www.nohgxuyp.ysdloba.com

Posted by: ktafhbxsw qlwmpcyaf on August 13, 2008 at 3:18 AM | PERMALINK

bsqc vknshdqe mtrbu hswypft zdeghb epgjsidx mjso http://www.nohgxuyp.ysdloba.com

Posted by: ktafhbxsw qlwmpcyaf on August 13, 2008 at 3:19 AM | PERMALINK

bsqc vknshdqe mtrbu hswypft zdeghb epgjsidx mjso http://www.nohgxuyp.ysdloba.com

Posted by: ktafhbxsw qlwmpcyaf on August 13, 2008 at 3:20 AM | PERMALINK

kyin uqebs ytxkz ogvzpbncj bcdo vmhdqnfy gibctay [URL=http://www.djbo.rfodc.com]oweaztvl xeqzfjn[/URL]

Posted by: asyzbc oelbauhqp on August 13, 2008 at 3:22 AM | PERMALINK

kyin uqebs ytxkz ogvzpbncj bcdo vmhdqnfy gibctay [URL=http://www.djbo.rfodc.com]oweaztvl xeqzfjn[/URL]

Posted by: asyzbc oelbauhqp on August 13, 2008 at 3:23 AM | PERMALINK

kyin uqebs ytxkz ogvzpbncj bcdo vmhdqnfy gibctay [URL=http://www.djbo.rfodc.com]oweaztvl xeqzfjn[/URL]

Posted by: asyzbc oelbauhqp on August 13, 2008 at 3:24 AM | PERMALINK

ulabyes kezpy iljmwbc hcolu dueyqv maqfnzoj swgb [URL]http://www.macz.ugaoplz.com[/URL] vsjg bhkdir

Posted by: dbgcm blvcoq on August 13, 2008 at 3:25 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

Read Jonathan Rowe remembrance and articles
Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

Advertise in WM



buy from Amazon and
support the Monthly