New York City police looking for Philip Seymour Hoffman's heroin dealer battered, bruised, wrongfully jailed and defamed a man who was merely visiting a friend, the man claims in court. 


     Two Harris County police officers stole hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of rare comics they were supposed to inventory for an embezzlement case, the comics' owner claims in court. 

     "Running for the presidency's not an IQ test."
     And neither, as far as I can tell, is running for anything else.
     The quote, in case you missed it or have an IQ too low to remember things, is from Texas Governor Rick Perry in an interview with NBC News.
     My immediate reaction upon hearing this was: "OK, but why isn't it?"
     Shouldn't the smartest person in the country be the president?
     Think about it.
     We know dictatorships don't work (at least not for people who aren't the dictator).
     We know democracies lead to all sorts of chaos and idiots in office (see: U. S. Congress).
     And we certainly don't want some old lady with a crown and small dogs running things.
     The obvious alternative is a meritocracy. Why not let people who actually know something about science deal with energy and the environment? Why not let people who know there are different kinds of Muslims run foreign policy?
     Why not get things done properly?
     Yeah, yeah, it's not in the Constitution and it's not democratic, but were the Founding Fathers rocket scientists? (The answer is no because there were no such things as rockets back then. The best they could have been was musket scientists.)
     I should note here that the qualifications problem isn't limited to people elected in government. The people whom elected people appoint to work in the government seem to have some qualifications issues too. Remember "Good job, Brownie?"
     Or, to be nonpartisan, there's this from a news story last week about a nominee to be ambassador to Norway: "In his hearing, Tsunis referred to Norway's president, though the country doesn't have one. He described the mainstream Progress Party as composed of fringe voters who 'spew their hatred.'"
     Cluelessness knows no party affiliation.
     But there are obviously some drawbacks to replacing elections and appointments with a merit system. How, for example, do you tell who the smartest person is? And what if the smartest person is evil? They don't all stroke cats, so you don't know who the evil geniuses are.
     The solution is something that we can all enjoy and relate to: a televised reality competition.
     Step one is soliciting applications for the office that needs filling. Step two is eliminating everyone who applies.
     Generally speaking, anyone who wants to be elected is someone who shouldn't have the job.
     Next, the country must be scoured for candidates who have shown their aptitude for the position, either by running a successful business, doing good works, or organizing a Thanksgiving dinner without anyone complaining.
     Candidates would compete each week in a series of governing tasks -negotiating a climate treaty, winning a war, proclaiming a state bird - with each week's worst performers eliminated. All candidates who lose wars or inadvertently create a Superfund site would be automatically disqualified.
     You test candidate non-evilness with a series of subtle observations - does he or she help the old lady cross the street? How does he or she respond to freeway traffic? Does he or she get jokes?
     The winner would serve until the conclusion of the next season's series. You don't want anyone getting too comfortable in the job.
     The televised reality competitions - which would be year-round for the many positions in government - would also solve the government's budget problems. You could charge a lot for commercials.
     The presidential winner should be announced at halftime of the Super Bowl (and maybe get to ride a Clydesdale with Beyonce or Chris Hemsworth, depending on sexual preference).
     There's got to be some reward for winning.

     A federal judge sympathizes with hospitals that must wait as long as five years to be paid, but it's up to Congress to break the logjam in Medicare appeals, the judge ruled. 

     Scores of mourners gathered Monday at the makeshift shrine where a pair of New York City police officers were executed in their squad car over the weekend.

     A law student who delivered when the attorney in a capital-murder case made a $1 million offer does not have a case for breach-of-contract, the 11th Circuit ruled.  

     Sea Shepherd USA is in contempt of court for ceding ships and equipment to an Australian arm of the organization, the 9th Circuit ruled Friday. 

     A shareholder action claims that a medical technology company's plan to buy a British firm is just a dodge to transfer its tax burden to its investors. 

     Eileen Decker, a former federal prosecutor and Homeland Security official, has emerged as favorite in the secretive process of selecting a new U.S. attorney in Los Angeles.

     A Florida man claims in a federal lawsuit that he didn't learn of his daughter's murder for more than a decade because no one bothered to tell him. 

     A Virginia retalier has been accused of bilking service men and women through retail credit agreements that have many, unanticipated strings attached. 

     New York state is collecting confidential information on mental health patients to create a database of people it deems unfit to carry a firearm, according to a federal class action. 

     A federal judge dismissed most consumer-negligence claims against Target for cybersecurity failures that resulted in a massive data breach last year. 

     A former executive who blew the whistle on Countrywide Financial is in line to get $57 million for helping Uncle Sam collect a record $16.6 billion penalty for Countrywide's role in the financial crisis. 


     A man whose stealth technology and weapons inventions put him on the road to a Nobel Prize says the government declassified his patents to reap the rewards. 

     California's largest rodeo concealed dozens of animal injuries in the past two years, in defiance of law, an animal rights group claims in court. 


     Records manager Iron Mountain will pay $44.5 million to settle claims that it overcharged federal agencies for record storage and information services, the Department of Justice said.

     A fed-up Microsoft sued nine companies that allegedly tell people their computers are infected with malware, then "create security issues" on their computers and steal information from them. 


     A writer claims the HorrorHound fanzine stiffed him after he contributed several articles to it, and that it continues to use his work without permission. 


     A Kansas man wants Ed Snowden, Laura Poitras et al. to disgorge money made from the film "Citizenfour," claiming it was earned by breach of fiduciary duty, in Federal Court.  

     A housekeeper claims she worked more than 70 hours a week for Mariah Carey for seven years, without overtime pay, in Federal Court.

     A former assistant director at the Library of Congress can't stop the institution from filing the job he was allegedly fired from for criticizing detainee trials at Guantanamo Bay. 

     The 9th Circuit has called for an en banc rehearing of the attorneys' fees ordered against a bankruptcy creditor who appealed a stay violation. 

     Immunity does not shield a cop who allegedly sicced his police dog on a woman as she tried to pee in the woods after a car crash, the 6th Circuit ruled. 

     The Department of Justice properly withheld its criminal discovery manual, known as the "Blue Book," from criminal defense attorneys, a federal judge ruled. 

     A federal judge refused to dismiss claims that Hewlett-Packard knowingly sold fax machines it knew to be a fire hazard. 

     A lawyer found to have used firm money to finance his luxury lifestyle should be liable to a former partner owed $2 million, a California appeals court ruled. 

     It is unconstitutional to prohibit anyone who has ever been committed to a mental institution from owning a firearm, the 6th Circuit ruled. 

     A federal judge granted Gerber baby food summary judgment in a class action that claimed it deceived consumers by labeling sugar-laden snacks as good for toddlers. 

     The 2nd Circuit on Friday punted libel claims by Republican billionaire Sheldon Adelson over embarrassing court allegations attributed to him via hyperlink. 

     A doctor whose in-laws blamed her after her husband died in a sleepwalking fall has a case for malicious prosecution against them, an Illinois appeals court ruled. 

     Home-rule rights justify Milwaukee County's reduction of pension multipliers mid-employment, the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled Friday. 

     A West Virginia podiatrist failed to convince a federal judge to significantly restrict expert witness testimony in a wrongful death case. 

     A federal judge tossed The Florida Bar's ban on references to past litigation results in advertisements of attorney services. 

     Health One Pharmaceuticals and its president Richard S. Yeh sell misbranded and/or adulterated diet supplements they tout for cancer, diabetes, allergies and other ailments, the United States claims in Federal Court. 

     Farfetch UK Limited claims Eclipse IP threatened to sue it for violating 22 messaging patents, all of which are "unpatentable abstract concepts," in Federal Court. 

     Answers Corp. published a photo of a man on its website, Answers.com, with an article saying he murdered his girlfriend and mother - but the story was about a different guy, the man in the photo claims in Broward County Court. 

     The Marion County Sheriff (Indianapolis) systematically keeps inmates in jail for two or more days beyond their release date, a class action claims in Federal Court. 

     After over a week of observation, the National Institutes of Health on Friday discharged a nurse who was exposed to the Ebola virus but has shown no evidence of infection.

     Germany owes $118 million for 500 acres in Thuringia it expropriated from the woman who inherited it, a federal complaint alleges. 


     For the second time in 2014, the 9th Circuit chose fish over farmers - reinstating the government's 2009 finding that two California water projects jeopardize salmon species. 

     French power and transportation company Alstom S.A. faces a $772 million penalty after pleading guilty Monday to a global bribery scheme.

     Because jury-charge errors obliterated a man's self-defense claim, a Texas appeals court found that he deserves a new trial for killing his neighbor. 


     The Electronic Frontier Foundation claimed an alleged NSA spying program is unconstitutional - but the Department of Justice said they have no proof - at a hearing for the six-year-long class action on Friday.


     Massachusetts-based F-Squared Investments will pay $35 million to settle charges that it defrauded investors, the SEC said Monday. 

     The Supreme Court declined Friday night to block same-sex marriages in Florida, clearing the way for the issues of licenses across the state on Jan. 6. 

     President Obama used his executive power to protect Alaska's Bristol Bay from oil and gas drilling.

     Illinois improperly withheld information about a program that had the opposite effect of its goal of reducing juvenile recidivism, a group claims in court. 


     A shark, a sea snake, a cardinalfish and three corals are slated for Endangered Species Act protection.

     The U.S. government denies Medicare coverage to beneficiaries, in the face of final appellate decisions that say they are "confined to the home" or "homebound," a federal class action alleges.

     FedEx, HSBC and others must produce any information they have on U.S. taxpayers who may have used a service called Sovereign Management & Legal to evade federal taxes, a federal judge ruled Friday. 

     Christian Science-based nurse-training programs claim in court that they were mischaracterized as accredited and then denied Medicare reimbursements. 


     General Motors' 2011-14 Chevrolet Volts have a defective steering system that may lock up or stick at highway speeds, a class action claims in Federal Court. 


     Palm Beach Puppies sued the City of Palm Beach Gardens over its law banning the sale of commercially bred puppies and kittens, in Palm Beach County Court.