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Friday, April 30, 2004

 
Nancy, don't forget to pack for very (VERY) warm weather...
The AP is carrying this story: Top House Dem Says She'll Take Communion

The fight is over Ms. Pelosi's (and many DUMB-o-cRAT leaders') stance on abortion while proclaiming herself to be a "Roman Catholic."

The Roman Catholic Church has strongly indicated that they think political leaders who support Abortion and similarly abhorrent policies that the Church strongly opposes should not be allowed to partake of communion.

Nancy (and Senator Snobby-Gigolo-Traitor Dwarf) thinks she knows better.

Let me add a thought to the discussion... Perhaps the Church is prohibiting communion not because they are required to do so by their scriptures... perhaps they are doing so out of sincere concern for the political leaders who are supporting what the Church believes to be evil.

Contemplate this:
I Cor. 11: 28 - 30
(28) A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup. (29) For anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on himself. (30) That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep.


Translation pertinent to vocal supporters of Abortion (which is manifestly inconsistent with a Biblically based Christianity): The Church is attempting to keep supporters of evil from condemning themselves by taking communion while they are in error that they know about.

So... If Nancy (and others) think they know better, all I can say is that she, unfortunately, is damning herself.

Perhaps we should give her a nickname... Barbie... Nancy "Barbie" Pelosi. ("Barbie," of course, is short for "barbecue.")

[NOTE: It doesn't appear as if the rank & file Catholics are behind the DUMBs... Here's a survey of whether or not Kerry should be allowed to take Communion.]
 
Quick Quiz - True/False (pt. 1)
It's time to set the story straight, so I'll start a series of quizes on American (Political) History...

TRUE or FALSE: Senator McCarthy went on a witch-hunt throughout the nation indiscriminately accusing citizens of being communists and even got accused personalities from Hollywood black-listed because of his accusations.

(Please put your answers in the "Comments")

Thursday, April 29, 2004

 
And... PAUSE
I appologize, but I won't be able to post for a few days. I've got to dedicate more of my thought time to school until Monday evening. My Evidence final is on Monday, and that's the only Final I have this semester, but I still have to learn the stuff...

Hearsay Rule... Got it.
Hearsay Rule Exceptions... Got a few.
Expert Testimony... Got a little.
Privileges... Maybe.
Burdens... Presumptions... Cross-Examinations/Impeachments... Judicial Notice... AAAARGH!!!

I'll survive, and get back to you soon.

And, hey... I've got some fun lined up for the Summer. I've been accpeted to the Appellate Practice Clinic, so I'll be admitted to the Bar for the limited purpose of representing ONE client before the Court of Special Appeals in Maryland (our intermediate level court). That may or may not be a good thing, since my Evidence Prof. was/is the Chief Judge of the Court of Special Appeals.

This Fall, I'll be taking some different classes than I have before:

International Law (It *might* be interesting, but I figure a little international exposure can't hurt, just in general, and besides, the Prof. is the advisor for the UB Federalist Society, of which I am the president.)

Immigration Law (This can't hurt to know, and besides, if you screw up the immigration stuff, your clients get deported and can't sue you for malpractice, right?)

Federal Income Tax (Gotta take it, 'cuz you gotta know it... The Prof.'s good, so maybe I'll enjoy the class anyway.)

Litigation Process (I *hope* I learn some practical stuff with this class!)

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

 
The Iraq info seems to be coming in, despite the dominant media
Obviously, much more investigation needs to be done on these issues, but the Oil-for-Food scandal is starting to get some traction and the WMD issue,which the left has been using as a bludgeon against the President, looks to be bearing out the President's assertions.

First the WMDs... Insight is reporting that all the evidence to substantially validated the President's expressed concerns about Iraq's WMDs and associated programs has already been discovered, but not really reported.

About the UN Oil-for-Food Scam... It appears clearer and clearer that most of the"people in the know" who objected to toppling Saddam were in Saddam's pocket. Why would the UN, France, Scott Ritter, et al object to the war? BECAUSE Saddam was paying them the money that was supposed to feed his people, or at least the portion he wasn't using to enrich himself, fund his WMD programs, and subsidize international terrorism. James Morrow of The Australian has written an interesting piece about the situation... Check out this blurb (emphasis added):

Those named include not just Sevan but a vast array of Russian politicians, close friends of French President Jacques Chirac (including France's former minister of the interior), British Labour MP George Galloway, former UN weapons inspector Scott Ritter and, closer to home, Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri.

In short, it's a who's who list of high-profile anti-war and anti-sanctions voices, all revealed to be shills for Saddam.

But by far the biggest recipient of Saddam's largesse was the UN. During the program's existence, more than $US1 billion was kept by the organisation as a fee for administering the program. As one senior UN diplomat recently told London's Daily Telegraph: "The UN was not doing this work just for the good of Iraq. Cash from Saddam's government was keeping the UN going for a few years."


But, hey, in spite of the near total embargo on real information on this scandal that has been engaged in by most of the dominant media, you don't have to go all the way Down Under to get some interest in this story anymore. The Wall Street Journal's Opinion Journal is apparently brave enough to publish an opinion on the topic.

Drip... Drip... Drip... Already the media is starting to look all wet, pretty soon whatever credibility they might have left will be washed away in the coming flood of information... at least that's what I suspect.

(Thanks to Glenn for pointers to the info.)

Another thought... Ya know how you occasionally hear the Moonbat Lefties mumbling that President Bush is holding back information to use in the election cycle... to sort-of ambush the DUMB-o-cRAT candidate (whoever that might be). When you look at the accumulating data, that might not be all that wrong. However, I think that this is not because the President is hiding information so much as the media doesn't want to report it, and they probably won't be able to hold back the flood long enough to fool the public through the election.

And, hey, so what if President Bush is not releasing the juiciest information yet and plans to do so at the appropriate moment for best political advantage. At least that will be REAL information. It's not as if he'll blow-up an aspirin factory to distract us from the fact that he was getting hummers in the oval office like some. If he gets political advantage from any release of information, he's earned it.
 
Found it!
And that *might*not be a good thing, depending on what *it* happens to be.

Last night, as I was preparing for sleep, I caught a few moments of the Late Show with David Letterman. The guest being interviewed was Davy Rothtbard who was advertising his magazine, Found, and his new book of the same name.

Basically, they collect stuff, mostly pictures and notes, that they and others who then send the items to them find where ever.

It's kinda like a voyeuristic thrill to see and read all the things people leave all over. Take a look-see... it'll be a nice distraction. Then, if you're like me, you might be less inclined to use these, more inclined to use these, and will definitely use one of these more frequently.

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

 
John "F'n" Kerry: Man(?)... of the People?
Johnny's a war hero, don't ya know? He's a REAL Man's man. But not only that, he's a "man" of the people...
 
Then again, perhaps you should use the Force to discern Right from Wrong...

:: how jedi are you? ::



Hat tip to Mike.
 
Willfully blind to the implications knowledge
Perhaps you waded through yesterday's sermonizing about the idea that Right and Wrong are different and sometimes that distinction enough is or should be sufficient to justify action. I don't intend to write another treatise on morality, but one story struck me...

Did any of you notice this story? Mrs. Heinz-Kerry has said that who thinks abortion stops "the process of life." In context, she said,

"I'm more old-fashioned than a lot of women...I don't view abortion as just a nothing. It is stopping the process of life."

Hmmm...

So, what exactly does THAT mean? There are LOTS of process involved in life, specifically human life. There's the chemical process by which oxygen passes through the membranes in the lungs into the blood... That's *A* process of life. There's the process by which chemicals are released so that neural impulses can be transmitted.

These are merely chemical process that are utilized by life forms (like humans).

But she didn't say "a life process," she said "the process of life." I doubt that she means to take the definition of "the process of life" so far as to include the purchasing of an alcoholic drink for a woman at a bar or other such activities... That *could* be a part of a process which results in a life... No, I think she means that a particular life is in question.

At what point does a chemical process become a life process? We're all made up of chemicals, and so virtually everything that happens in and to us can be understood in terms of chemical processes. The most logical point is the point at which the combined chemicals are in the proper configuration to chemically describe the organism, and that configuration starts to ACT like a life form. That is, the chemical composition and configuration of an egg, alone, cannot describe a life form since the genetic code that it contains is only half complete. Once the code is completed, the chemical description is of a human. Once the fertilized egg accomplishes ANY process that is consistent with its continuation of existence (such as consuming resources to enable replication), the chemical processes can logically be seen as a life process.

If we've got a life process, the question that needs to be asked is,"What kind of life are we talking about?" Here, the answer is simple. Where we are speaking of a fertilized human egg, then the result can only be described as HUMAN. The genetic code which describes the person will not change after conception. We, therefore, have a HUMAN actively involved in a life process. That's a LIVING HUMAN!!!

The logical implication of Mrs. Kerry's statement is that she believes that the unborn children are living humans.

OK, that's fine, but the problem is that she STILL supports "the right to choose." If a person's ability to "choose" is considered more valuable than the LIVING HUMAN's fundamental RIGHT to not be killed, then HUMAN LIFE is considered secondary to the whims of the person who's life is not in jeopardy.

Where does that leave us... I think the inference that can and should be drawn is that Mrs. Kerry either recognizes the truth of what abortion is but doesn't value human life, or she has been able to compartmentalize the recognition of truth from the core acceptance of that truth.

I think this is similar to my saying that "Nobody EVER intentionally does something they believe is wrong." The bank-robber *knows* the law prohibits his hobby, but, in spite of his knowledge, he believes that his desire for the thrill or the money, or whatever, is a sufficiently higher moral imperative to make bank robbery, for him, correct in that instance.

Think about it from your own life... Have you ever been on a diet, and known that you shouldn't have that candy bar, but rationalized that you really want it, you've been good for a long enough time that this one candy bar won't make a difference. For that and for whatever else reason, you *know* that you shouldn't have the treat, but you find some way to give yourself permission to indulge your desire.

I can think of no intentional action that is not governed by this weighing of moral importance. Most actions have a clearly defined moral importance, and most of us have internally determined what our moral priorities are so that the weighing process can be nearly instantaneous. For some, in the bank robbing hypo, the moral imperatives might be the taking of property which does not belong to me vs. my desire for the cash. For others it could be the likelihood of being caught and punished vs. the fun I could have with all that money. For most actions, however, the moral categorization of the action and anticipated results are clearly established versus the alternatives and so the choice of actions in a given instance is not difficult.

This process is alluded to in the Bible in several places. Here's 2 Tim. 3 (emphasis added):

(1) But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. (2) People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, (3) without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, (4) treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God-- (5) having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them.
(6) They are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over weak-willed women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires, (7) always learning but never able to acknowledge the truth. (8) Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so also these men oppose the truth--men of depraved minds, who, as far as the faith is concerned, are rejected. (9) But they will not get very far because, as in the case of those men, their folly will be clear to everyone.

(10) You, however, know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance, (11) persecutions, sufferings--what kinds of things happened to me in Antioch, Iconium and Lystra, the persecutions I endured. Yet the Lord rescued me from all of them. (12) In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, (13) while evil men and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. (14) But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, (15) and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. (16) All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, (17) so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.


I wanted to say that Right and Wrong aren't so hard to differentiate, since we can all tell what's right and what's wrong for nearly each instance. However, the difficulty DOES exist. Recognizing the difference isn't the problem, having the will and character to prioritize the relative moral importance of each potential action or desire is where we all fall short. Mrs. Kerry has a problem, but its the same problem we all have to some degree or another. She can tell the difference, but she can't bring herself to condemn the choice of killing a defenseless living human as a bare exercise of choice. Does she really believe killing unborn babies is "wrong"? Maybe, but apparently she thinks inconveniencing a woman is worse.

Isn't that failure of moral prioritization worthy of rebuke?

Monday, April 26, 2004

 
Right... Wrong... They REALLY are different. What's so hard about that?
I spent some time this weekend, when I wasn't engaged in family obligations or studying for Evidence, watching Tears of the Sun.

I can't say it's a cinematic masterpiece, but it was a strong movie.

In a sense, the movie was somewhat like Black Hawk Down, which is another movie I've watched (again) in the last month or so.

Both movies showed Americans willing to pay the price to do what was right. Black Hawk Down was a true story (or heavily based on a true story). Politicians had screwed up the situation and put our troops into harm's way and then been equivocal on doing what it takes to let the soldiers, who's lives were at stake, survive. In spite of the lack of support, the American soldiers kicked @$$ and killed something like 50 to 100 enemies per American soldier lost. In America, at the time, (do you remember it... it was only 1993) we saw the images of our soldiers being dragged through the streets, declared that we could not stand the indignity of subjecting out boys to that kind of fate, and then we left... We killed them at a rate of between 50:1 and 100:1, and yet we let the media cow us into believing we had been defeated. The fact that we skulked away, tail-between-our-legs, was not lost on those who wish to destroy us. (i.e. Bin Laden)

Tears of the Sun was a fictional story of what could happen, it seems, at just about anytime. The point of the movie was that the mission of the special Navy Seals team was to rescue non-natives from approaching indigenous rebels who were brutally torturing and murdering everyone who wasn't part of their group. The Seals, originally, were only interested in completing their mission (rescuing the American Doctor) and getting out, but soon they were moved by the inhumanity of the rebels and the torture and death they dispensed. The Seals, without support from their ship, decided to do what was manifestly the "right" thing to do, and rescue all of the refugees and fight off the rebels to do so. More than half of the team died fighting for the refugees, and, eventually, their ship sent air support.

Here's the point of this posting... and it goes to what America is doing in various places throughout the world, including Iraq: Sometimes, even if the benefit to yourself (or your nation) is not crystal clear, you need to take a stand and be willing to pay the price (in blood, if necessary) to do the right thing for no reason other than it is the right thing to do.

Arguments are put forward that if we don't have a national interest, then we shouldn't be involved... and that's an argument. The argument is occasionally put forward that it's just impossible to help everybody, and that's an argument too. Some even argue that exerting our vision for the world through military force will only make the rest of the world hate us.

Certainly a line must be drawn somewhere. We can't be the police officer everywhere there is unrest in the world. Certainly, as a sovereign nation, America must dedicate its resources first to protect its own interests, since that is the basic purpose for the existence of the government.

Some people are just evil. They are motivated by hatred and want to cause death and mayhem to as many people who don't serve them as possible. Sometimes, those evil people are in power in a particular nation, and there is no hope that an indigenous force will be able to rise up in a reasonable time that can effectively end the carnage.

Let me pose a hypothetical... You are walking along a path in a park beside a river or lake or something. You see a person holding a newborn baby, and you know its a newborn baby because you see it moving, hear it crying, and are close enough to get a good look at it. You see that person toss the child into the water, laugh, and then watch the baby sink.

What do you do?

Do you sit back and let the baby die since YOU have no interest to be served by saving the child?

Do you rationalize that, although you can swim and could save the child with no serious risk to your own life or safety, you know that there are other parents who will do this in the future and you won't be there to help their children, so, since you can't save them all, you shouldn't save this one?

Do you sit back and realize that, not only will the person who threw the child into the water be angry at you for interfering with his/her internal family decisions that did not effect you directly, but every other person who might be inclined to do the same or, in some other way injure or kill their babies will be offended by your presumptuous actions that usurp they baby-thrower's authority?

Or...

Do you decide that the baby does not deserve to die? Do you jump into the water and rescue the child? This is what I would do, and I presume this is what you would really do, too.

Why should our national policy be any different?

Just as it is no business of ours if another parent chooses to spank a kid for an offense that you think only deserves a scowl or scolding. Parents should have autonomy to do what they think is best for their children. Even if parents are miserable and don't put their children's interests as the top priority, so long as they are not wantonly or maliciously injuring their children, then that's their call.

On an international policy level, a line can be drawn, at least a permissive one, that would allow (if not require) assistance for helpless victims if they have no hope of rescue or recourse within their nation.

I'm not talking about an arrogant or oppressive policy. I'm not calling for intrusive tactics where America sets itself up as the only judge, jury, and executioner of justice in the world. What I am saying is that, if we can reasonably do so without exposing ourselves to serious risk of increased danger, we should stop senseless (serious) atrocities where there is no local authority which can or would stop the horror.

Perhaps a nation, itself, has no moral core, but its people do. At common law in America, we don't, generally, put a duty on an uninvolved 3rd party to render aid, no matter how desperately needed it may be, however we've never needed to do so. The vast majority of people (in America) find an internal moral imperative that prompts them to act (or they used to) when they see a desperate need and a helpless victim. The rule that doesn't require action is largely mechanism that lets a potential rescuer weigh his or her circumstances and determine if he or she thinks he or she can safely attempt a rescue. Also, acting for the good of others is considered a virtue, and if such action were required, it would lose some of its innate goodness by the mere fact that it is required rather than completely volitional.

For some reason, this "aid to 3rd parties not required" doctrine has become perverted on the international scale. We are now willing to sit back and let all manner of evil transpire without any more than an ineffectual verbal protest.

I agree, when we have an interest in a matter, it should take top priority... (Like, if you were the parent of the baby who was thrown into the water, and the thrower were a babysitter, or something). However, in my humble opinion, I think that "national interest" should be a tie-breaker in a choice when competing decisions must be made on how to allocate resources. We should never use "lack of national interest" to turn away from rendering aid when our resources would not be allocated to actually serving a national interest, or when expending those resources would leave us at an unreasonable risk.

We have, sort-of, started down this path. Our "War Against Terrorism" is not a fight against only the people who attack America. (Some seem to think that's what it is or should be, but they're wrong.) In a sense, President Bush declared the existence of terrorism anywhere to be a threat to our national interest in peace and security, and, in the global sense, that's true. More accurately, I think, terrorism anywhere is offensive, and if we stand idly by while others are hurt, we encourage the world to stand idly by when we need help.

Ask yourself, what's the difference between not rescuing the hypothetical drowning baby, and not stopping mass murderers like Saddam? One reason, I suppose is that we can identify a national interest. Whether you decide that the national interest is that from our perspective the "baby" looked like it might be ours (that is, we reasonably believed that Saddam possessed or was trying to manufacture WMDs to directly threaten our interests) or you decide that the "baby" though not ours directly, was our niece or nephew (that is, Saddam really was actively sponsoring terrorism, though, at the moment it was only directed at our allies, and not specifically at us), the interest was/is real and identifiable.

Other than that, Saddam was an evil despot who killed innocents for little or no reason other than that he enjoyed killing innocent people. His sons even fed victims into industrial plastic shredders feet-first so that they could hear the victims scream as they died. (Read this posting.)

The worst thing, so far as I can tell, is that we didn't take him out years (decades) ago. How many people died who didn't have to die because we pretended we shouldn't care since they weren't Americans and therefore not worthy of Due Process? How many despots have risen up over the last few decades because our general interaction with the world has been one of arrogance such that we didn't think we had to care about innocent people who aren't Americans? How much of a bad taste does it leave in the mouth of the rest of the world when they see our incredible wealth and hear our debates over the cost of sending a handful of troops, properly equipped, to them to save them from their oppressors?

Perhaps selflessness shouldn't be *required*, but those of us with a moral compass should not let the selfish be our guide. Perhaps there are gray areas, but when the choice between right and wrong is clear, we have no excuse for not choosing right.

Friday, April 23, 2004

 
"Criminal" Misuse of the space between your ears
Prof. Vernellia R. Randall has a purpose... I think that purpose is to prove that white people should be presumed evil. Maybe her purpose is to prove that objective (non-race based) standards should be presumed racist whenever one can discern a racial difference.

Prof. Randall has come up with the "2004 Whitest Law School Report." I've got no problem if you are going to have an honest and open discussion of the facts and policy relating to an issue. Also, I have no problem if you want to present an opinion, perhaps even supported by facts.

I DO have a problem when someone attempts to present blatantly slanted statistics as objective fact and the desired interpretation of those intentionally skewed numbers as THE logical implication that the numbers present.

Prof. Randall thinks that where more whites are present than in the national or local average, there must be racism.

Here's an excerpt from her introduction to her "survey":
Law Schools, for the most part, are a sea of whiteness.

A sea of whiteness that contributes to the legal profession being more white than medicine.

It is a whiteness that is dangerous, not just to mental health of the individual person of color that gets caught in it, but also to our society. It is an overwhelming display of power and control, maintaining a predominance of whiteness that is unearned and undeserved.


Her intro ends with this line: "The Whiteness is blinding!"

According to Prof. Randall, the inspiration for this "survey" was her experience as a law student when she realized that she was the only black student (in 1984) and she wanted to cry. This hardly inclines the objective reader to think that her study was even remotely interested in objective collection of data.

Here's an example of what I'm talking about... "White" to her meant Caucasian + ALL unspecified (on applications) race students. The ONLY reason to use that methodology is to intentionally skew the numbers to higher whiteness. For example, The University of Baltimore HIGHLY integrated. According to HER methodology, UB ranks 107 at 79.1% white... Hmmm.... The University of Maryland ranked 124 at 77% white. (Here's her complete list). UB's average LSAT is 153, and U of Md's average is 159. According to Prof. Randall, 60% of all black LSAT takers score below 145. If that's true, either the numbers are drastically wrong or Maryland cherry-picks or UB discriminates. At least one of those must be true. Since I attend UB , I can say that, by my observation, the percentage of whites she reports appears drastically incorrect.

Would it have been better to leave out the non-reporting students? YES! We don't know what reasons a student might have to leave off that information. The reasons probably range widely from just not seeing the question to fearing discrimination or "reverse discrimination," and any number of other reasons. If that's the case, then adding all non-responders to the "White" column is just a way to massage... no man-handle the numbers into the shape you desire.

One of the things I find most amazing is Prof. Randall's rant against the "misuse of the LSATs" How, exactly is a test that rates students relative to each other and the previous 12 years of test results on primarily on logic racist? Prof. Randall doesn't exactly say. She simply arrives at the statistical number that 60% of all Black LSAT takers have LSAT scores below 145, and declares that based on that fact alone, the use of the LSAT in admissions must therefore be discrimination.

Moonbat-liberal doesn't even begin to describe her.

Lets start with a very simple fact. No number (direct measurement or statistic) corresponds perfectly with the thing supposedly represented. If I measure something with a ruler, I'll be close, but my measurement will be off by some small delta. That's just life. When you attempt to use a test to predict the future, your results will be even less correlated to the eventual desired result.

The characteristic that the LSAT most accurately corresponds to is the ability to answer logic-related questions in the English language. Prof. Randall's position, therefore, that using minimum LSAT score to presumptively eliminate those below that level, is actually an indication that the Black students she wants to help perform poorly on logic-related tasks.

Don't get me wrong... when two students are approximately equally matched, I've got no problem using race as a "plus" factor (as described in Bakke) is OK. A tie has to be broken, and assuming that someone who comes from a presumptively disadvantaged background who scores equally with someone who had not faced the same societal pressures might be something of an ambitious and strongly motivated student isn't "bad."

Rejecting logic as a requirement for the study of law is a STUPID idea.

Prof. Randall goes to great lengths to stir-up a sense of victimization by minorities. She starts her rant on the LSATs with this:
The US News & World Report rankings are out, and Law professors are dashing to find out how their schools ranks, so this is a good time to issue an alert:

If you are a Black, Hispanic, Asian or Indian law school applicant who has been denied admission - Listen up! You may have been discriminated against based on your race.

It is not intentional, in your face, "we don't want Blacks" in our law school, kind of discrimination. No, it is that hard to understand and even harder to eliminate institutional racism.


She uses the ridiculous assertion that since 70-90% of all Bar Exam takers pass within "2 or 3 retakes" that initial LSAT score has little or no correlation. She doesn't go any further with attempting to PROVE that assertion. It wouldn't hold up. Just look at any law school's numbers. (You can mine the numbers yourself here.) The schools with higher LSAT entrance numbers have very good bar-pass rates, and the ones with lower LSAT numbers do not fare as well.

Take a look-see -
UB: LSAT = 153 & 1st Time Bar Pass = 72%
U of MD: LSAT = 159 & 1st Time Bar Pass = 85%
Yale: LSAT = 171 & 1st Time Bar Pass = 98%
Loyola U. New Orleans: LSAT = 153 & 1st Time Bar Pass = 65%

The LSAT number is not the ONLY difference between UB and U of Md. Perhaps Prof. Randall would like to propose that the slightly higher minority population at U of Md. benefited the community that it alone was sufficient to account for the large 1st Time Bar Pass rate numbers. It's a stupid idea, but I suppose, if she wants to presume thLSATsATS couldn't possibly have any correlation because they indicate a difference between racial groups, then I guess she could.

Eventually reaching the numbers that high LSAT schools get the first time out is NOT proof that LSATs are irrelevant to performance. If anything, it proves that LSATs are indicative of potential for success.

We've got a more fundamental problem. Prof. Randall's complaint is that, whenever you can tell a difference, "fair" is wrongfully discriminatory. I take that back... She's not complaining about the world of professional Football or Basketball, where Blacks appear to have a dominant presence. You get your place on a professional sports team solely on the basis of being able to help the team win... MERIT. In these cases, the statistically small (~13%) group of Blacks in America represent an overwhelming presence in several professional sports. Merit's not so bad there, eh?

Prof. Randall has gotten it into her perpetually-bent-out-of-shape mind that being able to telldifferencence between good performance and the precursory indicators of that is a BAD thing.

Let's put it like this... If you were charged with a horrible crime and faced a possible death sentence (but were actually innocent), and you had to choose a lawyer (assume they both have an interest in criminal law) without reference to race based on this one sentence: Both A and B have just been admitted to the Bar, but A passed on the first attempt, but B passed on the third attempt. Who would you choose? Me, I would rather have the person who got it right the first time.

Why does "race" have to be an issue here? I don't know. I don't make it an issue in my life. I try to make my associations based on meritorious considerations. "Color of skin" is not, so far as I can tell, itself indicative of anything but "color of skin."

Lets look at this another way: If 1st Time Bar Pass rate could be seen as indicative of legal skill at the time of the taking of the examination, and IF we are allowed to assume that the very strange fact that high 1st Time Bar Passage rates show up in groups of exam-takers who have a high average LSAT score, then maybe we need to ask a different question of whether using the LSAT (a logic test, remember) is a type of racism. Perhaps, merit-only selection is NOT racist, but passing students with poor performance in primary, highschool, and undergraduate classes IS. It prepares the students who are not held to a high standard for failure. Prof. Walter E. Williams has written on this extensively. (Here's one, another, and another, but go ahead and read all of his stuff.)

The cruelest action I can imagine is to systematically, over years and years, to knowingly set someone up for failure. When its done on the basis of race, it's fully accepted today, but no less cruel.

Thursday, April 22, 2004

 
New on the Blogroll:
I've added the following sites:

Ex Parte - Group Blog of Harvard Federalist Society.
ChessLaw Blogs - A significant list of law-related blogs (blawgs).
USS Clueless - Steven Dan Beste's well written thoughts/rants.
Overlawyered - A blog highlighting abuses in the courts (mostly).
FreedOnEverything - Fred Reed unleashed.
Daily Pundit - Bill Quick's thoughts and lots of amusing reader-comments.
The Curmudgeon's Corner - Francis W. Porretto's wisdom

Federalist Society - Yeah, it's not a blog, but its a group worth visiting (and joining).
Guide to Logical Falacies - No, this is not just a link to the DNC's website.


 
How come the nuts are the only ones on the right side of this one?
Here's a question: Is it a good idea or a bad idea, if we fear irregularities in voting, to eliminate all hard evidence of what the votes actually were?

I suppose, by eliminating the evidence, you can't point to any irregularities, but if we want the answer to be that the number of votes counted for each candidate is equal to the number of votes CAST for that candidate by QUALIFIED LIVING HUMAN VOTERS, then a paper-trail, or SOMETHING like it is necessary.

In Maryland, like in most states, we have responded to the 2000 Presidential elections be ELIMINATING all forms of verification in the voting process. We've got electronic voting.

I used it for the primary election, and it was slick-enough. It was painless, and I suppose, for what it was worth, it was fine. HOWEVER, I have no way of knowing whether what was actually cast, in any way represented the votes I indicated.

We've got an organization, True Vote Maryland, that's on the correct side of this issue. There NEEDS to be some hard-evidence of the votes cast. They've filed suit, as of today, and I suppose we'll see if the voters have a chance. Of late, I've got less than the highest expectation of the judiciaries' (especially Maryland's) inclination to protect the citizens from injustice, especially if that injustice is perpetuated by the state. (See here, here, and here for three different examples of the indifference to justice of which I speak.)

The problem with this group is that they are nuts, or at least closely affiliated with them. True Vote Maryland is apparently affiliated with "Fresh Air & clean Politics" which is, according to their stances, somewhat more pink than I like in my medium-rare steaks.

Excuse me, but I think it's perfectly rational to want verifiable election results. Furthermore, I think that I shouldn't have to prove that I have a collection of autographed Mau, Kim Jung Il, Lenin, and Marx's works to stand up for this principle! (Note: No links to their stuff because, well, I don't want to be a party to someone polluting their mind with their crap, but if you WANT to find it, I'm sure you can somewhere at Amazon.)

We all know that punch-card ballots are susceptible to creative counting, but what exactly was wrong with the Optical Scanner Ballots that we used in my district last election cycle? It's EASY, counting is automated, and there IS a paper-trail that does NOT compromise privacy. Yes, there's still a question about whether the counters could be compromised, but, at least there are actual hardcopies of the original ballots which can be visually inspected without any significant risk of vote tampering.

I know that Optical scanning can still be imperfect since people can still make errors. One simple, and probably not too expensive method is to provide small scanners with a small screen at each booth so that each voter can make sure their ballot would be properly counted and the votes would actually be read for the candidate(s) of their choice. It's a simple enough solution, and would significantly cut-down on the possibility of voter error causing votes to go uncounted while simultaneously leaving a paper trail.

Is it just too cynical to think that "those in power" PREFER a system with no verifiability?

Even if it is, when the dead, convicts, and various and sundry others who are not qualified to vote do while the elected officials ignore the problem because it benefits them, I think they've earned a significant amount of cynical critique of their actions.

Remember, we ELECT our "leaders" because we CAN'T trust them even as far as we can throw them. Any attempt to create easier avenues for corruption should be met with staunch opposition.

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

 
Racism in the Ball'mer Firehouse?
If you live in the Ball'mer region, you are already aware, I'm sure, of the big to-do over the fact that the latest class of recruits for the Baltimore City Fire Department is all white.

Outrageous!

The White Man is Keeping the Black Man Down Again!!! This time by committing to risk his life to save the property and families of the Black community!!!

This sort of BLATANT racism cannot be allowed to stand!

That's the theme of the Ball'mer Sun's take on the topic. (Here's a follow-up story, and an opinion piece.)

It has fallen out of vogue to point out what I'm about to say, but I'll say it anyway: Numbers, alone, are NEVER racist, and they don't lie, either.

Numbers are great because they indicate *something,* but that's why it takes intelligence to figure-out what those numbers are saying. Engineers, like me, (and scientists too, I suppose) love numbers. We presume they are telling us about what we are attempting to measure, but before we can (should) use those numbers to make a conclusion about what we were trying to measure, we need to figure out if and how the numbers we are getting are related to the thing we are attempting to measure.

In this case, the ratio of races in an entering class *might* indicate *something* about racial motivations, but they might not, and we need to know *what*, if anything, we are being told. Here, the number of whites who graduated from the training academy ONLY directly tells us how many whites graduated from the academy. Those numbers do not speak directly to motivations. Those numbers, at best, could be a data-point from a larger set of data that could be used to tell us about motivation.

The interactions that eventually result in the number of academy graduates are far too complex to be able to clearly indicate that the final racial make-up of the class was in any way the intent of anyone who directed policy.

The group of applicants is necessarily SELF-SELECTING. They're applicants, for petessake! You need to look, at what might have motivated the applicants to apply, whether the metrics of selection, in any way intentionally (or even negligently because they are unrelated to the final task) produces a disproportionate racial effect. The factors, neglecting strictly personal factors, that *might* affect the different groups from which the applicants are drawn could include how much time, money, and effort is expended in areas that are predominantly one race or another.

Likewise, macro-cultural influences could have a significant effect. To determine what these influences might be, we can look to other measurable areas that might also reflect the cultural influences on a broader scale than just fire-fighter applicants.

My theory is that, unfortunately, the urban minority community might not have as strong a sense of obligation to serve the needs of the society. Obviously, there are plenty of physically fit males of the appropriate age range who are not drug users and/or criminals, in the minority community to fill an entering class for the Baltimore City Fire Department training academy. Lets assume that the word is getting out (from what I understand, recruiting takes place almost exclusively in or from the Baltimore City public high schools, which are predominantly African-American). If the word is getting out, then the question is WHY aren't the candidates who might have a shot at success applying?

Perhaps you could argue that the ones who would be qualified are leaving for more desirable employment, and that might be true. If it's not (and even if it is) the question must remain about why employment in the Fire Department (and other areas of public service) are undesirable to the African-American youth. Do African-Americans feel a lower level of obligation to promote and protect our society? That's a fair question.

It sounds harsh, but Fire Department applicants are not the only area where there appears to be a problem of commitment to society among the urban minority community. Jurors in the City are simply not showing up, but they are in the (predominantly white) counties. (Read here, here, and here) Sure jury duty is a drag, and a burden, but most people see it as an obligation to society, and to the American commitment to justice.

My theory is only a theory. It is, unfortunately, predictive of general trends. It's also useful in explaining why "whites" are just "whites" but "black" Americans are not "black" (or "brown") but "African-Americans." This indicates (to me) a deliberate intent to more clearly distinguish the class members from the NATION, than of one race with distinct and visible characteristics from another. If "African-Americans" are attempting to be distinct from America, then does it not follow, that "African-Americans" might be less than thoroughly invested in the needs of America or Americans? If the intent were to primarily distinguish continent-of-origin, then how do you explain the hostility towards white South-African immigrants who describe themselves (accurately) as "African-American?"

If you've got a better theory, I'm eager to see what you think... (Use the comments!)
 
Finally, a place where "Zero Tolerance" *might* be appropriate:
Some people get bent out of shape by the smallest things. Sometimes, however, a line in the sand must be drawn. I'm not a punctuation hero (if you're reading this, I'm sure you already know that about me) but things are getting out of hand.

Lynne Truss has written a new book. This book appears to be the diatribe of a nearly psychotic punctuation-aphile. "Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolernace Approach to Punctuation," though, no doubt, the result of a person who is entirely anal-retentive about a topic which has very little inherent importance, looks like a fun read. Don't get me wrong, perfection in punctuation, because it aids proper communication, is an ideal worth pursuing. Additionally, since the world appears to have nearly abandoned any pretense at attempting to use punctuation, and hence, language, precisely, someone DOES need to stand up and set the record straight.

The only niggle I have, after reading an excerpt from the book, is the author's rant about the title of the movie Two Weeks Notice. Ms. Truss thinks the movie should have been titled "Two Weeks' Notice" but I'm not totally convinced that's correct. The plural possessive she advocates would indicate that the Notice, in some way, belongs to the Two Weeks. I think a better, or at least acceptable, way to view the title is that the Notice is of the Two Weeks type. Just like a light can be a "red light," and "red" would be a description of "light", and the light (which happens to be red) itself would belong to some person or thing. Here, the notice belonged to an employee, and it was of the "Two Weeks" sort.

I could be wrong, but these are the types of arguments you must anticipate if a "Detail-Nazi," as Ms. Truss apparently is (she calls herself a "Stickler") and a "Concept-Nazi" (like I think I am) confront each other. Punctuation helps (tremendously) to make communication (the exchange of concepts) precise and clear. Punctuation, therefore serves the flow of ideas, and one person's idea of how the concepts should be constrained might or might not be correct, and where one interpretation is commonly though of as correct, but another is not necessarily wrong, the form explicitly used by the author should be given priority, and busy-bodies who are concerned about form but not substance need to recognize their own limitations.

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

 
Umm... It's called PROSTITUTION
Apparently in Norway, high school seniors throw themselves lavish parties as they graduate. OK, I understand the desire to celebrate.

This article details the account of a couple of girls who have gone far beyond the limits of common sense in their quest to fund a their partying.

Apparently it's the "in" thing to buy a van or small bus to be the location of the parties, and some local businesses are willing to sponsor the purchases in order to get advertising.

A couple of girls who were unsuccessful in getting traditional sponsorship signed a contract with a male porn star to make a porno movie with him for about the equivalent of $2900 (US).

So... lets see, these girls wanted the money enough to engage in video-taped snuggle-bunnies with a porn star. I don't care if this was decided as a last ditch effort to pay for the noble purpose of bacchanal partying, it's still prostitution. The question, then, I suppose is: Are these girls so stupid that they don't recognize this simple fact, or is prostitution (by high-school girls) simply OK with people in Norway?
 
Flying robots with ATTITUDE!
Here's an MSNBC article about a new autonomous aircraft (X-45A) that has been designed for offensive military missions.

What I LOVE about the article is the first line:

A robotic plane deliberately dropped a bomb near a truck at Edwards Air Force Base on Sunday, marking another step forward for technology the U.S. military hopes will one day replace human pilots on dangerous combat missions.

Maybe it's just the engineer (aerospace w/ controls & flight dynamics background) and law student in me, but I find that sentence hilarious. Don't you? That robot must have been PISSED to "deliberately" drop a bomb near a truck. Perhaps the truck driver was talking on a cell phone... Is it too picky to point out that robots, until our Artificial intelligence gets a tad-bit more advanced, DO NOT DELIBERATE! Deliberation requires thought. Following a RULE requires NO THOUGHT. This thing was pre-programmed with where to go and what to do.

The X-45A was preprogrammed with the target coordinates and used the satellite-based Global Positioning System to adjust its course.

Horton, who was sitting 80 miles (130 kilometers) from the target, authorized the drone to drop the bomb, which was released from 35,000 feet (10,670 meters) as the plane flew at 442 mph (700 kilometers per hour).


Of course, the point is that we're developing technology that could remove humans from the aerial combat arena, to a large extent in the foreseeable future. That's really good news. From a technical standpoint, it will make the design of aircraft simpler, since we won't have to worry about ergonomics or other human factors, or subjective "flying qualities."

I'm glad to see this milestone being crossed, even if it was crossed by Boeing.

Monday, April 19, 2004

 
What are you doing here?!
Yesterday, my church invited Dr. John Stanko to speak. He's basically a business consultant, but no, he's more than that. He describes his purpose as bringing order out of chaos. He speaks to churches and businesses to help people figure out what they should be doing to utilize their tallents and fulfill their own purpose in life.

Accordingly, the topic was about finding what your individual purpose in life is. That's rather ambitious for any speaker to attempt to do in a single service. Thankfully (for us), Dr. Stanko had a discussion at the church that afternoon where each of us could take the DISC analysis. Without going into a full description of the whole thing (perhaps I will later), my results showed that I like to contemplate facts and rules and communicate to / inspire others. I also have a smidge of ability to be determined and direct others.

That actually seems to fit.

OK... What does that mean so far as my actual purpose... Not much directly, but it tells me that I can probably be sure that my purpose is related to significantly contemplative activities that have a major communicative aspect.

Hmmm... Sounds like this Blog, eh?

After reading some of the purpose related stuff on Mr. Stanko's website, I learned that I *might* be able to figure out what my purpose is if I evaluate what tallents I have and what uses of those tallents provides the most joy. Alternatively, you can look (or have someone else who knows you well tell you what they see) at my "fruits." (The results of what I produce well.)

In spite of what you may think of my writing on this blog (especially all the typos), I think I may have figured out my purpose. This is my initial guess at a description of what I think my purpose might be:

"I search for the truth, and get people to understand it."

I could be wrong, but I'll keep testing my theory, and refine it until I know. In the end,I will need to figure out some way to use my purpose (whatever it really is) consistently throughout my career and life.

I suspect that if you are not routinely happy, you too will need to go through the same process. So... What are you doing here, and what should you be doing?

Thursday, April 15, 2004

 
War Hero?
Ever heard of the "Three Purple Hearts and You're Out" rule? It looks as if Snobby-Traitor-Gigolo Dwarf has. Here's the story. Here's something else about it, and here too.

Has it ever seemed currious to you that someone could go to war, get three purple hearts within 3 1/2 months, and be perfectly healthy when he leaves? Read the stories.

Hmmm... I guess it's no wonder that the Snobby One had to nominate himself for the awards.
 
Humboldt Univ. women attend a seminar, men get a head...
Indications, I suppose, that educating women makes the world a better place for all MANkind.

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

 
Lesson learned… now, where can we go to seek justice?
Yesterday the Maryland Court of Appeals said that students in the University System of Maryland (which include 13 institutions) have no right to demand to receive what they pay for.

This is the result of the litigation in response to the mid-semester tuition increase given to us last year. (Here's a short Ball'mer Sun article) Many students (your humble author included) had registered for classes, gotten the bill from the university indicating how much I owed for what classes and what credit I would receive for those classes, paid that bill in full, and begun classes BEFORE getting a NEW bill for additional tuition that the University decided to asses.

Any of you familiar even remotely familiar with contract law realize that once an agreement that is fairly certain as to its terms and where consideration has been given by one party may not be changed unilaterally by one of the parties without mutual assent or NEW consideration. A situation such as that is usually referred to as “unconscionable.”

The University System of Maryland decided to raise tuition in the middle of the semester because it wanted more money. The Universities CLAIMED that they warned that they gave warnings in their brochures that they reserved the right to change tuition rates and fees at any time. That’s partially true. There was not a warning in each institutions’ literature, only in some. Furthermore, It’s common knowledge that an advertisement, such as a description in a brochure, is not a firm offer, and is therefore subject to change until a particular transaction has been agreed-to by the parties. Once the conditions have been agreed-to, however, the advertiser is not generally free to change its mind. Certainly, the advertiser cannot change its mind once the purchaser gives consideration based on the clear terms of the agreement. It’s simply ludicrous to think that a seller can change its mind after the price it has requested has been PAID IN FULL and all that is left is the seller’s performance under the terms that it advertised.

THAT is precisely what happened here.

HOW DID THE COURT LET THIS HAPPEN?!?!?

I’m glad you asked… It’s called sovereign immunity. Sovereign immunity is a principle that has been carried down in our legal tradition from English Common Law and is firmly entrenched. The short hand is “The King Can Do No Wrong!” As patently false as this is, it is the premise of sovereign immunity. The Sovereign (King or State) can do no wrong because its actions DEFINE what law is and therefore nothing it does can be unlawful. Viola! This is the entrenched version of both of the classic anti-justice rules we learned as kids; “Do as I say, don’t do as I do!” and “Because I said so, that’s why!”

In modern times, legal theorists have formulated better arguments for the continued tradition of Sovereign Immunity. The most commonly expressed reason for Sovereign Immunity continuing to exist is often said to be that the government would be too easily tied down in vexatious litigation if it could not claim sovereign immunity and therefore would be wholly ineffective at doing its core functions. In general, when the State is acting in a governmental fashion, I have to say, I agree that it should be free from vexatious litigation.

What about when the State enters a competitive market… The rules change, somewhat, when the State becomes a market player. I should be clear, the State should really be seen as a “provider” of goods and/or services in a competitive market to change the rules. Often when the state us a “purchaser” of goods and/or services, it can still rely on sovereign immunity to avoid having to abide by contracts, even if its actions had a substantial impact in a competitive market. Often the state will act as a “market regulator,” and in that mode it has special, constitutional, restrictions under the Commerce Clause.

State Universities are one of the areas in which the State is CLEARLY a market provider of services which are available on the open market. In this role, the State is allowed to discriminate against out-of-state students since it is not bound by the Commerce Clause / 14th Amendment requirements to treat every citizen of each State equally.

There doesn’t seem to be any direct (controlling) case law on whether a state agency, when acting as a market participant can be subjected to the same rules as other market participants. It’s somewhat illogical to think that a state could demand to be free of Federal oversight because of it is a market participant but then ask to be free of the oversight that market participants are subjected to since it is the government. In Mississippi, a Federal District Court has held that a state agency, acting as a market participant rather than as a sovereign, is subject to Federal Anti-Trust liability (Limeco Inc. v. Divis. of Lime of Miss. Dept. of Ag., 546 F. Supp. 868 (1982)). This makes a great deal of sense. If the government isn’t acting like the government, in that it is not regulating an industry, rather it is competing with other suppliers for a limited supply of customers, why should it be allowed to claim governmental immunity when it takes actions that would be illegal for the other suppliers?

That’s this case.

There IS a little bit of implicit Supreme Court precedent. Reeves Inc. v. Stake, 447 U.S. 429 (1980), is the basis upon which Limeco was decided. Reeves, at 438, says “Moreover, state proprietary activities may be, and often are burdened with the same restrictions imposed on private market participantes. Evenhandedness suggests that when acting as a proprietors, States should similarly share existing freedoms from federal constraints including the inherent limits of the Commerce Clause.” What the Court is saying is that it recognizes that Market Participant activities (proprietary activities) are typically hindered by the same regulations that other players face and there is no reason to handicap the State any further. Now, this, of course, falls apart as a reason to not restrict the actions of a State if it can say that it is NOT bound by the same rules and the injured parties are not even allowed to seek a remedy.

The problem is that BASIC contract law is handled by states individually. Pretty much, no federal question is raised if by bizarre interpretations of contract law in a state case. HOWEVER, there MIGHT be a federal anti-trust issue if the State is able to use its significant resources to enter a market to an extent that is unimaginable by any other individual player, subsidize its customers to guarantee market-share and then use bait-and-switch tactics on its customers (students). It’s simply illegal to advertise one price, secure the contract and then force the customer to pay a higher price for what they agreed to purchase.

In hiding behind sovereign immunity in such a circumstance, the State has denied to its customers the Due Process rights which would be available to customers of any other supplier of similar services.

To my mind, this makes a federal question.

In the Court of Appeals decision, yesterday, the Court added insult to injury with part of its decision, and this, too, might be viewable as a violation of students’ Constitutional Due Process Rights. Part of the reason to deny relief is that to be able to sue a state agency, if they had waived sovereign immunity (here, the court did not think that the “sue and be sued” language of the statute that established the USM Board of Regents established such a waiver), that state agency needs to have set aside funds to pay an adverse judgment. This is a specious argument, at best. The original suit was primarily for INJUNCTIVE RELIEF, not monetary damages. We asked the court to not make us pay the additional fees. When we lost the original suit, we had to pay the additional tuition in order to continue our education. Denial of post-deprivation remedies by saying we should have taken advantage of pre-deprivation remedies which, incidentally, were denied to us, the Court appears to be in violation of the Due Process clause in a fairly clear manner. A similar situation was addressed by the Supreme Court in Reich v. Collins, 513 U.S. 106 (1994).

This brings us to a very basic question… What do we do?

The Court of Appeals has said that we don’t have ANY contractual relationship to the schools. We have no rights to demand to receive what we have paid for. Theoretically, the Schools could take our tuition and then shut the schools down, and we have NO recourse. The Schools could, similarly, send graduates bills for additional tuition for classes they took years ago. The state specifically made the argument that there is NO limit on when they can raise tuition fees. They could threaten to revoke credentials if the additional fees were not paid, and all students and graduates would be helpless to complain, since sovereign immunity cloaks their actions.

If you doubt me, read Justice Wilner's Dissent:
"At oral argument, the University noted that there was no time limiteon when changes could be made and suggested that tuition could be increased evan after the semester had startedm and possible after it ended.

...

n3 Indeed, the Court's approach would allow even more egregious breaches. Suppose instead of raising tuition after registration had been completed, the Board of Regents decided to deal with the fincial crisis by shutting down Bowie State University of one of the Law schools for the spring semester, but yet retained the tuition paid by the students for that semester. Would the Court hold that the students could not recover their tuition because of the University's sovereign immunity - that there was no enforceable contract? If not, how would the court distinguish the circumstances from the one now before us?"


I am hoping that the Federal Trade Commission takes an interest. I gave the Antitrust division of the Maryland Attorney General’s office a call. I know that Attorney General’s office can compartmentalize so that an attorney working on a case in one division does not create a conflict of interest with the activities of attorneys in another area. I was somewhat surprised when, upon simply asking background questions about the law, the fellow I spoke with, Mr. Alan Barr, decided to say “Good luck with your research” and he HUNG UP. I have no indication that Mr. Barr’s office has been retained by the Board of Regents to handle their antitrust problems in this case, so it seems that Mr. Barr was refusing a reasonable inquiry by somebody who pays his damn salary. Perhaps THAT’S an ethical problem worthy of a call to the Attorney Grievance Commission… Perhaps.

I called the FTC to see if they might be interested. We’ll see what they have to say after they’ve thought about it.

In the mean time, I have to contemplate what I should do with my upcoming classes. The state has PROVEN that it cannot be trusted to provide what it agrees to provide at the price it agrees to take. The State Courts have proven that students are unable to seek protection. Perhaps injunctive relief requiring the Schools to send a signed and properly executed contract to each student and graduate is the ONLY solution that can be sought in the near-term.

I don’t know what to do, I only know that I can’t trust the schools.

Mr. Bashman from How Appealing said that the Maryland Court of Appeals taught us a lesson. That’s true. We learned to distrust the State. We learned that the Board of Regents who make about a quarter of a million per year, each, (See Cancellor Kirwan's total compensation of ~ $475,000 + a car + a house. I've seen reports of what the other Regents are paid, but haven't been able to find a link to that information today.) can put the burden of their fiscal irresponsibility on the backs of students. We learned in this state, a state agency with tens of BILLIONS of dollars worth of cash and assets can’t afford any financial hardship, but the students, many of whom are parents attempting to support their families and struggling to stay afloat and hoping to get ahead, are assumed to be the proper recipient of any amount of economic duress. We learned that the Court of Appeals can find facts about how much money a litigant has available to pay a judgment, which is a factual question, as a matter of law without ANY discovery. We learned that in Maryland, anyone can be screwed-over by the state at any time in ways that nobody else could lawfully attempt on the basis of “Because I said so!” and “Do as I say, not as I do!”

We learned that "Fiscal Irresponsibility" is a synonym for "University System of Maryland Board of Regents," that "capriciousness" is the short name for the "Maryland Judiciary," and "injustice" is interchangeable with "Maryland Court of Appeals."

I, personally, learned one place where my future charitable donations will NOT go.

Friday, April 09, 2004

 
There's no reason to suggest malice where the simple economic principles of Supply & Demand explain it all.
It looks as if the some NATO soldiers are being taken for a ride when they pay for their rides. This story "Prostitutes Charge NATO Troops More" says that the prostitutes in Lithuania are charging Belgian and Norwegian NATO soldiers more ($125 per hour) than they charge to locals ($35 per hour).

The Lithuanian police commissioner called this "a clear case of discrimination."

On the one hand, I though about being upset and commenting similarly to what I said about Netherlands potential ban on bestiality

However, according to the story, prostitution is already illegal in Lithuania.

I suppose, if you don't have particular moral qualms over the subject (perhaps a religious belief that would tend to frown on being or employing a prostitute), maybe there isn't a real strong reason to absolutely prohibit it. Assuming reasonable health protection measures are employed, since there's nothing bad about the sex act itself, I guess there's no great secular reason to prohibit prostitution.

Nevertheless, I found the complaint about "discrimination" to be somewhat amusing. (I am assuming that the word "discrimination" is used to imply an improper motive to harm or abuse the one discriminated against, such as "racial discrimination" that would deny the ability to buy a house, sit on a bus, or whatever on the basis of nothing more than skin color.) To an outside observer, such as myself, this looks like simple economics. Where the supply is relatively limited (only so many prostitutes, and only so many hours per day they are willing to work), an optimal pricing scheme would tend to extract as much capital per each group of purchasers as possible so that the total income of the seller is maximized.

Here's what I see. The NATO soldiers don't monopolize all of the prostitutes' time, but are not much more likely to purchase more of the prostitutes' services if the prostitutes drop their prices, but might purchase less if they raise them. That is, if the group of 100 NATO soldiers contains 20 likely purchasers, and, we'll assume, at $125/hour each one will purchase 1 hour per week( $2500/wk), but at $130/hour the prostitutes will only sell an average of 15 hours per week($1950/wk), the income would drop by $550 per week. Conversely, if the NATO soldiers wouldn't be induced to by 25 hours per week until the price drops to $80 per hour (dropping their income by $500). Of course, this is all speculation, but I suspect that the price chosen maximizes the prostitutes' income, and allows them to service locals at whatever optimum price the market will bare for prostitute services. Perhaps the locals are buying 100 hours of services from the prostitutes per week ($3500/wk), but at the price they charge to the NATO soldiers, they would only be able to sell 4 hours ($500/wk).

I suppose if you want to outlaw prostitution because of its negative primary and secondary effects on society, that's fine, but since it's an outlaw business that exists primarily for the generation of profits, the idea that some unseemly "discrimination" was taking place seems like a silly thought.
 
Confessions & Law Enforcement v. Civil Rights
The LA Times has an article today (4/8/2004) about a move to get all police (custodial) interrogations videotaped.

I'm not sure precisely what to think about this.

There are two very serious concerns that the debate over 100% videotaping. On the one hand, you don't want over-sensitivity and preemptive curbing of investigative techniques out of fear that those techniques, which are valid and useful, will be grounds for acquittal and/or appellate overturning of convictions. On the other hand, you've got the issue that cops aren't always right, and some people (especially those with weak intellects) will confess to things that are not true under certain circumstances simply out of intimidation or a desire to please the interrogator.

I don't think that happens a lot, but I don't like the idea of putting away an easy conviction simply because they were easy to convict and without regard to actually believing the person committed the crime. I would like to believe that police officers always sincerely think the person they catch is the perpetrator of whatever crime they are investigating, but sometimes (rarely, I hope) bringing a perpetrator to justice is not the motivation, and the wrong person is picked either intentionally or recklessly. Even when police are being sincere, we all know that sometimes they're wrong. In such a case, a careful observation of the interrogation *might* allow a judge to find undue influence in procuring the confession.

Although the Constitution doesn't prohibit police from inducing a confession with promises or implicit promises. (e.g. "Come on, just tell me you did it, I can finish my paperwork, and you can go home, because we all know she had it coming to her.") The Constitution does take a dim view of threats (e.g. "I know what you did, I've got the statement of how it went down, and you had better sign it, or we're gonna pin it on your wife, we'll get you both and you're kids will be orphans!"), however they are allowed to use some more subtle coercion. (e.g. The Enron CFO and his wife, also an Enron employee, were both under investigation. Normally, for white-collar crimes, prosecutors will stagger plea-bargained sentences so that children will be able to have at least one parent, but in this case, the prosecutors apparently threatened to put both parents away to insure that the children grew up without either one of them if the CFO didn't testify against the other Enron executives.) Any tactics that could reasonably cast doubt on the voluntariness of a confession can easily become grounds for excluding a confession. In some states (including Maryland), any promise or inducement is specifically forbidden.

I'm torn on the issue because I don't like the idea that cops should be prohibited from using good techniques to encourage suspects to voluntarily confess and thereby make law enforcement much more difficult while at the same time making life more dangerous for everybody in society. However, I also don't like the idea of police officers coercing or tricking people into confessing to crimes wrongfully.

I have an idea:

What if all interrogations are taped, and the defense gets a copy of the tape. Then, if a defendant argues that his/her confession was coerced, the judge could look at the tape and determine if a reasonable person could actually find coercion or improper techniques that could throw the validity of the confession into doubt (perhaps even by a clear and convincing standard). If the judge does think the confession could be in doubt, he could let a jury see it; if he is certain there was coercion, then he could throw the confession out, outright. Without such a determination of the possible/probable existence of coercion, the fact-finder (jury) would never see the raw tape of the interrogation.

It's a thought. It allows the preservation of possible evidence of improper interrogations, and therefore should allow America to have greater faith in our criminal justice system. By presumptively keeping it (the taped interrogation) out of evidence without a solid probability of the existence of coercion, then you won't (I would hope) intimidate the police officers into abandoning effective techniques that don't actually cast doubt on the validity of the confession.

Shouldn't the goal be to seek justice somewhat more than convictions?

(Hat tip to How Appealing)

Thursday, April 08, 2004

 
How to NOT stop crime...
Question for you: If you were inclined to steal cars, would you be more or less inclined (or no change) to do so if the car were allowed to shoot and kill you if he catches you in the act?

If you said "more inclined" or "no change," you're a frikkin' moron.

For everybody else, we recognize the more significant and likely the punishment for transgression, the less likely it is to be engaged in by the average hooligan.

Here's a story about a fellow in Los Angeles who came upon a couple of creeps trying to steal his car, and he was able to shoot and kill one, and the other got away.

I realize we don't like people killing each other, but this guy deserves a commendation for saving the city and state the cost of trying, incarcerating, and then dealing with the future crimes of the worm-food/former-car-thief. Of course, they are seeking to imprison the citizen who protected his own property from a criminal on 1st Degree Murder charges.

What a message to send---

"Comrades of The Soviet Socialist Republic of Kalifornia: If you take appropriate and effective measures to deter crimes committed against yourself and property, you will be made to face the full weight of the State's Criminal 'Justice' System, since we aren't really using it against criminals, after all."
 
Why not say, "Because it's WRONG, you sick S-O-B!"
This may shock you, and I suppose it could prompt you to change your vacation plans... The Netherlands *might* ban bestiality.

Some institutions you just expect to last forever... Do you know what I mean? I've come to expect nothing less than absolute moral depravity from most or all of Europe with restrictions only when the interest of the governments are threatened.

I was somewhat relieved, however, when I read the following passage:

A group of parliamentarians had argued in a letter to the minister that sex with animals was a "violation of their physical integrity", considering that the creatures were unable to give or withhold their consent.

Whew --- For a moment there I was afraid that Europe would make a sane decision based solely on moral certainty, and then I would not know what to expect from them. Now that we know this is about *civil rights* for the animals, not the basic distinction between right and wrong, I know the universe has not turned upside-down. Apparently, in the Netherlands, animal opinions have equal weight under the law as the opinions, and they just don't want to have situations where animal opinions are ignored!

If they do pass a law banning bestiality, then I imagine that they will have to include an exception for clear indications of consent, since sex-with-animals without their consent is the basis for punishment, then failure to allow sex where it was clearly consented to must be equally blameworthy, right? Perhaps they can simply require that all persons who want to have amorous relations with livestock provide the animal with the appropriate version of the Bow-lingual, and then there won't ever be any confusion over the consent issue, but we might learn that lots of animals suffer from sudden-onset headaches...

Tuesday, April 06, 2004

 
Can the difference be any clearer?
In America, (some) women and their "doctors" are fighting tooth and nail to be able to deliver nearly full-term babies feet-first and then suck their brains out and collapse their skulls as what they see to be some sort of Constitutional right and virtue.

Anybody who has read my blog for any amount of time knows where I stand on the topic of abortion. I, personally, find it morally abhorant. Moreover, I find the legal/constitutional justification for it to be completely lacking in substance. Worrying only about a woman's choice when a father is necessarily involved, and the helpless child's life hangs in the balance is, at least, reflective of the Falacy of Exclusion. Constitutionally, and in the common law there is NO justification for allowing one person choose to kill another on a whim. The ONLY way abortion has continued is that the Supreme Court has avoided the fundamental question of whether children are, according to scientific standards, living beings that are, in fact, human.

We are where we are.

Just to our South, in Mexico, apparently expectant mothers love their unborn children enough to risk their own life. Here's a story about a woman who, deciding that her unborn child's life was in danger, gave herself a Caesarean-section delivery with a kitchen knife to keep her child alive.

What can you say to that? In America, women will go to great lengths and expense to kill unborn babies, but in Mexico, women will endure amazing pain and risk death to save unborn babies. Could the contrast be any clearer, to you?
 
"...there was no crisis."
In some personal discussions with friends, I have speculated that there would be a problem with mercinaries. When somebody is motivated primarily by money, then when the danger they face represents a threat that the mercinary would pay more than he is receiving to avoid, that mercinary will no longer be loyal.

I still think that's true.

However, I am starting to think that *maybe* Blackwater security professionals are an exception. Perhaps the exception that proves the rule.

Here is an amazing story about how a handful (8) Blackwater guards repelled an attack by hundreds of well armed Iraqi rebels.

Perhaps it is the fact that all or nearly all of the Blackwater personel are former US military Special Forces, and therefore they are fundamentally patriotic. These men would then be primarily motivated by a sense of duty and honor to their country, although they have found a way to serve that duty profitably. I've gotta take my hat off to these brave men. Certainly their performance has proven that, whatever their price, they are a worthwhile investment, and their training surely has set them appart as superior warriors.

It's truly a beautiful thing when patriotic duty and honor can mix properly with the American entreprenurial spirit to fill this exceptional need.

(Thanks for the heads-up to the story, Glen "the Puppy-Blender" Reynolds)
 
Hats off to a REAL hero, Ray Turner
Mr. Turner jumped onto a 10ft crocodile and gouged its eyes to get it to let go of a young girl it had just attacked. Here's a short story... read it.

That's a real man doing what any real man should be willing to do to save a helpless and innocent person. In this case, a child.

Bravo, Mr. Turner! Every decent person salutes you, and every father of a young child prays that people like you are around if our children are ever in danger and we are not there to help.
 
Clarke Credibility Deficit Becomes More Pronounced
How many of you can remember the last couple of weeks?

Do you remember some nut-job former third-tier paper-pusher who attempted to besmirch the reputation of President Bush on his own perception that Bush didn't care about terrorism very much since President Bush didn't immediately heed all of his "the sky is falling" advice? We won't go into the fact that IF President Bush HAD followed the advice, he would have been impeached before he even got to organize the presidential pencils in his desk.

An important piece of the controversy sparked my Mr. Clarke, who merely by coincidence was releasing a book that was critical of President Bush in the same week as his televised testimony in front of the 9-11 Commission, and both of which contradicted previous testimony, was that Mr. Clarke was claiming that President Clinton had placed a VERY high priority on terrorism.

Then, along came this story in the Washington Times: Al Qaeda absent from final Clinton Report

Not that I would cast want to insinuate that Mr. Clarke lied, but this does seem to present problems for his claim that Bush had dropped the anti-terrorism ball that Clinton had been so deftly carrying.

Perhaps there's an entirely innocent explanation...
 
Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001
If you said, "Bronson, isn't that the long name of the USA PATRIOT ACT?" I would have to award you a gold star and let you move to the front of the class.

There's been an AWFUL lot of BS about the law, and I have yet to speak to ANYBODY who has actually read the thing. Let's discuss it intelligently. Here's a link to the text of the law, and here's the DOJ's website that talks about it and it's importance.

I'm going to take some time and read through it, and I want you to do so as well, so we can have a clue, unlike all those belly-aching about the law without reading it. OK?
 
Porn... Going down?
The Ball'mer Sun has this article: Administration wages war on pornography

The opening paragraph described an interesting way to serve the cause of Justice and Morality in this great nation... surfing the net for porn from 9 to 5.

WASHINGTON - Lam Nguyen's job is to sit for hours in a chilly, quiet room devoid of any color but gray and look at pornography. This job, which Nguyen does earnestly from 9 to 5, surrounded by a half-dozen other "computer forensic specialists" like him, has become the focal point of the Justice Department's operation to rid the world of porn.

It makes one wonder if there is an opportunity for overtime, if you ever have to take work home, and how does one apply for such a job?

I wonder... would the job interview involve a test of your knowledge of where to find internet porn? Would you need to get letters of reference... perhaps your mother could write in for you verifying that she caught you with porn in your room as early as the age of 14...

All kidding aside, this is somewhat interesting. On the one hand, I think the Federal Government is facing an uphill battle. Part of obscenity law is that it has to be patently offensive to the community, and, well, on the internet, porn is one of the biggest and only profitable industries. I don't know how it can be considered offensive to the community to which the porn will be available. Pornographic emails are probably a different matter, but that's a smaller case, I think.

In addition to that, you've still got that pesky Lawrence v. Texas case (you know, the one that informed you that you have a CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT to engage in sodomy, and just about any other variation on the general theme of physical intimacy) to deal with. It may or may not be a big deal. The main point of the case was that the right to adult consensual intimate relations is probably confined to relatively private situations. Therefore, perhaps internet and various other porn, since the making of it was with the intent of making it available to a large audience.

I think the Justice Department will try to navigate a path to get the Supreme Court to say, "fine, you can do whatever you want at home, but the government can regulate fairly closely commerce of depictions of intimate relations and similarly prurient materials."

I wish 'em luck, I guess, but I don't think they will fare too well. If the government can't articulate a specific important or compelling government interest that can't effectively be regulated short of clamping down on the porn industry, then I think they don't really have much of a chance.

Now... do you suppose the DOJ has an online job posting to work on this?

Friday, April 02, 2004

 
News Flash: Boy with head in own rectum denied access to MD Governor
Have you heard of this new movie, "Bob & Me." It's a new Moron-cumentary by a University of Maryland student Tim "So that's what my colon polups look like" Daly. Here's a story about it.

The twirp is an absolute unmitigated fool, already... at the age of 22. (He has great promise as a leader in the DUMB-o-cRAT party.)

Why the harsh language?

I'll tell you...

Take a quick read of this short paragraph.
University tuition has increased by as much as 54 percent over the last four years, with the percentage increase at most campuses in the university system ranging from the low 30s to the mid 40s. An additional increase averaging 9.4 percent has been approved for next fall.

Bob Ehrlich was inaugurated in January of 2003. That's right... Bob Ehrlich has only been in office a little over a year.

As a practical matter, Bob Ehrlich had not a D@MN thing to do with any tuition hikes made before (or after) his inauguration. The previous administration was under DUMB-o-cRAT, Paris Spendening, er, Glendening. Gay Paree spent like a drunken sailor, and appointed fiscally irresponsible numb-skulls to the Board of Regents for the University System of Maryland who paid for all sorts of crap that is unrelated to education and gave themselves marvelous raises (boy, I wish I could do that). All tuition hikes that have been implemented so far under Ehrlich were implemented BEFORE Ehrlich first budget was passed.

Lets take a brief look at part of the legislative Act that created the USM Board of Regents, shall we?
Md. Edu.. Code Ann. § 12-106
...
(c) Modifications to programs; students and faculty generally; cooperative programs; annual review and monitoring of plans, goals and objectives; accountability of presidents. -- Except as provided in subsection (d) of this section, with respect to each institution under its jurisdiction, and subject to the provisions of Title 11 of this article, in consultation with the Chancellor, the Board shall:
...
(4) Establish general guidelines for tuition and fees;


The question is, why the [censored] didn't Tim "Why does it smell so funky in here?" Daly chase down the Board of Regents or the PREVIOUS governor? They are the ones who are directly responsible for this mess.

Check out this sentence:
Daly and his producers hope the movie will inspire lawmakers to pass pending legislation that calls for caps on future tuition increases tied to requirements that Ehrlich increase funding for the university system.

The USM Board of Rejects has NO authority to set the state budget. Just whose hands, exactly, would this legislation tie? Does it mean that whenever the Board of Regents wants to raise tuition, the governor will be FORCED to give them more money too, or does it mean that the Board will only be able to raise tuition when they get more money from the governor? How DUMB can this freak possibly be? I'm all for putting caps on how much the board can raise tuition without explicit legislative approval, and/or requiring the USM to show proportionate cuts in their expenditures if they want to ask students for more money.

Apparently our head-up-his-butt hero has been totally ignorant of what the Governor has actually said on the subject (here's a blurb): Governor Ehrlich wants to force tuition increases to be tied to inflation. That sounds just about right.

Here's a thought... Why not implement MY proposed legislation?

Isweare, if I find this moron, I'll have to restrain myself from kicking his @$$... I might accidentally break his neck.

You know, if this is the kind of freak that U of Md. puts out, perhaps it would be cheaper to scrap the whole thing and start over. Obviously Tim "The Cranial Roto-Rooter" Daly knows absolutely nothing, and whatever experience the state is subsidizing for him has not equated to anything approximating "education."

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