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Thursday, January 29, 2004

Karl Rove: "Please don't throw me into that briar patch!"
How dumb IS Karl Rove? I mean really... How could he possibly show the Republican's hand so early and let the whole world, even the democrats, know that the GOP wants to go up against Mujahi-Dean? He's a DREAM opponent, right? He's a nut... He'll be easy to beat, right? - Yeah, probably.

Then again, maybe Rove isn't so dumb after all. Most of America HATES the "insider" candidate, even though they generally like incumbants. There's nothing that epitomizes the insider elite like Snobby Dwarf who doesn't have to work for his wealth, because he marries it, and wants to raise taxes on the people who do work.

Could it be that Karl Rove knew what the hell he was doing? Could it be that the GOP would really be even happier to face-off against an elitist kept-man Washington-insider-Senator than against a firey GOVERNOR who's somewhat in-favor of gun-rights?

I think Rove has mastered the political rope-a-dope, and the momentum will cause the Dems to fall for it again.

My hat's off to ya, Karl! Keep up the good work!

UPDATE: One thing that I wanted to get at, but did not come across clearly is that Snobby Dwarf has a LOOOONG record of being liberal. He looks like a credible candidate, but he'll be easy to beat in the general election. (Dole, much?) Mujahi-Dean has a record of not being an outrageously radical leftist, but there's still enough there to make him a weak candidate.

Wednesday, January 28, 2004

In Support of Rush Limbaugh
I've pretty much avoided posting about Rush and his trouble so far. It's not because of indiference or dislike for Rush. The fact of the matter is I like Rush alot. I was very disappointed when I found out that he had become adicted to drugs. For intellectual sincerety, I believe that Rush should be punishe to the extent that the law would normally punish any person who is a productive member of society who becomes addicted to pain medication that he was taking for a serious medical condition.

Nevertheless, I've been reluctant to post my thoughts about him and the situation so far because I don't want my personal feelings about Rush to alter my discussion of the facts and law.

However, we're at a new place now. Guilt, punishment, and the like are not the issue at the moment. Right now, the significant issue, so far as I can see, is the behavior of the State's Attorney's Office (SAO). From all appearances, the SAO has been trashing the Florida Rules of Professional Conduct (see especially 4-3.6, 4-4.4, and 4-8.4(d)).

As a law student, THIS PISSES ME OFF. The point is not whether or not Rush deserves to go to jail or just get a slap on the wrist. The point is that the Palm Beach County SAO is making a mockery of the Criminal Justice system and by all appearances is on a vendetta against Mr. Limbaugh. The wheels of Justice should never be diverted against a person simply for the satisfaction of the one turning the wheels.

So, without further ado, here's the statement that I sent to Barry Krischer of the SAO's office.


I am deeply disturbed by your release of information about the ongoing Limbaugh investigation.

I may not be a Florida resident, but I am an aspiring law student (and an Aerospace Engineer).

The fact that you willfully released information regarding a pending criminal investigation, specifically that you released communications from the defense attorney about matters related to plea negotiations is shocking and disgusting.

People have a low enough opinion of lawyers without you adding to the perception of lawyers as liars and backstabbers. Because you hold a public office and, presumptively, represent "the people" I would have expected you to behave at the highest levels of professional ethics.

Your actions bring disrepute on your office and the profession. Not only that, but your actions are blatantly contrary to public policy. You know very well that the public is served best by allowing most matters to resolve themselves through plea negotiations, and by releasing this information, you have taken action to chill this pre-trial resolution activity.

Shame on you. You are the worst of what a lawyer can be.


Feel free to send Mr. Krischer a message of you're own.
Franken Fried Chicken $#!+
I wonder... do you suppose the New Hampshire Department of Corrections will allow one of their "guests" to have and use a broadcasting studio?

The reason I ask that is, as you may have heard, Al Franken tackled a heckler at a Dean event. Mysteriously, Franken claimed that his tackling of the heckler was an effort to protect free speech. I suppose that's the sort of thing that passes for logic among DUMB-o-cRATS most of the time.

I'm not a prosecutor... I'm just a law student, and I don't even live in New Hampshire. However, with the magic of LexisNexis, I was able to look up the relevant criminal statutes in New Hampshire. Here, without much legal analysis, is a list of the handfull of criminal offenses that I think Al Franken violated. I doubt he'll be charged (he should be) but he could end up spending a great deal of time behind bars (it wouldn't surprise me if the total possible time could exceed 20 years).

1. RSA 644:1 Riot - It appears that Franken and "the press guy for Dean" may have been working together. That's a CLASS B FELONY.

2. Conspiracy - I didn't look up the RSA number, but the agreement to commit a crime by more than one person constitutes a "conspiracy". Franken claimed to have been "deputized" by the Dean camp. This might even implicate Howard Dean. In this case, Mujahi-Dean could be held criminally liable for all the same crimes as Franken. Since we've got some felonies here, this would also be a FELONY.

3. RSA 644:2 Disorderly Conduct - It's a VIOLATION.

4. RSA 633:2 Criminal Restraint - According to the language of the statute, Franken's actions in wrestling the fellow down would probably count. It's a CLASS B FELONY

5. RSA 631:2-a Simple Assault - MISDEMEANOR.

6. RSA 631:2 Second Degree Assault - This one is a little more of a stretch, but if the actions could be shown to be severe enough and of the sort that would normally be expected to result in serious bodily injury, he could go up the river on this one too. It's a CLASS B FELONY.

Al, when you read this, please note: You're actions are significantly different than, say becoming addicted to painkillers because of a serious medical condition. You're actions were totally volitional. If I were the prosecutor, I would accept nothing less than a guilty plea to at least one felony AND at least 60 days behind bars. So much for your right to vote!

Tuesday, January 27, 2004

The fighting intensifies
In the ongoing chronicle of the current war between environmentalist wacos and SUVs, there is news.

Apparently SUVs are employing some form of germ warfare.

We all know that the SUVs are fully capable of running their missions without a human accomplice, but rarely will you find sightings of SUVs wreaking havoc without a "driver" to accept the blame, but alas that is preciesely what's starting to happen.

Be warned, when provoked SUVs show no mercy and are willing to attack women and children.

Finally, for today, it looks as if SUVs are taking a page from the Palestinians. In New York, an SUV sacrificed itself to take out its "driver." Since this incident took place at a Staten Island Yacht Club, no doubt that the human target of the SUV's rage was a rich elite liberal who vocally supports environmental causes. Obviously, SUVs have realized that they have no more use for those who give aide and comfort to the enemy than do the rest of us.
Patriot Act musings
Perhaps you heard... A federal judge in California (surprised?)has determined part of the Patriot Act to be unconstitutional.

The judge was feeling all warm and fuzzy towards people who want to provide "humanitarian aid" expert advice to terrorist organizations. Somehow the judge found the Patriot Act to be "vague." As a primer, the term "vague," in Constitutional analyses, has the specific meaning that the "statute defining a crime which is so vague that a reasonable person of at least average intelligence could not determine what elements constitute the crime. Such a vague statute is unconstitutional on the basis that a defendant could not defend against a charge of a crime which he/she could not understand, and thus would be denied 'due process' mandated by the 5th Amendment, applied to the states by the 14th Amendment." (Thanks to Law.Com's dictionary.)

I ask you, what's so difficult to understand about "don't give them ANY expert advice." Whatever you may think about the Patriot Act, this provision, at least is NOT vague.

The judge probably meant "overbroad" which means that the law impinges on constisutionally protected activities as well as those which can be properly prohibited by law. I'm not sure that "helping terrorists build schools" is exactly a constitutionally protected activity, so perhaps that's why the judge didn't use it.

Reality Check: I know we want to encourage all sorts of humanitarian activities throughout the world. We're nice people, and we want to help, and we want to help others help people who need help. HOWEVER I believe that the Congress was within their authority and knew exactly what they were doing when the flatly prohibited giving ANY sort of expert aid to any terrorist organization. The LAST thing we want is for terrorist organizations to be known as humanitarian organizations to the people from whom they draw their recruits. Right now, Hamas is thought of as primarily a hospital and nursery supporting band of do-gooders among the Palestinians. They are cold-blooded murders, but they have a significant base of support among the common people because they provide aid to the common Palestinian. There are plenty of non-terrorist organizations that are deserving of assistance.

My prediction is simple, this ruling will be challenged and it will be overturned. I cannot say for sure that it the 9th Circus Court of Appeals will overturn it, but I feel comfortable that the Supreme Court will. All else being equal, you can't trust the Supremes to "do the right thing" when it is a moral question but you can feel fairly certain that the Supremes will be deferential to the federal government's national security related activity.
Reparations news and thoughts
I'm not sure if you're terribly interested in this, but a federal judge in Chicago has thrown out a reparations case. (Here's some bore background on the case.)

In related news, the IRS has been cracking down on people who attempt to claim a "Black Tax Credit" or something of the sort.

As far as the dismissal of the case in Chicago, that case won't be coming back anytime soon. It's true that the plaintiffs can come back, based on that ruling, and file a new claim if they get better historical information. However, that's not how the case should have been decided. It should have been decided on STANDING alone (or at least primarily). Tort law (and that's basically what this is, though they might claim some contractual basis as well, but that's pretty weak) does not recognize the kind of injury claimed by distant relatives. Likewise, they haven't proven that anyone who would end up paying any judgment would have been directly involved with the wrongs alleged. Finally, I can't see how they get around that pesky "statute of limitations" problem. As my Civ. Pro prof would say, the claim is somewhat "stale."

To be sure, I'm not an expert in this area of the law (or any area, really, since I'm not a lawyer, yet), but I've got to think that this type of suit needs to be dealt with in some sort of final fashion. Some things are reprehensible, slavery being one of them, but are not now compensable. Despite how we all may feel about the topic now, slavery was actually legal back then. Let's look at the logic of the case. The plaintiff's, who weren't actually the people in slavery, want to punish people who didn't actually commit the act, which was legal at the time, and all of this is at least 130+ years old.

If we're going to sue over ancient wrongs, then why don't the Christians sue non-believing Italians for the whole "being fed to lions" thingy. Israelites were taken into slavery by various ancient peoples, why don't we let the Jews sue them? How about the Slavs in Eastern Europe? Heck their ethnic name came from being slaves? Let's just save some time... Why don't we just let anarchy reign and let whomever take whatever they want for a 3-day period, and then proclaim the entire world to be even. (NOTE: That was sarcasm.)

The point is, some wrongs are too old and distant to fix. It's time to make your own future rather than living in someone else's past.
George W. Bush as popular as Jesus in Britain
This story provides an example of why we in America should be glad we gave 'em the boot, British youth recently completed a survey that found David Beckham to be the most popular person in Britian.

Jesus and George W. Bush came in tied at 123rd.

What I can't get past is the Michael Jackson came in at NUMBER 4.

Pardon me, but I think that indicates a major misalignment in priorities.

Monday, January 26, 2004

If you are ever arrested...
The Supreme Court came down with a quasi-interesting decision today. (Thanks to Howard over at How Appealing) I think the most interesting thing here is the way the Court skipped addressing the tough questions. (That's become something of a hobby for them lately, but I don't have time to discuss all of those instances.)

As it affects you - You're rights change throughout an encounter with the criminal justice system. Basically, there are three types of arrest.

1. With an arrest warrant
2. Without an arrest warrant
3. After indictment.

If you arrested subject to an arrest warrant, you won't have a "probable cause" hearning... they had that before they got the warrant. You might have a suppression hearing if you feel there was a Constitutional violation in the process of the arrest, and you can even try to defeat the warrant IF you can show that, on it's face it is obviously insufficient to demonstrate probable cause. You can also challenge the warrant IF you can make a substantial showing that the police knowingly lied about a material part of the warrant. All in all, if there's a warrant, you're probably going to experience the full joy of the criminal justice procedure.

If there was no arrest warrant, then the police can only arrest you if they (1) wittnessed you committing a mindemeanor (or greater) offense, or (2) have probable cause to believe that you did actually commit a felony. There will be a probable cuase hearing shortly after an arrest (typically less than 48 hours) and if the police can show that they did have the appropriate probable cause, it will be just as if they had a warrant, and you're going to experience the full montey.

Now, if there's an indictment, then that's a lot like having a warrant, but it's even more serious. An indictment is a formal charge, in and of itself. Being arrested, all on its own implicates the 4th and 5th Amendments. Once you've been FORMALLY charged (indicted or with "criminal information") then the 6th Amendment comes into play.

In the case the case the Court decided today, this was an arrest AFTER an indictment. That means, as soon as the police (generic term for "law enforcement officers") contacted the suspect/defendant, then his 6th Amendment right to counsel was implicated. An interesting fact of the matter is that the Mirnada warnings tell you of a right to Counsel, but that's a quasi-5th Amendment right to counsel, NOT the 6th Amendment right to counsel. The 5th Amendment (in this context) is concerned with self-incrimination. The 6th Amendment is interested in the right to have counsel's assistance throughout the process once the OFFICIAL wheels of justice are turning against you.

The police knew what they were doing when they arrested the fellow, as far as the 5th Amendment goes. They got statements from him as soon as they arrested him, and then they gave him his Miranda warnings and got another set of statements. They knew there was a chance they wouldn't ge able to use the first statements, but they also knew that the 5th Amendment does not have a "poisonous fruits" doctrine, really. The problem, as far as they knew, was rectified once they got him to waive his Miranda rights. The court saw, instead, that since he had been indicted, he had a right to counsel that had never been waived.

So, to avoid giving "legal advice" but saving you time, if you are ever arrested, SHUT UP! If you're lawyer is worth anything that's the first thing he/she/it will tell you. I don't care if you are totally innocent, there is almost NO chance you can explain the situation well enough to the arresting officer that you will be let go. Just SHUT the **** UP, and let your lawyer do his/her/its job. The less you say, the more options he/she/it will have.

Love 'em or hate 'em, the Supremes were able to figure out an interesting way to dispose of the case, and this time it was unanimous.

Sunday, January 25, 2004

Trevor has accepted my invitation to guest blog. Be prepared to be amazed at his skill at scientific analysis and absolute knowledge of trivia. I sincerely hope he provides the mathematical analysis of troll postings he has been formulating. It's truly fascinating stuff.

Trevor, welcome! Thanks for joining me!

Friday, January 23, 2004

News from the front
The war continues. The latest battle was fought down in Fort Worth. (Before the violence, it was such a beautiful city. I truly enjoyed living there a number of years ago.)

The Fort Worth Star Telegram has this story, "Pedestrian dies after being hit by SUV"

Official speculation (mine) is that the SUV mistook the for a member of their enemies, and acted in Bush-like pre-emptive self-defense. Alternatively, the SUV may have believed that the pedestrian was betraying the long-time ally of the SUVs, his pickup truck.

The lesson to take away from the event is not to do anything that would make yourself appear too much like one of their natural enemies, or do anything that would appear to be an act of hostility to any member of the genus-truckus.

"Watch your 6" and drive a sports car so that you can escape a bad situation should it arise. That's my philosophy.
It all just adds to my theory
Yes, it appears that there is water on Mars. After what's been going on with the Rover, I would have fully expected evidence of water on Mars. Everybody, even Martians, need water.

I said it yesterday, and I'll say it again. I think the Martians found the Rover and broke it. The fact that it has started to work again, I think leads to a modified possibility that perhaps it was just a Martian kid or two who broke when they were playing around. I suspect that their mother scolded them and made them put the pieces back on. Of course, I suspect, that the Martian kid used the Martian equivalent of Elmer's Glue which would explain the really low data rate. Of coures the other explaination of the data rates of 10 bits per second and then 120 bits per second would be that they are still using standard dial-up.

My tin-foil hat is starting to itch... ;-)

NOTE: Look out for the Seven Dwarfs to start complaining about the discovery of water on Mars while Bush is President. It won't be long until the Bal'mer Sun is reporting with a straight face about President Bush's plans to add arsnic to the Martian water supply.
Nope, no bias here...
The Bal'mer Sun has this article entitled "N.H. debate emphasizes the positive." The subtitle was "Democratic candidates avoid personal attacks; Iowa showed backfire danger; Civil hopefuls stress ability to unseat Bush."

For those of you who are numbed with mainstream media, I suppose that this headline would go without comment. Let me just point out a lil' tidbit.

The DUMB-o-cRAT candidates did avoid speaking ill of each other. The fact that they didn't spew their bile at each other does not mean they didn't spew any bile. These numb-nuts were tripping over each other to attack President Bush. Of course, to the Sun (and to many other mainstream news outlets), attacking a conservative, no matter how unverifiable the comment, is necessarily "positive."

Note Snobby Dwarf's statement:
"He has run the most arrogant, inept, reckless and ideological foreign policy in the modern history of our country."
(Article from PalmBeachPost.com)

You can agree with him if you want, but don't attempt to call a discussion where that statement is made as "positive"

Alas, because the Sun is a liberal rag, it is incapable of bias.

Oh, and by the way, Snobby Dwarf also had this to say:
"I can pledge this to the American people: I will never conduct a war or start a war because we want to; the United States of America should only go to war because we have to. And if you live by that guidance, you'll never have veterans throwing away their medals or standing up in protest."

To me, that sounds like nonsense... Does anybody else notice that America, under Kerry's plan, would give up all ability to negotiate with other nations. We could say, "Stop killing all the women, children, and little kitty-cats in your despotic third-world country!" And they would say, "Go screw yourself. I'm not attacking you, right now, so let me torture and kill any of my people I want."

Under Bush, we don't even have to tell the country to shape up and they trip over themselves to figure out how to not piss us off anymore. Hell, even Iran is starting to read the writing on the wall and wants a peaceful arrangement with Israel.

The very best way to discourage war is to make sure your opponents know that you will actually use overwhelming force on their sorry butts if they stand against you. Once they get the message, you won't need to do much to encourage them to come to a negotiated arrangement that leaves them alive. Of course, that's logical, so I wouldn't expect liberals to get that, and I'll bet that the Sun would find such a plan to be "Negative."

Thursday, January 22, 2004

Hey! Go get your own!
Buttafly has a "George W. Bush Conspiracy Theory Generator."

I have two -
George W. Bush allowed 9/11 to happen so that Ann Coulter could kill Al Franken.


George W. Bush caused the Cubs to lose to the Marlins in Game 7 of the National League Championship Series so that white men, SUV owners, oil companies, the Jews, and Rush Limbaugh could conquer Michael Moore.

I showed you mine, now you show me yours...

Thanks to Randy Barnett's post over at the Volokh Conspiracy for the link.
Now we've gone and done it!
If the President wants to send people to Mars (also here), he had better make sure they're armed!

Nasa reported, yesterday, that the Rover was experiencing some communication problems, but they don't know what caused it. Today, on the radio (Ah.. here's a link!), I heard that they have gotten a message from the rover that it's in a fault condition.

Well, DUH! Obviously, the Martians found the stupid thing and smashed it up. What else could it be? It was working before, it powered down Tuesday night (or whatever that equates to up thar) when the Sun set (it's solar powered) and then when It was supposed to come back it didn't respond properly.

What could have possibly happened over night? Like I said, the damn Martians got it. I say we need to send people to Mars even sooner than scheduled to beat the crap out of them for messing with our expensive new toy. How DARE they!
If you LOVE free MP3 music, I have just one question: How mentally defective are you?
The Los Angeles Times is reporting (NOTE: you may need to register, for free, to see the story) that the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has continued it's war against copyright infringement by going after people who are, as I heard them termed on the radio this morning, "egregious uploaders."

If you feel a sense of indignation at these suits and or some solidarity with those being sued, WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?

I've heard some modern day self-styled Robin Hoods try to justify the file-sharing as the righteous response to an overly greedy megolithic music industry. Before you rob from the rich to either give to yourself, or just to make sure the rich don't get any richer, let me point out a few things.

1. You have NO right to other people's tallent. There is NO fundamental right to have music. If you're pissed off at the price of music, then learn to play an instrument!

2. Intellectual property IS actual property. Taking music is a violation just as real as any patent infringement, or if I were to take a copy of some new book that I like and start running off copies all on my own and giving them away (either for free or for a price.) If you worked your butt-off to buy a sweet ride, my guess is that you would not take kindly to somebody apprpriating that car to their own purposes. THAT would be theft. Here's something you probably haven't thought of... IT is NOT the particular car that is probably the object of your affection. It is the VALUE which you had to put into it. If that particular car wasn't on the lot, you would have picked out a different one. What would have been the same is that you WORKED YOUR BUTT-OFF to get it. The same is true for music and intellectual property. The reason it is protected is that it is the fruit of somebody's effort. If it didn't get protection, nobody would put the effort into bringing it to you. There would be no music industry, and Michael Jackson would be working as a mattress salesman(?) somewhere. It is the protection offered for intellectual property that creates the incentive to be creative on a large scale.

SO, to sum up... (1) You don't have a right to the music, and (2) It does actually belong to someone else.

If you have been taking music that the rightful owner has not offered for free, then you have have committed a crime, of one degree or another, or at least the tort of conversion. From a moral standpoint, I suggest you make restitution. From a legal standpoint, I imagine that the RIAA would be willing to guarantee, in writting, that they won't sue you if you make some reasonable restitution BEFORE they file a suit against you.
Qwerky Kiwi Criminals
Who says that marriage isn't alive and well in "Western" Cultures?

This story tells of a New Zealand woman who was arrested for having 3 husbands, at the same time. I, personally, was shocked. I didn't think any woman who was married wanted the husband she has, so why she would want more than one boggled my mind.

Under the heading of "birds of a feather," I suppose, one of her husbands was arrested at the same time for having more than one wife.

Apparently, I wasn't alone, when I thought this was weird. The arresting officer, Det. Mark McCloy said, "Most of us don't want the one we've got, let alone another one."

Wednesday, January 21, 2004

The 7 Dwarfs
With the exodus of Lil' Dick Gephardt, we're down to SEVEN DWARFS.

So... The question is, I think, who is whom?
Howard "Mujahi-" Dean: Obviously, he's a physician, so maybe he's Doc. But he could be Grumpy, Dopey, or Happy just as well. In the interest of not getting sued into the stone age, I'll take time to give them all new "Dwarf" names. Dean will now be Psycho Dwarf.

John "F-ing" Kerry... Snobby Dwarf.

Weasel-ly Clark... Trigger-finger Dwarf

John "The Breck Girl" Edwards... Metrosexual Dwarf

Al "Tawana Who?" Sharpton... Zoinist Dwarf

Dennis "Tin-foil-hat" Kucinich... NationalSecurity Dwarf

Joe "The Hebrew Hammer" Lieberman... Steadfast Dwarf.

What (not-too-profane) names do you have for the loyal opposition candidates?

[UPDATE: Yes, I have fixed a couple of typos...
UPDATE 2: Some of the links wandered... I've fixed 'em, I think.]

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

I'm feelin FISKy!
I have performed my first Fisking over at Consent of the Governed. The lucky recipient was Ron Smith, a local radio personality with whom, on many topics, I agree. He's been one of the most vocal opponent of the president's actions in Iraq in the Baltimore area. His latest verbal spew was entitled "Waging War Against a Tactic"

He had it coming. I'm tired of him dressing up his personal apprehensions in big, impressive sounding words to hid the fact that he has no foundation.

Leave your comments here or there, and let me know what you think. It was just my first Fisking, I suspect I'll get better over time. I think with all the effort and trouble I'm putting out to earn my law degree, I ought to at least develop a proficient ability to shred other people's arguemnts. Don't you agree?

Monday, January 19, 2004

Blog News
I have invited two of my good friends to guest blog with me at this magnificent tribute to intellectual discourse we lovingly call "Right To The Point." With any luck, they will accept and contribute their wisdom and wit, and we'll all see how we like this spot being a more-than-one-man show.
French disgust phantoms too!
I'm just guessing but I think that French people keep their arrogant snobbery after life as well as during their time as lazy socialist peasants.

How else can you explain THIS? Even a phantom has had enough of the "cheese-eating surrender monkeys." To be sure, with the vauted reputation of the French military for flooding its members into the after life as if they were attempting to to overwhelm their final destination by sheer numbers, it's no surprise that a phantom would have had enough of them by now.
Do you remember when?
The Iowa Caucuses (Cauci?)are on today. I know you are all waiting with baited breath to find out which of the 9, er, 8 dwarves the agrarian reformers of Iowa think should lose against President Bush this fall. IowaHawk has promised top-notch coverage - make sure you are up on the happenings before anyone you know, check the site frequently throughout the day.

All of this has reminded me, of course, of what happened about 4 years ago in Iowa. Do you remember where you were when you heard the news? [NOTE: Drink Warning!]
Original thoughts
Randy Bartlett, one of the Volokh Co-Conspirators is discussing his brand of Originalism. It's worth a read. If you're not a Kool-Aid drinking member of your philosophical and interpretive camp, you will find a great deal to contemplate and which will help you question and confirm or refine your current thougts on how the Constitution should be interpreted.
Holy War!
No, we're not talking about Christianity v. Islam a la the Crusades. I'm talking about the growing fissure in the Anglican Church in America.

This Summer, the Episcopalian Church installed its first openly non-celebate gay bishop, Bishop Robinson. I'm no Episcopalian, but I've got to wonder what in the world they were thinking. I heard a quote on the radio that one priest (who sounds as though he doesn't have much forearm strength, if you know what I mean) say that "God has changed His mind." (See this article.)

That was a remarkable statement to hear from any "Christian" clergy member. I will state, catagorically, that I believe that God has the sovereignty to go in unexpected directions to accomplish goals that people of faith may not expect. That, however, is NOT the same as saying that He changed His mind. (See 1 Sam. 15:29 and Heb. 13:8) Whenever there is a new direction, there's always a scriptural foundation that you can look back upon and see, with the 20/20 vision of hindsight, that God had ALWAYS intended to do what He is doing or did do.

For example, if you were around shortly after Jesus' resurection and assention, and you saw Peter starting to convert gentiles to The Way (As Christianity was called, way back then), you would have scratched your head. Wasn't the Messiah supposed to be the JEWISH savior? Yes, but he came to seek and save the lost. (Also here, which, I think, goes to my point... The scripture looks like God is only interested in "His sheep" but does not say that those sheep will only be the the biological decendants of Abraham.) Remember Jonah? (Ch. 1, Ch. 2, Ch. 3, Ch. 4) God sent him to the most wicked kingdom on the planet (at least in the area) because God had created all of humanity and wanted to show mercy to everyone who would listen to His commands.

That's a long way to go, I know, but the point is that I have yet to find ANY indication in the scriptures that God was hiding a secret agenda to put his stamp of approval on homosexuality after thousands of years of unequivocal disapproval. (See Lev. 20:13, and 1 Cor. 6:9)

Now, don't mistake what I've said for "homophobia." It's not. If you care to be a homosexual, that's your business. If you want to say you're a Christian, however, I feel compelled to point out that there is a profound disconnect between homosexuality and Christianity as specified in the Bible. Surely, there are some homosexuals who are truly Christians, but they must have forsaken homosexual activities (1 Cor. 6:11) or at the very least recognize that their activities are sinful and be in the process of abandoning them.

In any event, to all Episcopal Brothers and Sisters in the Faith who are preparing to take a stand, you are not alone. God bless you and give you strength.

Saturday, January 17, 2004

A proposal... A petition
I've bitched and moaned about the University System of Maryland Board of Regents previously (here & here).

The time for bitching is OVER.

It's time to march on them and put them in their place. Below is the first cut at the legislation I want to propose. Let me know what you think. I would like to present this to the Governor and the General Assembly with several thousand signatures of support, so help me sharpen it up!

I. Tuition and Fees for Undergraduate and Non-Professional Graduate Programs
The Board of Regents shall determine and each school shall publish the tuition figures for the upcoming academic Summer, Fall, Winter (if applicable), and Spring terms. In no case shall the tuition or fees be increased from that amount for the specified terms. The schools shall publish the tuition and fees no later than March 1 of a given year immediately prior to specified terms.

II. For all Professional Programs
The Board of Regents shall determine and each professional school (medical, law, and dentistry and such other programs as to be predetermined by the Board of Regents) shall publish for each incoming class the tuition and fee schedule for the entire course of the curriculum. Such a schedule shall be published no later than October 1 of the year prior to when it shall take effect. The tuition and fee structure shall not be altered for that class of students. Should a student take longer than the standard time period (for example 3 academic years for full-time day students in the law programs, or 4 adademic years in the evening program), the rate for the excess time shall be that of the class with which the student joins. (That is, if a student enters a three year program but takes an additional term to complete the program, the student shall be charged the same tuition and fees as the class graduating that academic year.)

III. Student Rights
In acknowledgment of the fact that education is a competitive market and that the students could choose to spend their education dollars elsewhere, The Board of Regents, the various schools and institutions, and their administrators shall not be able to avail themselves of the protection of sovereign immunity for any activity taken pursuant to the duties of their positions. In no way shall the Board of Regents, the various schools and institutions, and their administrators enjoy any protection which could be a compeitive advantage over other institutions that offer similar educational programs, nor shall they be able to use any protection or advantage not available to the private providers of educational services in dealing with students.
Latest on the comments...
I'll be migrating over, like almost everyone else, to Haloscan in short order. BlogSpeak is dead.

A moment of silence, please.

Since I've gotten a number of good comments this week, I'll add the comments to the bottom of each message so as not to lose any of the discussion. All future comments will be in HaloScan.

Here's to the future!

Friday, January 16, 2004

Protects from Vampires... Makes wives happy!
Did you know that cologne turns women off? I certainly wouldn't know that. I'm a guy, so I'm incapable of figuring out what women want.

Nevertheless, Dr. Alan Hirsch, director of the Smell and Taste Treatment and Research Foundation in Chicago has eye-opening findings in this article.

I'm sure it's true. I have no doubt that women will probably be much more likely to throw themseves at you and beg you to use them for their bodies if you smell like you've had a long day on a pig-farm than if you wash up and splash a little Old Spice on. Of course, all bets are off if the pig-farm is too close to a cherry-tree grove.

Perhaps the most earth-shattering news is that the smell of garlic (or garlic bread) contributes to a happy family life. Since I'm already married, I don't need to worry about turing any women on, so I get to continue to use cologne so long as we have garlic-bread frequently. Once you're married, it's all about keeping her from being pissed off.

[NOTE: as a general rule, guys, you'll fail. Sorry, somebody's gotta tell you the truth.]

The tensions are rising!
Check this story out.

The SUV went flying through the store window... The disturbing fact is the name of the store! "As Nature Intended, Interiors"

We already know that SUVs are the natural enemy of the environment. (There's more PROOF here!)It appears the cold tension is flaring up into a hot war. Good Lord, if this escalates, none of us will survive the carnage!

NOTE: I'm no environmental wacko. I, personally am not crazy about the ride and handling of SUVs, but if you want to own one, more power to ya. I am actually looking forward to an all-out war between SUVs and those who decide to take up the battle on behalf of the environment (also these morons). I mean, really, wouldn't you be willing to pay good money to see a band of hemp-wearing neo-communists standing up against a Hummer at full steam?

*** Comments ***
Jason -
It's about Frikkin' time!
Israel has announced that they are going to hunt down and kill the leader/founder of Hamas.

Excuse me, but when you have cancer, you don't try to negotiate a peace with it. You DON'T come up with a plan to divy up your internal organs (... a pancreas for me and lung for carcinoma...). You fight it. You fight it like your life depends on it. The ONLY balancing you do is you try to determine if the treatment will kill you.

These militant jihadists are cancer. Not only in Israel, but in the world. (NOTE: Some people who are NOT militant jihadists are also cancers on the world, but we're talking about the former, not the latter, here.)

They spread, they consume resources, and they serve no purpose but to kill their host.

My only complaints are (1) That the policy took THIS long to be developed, and (2) That the policy is not to hunt down and kill EVERY member of the militant jihadist organizations. Once a cancer has metasticized, you can't JUST go after one site. You need to go everywhere it has, and you need to kill it there as FAST as you can.

*** Comments ***
On : 1/16/2004 12:39:44 PM Jason said:


I agree with you 100%. I find it troubling how not only we Americans, but the rest of the world, have become slaves to political correctness to the extent that we have to actually think before determining that its O.K. to defend ourselves.

I think your cancer anaology is directly on point. And I agree that since we have the cure for terrorism, we ought to detonate it more often. Human life is priority number one, and protecting human life means eliminating the agents that threaten it (i.e., cancer, terrorists).


On : 1/17/2004 10:30:54 AM upyernoz said:

fine, but that means that if hamas assassinates an israeli leader it is not terrorism, but self defense. this type of policy just makes things worse in the long run. the only way the intifada will end is if they win over the palestinians to some kind of live-and-let-live arrangement. this does nothing to bring that about, so, in the end, its just stupid because it will perpetuate violence.

On : 1/17/2004 11:42:39 AM Bronson said:


Wars tend to end when one side is dead and or incapable or unwilling to fight.

I think the world would welcome a policy by hamas of taking the "high-road" and attacking only soldiers and political leaders. It's the fact that ham-ass likes to go after school-kids and family gatherings, and civilians attempting to get some food, or civilians trying to get to work. That's NOT warfare, that's cold-blooded murder for no reason other than malice.

De-capitation does and always has worked wonders.

However, you're right, violence never solves anything... except slavery, facism, the holocaust, etc.

As far as Israel's responsibility to "win over" the resident arabs (NOTE: "Palestine" never existed as it's own country, hence, no palestinians), where do you think most of the jobs that the arabs held came from? The Israelis were more than happy to treat their neighbors well. They were not, however willing to put their own heads on the chopping block. The Isrealis have NO moral or legal responsibility to persuade murders to stop murdering. If anything the "moderate" arabs need to speak up and say "Sit down, Abdule, before you get us all killed, you asshole!"

Lets try this, does a momma bear have a moral responsibility to negotiate with the mountain lion who has just killed one of her cubs, or does she have the right and responsibility to protect her other cubs by killing or conveying the message that continued presence in the area by the mountain lion will result in the mountain lion's death?

Think about it. (i.e. use your brain to do something other than preventing your skull from collapsing in on itself). If you stab me, and I hit you, chances are you WILL stab me again. However, if you stab me, and I SHOOT your empty hat-rack off of your shoulders, you won't ever stab me again.

Oh, and as an aside, you are technically wrong about "self defense" (at least in American Law) You can use "killing in self-defense" only if you did not FIRST bring the deadly weapon to the dance. Homicide bombers... well they are deadly weapons, so Ham-ass has NO "self-defense" legal argument.


On : 1/17/2004 12:45:59 PM upyernoz said:

geez, no need to be so condescending (and also no need to drop black letter law on me. i'm a lawyer. i was talking "self-defense" in the political sense. ie.g. bush's doctrine of preemption is defended as a kind of self-defense although we all know that pre-emptive strikes does not cut it as self-defense in a u.s. criminal court.). (i can condescend back, you know. it's ISRAEL, not isreal. also there is no such name in arabic as "adbule." but that's just quibbling)

"there is no palestinians" is a tired fallacious argument. the lands there have been known as palestine for several thousands of years. "palestine" has had a legal political existence as a provence of three different arab caliphates, the sejuk and ottoman empires, and then as a british protectorate which was officially called "palestine." there is also a destinct dialect of arabic called "palestinian dialect" (or "al-!amiyya filistiniyya" in arabic. note many arabic dialects are mutually incomprehensible. a moroccan would not understand palestinian dialect even though both speak what they would call "arabic"). sure, there has been no independent palestinian state. but there has never been an independent kurdish state either. does that mean there are no kurds? until 1991 there had never been an independent state of uzbekistan. did the ethnic group "uzbeks" pop into existence that year? they seem to think they have a 1000 year history.

israel already has assassinated several hamas leaders. each time it was immediately followed by more violence, not less. each time, one dies, hamas' ranks swell. i'm arguing purely on the practical side of things now. i'm not talking about a moral or legal obligation, just common sense. no matter what sort of defenses you put up against terrorism, a determined bomber will find a way to get through. the only way to win is to find a way to get the determined bombers to stop coming. there are plenty of palestinians who are against suicide bombing, but each new harsh tactic against the palestinian people marginalizes them. israeli policies have done nothing but further encourage a poor displaced people to violently react back against them.

furthermore, your momma bear analogy also perfectly explains why palestinians attack israelis. when a palestinian's home is destroyed by an israeli bulldozer, your logic would allow him to attack israel. after all, does he not have the "right and responsibility" to show israel that he will strike back if he is rendered homeless?

the israeli situation is not simple. there are no simple answers there and each side has reprehensible individuals who push violence on the other. assassinating the hamas leader simply will not deminish violence there and will only further enrage the real wackos on the palestinian side.


On : 1/17/2004 1:09:06 PM Bronson said:

mea culpa... I'm originally from Indiana, so I can't spell.

Since you're an attorney, I'm surprised you would use a term of art so loosely.

People often say that a "situation is not simple" when they don't like the answer staring them in the face. If you don't want your enemy killing you in your sleep, you take care of business. There is NO moral equivalence between the two groups. One (Ham-ass) is all about killing as many Jews as possible... Women, children, military, civilian, it doesn't matter to them. They want ALL Jews dead. The Israelis, on the other hand want all people actively trying to kill them dead. They try to avoid killing civilians, but will not always hold back just because a civilian might be hurt. Can you not see the difference?

You say their are "wackos" - do you suppose an afternoon of siniging show-tunes will get them to change their minds? No. They are intent on killing. The only possible motivation that will prevent them from doing so is the knowledge that doing so will result in more damage to their side than to Israel. In motivating people, you have two choices - the carrot, and the stick. Carrots are great, IF they work. IF they don't work, you only have the stick, and you had better use it.

Perhaps you do, perhaps you don't - Did you feel motivated to negotiate with Osama after 9-11? No? Why the hell should Israel?

I'm terribly sorry if I seemed condescending previously, but if you think you can negotiate with people who have a RELIGIOUS (not rational) imperitive to KILL YOU, then you are utterly naive. JD or not.

If you ever get cancer, ask your oncologist to schedule talks with it... see how well that works.


On : 1/17/2004 1:48:42 PM upyernoz said:

listen, you seem to be arguing about palestinian as some kind of stereotype rather than reality. who exactly do tou mean when you say "They are intent on killing." all palestinians? some? all members of hamas, or just some? if you're going to be a lawyer, you have to be clearer when you argue. when you are talking about millions of individuals you can always point to violent irrational people. that is not a unique characteristic of the palestinians. they are individuals too and do not all agree on israel, the morality of suicide bombings, etc. as long as you argue in generalities, you're not really talking about reality, but rather a simplistic characature of reality.

i'm a jewish american who speaks some arabic and likes to travel in the muslim world. to argue that palestinians are incapable of reason is simply contrary to my first-hand experience. "if you think you can negotiate with people who have a RELIGIOUS (not rational) imperitive to KILL YOU" is simply wrong. the israeli-palestinian fight is over land--period. just real estate, with both sides trying desperately to dress it up in religious terms because it cloaks them in some kind of moral authority and buys them outside support. many palestinians are christian, you know. including arafat's wife (though she converted when she married him). christian palestinians are no more pro-israeli than their muslim counterparts. both have had their land seized and have sustained casualties in this fight

i was not drawing moral equivalence when i said that bad people are on both sides. actually, saying bad people exist on both sides is such a tautology its hard to believe any honest person could disagree with that.

and i never advocated negotiating with hamas, but rather marginalizing it. hamas will have support of a wide swath of palestinians as long as it provides social services to residents of the occupied territories where no alternatives really exist and as long as so many palestinians feel victimized by the israelis. there is plenty israel can do to change that, but they will not because their leaders are essentially held hostage to the settler movement. these days it's all stick, but no carrot. the palestinians really have no incentive to give up violence and plenty of reasons to continue. as long as that is true this thing will never end.

(sorry about the spelling correction thing. that is really out of line. my spelling really sucks, so i am one to talk. there's nothing wrong from being from indiana either)


On : 1/17/2004 2:16:27 PM Bronson said:

Certainly NOT all "Palestinians" I suspect that MOST of them just want to work and go home at night, kiss their spouse and get a good night's rest so they can do it all over. THEY are the people we need throughout the world.

Members of Hamas, Islamic Jihad, etc., have dedicated their lives to killing Jews (and sometimes Americans and other Infidels, when they get around to it). These are the people who need to be eliminated.

The fellow who was the previous head of the PLA (and I forget his name... he's the one who left after just a couple of months) - he had a chance. From what I saw, he actually wanted to negotiate a real solution. He could not survive in the position under Arafat.

Islam is an especially bad religion from the "think for yourself" perspective (remember, "Islam" means "submission"). So long as the culture requires blindly accepting whatever your local religious leader has to say, then the majority of people will not realize that Israel (and America, and what will soon be a stabilized Iraq) would rather have productive trading partners than unemployed bomb-makers as their global neighbors.

One of my best friends at work is a Christian Palestinian. He's a great guy. So far as I can tell, he's got nothing but warm feelings for our Jewish co-workers.

A negotiated peace is possible, and I think even likely, if the militant islamic groups would cease to exist. Hamas keeps killing Israelis and then hides behind civilians. The most expedient way to marginalize them is to turn them into a footnote, and then turn the page.

I do disagree, however, that this is only about land. The leaders (including Arafat) of the "Palestinians" have vowed to push the Jews into the sea. With that kind of stance, there's not a whole lot of negotiating room, and it does not indicate a desire for their land. A statement like "We'll make them leave this region!" might indicate a desire for their land. The islamic militants want Jews (all of 'em) dead. I have never heard ANY Jewish person call for the genocide of any muslim population.

If I were writing a scholarly paper, I would, of course put more research into my writing. By the way, what kind of law do you practice?

I only mentioned Indiana to draw the paralell to the only famous Hoosier Republican (Dan Quayle).

They've GOTTA GO!!!
It appears that the University System of Maryland Board of Regents is doing its level best to piss me off again.

The USM Chancellor, William Kirwan has informed the Md. Senate that tuition is going to go up, AGAIN.

At least some of the legislators are getting it -

"Sen. Edward J. Kasemeyer, a Howard County Democrat, asked whether university officials had plans to address the system's status as the sixth-most expensive in the country."

And another (Democrat) -
"[A]sked whether it was appropriate for the system's regents, an appointed board, to have approved a 20 percent tuition increase that was akin to a tax increase for many families."

And then, BULLSEYE! -
"[T]he Republican leader, asked why the system hadn't reduced the pay of top administrators in its effort to cut costs."

The job of being a "Regent" is NOT a difficult, full-time affair. The Regents should NOT be paid AT ALL or only get a nominal remuneration plus travel costs for time actually spent on school business.

The Chancellor bitched and moaned about having increased fixed costs of operating NEW buildings and that is the reason that fixed funding from the state will necessitate tuition increases.


Is it beyond his (and the other Regents') ability to comprehend that you NOT build or buy when you can't afford it? I suppose that the argument would be that the buildings were in the works and the state cut funding, so the increases were unavoidable. I still don't buy it. They KNEW that the buildings were under way, and they could have scheduled the anticipated increases a long time ago.

In any event, I've said it before, and I'll say it again, if they are spending money on expenses that are unrelated to accomplishing their primary task of providing higher education, and not making a profit on those expenditures, then they have NO business making those expenditures!

I say:
1. Fire all their useless @$$#$!
2. Sue all their useless @$$#$ for fiscal mismanagement.

Hell, you can provide a service to the two law schools in the system (UB & UMD) by letting a team of students, under the direction of an adjunct faculty member, function as Rule 16 lawyers (i.e. a law student who actually gets to practice law under the supervision of an admitted lawyer) and bring the suit themselves!

At least THAT way, we would get SOME educational benefit from the Regents AND we would save money (by not hiring outside counsel) at the same time!

*** Comments ***
On : 1/17/2004 10:33:57 AM upyernoz said:

welcome to the trickle down effect. the fed is cutting off money to the states to finance a tax cut, and states have to cut back on things like education or raise fees or tuition. the last two federal tax cuts will probably result in an increase in costs for most americans. that's what happens when we have fiscally irresponsible people in office


On : 1/17/2004 11:56:56 AM Bronson said:

"Fiscally irresponsible people" - I take it you've met Paris Spendining, er, Glendening.

At what point in the history of the universe did it become the FED's responsibility to fund education? I'll give you a hint... NEVER.

You're argument (implicitly attempting to blame "evil republicans who actually understand something about economics") holds absolutely NO water. Truth be told (don't trust me, get a college administrator drunk, so they'll actually tell you the truth rather than just their political line (remember: "en vino veritas!")), that under REPUBLICAN administrations, money floods into educational programs. President Bush has dumped more money (I would say TOO MUCH) into various educational programs. Far more than the Dems even asked for.

The problem, with the USM, is not either the state or federal administrations. It's with the Board of Regents. For years they have been giving themselves raises, building new buildings, obstructing students attempts to actually finish their degrees, and other inept bureaucratic pass-times. (Try to find a UMCP grad who finished a degree in 4 years... I'll wait... all the profs go on sabatical and core courses are simply not taught regularly, so students have to wait an extra year or two... paying tuition... to finish their degrees.)

They ignore their core responsibility - to promote education. Then, when their supply from the governmental pipeline gets restricted, they ILLEGALLY attempt to screw the students and their families. (Yes, they did VIOLATE contract law, and then have attempted to hide behind their status of a quasi-state organization to say "Nay-Nay-Nay... You can't sue us!")

Believe it or not, THIS is not a political issue (other than the fact that Paris stocked the Board with cronies as payback, but that's a topic for another time).


On : 1/17/2004 12:55:20 PM upyernoz said:

"At what point in the history of the universe did it become the FED's responsibility to fund education?"

that quote shows you've totally missed my point. i'm not talking about federal financing of education. i'm talking about federal action that cuts state revenue. most state tax rates are linked to the federal tax rate so when the fed cuts takes, states take a hit. states have also taken a hit because the cut in capital gains taxes makes local government bonds less attractive to investors (their main benefit is that they were tax free) and the state has to bail out the local government.

every state has taken a major budgetary downturn since the bush tax cuts. that results in the state reallocating its resources, which often means tuition hikes or education cuts. that's what i mean by "trickle down"

oh, and you are simply wrong that "President Bush has dumped more money (I would say TOO MUCH) into various educational programs." the "no child left behind" act is possibly the biggest unfunded mandate in recent history. it required states to spend millions on new testing regimes and didn't give them the money to pay for it, putting further strains on state budgets


On : 1/17/2004 1:33:56 PM Bronson said:

If the Fed and State governments would confine their spending to their constitutional realms, every jurisdiction in the nation would be rolling in dough!

You're attempting to link the economic downturn to Bush's tax cut, but you know as well as I do that "that dog won't hunt." The economy had begun to head south a good 6 months before Bush was elected. (Just like when Clinton was bitching and moaning about "the worst economy in 50 years" and the mild recession had ALREADY ended.)

"Post hoc ergo proctor hoc", much?

During the economic downturn, the ONLY thing that kept humming (other than government drunken-sailor-like spending) was CONSUMER spending. What does that mean? It means to keep the LAST cylinder going, the President focused on keeping money in people's hands. All propaganda aside, ALL indicies point to the conclusion that this worked, and that it worked well.

As for educational spending - you've missed the point. The "no child left behind" act (perhaps ill-concieved) may not have had secific funding attached to it specifically, HOWEVER, the President DID add more money into his proposed budgets than even the NEA could have dreampt of asking for. I don't particularly like the "no hooligan left behind" act, but at least it IS an attempt to fix something that's apparently broken. Nobody else brought any ideas that were even ostinsibly related to educating kids better to the table, other than the voucher program.

Again, the problem is NOT the tax cuts, it's the out-of-control spending on virtually every level. Specifically, for this posting, the Board of Regents REFUSED to control themselves.

I'll start feeling bad for the poor governments when they cut back to their constitutional minimum areas of involvement and have a hard time making it there. If you give a homeless man a quarter-million bucks and he goes out and blows it all on a new Ferrari, the problem is SPENDING, not in the supply.

By the way, although we disagree significantly on, apparently, many things, I do thank you for coming by and contributing to the topic.

Hell HAS frozen over!
You all know how I feel about New Jersey, and since this is only a rational opinion, I'm sure you all share it too.

This story is proof that Hell does freeze over once in a while. HA!

Thursday, January 15, 2004

Allah is BACK!
Allah has blessed the world once again with his PhotoShop Vision.
You could say it's an OLD story. Apparently the race for the nominaiton will have twists and turns, but not only that a hearty pancake breakfast... with a lil'coffee.

NOTE #1: Drink warning, big time.
NOTE #2: If you have delicate sensitivities as to language, you might want to read this with one eye shut so as cut the vulgarity exposure to half of the full dose.

On : 1/15/2004 9:52:39 AM Elmo said:

Your photo caption not too shabby there your old self :-)


On : 1/15/2004 11:20:55 AM Bronson said:

As they say in Fermany (or is it Grance) "Donkey Shin!"

Currious... from the Bal'mer Sun
The "Bal'mer" Sun has this story forcasting the political landscape and probable battles of this year's General Assembly of the Maryland legislature.

Did you notice that Democrats seem to find filabuster's less than amusing when they're in the majority? Go figure.

In another story, the investigator's suspect that "load shifting" was a major contributing factor for the BIG crash (Diagram here, Pictures here) on I95 this past Tuesday.

NOTE: I don't know whether these are used or not, but I think it's high-time to look into implementing them if not, but there are devices called "baffels" (see this page) that retard waves in tanks. The Saturn series of rockets had to use them because they could not control the rockets on take-off without them. The fuel sloshed around so much that the control system could not compensate for the moments caused by the moving mass (and hence CG) of the fuel.
THIS is what I'm talking about!
President Bush Calls for Making Tax Relief Permanent in FY05

President (because I'm certain that you do personally read my blog), you may have disapointed me in a few areas (i.e. ordering seconds and thirds for the grossly obese Dept. of Ed.), but at least you haven't forgotten that the lil' guy makes America work, and that the more of our pay we keep the more we're willing to work. Keep it up!

Wednesday, January 14, 2004

Discrimination in West Virginia!
(Thanks to Rush Limbaugh for mentioning this story.)
Apparently the U.S. Attorney, Kasey Warner, has never taken an economics course. (Mr. Warner, since I'm convinced that everybody should be reading my page, I assume you'll see this... read THIS BOOK.)

It seems that drug dealers are price-gouging cocaine in West Virginia. What's funny is, that's a VERY GOOD thing, if we want to eliminate drug use. You see, the more the drugs cost, the fewer people will want to pay for them, and therefore the fewer people who will get hooked.

It also PROBABLY means that very few people in the area use the stupid drugs right now. It's the OTHER side of Supply and demand, moron! If there aren't many people in an area who demand a thing, there will be less of it brought into the area. To get the resource re-allocated into the area requires establishing new distribution networks, and this adds cost. You see, there is such a thing as a "volume discount."

Why can you get great produce at reasonable costs in New York City? Because there is such a HUGE demand for the produce that the supply is ENORMOUS. Poor areas have to pay more because they do not provide enough market incentive to divert resources into them without paying a premium.

Enough of an economics rant for right now. Mr. Warner, please extract your head from whence it has migrated. Even if there were not excellent economic reasons for the price differentials complained of in the article, why the hell should we even care if drug addicts ARE being taken advantage of in West Virginia? These are ILLEGAL drugs.

I suppose if you want to solve the problem, we can encourage illegal immigration, you can adopt Baltimore's immigration attraction stance, and simply request that every new immigrant bring enough for themself and two others to share... (Mr. Warner, would that be "fair" enough for you?)

How galactically STUPID is this guy?

But, hey, if he can finish law school and pass the bar, I've got NOTHIN' to worry about!

*** Comments ***
On : 1/14/2004 10:28:33 PM Trevor Saccucci said:

Look on the bright side: as long as this fellow is a tourist in his own colon, he'll have less time to cause anyone else trouble. Small comfort, perhaps, but better than nothing.

A quick note about the ADA
No, not the American Dental Association. I'm, of course, speaking of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

There are a couple of items in the bogsphere in the last day or so about disability law.

Overlawyered has this post about manufacturing ADA claims as a convenient tool for extortion by [unscrupulous] lawyers.

Also, How Appealing has some links to a current Supreme Court case raising mixed ADA and federalism issues in this post.

I can't and won't argue that the ADA has not been used to extort employers and business owners and the like. In this day and age, any newly recognized (or established) right will lead to extensive litigation. (For example, our new Constitutional Right to intimate relations between consenting adults, al la Lawrence v. Texas, has led to a slew of polygamy litigation in Utah.)

Like it or not, this is a fact of life in America.

The ADA, if interpreted properly, however, does not have to be onerous. Last summer, in my LARW III class, I had to write an appellate brief and argue it in a mock appellate court setting (with two real judges). I represented the plaintiff/appellee/disabled employee side. My research indicated that the ADA is being VERY harshly interpreted by many courts. To be honest, the Supremes have not been the worst. The 7th Circuit seems to be the toughest.

Nevertheless, the Congress has decided that too many disabled persons are being excluded from the social and economic life in America, and that inclusion, though it would cost something, doesn't have to be too expensive. Therefore, the disabled in America were being excluded for no good reason.

Sure, you could, and many do, argue that the government shouldn't get involved in private business decisions. That's fair, but we have a LONG history of interference. Ever since the 14th Amendment, the federal government has been forcing private businesses not to discriminate on the basis of race (and other factors). Like it or not, the law and history of disallowing certain types of discrimination are well established.

Disabled people face a different obstacle. All African-Americans have a common, identifiable trait (skin color) that differentiats them from others. The disabled do not have that comonality. Also, having brown skin does not make one less capable of driving a car, or calculating a derivative, or pretty much anything else, but having a disability will ACTUALLY make a difference to the types of opportunities available to you.

In a mathematical sense, to make sure that disabled people are not effectively eliminated from opportunities for participation in society, the burden to ensure participation must be allocated, and in such a way as to not fall completely on the shoulders of the disabled.

I probably sound like a raving liberal at this point, but I don't think that my perspective is truly adverse to conservative ideals. The ADA, when interpreted as, I believe, it was intended prohibits many types of unreasonable failures to accomodate people who are perfectly capable of contributing to society and the economy. The idea is that disabled people have abilities that ARE useful to society, but they might be unable to use them because of unnecessary hurdles placed in their way by, mostly oblivious, normally-abled people.

So, Bronson, what are you saying in the end? Just this: Everybody but anarchists believe that there is a place in society for the government. Conservatives and libertarians believe that the place that the federal government should occupy should be severely limited, and serve mainly to protect the people's ability to make their own future. That protection is most often seen as national defense, and things like maintance of the interstate highway system. I think a proper view of the ADA would be to lump it into that grouping of laws. The ADA protects a group of people who don't have the numbers to exert sufficient political clout on their own to protect themselves through the political system or even through the economic forces. (i.e. if ALL the blind people in America boycotted Wal-Mart, do you suppose anybody would notice?)

It's OK to hate lawyers who abuse the ADA as a way to extort money out of the hapless, but don't hate the ADA.

*** Comment ***
On : 1/15/2004 12:12:08 AM Echidne said:

My, my! Another thing on which we agree.


On : 1/15/2004 7:52:57 AM Bronson said:


I need to re-think my life!!!

I don't know many people who think that disabled people should be allowed to be discriminated against. Most people who viscerally hate the ADA don't hate it because they want to abuse the disabled.

The problem they have (and I do too) is when people and doctors get creative with the definition of "disabled." It's fraud (or at least some level of deceit). I suppose that this is how many reasonable women feel about sexual harrassment suits based on over-hearing a re-telling of a Seinfeld episode. That would not create a "hostile environment" and it cheapens the problem for women (and men) who really are harrassed. I think it's the EEOC that, for both of these, that causes the problem. Executive agencies (often) have a disconnect from common sense when they enforce their areas of law.

The other thing that many conservative opponents have against the ADA, and they do have a point here, also springs from EEOC enforcement. The ADA requies "reasonable" accommodation. What may seem "reasonable" to a beaurocrat with a goverment assured paycheck, might look like an expense that could threaten the viability of his/her business.

All in all, I think that MOST people are conceptually on the same page with regards to discrimination against (truly) disabled people. It's the enforcement side of the equation that causes the problem for political agreement on the overall topic.

I like the mathematical optimization approach. It at least approaches predictability.

Ah... the beauty of living in a Constitutional Republic rather than a democracy! People who find themselves in a minority can hope to have some civil rights protected even if the majority doesn't like it!

Unrealistic Expectations
I mentioned previously that one of the courses I'm taking this time around is Issues in Law Enforcement. It's a "scholarly writing" course which means that we have to produce a researched academic paper (about 25 pages) and thoroughly cite to authority.

We have to pick a topic that is relevant to Law Enforcement officers and preferably one that has not been totally overdone in previous classes.

What I think I'll do my paper on is what I am prelimilarly refering to as "Unrealistic Expectations." In short, Cops are expected to live their lives up to VERY high standards, and the consequences can be severe if they don't. Therefore, many police officers won't enforce the law, for minor infractions (i.e. not-terribly-serious traffic stuff.) against other officers. As a result, many civilians (myself included) get the impression that cops think they are above needing to comply with many laws.

This, I think breeds contempt for the police and for the laws.

Would a re-write/design of the adminstrative punishments to realize that cops are people too, and that just because you went 67 in a 55 doesn't mean that you're a bad person be able to increase compliance with these "minor" laws that plague the lives of civilians? Would it take a statutory change?

My questions to you (my hordes of dedicated readers) is these: Has it been your impression that police act above many "minor" laws? Would you feel more compeled to obey the traffic laws if you saw a police car pulled over for speeding every now and then? Finally, are you aware of any studies/municipal experimentation/etc. that has attempted to remedy any or all of these issues?

I appreciate you're input. (Try the comments or email it to me.)
New Comments
I've added a new comment script courtesy of Comment This!. I'm not sure that I like it as well as BlogSpeak, but that on still is not up, so I've had to move on with my life. (NOTE: As of 8:30 this morning, BlogSpeak was indicating that it should be back up this weekend... we'll see.)

Let me know what you're thinking, and let me know (if you remember the BlogSpeak comments previously) if you would prefer BlogSpeak on my blog if/when it becomes available again.

Tuesday, January 13, 2004

Fantasy telling the truth
I've said it before, and I'll say it again, I'm a Law Geek. (...Well, a Law-student Geek...)

Anyway, I've been watching The Practice since the show's beginning. I know it's liberal fiction TV, but it's fun to watch. As a law student, I've noticed that they actually do a pretty good job of presenting the law, when it interacts with the story-line.

This past week was excellent (again, I'm not talking about the political message they tried to shoe-horn into the story). In a sentence, the story-line was basically a Constitutional Criminal Procedure I final exam. You had 4th Amendment "arrest" issues, you had 5th Amendment Miranda/right-to-counsel/right-against-self-incirmination/held-without-being-charged issues, you had 6th Amendment Right to effective counsel issues, you had a red-herring 8th Amendment cruel-and-unusual punishment/torture issue (NOTE: The 8th Amendment has not been incorporated against the states, yet), and 14th Amendment Due Process rights. Incidentally, you also had Professional Responsibility (especially 3.8 & 8.4(d)) issues on the part of the prosecutor.

Without giving away the story, for those of you who will watch it in re-runs at some later time, the final legal ruling was a correct statement of the law. Coerced statements cannot be used against the person coerced, but they are admissible against someone else. The Police/prosecution do not have a duty to tell the defendant the truth and can threaten criminal prosecution even where they don't believe guilt in order to pressure the defendant into doing what they want, so long as they have a colorable claim. The original coerced person can, legally be tried on the basis of coerced statements of another even when those coerced statements were obtained by use of the originally coerced defendant's statement. Basically, the 5th Amendment does not have a "poisonous fruits" doctrine. I think that, with a case like this, the Supreme Court might find one.

Along that line, the 5th Amendment kind-of DOES have a poisonous fruits doctrine., but not by that name. You see, if a prosecutor wants to coerce a statement out of you, he can IMPOSE immunity on you (this is called "use and derivative use immunity"). Once you have that immunity, the prosecutor CAN coerce you. "Derivative use" is the poisonous fruits doctrine of which I spoke. I think it's conceivable that, if confronted by a case like the one presented by the episode of The Practice this week, the Supreme Court would say that because the prosecutor obtained the statement outside of counsel (not to mention any number of other bases), they must have implicitly granted "use and derivative use immunity" for that testimony. Since the derivative use was directly to force a statement from another, then the originally coerced person would be protected.

Again, this is NOT the law as it stands now. Rather it is what I *think* would happen to the law if it were to make its way up to the Supreme Court with this case. As it stands, the law presented in the show was totally correct.
How much is enough?
I keep hearing about how we need to spend more and more on education. After all, "It's for the 'chilren'"

Perhaps it's herretical to ask this question, but hey, I've bravely broached polygyny, so I don't mind talking about topics that do not necessarily reflect strict adherence to to orthodoxy.

Do we really need to spend any more on education (through highschool)? How much really is enough? Will spending more on schools actually make kids smarter or facilitate learning in any appreciable way?

I think the answers are No, much less than is being spent now, and no.

Lets go for a little thought experiment here. Lets say you've got an average teacher making $50K per year. Will her (or his) students suddenly absorb more information in class if you tripple his salary? HELL NO. Will the kids understand biology significantly better if you provide each student with professional grade microscopes at a $1000 per versus a $20 - $50 microscope available at Wal Mart? Again, NO. Any advantage that could be obtained by that real and measurable improvement in equipment is in the MARGINS. Any kid who could benefit by it is already a genius.

Finally, lets ask a real simple question: If more money is a proxy for better education, are homeschooled children performing significantly worse, academically, than public schooled children? NO.

The average homeschooled family probably spends about $200~$300 per student per year in books and supplies. According to this document published by the National Center for Education Statistics The cheapest (10-percentile) spending per child is in Nebraska at $4,640, and the highest (90-percentile) is in Alaska at $20,935. (NOTE: because of geographic pecularities of Alaska, if it is not counted the highest "mainland" state expenditure is $19,146 per student in Vermont.) These numbers represent expenditures between 20 and 90+ TIMES the expenditures for homeschooled children.

Granted, this is skewed. The opportunity cost of the teaching parent who could, probably, be working outside the home is not factored into it, and the cost of the structure is probably reflected, to some degree or another, in the public school numbers by they are not reflected in the homeschool number because, chances are, families would probably have a place to live even if they didn't teach the kid(s) at home.

That said, the drastic cost difference is still telling.

If homeschoolers don't require the latest and greatest equipment for their kids to dominate academic comparisons, then why do public schools require so much money to produce mediocraty?

The ONLY thing that seems to make an appreciable difference to a child's performance is the level of involvement by the child's parent/guardian. If a parent obviously values education, AND the child, the child will strive to perform academically.

I don't have the time to find all the citations to pound this into your head. If you don't already know/believe this, then nothing said on this blog or anywhere on the web will make a difference to you. The point is that spending more money on childrens' education where their parents don't care will never solve the problems faced by education. Worse, since teachers are unionized, the push for more funding extorted from taxpayers has to do with greed, or at least self-serving goals by the teachers (their union). In truth, all the political speaches and advertisements you hear have next to nothing to do with educating children. It's all about money and political clout.

The teachers' union has a vested interest in obscuring the debate. So long as they make sure that there is no viable alternative for parents and that schools are poor, they can always find a receptive ear for their pleas for more money. Politicians will never turn down the chance to do something (anything) for "the children."

So what's the solution? Right now, I'm leaning to the hard-line approach of abolishing public schools all together. The "right" to an education guaranteed at public expense is nothing more than a farce if the money is spent and the kid is still illiterate. If education is such a pressing governmental need, then make the money available to parents as an educational voucher for which the family can choose to spend on home or private educational oportunities. Furthermore, I think what will happen is what happend a LONG time ago. Communities will come together in many areas and establish community schools that are actually responsible to the parents. Compared to a modern school, is a one-room school really such a bad option?

In any event, so long as parents are separated from the educational process, many of them will not feel personally invested enough to provide the emotional environment necessary for children to succeed. If some children are going to fail because of lousy parenting no matter how much we spend, why do we need to spend so much. It's time to cast down the golden calf that is public education, and start teaching our children.

Of course, what would I know... I just graduated from homeschool in '91, have gotten two engineering degrees and am now working on a Juris Doctorate degree, so I'm probably unqualified to know what's best for my family.

*** Comments ***
On : 1/15/2004 12:12:08 AM Echidne said:

My, my! Another thing on which we agree.


On : 1/15/2004 7:52:57 AM Bronson said:


I need to re-think my life!!!

I don't know many people who think that disabled people should be allowed to be discriminated against. Most people who viscerally hate the ADA don't hate it because they want to abuse the disabled.

The problem they have (and I do too) is when people and doctors get creative with the definition of "disabled." It's fraud (or at least some level of deceit). I suppose that this is how many reasonable women feel about sexual harrassment suits based on over-hearing a re-telling of a Seinfeld episode. That would not create a "hostile environment" and it cheapens the problem for women (and men) who really are harrassed. I think it's the EEOC that, for both of these, that causes the problem. Executive agencies (often) have a disconnect from common sense when they enforce their areas of law.

The other thing that many conservative opponents have against the ADA, and they do have a point here, also springs from EEOC enforcement. The ADA requies "reasonable" accommodation. What may seem "reasonable" to a beaurocrat with a goverment assured paycheck, might look like an expense that could threaten the viability of his/her business.

All in all, I think that MOST people are conceptually on the same page with regards to discrimination against (truly) disabled people. It's the enforcement side of the equation that causes the problem for political agreement on the overall topic.

I like the mathematical optimization approach. It at least approaches predictability.

Ah... the beauty of living in a Constitutional Republic rather than a democracy! People who find themselves in a minority can hope to have some civil rights protected even if the majority doesn't like it!

*** Comments ***
On : 1/15/2004 12:23:45 AM Echidne said:

Tripling someone's salary is not going to make that person a better teacher (though it might have some effect on the person's desire to get further education etc. and to try harder), but what it might do is attract a larger supply of new applicants into the job. As higher earnings are desired by most people, there would be more competition for the jobs and the schools could pick better teachers.

The home-schooling analogy doesn't really work for several reasons. First, there are economies to scale in teaching, and it's inefficient to teach each child separately, though of course individualized teaching is great for the child. Second, to exclude the parent's opportunity costs really distorts the figures. Even if the parent could only earn, say, 20,000 dollars a year, that cost added to the direct costs you quote would make the total cost at least as high as what Alaska pays. Third, home-schooling parents are not a random sample from the general population. Those with children that do well are, on average, more educated and therefore probably better teachers. The ones who do poorly in teaching their children tend to become invisible in the statistics, because often the child is moved back to a public school at some point, and then the school gets the blame for the poor performance. This last thing is a conjecture, based on what I've seen happen to the children in a family where the parents botched it all up bad. The kids were then put into public school where they had to go to remedial education classes.

The U.S. education system is not good, I agree with you there, but I'd recommend a very simple first solution: Make the school day a proper length. Where I went to school we never got home that early in the afternoon.

Also, much of the difficulties the system grapples with arise from the ethnically diverse and class-divided society here. Teachers in some inner-city schools really can't win, whatever they try.



On : 1/15/2004 7:23:43 AM Bronson said:

You're right that "Techers in some intter-city schools really can't win, whatever they try."

I would like to draw a distinction, however between "ethnically diverse" to which you point as a (probable) source of problems and "culturally diverse." People from all different ethnicities CAN do well. The color of skin and the nation of origin have very little if anything to do with learning ability. Culture, however, makes a HUGE difference.

In cultures that don't value "self-esteem" over "knowing something," students do well. As a matter of fact, surveys of "self-esteem" have shown a remarkably consistent INVERSE relationship to academic performance.

NOW... as for the skewing of homeschool numbers... The point I was trying to make (and you seem to have implicitly acknowledged it) is that throwing money at a problem won't solve anything. I take that back, it does accomplish SOMETHING, but nothing related to educating kids. Oh, and as an aside, since many homeschool families have several kids, the opportunity cost of the parent's time quickly divides down to a competitive number.

My point, and pardon my engineering analogy here, is that education is a MISO (multiple inputs, multiple outputs). When you have a complex system like this you can model it with a matrix of partial differential equations. The bigger the "gain" the greater the relationship between the input and output. Some gains are so small as to have no appreciable effect on the overall system performance. These terms are left off. (Scientists would leave them in, but they're kinda anal.)

If you could quantify a control system model of the education of kids (or a single kid) the gain, that is the influence on the kid's education, of factors like teacher salary and building grandure would be tirtiary at best.

If educating kids were the GOAL of the "education lobby" they would concentrate their efforts on parental involvement, not fund raising.

Don't feel bad. The money issue does serve a purpose. It feeds the teachers' union(s). These unions do NOT exist to teach, they exist for self-serving purposes and they do their job. Me, I'm just pissed off that spend so much effort at trying to convince people of the patently false notion that more spending WILL solve most or all education problems.

I find it gratifying that you recognize the importance of the free-market system (with regards to drqwing tallent with greater monetary remuneration). If you like the free-market system there, why stop there? If the free-market system is good enough to attract "better" teachers, then it should be good to concentrate resources on schools that perform well accross the board. Vouchers will accomplish this. If school "A" has better results than nearby school "B" then parents will send their children and dollars towards A. A, with greater monetary resources will be able to compete and pay higher wages for teaching tallent and physical resources. School B will need to rethink it's management and educational philosophies ("lean processes") to survive. If it doesn't survive, then it has freed-up resources that will then migrate to another school which is more successful.

Freeing up only part of the equation will result in artificial supply-demand mismatches. (Does California's PARTIAL de-regulation of the electricity industry ring any bells?)

As for your suggestion for a "proper length" school day. I'm not sure what you're getting at. Do you mean "longer" I certainly would NOT agree that such a move would help at all. The (academic) "teaching" that needs to be done for MOST or all K-12 grades shouldn't take more than about 2 hours. The longer you keep kids AWAY from home, the less influence parents will have. If the schools aren't pumping information into the kids, then they are wasting resources and socializing your kids with bored mal-contents who's parents might not care as much about education and your values as you do.

As for your friend... I'm sorry to hear about the bad experience. It sounds like she/they didn't have much of a support organization. Most homeschool families network and support / encourage each other. I know many homeschool families, and even some run by single mothers, and NONE of the kids did poorly because the parent/teacher could call up friends for help when they needed it. Homeschooling certainly isn't for everyone. My oldest did well, but my wife had health concerns that precluded continuing homeschooling. She goes to public school, and my wife and I are heavily involved in her education. (I've already taught her some basic flight mechanics, calculus, Newtonian & relativistic physics, and the like, and she's only 8.)

I've rambled long enough, I suppose...


On : 1/15/2004 4:31:27 PM Echidne said:

About free markets: I am an economist with a DPhil in it, so I know quite a lot about markets, free or otherwise. As I pointed out earlier, markets in general can't be called free unless they satisfy a long list of technical requirements. The only types of markets that clearly fall within this category IRL are things like farmer's markets for tomatoes or potatos and the Commodity Exchange.

Practically all other markets are imperfectly competitive, which means that we can no longer predict that they are going to do better than some other alternative. They may or may not, but whether they do is an empirical question, not a question of religious of political faith.

One problem with markets is the lack of information, or its unbalanced distribution. Often buyers know less about the quality of the product than the sellers, and then markets are in trouble.
George Akerlof got the Nobel price for showing that such informational asymmetry can in extreme cases result in the markets disappearing or performing very poorly (the so-called lemons theorem, named after used-car markets). Education is one of those fields where the buyers often lack the information they need to judge schools, even when the parents are the buyers. The average parents are not highly educated and able to judge how good the teachers are etc. Whenever we have such serious informational asymmetry problems, markets tend to be regulated or profit-making firms are replaced by nonprofit firms. For example, there isn't a single for-profit university in this country (there's one in the U.K., but it's not doing well). Why nonprofit status is an answer to the informational asymmetry is too complicated to go into here. But it is.

So I'm not as keen on the markets as you are.

I think that the school day should be longer. Whether at home or at school. It's much longer in the countries that beat the U.S. in various standardized tests. My argument is based on the same kind of analogy as one gets when one compares the output of a four-hour working day to an eight-hour working day. The U.S. schoolday reflects nineteenth century agricultural needs, and has nothing to do with today's needs.



On : 1/15/2004 10:51:08 PM Bronson said:

I KNEW there was a reason I liked debating you! I don't have an econ degree, though I did study it about as extensively as anyone who doesn't have one has (and probably more than some...) The graduate degree I currently hold is in engineering and my concentration was in flight mechanics and control systems. So, you see, I too have an appreciation for complex systems.

I especially enjoyed studying fuzzy and intellegent systems, somewhat like people, except intellegent.

That said, constrained systems still have a REMARKABLE ability to reach a local minima. This will probably NOT be the *global* minimum of the answer space, but it is the best possible solution given the constraint.

To be sure, "perfect information" assumptions are extreme simplifications, much like in the aero world you will often hear discussions of "flat earth." It's not perfect, but it's useful. As with almost everything, in education, economics, and engineering, "perfect is the enemy of good."

One interesting thing that you find in engineering (and I assume it pops up in other areas as well) is that SOMETIMES, one variable that is simple to understand and or measure can serve as a reasonably good proxy for the information you REALLY want. In the education setting, that would relate to: School A has 85% graduation rate and 70% college acceptance rate, but School B has a 50% graduation rate and 30% college acceptance rate. I don't need to look at the teachers' resumes. If I see that, and I know that one school is not catering to developmentally disabled students, I can make a VERY reasonable inferrence that School A is *probably* the better school.

So yes, we disagree about the potential for market effectiveness in education. HOWEVER, since this society pretends to approximate a "free" society, when there is a legitimate disagreement about what's best for children, THE PARENTS should be the ones to decide, not some bureacratic zombie!

Now, as for the school day... I think your economics background is shining through

I am going to guess that you don't have kids. I have some.

Neural Networks (such as, say, brains) are TOTALLY nonlinear. Simply requiring MORE TIME at a school WILL NOT ensure any significant increase in learning.

Brains need "down-time" to sort (litterally) information. At a young age, the information is flooding in so fast, this often results in nightmares.

If more time in the class room alone would help ANYONE, it would possibly help girls. Boys are, more and more, getting the educational shaft because they are expected to ACT like girls, or they will be medicated into a stupor.

I think a MUCH STRONGER correlation can be shown to exist between parental expectations and performance as versus butt-in-chair-time and performance. As an economist, surely you know of the law of diminishing returns.

Finally (for this comment), even IF such a correlation exists, do you have ANY reason to believe that more time in school would actually correspond to more TEACHING time? Remember the "educational" lobbing organizations (NEA & AFT) have an interest in MONEY for their members, NOT adding more work. Remember, public school teachers get paid the same whether the kids learn anything or not, so why in hell would a teacher expend more effort just because he/she has to be in the building?

With your background in economics, you surely recognize that, on the whole, people act to maximize their percieved benefit and minimize their percieved pain. Instead of disliking this "selfishness" of people and pretending it will go away with a new law, why not advocate intellegently structured systems that leverage this tendancy to achieve a desired result? Remember, systems ALWAYS perform EXACTLY as they are designed. Unfortunately, the designers often design systems to do things to perfom in ways they did not DESIRE.

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