Category ArchiveLaw and Politics
An article in The Florida Current reports that the Florida legislature has come to an agreement to give career service state employees a raise — the first in almost seven years. Career service workers earning more than $40K a year would see a $1K increase, and those earning less than that would get a $1.4K increase.
It’s not much, for sure, but it is a step in the right direction.
A definite step in the wrong direction was the State Supreme Court blessing the money grab labeled as “pension reform” earlier this year. In 2011, career service employees, then five years from any general raise in salary, were mandated to contribute 3% of their salary to the pension plan. Gov. Rick Scott cited common practice in private industry and other states of requiring employee salary contributions to retirement plans in pushing for this change, but nowhere was it said that it was common practice anywhere to reduce employee total compensation unilaterally. Instead of increasing funding to the pension plan, the state simply reduced its total contribution to the pension plan, effectively reducing employee total compensation.
The two countervailing results can be tallied up together to yield an effective compensation change value now.
|Salary||Reduction in total compensation||Raise||Effective compensation change|
If you are a career service state employee making less than $40K per year, the legislature’s proposed raise will provide more positive change in compensation than the “pension contribution” reduced it. If, though, you are making more than $40K per year, the amount of the the salary raise is less than the total compensation amount removed by the “pension contribution”; you are still effectively in the hole or underwater or whatever term might apply to this form of being shafted by your employer.<= get_option(\'vc_tag\') ?>> = get_option(\'vc_text_before\') ?> 15713 = get_option(\'vc_human_count_text_many\') ?> = get_option(\'vc_preposition\') ?> 1202 = get_option(\'vc_human_viewers_text_many\') ?> = get_option(\'vc_tag\') ?>>
The Coppedge v. CalTech and JPL case is done, with a final decision handed down by Judge Hiroshige on Wednesday that confirms his preliminary ruling in favor of JPL. There are news reports here and here about the end of the case. Coppedge had sued, claiming wrongful termination, saying that JPL fired him from his job as a systems administrator because of his religious views. JPL defended itself by bringing to light Coppedge’s personality quirks and also his refusal to get up to speed on the new systems technology that JPL was switching over to. Coppedge was one of about 200 people laid off in a downsizing operation there.
Coppedge’s attorney isn’t letting the press opportunity get away. From the Star News article:
“David was the victim of religious discrimination because a handful of malicious co-workers hated his Christian views, as well as his interest in intelligent design, which they ignorantly perceived to be a religious concept,” Coppedge’s attorney William Becker said in a statement Thursday. “He was demoted and fired for simply being a Christian and someone who believes that nature can be scientifically explained by reference to designs found within it.”
We know that IDC advocates have to deny IDC’s religious character, but that doesn’t make people ignorant for not buying into the deception.
From the La Canada Online article:
Becker — who declined to comment beyond his written statement — contended that by “rubber-stamping” JPL’s proposed judgment, and not issuing a thorough written ruling of his own, it would work in Coppedge’s favor going forward.
“By failing to address the evidence personally, thoughtfully and carefully, [Hiroshige] left the door wide open,” said Becker. “By overruling our objections without giving a reason, the judge has all but handed us a victory on appeal.”
There is a cottage industry of lawyers looking to make their reputation in defending the religious right, and there is some pretty fierce competition for recognition. Becker appears to be participating in that game. As I understand it (and I am not a lawyer), the appeals court will have to take the case with all the findings of fact as they stand; their only review power concerns procedure and findings in law. Contrary to Becker’s statement, it is not clear at all that an appeals court will simply have to overturn the decision. Becker heads into the appeal with the facts as determined by the trial court being that JPL established cause for dismissal of Coppedge and appropriately answered claims of religious discrimination. That puts him behind the eight ball. The appeals court would have to agree that at least one of Becker’s arguments was cogent and revealed an actual difficulty in law rising to reversible error. This, it seems to me, is far from the high probability that Becker assigns to it.<= get_option(\'vc_tag\') ?>> = get_option(\'vc_text_before\') ?> 63962 = get_option(\'vc_human_count_text_many\') ?> = get_option(\'vc_preposition\') ?> 4939 = get_option(\'vc_human_viewers_text_many\') ?> = get_option(\'vc_tag\') ?>>
The Mayan apocalypse failed to appear, so I had a nice New Year’s day here in Florida. The temperature got into the 70s here, and not too breezy, so Diane and I worked on various things that all too recently would have been too hot to do comfortably. But here in the evening, I’m reflecting a bit over what has gone by, and thinking about things to be accomplished in the coming year.
One of the major items in the works is finishing off a document for a plan of action in handling TalkOrigins Archive web sites. The success of the Panda’s Thumb has for some time made it the main point of interest, but there has been discussion about a major overhaul of the TalkOrigins web site itself. I’m putting this together via a Google Docs document. The document discusses a collection of web applications for future TalkOrigins Archive holdings. The Panda’s Thumb weblog serves as a front-lines resource with its usual interactivity. The current static HTML TalkOrigins Archive should be preserved so as not to break web resources with links to those materials. But those materials and more will be made available in a content management system. Developing new materials for the CMS will be part of the job for a Wiki. There is also the idea that a full-blown forum package could handle free-form discussions for those without good access to Usenet newsgroups. The critical component in all this, though, is setting up an effective volunteer organization. And that’s the part of the document that I am working on putting together now. When complete, we’ll be having a full call for volunteers. (If you would like to become a volunteer for the TalkOrigins Archive now, please leave a comment indicating your interest and skill set.)
I’m still looking to move ahead with various academic publications that have been in process for quite some time. One thing I was doing today was looking through files, which reminds me of just how much of a backlog there is. I did run across my script for my 2002 presentation at the World Skeptic’s Conference, which reminds me of another activity that I’ve deferred: putting my various presentations in video format and putting them online.
And the science education situation in Florida looks like it may get even more interesting in the future. Our new state education commissioner, Tony Bennett, was touted as a featured speaker for a “Creation Evidence Expo” in 2009, then cancelled when it made the news.
There’s the whole issue of data center consolidation for Florida’s state agencies, a process that is supposed to be complete within the next six years or so. The legislative mandate to do this came down some time ago, but it seems to me that the legislature was not properly informed of the downside of data center consolidation: you may save money on personnel, but a frighteningly large proportion of such projects fail outright. Failure of data systems for state agencies is a pretty bad potential downside to have. There are other issues with the implementation of the data centers. The state is aiming to put everything into two data centers, both of them physically located in the state capitol, Tallahassee. That makes it convenient for the state administration, certainly, but anyone who has looked at data bandwidth in high-speed Internet systems would notice that Tallahassee is not in the path of main trunk lines. Data flow, and low latency, is a critical part of client/server and n-tier architectures, and putting the central data repositories at the end of a thin pipe seems an odd choice. Part of the benefit of having multiple data centers is backup and failover capability; these, though, are rather less effective the closer the places are physically. Power outages are more likely to take down both centers when they are in the same geographic locale, and disasters are more likely to effect both, too. Having a data center in Tallahassee makes sense, but having the premier data center elsewhere (somewhere with much better bandwidth access, for one) would make much more sense. There’s lots more to talk about on this topic, and I hope to do some of that later.<= get_option(\'vc_tag\') ?>> = get_option(\'vc_text_before\') ?> 74615 = get_option(\'vc_human_count_text_many\') ?> = get_option(\'vc_preposition\') ?> 5613 = get_option(\'vc_human_viewers_text_many\') ?> = get_option(\'vc_tag\') ?>>
Law and Politics Wesley R. Elsberry on 20 Nov 2012
CBS News reports that Allen West(R) has finally conceded the House race for Florida’s 18th District to challenger Patrick Murphy(D).
Patrick Murphy wasn’t waiting on that, though; the report says that he is already in Washington, D.C. for orientation.<= get_option(\'vc_tag\') ?>> = get_option(\'vc_text_before\') ?> 91369 = get_option(\'vc_human_count_text_many\') ?> = get_option(\'vc_preposition\') ?> 5565 = get_option(\'vc_human_viewers_text_many\') ?> = get_option(\'vc_tag\') ?>>
US Senator from Florida Marco Rubio gave an interview to GQ recently. Rubio was asked a question that Republican politicians simply hate to field: How old is the earth? (Hat tip: Talking Points Memo.)
Why is this a difficult question? It isn’t because the science hasn’t been disseminated; this is a part of any middle or high school earth science course. It isn’t because of any ambiguity in the science; an age of about 4.5 billion years has been current for years, with relatively small adjustments for precision. The reason it is a difficult question is that answering it without quibble will annoy the 40 to 45% of the US population who have consistently answered the Gallup poll question on this subject by saying that the earth is about 10,000 years old. That demographic also happens to provide Republican politicians with their consistent voting bloc, so annoying them is the absolutely last thing such a politician wants to do.
So let’s have a look at how Marco Rubio did respond when the question came up in the GQ interview:
GQ: How old do you think the Earth is?
Marco Rubio: I’m not a scientist, man. I can tell you what recorded history says, I can tell you what the Bible says, but I think that’s a dispute amongst theologians and I think it has nothing to do with the gross domestic product or economic growth of the United States. I think the age of the universe has zero to do with how our economy is going to grow. I’m not a scientist. I don’t think I’m qualified to answer a question like that. At the end of the day, I think there are multiple theories out there on how the universe was created and I think this is a country where people should have the opportunity to teach them all. I think parents should be able to teach their kids what their faith says, what science says. Whether the Earth was created in 7 days, or 7 actual eras, I’m not sure we’ll ever be able to answer that. It’s one of the great mysteries.
This is a troubling thing for a powerful politician to say. Its sole purpose can only be to give comfort to the biblical literalist voting bloc. Why is it troubling? Let’s go through the response piece by piece.
I’m not a scientist, man.
This is baloney, pure and simple. You don’t have to be a scientist to answer this question on Jeopardy, or in a GQ interview. It just requires that you actually know what the answer is.
I can tell you what recorded history says, I can tell you what the Bible says, but I think that’s a dispute amongst theologians and I think it has nothing to do with the gross domestic product or economic growth of the United States.
We do not know that Rubio can tell us what history, the Bible, or science says, because he never actually gave any of the different numbers that are used to answer the question. We’re just supposed to accept that Rubio could give those numbers, if he were so inclined. If he can’t do so in the low-pressure context of a GQ interview, though, I doubt that we will hear them from him elsewhere.
The “dispute among theologians” clause is also baloney. Yes, theologians do dispute the age of the earth, but they aren’t the only people who have weighed in on this topic. Rubio’s disclaimer that he isn’t a scientist does indicate that he is aware that science has an answer, but Rubio is here also implicitly disclaiming that science’s answer has any priority in the discussion.
Then there is Rubio’s assertion that the question is without consequences for our economy. This is, of course, hogwash. The manufactroversy over the age of the earth does have consequences. One of the most important consequences is the widespread distrust of scientists and the findings of science that are propagated when religious interpretations are promoted as putting scientific findings into question. Children who are taught that science is in a conspiracy are less likely to accept other things that science discovers and are less likely to themselves take up careers in science and technology. Our gross domestic product, our economic growth, and even our ability to field ever more sophisticated military technology is critically dependent on maintaining an edge in science and technology. How can disputing even the simplest and most basic scientific findings, like that of the age of the earth, possibly do anything but make it less likely that the USA will succeed in its race to keep pace or keep ahead of science progress in the rest of the world?
I think the age of the universe has zero to do with how our economy is going to grow.
The age of the universe has some pretty direct consequences for how scientists view critical cosmological constants. Those constants feed into equations of behavior of matter and energy in the here and now, so, yes, the age of the universe has a part in the operation of science and technology in the here and now, and, yes, it makes a difference for our economy, as explained just above.
I’m not a scientist. I don’t think I’m qualified to answer a question like that.
As noted before, you don’t have to be a scientist to know the answer. It seems that Rubio should not be a contestant on Jeff Foxworthy’s “Are You Smarter Than a Fifth-Grader?”
At the end of the day, I think there are multiple theories out there on how the universe was created and I think this is a country where people should have the opportunity to teach them all.
Senator Rubio should know that people can talk about whatever conjectures they want to. That’s what free speech is for. But Senator Rubio should also know that we teach curricula by subjects for a reason. Accountable science is the only thing that should be taught in science classes. For theological concepts in the public schools, there would need to be a course on philosophy or comparative religion. It has been a consistent feature of evolution versus creation dustups that biblical literalists have no interest in having their concepts compared and contrasted with those from other religions in an even-handed way in comparative religion courses; they want their unevidenced, unaccountable, untestable conjectures taught as if they were science, and as if they had the same scientific stature as accountable science.
I think parents should be able to teach their kids what their faith says, what science says.
They are able to do so, Senator Rubio. Parents can and do teach theological concepts at their churches, their religious private schools, and in homeschooling. They should, but often do not, teach the relevant science in religious private schools and homeschooling.
Whether the Earth was created in 7 days, or 7 actual eras, I’m not sure we’ll ever be able to answer that. It’s one of the great mysteries.
Ignorant people can’t answer it. People committed to obfuscation won’t answer it. But that doesn’t mean that there is not an answer. It is not a mystery. It is a matter of record in a well-developed, accessible scientific literature, with popular treatments readily available, and treatments in textbooks as well.
Rubio is replaying “Roman Catholic Church v. Galileo”. He should refer to that to see how obscurantists have fared. The RCC eventually came to the realization that the anti-scientific interpretation they had committed themselves to was not a necessity to faith. That realization is still in the future for many concerning the age of the earth, but they will eventually have to come to the same conclusion.<= get_option(\'vc_tag\') ?>> = get_option(\'vc_text_before\') ?> 89513 = get_option(\'vc_human_count_text_many\') ?> = get_option(\'vc_preposition\') ?> 6234 = get_option(\'vc_human_viewers_text_many\') ?> = get_option(\'vc_tag\') ?>>
The Chicago Tribune Fact Check on the debates goes for that false balance thing in the headline:
“FACT CHECK: Romney flubs geography, Obama goofs on rival’s record, in final debate”
Mitt Romney, candidate for Commander-in-Chief, who not long ago identified Iran as a tippy-top threat to the security of the USA, has no clue about Iran’s geography or military disposition, which includes lots of threats to close the Strait of Hormuz to shipping. President Obama, on the other hand, is unlikely to launch a war on Massachusetts over the historical footnote that is Mitt Romney’s single-term governorship. Would it have been better if Obama knew more about the details of Mitt’s gubernatorial history? Sure. Is it anywhere comparable to Mitt’s thorough-going ignorance of current world affairs? I don’t think so.<= get_option(\'vc_tag\') ?>> = get_option(\'vc_text_before\') ?> 84274 = get_option(\'vc_human_count_text_many\') ?> = get_option(\'vc_preposition\') ?> 5523 = get_option(\'vc_human_viewers_text_many\') ?> = get_option(\'vc_tag\') ?>>
Law and Politics Wesley R. Elsberry on 06 Sep 2012
The New York Daily News ran an article from the Associated Press on fact-checking former president Bill Clinton’s speech last night at the Democratic National Convention. Usually, I would simply quote relevant sections, but given the Associated Press’ litigious approach to being quoted on blogs, I will have to recommend that you open the link above in a new tab or window and look for yourself.
The AP article claims that Clinton was guilty of mischaracterizing and cherry-picking, saying that they would provide several examples. The first example? An examination of Clinton discussing cooperation, where they identify the following section of Clinton’s speech as a problem.
When times are tough, constant conflict may be good politics but in the real world, cooperation works better. After all, nobody’s right all the time, and a broken clock is right twice a day. All of us are destined to live our lives between those two extremes. Unfortunately, the faction that now dominates the Republican Party doesn’t see it that way. They think government is the enemy and compromise is weakness. One of the main reasons America should re-elect President Obama is that he is still committed to cooperation.
The AP then proceeds to establish a case that “both parties” are responsible for inflexibility and lack of cooperation in government today, something that they are able to establish in short order. Along the way, they note the “grand bargain” budget deal reached between President Barack Obama and Speaker John Boehner. That deal laid out spending cuts and tax increases that attracted the opposition of both parties, thus the proposal failed. The AP notes Obama being the impetus for the creation of a bipartisan congressional commission whose recommendations were not endorsed due to intransigence of the two parties. At the risk of getting sued, I feel I need to quote the AP’s conclusion of this exercise in “fact-checking”. Let’s hope “fair use” is still in vogue in the courts.
The problem with compromising in Washington is that there are few true moderates left in either party. The notion that Republicans are the only ones standing in the way of compromise is inaccurate.
Yes, Clinton did mention the Republican Party in this context. One might fault Clinton, as the AP does, for not also mentioning a certain level of intransigence in his own party as an omission. Clinton’s subsidiary claim about the Republican Party, taken on its own, is not assailable, and the AP carefully avoided even broaching that topic. But the AP does not address the actual point that Clinton was making. The AP actually demonstrated in two examples of interaction with the legislature that Clinton’s point, specifically that one person, President Obama, has demonstrated commitment to cooperation, is true. The fact that efforts toward cooperation can fail despite one person’s willingness to engage and compromise is not acknowledged by the AP. Instead, they assign fault to Obama because factions in both parties could not agree to the compromises on the table. Clinton contrasts the intransigence of a faction of one party (something the AP wisely does not dispute, and even stipulates in its conclusion) with one person’s willingness to compromise (which the AP documents), yet the AP concludes Clinton erred here.
This is fact-checking? I don’t think so.
Law and Politics Wesley R. Elsberry on 28 Aug 2012
At the urging of Mike Haubrich, I coded up a poll as I was convalescing from my recent illness. The poll aimed to tease out some of the common motivations that go into the USA presidential vote. The current results are in graphical form:
If you’d like to put in your entry in the poll or change your entry, visit 2012 Presidential Race Poll: How Do You Really Feel?.
QR Code for the Poll:
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Law and Politics Wesley R. Elsberry on 20 Aug 2012
The breaking news story yesterday was Missouri Republican candidate for US Senate Todd Akin’s discussion of abortion and rape. On “The Jaco Report”, Akin was questioned about his anti-abortion stance and whether there should be an exception made to allow women who had been raped and became pregnant to get an abortion. Akin’s response turned out to be political suicide.
“It seems to me, from what I understand from doctors, that’s really rare,” Mr. Akin said of pregnancies from rape. “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down. But let’s assume that maybe that didn’t work or something: I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be of the rapist, and not attacking the child.”
Akin’s already gotten quite the backlash over this. The Romney campaign made public its disagreement with Akin’s words. The national Republican party pulled his funding and made clear that his continued candidacy was a liability for other Republicans. And it appears that Akin will be withdrawing his candidacy shortly.
But let’s take a moment to try to establish just what it was that Akin got wrong here, because Akin has a big-name defender and the logic of stance-taking on this topic has been made an issue.
First, pregnancy resulting from rape is not “rare”. It is calculated to occur in about 5% of rape events.
“The national rape-related pregnancy rate is calculated to be 5 percent per rape among females aged 12 to 45 years,” according to the website of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. “This would be equivalent to approximately 32,000 pregnancies as a result of rape each year.” The medical organization issued a recommendation last August for all its ob-gyn members to “routinely screen all patients for a history of sexual assault,” especially those who complain about pelvic pain, menstrual irregularities and painful sex.
The expected number of pregnancies from rape is just slightly less than the number of fatalities resulting from automobile accidents in 2010.
The notion that a small enough demographic is a justification for removing a right is reprehensible. And we are not talking about a small demographic. We are talking about a demographic just about the same size as a leading cause of mortality in this country.
Second, it has been pointed out quite often that Akin is simply and completely wrong about a biological mechanism that makes rape different from other forms of sexual activity in terms of its potential to start a pregnancy. There simply is no legitimate basis for Akin’s claim that there is.
Third, there’s the whole “legitimate rape” phrasing. Assuming that Akin did not mean to say that some rape is justified, we are left with the surmise that Akin thinks that there is a subset of acts that other people call rape that meet some stricter standard that Akin would approve of. And there is history there to tell us that this is exactly what Akin was trying to say. Akin co-sponsored a bill last year with then-Representative and now vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan to redefine rape, coming up with the term “forcible rape” as the subset of rape that would justify exceptions to a ban on federal funding of abortions.
Federal law prevents federal Medicaid funds and similar programs from paying for abortions. Yet the law also contains an exception for women who are raped. The bill Akin and Ryan cosponsored would have narrowed this exception, providing that only pregnancies arising from “forcible rape” may be terminated. Because the primary target of Akin and Ryan’s effort are Medicaid recipients — patients who are unlikely to be able to afford an abortion absent Medicaid funding — the likely impact of this bill would have been forcing many rape survivors to carry their rapist’s baby to term.
One way to make a small demographic even smaller is to define it away. This is exactly what Akin and Paul Ryan were trying to do.
Fourth, Akin discusses punishment being doled out when rape results in pregnancy. Akin says punishment should go to the rapist, and not the “child”. It is telling that Akin leaves out a party here: the woman. Akin fails to acknowledge that his answer does impose punishment, the punishment of forced pregnancy and labor, with its associated risks of permanent debilitation, injury, and death, on every single woman who in that situation is denied access to an abortion that she wants. That’s up to 32,000 women a year meted out punishment, without appeal or even recognition of any due process right on which to make an appeal. Akin doesn’t even try to sugarcoat this process with offering compensation like that provided to surrogate mothers. This is an unfunded mandate, the costs of which are entirely borne by the victim of rape who becomes pregnant.
Remember how I talked about the demographic figure before, the 32,000 pregnancies expected per year from rape events? Couple that with the reported mortality rate in childbirth in 2008 of 24 in 100,000, and we have an expectation that Akin’s stance of denying access to abortion for pregnant rape victims would amount to a death sentence for about 8 women each year whose only crime was being a rape victim. 114 convicts were sentenced to death in 2010, so if we add in Akin’s new death sentence, we get 8 / (114 + 8) * 100 = 6.6% of new death sentences in the country each year under Akin’s plan for the crime of getting pregnant via rape. Rape victims… really, really dangerous people, apparently. And it should be noted that the sentence would be carried out in a matter of mere months, again with no appeal, and, in fact, no recognition of a due process right to take action upon at all.
I’m going to derive a rough estimate of relative rates of death sentences between homicide and Akin’s abortion restriction plan. Given the USA number of homicides in 2010 (14,474) and death sentences (114), there a missing element: what proportion of death sentences were handed out for homicide. I’m going to simply plug in some numbers to indicate a range of results to bracket things. The expected proportion of death sentences for pregnancy from rape is simple: 8/32000 * 100 = 0.025%. More crimes than homicide can contribute to death sentences, so the proportion there can be as high as 114/14474 * 100 = 0.79%. I wouldn’t expect more than half of the death sentences to come from non-homicide charges, so at the other end of the range we get 57/14474 * 100 = 0.39%. How much more common is a death sentence for “homicide” than “pregnancy via rape”? That will lie in the interval between 0.79 / 0.025 and 0.39 / 0.025, or [31.6 >= x >= 15.7]. If you commit homicide, you are only 16 to 32 times more likely to receive a death sentence than you are as a woman who becomes pregnant via rape. There’s some crime and punishment for you.
I think that lays out the problems in Akin’s reported stance. The first and second points reflect deep ignorance of the topic on Akin’s part. The third and fourth speak to a narrow ideological stance on the topic.
And now we come to Akin’s defender, David Frum. Frum worked for the George W. Bush administration, and has since produced a series of columns that vary wildly in merit. The current one is not one of his better offerings. Frum wrote a column titled, “Akin’s Abortion View: More Widespread in GOP Than You Think”. Now, I have no particular problem believing that a substantial proportion of the membership of the GOP could be deeply ignorant of basic biology and driven by a radical ideology concerning abortion, so I don’t see a problem with Frum’s choice of title. It is the structure of his argument that is a problem.
The word “moron” is being flung very freely at Todd Akin today, and it’s not fair.
Akin, the Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in Missouri, just blew a big hole in his campaign by telling a TV interviewer that in cases of “legitimate rape,” pregnancy hardly ever happens.
Akin was attempting to justify his view that abortion should be banned in nearly all cases. And yes, the use of the phrase “legitimate rape” suggests a certain lack of verbal nimbleness. Yet stupidity is not really the problem here.
Akin’s view of abortion—no exception for rape, incest, and life of the mother—is not his belief alone. It is also the view of Rick Santorum, the second-place finisher in the 2012 Republican nomination contest. On the eve of the Iowa caucuses, it became the position of Texas Gov. Rick Perry. It is the stance of Ken Connor, former president of the Family Research Council. Plainly, it is the position of a significant faction within the pro-life movement.
Well, “moron” might not be fair in some sense, but “ignoramus” would be perfectly justifiable, as I pointed out above. Stupidity might not be the problem, but essential ignorance really is. Frum’s basic fallacy here is a strawman: nobody I’ve seen was criticizing Akin just on the basis of the radical and rigid ideology he has adopted on abortion. It is Akin’s failed attempt to justify that radical and rigid ideology as having a basis in demographics on the one hand and biology on the other that leads to the conclusion, depending on the source, that Akin is a moron, stupid, or an ignoramus. Frum sets up and knocks down a weak argument that happens not to be one that anybody else was making, and acts as though he has accomplished something by doing so.
But Frum isn’t done yet. Does he get better? Let’s have a look.
And why not? If you believe that a pregnancy becomes a full human person at the very instant of conception, how can any of these exceptions make sense? Follow the hard logic of a strict pro-life position, and Akin’s view is where you end up. If I discover that my next-door neighbor was born of incest, I cannot wander over and shoot him dead. We don’t apply capital punishment even to the rapist; why should his innocent child pay for his crimes with its life? As for life of the mother, Akin explained his view on that issue well: he urged doctors to “optimize” life, ie, sometimes to choose the mother, but sometimes to choose the child when the child’s life seems more optimal.
These views may be shocking, but they are not stupid. With implacable logic, they derive from first principles. If anything, the logic of these views is tighter than the logic that leads the pro-life majority to favor the rape, incest, and life of the mother exceptions.
This is just putting a fancier suit on the strawman. [As pointed out by "ToSeek" in comments, I was hasty reading this part, and misread Frum as comparing anti-abortion and pro-choice stances. So this following bit I'm leaving in for completeness, but the stuff about pro-choice stance is not relevant to Frum's text:
But even here, Frum is wrong. The assertion that pro-choice advocates can't lay claim to a stance based on logical conclusions from first principles is incorrect. Pro-choice advocates do have a principled stance, that women should be free to determine their own reproductive choices, including abortion. They just don't happen to live in a society where that can be implemented cleanly. Pro-choice advocates don't favor "exceptions" to bans on availability of abortion because they think that those "exceptions" are themselves the class of justified cases where abortion should be available; they favor those exceptions to bans on availability of abortion because even hard-core abortion advocates have a tough time coming up with good reasons beyond ideology why abortion should not be available in those cases.] Yes, radical ideology can have a certain purity of logic, but this is not a good argument for its validity. Nor is argumentum ad populum, another offering of Frum’s. The issues have to be worked out in the reality of a pluralistic society. [Added: Again, the point at issue is not how widespread Akin's views are or whether they have some pristine internal logical consistency, but rather how completely unsupported they are by the very classes of empirical evidence Akin tries to assert as support.]
Law and Politics Wesley R. Elsberry on 09 Aug 2012
On Facebook, I ran across a graphic posted by “Things Liberals Hate” and shared by a Facebook friend. (The “share” apparently no longer exists in my friend’s thread, a few minutes after posting a link to my criticism to the thread. However, The Weekly Standard shows the original graphic.) It shows a bar graph of increasing numbers of Americans accepting some form of “federal welfare”. Beyond the terms of art in the original graphic, it has an immediate impact of implying that maybe 4x the number of people on welfare in 2009 Q1 were on welfare come 2011 Q2. That is, until one pays closer attention to the range of values on the Y axis. The range is from 94 million to 108 million. This gambit is a classic and is prominently featured in the also-classic book, Darrell Huff’s “How to Lie with Statistics”. Here’s a version of the original graphic I made using the same Y-axis range.
In order to illustrate how the numbers ought to be presented, I estimated the values out of the original graphic (with the help of a business card as a straight-edge), popped those into a spreadsheet, then graphed them with a Y-axis range of 0 to 108 million. I’ve re-graphed the points with the full Y-axis range. One can see that there is far less drama in the graph that shows the actual full range of numbers. Accepting for the sake of argument that 2011 Q2 number represents 0.33x the USA population, there is an approximate 3.1% increase in welfare recipients over the period in the graph, not the 4x visual increase suggested by the original graph. That’s actually pretty darn good, given just how awful the Bush(2) recession is.
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We’ve heard tales of officialdom greasing the way for people to profit over the consideration of species and ecosystems. Now we’ve got a home-grown Florida tale along those lines.
Craig Pittman wrote an article appearing in the Tampa Bay Times that goes into the details. Department of Environmental Protection employee Connie Bersok has been suspended from her position by her supervisor, Jeff Littlejohn, for failing to approve an application giving a lot of wetlands restoration “credits” to developer Marc El Hassan’s mitigation bank. According to the article, Littlejohn’s basis for doing so is material given to him by the mitigation bank’s lawyer and its consultant. If your blood pressure is trending a bit low, please go read the article and you’ll likely find it heading right back up again.<= get_option(\'vc_tag\') ?>> = get_option(\'vc_text_before\') ?> 10378 = get_option(\'vc_human_count_text_many\') ?> = get_option(\'vc_preposition\') ?> 2877 = get_option(\'vc_human_viewers_text_many\') ?> = get_option(\'vc_tag\') ?>>
Law and Politics Wesley R. Elsberry on 19 Apr 2012
I see from the news that our armed forces have had another bad encounter with dead combatants, this latest kerfluffle stemming from photos taken as military forces pose with blown-up suicide bombers. We end up with another round of apologies, the folks who are supposed to be our allies moving closer to our declared enemies, and more discontented members of the populace ready to be recruited by the opposition.
It seems that trying to explain why these kinds of stunts aren’t good just isn’t getting through to the troops on the ground. They are in a rough place trying to get the job done. It’s little wonder that a need to celebrate being alive when people who tried to kill you are dead results in, sometimes, these macabre recorded expressions.
But I have a possible meme to spread that might resonate with our troops.
We can’t use the “WWJD?” (What Would Jesus Do?) meme. Jesus would be at least a conscientious objector, if not a protester of war anywhere.
But we could use a “WWJBD?” (What Would James Bond Do?) meme. James Bond would totally get behind effective lethal takedowns of the enemy, even ones with a certain gross-out factor. Effective, professional accomplishment of the mission is completely within “WWJBD?” territory.
On the other hand, James Bond would not get behind unnecessary collateral damage. Would James Bond pose himself with dead body parts, smile, and upload the photo to Facebook? Not at all. Would James Bond pose with dubious iconography and send out a press release? Hardly. Would James Bond collect together a few bodies, set up the camera, and take photos while having a whizz on the bodies? Unthinkable.
Can we recruit the idea and image of James Bond for a more consistently professional American fighting force? I think it’s worth a try at this point. Hopefully the Ian Fleming estate would agree.<= get_option(\'vc_tag\') ?>> = get_option(\'vc_text_before\') ?> 1015 = get_option(\'vc_human_count_text_many\') ?> = get_option(\'vc_preposition\') ?> 418 = get_option(\'vc_human_viewers_text_many\') ?> = get_option(\'vc_tag\') ?>>
An op-ed piece by Mike Deering, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association Director of Communications, lays out an argument to let ranchers handle conservation of the sage grouse without involving the protection of the Endangered Species Act:
The wackos – as I still prefer to call them – have successfully weaseled their way to the front steps of BLM and the U.S. Forest Service. Late last year, the agencies released a plan to implement sage grouse protections on 45 million acres of federal lands with the goal of preventing the listing of sage grouse. While that’s a worthy goal, the plan fails to recognize that grazing is responsible for retaining expansive tracts of sagebrush-dominated rangeland, stimulating growth of grasses, eliminating invasive weeds and reducing the risk of wildfire. These services can only be provided by ranches that are stable and viable. Without grazing, sustaining and increasing the sage grouse population would be nearly impossible.
Grazing prevents fires. Fires cause death. Death equals barbecued chicken. It is that simple.
OK, let’s posit that Deering is giving it to us straight for a moment. What does he say next?
Ranchers stand ready to work with the government to prevent the listing of the sage grouse, which has the potential to put public lands grazing to a complete halt (according to Dave White, Chief of the Natural Resources Conservation Service, March 7, 2012).
Hmmmm. This doesn’t exactly inspire confidence that the NCBA is altruistically looking out for the best interests of sage grouse as a species. It sounds like a group that recognizes that a major resource may no longer be available to them and is taking steps to prevent losing that resource for their own use.
That line about “barbecued chicken” is an instance of rhetorical framing applied to sage grouse in the article.
“massive chicken barbecue”
“that barbecued chicken I mentioned earlier”
“the chicken debacle – officially called the greater sage grouse”
“ignore the chicken and set their sights on ranchers”
“not protect the chicken”
This isn’t just what passes for folksy charm in the NCBA. Likening sage grouse to chicken blurs distinctions between a native species in undisputed decline and a ubiquitous introduced domestic species. How could something that is called chicken deserve protection under law, after all?
Now lets drop the notion that Deering’s argument stands on its own. No, Mike, it is not “that simple” that ranching practices will produce a thriving population of sage grouse. The particular threat that Deering concentrates on, fire in sage habitat, is not always and everywhere a bad thing. Sage grouse need a particular mix of sage and other plants, and fire at a particular rate helps clear too-dense sage and restores a balance between cover and plants supporting forage for sage grouse. So a simple “no fires” policy is not a win for sage grouse.
Let’s have a look at another part of Deering’s rant:
I admit, those are some pretty inflammatory words. But these extremists deserve every ounce of it and I will back it up with one of many examples. Let’s hone in on that barbecued chicken I mentioned earlier. Extremists, for the most part, have refused any meaningful reform to the Endangered Species Act, which has resulted in a less than two percent species recovery rate over the past 40 years. Instead of looking at ranching as part of the solution, they spout rhetoric over facts. Look no further than the chicken debacle – officially called the greater sage grouse. Instead of working aggressively to prevent the listing of the sage grouse on the Endangered Species List, they are working aggressively to ignore the chicken and set their sights on ranchers. Say what? Yeah, their end goal is to end ranching; not protect the chicken.
Deering doesn’t mention here what, exactly, constitutes “reform” of the ESA. One might take it to mean specific things that would improve its record on the metric of “species recovery rate”, i.e., how often listed species become delisted. (A comment I’ve seen elsewhere notes that this is the wrong metric to use to evaluate the ESA; instead, one should look at the rate of extinction of listed species.) One would be wrong, though; the NCBA is on record with its list of proposed “reforms” to the ESA, and these have nothing at all to do with making the ESA more effective. They would, instead, guarantee less effectiveness of the ESA, putting in place automatic delisting criteria, providing exemptions that let certain classes of people off the hook for not following ESA regulations, placing even more burdens on those seeking to have a species listed, providing money to private property owners to implement policies, and adding logistical and paperwork burdens in the process of listing any species under the ESA.
I don’t know why activists would want to ‘aggressively prevent the listing of the sage grouse on the endangered species list’. Deering certainly doesn’t inform us as to why an activist should consider that a bad thing. Nor is the claim that protecting sage grouse is not the aim of people urging conservation supported in Deering’s rant by anything other than his assertion.
I’m not anti-rancher. But I am pro-sage grouse, and I think that preserving sage grouse is going to require more than stopping fires on grazing lands, which is the only thing I hear as a concrete policy coming out of the NCBA. The record of action on sage grouse conservation is a continual off-putting of listing as an endangered species, which is due to intense political action, not biological reality.<= get_option(\'vc_tag\') ?>> = get_option(\'vc_text_before\') ?> 2353 = get_option(\'vc_human_count_text_many\') ?> = get_option(\'vc_preposition\') ?> 739 = get_option(\'vc_human_viewers_text_many\') ?> = get_option(\'vc_tag\') ?>>
Time’s web page has an article up by Jeffrey Kluger. Kluger is a lawyer and relates his reaction to the briefs filed in the case of David Coppedge v. Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Caltech.
Groups like the intelligent design community are not always free to pick their poster children, and it’s unfortunate for them that Coppedge is one of theirs. It’s true enough that employers and colleagues in a science-based workplace might be uncomfortable with the idea of a coworker who believes in intelligent design. But neither the Constitution nor employee-protection laws can regulate feelings — no more than they can or should regulate belief systems. They can, however, circumscribe behavior on both sides of that faith-divide. From the filings at least, JPL appears to have stayed well within those boundaries. Coppedge appears to have jumped the rails entirely.
Yes, even disinterested third parties get it now.
JPL’s brief discusses a lack of self-awareness on Coppedge’s part. The tone-deafness isn’t just Coppedge, though. It permeates the DI and the IDC community. They are so intent on instantiating their myths that they cannot seem to wrap their heads around the idea that one of their own could be in the wrong. You’d think with all those lawyers in their camp that they would be better at this than they are.<= get_option(\'vc_tag\') ?>> = get_option(\'vc_text_before\') ?> 2758 = get_option(\'vc_human_count_text_many\') ?> = get_option(\'vc_preposition\') ?> 677 = get_option(\'vc_human_viewers_text_many\') ?> = get_option(\'vc_tag\') ?>>
I ran across a link to a blog post from 2007 by Jeff Shallit. One of the commenters there took exception to Jeff’s statement that the KvD case was primarily about religion, noting that a lot of the decision in the case discusses science. I was five years late to the party, but I felt that I needed to put my two cents in:
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Sorry to have come across this so late. “analyysi” objects to the idea that the issue in Kitzmiller v. DASD was establishment of religion, saying that the decision discusses the topic of science a lot.
“analyysi” may be unfamiliar with the law here in the USA. The grounds for the complaint in KvD was indeed the establishment clause of the 1st amendment. The legal history will clarify why science is discussed at length in KvD. The Epperson v. Arkansas SCOTUS decision declared that one cannot prevent the teaching of science to privilege particular religious accounts, that science instruction has a valid secular purpose. Since Epperson, the religious antievolution movement has proceeded with a variety of dishonest efforts to characterize the same old arguments they usually make as science and to aid in this they offer new definitions of science. If they could convince a court that what they offer up for inclusion in a classroom is science, they would then have demonstrated a valid secular purpose in having it taught. And so in the KvD case you had the defense present lots of testimony from expert witnesses claiming that “intelligent design” was, indeed, scientific in character, at least as long as you allow them to also tweak the definition of science.
There are people who like to claim that Judge Jones could have completely ignored all the arguments made by the defense that ID was science and by the plaintiffs that, no, it wasn’t. I think the decision would have been weaker if it failed to address an issue that both parties considered central to the suit. The reason that a discussion of the nature of science and whether ID meets criteria to be recognized as science appears in the decision is that both parties made it an issue and prior precedent made whether something is science an issue for determining whether something has a valid secular purpose in being taught. The point in law being addressed is still establishment of religion while the particular instance of argument concerned ID’s lack of status as science.
Hope that clears that up for “analyysi”.
The editors of the Tulsa World think that Lawmakers should adopt stronger wildlife laws. That’s fair enough in light of the tragedy in Ohio where exotic predators like lions, tigers, and bears were released by a suicidal keeper. But the editorial’s structure left much to be desired, in my opinion. They do have a good opening:
It’s understandable, and in most instances maybe even OK, for Oklahomans to own and keep certain kinds of unusual critters on their homesteads, even in the city. There’s nothing wrong with a few chickens or an occasional horse or donkey.
But tigers and bears? Allowing people to own and keep large, sometimes-predatory animals on their premises is just asking for a tragedy to occur.
This next part looks all right on first reading, but there is a problem when it is paired with the ending of the editorial:
But in many parts of the state, a tiger can be kept as a backyard pet without the approval of any agency. And too often, the results are predictably tragic.
“These animals are being bought and sold at the hands of people that have no business owning them. I have seen what happens to them in private hands, and the animal loses,” said Dr. Kay Backues, director of animal health and the senior staff veterinarian at the Tulsa Zoo.
“It’s horrifying,” she said. “It’s tragic. And nationally, there are a good number of people that are killed every year or injured by exotic animals they’ve kept as pets.”
Once we get to the end, things have gone from the specific focus and into the completely general:
Micah Holmes, who’s with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, which licenses native-animal breeders, perfectly summed up what ought to be the Legislature’s marching orders: “First thing we’re going to say is that wildlife belongs in the wild.”
This is a potential problem with a simple solution. Let’s address it before another tragedy occurs.
Do they really want to advocate a simple solution of all wildlife belonging in the wild, that is, that no one can be allowed to have any animal considered wild? They don’t clarify what, exactly, their “simple solution” is supposed to cover. I thought of falconry first. Then in composing my response on their site, I discovered that one of their authorities quoted, Dr. Kay Backues, herself owns exotic wildlife that could be at risk under an exceedingly broad wildlife ban. How far might that go? Many people keep aquaria stocked with exotic wildlife, many species of which are obligate predators. It seems to me that the legislative response to the Ohio tragedy either is going to be more complex than the editors claim, or a lot of people are unexpectedly going to find themselves at the wrong end of a simple law.
Here’s my response in a comment left on their site:
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As the saying goes, every complex problem has a solution that is simple, neat, and wrong. The editorial starts with a more specific thrust concerning large, predatory exotic animals capable of killing humans, but ends with an incredibly broad statement about all wildlife as the “marching orders” to the state legislature.
Hopefully the “simple solution” eventually advocated is just complex enough to permit falconry to continue to be practiced in Oklahoma. Falconry involves always-predatory and sometimes large animals kept by people for the purpose of hunting. The falconry community acted to conserve endangered raptor species when pollution threatened those populations, which sounds to me like the wildlife won in that case, contrary to the import of the quote in the editorial from Backues. Of course, Backues may have been more circumspect and nuanced in what she said than what the editors chose to pass on to us. In fact, given that Backues herself owns an exotic pet (an umbrella cockatoo, according to Anne Brockman’s article), one would expect that she must have done so. Does Backues agree with Holmes on the exceedingly broad dictum, “wildlife belongs in the wild”? I’m unaware of any successful release into the wild (success meaning that the released animal lives out the remainder of a normal lifespan there) of an umbrella cockatoo, especially one that has spent 25 years in the care of man.
The legislators might want to talk to the folks at the Oklahoma Falconers Association to figure this issue out, at least as far as falconry is concerned. There may be other stakeholders, such as Dr. Backues, who would also be negatively affected by too-broad a “simple solution”. And if the editors want to advocate a simple solution to the problem, maybe a little more care ought to be invested in saying what they think the simple solution is, since “the regulation of exotic wildlife” leaves quite a bit unspecified.
We’ve known for a long time that Casey Luskin has some very odd ideas about what constitutes a technical publication. Casey’s been good enough to document another deficiency of his in this respect for all to see, but no one is allowed to comment. (I wonder what happened to the Discovery Institute’s grand experiment in interactive commentary, anyway?)
Casey thinks I’m a hypocrite for criticizing Granville Sewell on the topic of self-plagiarism. As evidence, he notes that an essay co-authored by Jeff Shallit and I was published on the web and later in the journal Synthese.
The Case of Wesley Elsberry’s Self-Plagiarism
In 2003, Wesley Elsberry and Jeffrey Shallit co-published a paper, “Information Theory, Evolutionary Computation, and Dembski’s ‘Complex Specified Information,’” on the website TalkReason.org. (I wrote a response to the substance of their 2003 article here.)[*]
In 2011, Elsberry and Shallit co-published a paper in the journal Synthese titled “Information theory, evolutionary computation, and Dembski’s “complex specified information.’”
If you’ll notice, the titles of those two papers are identical. That’s not all that’s identical in the papers. A comparison performed by a colleague using the plagiarism-detection software SafeAssign shows that these two papers are ~94% matching.
(Note: The analysis used text files I had prepared using the original PDFs of the papers. For processing, I had to strip out some numbers and mathematical equations which did not translate well into the text files. Also, my colleague’s name has been redacted.)
Isn’t it just a bit hypocritical that Elsberry harps upon Sewell’s supposed mortal sin of “self-plagiarism” when Elsberry himself has taken previously published work and then republished it in academic journals?
Yeah, I’ll stipulate that the essay is mostly the same. But…
Casey, Casey, Casey… Republishing essentially the same thing multiple times in the technical literature is a bad thing. Getting something that’s been released on the web but not yet published in the technical literature is perfectly fine, with a caveat: the authors should make sure that the editors are aware of the prior release. This was done for the essay that was published in Synthese. (The editors also knew of a similar essay published in 2004′s “Why Intelligent Design Fails”, which Casey hasn’t mentioned yet.) This situation is not what “self-plagiarism” applies to. Nor is converting material from a dissertation into technical articles considered self-plagiarism, which is another process that I’m still working on. For another case in point, some time ago Reed Cartwright blogged a criticism of a paper. Another researcher saw that and invited Reed to contribute to a response letter in the technical literature. Does Reed’s previous web publication of the line of criticism used in the letter establish “self-plagiarism”? That’s a clear “No”. Scientists treat the technical literature as a separate source of knowledge from popular sources like blogs and portal sites. Repetition of material in lay outlets is essentially of no concern to the scientific endeavor. When it occurs in the technical literature, it is perceived as a pernicious problem.
But Granville Sewell doesn’t have a situation analogous to mine, where I converted a lay release into a publication in the technical literature. The Discovery Institute itself counts his shtick about the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics twice already in its list of “peer-reviewed” work on ID. I have no doubt that had AML actually followed through on publication of the essay, the DI would have happily counted it three times over in their list instead of just twice. The DI and its spokes-weasels can’t simultaneously claim that each re-publication counts separately and that self-plagiarism that repeats the same arguments in the technical literature is not happening. Of course, Casey knows how weak his position is, else he wouldn’t have added the following to his screed:
So I personally don’t care if Wesley Elsberry plagiarizes himself, and it doesn’t matter to me one bit if he resubmits material he’s already published to any publication he likes.
My point is simply this: it is hypocritical for Elsberry to attack Sewell for “self-plagiarism,” when Elsberry does the same thing. What Sewell (and Elsberry) have done isn’t a crime. Elsberry’s complaint is both baseless, and hypocritical.
Given that IDC advocates are so unproductive, Casey has to defend the line that if they can manage to sneak the same stuff around to multiple venues within the technical literature, there’s nothing wrong with that. Well, there is something wrong with that. Maybe it isn’t high on the lists of academic sin, but it certainly does goes some way to demonstrating intellectual dishonesty to game the technical literature.
[*] Casey, you did not write a response to the substance of our essay. That would have required reading comprehension on your part. What you wrote was an orgy of strawman gouging and delusional codswallop.<= get_option(\'vc_tag\') ?>> = get_option(\'vc_text_before\') ?> 108888 = get_option(\'vc_human_count_text_many\') ?> = get_option(\'vc_preposition\') ?> 6566 = get_option(\'vc_human_viewers_text_many\') ?> = get_option(\'vc_tag\') ?>>
Law and Politics Wesley R. Elsberry on 14 Sep 2011
In the Terry Pratchett novel “Witches Abroad”, he sets up an image of “the optimist’s fire”, which he then defines as “two logs and hope”. I bring this up because I’m seeing people who desperately want to be seen as hard-nosed and fiscally responsible proposing the optimist’s economic booster: tax cuts and hope.
Cutting taxes on industry (and regulations, too!), it is said, will finally bring about job creation and get the economic fire burning once again. I am afraid that I’m not seeing the causal link here. Our corporate citizens have plenty of money on hand, various estimates putting those cash reserves in the trillions. It’s not like any tax cuts are contemplated on that scale, so that leads to the vexing question of why jobs aren’t being created now? If they are worried about consumer spending, tax cuts for businesses don’t address that at all.
Well, having said that, I would propose a tax cut for businesses. But I am not proposing an across-the-board tax cut. No, I think that there should be a tax incentive for businesses that create new jobs. If you have a business and are bringing more people into the workforce than you did the year before, your business should get a break on its taxes. If you have a business that is standing pat on jobs or shedding them or outsourcing them, then, sorry, but no tax break for you. Probably this would have to have some metric that ties together both number of jobs and total compensation per job. The right incentive structure will reward companies more for better-paying jobs, and less for low-paying job creation. But that’s a refinement to be considered after getting more people onboard with the big idea.
This puts the right outlook on using the tax code to influence business: it makes clear what behavior is needed to take advantage of the tax incentive, and makes clear that until that behavior is actualized, there is no corporate handout in the offing. It rewards the corporate citizens who are making things better here in the USA, and withholds benefits from those who seek to cut labor corners or send jobs overseas. It means that we aren’t cutting our own economic throats to no better purpose than padding executive bonuses, which seems to be all that we’ve gotten out of corporate tax-cutting in recent memory. It would mean that we are applying a lighter where it is needed rather than hoping that a fire will start on its own somewhere, somehow. And, best of all, even if it doesn’t work and most corporations refuse to create jobs anyway, we haven’t burdened the rest of the taxpaying public unnecessarily.<= get_option(\'vc_tag\') ?>> = get_option(\'vc_text_before\') ?> 101842 = get_option(\'vc_human_count_text_many\') ?> = get_option(\'vc_preposition\') ?> 5944 = get_option(\'vc_human_viewers_text_many\') ?> = get_option(\'vc_tag\') ?>>
Back in 1990, Clayton Williams, Jr. was in the news a lot as he ran for governor in Texas. His campaign famously imploded over insensitive good-ol’-boy comments made to a weekend gathering of media. He was rich, but there didn’t seem to be much else to recommend him. I always thought it odd to go by the “Clayton Williams, Jr. Alumni Center” at the TAMU campus.
But it appears I need to seriously revise my assessment of Williams. The Austin-American Statesman reports that Williams had some extraordinarily good advice for Texas Governor Rick Perry (which Perry obviously and promptly ignored):
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Williams, a wealthy Midland oil man, wrote to Perry as the State Board of Education was starting the debate over new science curriculum standards. He warned Perry to stop any effort by the board to include creationism or intelligent design in those standards.
“If Texas enters into a debate on the teaching of fundamental religious beliefs in public schools, it will tarnish our strong academic reputation, set our ability to attract top science and engineering talent to Texas back decades and severely impact our reputation as a national and global leader in energy, space, medicine and other high tech fields,” Williams wrote.
He continued: “Governor, this is a very important issue for Texas. I urge you to quell this issue quietly, firmly and permanently.”
There’s a “Judge Judy” video clip being circulated where Judge Judy is deciding a case over unpaid rent. A young woman is the plaintiff, and is seeking several months of unpaid rent from a young man who shared an apartment with her. The young man is deeply confused about the concept of government aid for the purpose of rent, and Judge Judy unsuccessfully attempts to educate him about that. He asserts that because he could have paid for a hotel with the money, that he is justified in spending the money for other purposes.
But what struck me was the conclusion to the clip. The young man asks whether the plaintiff paid the rent on the apartment, and Judge Judy tells him that is an excellent question. Judge Judy then determines that the plaintiff only actually paid the rent for one month out of the several months that she is suing the defendant over. Judge Judy abruptly dismisses the case.
I’d appreciate feedback from the legally-oriented folks out there. It seems to me that Judge Judy is only justified in a dismissal like that if she is running (or simulating) a court of equity, not a court of law. So far as I can figure it, a court of law would hold it irrelevant to a claim whether the plaintiff was in violation of a contract with a third party. But in a court of equity, the plaintiff must be filing a case with “clean hands”, and it is that standard which the plaintiff in this case failed to meet.<= get_option(\'vc_tag\') ?>> = get_option(\'vc_text_before\') ?> 116176 = get_option(\'vc_human_count_text_many\') ?> = get_option(\'vc_preposition\') ?> 7308 = get_option(\'vc_human_viewers_text_many\') ?> = get_option(\'vc_tag\') ?>>