its time for the right to come out of the closet

>> Thursday, April 30, 2009


“It’s interesting that people say the right has taken over the Republican Party — but no one can say what we’ve done,” Mr. Reagan said. “We’ve been closeted for the last eight years; it’s time for the right to come out of the closet.”

Does this mean that the right is now going to support gay marriage? If Bush was the right in the closet is Michelle Bachmann what happens when they are free? If so im a little scared. The right isnt losing young people because they arent conservative enough and they wont win them because young people are so afraid of deficit spending. My advice? give up on the antigay stuff and the abortion purity test. You might be surprised how many people that could bring back.


Modern Homes for Homeless

The LAT has some interesting tent like structures designed for the homeless as those rendered so sue to disaster.

Some of these designs seem very cool and i would love to have them for my next camping trip. It is interesting to note the different designs for different disasters. Im curious though as to why traditional tents werent working. Some look like they dont have poles so that my have been an issue. These things look very expensive though and the average tent can be had for cheap.

Im thinking maybe FEMA could have had some of the water tents ready for after Katrina. Some of the structures look as if they would have worked out better than the trailers did.


Going After Lessig on Copyright Issues?

It seems rather unbelievable that one of the nations foremost experts on copyright law would be targeted as a copyright infringer. Larry Lessig has been sent a takedown request.

Last night, Larry Lessig tweeted that Warner Music had sent a takedown notice to YouTube over one of his presentations, claiming that it infringed their copyright. Lessig, of course, is one of the nation's leading legal scholars, particularly when it comes to fair use and electronic media. His presentations are filled with examples of companies like Warner sending bogus takedowns over fair-use inclusion of their copyrights in YouTube videos. And there's a burgeoning body of law that affords stiff penalties to companies that send these bogus takedowns.

I cant imagine this ends well for Warner Music. Nor should it. I hoper Prof. Lessig takes them to town.


At What Point is a Third Part Viable

>> Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Confidence in the republican party is at an all time low. The sight of a Senator switching parties after 29 years in office is pretty shocking. So the question is going to start arising, could a new conservative party work in the northeast? Theoretically there should be a point where the democrats are not going to be an option for those who no longer want to be affiliated with the republican party. There could be a point where a sane and moderate conservative party could peal away enough conservatives and conservative dems to give them seats in the house or other state wide office?

Kos' post on the fate of the republican party in the northeast spells out just how bad they are doing there. the republican brand is simply unusable. there have been massive registration shifts with those people formerly in the republican party moving towards independent or decline to state registration. The Republican Party is very much the southerner's party.

With such a low base of support it seems possible that a third party could supplant the republican party as the conservative party in the northeast region. There are several barriers to third parties in this country, 1) the First Past the Post Election System 2) Money and Infrastucture 3) the Co-option of underlying issues by major parties 4) Lack of Ability to Govern with Minority. These challenges do not present as big a problem with replacing the republican party in the Northeast.

The first problem that a new party would need to overcome is the first past the post system of voting where whoever gets the plurality of votes is the winner. This is what usually accounts for the three party problem where the two parties on the conservative or liberal side split the vote and the other side then wins. In the Northeast where the republicans are so low in support it may also be true that they are far enough to the right that a third party could run in the middle and collect enough conservative dem, indy, and moderate republican votes to gain a plurality. The problem of course come in constructing an issue outlook that would attract those voters without coming to close to the major parties. Though it is possible that the new party would simply function on an ad hoc basis as a rejection of the other two parties without coherent issue positions on most topics.

The purity of the hard right republicans might make it easy to take the moderate conservatives by staking out a position in favor or civil unions or gay marriage. As an issue that is one that the hard right will never adopt. Then i think the neo-republic party would have to support the police state or some other position that most dems would not support but would draw blue dogs and combine well with conservatives. The key for a neo-republican party in the northeast is to take in the people who are no-longer conservative enough for the party but dont feel comfortable as democrats. The next problem is attracting the conservative dems who see the potential value in being part of the winning democratic team.

There is a serious issue where voters dont want to vote for losers and issues where the vote doesnt do much. Voters want to be with the winners. If a northeast republican party could not manage to show a possible means of achieving the legislative goals it wouldnt have people willing to vote for it. This might be solved if they can get a senator to represent the new party. Senators have such outsized power that they can serve as brokers in a deal where the hard right southern republicans refuse to assist in any way and are intent on filibustering. The northeast republicans serve, as they really do know, as a coalition partner. the current moderate wing of the senate already operates like a parliamentary system from piece of legislation to legislation.

There are additional questions about infrastructure. The political infrastructure such as campaign activists, fund raisers, and donor lists could be attracted to a new northeast republican party. Most of what we think of as political infrastructure is intellectual capital combined with money. If the Northeast Republicans had some high profile members as a starting foundation they would also have the name recognition required to attract free media attention. this is especially true because broderists and others who ascribe to the bipartisan love theory of politics would be thrilled to promote a third middle way party.

The liklihood of this happening is close to zero. However it is possible. The near extinction of the republican party in the northeast appears to leave a vacuum on the conservative side of the fence and something has to fill it.


Restrictions on Hate Speech

In con law my professor asked a question about whether we should restrict hate speech. By speech he meant real speech. The act of talking. Whether we should be so tolerant of the Nazis marching through Skokie. Would we be so tolerant of them if we thought they had a chance of actually succeeding in convincing people that they were correct? If we viewed Nazis as a serious threat to democracy and amercian society would we shut them down?

There are separate questions and issues in there. the first is about the restriction of hate speech. the greater portion of society views hate speech like nigger in a very negative light. People in the national eye who use it in a pejorative sense are spotlighted, singled out for rebuke. This i believe is a good thing. Allowing the haters to spew their hatred allows for the rest of society to identify them and to deal with them accordingly. I do not wish to support hate in any of its forms and i cant avoid doing so unless i have information about who hates. If we repress the haters ability to mouth off then i cant separate myself from them socially, economically, etc. I cant identify their mode of thinking as something that is incorrect. The stifling of those with deviant opinions will build resentment and a underground traffic in the hate.

The benefits above only work in an environment where the majority is willing to condemn the hate view. The benefit in knowing who hates is realized with the social ostracism and castigation mitted out. If however, the majority of a society agrees with the hate then the benefit in allowing the hate speech to flourish is reduced dramatically. When the hate is mainstream instead of heretical different approaches are needed to deal with it. This is where the idea of shutting down the nazis and kkk etc comes in.

Hate speech has real consequences for the minorities it is targeted against. It creates a climate of fear and anger in those communities. When the minority communities are left to deal with the hate on their own without the support of the non haters the speech is even more dangerous and the benefits of allowing it seem to disappear as the group ceases to be a minority. The same is true for allowing the Nazis to spew their hate speech if they had a chance to actually effect the discourse and policy of the country.

The rules are designed to defend minorities from the majorities. As soon as the Nazi and other hate looks like it might transition from minority view to majority view then it is fair game for the restrictions needed to keep the minority safe. The protection of the minority from the abuse and hate becomes the overriding social purpose. I suspect that if it looked like the Nazis might actually take over as a dominant view they would be shut down.


Coleman's Not the Only Appeal of an Election Loss

>> Friday, April 24, 2009

This hasnt made national news but Steve Pappas who was defeated in his attempt to retain his 3rd district supervisor position in california has also filed an appeal from a loss in District court. Pappas has alleged widespread voter fraud on based on technical errors on registration forms from UCSB and Isla Vista precincts. He first filed suit in november and that decision was handed down recently, Pappas lost.

Pappas' case,

In the lead-up to the hearing, Lake and Pappas said the focus of their case would hinge on the so-called three-day rule. The rule deals with ballots collected by a third party during an election drive. Record numbers of UC Santa Barbara students registered on campus in the prior to the election through such drives.

However, election law stipulates that any registration forms collected during such a drive must be turned in to the elections office within three days.

Many of these forms – as many as 9,000, according to Pappas – were handed in after the three-day time limit, and as a result, he argued they should be disqualified.

Pappas has placed a great deal on irregularities on the voter registration cards. Pappas has accused UCSB Campus Democrats of committing fraud by forging signatures.

The Nexus also reviewed a sample of five registration cards collected at a registration drive run by Campus Democrats that Lake alleged demonstrated fraud.

On each card the name of a specific member of the Campus Democrats’ leadership was signed in the section reserved for registration drive workers, and although the name was the same on each card, the signature was dramatically different.

“We plan to bring in a handwriting specialist to determine whether the signatures are by the same individual,” Lake said. “But it doesn’t really take a specialist to see.”

This, Lake said, was just a small sample of the sorts of problems his team found with the cards from registration drives on and around campus.

The drives, organized by Associated Students and other campus groups, resulted in record-setting numbers of first-time voter registrations - more than on any other campus in the country.

“How did they get so many people to register all at once?” Lake said. “Maybe they have some special magic out there at UCSB that caused them to get more registered voters than anywhere else. Or maybe they just found a new way to clone people,” he said, referring to the dubious signatures on the Campus Democrats’ cards.

The problem for Pappas is that the judge in the district court case was uninterested in his case based on the three day rule. In fact Judge William McLafferty shut down any argument based on the three day rule.

McLafferty indicated he wouldn’t hear evidence attempting to invalidate voter registration cards collected by a third party and not submitted to the elections office within a three-day deadline. He also said he wouldn’t consider evidence that any third-party registration gatherers might have failed to appropriately fill out a required box. The point, he said, wasn’t to exclude voters on a technicality, especially when it wasn’t the voters' fault to begin with. The decision instantly eliminated thousands of the ballots from Pappas's challenge.

this decision is really going to be the crux of Pappas' appeal. He is going to argue that the court erred as a matter of law in refusing to admit evidence that these registrations were invalid because they werent turned in according to the statutory procedure. im not sure what the standard of review is but i would bet its abuse of discretion. The odds are not at all in Pappas' favor.

The main problem is that even if the cards were not turned in exactly on time or some box wasnt checked the court is going to be very weary of throwing out 9,000 ballots. As judge McLafferty made clear the purpose of the act is to increase voting and not to stand as a pretext for disenfranchising students or other voters. This is an example where a strict textualist might be willing to throw the votes out but someone who appreciates the intention and policy behind the law would not. He said during trial,

"People want the right to vote," said the judge, who throughout the proceedings never seemed to express much confidence in Lake’s contentions. "We have to do everything we can to make sure their vote counts."

If the standard really is abuse of discretion is see little chance of the court overturning the ruling and ordering a new trial. Nor should there be a new trial. McLafferty was correct not to throw out the votes of the UCSB students based on technicalities. As McLafferty said during trial,

“You’re not making your case, I’m just not buying it,” McLafferty told Pappas’ attorney, Jeffrey Lake in court. “If you have any evidence of any fraud I think I should hear about it, but I haven’t heard it.”


Obama Misunderstands Res Judicata

>> Thursday, April 23, 2009

I understand these are not exactly the words of Obama but if this is his thought process hes making a serious mistake.

Obama apparently believed he could avoid what is now happening. In the weeks during which he was weighing the release of the torture memos, there was a vigorous debate within his administration. There was, according to a senior official, considerable support among Obama's advisers for the creation of a 9-11 Commission-style investigation as an alternative to releasing the Justice Department memos. But Obama quashed it.

"His concern was that would ratchet the whole thing up," the official said. "His whole thing is, I banned all this. This chapter is over. What we don't need now is to become a sort of feeding frenzy where we go back and re-litigate all this."

Obama knew he could not stop Congress from doing whatever lawmakers decided to do but he was reluctant to give a presidential imprimatur to a national commission that would keep the controversy alive for months and months and months. Obama had his own agenda and wanted to move on. Putting out the memos was the cleanest way to accomplish his goal.

The problem is that Obama's decree that we wont do this anymore is not a final judgment that brings with it res judicata. He is not the judge in a bench trial between torturer advocates and opponents. A truth commission isnt relitigation of this issue because--the issue hasnt been litigated the first time. The issue is not, did we do this or does this work but how to stop it from happening again in the future and how do we clean up America's moral perception.

Obama can ban the use of these techniques now and during his term but just as he was able to reverse Bush the next person can reverse him. By trying to consider this case closed Obama has not put in place meaningful consequences for someone who tries to repeat this in the future. Augment the inducement to comply with the substantive law mr president. Prosecute those responsible for not only authorizing but also carrying out the policy. This needs to be done because the media framing and the general discussion still doesnt carry the message that TORTURE IS A HEINOUS ACT! from the dan balz article,

There was also a practical rationale for the White House to release the memos, according to officials. Much of the information contained in them was already in the public domain, in large part through an article in the New York Review of Books. Arguments that the release of the memos would compromise national security by providing a roadmap for enemies on U.S. interrogation techniques seemed less compelling given that the information was already publicly available.

see the problem here? the justification balz advances is that the techniques can now be trained against so letting everyone know about them doesnt matter. umm we arent supposed to be using them now or ever so the fact that al-qaeda or any one else reads about them is totally irrelevant. President Obama needs to do his job and ensure that in the future people recognize this for the seriousness that it has because right now it lacks the feeling of gravitas.


Obama's SCOTUS Nominees Should Be Women

>> Wednesday, April 22, 2009

If President Obama has the opportunity to nominate new members of the SCOTUS then i believe the first should be a minority woman. the reason for this is that those who decide our constitutional law should be able to understand more than simply the dominant point of view in our society. Currently the make up of the court is 8 men and 1 woman and the only minority is Clarence Thomas. Given the power of the court more non-traditional view points need to be present on the court.

Anyone who believes that it doesnt matter whether the justices are male, female, black or white needs to examine this case. The case is that of Savana Redding, the 13 yo girl strip searched by school officials because of an entirely uncorroborated, self-interested and ultimately inaccurate, accusation that she possessed ibuprofen, without even contacting her parents first. The case for more female justices is clear in the oral arguments with gems like this,

This leads Justice Stephen Breyer to query whether this is all that different from asking Redding to "change into a swimming suit or your gym clothes," because, "why is this a major thing to say strip down to your underclothes, which children do when they change for gym?"

This leads Ginsburg to sputter—in what I have come to think of as her Lilly Ledbetter voice—"what was done in the case … it wasn't just that they were stripped to their underwear! They were asked to shake their bra out, to stretch the top of their pants and shake that out!" Nobody but Ginsburg seems to comprehend that the only locker rooms in which teenage girls strut around, bored but fabulous in their underwear, are to be found in porno movies. For the rest of us, the middle-school locker room was a place for hastily removing our bras without taking off our T-shirts.

But Breyer just isn't letting go. "In my experience when I was 8 or 10 or 12 years old, you know, we did take our clothes off once a day, we changed for gym, OK? And in my experience, too, people did sometimes stick things in my underwear." [Unaltered quote--ed.]

It is clear from this and several other reports that Ginsburg was horrified that the teenage girl was forced to strip. None of the other men where able to even comprehend that, first there is a difference between a locker room and a strip search, and second that teen girls dont strut around showing off their bodies in locker rooms. As a man, i have never been present in a teenage girls locker room. I cannot equate my experience in a male locker room with that of a girl. Now, i might be able to imagine that such a search would be incredibly intrusive and embarrassing for a girl but if i based my evaluation solely on my own experiences i might not find it so.

You would expect that anyone could be made to understand that such a search was intrusive and embarrassing. However, 7 of the justices are older white men. They are stuck in their outmoded conceptions of gender equality and do not seem to be interested in a more modern feminist perspective. Due to this they fail to take into account women's perspectives on the policy they are passing judgment on. They fail to understand the modern female conceptions of dignity. This should not be allowed to continue.

The court here seems to lack concern for basic notions of human dignity. They cannot properly evaluate the impact of policy on non-male students. I have little confidence that they can do it when it comes to minority experiences. Im not contending that it is impossible for them to understand or evaluate minority experiences but that it would be vastly beneficial to have those with that background evaluating the policies at work.

The SCOTUS evaluates policy. Here they are likely to legitimize a policy that allows strip searches of female children, without parental notification, for ibuprofen. Are you kidding? Imagine if they were subjected to strip searches at random because we heard they had some drugs without a prescription. Do you think that this policy would last long?


Are Torturers Protected by Law?

>> Tuesday, April 21, 2009

First, read the whole thing before you flame. This post explores the idea that the cia torturers are protected by law from prosecution based on their torture. The bases for a legal argument that the cia torturers are protected is derived from the idea that those who rely on authoritative statements of what is and is not legal from the OLC are protected. The two sides of this argument come from Marty Lederman who is now Assistant Attorney General in the Office of Legal Counsel and from Kevin Jon Heller of Senior Lecturer at the University of Auckland Faculty of Law in New Zealand.

First is the case for legal immunity for the torturers. From Lederman, (emphasis in original)

Well, to begin with, it's a fairly academic question. As a practical reality, it is virtually inconceivable that any Department of Justice, of any party's Administration, would ever prosecute an intelligence official or contractor who had relied upon formal OLC advice. The practical ramifications of such a prosecution for future intelligence activities and the functioning of OLC would simply be too substantial, and therefore no DOJ will ever seriously consider such a prosecution. (The only hypothetical exception to this would be in the almost unthinkable scenario in which the OLC lawyers and CIA operatives all knew that the advice was bogus and were simply conspiring to engage in conduct that they all believed to be unlawful.)

More importantly, even in the unlikely scenario that DOJ would one day consider such a prosecution, I think that it would be of dubious constitutionality in almost all cases. The doctrine on this is a bit complicated, but I think it is fair to say that the four leading Supreme Court cases --- Raley v. Ohio; Cox v. Louisiana; U.S. v. PICCO; and Marks v. United States -- stand for the broad proposition that criminal culpability may not be imposed for conduct undertaken in reasonable reliance upon the representation of government officials that the conduct was lawful.

The defense advocated by Lederman is not a just following orders defense. That defense would be that the superiors of the tortures told them it was ok. Here they were told by the people who are supposed to say what the law is that their actions were ok. You learn in criminal law about this type of defense. The example taught is Section 2.04 of the Model Penal Code that provides,

[a] belief that conduct does not legally constitute an offense is a defense to a prosecution for that offense based upon such conduct when… (b) he acts in reasonable reliance upon an official statement of the law, afterward determined to be invalid or erroneous, contained in… an official interpretation of the public officer or body charged by law with responsibility for the interpretation, administration or enforcement of the law defining the offense.

You will commonly see cites on this site to international treaties and other statutes that makes torture illegal and a crime. The point of this defense though is to say that although torture is a crime, reasonable reliance on a government opinion that it is not is exculpatory. It doesnt matter that torture is illegal if the torturer could reasonably rely on the olc opinion that it is not. Lederman's argument hinges, as he recognizes, on whether or not a person could reasonably rely on the memos. Lederman cites two pillars for his contention that a court would find the reliance to be reasonable.

(i) the official and historical role of OLC in providing authoritative legal advice within the Executive branch; and (ii) the continued insistence of the President and subsequent Attorneys General that the advice was not mistaken, I think it is almost certainly the case that no court would find the reliance by CIA operatives and contractors on OLC's advice to have been so unreasonable as to justify prosecution.

The second pillar seems to have fallen away. However, there is still a question as to whether a court would be willing to say that the president and attorney general and the rest of the Bush administration's belief that the conduct was legal carries no weight. The first pillar is one that Obama and presumably Lederman wish to protect. The OLC issues its opinion and it is essentially binding on the executive branch. The OLC tells the executive what is and is not legal because the courts only decide cases in controversy and do not issue advisory opinions.

It is possible that this traditional OLC function and the way it is carried out needs to change. Prosecuting those who relied on what they believed to be the law will certainly make the OLC less effective in providing advice about what is and is not legal.

Prof. Heller makes the counter argument, and again here, that reliance on the memo's was prima fascia unreasonable.

The MPC formulation makes clear that the reasonableness of reliance cannot simply be inferred from the fact that the erroneous official statement was made by the “public officer or body” charged with interpreting the relevant law. Any other interpretation of the defense — most relevantly, that relying on an official statement made by the appropriate public officer or body is per se reasonable — renders the word “reasonable” completely superfluous. Reliance itself would be enough to invoke the defense.

Differently put, the reasonableness requirement in entrapment by estoppel only makes sense if we leave open the possibility — however slight — that reliance on official advice can be unreasonable no matter how authoritative the public officer or body that issues it. Lederman, however, seems to foreclose that possibility completely when he writes that no court would find the waterboarders’ reliance on the OLC unreasonable “given (i) the official and historical role of OLC in providing authoritative legal advice within the Executive branch; and (ii) the continued insistence of the President and subsequent Attorneys General that the advice was not mistaken.”

We are thus back to the original question: would a reasonable person — a “reasonable CIA interrogator”? — have known that waterboarding was illegal despite the advice of the OLC and the President’s assurances? I suppose reasonable people could disagree on that question, but Lederman himself seems confident that the answer is “yes.” After all, as pointed out above, he believes not only that waterboarding is illegal, but that it is patently illegal. It is thus difficult to understand why he nevertheless insists that “prosecuting the intelligence operatives who relied on OLC’s bad advice is not the answer.” If their reliance was unreasonable, why not?

This tension, it is worth noting, undermines other aspects of Lederman’s argument. Later in the post, after opining that it may be appropriate to prosecute the authors of the OLC’s erroneous opinions, he insists that prosecuting the waterboarders themselves “would be targeting the wrong government actors,” because we “want CIA officers to be able to rely on OLC advice.” No — we want CIA officers to rely on reasonable OLC advice, and we do not want CIA officers to assume that any advice they receive from the OLC or from the President is necessarily legal. In other words, we want CIA officers to exercise their own independent legal judgment.

To be sure, CIA officers no more carry around a library of international law than soldiers. Yet a soldier who commits a war crime can only invoke the defense of superior orders when, in the words of the Army Field Manual, “he did not know and could not reasonably have been expected to know that the act ordered was unlawful.” We expect a soldier, in other words, to have at least a basic understanding of the laws of war. Why should we expect any less of a CIA officer?

I think Prof. Heller drives a truck through Prof. Lederman's argument that there is a reliance defense available to the torturers themselves. This, i think, makes President Obama's decision to exempt them from possible prosecution wrong. If not waterboarding, certainly the room 101 style actions, were torturous on their face and a reasonable person would have known this. This means that the torturers had could not reasonably rely on the memos of the OLC and that they should be just as culpable as the authors for the torture.

While torturers themselves can be held accountable by law, it seems a practical certainty that they will not be.


Impeachment of Bybee a Problem for Obama

First off, Jay Bybee deserves to lose his judgeship. The memo's he authored in favor of torture are reprehensible. This diary discusses the rationale for impeachment. Evicting Bybee from his cushy and prestigious job as a federal circuit court judge would be a great success for those who are anti-torture and pro-morality. However the successful impeachment of Bybee would present a political problem for President Obama.

The impeachment of Bybee based on a charge that the memo's he authored were a gross distortion of the law would affirm that laws were broken when the waterboarding and room 101 tactics were employed. The non-prosecution of those who relied on those memo's is not unexpected as the law protects those who rely on authoritative statements by the government on what the law is. That is why the OLC memo's were sought as CYA.

This is where the problem arises with going after Bybee and Yoo over the memos. What contact did they have with the administration regarding the torture policies? That remains the big and potentially explosive question. Were Bybee and Yoo supporting the administrations torture policies simply because they agreed with them or were they getting additional guidance from the white house?

It is very unlikely that there is any record of the white house simply telling these lawyers to find justifications for the policies. However that possibility is still a non-zero value. If a communication directing Bybee and co to find legal protection for torture does exists somewhere then that leads an investigation into the Bush white house. This is not at all what Obama seems to want. He has never been particularly supportive of a scouring of the Bush abuses committed in the area of civil liberties or detainee rights. Obama seems to be content with the "its all in the past" approach. If an investigation leads into the Bush white house you can bet that it will become the dominant story of Obama's presidency and overshadow the reforms that Obama wants to make.

It appears that the administration views all of the Bush abuses as a can of worms. The impeachment of Bybee is the possible beginning of a serious inquiry into the origination of the torture regime.


Cheney Calls for Release of Torture Reports

>> Monday, April 20, 2009

Cheney advocates transparency.

"One of the things that I find a little bit disturbing about this recent disclosure is they put out the legal memos, the memos that the CIA got from the Office of Legal Counsel, but they didn't put out the memos that showed the success of the effort. And there are reports that show specifically what we gained as a result of this activity. They have not been declassified."

"I formally asked that they be declassified now. I haven't announced this up until now, I haven't talked about it, but I know specifically of reports that I read, that I saw that lay out what we learned through the interrogation process and what the consequences were for the country."

I agree with Cheney that these reports on the results of our torture should be released. I am actually surprised by the fact that the Bush administration did not disclose the reports that show how successful the torture methods were. Much of the discussion was about how they methods were ineffective. The media would have eaten u reports that showed how effective the torture was. After all there is nothing that the village loves more than the "tough decision" to violate established law to keep us safe. That is why a debate even exists. The villagers who have backed the idea that torture keeps us safe will be ecstatic over their vindication.

It is also possible that no such reports exists. Cheney is hoping that Obama says this and Cheney then accuses Obama of a cover up. I do doubt though that any reports about the effectiveness of torture that may be released will stand up to scrutiny at any level. At any rate the American people should hear about how dick's torture regime kept us safe. So President Obama, release those reports.


USD's Big Jump

In more evidence that the US news rankings are fairly arbitrary and not indicative of anything other than reputation of the school USD jumps from 82 to 61.

leak and rationale available here. note that im not crediting dean cole for the jump.


Cyber Civil Rights

>> Friday, April 17, 2009

David has already responded to the Cyber Civil Rights piece. Having read the article and the ensuing commentary at Concurring Opinions i want to give my own response.

First, this is not a new topic to me. I first began thinking about the issue of anonymity on the Internet and the major problems it could present when i heard about AutoAdmit. At first i was very much of the opinion that anonymous posting on the internet couldnt have much real world effect. After all, its people on the internet. Who believes what people say about other people on anonymous internet gossip sites? However, after thinking about it extensively and seeing the results of AutoAdmit i have come down in the camp that complete anonymity is too much.

I greatly value the first amendment and the freedom of speech it provides. I generally favor a very broad free speech right. However, i cant manage to bring the ypes of things said in the autoadmit case into any redeeming social value of speech. It truly is hate speech. Its not just hate speech either. Hate speech conducted in the real world exposes the person who does it to censure or other penalties both civil and criminal. Society has drawn a line that says certain types of hate speech that intimidates and deprives minorities of their rights is not protected by the first amendment.

The question i think is whether the Internet needs to develop its own rights. Internet rights as opposed to civil rights. this post by David Fagundes has a brief discussion of the ability of traditional law doctrines to translate to the internet and whether or not internet law is needed. My own opinion is that if we dont need to have such body of law. To date the internet seems to be treated as a separate and plane of existence. We can apply real world law doctrines to the internet but it requires treating the actions on the net as real world actions and not like they are committed in a different world.

It is the separation of the internet from our real world reality that causes the issue. If internet speech and action is treated just as real world speech and action is then the civil rights abuses would be clear. Attacking someone online because they are or are perceived as black would be a hate crime regardless of the fact that it occurred online. Breaking down the separation between online and offline worlds is one of the goals that Cintron is after with the IP logging. Knowing that your IP is logged when you engage in illegal activities will keep people from falling to far into the fantasy land that is the internet.

Some will suggest that we simply make everyone use their real name. I am not a fan of that. I write under a pseudonym because i dont want my politics and political views to interfere with my real world life. I like to be able to give my views without having to censor them out of fear they will come back to bite me in the ass. There is no relevant policy supported by forcing me to use my real name. My work stands on its own.


Essential Pawlenty: Ya, I Got Nothin'

>> Wednesday, April 15, 2009

If the Tea Bagging parties didnt tip you off the GOP is grasping for whatever they can find to return to relevance. Enter Tim Pawlenty "moderate" Republican governor of Minnesota. Pawlenty is a rumored pretender to the GOP throne. Given this its not surprising to see him giving an interview to the NYT about how Republicans are going to make a stunning comeback and return to power. The problem? He has no fucking clue.

One of the clear problems that the Republicans have is that they havent come to the table with anything that resembles new ideas. They rely on the old Reagan trope of tax cuts, spending, cuts, god, gays, guns. We should expect that a future leader of the republican party like Pawlenty pretends to should be someone with new ideas. Pawlenty should bring new policy focuses that enable him to persuade a public still wary of republicans and their policies. From the interview here is what Pawlenty says about his vision for getting the GOP back on top,

“Some of it will be the inevitable pendulum swinging back,” he said. “The Democrats, being in full control of the White House and Congress, will inevitably overplay their hands. It is the predictable thing that happens when you have total power. They will go too far, and there will be an inevitable reaction to that.”

“Feeding off what they do wrong is not a strategy,” he said. “We may get some tailwind from that, but it can’t be the central tenet of our strategy.”

But he said he was concerned with “the utter lack of concern they seem to have for the deficit and debt — and I don’t point my finger just at President Obama,” noting the steadily escalating deficits during the years of Republican government as well. He said Mr. Obama has offered the country a “very expansive view of government that I don’t agree with.”

And he said that Mr. Obama had failed to take advantage of his political capital to force Congress, for example, to cut back on earmarks. “He can get almost anything he wants out of this Congress,” Mr. Pawlenty said.

“My prediction is you’re going to see some near-term uptick in the economy — regardless of these policies, just because it’s the nature of these things,” he said. “But the thing to keep an eye on is the boomerang effect of this massive infusion of money. I’m not just talking about the stimulus bill and the spending bill, but what’s coming. The Big Kahuna health bill. The Big Kahuna energy bill.”

“Our strategy can’t be just pointing out the negatives of President Obama’s agenda,” he said. “We have to have our own agenda and our own ideas. I think the party has done an okay — but not great — job of responding to the president.”

“You are going to have a second round of problems,” he said, “and those problems are going to be directly attributable to the misguided and over-baked fiscal policies that you are seeing right now.”

Earmarks, Deficits, Liberal-Over Reach, Some Sort of Problem because of energy and health care reform. If those sound vaguely familiar they are. Pawlenty says that the republican strategy cannot be to simply sit back and wait for time but really thats all these topics point to as a strategy. No where in this article is the hint of something new in policy terms from Pawlenty. Instead we see the same thing every other conservative has offered from the days of reagan--and for good reason.

“I think, for Republicans, it has to be about staying true to our values and principles, but more effectively applying those to the emerging issues of our time,” he said. “I know that sounds simplistic, but it is the blocking and tackling of how you get things done.”

If only we could talk more effectively and sell it better conservatism would succeed. Maybe its not fair to be so hard on Pawlenty. He doesnt seem to understand that the central idea of Conservatism is a counter reaction to progress and change. Conservatives look to the past, yes that includes fiscal conservatives. They all want to go back to pre New Deal america with the freedom of contract and no safety net. Pawlenty is not the future of the Republican part because he simply lacks innovation. To lead a political party out of the wilderness requires new thinking and Pawlenty just isnt providing it.

Pawlenty said some of the right things but when provided with the opportunity to show off some real policy innovations Pawlenty had nothing. So if your looking for Pawlenty to ride to the rescue of the GOP it doesnt look like its going to happen. His only prescription for getting the GOP back is, time.


They Came for the Cartoonist.

via Juan Cole.

Last Thursday, police raided a cartoon exhibition in the Shiite holy city of Karbala and seized a drawing depicting Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki with a long nose trying to repair a car labeled "sectarian distribution of jobs," according to lawmaker Mufid al-Jazairie.

Al-Jazaire, who is chairman of the parliamentary education committee, said the raid was a violation of constitutional guarantees of freedom of expression.

Freedom of expression has often been cited as a pillar of the new democracy that was established following the collapse of Saddam Hussein's dictatorship during the U.S.-led invasion of 2003.
Karbala Governor Amal-Din al-Hir said police raided the exhibition because it had not been authorized by local authorities. He said no cartoon was seized, although Abid and al-Jazairie insisted that it was.

In America political cartoons have a long and venerated history. some have been pretty harsh but all have been protected as an important part of democratic government. If political cartoons are ok only with prior authorization thats a big problem


Should Government Be Forced to Tell the Truth?

>> Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Apparently if the government is not telling the truth about scientific research it may be possible to sue them and have them tell the truth. It seems strange in the debate over the quality and accuracy of the science conducted at the governments behest that there may be a way to force them to tell the truth. One group is exploring that possibility, Americans for Safe Access ("ASA").

ASA is suing the Department of Health and Human Services over statements it has disseminated regarding the medical value of marijuana. The fact that this suit is over medical marijuana is incidental to the larger issue here, the ability of the citizenry to force the government to acknowledge scientific truth. The law at issue in this case is The information quality act (pdf).

(a) IN GENERAL. — The Director of the Office of Management and Budget
shall, by not later than September 30, 2001, and with public and Federal agency involvement issue guidelines under sections 3504(d)(1) and 3516 of title 44, United States Code, that provide policy and procedural guidance to Federal agencies for ensuring and maximizing the quality, objectivity, utility, and integrity of information (including statistical information) disseminated by Federal agencies in fulfillment of the purposes and provisions of chapter 35 of title 44, United States Code, commonly referred to as the Paperwork Reduction Act.

(b) CONTENT OF GUIDELINES. — The guidelines under subsection (a) shall
(1) apply to the sharing by Federal agencies of, and access to, information disseminated by Federal agencies; and (2) require that each Federal agency to which the guidelines apply (A) issue guidelines ensuring and maximizing the quality, objectivity, utility, and integrity of information (including statistical information) disseminated by the agency by not later than 1 year after the date of issuance of the guidelines under subsection (a); (B) establish administrative mechanisms allowing affected persons to seek and obtain correction of information maintained and disseminated by the agency that does not comply with the guidelines issued under subsection (a); and (C) report periodically to the Director (i) the number and nature of complaints received by the agency regarding the accuracy of information disseminated by the agency; and (ii) how such complaints were handled.

The Information Quality Act came into being without hearings or debates and no committee reports. The language was simply inserted as Section 515 of the more than 700-page Treasury and General Government Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2001. Its purported purpose is to do as the ASA is doing, correct bad information put out by the government. However some, like have charged that the act is little more than a way to allow industry to obscure legitimate scientific information.

Petitions for correction must first be submitted to the agency responsible. If the petition for a correction of faulty information is denied that decision is appealable within the the federal agency who made the denial. However, there is a debate about whether or not the ultimate agency decisions are subject to judicial review. If the act and its decisions are subject to judicial review then there may be an increase in suits like the ones advanced by the ASA over the failure of a federal agency to properly respond or correct disseminated information.

That is what the current ASA appeal, brief available here in pdf, is about. The district court held that the act was not subject to judicial review because of a lack of legislative history indicating congress intended for the decisions of the agencies under the IQA are reviewable. The ASA is appealing and arguing based on some strong precedent dealing with the APA that agency decisions, such as the ones at issue here, are reviewable.

If you decide to read the ASA brief they make a strong positivist, textualist case. The Brief uses the case law very effectively to argue for the judicial review of IQA decisions. However the result may not be as straightforward as the ASA's case law would indicate. There are strong policy reasons why the courts would be reluctant to get involved with the decisions of administrative agencies. In their writeup the LAT has this quote,

Justice Department lawyer Alisa Klein told the appeals court panel that the government shouldn't be forced to defend the accuracy of "countless pieces of information" in its massive archives. U.S. Circuit Court Judge Marsha S. Berzon, an appointee of President Clinton, said the law at issue in the case was "amazing" because it did appear to require the government to correct all inaccurate statements, a result she called "troubling."

Many cases at the appellate level are decided on the policy and practical considerations that they bring. The 9th circuit may be reluctant to force the government to spend the resources required to defend the accuracy of every piece of information that it disseminates in court. this could end up costing a great deal in time and resources for both the agencies tasked with this defense and for the courts themselves in presiding over the reviews. Also, the courts are reluctant to second guess the decisions of administrative agencies under a theory that the agencies are far more competent than the judiciary to decide what is and is not accurate information.

So policies of judicial competency and judicial economy face off against strong stare decisis and the value of truth in government information. The court may well not decide on the issue of whether the information presented is accurate if they decide judicial review is not available. This might seem to be a strange result given the clear inaccuracy of the information at issue and the seeming ease of telling the government to correct it. In the end i believe that the ninth circuit will affirm the lower courts ruling and deny a private cause of action and judicial review to decisions made under the IQA.


Obama's Double Secret State Secrets Strategy

Everyone is probably aware by now that the government is advancing some pretty far reaching state secret claims. Everyone is probably also aware that this violates the spirit of campaign promises regarding habeas rights. I want to explore the double secret strategies that Obama may or may not be employing in order to secretly assure that Presidential power is restricted and detainees do get habeas rights even though he appears to be doing the exact opposite.

Secret Theory One--Making Congress Do It

Ok it is congress' job to define what are and are not state secrets as far as statutory direction for the courts. This theory states that by advancing theories that are so egregious in their attempts to grab power that it will force congress to act. The people will rise up and hold tea parties against Obama's behavior and force action on the hand of congress. Obama will play the villain to give the democrats in congress the victory of rolling back executive power grabbed under Bush. Obama's refusal to say whether he supports the state secrets act is simply a way to keep the topic in the headlines. By drawing additional press it increases the visibility of the issue and the chances that Congress will act on the issue.

Secret Theory Two--Making the Judiciary Do It

By advancing these claims in the judiciary Obama provides the opportunity for test cases that may establish precedent that rejects the claims that the governments lawyers are making. By doing this in the courts Obama is effectively backdooring law because congress is unreliable. If the courts reject these arguments then future presidents will have little chance of making them stick because of the doctrine of stare decisis.

The state secrets doctrine is a judicial doctrine to begin with so maybe it makes sense to have Obama set up test cases for its reformation there instead of trying to get by the republican's in congress. By playing this out in the courts Obama and the democrats avoid dealing with the consequences of limiting what is and is not secret. This potentially avoids charges that Obama and the Dems are soft on terrorists as the rabid right already hates activist courts. Who are the courts after all to say what should and should not be secret? they lack the competency to make those types of decisions. Obama is simply playing the power grabber so that the courts reject his argument...its brilliant.

Secret Theory Three--He has to do it.

Obama doesnt actually want the power. Its just the job of the lawyers to make these arguments on behalf of their clients. Its their job to advance all possible defenses to these cases instead of admitting that the government spied on these people and owes them damages. Lawyers of course dont have to believe that this is actually the law to make these arguments. There is no ethical problem or penalty for misstating or exaggerating what a case says.

whats your theory?

Seriously though if you read the brief filed by the government it makes a largely procedural and practical argument that it is simply to hard at this time to conduct the type of operations needed to determine if the people held there deserve to be held there. Essentially it stats that because there are ongoing combat operations in that theater these people should be held until such time as the war is over.

The United States and its allies have a “clear and focused goal: to disrupt, dismantle and defeat al Qaeda in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and to prevent their return to either country in the future.” Id. The Court’s ruling, however, likely would divert the military from this critical mission.

its not a compelling argument.


Too Many Rights?

>> Monday, April 13, 2009

via Steve Benen, Clarence Thomas believes we have to many rights.

‘Today there is much focus on our rights,” Justice Thomas said. “Indeed, I think there is a proliferation of rights.”

“I am often surprised by the virtual nobility that seems to be accorded those with grievances,” he said. “Shouldn’t there at least be equal time for our Bill of Obligations and our Bill of Responsibilities?”

This is interesting because far from having to many rights the recent talk has been about the erosion of rights. I happen to think allowing the government to spy on Americans without warrants is a violation of our 4th amendment right. I think plenty of people have their due process and equal protection rights violated by failures in our justice system. I really hope Thomas doesnt want to get rid of those first ten amendments to the constitution. If not those then, what does he want to get rid of?

In all likelihood thomas is making his originalist argument against things like the right to privacy or other rights created under an illustrative view of the constitution. An originalist and textualist would have to feel that anything not spelled out in the document is not a right and given that the Court has read some rights into the constitution, see Roe v. Wade, this would be giving americans too many rights.

Still thomas has a get off my lawn quality to him and i hope he retires so he doesnt have to deal with people anymore.


Cell Phones and Fall of Western Civ

Kevin Drum has a post up on the collapse of western civilization due to the inability of 20 somethings to communicate in a manner other than text. The basis for his post is an article by George Packer. I thought i would take the opportunity to address this topic as i am in fact one of these young 20 somethings who have grown up with the advance of cell phone technology and feel qualified to offer my observations about my peers. Packer writes,

It turned out that cell phones had become a major headache in his work. Customers called him all the time, expecting him to hear every little complaint even while he was wrestling with a roof hatch. Meanwhile, they were more and more unreliable, not answering their phones, missing scheduled appointments.

....“It’s the technology,” the roofer said. “They don’t know how to deal with a human being. They stand there with that text shrug” — he hunched his shoulders, bent his head down, moved from side to side, looking anywhere but at me — “and they go, ‘Ah, ah, um, um,’ and they just mumble. They can’t talk any more.” This inadequacy with physical space and direct interaction was an affliction of the educated, he said — “the more educated, the worse.”

....This was a completely new phenomenon in the roofer’s world: a mass upper class that was so immersed in symbolic and digital cerebration that it had become incapable of carrying out the most ordinary functions — had become, in effect, like small children with Asperger’s symptoms. It was a ruling class that, out of sheer over-civilization, was quickly losing the ability to hold onto its power.

to which drum responds

WTF? These folks call constantly on their cell phones, so it's not that they've lost the ability to carry on a verbal conversation. It's just that they can't do it face-to-face. Do I have that right?

Is anyone else skeptical about this? Obviously I have zero experience with 20-something metrosexuals in New York City, but, seriously? Is this happening? More anecdotes, please.

First, if you read the article you find that packer is writing about times when customers have intermediaries present who handle communication. Like having your lawyer with you to talk to the police or negotiate your divorce. The client doesnt talk. Second is that the roofer seems to segue into a comment about how all of these people will end up dependent on the government. This seems rather dubious to me. I havent met or heard of any friend or acquaintance unable to talk face to face with anyone due to an over reliance on text conversation. I might ask a friend familiar with roofing or contracting to come with me when i meet a roofer or a contractor because i lack general knowledge in that area, but i wouldn't have them do all the talking.

As far as communication habits and some general tendencies of those who have grown up using cell phones and texting as common means of communication there is one common behavior -- the lack of concrete plans. From a comment in the drum post.

I finally got a cell phone again when I realized it was hurting me. People in their 20s don't make real plans anymore- they have a vague sense that they're doing something with someone at some point, but all the details are negotiable, right up to the moment that it happens. So if I'm supposed to go to the movies with friends at 7 on Tuesday, I could get a text at 6:59 changing that to 8, or to Wednesday, or cancelling, or anything. When I didn't have a cell phone, I used to waste an enormous amount of time waiting for people who weren't coming, because the plans had changed and they couldn't text and tell me. When I confronted them about it, they would tell me that if I had a phone, things like that wouldn't happen.

This is very true. My friends and i will agree that we are going out on a friday night. The time will generally be 10. The transportation, and place are all decided about 15 minutes before we leave. The reason for a lack of concrete planning is simply that it is unnecessary. While it used to be that in order for a group to assemble everyone needed a prearranged meeting place and time now with cell phones and instant communication people can find each other or change plans without worrying that things will fall apart.

This flexible attitude leads many people to view young people as flaky but is really just a difference in the general ability of young people to manage time on the fly. Its more dynamic and, when done correctly, allows for an increased efficiency. For example, knowing you can push back something 15 minutes may allow you to perform an extra task that would have had to be pushed off to a more inconvenient time later. instead the plans can change, people can take care of their business without being tied to times set arbitrarily to begin with. The problems in this scenario arise when your out of the loop of communication as the commenter was. He likely prevented his friends from making optimal use of their time because he could never be reached to modify plans.

As far as face to face communication goes, it is my preferred method. The reason for this is that i find it easier and more effective to conduct a difficult or complex conversation in person than by phone or text. What texting and leaving messages does allow for it people to try and avoid tough conversations. this is a pint made by another commenter in that thread.

Face to face communication, especially when it involves negotiation, or a message that one person doesn't want to hear, requires courage. Courage requires practice. The existence of text-based communication allows you to avoid all the situations where, in the past, you would have practiced. So I kinda see where this dynamic might work for a some people. But there are plenty of jobs and hobbies that require and even thrive on face-to-face competition and negotiation, which will develop the skills needed.

Another view of the same phenomenon is that text-based communications allow the socially phobic to actually express themselves. Kind of a strange prosthetic.

There is an anxiety in, say, calling up a girl and asking her on a date. You have to dial the number, wait for the phone to ring. Then you have to talk with her with the possibility that she rejects you. Texting and asking apparently reduces that anxiety. I still prefer to do it in person.

Texting has its place though. Some conversations are so simple and not particularly important that you can have them over a longer time span. for example you text you friend about what time you want to meet for lunch. text also ensures you dont interrupt whatever that person is doing. It allows them to take their time in getting back to you without the hassle of checking a voicemail. What is the difference between hearing a message and reading it. most of my friends just call back without even listening to the voicemail.

I cannot say i have noticed an inability among the educate or uneducated to carry on conversations in person. The only explanation i can think of for the observations of the roofer is that the customers were intimidated and unacquainted with contracting and so wanted others more knowledgeable and better able to deal with the contractors to handle it for them. I guess this is possibly due to a general ability to avoid difficult or uncomfortable conversations through the use of text messages but it seems unlikely.


Addverse Possess the Foreclosure Crisis Away

>> Friday, April 10, 2009

A side effect of the massive foreclosure crisis is that a great many number of homes sit vacant waiting to be vandalized, stripped of any and all valuable resources and generally made worthless. The true owners of these properties are sometimes generally unknown or not interested in being responsible for them. In some cases the banks who own the property are leaving the former owners in possession because its too much money or hassle to sell them. The banks are walking away from property. With all of these owners giving up on property i propose that changes be made to adverse possession laws in order to facilitate the renovation of these abandoned properties and get the title in the hands of people who want them.

I thought about this as a means to dealing with some of the housing crisis after reading this article linked via john cole.

When the woman who calls herself Queen Omega moved into a three-bedroom house here last December, she introduced herself to the neighbors, signed contracts for electricity and water and ordered an Internet connection.

What she did not tell anyone was that she had no legal right to be in the home.

Ms. Omega, 48, is one of the beneficiaries of the foreclosure crisis. Through a small advocacy group of local volunteers called Take Back the Land, she moved from a friend’s couch into a newly empty house that sold just a few years ago for more than $400,000.

Michael Stoops, executive director of the National Coalition for the Homeless, said about a dozen advocacy groups around the country were actively moving homeless people into vacant homes — some working in secret, others, like Take Back the Land, operating openly.

In addition to squatting, some advocacy groups have organized civil disobedience actions in which borrowers or renters refuse to leave homes after foreclosure.

Cole was actually upset that these people were moving into these properties.

These people aren’t just “squatting” or engaging in “civil disobedience” or striking a blow against tyranny or whatever the hell else you want to call it. They are stealing, they are trespassing, and they are breaking the damned law. And while the NY times may think it is glamorous or sexy or a real power to the people moment, they should be clear about what is going on here and what a mess this sort of behavior causes for the authorities. If they can’t figure out why this is problematic, maybe they should read their own damned NY Times magazine about the problems squatters and illegals and looters cause in Cleveland. Give Tom Brancatelli a call and ask what he thinks about this.

Being a good law student the first thing i thought of when i heard people were moving into property and acting as if they owned it was a property law concept called "adverse possession". For those unfamiliar with the term adverse possession is when you occupy the property of another as if its yours, with out their permission, continuously for a number of years as determined by statute. The length of this time varies from state to state. For an example of an adverse possession statute scheme see here.

In my mind the biggest obstacle to using adverse possession as a means to fill the empty houses or to give people a chance to keep their homes is the time requirement. In california it takes five (5) years of possession before you can make your claim and try to gain marketable title to the property. During that time you must also pay property taxes, something i support as part of the requirement. It is less likely that you can convince a responsible party to take over abandoned property, invest in it to the point it becomes valuable, if that investment could be taken back by the bank or other entity in four(4) years when the market has recovered somewhat. I propose changing the time to eighteen (18)months.

If you believe that this period is too short and would lead to people essentially stealing land that others are being responsible for this change could be made in a way to be tailored for the housing crisis. Make this a statute that is available only after foreclosure of a property when such property has been uninhabited for 3 months. Other arrangements could be made for those who wish to try and stay in the house.

The reason i am advocating for an increased incentivization for adverse possession is that the purpose of adverse possession statutes is to deal with exactly the problems we have now, underutilized land.

Natural Rights:

Adverse possession has somewhat of a "labor" basis. It allows a person to acquire property interests through the productive use of land that has fallen into disuse. The doctrine can be viewed as dealing with circumstances where previously owned land reverts to the commons through non-use (and a failure to monitor) and may be claimed by another who applies his or her labor to remove the land from its natural state.

Utilitarian Theory:

The utilitarian justification has two branches. First, adverse possession rewards productive use of land over extended non-use. This justification is not strictly utilitarian, for it does not always (or even usually) give title to more productive users --- only when the true owner is making no use (the market will help ensure that less productive uses are transferred to more productive uses, but the market often cannot work when the true owner is unaware of his ownership). It is true, as the question suggests, that the doctrine considers non-use of land to be wasteful, but the tax requirement in most western states reduces the risk that fallow lands will be subject to adverse possession. Second, the doctrine is utilitarian in the sense that it makes land more marketable---reducing stale claims and reducing litigation (and the risk of litigation).

Those of you who read the NYT article on the lady who took set up shop in that house will realize that she isnt planning on staying long term. However she might change her mind if she knew that the property could be hers in a year and a half if she manages to be a decent homeowner. Even if she leaves, someone else could "tack" on to her possession and then claim ownership. Adverse possession seems like a good way to deal with the problem of massive foreclosures and get the housing market back on a level footing. Without so many foreclosures on the market prices will not be as depressed and fewer people will be underwater.

Adverse Possession is one an old and well known legal doctrine and should provide a useful tool in this crisis. In fact i might go get a house right now...


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