18 May 2018

Novel Remedies

Judges have a pretty narrow range of options in resolving cases. What if there were additional options for them such as the following?

* What if, instead of punishing someone criminally for perjury or holding them in contempt, a judge could declare that any statement made by someone in any future court proceeding or legal document was presumptively false? Their testimony alone would never suffice to make out a prima facie case., or to overcome a motion for summary judgment. Their affidavits recorded in real property records after that time would be presumed to be invalid.

* What if there were a registry of every time that a court determined that someone made an untruthful statement under oath that would be publicly available and admissible in court proceedings?

* What if there were a central registry of all occupational license actions taken against someone at any level, so that, for example, someone who had a license suspended by misconduct as a securities broker would automatically be easily accessible if someone sought a license from some other board or sought appointment to some public office?

* What if the results of a background check on every candidate for public office was automatically distributed to every voter as part of a ballot information packet?

* What if, an official who had absolute immunity from civil liability, like a judge or prosecutor, automatically lost that immunity when determined to have committed an ethical violation related to the case where civil liability is sought (or just in general)?

* What if all vehicles owned by, or in the household of, someone whose driver's license was suspended or revoked who had driven anyway at least once, was marked with a sticker that would authorize law enforcement to make random stops to the vehicle to determine that the driver had a license? Or, perhaps, the car would have a device that would only allow it to start if a valid license was inserted and a photo of the person inserting the license was taken simultaneously?

* What is a court, upon learning that a public official (including a judge in a case reviewed by an appellate court) had committed a serious abuse of discretion, or intentionally defied the law, had the authority to sua sponte remove that public official from office or suspend that public official for a length of time?

* What if someone who had filed for bankruptcy or had unsatisfied money judgments outstanding against them was prohibited from establishing a limited liability entity or benefiting from limited liability, without being bonded against losses people might suffer from the entity?

* What if any debt incurred by someone who had a legal obligation to be, or had represented that they were, bonded and/or insured, but was not, was non-dischargeable in bankruptcy?

17 May 2018

Sabato Puts 50-50 Odds Of Dems Retaking The House In 2018

The U.S. House

Larry J. Sabato's Crystal Ball is one of the most credible predictors of election outcomes in Congressional races. He gives the Democrats a 50-50 chance of retaking the U.S. House of Representatives in 2018 with a wide range of possible outcomes. Democrats need to pick up 23 seats (net) to achieve this outcome.

This is somewhat hard to reconcile with some stunning special election victories in recent months for Democrats running in safe Republican seats. But, gerrymandering. But, voter turnout and voter suppression. But, tribal politics. But, resignation in the face of one act of Trump Administration/GOP mischief after another. But, a diffuse sense that individual members of Congress are responsible for the acts of fellow party members. 

The U.S. Senate

The U.S. Senate race is much easier to make predictions about at this point, because there are far fewer races to analyze and none of the district boundaries have changed, and polling is more easily available.
There are 35 U.S. Senate seats up for election this year, 33 of which would ordinarily be up for election and 2 of which (Minnesota and Mississippi) are open due to vacancies. Democrats need to win 28 of the 35 seats up for election to win a majority; Republicans need to hold just 8 of the 35 seats up for election to retain a Senate majority. The Democrats need to pick up 2 Senate seats to gain a majority in the Senate (including independents who caucus with the Democrats). 

Simply put, there is a less than 50-50 chance of Democrats gaining a majority in the U.S. Senate. It would take a big "blue tsunami" for that to happen. A "par for the course" outcome in the current quite favorable environment for Democratic candidates would be for Democrats to win 25 seats which would mean that there would be 47 Senators who caucus with Democrats and 53 with caucus with Republicans, for a net loss of two seats. One can't simply predict the outcome of each race independently, however, because midterm elections are all strongly correlated with each other.

This said, however, a narrow majority in the Senate is not nearly as powerful as a narrow majority in the House. Defections do happen in the Senate on individual votes among a handful of moderates (some of whom will be gone after 2018), 

Of the Senate races, eighteen have at least a remote possibility of changing hands in an extraordinary election while seventeen (13 Democratic and 4 Republican) are safe. 

Democrats need to win fifteen of the eighteen seats that are in play. Republicans can achieve a 50-50 tie in the Senate with gives them a majority with Vice President Pence casting deciding votes in cases of ties for the Republicans, with just four out of eighteen seats that are in play. The seats that are in play break down as follows (according to Real Clear Politics with incumbent parties in open seats, incumbent candidates where an incumbent is involved, listed following each state, and bold face type for the state if Trump won that state in 2016):

Thirteen safe Democratic seats with Democratic incumbents who, except in the open seat in Maine, are running for re-election. Clinton won twelve of these states in 2016 and won most, but not all of Maine's electoral votes in 2016.

Six likely Democratic: Michigan (Stabenow-D), Minnesota-2 (Smith-D), New Jersey (Menendez-D), Pennsylvania (Casey-D), Wisconsin (Baldwin-D), Virginia (Kaine-D) 

Two lean Democratic: Ohio (Brown-D), Montana (Tester-D)

Eight toss ups: Arizona (R), Indiana (D), Tennessee (D), Florida (Nelson-D), Missouri (McCaskill-D), Nevada (Heller-R), North Dakota (Heitkamp-D), West Virginia (Manchin-D).

One lean Republican:Texas (Ted Cruz-R)

One likely Republican: Mississippi 2 (Hyde-Smith-R)

Four safe Republican seats (including the open seat in Utah) with Republican incumbents who, except in Utah, are running for re-election (all were won by Trump).

Fourteen of the eighteen Senate seats in play are in states that Trump won in 2016. Four are seats that were won by Hillary Clinton in 2016. 

Yet, 2016 was not a landslide election. Clinton won the popular vote and 236 out of the 270 electoral votes needed to win. But, the 2018 mid-term elections in the U.S. Senate happen, more or less by chance, to be in territory that is disproportionately favorable to Republicans.

Federal Races In Colorado

There is not a U.S. Senate race this year in Colorado. 

The only races of national importance will be its seven Congressional District races, several of which are safe seats. The 6th Congressional District held by Republican Mike Coffman is the likely to flip in 2018, based upon voter registration and support for Clinton in the 2016 election, but Mike Coffman has consistently exceeded expectations for a generic Republican in this suburban Denver district.

Personality, Japanese and the Sapir–Whorf Hypothesis

The Sapir-Whorf hypothesis attaches importance to the importance of language, and especially vocabulary, to what people can and do think about.

In furtherance of that hotly disputed hypothesis, I offer up two Japanese words that describe personality types, which don't have close, well recognized, single word or very short phrase equivalents in the English language. Yet, with each single word, the Japanese can instantly evoke an personality archetype (for what it is worth, I am fairly certain that there is a word that is a fairly close equivalent to Tsundere in German, although I don't recall any longer what it is). And, I have to say that in my personal experience, I have encountered people whose personalities are a pretty good fit to each of these two terms.

I welcome anyone who disagrees and can identify a close English language equivalent to do so in the comments. Pronunciation guidance is also welcome in the comments.

These terms are used primarily in discussions of character tropes in Japanese fiction, but can be used more generally as well. They are:


Tsundere (ツンデレ)
A personality which is usually stern, cold or hostile to the person they like, while occasionally letting slip the warm and loving feelings hidden inside due to being shy, nervous, insecure or simply unable to help acting badly in front of the person they like. It is an portmanteau of the Japanese terms tsuntsun (ツンツン), meaning to be stern or hostile, and deredere (でれでれ), meaning to be "lovey dovey".

Yandere (ヤンデレ)
A term for a person who is initially loving and caring to someone they like a lot until their romantic loveadmiration and devotion becomes feisty and mentally destructive in nature through either overprotectiveness, violence, brutality or all three. The term is a portmanteau of the words yanderu (病んでる), meaning (mentally or emotionally) ill, and deredere (でれでれ "lovey dovey"), meaning to show genuinely strong romantic affection. Yandere people are mentally unstable, incredibly deranged and use extreme violence or brutality as an outlet for their emotions.  In Japanese fiction,Yandere characters are usually, but not always, female.