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Category: General

Today in the Horrors of Child Abuse

[ 5 ] September 17, 2014 |

Detroit Lions running back Reggie Bush talks about “harshly disciplining” his 1 year old daughter.

And no, this is not just an NFL thing
.

…Bush now claims (per update at above link) that this he does hit his daughter. But the original language leaves me very skeptical of that claim that could easily be made for PR purposes. When one says, “I definitely will try to obviously not leave bruises or anything like that on her, but I definitely will discipline her, harshly, depending on what the situation is” there is no other real way to interpret that statement.

Meanwhile, Calvin Johnson
:

Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson called Peterson’s situation “unfortunate” but that he will still discipline his kids.

“Knowing when, how to discipline your kids. This whole situation, you know, it’s very unfortunate,” Johnson said. “Then you have pictures come out which made it even worse. I’m going to discipline my kids, you know, and can’t nobody tell me how to discipline my kids.

“Like I said, that’s not my situation right now. My situation would be private. It’s not a public matter when you discipline your family but unfortunately for him, it had become that. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with disciplining your child. It teaches them discipline at the same time.”

Johnson did not indicate how he disciplines any current or future children, but said he felt child discipline should be private. He felt differently about domestic abuse.

“There are some things that just shouldn’t be done,” Johnson said. ” You shouldn’t put your hands on a woman, simple as that. Talking about Adrian and going from that to the domestic cases that we have are two totally different things to me.”

Yeah, no. The two things might have some differences, but they are both physical abuse.

Thomas Jefferson School of Law about to go under?

[ 11 ] September 17, 2014 |

tjsl

Thomas Jefferson is a big, although shrinking, ABA law school in San Diego, featuring horrible employment statistics (less than three in ten graduates have legal jobs nine months after graduation), terrible bar passage rates (over the past three years less than half of the school’s graduates who have taken the California bar have passed), and mind-boggling debt figures (the 2013 class took out an average of $180,000 in law school loans, which means its members had an average of around $215,000 in law school debt alone, not counting undergraduate debt, when their first loan payments became due in December).

A few years ago, this institution decided it would be a good thing to build a swank 305,000 square-foot eight-story building in downtown San Diego, at a cost of around $90,000,000. The project, which was completed in 2011, was beset by litigation over “alleged construction flaws and unpaid debts.”

The project has also been plagued by remarkably bad timing, as it opened just as the law school reform movement was generating the kind of major media coverage that led to a crash in applications to law schools generally, and to TJSL in particular. Applications to the school plummeted by more than 50% between 2010 and 2013, and even moving to a de facto open admissions policy (acceptance rates went from 45% five years ago to 80% last year) hasn’t stopped the student body from contracting.

Even as of July 2012, the school’s tax filings revealed an already-precarious financial situation, as revenue was failing to meet expenses, and the school’s assets consisted almost entirely of the new building and the land on which it sits (remarkably, the school, which is 45 years old, has literally no endowment). Meanwhile the school was carrying $92.5 million in bond liabilities, which in turn were requiring nearly $11 million per year in debt service. In addition, the building and land are apparently subject to what was as of two years ago a $33.4 million dollar mortgage.

This past December, the school’s new dean (his predecessor had been paid $529,000 in FY2012, apparently in recognition of his success in bringing the school to the brink of bankruptcy) announced staff layoffs and salary cuts, at the same time that the school’s bonds were being downgraded to junk status.

Now comes word that TJSL didn’t meet its payment obligations on its debt this summer, and that the school is frantically negotiating with its creditors to keep them from pulling the plug on this mess. The bondholders must now calculate whether it makes more sense to try to maintain the school as a going concern, or to get out while the getting is relatively not so bad, given the for the moment robust southern California real estate market.

A few months ago I did an analysis of 22 law school budgets, and discovered that almost all of them dedicated between 60% and 70% of their expenditures to employee (not just faculty) compensation. The major outlier was TJSL, which in FY2012 — that is, before the recent round of layoffs and salary cuts — dedicated only 39.5% of total expenditures on employee compensation. So it’s unclear how much more cutting of expenses the school can realistically do. Although TJSL has yet to officially report its 2014 class size, the admissions office told me that fall enrollment totaled 204 1Ls, to go along with around 60 spring matriculants (the school enrolled 440 1Ls three years ago). Given that the school is essentially 100% tuition-dependent, closing it down may well be the most prudent course of action from the perspective of its creditors.

But there’s another group of people whose interests are likely to be best served by the school closing: a large portion of its current students. Federal educational loans (and almost all postgraduate borrowing now consists of such loans) are almost never dischargeable, with one striking exception: if the school at which the debt was incurred ceases operations prior to the student’s graduation, and the student doesn’t subsequently complete his or her degree at another institution. In other words, the shuttering of TJSL would be a get out of debt jail free card for its students.

Due Process: A Real Thing

[ 17 ] September 17, 2014 |

I may be misreading, but Margaret Hartmann’s tone seems to suggest that she thinks the NFLPA is being disingenuous and shouldn’t be defending Ray Rice:

The NFL Players Association finally filed their appeal of Ray Rice’s indefinite suspension on Tuesday night, but emphasized that they’re only defending a man who knocked out his wife in a elevator because that’s their job. “When we look at facts and reach a determination that there are appropriate grounds to appeal any decision — any disciplinary decision — that is the role of the union, that’s the duty of the union. And we really don’t shy away from that duty at all,” DeMaurice Smith, executive director of the NFLPA, told CBS News. “Public outrage notwithstanding, it’s part of my legal training … to understand that everybody has due process rights.” So please keep directing those angry comments to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, not to the union!

Goodell suspended the Baltimore Ravens running back for two games in July, then admitted he “didn’t get it right” and put him on indefinite suspension after TMZ released video of the incident. The union said it needs to “protect the due process rights of all NFL players,” as this sets a precedent that players can be punished twice for the same incident.

I’m not sure if I’m disagreeing with Hartmann or not, but let me say that the NFLPA is clearly right here. Not only right in the narrow sense that everyone deserves due process and a defense, but right on the merits. The NFL has (rightly or wrongly) set the maximum punishment for a first domestic violence offense at 6 games. Rice’s NFL punishment shouldn’t exceed that. While what Rice did is far, far worse attempts to suspend him for more than that are comparable to MLB’s indefensible season-long suspension of A-Rod. The idea that allegedly lying to Roger Goodell could merit as much or more punishment than the underlying offense of knocking a woman unconscious is farcical on multiple levels, and the potential for abuse is very real. The Ravens can release Rice, of course, but apart from the 6 suspended games at most they should pay him his signing bonus.

The NFL does use due process disingenuously, but it’s a real value. To be clear, what process is due is not necessarily the process that’s due in a criminal trial. In Greg Hardy‘s case, even if his jury trial counts as a de novo hearing under North Carolina law, a conviction in a bench trial is sufficient for the NFL to suspend him. If a player is being suspend with pay, like Adrian Peterson, I think credible allegations are sufficient. But if the NFL wants to suspend players without pay for off-the-field actions, waiting for the legal process to play out is not unreasonable. And the penalties should be specific and preferably collectively bargained.

Sally Jenkins makes good points about the dangers of putting arbitrary discipline powers in the commisioner’s hands.

When She Gets Around the Internet She Really Gets AROUND the Internet: Wednesday Links!

[ 92 ] September 17, 2014 |

Just for fun, some Wednesday morning inspiration:

The ISIS Conundrum

[ 62 ] September 17, 2014 |

Lance Mannion has a very thoughtful essay on the difficulties of being a liberal trying to figure out what to do about ISIS. Read it. I agree with it. I have no idea what to do either. Nothing is probably a terrible idea. So is something. Whatever that something is.

LGM on the Road

[ 6 ] September 17, 2014 |

For anyone in the proximity of the Lehigh Valley, I will be delivering a Constitution Day lecture at the lovely campus of Muhlenberg College, “From the Party of Lincoln to the Party of Calhoun: The Supreme Court and Voting Rights in Historical Perspective.”

Rumors that a labor historian of interest is speaking at Muhlenberg next week may well be founded.

[Erik] That a Center for Ethics would bring me in to speak seems a contradiction in terms!

Huge Labor Victory in the South

[ 9 ] September 16, 2014 |

This is a major win for labor:

9,000 American Airlines passenger service agents, after a 19-year struggle, joined together today in a vote with the members of the US Airways CWA-IBT Association to form a new bargaining unit of 14,500 agents at American Airlines. It is the largest labor organizing victory in the South in decades.

Three-quarters of the agents work in Texas, North Carolina, Florida and Arizona and 2,300 are home-based reservations agents.

By an 86 percent vote, airport and reservations agents overwhelmingly chose representation by the Communications Workers of America-Teamsters Association in the National Mediation Board election; results of the vote were announced this afternoon. US Airways and American Airlines merged to form the New American Airlines in 2013.

The vote clearly shows that workers who can make a fair choice about union representation want bargaining rights. New American agents are concentrated in southern states, and work at diverse locations, including large and smaller airports, call centers and at home. Across every group, they voted for bargaining rights and union representation.

That the addition of 9000 members would be the largest labor advance in the South in decades is depressing, but such is the reality of modern America. This is a big victory and hopefully can lead to more.

Fake Canadians

[ 28 ] September 16, 2014 |

Normally I would oppose Americans pretending to be Canadian citizens, as the existence of the northern menace is a threat to us all. But I will make an exception for ex-slaves claiming Canadian citizenship while enlisting for the Union in the Civil War so that if they were captured, they would not be returned to slavery.

Every Man A Law Unto Himself

[ 33 ] September 16, 2014 |

A lower court applies Hobby Lobby in a principled manner:

Citing Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, the Supreme Court’s decision last June holding that the religious objections of a business’ owners could trump federal rules requiring that business to include birth control coverage in its health plan, a federal judge in Utah held last week that a member of a polygamist religious sect could refuse to testify in a federal investigation into alleged violations of child labor laws because he objects to testifying on religious grounds.

Admittedly, the original was a “we reserve the right not to apply this principle in if it produces policy results we don’t like” Alito “minimalist” special, so who knows what will happen. But the burden in this case is much more substantial, and there seems to be a less restrictive means of achieving the state interest, so I’m not sure why the claim wouldn’t be valid. The Supreme Court just created a huge mess. (And, again, RFRA was a dumb law in the first place.)

Tribal Casinos and Labor Law

[ 78 ] September 16, 2014 |

Native American tribes are trying to use their sovereign status to avoid U.S. labor law in their casinos:

After the Saginaw Chippewa fired a housekeeper at the Soaring Eagle casino in 2010, the Michigan tribe found itself at the center of a national legal battle over the reach of U.S. labor law and the sovereign rights of Native American tribes.

The housekeeper, Susan Lewis, was fired for soliciting union support among workers at the casino in central Michigan. She challenged her dismissal before the U.S. National Labor Relations Board, which ordered the casino to reinstate Lewis.

The Saginaw Chippewa refused, saying the NLRB, which oversees union elections and referees private-sector labor relations disputes, had no right to meddle in tribal business.

Four years later the tribe is fighting the NLRB in one of three nearly identical court cases whose outcomes could be felt throughout the $28 billion tribal casino industry.

At issue are two long-held legal principles. One is the right of private-sector workers to band together and pursue union representation, as embodied in the 1930s National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), which the NLRB oversees.

The other is tribal sovereignty, which has been affirmed by Supreme Court decisions going back to the 1820s.

Tribal law is tremendously complicated and I am no expert. What I do understand suggests that with federal labor law, the tribes might have to comply due to their “domestic dependent nations” status as proclaimed by John Marshall. Were it state law, then they would have a much better case because state sovereignty over indigenous land is less clear. Plus, there is a long history of U.S. labor law already applying to workers on reservations, including OSHA.

But this is just the same kind of capitalist avoidance of basic rights for workers that Vegas casinos or apparel manufacturers or anyone else engages in. And the arguments are equally absurd:

But if the NLRB gets its way and unions move in, potentially raising the Soaring Eagle’s operating costs and eroding its profits, “the impact on the tribe and its governmental services would be, in a word, devastating,” said the tribe in a brief filed with the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati.

The casino is “critical to the political integrity of the tribe,” the brief said. The tribe, which does not tax its members, receives 90 percent of its income from the casino.

Ha ha ha ha, what a funny joke. Or it would be if it wasn’t trying to seriously make this argument. This is the same overheated anti-union rhetoric we’ve heard from Henry Clay Frick, Walmart, and countless others. In many ways, this case is not all that dissimilar on principle from Israel/Palestine. Native Americans’ historical oppression does not give them the right to oppress others.

Casey‘s Original Sin

[ 59 ] September 16, 2014 |

I have a piece about the new 72-hour waiting period for women seeking to obtain an abortion that passed over Nixon’s veto in Missouri.

There are regulations that are worse in terms of arbitrarily limiting abortion access.  But few are more nakedly indefensible.  Mandatory waiting periods don’t even take the superficial form of legitimate health regulations; they just make the “women are not rational moral agents” subtext of abortion restrictions text.

SEK discusses Guardians of the Galaxy, Marx Brothers on Graphic Policy Radio

[ 39 ] September 16, 2014 |

If you’re interested in what I have to say about Guardians of the Galaxy, I was a guest on Graphic Policy Radio radio talking about it last night.

I made a number of claims about the film, foremost among them its indebtedness to mid-period Marx Brothers films.

I also said quite about something I kept calling “old-school sci-fi wonder” — though I have no idea why I became so wedded to that phrase — and Parks and Rec, because anytime I have the opportunity to discuss Parks and Rec, I will.

UPDATE: I forgot many of the interesting tangents we went on, e.g. What would a science fiction film that wasn’t anthropocentric actually look like, and would it ever get made? (For example, can you imagine a film version of an Iain M. Banks novel?)

AND ALSO: All of the “Bert Macklin, FBI” stuff on Parks and Rec — his deep commitment to his flights of fancy — always reminded me of what Calvin from Calvin and Hobbes would’ve grown up to be like, so Guardians of the Galaxy struck me like a “Spaceman Spiff” serial.

AND ALSO, AGAIN: A discussion of abusive relationships, in which I noted that “it’s a really weird thing to be talking about in the wake of the Ray Rice incident, but this was an abusive relationship, but also very clearly love. I think this is something that gets glossed over in popular culture — yes, let’s condemn people who abuse their loved ones, but don’t make it so that people don’t love the ones they beat, that’s where the pathos is, that’s where the humanity is…We tend to like to simplify things when we’re demonizing people. And I think the film did a really good job of showing that love exists in an abusive relationship — and God, is anybody recording this?”

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