Monday, November 29, 2010

Wikileaks: Enemy of the United States

Le·gal In·sur·rec·tion:
We are the laughingstock of the world, an impotent superpower whose response to those who aid our enemies is to write a letter asking them not to do it. Yes, Harold Koh the State Department's chief lawyer, sent a demand freakin' letter to Wikileaks. It went something like this (my paraphrase):
Dear Wikileaks,

Please give us our stuff back because it was really mean of you to take it and give it to all your friends.


Harold Koh
Here is the letter which should have been delivered months ago:
Dear Wikileaks,

If you publish any more material we will hunt you down no matter the cost, and you either will be killed while resisting arrest or you will spend the rest of your lives in solitary confinement in a Supermax prison, where the highlight of your day will be 1 hour spent in a cage instead of your cell. Don't look up, that sound of propellers in the air is not a Predator drone.


Harold Koh

Seriously, a demand letter? I send demand letters all the time in my legal practice--but when some chucklehead is making a mockery of the United States of America, we should be dropping a bomb on his head. Wikileaks is endangering the safety and national security of the United States. If North Korea was lobbing artillery at us, we wouldn't send a demand letter.

Seriously, how wimpy does the Obama Administration look?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Chris Christie Freezes School Superintendent Pay

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie orders school superintendent pay freeze. Christie is still looking to bring the New Jersey budget under control. As you can see, he is an equal opportunity pay freezer. Will this make the teachers' union happy? Probably not, but at least the objective outsider can look and see that Christie isn't just beating up on teacher's pay when it comes to controlling education costs.

Author of DOJ report targeting NJ Governor Chris Christie has history of using position for political purposes, sources say | The Daily Caller - Breaking News, Opinion, Research, and Entertainment

According to the The Daily Caller a recent report targeting NJ Governor Chris Christie was authored by someone who may have a political agenda.

That a Department of Justice lawyer may have a political agenda doesn't bother nearly as much as these passages:

Another former senior DOJ official who asked not to be named confirmed Lee’s involvement in strategizing to leak information to the Washington Post, saying that she was not a trustworthy person and had major political motivations.

Von Spakovsky described one case where Lee was caught breaking into the e-mail of a colleague, Joshua Rogers, specifically because Rogers was conservative and Christian. “Lee was radically left. She made it plain that she didn’t like Rogers,” von Spakovsky said.

He went on to call Lee’s efforts at DOJ a “major security breach.”


ccording to another former DOJ employee who worked closely with Lee, Lee first got into trouble while working in the Voters Rights Division during the Bush administration. There, according to the former coworker, Lee was caught breaking into other employees’ e-mail accounts and spreading around personal information.

Look if this woman, Maura Lee has a political agenda, big deal. It might create conflicts at the DOJ, but that doesn't bother me. What bothers me is why this woman still has a job!!! Did you note that she was caught breaking into another employee's email? Did you note that it doesn't appear to be an isolated incident? This is not some clerk, this is a licenses member of the Bar--an attorney who should have been fired after the first incident. But somehow, this woman still is employed by the U.S. Government. If she is willing to break into a colleagues email, what is to stop her from thinking she can break into your email or my email. Lee should have been fired--not for being politically adverse to conservatives, but for violating the privacy and work papers of a colleague.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Truth in Education and A Pandora's Box

While I think some of the arguments presented in this piece by Robert Weissberg at American Thinker, Spending Less for Better Education, are a bit simplistic, Weissberg hits on a truth that has so far befuddled education reformers:
The GOP's victories on November 2 have once again raised the call for smaller government, and given soaring budgets and lack of improvement, reducing K-12 education spending is one obvious target. This will not be easy, but there is a sensible strategy.

Begin by recognizing that abolishing any specific program, even clear-cut ineffective boondoggles, is doomed to fail. All have constituencies -- education school professors, benefiting parents, program employees, foundation experts, bureaucratic administrators, plus erstwhile pro-education members of Congress who can readily mobilize to defeat axe-wielders. Scanning the budget line by line to cut waste is a cost-saving dead end. GOP skinflints will be overwhelmed and labeled mean-spirited enemies of "helping the children."

Successful cost-cutting requires satisfying three conditions. First, reductions must improve education, not just make mediocrity less expensive. Second, measures must defeat interests who sustain an expensive, personally lucrative status quo. Finally, cutbacks must create powerful counter-constituencies to resist the inevitable rear-guard action from teachers' unions and all profiting from government's largess.
Weissberg is absolutely correct, the current education constituencies, i.e. the teacher unions and the massive administrative bloat that we have in education is difficult to overcome directly. The secret which Wiessberg presents through one idea is to go around, or under, the education constituencies rather than through them.

Weissberg argues that the best way to reduce costs and improve education quickly is to take all the "bad students" out of the classes. But unlike the disciplinarian crowd, Weissberg suggest sending them packing not as a punishment, but as an opportunity. Weissberg suggests letting any 16 year old kid to drop out with a Lifetime Learning Credit Voucher that can be used with the knucklehead gets some maturity and takes a few lumps in the real world.

The idea has appeal, but fails to address a few problems. Namely that behavioral problems in classrooms arise far before a child turns 16. By the time the kid is 16, then most schools have given up hope on the miscreant. So, while there may be some savings, I am not sure that the savings will be as great as Weissburg thinks.

But while Weissburg sees an upside, and it is a reasonable upside, there is a downside--namely that you now have a bunch of 16-year-old, uneducated, unemployed kids on the street. It may be just a matter of time before our juvenile justice system is swamped with these drop-outs. I am not saying every drop-out will end up a criminal--but the odds certainly seem to stack up that way.

But if we go back to Weissberg's truth in the beginning of his piece, this is where we need to get creative. We need to see more ideas like this--but of course, Weissberg himself opens up the biggest Pandora's box of all--we would have to admit that there are indeed bad students--something that politicians have been loathe to admit.