Daily Archives: June 7, 2004

Stanley Cup Finals

Tampa Bay beat Calgary 2-1 in game 7 of the series and wins the Stanley Cup in game that was much more exciting than the one masquerading as basketball last night.
Drat! The Modulator household was rooting for Calgary.


Don Boudreaux at Cafe Hayak tells this story:

There it was, in big, bold, black and white: “SPEED LIMIT 65
As I drove on Saturday to a conference, signs with this crystal-clear message were displayed prominently along I-66, I-81, and I-64 in Virginia. And yet I disobeyed this command not to drive at speeds in excess of 65 MPH. I set my cruise-control on 73 (just shy of ten-miles per hour over the posted speed limit), kept it there, and enjoyed the drive. I even passed three or four patrol cars lying in wait for speeders. Not one pursued me.
And then opines:
This everyday driving experience and my mental experiment confirm that law is not just what the state says it is and only what the state says it is.
Except when the state wants it to be exactly what it says it is.
Law is much more nuanced, rich, and spontaneous than the state’s written rules.
But not near as nuanced, rich and spontaneous as it was prior to the state writing this precise law.
The real law on U.S. highways is something like the following: if weather conditions are decent and if traffic is not too heavy, then you can drive between five and ten miles per hour over the posted speed limit.
Which is not near as nuanced, rich and spontaneous as what used to be the law in many jurisdictions, e.g., Washington:
No person shall drive a vehicle on a highway at a speed greater than is reasonable and prudent under the conditions and having regard to the actual and potential hazards then existing.
And then came maximum speed limits.
Back to Don:
No one legislated this rule; it’s not written down in any official statute book; it’s certainly not posted along highways. It evolved spontaneously from everyday practice and is now part of the expectations of all drivers — and, importantly, it is also part of the expectations of highway patrol officers.
This does seem to reflect everday practice. But both the law and the practiced rule represent a devolution from the days of no written maximum speed limits. And, in many cases, this cushion may exist via legislative intent as the penalties available for minor speeding infractions are nominal and enforcement is viewed as a poor use of officer’s time both from the perspective of revenue generation and highway safety. They want the big ticket reckless speeders as defined in their respective state statutes.
There is a fairly detailed review of state speeding laws here.

Representing America

Mark Danner writes in the New York Review of Books:

What is clear is that the Abu Ghraib photographs and the terrible story they tell have done great damage to what was left of America’s moral power in the world, and thus its power to inspire hope rather than hatred among Muslims. The photographs “do not represent America,” or so the President asserts, and we nod our heads and agree. But what exactly does this mean?
I agree that the photographs do not represent America but what has become abundantly clear is that the photographs do represent the bush administration (article is from the Wall Street Journal ($)):
Bush administration lawyers contended last year that the president wasn’t bound by laws prohibiting torture and that government agents who might torture prisoners at his direction couldn’t be prosecuted by the Justice Department.
For more details see Bilmon, Phillip Carter, and Kevin Drum who states the issue clearly:
The United States has fought many wars over the past half century, and in each of them our causes were just as important as today’s, information from prisoners would have been just as helpful, and we were every bit as determined to win as we are now. But we still didn’t authorize torture of prisoners. FDR, Truman, Eisenhower, LBJ, Reagan � all of them knew it wasn’t right, and the rest of us knew it as well.
So what’s different this time? Only one thing: the name of the man in the White House. Under this administration, we seem to have lost the simple level of moral clarity that allowed our predecessors to tell right from wrong.
Do we really have to wait for an election to toss these people out of office?
That congress has not initiated action to do so suggests that a majority of these folks have also lost their moral compass and should be booted out as well.