How Do You Grade the Work of Law Students? Is Student Performance in Part a Function of the Professor’s Competence in Teaching the Materials?

At the ABA Law Journal Law News Now, Debra Cassens Weiss writes about Greta Van Susteren and her law school grading practices during her tenure as an Adjunct Professor at Georgetown Law School 1984-1999.

What interested me is this quotation:

This may be a little bit bizarre, but in a setting, at least at Georgetown, if someone is not doing well, I think it’s the professor’s fault. The people there pay a lot of money, and they’re very aggressive and they’re hard workers.

This is a side of the law school equation that is not often discussed, but that quotation certainly reflects my own views for the period that I taught law as FFA Lecturer for Anglo-American Law, Legal Writing and Legal Research at Trier Law School (1998-2003).

At the beginning of each semester, I made it clear to the students that if everyone wrote A’s on the final exam and on their written and research work, they would all get A’s. Indeed, I always regarded it is my own failing in teaching if the results were substantially less than that. It was my job to get the material through to the students. In fact, most of the students did get A’s and B’s, with fewer C’s and D’s, and only a few F’s.

I always gave a multiple question final examination with relatively objective correct answers, and combined this grade with the grades obtained on the legal research and writing projects. Indeed, since I had about 200 students per semester, I had up to 20 student assistants who assisted me in the grading of papers, using a master answer sheet, although I subsequently examined every student’s papers and exams again personally, and did change grades, if required. In any case, nothing thrilled me more than to see answers reflecting that the student had indeed assimilated the materials to be learned. That was certainly one of my greatest rewards in teaching, topped only perhaps by the opportunity to interact on a high level with young, gifted people.

My grading practices were in stark contrast to the normal practices in German law examinations, where, by tradition, good grades are rarely given. The German law teaching system regards the study of law more as a gauntlet system to be endured, with first-year students in Civil Law (Zivilrecht), Criminal Law (Strafrecht) and Public Law (Öffentliches Recht) being failed in their first examinations in numbers approaching 50% or more.

In my opinion, this in part is due to the fact that there is nothing comparable to the LSAT in Germany. In fact, in Germany students with good high school grades can study law right after graduation from German high school (German Gymnasium), rather than, as in the American system, only after college graduation and only if they have good LSAT scores, showing thereby the kind of logical acumen which is required for law study. The result of this initial lack of selection is that one often finds 1st-year students in German law schools whose acumen for law is minimal.

I tried to get around this problem by telling my students, who were almost all 1st-year law students with mostly excellent grades in high school, that about 1/3 of them would not make it to the semester’s final examination, not only because of problems in their German law courses, but because they would themselves acknowledge that they were in the wrong field and would move on to a different career path. Indeed, I tried to advise students accordingly, based upon the papers that they submitted in my courses. There were for example numerous students gifted in writing literature, but poorly suited for law. I advised them to change their course of study.

Accordingly, in our view some bad judgment is at work in the new Michigan Law School Special Admissions Program for the 2010 term where Michigan undergrad applicants will not even be allowed to take the LSAT, but are required to have a grade point of 3.8 or higher to apply for law school. Based on our experience at Trier, where numerous students with straight A’s in the German high schools were not necessarily a right fit for law school – but well suited for other professions, this appears to be a policy of wishful thinking rather than an admissions policy based on obtaining the best available information about each law school applicant.

Update: As if our ESP antennas were working at full power in making the above posting on the above topic, we discovered this morning (Oct. 1) from Martha Neil at the ABA Law Journal Law News Now (via Brian Leitner) that Harvard Law School has just adopted a modified pass/fail system (honors-pass-low pass-fail) similar to that used at Stanford Law School and Yale Law School, dropping letter grades.

Stanford Law School effective graduating class 2011 applies a system which grades by the labels honors, pass, restricted credit and no credit.

Yale has honors, pass, low pass, credit, failure, requirement completed (RC).

Berkeley has an intricate quota system which is described at Berkeley Law Grading Policy as follows (get out your calculator):

Up until the fall 1997, students received one of four grades in courses at Berkeley Law: High Honors (HH), Honors (H), Pass (P) or No Credit (NC). In fall 1997, a grade of Substandard Pass (PC), which falls between Pass and No Credit, was added; this grade indicates that the student received credit for the course but the work was of low quality. In first-year classes, the curve for honors grades is strict – the top 40 percent of the class receives honors grades, with 10 percent of the class receiving High Honors and the next 30 percent receiving Honors. There is no required curve for the grades of Pass and below, and faculty members are not required to give any Substandard Pass or No Credit grades. In second- and third-year classes, up to 45 percent of the class can receive honors grades, of which up to 15 percent of the class can receive High Honors. In small seminar classes, the curve still exists, but it is further relaxed. A very few courses are graded on a Credit (CR)/No Pass (NP) basis.

Basically, that is similar to the stodgy virtual quota system used in Germany, only here at an elevated grading level. It is unfortunate that the assignment of these “word” grades has little to do with actual performance, either by students or professors, but merely reflect a student’s percentage standing in his or her class. The Berkeley system is no great improvement over letter grading.

At the least, if no letter grades are used, any “terms” used as “grades” should reflect whether a student has understood the material well, satisfactorily, unsatisfactorily, or as good as not at all. This can vary from course to course, from professor to professor, from student to student, and from year to year. To have a fixed quota system is, in the eyes of this observer, rather absurd.

Nuts & Boalts comments on the grading developments.

Georgetown University Law Center will not be following suit.

The Yale Daily News has a detailed article by Isaac Arnsdorf about recent events in law school top echelons.

World Financial Markets Seek a State of Equilibrium as the Values of Assets Seek to Reach Realistic Levels

All things in the universe seek a state of equilibrium, and this applies equally to the world financial markets.

At the National Post, Terence Corcoran has written an article that Financial markets go up and down as they should. As a result, the proposed financial bailout (A US “Legislative Proposal for Treasury Authority to Purchase Mortgage-Related Assets“), as rejected by US Congress in the person of the U.S. House of Representatives, would not have staved off the ultimate financial future.

That future portends that “the market is going to continue marking stock prices and other assets down until values reach realistic levels.” This is the essence of market capitalism.
See the CNN article, Markets mayhem after U.S. bailout failure.

The trouble with that approach, as written by Ben Stein at the New York Times, is that In Financial Food Chains, Little Guys Can’t Win, causing Stein to wonder:

Maybe the bailout should not be of the banks at all, but of homeowners themselves. Maybe if we make the government the buyer of last resort of homes, we will stabilize the markets, stabilize the debt associated with the markets and take the gain out of the credit-default swaps for the speculators. Yes, price would be a huge issue, but so it is for Mr. Paulson’s plan for buying debt from banks.

In either case, however, someone would be obtaining a windfall gain, paid for by somebody else.

In the case of a bank bailout, we would be punishing the victims, who, by their taxes, would be bailing out the perpetrators, i.e. the banks. In the case of a homebuyer bailout, we would be bailing out those who chose to buy homes beyond their means, or were even speculating with real estate to make windfall profits, paid for by those who are living within their means.

In Europe, the entire money, banking and financial crisis has led French President Nicolas Sarkozy, a master of the exploitation of the political scene to his benefit, to proclaim:

The idea of the all-powerful market that must not be constrained by any rules, by any political intervention, was mad. The idea that markets were always right was mad….

The present crisis must incite us to refound capitalism on the basis of ethics and work … Self-regulation as a way of solving all problems is finished. Laissez-faire is finished. The all-powerful market that always knows best is finished….” [emphasis added by LawPundit]

But, of course, Mr. Sarkozy, as an experienced politician, must know that when money is concerned in the real world, ethics and work have little to do with anything.

On average, in a world governed by inheritance, 100% of the world’s assets change hands every generation, neither on the basis of ethics nor on the basis of work performed, but rather simply on the non-economic basis of selfish family relationships, bearing no relation to ethics or work performance whatsoever.

Similarly, countries whose territory sits on vast quantities of natural resources, such as oil and gas, exploit those resources selfishly for their own benefit, often hiring citizens from less favorably endowed countries to do the work. There is no correlation here between wealth and work or ethics at all. Quite the contrary, it has made many wealthy who do no socially beneficial work of any kind. If you want to see an UNETHICAL world, look to the financial world.

The state of the world economy has little to do with ethics, and if work is an issue, it is usually the work of the other guy, not the work of the person or institution that is accumulating wealth.

Why then, as Sarkozy suggests, should an unrealistic standard suddenly arise for financial markets, where greed and avarice are rampant, and have always existed? It is a world devoid of good or evil, ruled only by the ethic of money. Either you have it, or have it not. Being a good guy is irrelevant. Indeed, the real world indicates, au contraire to Monsieur Sarkozy, that it can be equally profitable to invest in God OR Satan.

Very few persons will disagree that new corrective legislation will be required to deal with inappropriate financial instruments, such as derivatives, which Warren Buffet has called “financial instruments of mass destruction“, as the BBC writes, “financial instruments that allow investors to speculate on the future price of, for example, commodities or shares – without buying the underlying investment.

That is simply a type of Las Vegas gambling on a global financial scale that has to be stopped. Similarly, subprime mortgage markets will have to be much more strictly regulated in the future to keep home-buying on a prudent and payable scale.

None of this means that market capitalism has failed. Market capitalism does not guarantee smooth sailing, but that is a different matter. If the already existing regulators – who Sarkozy champions – had done their jobs diligently all of these past years, there would be no financial crisis. Everyone involved in these matters has failed, and now the price has to be paid.

And, not to forget. There WILL be winners. And some of them may not be the good guys.

Learn from Golf, Gene Sarazen and 1929 : Don’t Panic, Take it Easy and Go to the Links As the World Financial Markets Struggle for Inevitable Balance

We read this story about the 1929 stock market crash many years ago in a type of businessman’s chain letter and were glad to find it again online at the Aircraft Resource Center:

Here is the story in the approximate version that we heard it 30 years ago:

The question:

Over a generation ago, in 1923, who was:

1. President of the largest steel company?
2. President of the largest gas company?

3. President of the New York Stock Exchange?

4. Greatest wheat speculator?

5. President of the Bank of International Settlement?

6. Wheat Bear of Wall Street?

These men were considered some of the world’s most successful of their day. Now, 80 years later, the history book asks us, if we know what ultimately became of them. The answer:

1. The president of the largest steel company, Charles Schwab, died a pauper.
2. The president of the largest gas company, Edward Hopson, went insane.

3. The president of the NYSE, Richard Whitney, was released from prison to die at home.

4. The greatest wheat speculator, Arthur Cooger, died abroad, penniless.

5. The president of the Bank of International Settlement, shot himself.

6. The Great Bear of Wall Street, Cosabee Livermore, also committed suicide.

However, in that same year, 1923, the PGA Champion and the winner of the most important golf tournament, the US Open, was Gene Sarazen. What became of him? He played golf until he was 92, died in 1999 at the age of 95. He was financially secure at the time of his death. The moral: Screw work. Play golf. You’ll live longer and be better off in the end.


This is a vintage piece of glurge, one which appears to have been in continuous circulation since at least 1948. Over the years it has been through a variety of alterations, with names being added and dropped from the list, the fates of the various men changing in severity, and different morals being tacked onto the end. In modern versions many of the names have become so distorted through mistranscription to be almost unrecognizeable.” [link added by LawPundit]

To learn the TRUE STORY go to the Aircraft Resource Center.

Bavarian State Elections Point to Populist Turmoil in German Politics : Free Voters Coalition Comes out of Nowhere to Win 10% of the Bavarian Vote

The populist emergence of Sarah Palin of Alaska as the Vice-Presidential nominee of the Republican Party in America is not an isolated phenomenon of the USA.

The state elections just held on Sunday in Bavaria, Germany closed with a dramatic populist result as the ruling conservative CSU party (Christian Social Union) for the first time since 1962 failed to obtain an absolute majority of the Bavarian vote. Their 43.4% outcome was 17.3% below their result in the state elections five years ago.

As written in the German Spiegel Online International:

The conservative Christian Social Union turned in its worst election result since 1954 in Bavarian state elections on Sunday. The ballot box collapse brings a decades-long political monopoly to an end — and may call Chancellor Angela Merkel’s re-election into question.

The cause of the decline was not the exodus of voters to the traditional opponent of the CSU, the German Socialist Party (SPD), who themselves turned in their worst performance since the year 1945 with only 18.6% of the vote.

Rather, a great number of voters turned to alternative populist parties such as the FW (Freie Wähler, “Free Voters”), a conservative citizens’ coalition (it is not officially a political party) which, as written by the Spiegel Online Internationalcame out of nowhere to get 10.2 percent.” See the political platform of the Free Voters here (only available in German language).

This development might be a cause for concern in some circles because it could indicate that a considerable percentage of the voter population in Germany might be suffering from some of the same symptoms currently that historically led to the collapse of the Weimar Republic and led to the rise of the National Socialist German Workers’ Party (the Nazi Party), which began in the same populist manner under the name of the Free Committee for a German Workers’ Peace.

The Free Voters are capitalizing on the various political and economic problems (such as the banking crisis and affiliated world financial problems) which afflict – not only – modern-day Germany. The Free Voters are running on a populist platform whose main slogan is that the local community is the nucleus – literally germ cell – of the state (Die Kommune als Keimzelle des Staates), as if locally-centered politics could solve global problems, a myth which always seems attractive to unsophisticated voters.

A similar conservative populist result also occurred in the state elections in Austria.

Federal Circuit Affirms District Court Set Aside of the $1.5 Billion Jury Verdict in the MP3 case of Lucent Technologies vs. Gateway, Dell & Microsoft

The United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has affirmed the United States District Court for the Southern District of California in that district court’s set aside of a $1.5 billion jury verdict for Lucent Technologies in a highly significant industry standard ISO 11172-3 Audio Layer 3 (MP3) patent case which we wrote about previously as follows:

1) Patent Insanity in the USA Continues as Jury Awards Record MP3 Verdict
Only one word accurately defines the current state of US patent law and its judicial consequences – and that word is “comedy”. Take a look at the newest record jury award of a preposterous $1.5 billion for some insignificant alleged Microsoft violation of some obscure alleged MP3 precursor patent of Lucent-Alcatel, a patent which is allegedly traced back to the initial witchly stirrings of a codec whose ingredients were initially cooked with the mice and the rats in the dungeon pots of Bell Laboratories.

2) MP3 Shows that America is being Trounced by Europe on the Corporate Battlefield

The Alcatel-Lucent Patents in the Patent Suit Against Microsoft

An American jury has just awarded the French company Alcatel-Lucent $1.5 billion for the patents below, to be paid by Microsoft (but of course, the bill is actually paid ultimately by the American consumer), and Alcatel-Lucent have numerous patent suits more in the pipeline against Microsoft.

Will French ultimately own Microsoft?

US Patent 5,341,457 – Abstract
Perceptual coding of audio signals
“A technique for the masking of quantizing noise in the coding of audio signals is adapted to include geometric interpolation between the thresholds for a tone masking noise and for noise masking a tone, in order to reduce use of bit-rate capability where it is not necessary for transparent or high quality. The technique is usable with the types of channel coding known as “noiseless” or Huffman coding and with variable radix packing. The stereophonic embodiment eliminates redundancies in the sum and difference signals, so that the stereo coding uses significantly less than twice the bit rate of the comparable monaural signal. The technique can be used both in transmission of signals and in recording for reproduction, particularly recording and reproduction of music. Compatibility with the ISDN transmission rates known as 1 B, 2 B and 3 B rates has been achieved.”

One of the inventors of the above patent, James David Johnston, retired from AT&T and became an audio architect for Microsoft Corporation. See Perceptual Coding of Audio Signals – A Tutorial. Is that the root of the problem? Johnston is also the inventor of the following patent.

US Patent RE39080
Rate loop processor for perceptual encoder/decoder
This is a reissue application of U.S. Pat. No. 5,627,938 filed Sep. 22, 1994 as application Ser. No. 08/310,898 which is a continuation of application Ser. No. 07/844,811, filed on Mar. 2, 1992, now abandoned, which is a continuation-in-part of application Ser. No. 07/844,967 filed Feb. 28, 1992, now abandoned, which is a continuation of Ser. No. 07/292,598 filed Dec. 30, 1988 now abandoned.

“A method and apparatus for quantizing audio signals is disclosed which advantageously produces a quantized audio signal which can be encoded within an acceptable range. Advantageously, the quantizer uses a scale factor which is interpolated between a threshold based on the calculated threshold of hearing at a given frequency and the absolute threshold of hearing at the same frequency.”

Those are the two patents for which a jury just awarded Alcatel-Lucent $1.5 billion. Not bad considering that Alcatel paid only about $11.5 billion for the entire company Lucent – and that was merely a stock deal, no cash at all. If Alcatel gets similar judgments on its other patent suits, its purchase will have been a STEAL, and we do emphasize the world steal. Lots of money flowing out of America into Parisian coffers.

At the same time, Alcatel-Lucent plans to cut 12500 jobs worldwide (12% in France) – which means more unemployed on the streets and more money for execs ….”

In the just issued Federal Circuit decision as written by Circuit Judge Prost:

This case involves alleged infringement by Gateway, Inc. (“Gateway”), Microsoft Corporation (“Microsoft”), and Dell Inc. (“Dell”) of two patents owned by Lucent Technologies, Inc. (“Lucent”). After a jury verdict of infringement and a damages award of $1,538,056,702, the district court granted judgment as a matter of law (“JMOL”), and alternatively a new trial, on infringement and damages. Lucent Techs., Inc. v. Gateway, Inc., 509 F. Supp. 2d 912 (S.D. Cal. 2007) (“Lucent”). For the reasons set forth below, we affirm the court’s grant of JMOL based on lack of standing for one patent and based on non-infringement for the other patent. We need not decide the damages issues.


The patents at issue in this appeal are directed to methods of compressing digital audio files to reduce storage space without compromising the quality of sound produced from the files. The methods involve using the frequencies of the audio signals to generate frequency coefficients, and then using certain thresholds—which dictate what data can be ignored and how finely to encode the data—to assign numbers to the audio signals, i.e., to “quantize” the frequency information. For example, an “absolute hearing threshold” is an estimate of the quietest sounds a person can hear. A “masking threshold” reflects what sounds are inaudible when other sounds are present.

Read the rest here.

Slowly, sanity is returning to patent law. Hat tip to Patently-O.

Next in line for reform are the nation’s financial institutions, where prudence and good judgment have to be brought to bear again on banking, real estate, and financial services, to replace the disastrous “gold digger” and “windfall of riches” mentality that has taken control in financial circles in recent years, and which pervades the land.

Short-term European Schadenfreude and the US Investment Banking and Subprime Mortgage Crisis on Wall Street

A thought-provoking analysis of the US investment banking and subprime mortgage crisis is given at the New York Times by Nelson D. Schwartz and Carter Dougherty in As Europe Watches Wall Street Fall, Schadenfreude Gives Way to Worry.

Whenever fortunes are being lost, fortunes are being made. So who are the winners?

Via CaryGee.

Job Earnings Statistics of US Census Bureau led by Law Occupations (Lawyers, Judges, Paralegals) at Twice the National Median Household Income

Have you ever thought about what an average lawyer, teacher, taxi driver or dishwasher earns? Is dishwashing really at the bottom of the earnings list from which there is nowhere to go but up to make one’s millions? Indeed, what do people in the various jobs, occupations and professions in the United States actually earn? This posting can tell you – for example, the dishwasher is in fact at the absolute bottom of the US income and earnings scale. Check it out.

Debra Cassens Weiss in the September 10, 2008 ABA Journal Law News Now reports that Being a Lawyer and Male Makes You a Top Earner, Census Report Shows.

The August 2008 report from the US Census Bureau, Income, Earnings, and Poverty Data From the 2007 American Community Survey by Alemayehu Bishaw and Jessica Semega, shows that the median income for males in legal occupations – this includes e.g. lawyers and legal paraprofessionals – is about $105,000 per year, which is twice the national median household income of about $50,000 per year. Men’s income in the legal professions is substantially higher than for women.

The median income data for the legal occupations (p. 34 of the report):

Lawyers – $120,400 (males), $93,600 (females)
Judges, magistrates, and other judicial workers – $108,100 (males), $69,500 (females)
Paralegals and legal assistants – $45,700 (males), $42,600 (females)
Miscellaneous legal support workers – $56,000 (males), $40,700 (females)

Health occupations are second to legal professions, with a median income of ca. $100,000 annually, although male physicians and surgeons have higher median earnings of ca. $180,000 annually, followed by male dentists with $150,000 per annum.

The median earnings in the United States for all jobs, occupations and professions (median income for males) are listed by us below from top to bottom (please note that this list in this order does not exist in the original Census Bureau report and that there are substantial regional differences in earnings in the USA, for which reason we also insert some geographic income data for orientation):

Physicians and surgeons – $181,200
Dentists – $150,500
Lawyers – $120,400
Chief executives (CEOs) – $116,800
MEDIAN HOUSEHOLD INCOME Pleasanton city, CA – $113,345
MEDIAN HOUSEHOLD INCOME Newton city, MA – $110,885
MEDIAN HOUSEHOLD INCOME Newport Beach city, CA – $110,511
MEDIAN HOUSEHOLD INCOME Yorba Linda city, CA – $109,681

Natural sciences managers – $108,700
Judges, magistrates, and other judicial workers – $108,100
MEDIAN HOUSEHOLD INCOME Loudoun County, VA – $107,207
Engineering managers – $106,900
MEDIAN HOUSEHOLD INCOME Flower Mound town, TX – $105,812
MEDIAN HOUSEHOLD INCOME Fairfax County, VA – $105,241

Pharmacists – $103,000
Economists – $102,800
Petroleum engineers – $102,800
Optometrists – $102,700
Actuaries – $101,800
MEDIAN HOUSEHOLD INCOME Howard County, MD – $101,672
MEDIAN HOUSEHOLD INCOME Hunterdon County, NJ – $100,327

MEDIAN HOUSEHOLD INCOME Highlands Ranch CDP, CO – $99,066
MEDIAN HOUSEHOLD INCOME Irvine city, CA – $98,923
MEDIAN HOUSEHOLD INCOME West Bloomfield Township CDP, MI – $98,832
MEDIAN HOUSEHOLD INCOME Chino Hills city, CA – $96,733
MEDIAN HOUSEHOLD INCOME Naperville city, IL – $96,548

Veterinarians – $96,100
Astronomers and physicists – $95,300
Financial analysts – $92,200
Computer and information systems managers – $91,200
Marketing and sales managers – $90,300

Personal financial advisors – $88,600
Chemical engineers – $87,600
Aerospace engineers – $87,300
Aircraft pilots and flight engineers – $87,100
Computer software engineers – $86,900
Financial managers – $86,000
Securities, commodities, and financial services sales agents – $85,900
Sales engineers – $85,800
Computer hardware engineers – $84,500
MEDIAN HOUSEHOLD INCOME Plano city, TX – $84,492
Electrical and electronic engineers – $82,100
Management analysts – $82,100
Chiropractors – $81,800
Engineers, all other – $81,800
Physical scientists, all other – $81,800
Statisticians – $81,800
Public relations managers – $81,100

Marine engineers and naval architects – $77,700
Operations research analysts – $77,700
Air traffic controllers and airfield operations specialists – $77,000
Physician assistants – $77,000
Market and survey researchers – $77,500
MEDIAN HOUSEHOLD INCOME San Jose city, CA – $76,963
Database administrators – $76,900
Civil engineers – $76,700
Financial examiners – $76,700
Medical and health services managers – $76,500
Managers, all other – $76,000
General and operations managers – $75,200
Purchasing managers – $73,900
Education administrators – $73,800
Biomedical engineers – $73,100
Environmental scientists and geoscientists – $73,100
First-line supervisors/managers of fire fighting and prevention workers – $73,100
Environmental engineers – $72,900
Computer programmers – $72,000
Mechanical engineers – $71,900
Power plant operators, distributors, and dispatchers – $71,600
Human resources managers – $71,500
Architects, except naval – $71,400
Industrial engineers, including health and safety – $71,300
Financial specialists, all other – $71,000
Psychologists – $71,000
Advertising and promotions managers – $70,800
Atmospheric and space scientists – $70,800
Computer scientists and systems analysts – $70,800
First-line supervisors/managers of police and detectives – $70,800
Medical scientists – $70,700
Industrial production managers – $70,500
Materials engineers – $70,200

Accountants and auditors – $69,900
Physical therapists – $69,400
Detectives and criminal investigators – $68,900
Budget analysts – $68,800
MEDIAN HOUSEHOLD INCOME Anchorage municipality, AK – $68,726
Radiation therapists (females) – $68,200
MEDIAN HOUSEHOLD INCOME State of Maryland – $68,080
MEDIAN HOUSEHOLD INCOME State of New Jersey – $67,035
MEDIAN HOUSEHOLD INCOME San Francisco city, CA – $68,023
MEDIAN HOUSEHOLD INCOME Asian (households) alone – $66,935

Locomotive engineers and operators – $66,700
Chemists and materials scientists – $66,500
Elevator installers and repairers – $66,500
Legislators – $66,300
Insurance underwriters – $66,200
Postsecondary teachers – $66,000
MEDIAN HOUSEHOLD INCOME State of Connecticut – $65,967
Public relations specialists – $65,900
Postmasters and mail superintendents – $65,800
MEDIAN HOUSEHOLD INCOME State of Alaska – $64,333
Occupational therapists – $63,900
MEDIAN HOUSEHOLD INCOME State of Hawaii – $63,746
Technical writers – $63,700
Insurance sales agents – $63,600
Network and computer systems administrators – $63,500
Network systems and data communications analysts – $63,400
Tax preparers – $63,200
Administrative services managers – $63,100
Registered nurses – $63,100
MEDIAN HOUSEHOLD INCOME State of New Hampshire – $62,369
MEDIAN HOUSEHOLD INCOME State of Massachusetts – $62,365
MEDIAN HOUSEHOLD INCOME San Diego city, CA – $61,863

Construction managers – $61,800
Urban and regional planners – $61,600
Agricultural and food scientists – $61,500
Loan counselors and officers – $61,500
MEDIAN HOUSEHOLD INCOME Virginia Beach city, VA – $61,462
Sales representatives, services, all other – $61,300
Sales representatives, wholesale and manufacturing – $61,100
Electrical and electronics repairers, industrial and utility – $60,800
Compliance officers, except agriculture, construction, health and safety, and transportation – $60,600
Railroad conductors and yardmasters – $60,600
Social and community service managers – $60,600
Advertising sales agents – $60,400
Real estate brokers and sales agents – $60,400
Sales and related workers, all other – $60,400
Audiologists (females) – $60,200

Cost estimators – $58,900
MEDIAN HOUSEHOLD INCOME Seattle city, WA – $57,849
Human resources, training, and labor relations specialists – $57,700
Logisticians – $57,300
Fire fighters – $57,100
MEDIAN HOUSEHOLD INCOME Anaheim city, CA – $57,059
Miscellaneous plant and system operators – $56,600
Producers and directors – $56,500
First-line supervisors/managers of non-retail sales workers – $56,400
Electrical power-line installers and repairers – $56,100
Miscellaneous legal support workers – $56,000
Miscellaneous social scientists and related workers – $56,000
MEDIAN HOUSEHOLD INCOME Riverside city, CA – $55,999
Funeral directors – $55,700
Property, real estate, and community association managers – $55,700
Speech-language pathologists (females) – $55,700
Diagnostic related technologists and technicians – $55,400
Respiratory therapists – $55,400
Procurement clerks – $55,300
Appraisers and assessors of real estate – $55,200
Conservation scientists and foresters – $55,200
Biological scientists – $55,100
Transportation inspectors – $55,100
Private detectives and investigators – $54,600
Police and sheriff’s patrol officers – $54,400
Other business operations specialists – $53,900
Derrick, rotary drill, and service unit operators, oil, gas, and mining – $53,500
Writers and authors – $53,500
Surveyors, cartographers, and photogrammetrists – $53,200
Editors – $52,900
Purchasing agents, except wholesale, retail, and farm products – $52,200
Radio and telecommunications equipment installers and repairers – $52,200
Chemical technicians – $51,800
First-line supervisors/managers of mechanics, installers, and repairers – $51,700
Agents and business managers of artists, performers, and athletes – $51,400
Claims adjusters, appraisers, examiners, and investigators – $51,400
Other healthcare practitioners and technical occupations – $51,400
News analysts, reporters, and correspondents – $51,300
Other education, training, and library workers – $51,200
Chemical processing machine setters, operators, and tenders – $51,100
Engineering technicians, except drafters – $51,100
Fire inspectors – $51,000
Postal service mail carriers – $51,000
Ship and boat captains and operators – $51,000
Aircraft mechanics and service technicians – $50,900
Geological and petroleum technicians – $50,900
Production, planning, and expediting clerks – $50,900
Purchasing agents and buyers, farm products – $50,900
Dental hygienists – $50,800
First-line supervisors/managers of construction trades and extraction workers – $50,800
Mining machine operators – $50,800
Stationary engineers and boiler operators – $50,800
Computer support specialists – $50,700
Postal service mail sorters, processors, and processing machine operators – $50,700
Tax examiners, collectors, and revenue agents – $50,700
Crane and tower operators – $50,600
Millwrights – $50,600
Tool and die makers – $50,600
Designers – $50,500
Librarians – $50,400
First-line supervisors/managers of production and operating workers – $50,200
Postal service clerks – $50,200

Credit analysts – $49,900
Secondary school teachers – $49,600
Boilermakers – $49,400
First-line supervisors/managers of office and administrative support workers – $48,900
Construction and building inspectors – $48,700
Gaming managers – $48,700
Railroad brake, signal, and switch operators – $48,700
Rail-track laying and maintenance equipment operators – $48,700
Avionics technicians – $48,600
Therapists, all other – $48,600
First-line supervisors/managers of correctional officers – $48,500
Archivists, curators, and museum technicians – $48,100
Artists and related workers – $47,600
Biological technicians – $47,600
Elementary and middle school teachers – $47,300
Broadcast and sound engineering technicians and radio operators – $47,200
Supervisors, transportation and material moving workers – $46,900
Other teachers and instructors – $46,600
Telecommunications line installers and repairers – $46,600
Transportation, storage, and distribution managers – $46,300
Precision instrument and equipment repairers – $46,200
Meeting and convention planners (females) – $46,100
Pumping station operators – $46,100
Agricultural inspectors – $45,900
Drafters – $45,800
Electric motor, power tool, and related repairers – $45,800
Clinical laboratory technologists and technicians – $45,700
Paralegals and legal assistants – $45,700
Electronic equipment installers and repairers, motor vehicles – $45,600
Industrial and refractory machinery mechanics – $45,600
Other extraction workers – $45,600
Television, video, and motion picture camera operators and editors – $45,500
Wholesale and retail buyers, except farm products – $45,400
Special education teachers – $45,300
Lodging managers – $44,500
Supervisors, protective service workers, all other – $44,200
Heavy vehicle and mobile equipment service technicians and mechanics – $44,100
Control and valve installers and repairers – $44,000
Credit authorizers, checkers, and clerks – $43,700
Riggers – $43,700
Miscellaneous health technologists and technicians – $42,900
Maintenance workers, machinery – $42,700
Computer, automated teller, and office machine repairers – $42,500
Computer operators – $42,500
Structural iron and steel workers – $42,400
Athletes, coaches, umpires, and related workers – $42,300
First-line supervisors/managers of retail sales workers – $42,300
Electricians – $42,200
Eligibility interviewers, government programs – $42,100
Emergency medical technicians and paramedics – $41,800
Court, municipal, and license clerks – $41,600
Other life, physical, and social science technicians – $41,600
Miscellaneous community and social service specialists – $41,500
Dietitians and nutritionists (females) – $41,300
Office and administrative support workers, all other – $41,300
Inspectors, testers, sorters, samplers, and weighers – $41,100
Paper goods machine setters, operators, and tenders – $41,100
Social workers – $41,100
Surveying and mapping technicians – $41,100
Tire builders – $41,100
Bailiffs, correctional officers, and jailers – $41,000
Machinists – $41,000
Photographers – $41,000
Transportation attendants – $41,000
Furnace, kiln, oven, drier, and kettle operators and tenders – $40,900
First-line supervisors/managers of gaming workers – $40,800
Security and fire alarm systems installers – $40,800
Explosives workers, ordnance handling experts, and blasters – $40,700
Loan interviewers and clerks – $40,700
Miscellaneous media and communication workers – $40,700
Earth drillers, except oil and gas – $40,600
Water and liquid waste treatment plant and system operators – $40,600
Counselors – $40,500
Farm, ranch, and other agricultural managers – $40,500
First-line supervisors/managers of personal service workers – $40,500
Food service managers – $40,500
Cargo and freight agents – $40,400
Directors, religious activities and education – $40,400
Maintenance and repair workers, general – $40,400
Pipelayers, plumbers, pipefitters, and steamfitters – $40,400
Announcers – $40,300
Bus and truck mechanics and diesel engine specialists – $40,300
Prepress technicians and workers $40,300
Computer control programmers and operators – $40,100
Metal furnace and kiln operators and tenders – $40,100

Agricultural and food science technicians – $39,900
Heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration mechanics and installers – $39,800
Clergy – $39,400
Religious workers, all other – $39,200
Opticians, dispensing – $39,100
Musicians, singers, and related workers – $39,000
Operating engineers and other construction equipment operators – $39,000
Reservation and transportation ticket agents and travel clerks – $39,000
Structural metal fabricators and fitters – $39,000
Couriers and messengers – $38,900
Driver/sales workers and truck drivers – $38,900
Dispatchers – $38,900
First-line supervisors/managers of housekeeping and janitorial workers – $38,700
Bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks – $38,400
MEDIAN HOUSEHOLD INCOME State of Arkansas – $38,134
Medical, dental, and ophthalmic laboratory technicians – $38,100
Dredge, excavating, and loading machine operators – $38,000
Payroll and timekeeping clerks – $37,700
Physical therapist assistants and aides – $37,700
Tool grinders, filers, and sharpeners – $37,600
Gaming services workers – $37,500
MEDIAN HOUSEHOLD INCOME State of West Virginia – $37,060
Locksmiths and safe repairers – $37,100
Printing machine operators – $37,000
Sheet metal workers – $36,900
Engine and other machine assemblers – $36,600
First-line supervisors/managers of farming, fishing, and forestry workers – $36,700
First-line supervisors/managers of landscaping, lawn service, and groundskeeping workers – $36,600
Electronic home entertainment equipment installers and repairers – $36,500
Forging machine setters, operators, and tenders, metal and plastic – $36,500
Meter readers, utilities – $36,500
Hazardous materials removal workers – $36,400
Information and record clerks, all other – $36,400
MEDIAN HOUSEHOLD INCOME State of Mississippi – $36,338
Travel agents – $36,300
Secretaries and administrative assistants – $36,200
Automotive body and related repairers – $36,000
Other installation, maintenance, and repair workers – $36,000
Billing and posting clerks and machine operators – $35,900
Licensed practical and licensed vocational nurses – $35,900
Retail salespersons – $35,900
Weighers, measurers, checkers, and samplers, recordkeeping – $35,900
Insurance claims and policy processing clerks – $35,800
Recreation and fitness workers – $35,700
Rolling machine setters, operators, and tenders, metal and plastic – $35,700
Forest and conservation workers – $35,600
Home appliance repairers – $35,600
Glaziers – $35,500
Molders and molding machine setters, operators, and tenders, metal and plastic – $35,500
Material moving workers, all other – $35,400
Septic tank servicers and sewer pipe cleaners – $35,400
MEDIAN HOUSEHOLD INCOME Toledo city, OH – $35,216
Sailors and marine oilers – $35,200
Welding, soldering, and brazing workers – $35,200
MEDIAN HOUSEHOLD INCOME Memphis city, TN – $35,143
Statistical assistants (females) – $35,100
Other transportation workers – $35,000
Customer service representatives – $34,900
Bus drivers – $34,800
Health diagnosing and treating practitioner support technicians – $34,700
Automotive service technicians and mechanics – $34,600
Office clerks, general – $34,600
Highway maintenance workers – $34,500
Lathe and turning machine tool setters, operators, and tenders, metal and plastic – $34,500
MEDIAN HOUSEHOLD INCOME Newark city, NJ – $34,452
Lifeguards and other protective service workers – $34,300
Crushing, grinding, polishing, mixing, and blending workers – $34,200
MEDIAN HOUSEHOLD INCOME St. Louis city, MO – $34,191
Extruding and drawing machine setters, operators, and tenders, metal and plastic – $33,800
Human resources assistants, except payroll and timekeeping (females) – $33,700
Parts salespersons – $33,700
Counter and rental clerks – $33,600
Metalworkers and plastic workers, all other – $33,500
Bookbinders and bindery workers – $33,400
Miscellaneous construction and related workers – $33,400
Automotive glass installers and repairers – $33,300
MEDIAN HOUSEHOLD INCOME Cincinnati city, OH – $33,006
Pest control workers – $32,900
Production workers, all other – $32,900
Extruding, forming, pressing, and compacting machine setters, operators, and tenders – $32,800
Hairdressers, hairstylists, and cosmetologists – $32,800
Job printers – $32,800
Bill and account collectors – $32,700
Word processors and typists – $32,700
Interviewers, except eligibility and loan – $32,600
MEDIAN HOUSEHOLD INCOME Pittsburgh city, PA – $32,363
Insulation workers – $32,300
Jewelers and precious stone and metal workers – $32,300
Painting workers – $32,100
Carpenters – $31,900
Paving, surfacing, and tamping equipment operators – $31,800
Small engine mechanics – $31,500
File clerks – $31,400
Coin, vending, and amusement machine servicers and repairers – $31,300
Data entry keyers – $30,800
Grinding, lapping, polishing, and buffing machine tool setters, operators, and tenders, metal and plastic – $30,800
Miscellaneous assemblers and fabricators – $30,800
Cutting, punching, and press machine setters, operators, and tenders, metal and plastic – $30,700
Electrical, electronics, and electromechanical assemblers – $30,700
Office machine operators, except computer – $30,700
Order clerks – $30,700
Cabinetmakers and bench carpenters – $30,600
Chefs and head cooks – $30,600
Brickmasons, blockmasons, and stonemasons – $30,500
Carpet, floor, and tile installers and finishers – $30,500
Door-to-door sales workers, news and street vendors, and related workers – $30,500
Molders, shapers, and casters, except metal and plastic – $30,500
Farmers and ranchers – $30,400
Furniture finishers – $30,400
Medical assistants and other healthcare support occupations – $30,300
Receptionists and information clerks – $30,300
Cement masons, concrete finishers, and terrazzo workers – $30,200
Fishers and related fishing workers – $30,200
Security guards and gaming surveillance officers – $30,100
Logging workers – $30,000

MEDIAN HOUSEHOLD INCOME Buffalo city, NY – $29,706
Library technicians (females) – $29,600
New accounts clerks (females) – $29,600
Photographic process workers and processing machine operators – $29,500
Shipping, receiving, and traffic clerks – $29,500
Food batchmakers – $29,400
Industrial truck and tractor operators – $29,400
Tailors, dressmakers, and sewers – $29,400
Animal trainers – $29,300
Refuse and recyclable material collectors – $29,300
MEDIAN HOUSEHOLD INCOME Miami city, FL – $29,075
Plating and coating machine setters, operators, and tenders, metal and plastic – $28,900
Animal control workers (females) – 28,800
Dental assistants (females) – $28,800
Woodworkers, all other – $28,800
Cutting workers – $28,700
Machine feeders and offbearers – $28,700
Textile, apparel, and furnishings workers, all other – $28,700
Mail clerks and mail machine operators, except postal service – $28,600
MEDIAN HOUSEHOLD INCOME Cleveland city, OH – $28,512
Laborers and freight, stock, and material movers, hand – $28,400
Massage therapists (females) – $28,400
Baggage porters, bellhops, and concierges – $28,300
Nonfarm animal caretakers – $28,300
Woodworking machine setters, operators, and tenders, except sawing – $28,300
Tour and travel guides – $28,200
MEDIAN HOUSEHOLD INCOME Detroit city, MI – $28,097
Construction laborers – $27,700
MEDIAN HOUSEHOLD INCOME Hartford city, CT – $27,654
First-line supervisors/managers of food preparation and serving workers – $27,600
Teacher assistants – $27,600
Shoe and leather workers and repairers – $27,300
Painters, construction and maintenance – $27,200
Upholsterers – $27,100
Butchers and other meat, poultry, and fish processing workers – $26,700
Telephone operators (females) – $26,700

MEDIAN HOUSEHOLD INCOME Macon city, GA – $26,555
Graders and sorters, agricultural products – $26,600
Drywall installers, ceiling tile installers, and tapers – $26,500
Nursing, psychiatric, and home health aides – $26,500
Plasterers and stucco masons – $26,500
Roofers – $26,500
Bakers – $26,400
Janitors and building cleaners – $26,400
Models, demonstrators, and product promoters (females) – $26,400
Packaging and filling machine operators and tenders – $26,400
Taxi drivers and chauffeurs – $26,400
Fence erectors – $26,300
MEDIAN HOUSEHOLD INCOME Flint city, MI – $26,143
Bartenders – $25,600
Medical records and health information technicians (females) – $25,600
MEDIAN HOUSEHOLD INCOME Reading city, PA – $25,536
Stock clerks and order fillers – $25,500
Residential advisors – $25,400
Switchboard operators, including answering service (females) – $25,400
Telemarketers – $25,400
MEDIAN HOUSEHOLD INCOME Camden city, NJ – $25,389
Library assistants, clerical (females) – $25,300
Miscellaneous vehicle and mobile equipment mechanics, installers, and repairers – $25,300
MEDIAN HOUSEHOLD INCOME Bloomington city, IN – $25,225
Barbers – $25,200
Sawing machine setters, operators, and tenders, wood – $25,200
Helpers—production workers – $25,100
MEDIAN HOUSEHOLD INCOME Youngstown city, OH – $24,941
Miscellaneous entertainment attendants and related workers – $24,700
Tellers – $24,300
Cashiers – $23,600
Food servers, nonrestaurant – $23,600
Personal care and service workers, all other – $23,500
Motor vehicle operators, all other – $23,300
Packers and packagers, hand – $23,300
Child care workers – $23,100
Personal and home care aides – $23,100
Hotel, motel, and resort desk clerks – $22,900
Preschool and kindergarten teachers (females) – $22,900
Helpers—installation, maintenance, and repair workers – $22,500
Laundry and dry-cleaning workers – $22,400
Cleaners of vehicles and equipment – $22,300
Maids and housekeeping cleaners – $22,200
Parking lot attendants – $22,200
Waiters and waitresses – $22,100
Grounds maintenance workers – $21,900
Helpers, construction trades – $21,300
Miscellaneous personal appearance workers – $21,300
Service station attendants – $21,100
Miscellaneous agricultural workers – $20,900
Pressers, textile, garment, and related materials – $20,900
Sewing machine operators – $20,600
Combined food preparation and serving workers, including fast food – $20,300
Cooks – $20,200

Counter attendants, cafeteria, food concession, and coffee shop – $18,400
Food preparation workers – $18,400
Hosts and hostesses, restaurant, lounge, and coffee shop (females) – $18,100
Dining room and cafeteria attendants and bartender helpers – $17,900
Dishwashers – $16,300

Real Estate Investment in the European Union : Buying in Berlin

The New York Times Great Homes and Destinations tells us that Berlin is a great place now to buy real estate.

Hat tip to CaryGEE.

Why do People in the USA Vote for the Republican Party : The Role of Morality and Emotion versus the Exercise of Reason in explaining Voting Behavior

At, Jonathan Haidt, Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of Virginia, who researches morality and emotion, has a short thought-provoking politically-oriented piece titled What Makes People Vote Republican?

What particularly interests Haidt is the following question:

Why in particular do working class and rural Americans usually vote for pro-business Republicans when their economic interests would seem better served by Democratic policies?

Haidt argues – in summary of his observations – that morals and values are the deciding factor:

People vote Republican because Republicans offer “moral clarity”—a simple vision of good and evil that activates deep seated fears in much of the electorate. Democrats, in contrast, appeal to reason with their long-winded explorations of policy options for a complex world.

Read the whole article, and/or take the Morality Quiz here. There are several quizzes available there, but the first to take is the Moral Foundations Questionnaire. Here is our own result:

In the graph below, your scores on each foundation are shown in green. The scores of all liberals who have taken it on our site are shown in blue, and the scores of all conservatives are shown in red. Scores run from 0 (the lowest possible score, you completely reject that foundation) to 5 (the highest possible score, you very strongly endorse that foundation and build much of your morality on top of it).

We were initially rather surprised at these results, since we expected to land somewhere in the middle. What is interesting is that except on the issue of accepting authority – where we are always skeptical, we rank ourselves higher on these moral issues than either the liberals or the conservatives. Perhaps the reason for this is that we tend to see or attempt to see all sides of any issue with the greatest amount of fairness that we are able to muster. By definition, we regard people who are overly partisan in their views about any topic to be lacking in basic fairness and to have questionable soundness of judgment.

One of the most telling of the morality quizzes is the Need for Cognitive Closure. That our own open-mindedness is far greater than either the Liberals or Conservatives was clear to us, and this test was a definite confirmation:

The scale is a measure of an individual’s desire to seek a firm answer to any given question and to avoid uncertainty and ambiguity. People with high need for cognitive closure tend to “seize” on information that allows them to form an option about an issue and then “freeze” on that opinion, thus allowing little room for new information to affect their judgment. As with most other psychological phenomena, cognitive closure is a coin with two sides. On one hand, a strong need for cognitive closure can lead to inflexible thinking, closed-mindedness, and rejection of important new information. On the other hand, need for closure allows the human mind to “pick a course and stick with it”, so that it can move to other important matters. As the creator of the concept Arie Kruglanski states: “Without it, we would be forever suspended in a limbo of non-belief, incapable of crystallizing a single judgment or undertaking a single decision.” The construct of Need for Cognitive Closure does seem to capture one element of popular stereotypes about conservatives being less flexible and intellectual, whereas liberals are seen to be less decisive and more “wishy-washy.

The graph below shows the extent to which you are high or low in need for cognitive closure. Higher numbers indicate a stronger need for cognitive closure. Your score is shown in green. The score of the average Liberal survey respondent is shown in blue and that of the average Conservative respondent is in red.”

This need for closure is one of the most difficult impediments for political candidates to overcome, because the voters make up their minds at some point and once made, that closure is hard to reverse because you must first unlock a closed compartment before even thinking about changing its contents.

The LawPundit Wins the Men’s Golf 2008 Club Championship at the Mosel Golf Club in Cochem, Germany

Over the past weekend, the LawPundit won the 2008 men’s golf club championship at the Mosel Golf Club in Cochem, Germany, which was quite an event for this writer given the LawPundit’s age – 61. (Update: Below is the later-posted official photograph of the Cochem 2008 club champions – from the left – women’s, senior men’s, youth, senior women’s, and, at the far right, the LawPundit, the men’s club champion – Andis Kaulins).

The LawPundit, a long hitter, was aided by the terrible weather on the weekend, with high winds and prolonged rain, which made the course very difficult to play for nearly everyone, especially the shorter hitters. The photo below shows the 575-yard par 5 signature 17th hole at the GolfClub Cochem par 72 championship golf course:

A long and accurate tee shot has to carry a biotope ravine so deep that the fairway can only be reached by going around the biotope on a horseshoe path through woods to the left (that path is not visible in this photograph as taken from the website). There is an out-of-bounds to the left about 10 meters from the edge of the fairway, all the way down the fairway to the green, and deep impenetrable rough to the right. A gigantic fairway sand trap (bunker) to the right catches long drives that try to cut the corner too sharply. The fairway slopes uphill all the way to a large elevated green fronted by a sand trap and there is almost always a strong prevailing wind in the player’s face, making this hole almost impossible to reach in two, even for the strongest players. The LawPundit birdied this hole during the tournament.

The rough can look like this (taken from the website):

The 27-hole Mosel Golf Club in Cochem opened nominally for play on October, 2006. This year, in 2008, the course is in good condition for championship play. Especially the greens are already in excellent shape, given their very young age.

The 18-hole par-72 championship Mosel Course as well as the 9-hole Eifel Course were designed by two of Germany’s leading golf architects, Christoph Städler and Dirk Decker.

The photograph above is taken from the website and shows the green of the 166-yard par 3 11th hole, with the 160-yard par 3 9th hole in the background above it – both severely uphill.

That same hole 11 is shown in the photo below looking down from green to tee, but that is a different sand trap than the sand trap at the right front of the green in the first photo (one can, from the left, also see the 16th green, then part of the 10th green and then the 17th fairway):

Below, the Law Pundit is shown in a photo (by Hoffman) hitting a sand shot:

The story was reported in the Rhein Zeitung (RZ-Online, 16 September, 2008) and the print version also carried a black-and-white photograph by Hoffman of all of the championship winners [update: that photo is now shown in full in the original color at the top of this page], of which we show only a large scan of yours truly (pardon the garb, which is a fleece jacket with a hood, but we had rain and wind, and we were pretty matted down at the end):

That’s golf.

The Great USA Divide 2008 : The Choice of Vice-Presidential Nominees Turns the Presidential Election Upside Down

Political centrists such as the LawPundit are extremely sensitive to changes in the momentum of current events. One such fundamental change has been the choice of Vice-Presidential nominees by the Democratic and Republican Parties in the United States.

In our opinion, those choices have drastically changed the entire Presidential Election picture.

What has happened to turn things upside down?

On the one hand, Barack Obama has chosen Joe Biden as his running mate. As an Obama supporter, but by no means a McCain detractor, we were aghast at this selection, which added practically no votes to the Obama camp. A Senator from a small state with a tiny constituency and with no national support was not what Obama needed – it was clearly the wrong choice, regardless of any talents which Senator Biden might otherwise bring to bear to the campaign. In our opinion, Obama had to select a running mate who would help him win the election by tapping the voting power of middle America, and that could only have been Hillary Clinton. An Obama-Clinton ticket would have had a good chance to win the election. An Obama-Biden ticket was substantially weaker. Obama played his political leanings in choosing Biden, but he did not play to win.

At the same time, John McCain apparently did his homework in seeking a running mate who could help to turn his campaign around, and he found that running mate in the unlikely personage of Sarah Palin, a young and formidably aggressive woman and five-time mother, who, more than any other Presidential or Vice-Presidential candidate, most readily reflects the mindset and attitudes of the mass of Americans. Palin is a political “American Idol“, a one-time beauty queen and “Miss Congeniality”, who has emerged like a Phoenix from her humble beginnings. Sarah Palin is a populist female Jesse Ventura, who calls herself a pit bull with lipstick. The Democrats are in serious trouble.

Through this selection of Sarah Palin as his running mate, we think McCain may ultimately prevail in the US Presidential election, because Palin will win enough of the votes that Hillary Clinton otherwise might have garnered for the Democrats to turn the election.

To top things off, McCain has adopted Obama’s slogan of change, is now himself maintaining that “change is coming”, and is distancing himself from the Bush administration, especially as far as the economy goes.

We think that the writing is on the wall. To WIN, you have to make the choices that winning demands, or you will lose. In his first truly important and contest-deciding choice, Obama failed, and McCain won. That’s what makes horse races.

This is not to detract from Obama’s historic and meteoric rise, but he will not make it to the Presidency this year. Maybe some years later, when he picks the right running mate and learns to make decisions that mean victory, rather than defeat.

Update: We find we are not alone in the opinions voiced above. See:

The Caucus – The New York Times Politics BlogDefining Sarah Palin
where Kate Phillips and Michael Falcone write:

Erick Erickson, editor of the mega-blog RedState, expressed equal parts shock and excitement about Mr. McCain’s choice just after the news broke: “Holy cow, this is a game changer if, in fact, John McCain has chosen her. Serious game changer. Wow.”

Glenn Reynolds, a heavyweight of the right-leaning blogosphere who is better known as Instapundit, wrote: “The Insta-Wife is ecstatic, which may bode well for that demographic….”

Rasmussen ReportsPalin Power: Fresh Face Now More Popular than Obama, McCain

Los Angeles Times / Bloomberg PollObama and McCain in a statistical tie

Republican Governors Association – for example, Mitch Daniels, Governor of Indiana:

I’m excited,” said Governor Mitch Daniels. “I’ve been hoping for decades to see a woman on the Republican ticket, and Governor Palin was worth waiting for: a reformer, a seasoned executive, and best of all, normal and authentic. Great choice!

R&R for Stressed Professionals : Does a Discreet German Five-Star Spa Hotel in Traben-Trabach Have the Answer? The Daily Telegraph Reports

The Daily Telegraph just featured an article by Adriaane Pielou, Ayurvedic spas: Detox is a girl’s best friend, reporting about the Parkschloesschen, a discreet five-star spa hotel in Traben-Trarbach, Germany, which offers professionals and executives from around the world “a welcome antidote to a stress-filled life“.

Adriaane Pielou writes about why the Parkschloesschen has become such a unique place for people from around the world to go to, in order to genuinely improve their health and/or to sensibly counter long ingrained lifestyle habits. Here is an excerpt from her article:

The Parkschloesschen was set up 15 years ago by a wealthy German businessman who was inspired after visiting a small, very basic Ayurvedic hotel in Germany launched by the late Maharishi Mahesh Yogi (which has since closed). In charge now is the businessman’s wife, Brigitte Preuss – a slim, energetic, glamorous 48-year-old with long blonde hair. “My husband used to smoke a lot, he ate the wrong things – he really needed to detox, and when he did panchakarma at that little hotel he was so blown away by the results he came home and said: ‘I want to set up a place like that, but I’m going to do it really well.’”

When Mr and Mrs Preuss found the Art Nouveau building – previously a spa owned by a German conglomerate for the use of its employees, and before that a bathhouse built in the 19th century near a thermal spring – it was very run-down. Since it’s an Ayurvedic principle that your surroundings exert a big influence over your health, they renovated it using only natural materials – slate, marble, wood, silk and wool. The thermal-water pool, saunas, fitness rooms and therapy wing were added in 2002.

“It is never going to make any money,” says Brigitte. “It’s more a sort of hobby, because we believe so passionately in the power of Ayurveda. But we get busier each year. So many people want to detox, yet there are so few places where one can do it seriously. It is very rewarding for us to see the difference in how people look when they arrive and leave, and to see how Ayurveda is gradually becoming better known in the West. Our 24-year-old daughter has already told us she wants to take it over one day.”