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AvatarComments by Em Carpenter

On “The Great Health Insurance Adventure, a Status Report

To clarify... did Medicaid pay something that it was not supposed to have paid, when it mistakenly thought you were eligible?

If so, then you may need to pay that back. Seriously. Even though it was their mistake. It's not fraud, since it was not as a result of your actions, but it could still be a civil issue. You might want to look into that. In Medicaid world that is called an overpayment, and they are obligated to recoup that money.

On “Oliver North to Become President of NRA

Band-aids aren't stitches, but they do stop the bleeding.

On “Morning Ed: Economics {2018.05.10.Th}

I remember the days of the Iron Sheik!
Don't forget Chris Jericho, the Ayatollah of Rock n' Rolla.

On “King Coal: West Virginia’s Abusive Love

He got 520, but his opponents got less than 300 each.
(Closed primary, and most are still registered Democrats.)


You're right about miners not wanting retrained. They cling to the tradition and they have immense pride in their "honest hard work".
That's why Hillary's famous line "we're going to put a lot of coal miners out of work..." was her death knell here, even though in context she was proposing programs to help retrain and reemploy them.
To be fair, if someone told me that no one needs lawyers anymore so I'm going to have to find another profession, I can imagine I would likewise take umbrage.


Yes, I may have heard that somewhere.

He still got 20% of the vote in a three-way contest, so the point I was trying to make stands.

The part that is most astounding is that he won by a landslide in Mingo County, ground zero for the coal wars and the site of the Matewan massacre.


Correct, no intermediate appeals court. The legislature tries annually but it gets voted down or never comes out of committee.


Politics in West Virginia...
Historically WV was blue, dating back to the rise of the unions that I mentioned. In my lifetime I have seen it turn red, due in large part to leftward movement of Dems on social issues. Guns, abortion, gay rights... a lot of WV parts ways with the Democrat platform on these things. They are deal breakers. So some have made the formal party switch, while others stay registered D out of tradition, but vote R in the general. (Interesting note- Obama was the first Democrat to win the presidency without carrying West Virginia). But there are enough people in this state who rely on government programs (Medicaid, TANF, SNAP, social security), that it is a fine line for Republicans who advocate the reduction or elimination of these programs.
For coal miners though, it is the EPA, MSHA and the like that are the catalyst for their Republican bent.


West Virginia has my heart. To many here it is sacrilege to hate coal, but all I see is destruction and suffering and it is painful. Blankenship’s popularity, when he represents the worst of the industry, is inexplicable to me. I thought he’d be run out on a rail.

On “#IndependentBookstoreDay

Checking back in to report that I made the trek to City Lights, and I fell in love (I have fallen in love with the city in general)! I found a really cool book, signed by the author. It combines neurology, Parkinson’s disease research and the works of William Burroughs.
I also went to readers Bookstore at Fort Mason, a cool little secondhand bookstore that supports the SF public library.
Thanks for the recommendations!

On “The Golden State Killer and Privacy in the Age of DNA

I'm not sure if you are referring to my article here as using a property rights framework, -and I didn't really intend it as a property analysis It was about privacy. But in search and seizure law (which this definitely is), the concepts intertwine.
The fourth amendment guarantees the right to be secure in our "persons, houses, papers, and effects", broadly construed to include your car, your blood, your electronic data, email, etc. When we are talking about suppressing evidence in a criminal trial due to a 4A violation, standing is important. If it's not yours, no expectation of privacy and no standing. If no expectation of privacy, no 4A violation.
I think it will be an easy call for a judge here as to the matching of DNA on the website, under either a privacy or property framework .


As of now, doing so would require voluntary consent or court order. There are laws allowing fingerprints and DNA taken after arrest or convictions but I think a blanket policy of collecting that from everyone at birth would not meet a standard of compelling state interest sufficient to intrude on privacy. At least I hope not.


What constitutes a “search” is an issue that is fought about in court quite a bit and the results are not always what one would expect. For instance, a drug-sniffing dog being walked around your vehicle has been deemed NOT a search.

Interesting thought about not owning your own DNA. I’ll have to ponder that. What about your blood or your saliva? You can’t force anyone to turn those over without a warrant or court order or consent (though it can be collected when discarded). Doing so would be an illegal “search”.


Welcome to the world of criminal law.


I don’t think anyone would argue there’s an expectation of privacy to the DNA the killer left behind. Not seriously, anyway.


Your backpack, your purse, or your own person is different. Those would require consent or probable cause and you would absolutely have standing to object to a warrantless search.
In my hypothetical it was the search of the home itself to which you may not raise a valid legal objection. So, for instance, say a pile of cocaine is on your friend’s coffee table when the cops bust in, and you are all arrested. You can’t successfully argue that your 4th amendment rights were violated. I your purse is grabbed and searched against your wishes, you can object to that (generally, without getting into the weeds on searches for officer safety or “incident to arrest”.)

Does this make more sense?

If you own or rent or even just live in a place, it is your home under the law, your possession in which you have the right to be secure under the fourth amendment.


I can see that perspective. And you may have less expectation of privacy from the folks whose house you are in. But I think the rationale is that it’s more like your temporary “home” at that point, giving you more expectation to be free from outside intrusion.

On “Nobody Won 2016 Election in a Landslide

This reminds me of a poster I saw once with a story about Somebody, Anybody, Everybody and Nobody. There was an important job to do, and Anybody could have done it. Everybody thought Somebody would do it, but Nobody did it. Moral of the story being, Nobody ended up doing what Anybody could have done.

On “The Golden State Killer and Privacy in the Age of DNA

That’s interesting. I’ll have to look that up.


Kolohe: “GEDmatch makes this very clear in their user agreements. Law enforcement used the service as it was intended, except to find someone else’s family rather than their own.”

There’s the loophole right there.I’m sure the expectation from almost all the users is that people are submitting *their own* individual DNA to these sites, setting up a profile with personally identifiable information that’s their own to give – not someone else’s.


this is something I was not aware of, and seems Not Right. (that is, morally suspect, not that you are factually incorrect)

Re: that loophole: even then, any privacy violation claim inures to the benefit of the family members who submitted their DNA, not to the suspect.

As to the other issue re: warrantless searches, all 4th amendment analyses come back to expectation of privacy, and the right to be secure in YOUR person and possessions,both of which are abated when you’re in someone else’s home. That’s the way the court has decided, anyway.
Now, as I said, the analysis can be different depending on the extent of your visit. Overnight guests, for instance, have a greater expectation of privacy than someone who pops over for dinner.

On “Fighting on Twitter Doesn’t Have to Make You a Loser

I don’t see it quite that way, maybe due to my training and profession. I don’t see argument as a negative; I am “arguing” when I’m in court, strenuously debating opposing counsel point for point in hopes of persuading the judge to see it my way. I suppose there is a “loser”, in a sense, and sometimes that’s me, but I don’t take it personally.
If I strayed from those rules when arguing in court, I would get my ass handed to me, and I would deserve it.

On “Public Education in the United States, Part I

West Virginia history is a huge deal in public schools here. Is it that way everywhere? I have always imagined so. (Not that WV history is a huge deal everywhere, but each particular state's history).


Funny you mention that larger states have a board of education in every county. My tiny state of West Virginia also has one for each of its 55 counties. I wonder if that isn't overkill?
I'll be interested to see how this series develops. West Virginia has one of the higher per-student expenditures but always ranks nearly dead last in education- in all of those nation-wide type studies that you propose to ignore.
Really good start, can't wait to read more.

On “#IndependentBookstoreDay

I just had time to read through these comments and I am craving the scent of old books, like the rarely visited fifth floor of the old section of the main campus library at WVU. I think everything has been moved to the new section (it was new when I was an undergrad, and I refuse to consider that it is no longer new), and the more obsolete materials moved offsite to storage. The downtown library here, also old and charming, may have to do for a lunchtime trek to get a fix.


Thank you! I will definitely try to make it there. I'm not scared of hills- flat land is a rarity where I'm from. My biggest constraint will be that I am tied up in conference until at least 5, and don't want to traipse about a strange city alone too late in the evening. Friday I am touring Alcatraz, and other than that it's up in the air, so I will put that high on my list of things I would like to do.