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September 24, 2016

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[M][@][c][K]

Mr. Patton, you may be retired from Whittier, but it is your main legal affiliation:

You are posting in a forum where most of the readers do actually make arguments for a living, and quite a few are experienced in trying to slide an otherwise impermissible point into their argument. Your statement that someone is "incorrectly calling my arguments 'discrimination claims'" is, to be blunt, taking your readers for fools - this is not even "sliding." You can be accused of engaging in a sort of rhetorical hostage taking of minority students to defend low admission standards at law schools and low bar passage rates (something Whittier has a problem with.)

But let's look at your points.

"(1) if a bar passage standard is unreasonably difficult (i.e. not based on empirical data that demonstrates its necessity or social value) the result will be that fewer of those who are otherwise sufficiently competent and who have spent tens of thousands of dollars to practice law will be licensed;"

To most sensible readers of this comment the striking point is that the person who objectively could be expected to be highly likely to fail the bar has "spent tens of thousands of dollars," after taking a test that reasonably predicted the high likelihood that this expenditure of money would be wasteful. A small change to that sentence might be illustrative "who have PAID [hundreds] of thousands of dollars." This of course is the key point - the students at issue are paying in fact well over $100,000 to a law school that could have predicted that they would fail the bar - based on the existing requirement of bar passage. Moreover, since you make your point around women and minorities- how is this not a "discrimination argument?" It waddles, quacks and certainly looks like a duck.

The problem with your position is that law is taught as a real world subject and students in law school want real world objectives. They want to become lawyers and to do that they will have to pass a bar exam. That is an objective, non-negotiable fact.

Let's look at your final point: "I am not arguing for an easy bar exam or that law schools should not be accountable for outcome measures." If you are not arguing for an easier bar exam, what is the objective of the points you present. The end result of the arguments you have raised is that the bar exam should be less difficult. It is the logical result of points (1) through (5). What is the point of your argument; do you think the law exam should remain difficult?

As for the argument that you do not think law schools should be held accountable for outcome measures, it is worth taking a hard look at Whittier. It only takes a moment for any reader to see that Whittier's bar passage rate has been for several years, pretty grim, since the halcyon days when Whittier trumpeted is February 2014 pass rate on the CA Bar - indeed by July 2015 Whittier had the lowest pass rate of any law school on the CA bar - and at the bottom Whittier has remained. It can also reasonably be predicted that the Bar results for Whittier in 2017 are going to move from catastrophically bad to an apocalypse - because the class of 2017 was one of the largest Whittier has admitted in recent years and boasted 25 percentile LSATs of 143 and 50 percentile of 146. To put it in simple terms, more half the class of 2017 on admission was at very high risk of failing the bar, ¼ of those at extreme risk - to apply David Frat's criteria.

It leaves an ugly sense that what Whittier is pursuing is social justice on someone else's dime, in this case the students who are paying $120,000 plus in borrowed money to attend it. This is where you end up back at the problem - is Whittier really helping "men, women, racial and ethnic minorities" or is it helping itself. In simple terms, if the CA bar remains where it is through Summer 2017 what will this mean for Whittier?

[M][@][c][K]

If you no longer have a relationship with Whittier you may want to ask them to remove that relationship from their webpages.

https://www.law.whittier.edu/index/directory/profile/william-wesley-patton

Deborah Merritt

There are some excellent points in this post and thread (on all sides of the discussion) but also some misunderstanding about the bar exam and how it is graded.

1. The bar exam has, in fact, gotten harder. In July 2015, NCBE added a seventh subject to the MBE. I have written about this before: Check "Equating, Scaling, and Civil Procedure" on Law School Café, the blog I co-moderate with Kyle McEntee (and proudly associate with LST!)

2. A few states have also raised their cut scores, which makes the exam harder to pass. When states do this, they often rely upon flawed methods. I wrote about this back in 2001. Check out "Raising the Bar" on SSRN.

3. Overall, the bar exam lacks validity. I.e., there are no good studies linking performance on the bar to minimal competence as a lawyer. Psychometricians will tell you that defining and testing for "minimal competence" is extremely difficult. As a profession, we haven't been nearly as demanding as we should be about getting an exam that fairly tests for professional competence.

4. That failure has substantially reduced diversity in the profession. Why? We continue using an instrument with little validation, knowing that this instrument disproportionately fails applicants of color. Are we intentionally discriminating? Probably not. Would we have been quicker to see a problem if it disproportionately failed white applicants? I think so.

Those of us pressing for the ABA's proposed standard on bar passage are well aware of these issues, have been writing about them, and have been seeking ways to reform. At the same time, schools need to do their part in admitting only students with a realistic opportunity of success on the bar--and then in educating those students to achieve that success.

More in another comment!

Deborah Merritt

Here are a few more thoughts about the mathematics of bar exam passage, as well as the best way to press for policy changes:

1. Although the exam has gotten harder, and the ExamSoft crash depressed pass rates in 2014, there is little doubt that declining credentials of law students have had a substantial impact on bar passage rates. The curve in Ralph's graph tracks that decline. Academic support people I know say that, although the addition of a seventh subject to the MBE predictably depressed pass rates, that alone did not account for the full decline. Both student credentials and a harder exam have had an impact.

2. If the examinees taking the exam are less qualified (either due to entering credentials or quality of education), that profile reduces the scores achieved by *all* people taking the exam. I wrote about the mathematics of this on Law School Café under the title "On the Bar Exam, My Graduates Are Your Graduates." The bar exam is not curved the way we curve law school classes--i.e., the MBE graders don't give the same percentage of 144's every year. Instead, they first compare the current year's performance to that of previous years by comparing answers on a subset of questions that appeared on previous exams. This is called "equating."

If the new group of examinees does worse on those equator questions than previous examinees did, that pulls down the scaled scores for *everyone.* Examinees with high raw scores will get relatively high scaled scores, but they won't be as high as they would have been in previous years. This doesn't make a difference at the top, but it makes a big difference near the cut score.

3. The previous effect is particularly dramatic within states that have a significant number of schools whose graduates perform poorly on the bar exam. This is because NCBE equates and scales the exam on a national level, but then gives each state its own scaled mean to use when grading essays and other parts of the bar. To put it bluntly: There are examinees who fail the bar simply because they take it in a state that has a large number of examinees who do poorly on the MBE. In those states, scores on essays are curved down.

4. Perhaps the most important point is this: State supreme courts and bar examiners won't take legal educators seriously on requests for bar reform when those requests are linked to declining pass rates. That linkage makes it seem that we're protecting our own turf--and that's probably right. Professors rarely agitate for bar reform when 85% of their students pass the bar--even though the exam may have been horribly unfair to the other 15%. We need to show that we're serious about admitting students who can succeed and then preparing them adequately. If we're willing to be accountable for our admissions and educational practices, it will be easier to persuade state supreme courts that they need to be more accountable for the type of bar exam they impose.

Scott Fruehwald

My point is that if a law school wants to admit students with lower indicators to create greater diversity, then they have the responsibility to educate those students. Otherwise, diversity is just an excuse for a scam.

How long have you been retired from Whittier? When you were there did they devote significant resources to teaching, or did they emphasize scholarship like most law schools?

anon

Patton is patently condescending, but hopelessly confused about his own arguments.

He claims his claims have nothing to do with "discriminatory effects" in bar pass rates. I won't repeat all the reasons this claim is bogus (see, my comment above.) But, when refuted, he resorts to saying that he doesn't so claim.

Patton: "high bar passage standards that schools like Syracuse cannot meet, is obviously unfair and will only exacerbate the demographic imbalance in the bar."

Really? Why is that, Patton?

Again, Patton, tell us what you believe would be a better way? Simply change the cut points to increase pass rates?

And, btw, Merritt's claim that pass rates are lower now than in the past needs to be called out. Check out the pass rates in the 1980s (e.g., in CA). Let's get the facts before writing essays on how tough it is now. Cherry picking decreases in pass rates in states that were risibly easy passes and which have become riddled with bottom feeder law schools racing to the bottom in admissions is totally bogus and misleading.

And, Merritt repeats the canard that the bar exam doesn't test anything worth testing and doesn't produce results worthy of importance. Tell us, Deborah, what would you recommend to take its place?

Many of the "experts" on these subjects are confused or simply asserting factually inaccurate claims. It is no wonder the ABA can no longer enforce simple standards for bar passage to which law schools need adhere. The "experts" are muddying the water with what amounts to nonsense about how irrelevant to the practice of law passing written examinations calling for essay writing on legal issues can be.

Twbb

"If the new group of examinees does worse on those equator questions than previous examinees did, that pulls down the scaled scores for *everyone.*"

Deborah, that's the point of equating and I don't see the issue. You are making a distinction between the "new group of examinees" and "*everyone*" when they are the same group, and without that equating process the yearly scores would be more arbitrary. Test takers get less credit for right answers in the non-equator questions because they've shown on average they should get less credit.

anon

Deborah has two very simple premises.

Everyone should pass the bar exam; otherwise the bar exam is unfair to those who don't. IF any person she thinks should pass doesn't pass, the bar is invalid and we should have a different (not described) way to screen for bar admission to allow that person to practice law.


Deborah Merritt

Anon, I'd be happy to tell you how to improve the bar exam:

1. Ask multiple choice questions that are a realistic measure of what every lawyer needs to know by heart before beginning practice. Basic concepts in each of the fields tested? Of course. But the current exam requires test takers to memorize details far beyond that level. Even experienced trial lawyers would get some of the Evidence questions (my field) wrong without checking the rules.

2. Alternatively, maintain the current level of detail but make the MBE open book. A test taker who understands the concepts and is familiar with the rules will be able to find the correct answer. That's a much more realistic assessment of what lawyers need to be able to do.

3. Replace essays with more MPT exercises. Most practitioners rightly criticize law school essay exams as unrealistic representations of what lawyers do in practice. Many of us who grade those exams agree. Essays don't suddenly become more representative of lawyers' work once they're on the bar exam. If anything, these half-hour exercises are even less representative than the typical law school essay. The MPT exercises represent more realistic assessments, although the time constraints on those are currently too short for the amount of material included in each file. Bottom line on this reommendation: more MPT, more time.

4. Find a way to test for basic skills in interviewing, communicating with clients, negotiating, and other skills that everyone agrees are essential for a lawyer to have (at a minimum competence level) before entering practice. Contrary to popular belief, it is possible to test for these skills without mounting expensive simulation exams. One could, for example, require each applicant to compile a portfolio of skill demonstrations over the course of law school. This wouldn't technically be part of the exam; it would be a prerequisite to taking the exam. Even better for state bar examiners: it costs them nothing!

Worst case, you can actually ask multiple choice or essay questions about skills. It's not the best way to measure skills but it's better than nothing. Every new lawyer, for example, should know what the concept "BATNA" means, as well as the principles of a cognitive interview.

It's a common stereotype that people who criticize the bar exam are opposed to multiple choice questions or written exams generally. I'm not, but there are much, much better ways to construct the bar exam.

PS I referred to an increase in the exam's difficulty, not a decrease in pass rates. Those are two different concepts. Pass rates change for lots of reasons. I, for example, took the Georgia bar exam in 1980. I believe the pass rate in that state was about 50% back then--because Georgia then allowed people to take the exam without attending law school AND imposed no limit on the number of times someone could take the exam. I sat next to a guy who had never been to law school but kept taking the BAR/BRI course in the hope that one day he would pass. I think he was on his fifth try. He was relatively cheerful about the whole thing because BAR/BRI let him retake the course free after each failure. Quite a different era. And you have to ask yourself: Would you have been confident in that person's competence as a lawyer, based on the fact that he was finally able to memorize enough to pass the exam?

anon

Deborah

Thanks. It now seems clear that you don't object to the bar exam, and don't think it is invalid, and your recommendations say NOTHING about diversity or disadvantage to certain groups.

1. "Ask multiple choice questions that are a realistic measure of what every lawyer needs to know by heart before beginning practice. ... the current exam requires test takers to memorize details far beyond that level."

Pretty thin gruel here, Deborah, for someone who stated: "Overall, the bar exam lacks validity. I.e., there are no good studies linking performance on the bar to minimal competence as a lawyer."

Ok, we've only looked at your first proposal. Let's move on.

2. "Alternatively, maintain the current level of detail but make the MBE open book."

Yes, this would be nice. Honor system here? How about I bring the Bar Bri practice exams? Or, maybe you could write the book that examinees bring, and include all the answers?

3. "Bottom line on this reommendation: more MPT, more time."

Ok. Nothing revolutionary here. Your opinions don't support in any way your bold claim about bar exam invalidity; you just object to time allocations (which are not universal, and the ones you mention are false in several major states).

4. "This wouldn't technically be part of the exam; it would be a prerequisite to taking the exam."

THis isn't a critique of the bar exam; it is a critique of licensing standards and law schools. And, for sure, this is intended to permit some to put their thumb on the scale to support some favored groups.

Finally, you distinguish bar difficulty from pass rates. The entire debate about standards is about pass rates. You have stated in writing above that you admit that declining admissions standards have contributed to declining pass rates. Do you seriously believe that one who scored in the bottom 20% of LSAT takers, even after three years at a substandard bottom feeder, won't find the bar exam more difficult?

Your memory of the GA bar exam has no bearing on any issue under consideration.

Deborah Merritt

Twbb, the problem is that two variables change over the life of a standardized exam like the MBE: the difficulty of the exam (because there are new questions every time) and the competence of the test takers. It's hard to equate when two variables are in flux. In fact, conventional test equating assumes that the population of test takers remains relatively constant in ability.

Here's an example to illustrate what has happened with MBE scores in some states: Suppose that a state has two law schools with graduates (400 total) who are relatively successful on the bar exam. Their students average 133 questions correct on the MBE, and those raw scores are scaled up to an average of 144. This continues for many years. Each year, the graduates of these schools perform about as well as previous graduates on the equator questions, so scaling is similar from year to year.

Now add a third law school with graduates (200 total) who are much less successful on the MBE. The grads from the first two schools do not change. They still average 133 questions correct and, importantly, they continue to get the same number of equator questions correct. If they were the only ones testing in the state, they would continue to have their raw scores scaled up to an average of 144.

BUT the 200 new test takers are much less successful on the equator questions. That means that a raw score of 133 no longer translates to a scaled one of 144. For a group including these new, less successful performers, a raw score of 133 might translate to a scaled score of just 135. If the state requires a 140 to pass, some grads of the first two schools will fail--even though they are answering questions just as capably as they did before.

Perhaps I need to be more blunt: when law schools graduate students who are poorly qualified to pass the bar, they don't just hurt those graduates (although they surely bear the brunt of the harm). These schools also cause some students at other schools in the state to fail the bar--even if those schools have not changed their admissions standards or educational practices.

anon

"Perhaps I need to be more blunt: when law schools graduate students who are poorly qualified to pass the bar, they don't just hurt those graduates (although they surely bear the brunt of the harm). These schools also cause some students at other schools in the state to fail the bar--even if those schools have not changed their admissions standards or educational practices."

Deborah, at last, we agree!

Get on the ABA to shutter the bottom feeders!

Deborah Merritt

Anon, I think we should also add a basic reasoning section to the bar exam. Here are two sample questions:

1. Polly teaches and writes about statistical methods, including the concepts of reliability and validity. She writes: "Overall, the bar exam lacks validity. There are no good studies linking performance on the bar to minimal competence as a lawyer. Psychometricians will tell you that defining and testing for 'minimal competence' is extremely difficult. As a profession, we haven't been nearly as demanding as we should be about getting an exam that fairly tests for professional competence."

Ann responds: "Polly has two very simple premises. Everyone should pass the bar exam; otherwise the bar exam is unfair to those who don't."

Has Ann correctly identified Polly's premises?

2. Polly supports tightening law school accreditation standards with respect to bar passage. She would require schools to show that, among graduates who choose to take the bar exam, 75% pass within two years. Polly also believes that the current bar exam does not properly test professional competence. She would reform the exam in several ways.

Are these beliefs logically reconcilable?

Deborah Merritt

Anon, it has become clear that you don't understand the statistical concept of "validity." That is another principle I would test for on the bar exam: Every new lawyer should understand the concepts of reliability and validity.

Sadly, I will have to step out of the debate for a while. I am writing a hand-out about how to put together a trial notebook, and it needs to be done by tomorrow. Creating a good notebook takes a fair amount of skill, understanding of how facts and law relate, and knowledge of how to use paper tools to best leverage what's in your brain. If anyone thinks lawyers are naturally good at this, just go to a local courthouse and sit in on any trial.

anon

Deborah

Well, I appreciate your snark. I am sure that you are vastly more intelligent than I; indeed, your intelligence shines in a way that I could never comprehend. Or, so you say. Or imply.

Now, on to your hypo.

1. Polly writes a series of comments on a blog, claiming that "There are no good studies linking performance on the bar to minimal competence as a lawyer." She repeatedly claims the bar examination does not "fairly test for professional competence" and asserts that that "failure has substantially reduced diversity in the profession."

When Polly is challenged to explain what type of assessment she would prefer as a condition to licensure, she abandons her discriminatory effect claims and basically recommends retaining the bar exam, with some fairly minor tweaks (retain the MBE, but make it "less detailed"; make the MBE open book, and tweak the balance of essays and performance tests.) (Polly doesn't explain how these changes would benefit particularly the "people of color" to whom she previously referred in making her discriminatory effect claim.)

When then challenged to deny (in light of her proposal to retain the bar exam) that her arguments about the unfair "difficulty" of the bar exam seem to reduce to falling pass rates, she emotionally insults the person questioning her conclusions and quotes from portions of the argument addressing different issues.

Has Polly persuasively addressed the comments challenging her analysis?

2. Polly supports tightening law school accreditation standards with respect to bar passage. She would require schools to show that, among graduates who choose to take the bar exam, 75% pass within two years.

A person challenging Polly's conclusions about the difficulty and other aspects of the current bar examinations agrees with Polly about this assertion. Polly attacks that person wantonly nevertheless, and claims that person doesn't understand her arguments and needs to be as educated as she claims to be about these matters.

Is Polly too busy or distracted to be able to be at least somewhat coherent and refrain from the self congratulatory, condescending snark so typical of befuddled law profs on this site when bizarre contentions are challenged?

[M][@][c][K]

A few points:

Deborah - I can understand the argument that perhaps passing a particular bar has no relevance to someone's ability as a lawyer. I remember dealing with a lawyer in BigLaw to which the conclusion was Harvard, cum laude, you're kidding! That said, there has to be a level where an inability to answer Bar Exam questions in a lucid and clear way indicates a lack of the knowledge and ability necessary to practice law. Law schools still have exams that can be failed - why? As a practitioner, I can say though that there are plenty of bozos and incompetents practicing law - and they indeed have passed the bar, and quite a few have been to T5 law schools.

Moreover, discussing whether or not you approve of the Bar Exam or its validity misses the basic point - if you do not pass the bar you cannot practice law. Since those attending any given law school are paying hundreds of thousands of dollars to do so, the basic question remains - should you admit students that have a very high risk of failing the bar - ab initio - and charge them a fortune and let them get into debt. Reform of the bar exam is a theoretical possibility, the tuition they are paying and the debts they are running up are a current fact.

Deborah Merritt

[M][@][c][K] and anon, saying that an exam lacks validity is not the same as saying that it has no relevance or is defective in every respect. Lawyers are key players in our society and I think the people of the U.S. deserve a licensing exam that has been validated (i.e., shown through research to accurately identify minimal competence as a lawyer). An exam can be invalid because it is underinclusive (i.e., it licenses lawyers even if they lack a skill/knowledge set that is essential) or because it is overinclusive (i.e., it requires performance of skills/knowledge that are not essential).

I suspect our bar exams fail on both counts--although that doesn't mean that we would discard the exam entirely. Still, isn't it time to be serious about creating a better exam? As I wrote in an earlier comment, we have no studies validating this exam. I mean that literally, as someone who has done work in this field. We have many studies validating the LSAT as a predictor of first-year law school grades, but no studies validating the bar exam for its purpose. The most recent attempt by NCBE accomplished pretty much the opposite--it showed that skills not tested on the bar are the ones that new lawyers most need to have.

Meanwhile, I am the *only* professor who submitted comments to the ABA supporting the proposal to tighten accreditation standards on bar passage and admission! I have also posted in this very forum in support of those standards (back in December)--as well as elsewhere on the web. Since I post and write under my own name, I think it is fair to expect regular commenters to know something about my positions--or at least not to make assumptions that someone who holds X position must also hold Y position.

I am astounded by the stereotyping on both sides of this discussion. When I write in support of tightening the ABA's bar passage standard, I get hate mail and snarky comments accusing me of being a racist and overlooking the defects in the bar exam. When I write about defects in the bar exam, I get comments suggesting that I have "missed the basic point" about schools exploiting students who cannot pass.

I am not two people masquerading as one: it is possible to support the ABA's new bar passage standard AND believe that we should work to change the bar exam AND to believe that UNT Dallas should be allowed to test the impact of its low tuition/high pedagogy approach through provisional accreditation (see some of my other writing on that).

Can't we be more serious in these discussions, and not assume that a person who disagrees with us on one point must disagree with us on every other point? I welcome disagreement--as I hope you can tell by the fact that I keep writing and posting. But I get very frustrated by well educated people who assume that one position implies another--or who make extreme assumptions like the one anon started with ("Deborah has two very simple premises....") All of that distracts us from solving real problems.

[M][a][c][K]

Deborah:

I am firmly of the view that the bar exam should be improved - I have encountered far too many clowns who have passed it to think otherwise. Indeed many of the worst clowns are graduates of Harvard, Yale, etc., their idiocy and poor judgment masked by their impressive credentials.

My point though is a simple one - for the foreseeable future and certainly right now the ambitions of vast bulk of matriculants to any law school include becoming a lawyer, which in 50 states and 4 US territories means passing the bar exam. This means in absolute terms that admitting a student who is at very high risk or extreme risk of failing the bar exam is, AT THIS TIME wrong, it is taking tuition for something that the student is unlikely to achieve, allowing that student to go into massive debt for an illusory good.

I don't deny that there is room to improve the bar exam - and I'd argue that there is room to improve the LSAT so as to get a better sense of whether someone would be good as a lawyer (the Ivy League clowns I referred to all without question excelled on the LSAT.) But again you are left with the problem, that the sine-qua-non of being a lawyer in the US is passing the bar. If you can't then you have not got what you paid for, probably with borrowed money.

This is not intended to be a criticism of you, but a reiteration of a harsh reality - US law students want to be lawyers - they want to pass the bar, that is what they are paying for.

anon

Deborah

You keep posting, but not reading.

you say: "When I write in support of tightening the ABA's bar passage standard, I get hate mail and snarky comments accusing me of being a racist and overlooking the defects in the bar exam. When I write about defects in the bar exam, I get comments suggesting that I have "missed the basic point" about schools exploiting students who cannot pass."

These perceptions are bizarre, if you are referencing the discussion above.

Moreover, harping on a comment about your implied premises, which was a bit of hyperbole to illustrate the point, appears to be a bit of compulsion. And, you are obviously mistaken in relating that comment to the correct portion of your assertions to which it applied.

As demonstrated above, you don't object to the bar examination, You recommend what amount to modest changes to it. The comment to which you refer was not directed to that aspect of your assertions.

The comment to which you refer was directed to an aspect of your discussion of falling pass rates, and the discriminatory effect of the these pass rates. You stated: "Professors rarely agitate for bar reform when 85% of their students pass the bar--even though the exam may have been horribly unfair to the other 15%." And, "Would we have been quicker to see a problem if it disproportionately failed white applicants? I think so."

My comment was: "Everyone should pass the bar exam; otherwise the bar exam is unfair to those who don't. IF any person she thinks should pass doesn't pass, the bar is invalid and we should have a different (not described) way to screen for bar admission to allow that person to practice law."

You weaved discriminatory effect claims into your argument, and that comment responded. It was to that aspect to your arguments that that comment was directed, but, again, as stated above, you seem to read quickly and without much thought.

This is troubling, because, all the while, you keep repeatedly insulting those who disagree with you - even when they agree!- and instructing everyone else about the difference between difficulty and pass rates, validity and reliability, etc. This is done in a very condescending way, when these issues you claim are being implicated have not been implicated.

Finally, "Can't we be more serious in these discussions, and not assume that a person who disagrees with us on one point must disagree with us on every other point?"

That is EXACTLY what happened in the discussion above. We disagreed about some points, but, agreed on another. But, again, you seem to be on skimming, and not reading and thinking about the comments to which you are objecting.

I don't think this discussion has been productive, other than to expose the truly threadbare nature of your proposed "reforms" to the bar examination, the complete absence of any cogent argument you may have to support your discriminatory effect claim (which, as stated above, you quickly abandoned) and to expose of the confused way that you hear and interpret both critical and supportive comments on your positions.

Kyle McEntee

Because apparently addressing brackets STILL puts messages into the spam filter, here's my comment again:

****, I'm not sure how much clearer Debby could be here. Your point is the exact point she's been making publicly for a year now.

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