Saturday, July 5, 2003
"Malpractice Bill is Likely to Lose Key Senate Vote" is the headline of this New York Times article (via Yahoo! News). I call it misleading because it implies that the bill is likely to be rejected. The truth of the matter is that it will never come up for a vote; the vote it is likely to lose is a cloture vote on yet another Democratic Party filibuster. Even the lead paragraph is set up to imply that the bill will lose a floor vote:
WASHINGTON, July 5 — A bill that would impose strict limits on jury awards in medical malpractice cases — a central element of President Bush's plan to revamp tort law — appears headed for defeat in the Senate, but the majority leader, Bill Frist, intends to introduce the measure on Monday anyway, forcing a vote that could be used against Democrats in the next election.
That does not match what is said in the third paragraph:
The bill has no Democratic sponsors, and Republican leaders, including Dr. Frist and Senator Mitch McConnell, the Republican whip who will manage the bill on the floor, concede they do not have the 60 votes needed to overcome a filibuster.
I may be viewing the issue through partisan glasses, but did the Republicans ever push so many filibusters in a single session when they were in the minority? I really cannot recall ever hearing so much about filibusters (judicial nominees, spending bills, new laws) as I have in the past year or so. I do recall hearing about "Republican obstructionism" and Harry Truman referred to the GOP-controlled congress as the "do-nothing" congress, but it appears, at first blush, that the Democrats have elevated it to an art form.
(Update7 July03/10:17AMthe headline has changed, although I don't think this effort is any better. It now reads "Short of Votes, Senate G.O.P. Still Pushes Malpractice Issue". Nope, no bias there. Will they ever get it?
posted at 06:40 PM | permalink | Comments (1)
One of the Fringe Benefits...
...of living in Washington is the scenery.
While doing a little googling, looking for some information for a friend about the area, I ran across some gorgeous photos.
For those who are unfamiliar with the Puget Sound area, there are a multitude of islands in the sound, along with quite a few bridges linking some of them to the mainland. I live on the largest of the islands in the Sound, just a few miles south of Deception Pass State Park, the most popular state park in Washington. Deception Pass is spanned by a bridge (Deception Pass Bridge, appropriately enough), and the scenery around the bridge is spectacular.
These photos were taken by a local resident, using a digital camera, about three years ago. I have never met the man, but that won't stop me from providing a link to his page with photos of Deception Pass. Check them out; you won't be disappointed.
posted at 01:27 PM | permalink | Comments (1)
Friday, July 4, 2003
The Oath of Citizenship:
I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by law; that I will perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law; and that I take this obligation freely without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God.
The Oath of Enlistment:
I do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according the regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
Only a minority of American citizens have taken either of these oaths; those who have served in the military (always by choice since 1973, sometimes by draft prior to that point), or those who have made the conscious decision to become American citizens. A small number have made both oaths. Today is a celebration of the birthday of the country to which both of these oaths are dedicated. Remember today those who have chosen to join us, and those who are pledged to defend us. Not everyone can be with us today (like these three), because of those oaths. Happy Independence Day to all Americans, wherever they may be.
posted at 09:28 AM | permalink | Comments (0)
Thursday, July 3, 2003
Does anyone know of sites other than this one and Daily Pundit that use inline comments? From what I've seen, it's not difficult to configure MT for inline comments, but very few sites use them. Unless the site is one that gets dozens of comments per post (Eject! Eject! Eject! comes to mind immediately), inline comments are easier to navigate. One can read the comments without opening a fussy little comments window.
Most sites (especially the well-designed ones, like the ones from Sekimori), have inline comments for individual posts, but I am referring to posts on the blog's index page.
posted at 08:14 PM | permalink | Comments (5)
Israeli vs. Palestinian Deaths
The International Policy Institute, based in Israel, has been doing some counting. They have a page that lists the number of Palestinians and Israelis killed by the current "uprising", something that the western news organizations commonly do. Then, they break down the numbers into several discrete categories, something the western media never do. The numbers are interesting.
It is especially interesting to note that although the number of dead Palestinians is approximately three times greater, the number of dead Israeli women is almost 2.5 times greater (in absolute terms), which equates to a kill rate for Israeli women more than seven times higher than that for Palestinian women.
Also interesting is the number of combatant deaths (that is, the number of deaths of active participants in violence). 1074 of the 2350 Palestinians killed were combatants, while 166 of the 791 Israelis fell into the same category. That translates, in percentage terms, to 45.7% of Palestinian deaths and 21% of Israeli deaths. Yet the European press, in particular, calls the Israelis out for indiscriminate killing of civilians.
One last point that must be emphasized is the disparity in "friendly fire" incidents, and the Palestinian execution of suspected informants, something that has no Israeli equivalent. 293 Palestinians have been killed by other Palestinians, and 18 Israelis by other Israelis. These killings would alter the percentages I cited above even further, but not in a way that the Palestinians would like.
(BTW, the numbers are current up to 2 July as I type this; the page is dynamically updated, so the numbers you see may differ from my citations, if more people are killed.)
posted at 05:10 PM | permalink | Comments (0)
The Seattle Times reports that the lawyers behind the tobacco lawsuits are girding for battle over soft drink contracts in the local schools.
Currently, Coca-Cola has an exclusive contract with the Seattle School board which allows them to sell their product in the district's schools. The school district receives almost $400,000 per year from this contract. The district is one of about 10 percent of all school districts which have an exclusive contract; about 90 percent of all schools allow carbonated beverages to be sold on school grounds.
This is not a quixotic one-man campaign; in addition to the letter from Washington University's Jon Banzhaf III, the school board has been warned by Seattle Attorney Dwight van Winkle, and the leader of a local anti-corporate pressure group is seeking to replace the current School Board president.
I am not a big fan of most of the corporate-sponsored school programs, but I have no objection to selling soda in school. Seeing a Coke machine is not the same thing as corporate PR masquerading as educational supplements. The people at CCCS need to get a grip and realize that the schools have more pressing issues than whether or not soda is available on campus. Be eliminating the contract, they will be punching a $400,000 hole in the schools budget, in a state that cannot afford any more budget issues.
UPDATE: I just took a look at the CCCS supporters list. It is, not surprisingly, comprised almost exclusively of extreme-left social agitation, environmental, and educational establishment groups. A little further digging in their site reveals that Dwight van Winkle (the local attorney mentioned in the Times article) was the CCCS candidate for School Board in 1999 (he apparently was defeated). I wonder if the reporter was even aware of the connection between Van Winkle and CCCS.
posted at 03:33 PM | permalink | Comments (4)
Wednesday, July 2, 2003
Amiri Baraka shown the door
Arma Virumque: The New Criterion's weblog links to this story in The New York Times, which discusses the decision of the New Jersey assembly to eliminate the state's poet laureate post, currently occupied by the loathsome Amiri Baraka.
After Baraka wrote "Somebody Blew Up America", a ranting, incoherent screed against Americans (and Israelis), Governor James McGreevey demanded that Baraka resign. He refused, so the assembly took action.
posted at 10:02 PM | permalink | Comments (0)
Tuesday, July 1, 2003
The 41st Carnival of the vanities is up at Amish Tech Support.
Amish Tech Support: Carnival of the Vanities #41
This is my first time participating, but it won't be my last. This edition had 58 (!!) entries. Lair's fingers must be ready to fall off. (grin)
posted at 10:33 PM | permalink | Comments (0)
Monday, June 30, 2003
Another day, another Anti-Israel story
This AP story in the Seattle Times irritates me greatly, mostly because of its anti-Israeli slant.
BEIT HANOUN, Gaza Strip — Two young boys planted a Palestinian flag in the sand yesterday as Israeli tanks pulled out of this farming town in Gaza, leaving widespread devastation in their wake.
Widespread devastation? How widespread?
The withdrawal marked an end to the latest Israeli incursion in this northeast corner of the Gaza Strip.
This time the Israelis stayed for two months, trying to stop Palestinian militants from using the area to fire homemade rockets at a nearby Israeli town.
Remember, they aren't terrorists, they're "militants" or "activists".
Beit Hanoun, a quiet farming town of about 30,000, has been the target of several Israeli operations because of the bad luck of geography.
It's near the fence between Gaza and Israel, close enough to the Israeli town of Sderot for militants to use the town as a base to fire primitive Qassam rockets at Sderot.
The rockets have a range of one to two miles, and film has shown them zigzagging wildly through the air as they fly in the general direction of the town. Though dozens of rockets have hit Sderot, no one has been seriously hurt there.
And if dozens had been killed, what would the response have been? A tepid condemnation from the American State Department, a perfunctory denunciation from the Palestinian Authority, and nothing at all from the European press. Since there have been no deaths, there has been silence from the US as well, and of course no opprobrium from the PA.
Note how the article discusses the Israeli swath of destruction, but it totally ignores the consequences of the dozens of missile attacks upon the Israeli town. Also note that this town is in Israel proper, not in the Gaza Strip area. The article goes to great lengths to point out that there were "no serious injuries" in Sderot, while glossing over the fact that there were "no serious injuries" from the Israeli offensive in Beit Hanoun, either.
To remove cover used by the rocket squads, the Israelis uprooted orchards, leveled farmland and flattened buildings between the town and the border fence.
"I hope that this will be the last time we see them as invaders," said Rafet Jamal, 45, watching from a balcony with his 12-year-old son as a long line of Israeli armored vehicles, headlights shining, snaked out of Beit Hanoun after nightfall yesterday.
"It's time to rebuild our nation, our society, and replant the roots of peace," said Jamal, whose farm was bulldozed by Israeli troops when they moved in.
"We are sick from all that's happened. They have killed everything and they uprooted all trees, leaving behind them bad memories that we will never forget," he said, "but we are here with great hopes that Palestinians can actually achieve their rights."
What was Mr. Jamal's reaction when the "militants" started using his town as a base of actions against Israel?
Perhaps if the people in the area had made it clear to the terrorists that they did not want to provoke the predictable Israeli response, instead of welcoming the attacks, then their orchards and buildings would still be there.
Once the Palestinians stop acting like barbarians, they will be able to "achieve their rights". They need to start by reining in the bombers and missiles and other assorted butchers operating out of their towns. Only then will Israel stop intervening to protect their own citizens. *EVERY* incursion has been the direct result of massed attacks against Israel proper,and the deaths of Israeli citizens.
posted at 07:23 PM | permalink | Comments (0)
Not even close
I found this quiz at Overtaken by Events, and I knew I HAD to take it. However, the results are not even close.
You show a slight right-hemisphere dominance with a moderate preference for auditory processing, an unusual and somewhat paradoxical combination of characteristics.
You are drawn to a random and sometimes nonchalant synthesis of material. You learn as it seems important to a specific situation, and might even develop a resentment of others who attempt to direct your learning down a specific channel.
Your right-hemispheric dominance provides a structure that is only loosely organized and one which processes entire swatches of reality, overlooking details. You are emotional in your reactions and perceptual more than logical in your approach, although you can impose structure and a language base when necessary.
Your auditory preference, on the other hand, implies that you process information sequentially and unidimensionally. This combination of right-brain and auditory modes creates conflict, as you want to process data more rapidly than your natural processes allow.
Your tendency to be creative and free-flowing is accompanied by sufficient ability to organize and be logical, allowing you a reasonable degree of success in a number of different endeavors. You take in information methodically and systematically which can then be synthesized rapidly. In this manner, you manage to function consistently well, although certainly less efficiently than you desire.
You prefer the abstract and are a theoretician at heart while retaining the ability to be practical. You find the symbolism in a great deal of what you encounter and are something of a "mystic."
With regards to your lifestyle, you have the mentality which would be good as a philosopher, writer, journalist, or instructor, or possibly as a systems designer or social worker. Perhaps most important is your ability to "listen to your inner voice" as a mode of skipping over unnecessary steps to achieve your goals.
I tend to be left-brain dominant, rather than right-brain. I am very much a details-oriented person; some of the people who work for me hate my tendency to micro-manage, which is something my control-freak personality craves, and which I have to actively work to curb. My impatience with people makes me a lousy teacher or social worker; my unintellectual (not stupid, unintellectual) style would make me a poor philosopher. And my "inner voice" leads to the unenviable vice of second-guessing, another trait which I have to work to control.
Most of the other stuff, however, is not too far off the mark, or is at least arguable. It's an interesting exercise, in any case.
posted at 06:41 PM | permalink | Comments (0)
The datestamps are a bit screwy because when the blog was rebuilt, it was set to Zulu time (Greenwich time, to you non-military types). I fixed it, but all of yesterday's posts are dated today.
posted at 06:26 PM | permalink | Comments (0)
10 out of 6
Chaz, at dustbury.com discusses his results at BlogMatcher, and notes that his top ten includes only nine blogs (Cut on the Bias appears twice, with a slight variation of the URL.) Well, Chaz, I can top that. My top 10 includes only six blogs, since not only does Susanna show up twice, but Instapundit shows up three times. And one of the ten is under its old URL! Nyah.
On the Third Hand
No Watermelons Allowed
Silflay Hraka (old site)
Cut on the Bias
I left out the duplicates.
Kathy is getting linked the next time I update the bloglist; not only does she top my list here, but she is also in my local neighborhood on blogstreet, and she is the only one on my list that I haven't already added to my list. It doesn't hurt that I like her blog. Conversely, she is one of only two who don't have reciprocal links to me. (VodkaPundit is the other, and I have no idea why he's never noticed me. He's noticed just about everyone else.)
posted at 04:37 AM | permalink | Comments (2)
Israel to BBC: Piss Off
Not in those words, but their press office has decided to stop assisting the BBC in any way, is going to impose visa restrictions upon BBC reporters, and will not provide the BBC with opportunities to interview Israeli politicians.
This row has been brewing for some time, but the final straw was the BBC's decision to broadcast an outrageously offensive and one-sided program about Israel's suspected weapons programs, including an unsubstantiated claim that Israel used chemical weapons on Palestinians in 2001. (Israel categorically denies the claim.)
Read the full story in the Kansas City Star.
posted at 01:50 AM | permalink | Comments (2)
From the Sunday Seattle Times letters page:
I have an answer for the people who continually attack Bill Clinton, a president who has been out of office for nearly three years (Northwest Voices, June 22). Why don't you start attacking other former presidents, like Warren Harding, a man who was president when the Teapot Dome scandal hit America, one of the biggest crimes of the 20th century.
Or maybe attack Richard Nixon. We all remember him, the president who was forced to resign under the cloud of Watergate, a scandal that blackened the name of the United States for years.
But wait, I'm getting ahead of myself. Weren't these presidents Republicans?
Alan Cummings, Port Angeles
Hmmm. Teapot Dome. How about Elk Hills? Ring a bell? (BTW, Elk Hills was also involved in the Harding scandal!) This was finally resolved THIS WEEK. It will interesting to find out what the DoE was trying so hard to cover up, although with the interesting Gore connection to Occidental Petroleum, it ought to be titillating.
Watergate? A third-rate burglary that Nixon tried to cover up. Congress wanted to string Nixon up for threatening to have the IRS audit his enemies, something Clinton actually did. (Yes, I know the link is from WorldNetDaily. Sue me.)
Sure, the right will stop bringing up Clinton when you stop mentioning Iran/Contra, Watergate, and Joe McCarthy.
One of the reasons the right keeps bringing up Clinton is because of his acute case of Carter's syndromehe keeps himself in the spotlight, and keeps his name current in the media. Unlike former presidents such as Eisenhower, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Reagan and George H. W. Bush, Clinton (and Carter too) refuse to let go. Most ex-presidents shun the spotlight, preferring to let the current politicians talk the talk and walk the walk. Clinton holds press conferences, issues press releases, and injects himself into the media consciousness at any and every opportunity. He's going to continue to garner negative press as long as he continues to whore himself to the media.
posted at 01:30 AM | permalink | Comments (0)
...Died this afternoon, at the age of 96.
During her long career, she was nominated a record 12 times for Best Actress; she won four times, also a record. Her roles ran the gamut, from screwball comedy (Bringing Up Baby, to romantic comedy (The Philadelphia Story, for which she won her second Oscar), to drama (Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?, her third Oscar), to films that mixed several genres On Golden Pond, her fourth and final Oscar).
She will be missed.
posted at 12:10 AM | permalink | Comments (1)
Sunday, June 29, 2003
Gay Unions revisited
In the wake of the Supreme Court decision in Lawrence vs. Texas, which struck down the sodomy laws of Texas and twelve other states, there has been an increased interest in the concept of gay marriage or gay civil unions.
A gay man ran across my first post on this subject (from March 2002) and we exchanged a few messages. I thought I'd share them, because they are interesting, and allowed me to expand and extend my thoughts on the issue. You may want to refer to the original post if you are unfamiliar with my position on the subject (short version: I'm in favor).
there only two major problems with what you propose:
1) It defies the Constitutional segregation between church and state. What you propose would marry the two in legal terms, which would never hold up to Constitutional challenge.
2) Equal is equal. Period. I have the same beating heart & the same breathing lungs as ANYONE else in this nation. Same goes for the taxes I pay and the number of votes I'm allowed to cast on election day. Therefore, I expect nothing less than that which everyone else enjoys.
Equal is equal. Period.
I don't understand your first point. My idea clearly separates the two terms, and provides a way of expressing the relationship without using the term "marriage". It is akin to domestic partnership ordinances nationwide that allow partners visitation rights, access to health care, and other benefits afforded to spouses of heterosexuals. That part is not unconstitutional.
The second point is a bit more problematic. Under Brown vs Board of Education, "separate but equal" is inherently unequal, which would serve to invalidate gay-only unions. By expanding it to cover all non-clerical unions, gay or straight, it might pass muster in that fashion. Progressive faiths, such as the Unitarians, would have no problem with performing gay unions, but there is no way one can force conservative religions such as the Mormons, Catholics, Southern Baptists or Pentecostals to marry gays. Such coercion would violate the separation of church and state, and would be therefore be unconstitutional. That is why I proposed the division in the terms; they have the same legal weight, without the baggage. I think some of those who oppose "gay marriage" would be amenable to "civil unions".
I guess my questioning to you (in point #1) had to do with your calling out & requiring religious leadership as a governmental definition of "marriage."
The point I *think* you were trying to make is that clergy/religious institutions should not be forced to perform same-sex unions ... is that it, more or less?
My problem (or rather, the problem I see in terms of the Constitution) is when you began to get into government-defined "marriages" which may or may not involve clergy.
Not sure I'm making sense here, but I think the point (that I THINK you're making) is moot, as the government does not currently require that ANY religious institution perform marriages. It is silent on the matter, therefore, I can imagine no legal grounds where you and I, say, could take our local Baptist church to court for refusing to perform our marriage ceremony.
I believe the government recognizes marriage in legal terms only - regardless if the agreement happens within a church, before a judge, or in Vegas. I guess I just can't imagine a circumstance where legalized same-sex marriages would ever *force* a church or religious leader to acknowledge the same recognition.
He quickly followed up:
After 30 seconds' reflection, I guess it is imaginable for someone to try and make such a challenge as described above, on the "grounds" that HEY- My church provides for STRAIGHT marriages, my boyfriend and I want equal rights!
Such an action could certainly be initiated (and probably would be), and it might even get somewhere within the low-level court system of an ultra-liberal state. But it likely wouldn't get very far, as it is as unconstitutional as Texans' attempt to outlaw gay sex. The courts have been very clear on the rights of private institutions (e.g. the Boy Scouts) to practice "exclusionary behavior," and it is even MORE clear cut when it comes to the rights of churches to practice their religion as they damn well please.
You understood me correctly. You even picked up my concern that somebody would try to force the issue, and that like the Boy Scouts case, it would require a Supreme Court decision to finalize it. I am not particularly religious, but I really dislike the anti-proselytism of some atheists; their hatred of religion is not unlike Fred Phelps' hatred of gays, and just as distasteful.
The reason I suggest a distinction is because it is only because of government policy that marriages performed by clergy are recognized; after all, a Justice of the Peace is a governmental employee, while a priest, minister, or rabbi ordinarily is not. That is the easiest way to justify a distinction between the two flavors—marriage is performed by a religious leader of some sort, while a civil union is secular in nature.
For those gays who want a religious ceremony (assuming that their religion permits it), they can have a church ceremony of their own after doing the civil union thing. My best friend and his first wife went to a JotP (so that she did not have to deploy to Iraq in 1991; her squadron was sending only single people over there), and then they did the church wedding a few months later, which satisfied both sets of parents.
(Edited 30 June 2003 for style. No major changes to content.)
posted at 11:47 PM | permalink | Comments (0)
Upgrading in progress
The blog will be intermittent today while I upgrade and reinstall. The comments may have been the victim of someone <innocent look> not paying enough attention to space limits. When the migration took place, the less than 1MB I had left meant something had to give, and the comments were the weakest link. Goodbye!
One of the good things that will come out of the upgrade is that since I will be using MT 2.63 I will be able to start using trackback (as soon as I figure out how to use it).
Let's hope this works. :)
posted at 10:54 AM | permalink | Comments (1)