Friday, March 14, 2003

Here's the rest of the story. Howard Fast may have written the novel "Spartacus," but Dalton Trumbo wrote the screenplay. And while Fast may have been a well-known radical, Trumbo had been blackballed from the picture industry and imprisoned for his communist tendencies. Kirk Douglas, who produced the movie, insisted on having Trumbo write it under his real name, as opposed to a pseudonym. And that's...[wait for it] the rest of the story.
On a lighter note, Glenn and Griff and I, we're going diving. We're going diving! OK, not till the summer, but: We're going diving! We're going diving!
Yes, it's true: Glenn Instapundit Reynolds and I broke bread the other day. That ought to be news enough. I mean, we live 10 minutes away from each other, work 5 minutes away from each other, and actually manage to get together for lunch or whatever once every 3 months or so. My fault, I'm sure; I'm just a damn surly creature.

Glenn speaks the truth, however, on my Iraq position. I have very deliberately been on the fence, as previous posts on this site indicate. But I thought I should explain what has led me to come out in favor of doing this damn war, already.

First, Saddam is a bad man, and should have been completely dealt with in 1991. That was the mistake of a Bush White House with significant input from Colin Powell. While I don't have much confidence in the current Bush White House [with significant input from Colin Powell], it doesn't change the necessity of getting rid of Saddam.

Why get rid of him? The argument is that he's a known quantity; better someone who is relatively predictable than a wild card. I think that perception has changed over the last several months. The problem with this guy is that we can't predict what he's going to do. There is at least some evidence that Saddam is working on bioterror weapons, and he has had a well-known relationship with nuclear technology [which is probably being supplied to him by the French -- hence their eagerness to prop him up]. That he has not used these weapons on people other than Iraqis and Kurds does not mean that he will not -- at any moment -- use them on us, or the Israelis, or whoever. Given the climate of the last 7 or 8 months, we cannot allow him to continue holding over the world this potential for catastrophic destructiveness.

We must move, and soon. Our reputation in the world community, not strong to begin with, has suffered from the waiting. The UN maneuvering, while maybe justifiable in theory, has turned out to be a waste both of time and national prestige for the U.S.

We are now, based on the Administration's handling of the issue, in a no-win situation regarding Saddam. If we go militarily without UN "permission" we are villified as ignoring that "august" body. Even if we do get a UN OK, we will be villified by the fairly significant [at least vocally] anti-war movement, that finaly has found a cause since Vietnam is a dead issue. We won't get UN permission, however, because France or Russia will veto. France especially continues to villify us in the world press. And, simply doing nothing will get us villified, too. We cannot allow Saddam to remain in place, because if we back down now, we are seen as a laughing stock, and Saddam may very well become the leader of the arab world as a result of "defeating" the U.S. We're going to get villified any way we go; we may as well have the villification of our choice [ed. note: can the Administration have been this smart? Can it have actually set up this scenario where going to war is the lesser of evils? Nah.]

Our administration has placed us in a remarkably difficult situation by its ham-handed handling of the Iraq issue. By waiting as long as we have, we have destroyed any semblance of strategic or tactical surprise, which is the single most important factor, militarily speaking. We have been turning the Rooseveltian "speak softly and carry a big stick" on its ear, since we are screaming about how great we are and how we are going to squash Iraq. Not smart politics. Not smart war-making. We should just -- as a government, that is, just shut up and do the job.

If we start taking casualties, the early and vocal predictions of a military cakewalk are going to come back to haunt the Administration. We all want to achieve the goal of cooking Saddam's goose with a minimum of fuss and human loss, but we must also remember that basic military tenet: No Battle Plan Survives Contact With The Enemy.

The economy is taking body blows because of this interminable shucking and jiving. We are economically in the toilet: over 300,000 more unemployed in the last month, gas prices the highest in history, the airlines about to go belly-up because of the political climate and the fuel prices, the stock market about the lowest it's been in five years, a loss of 25 to 30% in the value of stocks over the past yearand a $300 billion deficit and climbing. And still, the idiot in the White House [strike previous, insert "President"] wants to cut more taxes. We just got out of financial trouble and within 2 years he's made it worse than it ever was. So much for small government. Anyway, we've got to get off the nut before our economy completely tanks. This domestic economic rationale may be the single most urgent reason for going, and going now. Also, I understand that we've already spent 3/4 of the money prosecuting this war will take. So at this point, it's not a money issue.

OK, so I do have some ambivalence; just not about whether it's time to make war on Iraq. I hate this Administration, and I think it has mishandled this Iraq situation from the start. But, given the situation on the ground, I also believe that we have no choice but to get rid of Saddam, and do it soon. As a wise man said, "sh-- or get off the pot." It's time to go to the bathroom. On Iraq. And get rid of this 9 months of constipation.

A funny from Doonesbury:
Iraqi: Is it true that only 13% of american kids can find Iraq on a map?

Roland Hedley: Yeah, but all 13% are Marines.

Oh so true. Go Marines!

Thursday, March 13, 2003

As predicted earlier, the House passed the caps bill. In a real tribute to the concept of open and honest debate and the legislative process in general, the Republican-controlled House Rules Committee prohibited any amendments or substitutions. Obviously, they had the votes, and were not going to let anything stop the steamroller. Also, the ease of passage may be indicative that new House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi isn't too good at her job yet.

What's just as interesting is the lack of play the story is getting. CNN has no story; neither does the ATLA site [which is disappointing -- if a part-timer like me can blog the news before the leading national trial lawyers association, something's wrong with 'em]. I'll look for more tomorrow.

So much for nurturing your employees.
He might close his eyes when he sings, but Charlie Daniels isn't shy about expressing his feelings about anti-war protesters: "You people are some of the most disgusting examples of a waste of protoplasm I've ever had the displeasure to hear about."
This presidential candidate ought to appeal to Libertarians.
All of you balding virile types, attention! Here's what will make your hair grow again:
"For several years now, I haven't had a hair on my head, but since I started drinking my urine, it's started growing again - it's quite extraordinary," the French news agency, AFP, quoted an unnamed magistrate as saying.

Only from a French news agency....

Via Dave

Don't be surprised if and when the malpractice caps bill passes the House. The battleground is going to be in the Senate, where the Republican majority is razor thin. Here's the text of the bill, for those of you with a lot of time on your hands.

Pushing the bill for the American Medical Association is its president, who is a doctor and lawyer. Inerestingly on the conflict of interest front, he also is a founding member of a physician liability insurance company. As a founding member, my guess is that he'd benefit from limitations on insurance exposure resulting from liability caps. If nothing else, as observed by the author of the linked article, it shows additional hidden ties between doctors and Big Insurance.

I'll make a point I've made before -- lawyers aren't asking for caps on damages in legal malpractice cases [and we are target defendants when we get sued]; why are doctors so special? Because they have their own lobby, as well as Big Insurance's lobby, pushing it.

UPDATE: Here's the story from Congressional Quarterly confirming the more difficult road the caps bill will have in the Senate. Two interesting points:

Democrats are expected to challenge the legislation on several fronts. First, they question Republicans' commitment to states' rights. They ask why Republicans who espouse a need to transfer power to the states want to impose federal caps on states that have chosen not to limit damages.

Democrats also have been challenging the fairness of caps on non-economic damages. They say that such limits harm people who do not earn a great amount of wages and would not be able to recover as many economic damages, which would remain unlimited under the bill.

Republicans talk about limiting the intrusions of the federal government when it suits their interests; when there's serious money involved, the concept of states' rights is simply ignored. Didn't Bush have as a campaign theme the goal of reducing the federal government?

ANOTHER UPDATE: Want to see video? Here's an interview for Real Player of a CQ reporter. This reporter sees this bill as possibly the start of a broader move to limit damages in all civil litigation. Apparently, there is also a patient safety bill, which would create a federally created database of medical "errors" [read: malpractice]. Guess what? Only doctors would have access to the data.

His opinion on action in the Senate? with 3 divergent approaches [Diane Feinstein wants a bill patterned on California's law; caps with exceptions for egregious cases; and of course strong caps with no exceptions]. His conclusion: it's a bit murky, and with a busy health care agenda, the Senate might not be able to hammer out an acceptable approach. He predicts that this issue will impact on the 2004 presidential race.

Tuesday, March 11, 2003

Instapundit had a link last night suggesting that the Clinton/Dole Count-Pointercount [anybody get it?] wasn't getting good reviews. Well, here is the linked NY Times review, and it isn't that bad. It even says
Both men are intellectually agile and quick witted, so it is regrettable that they did not sign up for a spontaneous debate. But by limiting their remarks to prepared micro-essays, the format keeps the discussion tethered to the issue at hand. The "Point-Counterpoint" format may be creaky, but particularly compared with what passes for serious discussion on cable news programs, Mr. Clinton and Mr. Dole proved it is a historic landmark worth preserving.

On the other hand, Tom Shales at the Washington Post has apparently had his attention span so shortened that he was bored by the 45 second exchanges.

I did see the segment, and it was OK, but nothing to write home about. So why I am I blogging home about it?

Monday, March 10, 2003

Sirhan Sirhan has been denied parole again. No big surprise. What I find interesting is that when he killed Robert Kennedy, he was a "Syrian." Now he's a "Palestinian." Why? In 1968 there was no such thing as a Palestinian. Which suggests that we all bandy about a supposedly-legitimate ethnic classification that was created solely for the purpose of anti-Israel propaganda.
According to the Chicago Tribune, a Chicago attorney has used the novel idea of registering with search engines to allegedly troll for clients in the wake of the Chicago E2 and Rhode Island Station deaths. I tried it using the search terms "E2 nightclub, and I couldn't find the lawyer's ad in the first 80 hits.

James J. Grogan, chief counsel of the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission, said the firm's marketing seems similar to lawyers sending direct mail or buying newspaper ads soliciting clients who have suffered from tragedy, a constitutionally protected form of speech. That sounds about right to me. And besides, if your ad doesn't pop up in the first few hits, what's the point, anyway? Interesting idea, though.

My brother called me to tell me that 60 Minutes had a propaganda piece for tort reform. Here's the only reference to it on the 60 Minutes web site: "MEDICAL EMERGENCY – Two generations of the Smith family practice medicine, but the third generation may not want to, as malpractice insurance rates go higher and reimbursement keeps getting lower. Mike Wallace reports." I understand from brother that it was not balanced, and presented no real point of view from the opponents of tort limitations.

Who was it who said, "You can't buy publicity like this"?