Friday, January 31, 2003

From Instapundit:

JEEZ, a new traffic record. Over 112, 000 pageviews today already. Go figure.

I hope the fact that I can't even get 11.2 pageviews a day doesn't mean that I'm 1000 times less entertaining or 1000 times less intelligent than Professor Reynolds (although I think I might actually be 1000 times less intelligent than the good professor)....

Monday, January 27, 2003

Anybody Watch What Came on After the Super Bowl?

OK, so as the television junkie that I am, I have been watch Alias since it premiered last season. (Actually, I missed the very first episode, but caught it during reruns.) ABC, in one of its few intelligent programming decisions this year, put a new episode of Alias on after the Super Bowl. What was cool about it was that it tied up several storylines that had been developing since the series' inception, while at the same time introducing some even better craziness and intrigue.

Bottomline - SD6 and the Alliance are destroyed - They were destroyed by the Evil Sloan - Sidney and Michael finally are gettin it on - Sidney's best friend has been murdered and replaced by a look alike spy - and Dixon finally knows the truth (but is not at all happy about it.

My guess, we'll see Alias' ratings increase sharply in the near future.

Thursday, January 23, 2003

Interesting new developments in the gay rights movement reported on by Steve Vogel in the Washington Post:

U.S. Awards Lesbian 9/11 Compensation For Loss of Partner

Peggy Neff said of her partner, she was "my soulmate, my closest confidante and my best friend." (File Photo)

The lesbian partner of a woman killed in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack on the Pentagon has been awarded more than $500,000 from a federal fund created to compensate victims of the attack, a decision gay rights advocates hailed yesterday as a significant milestone.

Sheila Hein, 51, a civilian Army employee who worked as a management analyst, died when a hijacked American Airlines jet slammed into the Pentagon. Hein left behind Peggy Neff, with whom she had a relationship for 18 years and a home in University Park. When rescue workers found Hein's remains, she was wearing a gold band that Neff had given her.

"Words cannot express what I have lost," Neff wrote in an affidavit filed with her federal claim. "She was my entire world and my soulmate, my closest confidante and my best friend."

Unlike gay couples in New York, Neff was not eligible for state aid from Virginia. Virginia law limits the benefits to spouses, parents, grandparents, siblings and children.

I applaud the result reached here. Ms. Neff most certainly deserves these sorts of benefits. It is pretty clear from the limited facts and circumstances in the article that she was Shelia Hein's closest companion and family. This decision does raise a concern, however. The law does not recognize the familial status of this couple. My concern is that if we grant death benefits to those without legally recognized familial status, we are inviting fraudulent claims.

What's a gay couple supposed to do? Well, I think the solution is to recognize gay marriages, or at least provide a civil equivalent so that gay couples can qualify for benefits accorded to husbands and wifes. In other words, I believe the law should recognize the familial status between gay partners. (Of course, if the law is willing to sanction a homosexual relationship in this manner, the same responsibilities that are placed on married couples should be placed on homosexual couples, i.e. community property, needing a dissolution to separate, etc..)

One of the things folks on the "Christian" right always criticize in the gay community is the tendency for promiscuity. I don't know whether these criticisms are valid or not, but I do know that criticizing gay people for their promiscuous lifestyles, while at the same time denying them an excellent mechanism for promoting monagamy (i.e. a legally recognized union), strikes me as somewhat inconsistent. It's almost like telling someone that their ugly and that they should do something about it, while forbidding them from ever purchasing makeup or plastic surgery. OK, I know. That was an idiotic analogy. At least I'll admit it.

Nevertheless, it seems to me that if Virginia had legally recognized the loving, monagamous, long-term relationship between these two woman, we would not have had the trouble in the first place, and there would not have been this dangerous precedent set for future death benefits cases.

Tuesday, January 21, 2003

I'd like to hear what Charlie Rangel and John Conyers have to say about this:

Front-line troops disproportionately white, not black Numbers refute long-held belief
By Dave Moniz

and Tom Squitieri

WASHINGTON -- The American troops likeliest to fight and die in a war against Iraq are disproportionately white, not black, military statistics show -- contradicting a belief widely held since the early days of the Vietnam War.

In a little-publicized trend, black recruits have gravitated toward non-combat jobs that provide marketable skills for post-military careers, while white soldiers are over-represented in front-line combat forces.

The tilt toward white combat troops is recognized by many senior commanders and a small group of scholars who study the military.

''If anybody should be complaining about battlefield deaths, it is poor, rural whites,'' says Charles Moskos, a military sociologist at Northwestern University in Illinois.

When Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., called recently for the return of a military draft, he evoked images of inequality raised during the early years of the Vietnam War, when black soldiers died at rates much greater than their share of the U.S. population.

Though Rangel is right that blacks and lower-income Americans still serve in disproportionate numbers, that fact misses another significant trend. While blacks are 20% of the military -- compared with 12% of the U.S. population -- they make up a far smaller percentage of troops in combat jobs on the front line.

In a host of high-risk slots -- from Army commandos to Navy and Air Force fighter pilots -- blacks constitute less than 5% of the force, statistics show.

Blacks, especially in the enlisted ranks, tend to be disproportionately drawn to non-combat fields such as unit administration and communications. They are underrepresented in jobs shooting rifles or dropping bombs.


* Of the Army's 45,586 enlisted combat infantryman, 10.6% are black.

* Of the Air Force's 12,000 pilots, 245, or about 2%, are black.

* In the Navy, 2.5% of the pilots are black.

Senior Air Force officials say they are troubled by the number of black pilots and plan to do better.

* The Army's enlisted Green Berets are among the least diverse groups in the military. Only 196 of the Army's 4,278 enlisted Green Berets -- fewer than 5% -- are black.

The reasons for the racial divide are unclear, but several theories have emerged, including lingering racism in some quarters of the military and a tendency among black recruits to choose jobs that help them find work in the civilian sector.

Rangel and Conyers, if you'll recall, recently advocated reinstituting the military draft because they claimed that minorities were disproportionately at risk in military actions. This story must present a bit of a dillema for the esteemed Congressmen: On one hand they claim (inaccurately, it turns out) that it is unfair for blacks to be overrepresented in dangerous combat positions. Thus, the news that blacks are in fact underrepresented dangerous combat positions should come as good news to Conyers and Rangel. On the other hand, I wouldn't be at all surprised to see them decry the fact that blacks are underrepresented in the dangerous positions of Green Berets and Navy/Air Force pilots.

So which is it, is it unfair for blacks to be overrepresented in dangerous combat positions or is it unfair for blacks to be underrepresented in dangerous combat positions?

My guess is that according to Conyers and Rangel, its both.

Saturday, January 18, 2003

First Primary in DC?

Got this from the NRO Corner via WTOP's web site:

First Democratic Primary Proposed for D.C.
Updated: Friday, Jan. 17, 2003 - 11:47 AM EST.

WASHINGTON - D.C. City Councilman Jack Evans wants to see the city hold the nation's first presidential primary, not its last.
On WTOP's Politics Program, Evans said next week he plans to introduce legislation that would move D.C.'s Democratic presidential primary from May to January.

"We believe it's important because we believe the District represents the Democratic Party more than any other state," Evans said.

"I think the candidates know this a front-ended primary season, and, so the District of Columbia, why not? Why not come here and campaign?" Evans said. "Most of them are here anyway. Actually, in the Democratic Party, three of the major candidates - Edwards, Kerry and Lieberman - live in Georgetown. That's where their permanent homes are. Our population is much more diverse than Iowa or New Hampshire. We represent the Democratic Party."

Evans said he believes the Democratic Party is operating under archaic rules by holding the first presidential primary in New Hampshire.

The Democratic National Committee had no immediate comment on Evans' proposal.

The 2004 primary schedule has yet to be set, although the Iowa caucuses will likely take place on or about Jan. 19 with the New Hampshire primary occurring on or about Jan. 27.

I like this for a couple of reasons. First, maybe the Republican primary would be moved up as well. That way, as one of 4 registered Republicans in the District, I could potentially have a huge voice in determining the winner of the first Republican primary every four years. Second, because the District population is about 75-80% black, Al Sharpton could have a good chance of winning here. Imagine how the shit would hit the fan if Sharpton became a front runner for the nomination by winning the nation's first primary!

Friday, January 17, 2003

Magnified and Blown Out of Proportion

If you've been following the budding career of high school basketball star LeBron James through his televised games on ESPN2, you are probably amazed at skills and talent displayed by this kid is at the young age of seventeen. He is likely to skip college and go straight to the NBA, and most observers feel that he'll be the first pick in the draft.

Recently, some eyebrows were raised when LeBron was seen driving around town in a brand new $72,000 Hummer SUV. The reason that this seemed a bit strange is that his mother is unemployed and lives in public housing. Nonetheless, she was able to convince lender to give her a loan to buy the car.

Now, I don't think that LeBron or his mother did anything that was particularly wrong here. If some lender were willing to lend me $72,000, I'd take it as well. I'd probably not spend it on a Hummer, but hey, to each his own.

What I do have a problem with, however, it Washington Wizards forward Charles Oakley's comments on the matter.

Forward Charles Oakley said if high school sensation LeBron James were not black, he would not have gotten the attention he did for driving a brand new Hummer.

"Everything about us is magnified," Oakley said. "That's just how it is. It's always magnified and blown out of proportion. There is a different standard for black people. That's how it is when you're black and the microscope is on you."

Oakley said that if James had grown up in a middle-class neighborhood and were white, the big stink over his new car would never have come up. James' mother, with whom he lives, is unemployed.

"Look, a lot of [white] people drive Mercedes to high school and nobody stops them and ask them about their car," Oakley said. "But if a black guy is seen driving something like that, the first thing people say is he's a [drug] dealer. But that's just how society is. Blacks are living in the back of the bus and we might never get to the front of the bus. We are never going to be able to drive the bus like we should. What are you going to do about it? You just have to keep going ahead."

Look Charles you are a hell of a player and I respect you, but this is not about race. If this were a poor white kid, the "big stink over his new car" would most certainly have occurred as well. The relative poverty of Ms. James was the reason that red flags were raised here, not that she was black. Poor white teenagers driving Hummers look just as weird as poor black kids when they drive around in $72,000 cars, at least to me anyway.

Which leads to another point. With the Supreme Court about to take up the Bollinger case (the one about affirmative action at the University of Michigan), I'd like to make a point. As I wrote above, I view poor white kids and poor black the similarly when they drive around in $72,000 cars in poor neighborhoods. Regardless of their race I pretty much ask myself, "How in the $#%@# did that kid get that car?" On the other hand, if I see a kid driving around in a Hummer in a wealthier neighborhood, I pretty much say to myself the same thing, "Daddy's spoiled rich kid." My point is that poor white kids and poor black kids have a lot more in common than poor black kids have in common with rich black kids. They often suffer from the same stereotypes, prejudices, and hardships. Rich black kids on the other hand typically go to good schools. Although they likely have experienced some racial hostility in their life, my guess is that their suffering does not approach burden that poor white children face.

All of this raises the question: Why should wealthy black children receive the benefits of affirmative action over poor white children? The answer: they shouldn't. (Disclaimer: I've benefitted from race-based affirmative action several times in my life due to my Puerto Rican heritage.) Admissions preferences should be color blind in all cases. They should consider economic and social hardship but never skin color. Childhood is never easy if you are poor, regardless of whether you are black, white, yellow, red, green, orange or blue. Academic achievement by children without the advantages of wealth should be given extra weight, regardless of race. This will bring true diversity to the university environment, diversity of life experience and diversity of thought.

Also, while college admissions are still on the front pages, I'd like to see Congress propose a bill making legacy preferences illegal discrimination. I think this probably would fall under their power through the civil rights laws, but I'm not certain. I don't doubt for a minute that universities rely on alumni donations for $$$, but does it make it right to take away a spot from an otherwise deserving candidate so that a rich family continues giving money to a University? That to me betrays the same principles of fairness and justice that are at issue in Bollinger.

Thursday, January 16, 2003

They Should Hire This Guy

I typically hate when Hollywood actors and actresses attempt to influence the political landscape here in our beloved country. Whenever I see one of these shitheads (like Sean Penn, Susan Sarandon, Jane Fonda, etc.) try to tell the unwashed masses how to think, I just write it off as a combination of ignorance, ego and detachment from reality. Alec Baldwin is the postchild for these folks. I also wonder sometimes why they believe that anyone cares what they think, given that they likely (or at least in some cases) have no education beyond high school and have never held a "real" job in their entire life.

That having been said, I have a new found respect for one person who I previously placed in this category: Mike Farrell. Yesterday, he came on the Sean Hannity radio show to debate Sean on the merits of going to Iraq. Although I ultimately disagreed wiith Mr. Farrell, he argued calmly, rationally, and was very impressive. I previously placed him in the shithead Hollywood hack category because he typically associates with shithead Hollywood hacks. Having heard him argue the case against moving in on Iraq, I can honestly say that he was the first anti-war person to present a reasoned argument against the upcoming war based on fact rather than emotion. The Dem's ought to get this guy into politics.

How Does a Person Somehow Decide that this is the Right Thing to Do?

I've always wondered if evil people knew that they were evil and just said, "Fuck it," or whether they actually thought their actions to be moral and correct.

For example, does Saddam see himself as a virtuous man who is misunderstood, or is he just happy being the monster that he is because he enjoys being evil?

With that in mind, read the following:

Instapundit tipped me off to this:

In the far north of North Korea, in remote locations not far from the borders with China and Russia, a gulag not unlike the worst labor camps built by Mao and Stalin in the last century holds some 200,000 men, women and children accused of political crimes. A month-long investigation by NBC News, including interviews with former prisoners, guards and U.S. and South Korean officials, revealed the horrifying conditions these people must endure — conditions that shock even those North Koreans accustomed to the near-famine conditions of Kim Jong Il’s realm.
At one camp, Camp 22 in Haengyong, some 50,000 prisoners toil each day in conditions that U.S. officials and former inmates say results in the death of 20 percent to 25 percent of the prison population every year.

Entire families, including grandchildren, are incarcerated for even the most bland political statements.

Forced abortions are carried out on pregnant women so that another generation of political dissidents will be “eradicated.”

Inmates are used as human guinea pigs for testing biological and chemical agents, according to both former inmates and U.S. officials.

I say after we get done with Iraq, we stop by North Korea for a visit on our way home. Bastards.

Saturday, January 11, 2003

Why L.A. is cool - Part II

Last night we went out to dinner at some place called Axe (pronounced Ah shay', how sophisticated) in Venice. We had just been seated and I notice everyone turning to the door. Why? Because somebody walked in. No big deal, just a couple of folks coming in to get some dinner as well. I noticed over the next few minutes, though, that every time someone came through the door, everyone in the restaurant turned to check them out. I guess its an L.A. thing.

Each time I turned I wasn't impressed until about 20 minutes after we sat down. The door opens and two dudes from Alias walk in. Mind you it wasn't Jennifer Garner, but it was cool anyway. Oh, and it wasn't Michael Vartan, sorry cld. But, it was the dude who plays Will the reporter/junkie/wannabe spy and the dude who plays Jack Bristow, Sidney's father. They were with a somewhat attractive blond.

About ten minutes later, the dude who plays Sloan (the evil head of SD6, I think his name is Ron Rifkin) comes in as well and stops at their table and says hello and proceeds to sit at a different table.

Anyway, we watch Will, Jack and the blond leave together and are trying to figure out who she is with. The valet brings their car (a BMW), and SHE GETS IN THE BACK SEAT while they get in front! I guess chivalry is dead in Hollywood.

Friday, January 10, 2003

I'm blogging 1/2 a block from the beach sitting outside on the porch. To think: People actually live like this. I'm jealous.

Anyway, was reading James Lileks (one of the best bloggers out there if you don't already know of him) and came across this gem:
In response to Martin Scorcese criticizing U.S. foreign policy for not "respecting how other people live" he writes the following:

The coming war in Iraq will indeed be disrespectful of how other people live - in particular, the Tikriti mob that has shoved the head of the nation in the toilet for ten years and buggered its fundament with a splintery plunger.

Boy, I wish I could write like that.


One other passage that is simply brilliant:

As a student of history, I am impressed by how our military - which has the ability to annihilate cities and nations - has spent billions to develop weapons that destroy a single building. Surely this says as much about us as our crass and extroverted culture; what other nation with our abilities would take such care? Presented with enemies who build weapons factories next to kindergartens, we invent missiles that take the former and spare the latter. This may not mean we are right, but it surely means we are are bound by a notion of decency our opposites lack.

Amen. You should go read it yourself.

Thursday, January 09, 2003

I got this from the NRO Corner:

Check it out, its not what you think.

I'm heading out to L.A. tonight to see my friends Beej and Leisle. They live basically 1/2 of a block from Venice Beach. Not a bad life.

Not that anyone will miss me, but I probably won't blog this weekend (not that I've been blogging much anyway over the past few weeks).
Are These People Even Human?
From the Washington Post today:

A federal jury convicted Kevin Gray and Rodney Moore today of killing a total of 21 people over a nine-year period and then continued deliberations on even more murder charges as one of the city's most sprawling criminal trials moved closer to an end.

Gray, 31, and Moore, 37, charged with running a drug and murder-for-hire gang so violent that investigators dubbed it "Murder Inc.," now face the possibility of capital punishment or life in prison without parole. Although D.C. law does not provide for the death penalty, federal law makes it an option. Gray and Moore could face it after being convicted of carrying out killings as part of a "continuing criminal enterprise."

I don't know. I have severe reservations about how the death penalty is administered in this country, but can anybody really make a case for not putting these guys to death?

Thursday, January 02, 2003

My brother (a rabidly anti-trial lawyer surgeon) will love hearing about this:

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) -- Four West Virginia hospitals cut staff hours and transferred more patients Thursday because of a surgeons' walkout to protest malpractice costs.

State officials planned to announce an emergency program Thursday afternoon to ensure medical service to patients in the state's northern panhandle.

More than two dozen orthopedic, general and heart surgeons in the area began 30-day leaves of absence Wednesday or planned to begin leaves in the next few days to protest medical malpractice costs.

I think this is generally a good thing. As a future lawyer in a family of four medical doctors (well, actually three, with one about to graduate), I hear a lot about this issue. While it is sad to see it come to this (by "this" I mean potentially putting patients at risk), it is probably the only way to get politicians to hear these complaints over the noise made by large contributions from the plaintiff's bar.

My brother has been predicting these kinds of walkouts for a few years now (one of the few things he has correctly predicted, just kidding Steve). If this "leave of absence" is successful, I won't be surprised to see many more similar walkouts around the country. Malpractice insurance has become so expensive in many jurisdictions that it is no longer economically feasible for doctors to practice in them.

I know that Las Vegas recently had to shut down the only emergency room within the city limits due to malpractice costs. I also read somewhere that doctors in Mississippi have been leaving the state in droves because of the huge judgments levied against them by jurors in medical malpractice cases.

I know that doctors do make mistakes, and sometimes the consequences of these mistakes are tragic. The problem is, however, that an entire industry has been created by plaintiff's attorneys that encourages patients to view the health care game as a lottery of sorts.

Wednesday, January 01, 2003