Friday, October 29, 2004

Multnomah County Measure 26-71
For many of you in this county of Oregon, there is a measure out there sponsored by the East Multnomah Water and Soil Conservation District that we have to vote on. The Ballot measure reads thus:
Shall the District be authorized to have a permanent rate limit of $0.10 per
$1,000 assessed value beginning FY 2005-2006?

Now it says "rate limit" but the district is not allowed to impose taxes directly on land owners in the county at the moment. They get all their funding from the county. This measure would allow them to tax us separate from the county. I think the way this measure is written is very misleading. I wish I had caught this sooner so I could have warned more people, but with vote by mail in Oregon, most people I know have already voted.

Here's an interesting article in the Oregonian about 26-71. The thing I noticed was that the county is a little miffed that the District went straight to the voters and didn't consult the county at all.
The Green Party and the Johnson Creek Water Conservation folks are for it. Big shock.
Oregon Watchdog is against it. Again: shocked.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Where's the Vote?
Where's my vote? Well I'll tell you. I was going to be more private about it, but most pundits on-line are giving in and telling who they are voting for.

President: Bush(R) I haven't been obvious about that, have I?
Senator: King(R) the unknown Republican. The Lib doesn't have a chance
Representative, Dist 3: Tami Mars(R) there is no libertarian running
Sec of State: Betsy Close(R) If only because of what Bradbury did to Nader
Tresurer: Shultz(L) Shouldn't a libertarian be the fiscal tzar of the state? Yes
Attny Gen: Myers(D) I have no beef with the job Myers has done

Measure 31: Yes
Measure 32: Yes
Measure 33: Yes?
Measure 34: No
Measure 35: Yes
Measure 36: Yes
Measure 37: No
Measure 38: No

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Taiwan policy?
Did Colin Powell really say this?
There is only one China. Taiwan is not independent. It does not enjoy sovereignty as a nation, and that remains our policy, our firm policy. And it is a policy that has allowed Taiwan to develop a very vibrant democratic system, a market economic system and provided great benefits to the people of Taiwan.
And if he really said that, does the 2nd part of this sentence really jive with the first part? Later on in the interview he says that the US will protect Tiawan from China if China gets aggressive. If we think that Tiawan is really part of China, then why are we protecting it?
I don't understand this position. At all.
Here's the transcript of the interview.
AP strikes again
OK, this article by Jennifer Loven of the AP has a really slanted title. If you only read the title and first few paragraphs you would get the impression that the president has shirked his duties, and isn't he a naughty boy for doing so. Here's the title:
Bush Cuts President Duties for Campaign
I mean the president of the united states for goodness sakes. He has a responsability to keep working at all times and not distract himself with this piddily little election business.
Oh, yeah, then you read a bit further, 5th paragraph:
Moreover, Democratic challenger John Kerry (news - web sites) isn't exactly winning a best-senator award as he tries to unseat Bush. The Massachusetts senator has participated in just 17 of 211 votes since January.
But, but, but... Bush is bad for doing it. Waaahhhh! Yes, the next paragraph has a "But with fall typically a busy time at the White House, Bush has set aside many of at least the public functions of his job." And you never hear about Kerry again.
The article then proceeds to tell you all the things that Bush is actually doing related to his job, and they sound pretty extensive to me. Getting security updates every day. Meeting with advisors, since pretty much the entire oval office staff and advisors can accompany him on Air Force One. He meets with legislators in their home states, instead of in the White House. And this is just since August, where the article admits that he was doing his job regularly up until that point.
If you read the whole article you get a better picture of what Bush is doing, but if you are like most people and read the title only, or the first couple of paragraphs it reads like a slant piece.

Geography Bee
Here are some questions from the National Geography Bee. See how many you can get. The site doesn't have the answers, so I don't know how you are going to check yourself, but it's fun to see how much you know. The first few are easy, but they get harder. I can't answer the last one.

Actually, here is the official Geography Bee site. It has a daily quiz. Try it out.
North Korea Human Rights Act passed
And signed by the president on the 18th. It has been watered down from it's original form by various committees in contress, but at least it's something. I note that the general media has ignored this so far.
I wish that we had the resources to address this situation effectively, but since Iraq is happening, we don't. I'm not down on what we are doing in Iraq, and the war on terror is important, but this situation needs to be dealt with, and the UN is pretty much just sitting with it's hands under it's ass on this one.
Really, when most of the countries in the UN signed the resolution that things like what happened in Germany would never happen again, were they just talking out of their butts in order to look cooperative and just? I don't know why I have any faith in the UN at all these days.
If there is any argument as to why we need to rescue the people of North Korea from the likes of Kim Jong Il, and you have a strong stomach, read this letter from a child who was interned at one of the prison camps there. Like the guys at Winds of Change said, simply horrifying.
The case for Turkey in the EU
Michael Totten has a great article weighing the merits of including Turkey in the EU.
Environmentalism, California Style
Roguepundit has an article about a law, which is actually a voluntary program, in California, encouraging forest land owners to not cut trees. Based on the Climate Action Registry, it monitors carbon dioxide storage levels in forests. There is no real incentive for landowners to do this, except that they might be ahead of the game if and when Cali makes the program manditory.
The problem with this, like so many other environmental regulations in California, is that it's not really based on great science.
This concept is the same one that was brought up in the Kyoto agreement during the 90s. Companies and nations get points for the amount of trees they have (simplified version). But it doesn't really work that way, as Roguepundit points out also, as younger trees absorb more carbon dioxide than older trees, and in developed countries like ours, most of the wood goes into manufacturing, which releases less CO2, than in developing countries where the wood is burned for fuel, which releases most of the CO2.
California already has the toughest environmental regulations in the world regarding timber harvesting. Most of it is tedious, and much of it is not based on hard science. Urban enviros continually push this nonsense on the rural land owners. Their faith in the "science" behind this is almost religious.
Sorry, off my soap box now.

Friday, October 22, 2004

Nuclear waste storage map
Roguepundit has a great post today on Initiative 297 in Washington, trying to stop the used nuclear waste from coming into Washington, to Hanford specifically, by turning Hanford into a national park.
It's basically a NIMBY response to storing waste. My interest in this is that RogueP links to an online map of nuclear reactors and storage facilities in the US. Get yourself educated as to where all these sites are currently.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Bad FOR and AGAINST entries
I had to speak about this. My wife was looking through the voter's guide yesterday and noticed, where I didn't, that the first three or so FOR statements for measure 36, the "one man one woman" measure, are pretty rediculous.
As a Christian I know where I stand on what God says is right, but I still fight intellectually about whether or where in government I should be pushing to reflect God's wisdom on this issue.
The author of these statements, however, seems to have no issue with that.

In the Holy Bible, Saint Paul says that Christians should remain single and abstain from sex. The New Testament says that people should get married only if they are too weak-willed to abstain from sex:

"It is well for a man not to touch a woman…. It is well … to remain single as I do. But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to be aflame with passion." (I Corinthians 7:1, 8-9)

Marriage is not sacred. Marriage is for wimps and sissies!

It gets worse.

The sissy institution of marriage must not be perverted by sinners who are capable of abstaining! The sacred union of church and state must prohibit the immoral union of men and women capable of the discipline of sexual abstinence. We are not saved by either faith or good works. We are saved by religious-right legislation!

Freedom of religion and equal treatment under law is simply the special right to sin, because our tradition is the one and only truth! And our tradition (that is, our personal moral opinions) should become law.


There are two other statements in favor of the amendment with the same tone. They are all by the same person, M. Dennis Moore, who represents some apparently made up PAC type entities. Notably, "Traditional Prejudices Coalition" and "The Beaver State Defense of Beaver Coalition."
Totally tasteless.

Once again, this brings up what I was saying about the comments for Measure 37, where there are a couple of FOR statements by some guy who is advertising buying lots of land and get rich when measure 37 passes.

Is the Sec of State trying not to discriminate who gets arguments published? These arguments seem to me to be either some real nutcase or someone on the opposition side trying to make the FOR side look bigoted and religeously extreme. There's no other explanation.
Measure 38
The last and final measure. Measure 38 has been involved with some controversy, namely some shady dealings involving former Gov. Neil Goldschmidt.

Reading the text of this bill, it seems to do two things. One is to gradually, over a two year period, phase out the State Accident Insurance Fund (SAIF), which insures small businesses in the state. SAIF competes with private insurers covering workman's compensation, which is a business requirement, but for some businesses that have more risk that may not get picked up by private insurers, SAIF is often the only, or less expensive option.

Here are the official sites:
Oregonians for Accountability
Committee for SAIF Keeping

Big yuck-yuck on that second site there. Nice pun.
Anyway, the FOR statements in the voter's pamphlet are mostly from individuals or PACs. I didn't see lots of official organizations in there. The one that stood out was from Liberty Insurance, which to me sounded like a conflict of interest. In fact Liberty is the main backer of the measure.

However the AGAINST crowd had a wealth of diversity, from legislators and the governor, to long lists of businesses that grouped together, and unions.

There are a lot of reasons, personally, why a measure like this would be attractive to me. One is that I don't like the government administration of things the private sector should be doing. The problem with that is that the state requires this type of insurance to be held by businesses, and given the current climate economically we want to encourage small business the most, and SAIF saves small businesses the headache of high cost liability insurance (or no insurance at all, as some private insurers balk at insuring sometimes when the risk is too high). But that leads me to other thoughts that I can't back up right now, such as I wonder what the difference between what SAIF offers and all other private insurers is.
One reason that private insurance for workman's comp costs more is that private insurers are generally for profit, unlike SAIF, which is non-profit. Therefore SAIF can afford lower premiums.
Another reason to like this measure would be accountability. I know opponents say that if you get rid of SAIF you wouldn't have accountability in the system, or that SAIF is accountable, but recent scandals have put a kink in that argument. It's true that SAIF has had ethical investigations and other troubles, but that is not an indictment on whether or not it works and is overall a good or bad thing for the state. It's also true that there are some dissatisfied customers out there, but this is not a monopoly, and the competitive insurance market indicates that there are alternatives.

But there are lots of reasons to like SAIF. Opponents of the measure claim that SAIF is self-sustaining, which is true. Getting rid of it will actually cost the government more money than keeping it. I refer you to the Ballot title of the measure, where the statement of financial impact to the state has this costing the state about 100 million dollars a year. Get that? SAIF is actually in the black by $100 Million. This would make it more self-sustaining than the US Postal Service, which, although theoretically self-sustaining, frequently needs a little help from tax dollars.

The Salem Statesman has a roundup of articles related to SAIF and Measure 38.
Here are two sides of the issue, one for and one against, from the Portland Tribune.
And still another one from the Trib.

The Democratic Party of Oregon opposes it. (In fact they oppose most of the measure this time around and have no position on the others, which has got to be a first.)
The Republican Party of Oregon's site didn't have it readily available what their positions are.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Measure 37
Another measure that is generating controversy is yet another measure that land owners to force government to compensate them for imposing regulations that cause land values to drop.
Secretary of State site

Here's the for and against folks:
Oregonians in Action
Take a Closer Look Committee

Now as the law stands, if the government condemns a property, reducing it's value to virtually nothing, or taking it for government use. Passing this would force the government to pay the landowners for a reduction on property value for any regulation that reduced the value. The government would have the option of just not enforcing the rule on certain landowners.

This is one of the few measures this year that will have a significant financial impact on the state. 44 million dollars is nothing to sneeze at. The question I think should be here, is 44 million potential dollars spent by the government worth adding the regulations needed? That's a big number to you and me, but it's not a huge number in a state budget (ed-huge enough you might say. Close to 1% of the budget is nothing to sneeze at, but what we are talking about is having the state take a second thought every time they impose some regulation. This stuff doesn't just protect the environment or whatever, it affects people).
I actually misspoke there. The state is only one player in this. I'm not sure if that 44 million is spread over the various state and municipal agencies or not. I would presume that when the city of Portland makes a new regulatory call that the hit is on their budget, not the state's.

Reading the voter's pamphlet, I see that most of the entries FOR the measure come from Farmer's organizations and private citizens. The array of citizens tell some pretty horrifying stories of government regulations costing them (and the government when they sue) lots of money. There are also a few entries from the authors of the measure addressing opponents concerns. They seem to do a good job of that, it's not aggressive or mean spirited at all.
Except: There is a really tasteless entry in the FOR category. I don't know why the Sec of State let this one through. It is really and advertisement for getting rich quick by buying land, stating that this measure will eliminate all zoning and environ mental protections across the state. This was obviously put there by an opponent of the bill. Shame on Peter Bray and Bill Bradbury.

-As far as the opposition goes. Here are some of the concerns about the bill that they bring up:
-The measure is retroactive for all current landowners. It is not just future regulation that is covered but past regulation that affected the land that owners currently have.
-It's complex and will increase paperwork and taxes and that will hurt landowners more.
-The cost to ALL governments, state and local, is more like 344 million dollars (this is a per year estimate, but that doesn't say if that's just for the first two years when the opportunity to apply for past takings occurs or not).
-It's poorly written and vague (you mean like every measure that's every been put before the public?).
-Something about notice to citizens will not longer be required when development is taking place near them.
-It will cause uneven application of new regulations, resulting in lawsuits (well, it seems to me the only options the government has is to pay out or not apply the regulation. How is this uneven?).
-It will create unnecessary bureaucracy and red tape.
-Measure doesn’t say where the money to pay for this would come from.

The players on the NO side are more varied. You have lots of government administrators, including the governor. There are various unions. You've got environmental organizations like the Audubon, and various business and local organizations. Interestingly enough there are also lots of Farming organizations on the NO side too.

After reading the bill, I find many of the arguments of the opposition to be without merit. My own understanding of the process of government may be limited here, but I don't see it. That the results of government zoning and regulations dramatically affect people’s lives is truth.
The only one of the opposition's arguments that gives me pause is that the bill is retroactive. That's the one part I don't like, because that will cost the government more money than it can pay, by far. I generally don't like retroactive effects of bills and measures. You knew the rules when you bought the property before. You may not like them, but that's how the rulebook played. I think the bill should be changed.
But this is just a bill, not an amendment. It's not unheard of that the legislature changes parts of measures that were passed in order to make them work after the fact.

After looking around a bit, the same arguments that are in the pamphlet are being made at most of the sites I visited.
Certainly there is concern about how the government treats landowners. You may not think that this measure is the way to answer that, but RoguePundit answers:
Since our legislature won't come up a reasonable means to compensate landowners for state and local land-use restrictions that cause financial harm, voters are again trying to take things into their own hands, this time with Measure 37. If the folks in Salem would govern more effectively, we wouldn't be approving so many initiatives.
Nuff said.

Central Asia
Winds of Change has its Central Asia roundup, including reports on the Afghan elections. Uzbekistan and Kyrgystan are trying to improve relations via military cooperation with NATO countries. Some Oregon State Univ scientists traveled to Uzbekistan to help with the bad cattle problems they are having, and some Uzbekis traveled to central Washington to learn how we farm here. And much much more from a region most of us don't think about often enough.
Conan the Governor is making some interesting noises on how he wants to reform the redistricting of California to solve the problem of gerrymandering. Let the people decide, not the legislators. I like it. Hat tip to the Armed Liberal.
Tora Bora
Senator Kerry has made some outlandish statements regarding our attempts to get Bin Laden in Afghanistan when we invaded and afterwards. It's always nice to get the perspective of someone who not only was there, but was the commander of the forces in the Middle East during that time.
Tommy Franks was that guy.
According to Mr. Kerry, we "outsourced" the job to Afghan warlords. As commander of the allied forces in the Middle East, I was responsible for the operation at Tora Bora, and I can tell you that the senator's understanding of events doesn't square with reality.
Read the whole thing.

Stupid Question
When Bob Schieffer at the third Presidential debate asked the question, "Suddenly we find ourselves with a severe shortage of flu vaccine. How did that happen?"
That was a serious question? How much does the president really have to do with the supply of flu vaccine?
The president started strong on this question, but headed in the wrong direction. Medical lawsuits are a problem, but that has little effect on vaccine distribution. The real problem is that the government protections against price-gouging. Sure, you want to protect the citizens from evil greedy pharmacutical companies, but that causes some other less desireable effects, namely the companies producing the vaccine can't afford to prepare extra in case there is a problem. Since price fixing was put in place, no American company wants to make the vaccine, so we have to go to England and Canada and have the vaccine imported, which presents other risks.
Really this has little to do with the current President, as the price gouging has been in place for a while.
Kerry, by the way just blabbered off into a discussion about how health care in general has deteriorated under Bush and how his plan will bla bla bla... Completely ingnored the question.

Here's a site with some links to comentaries on the vaccine issue. There is also a good commentary from Medipundit comparing Kerry's health care plan to the currently operating one in Tennessee. That's not a compliment, by the way.
Kevin Drum has a good post on this too, although he wraps up the anti-gouging issue in a "regulations" point he makes.
Indian Demon
After one of the largest manhunts in history, the man known as the "Demon" of India was killed in a made for Hollywood shootout. This guy was wanted by the police and military for almost 40 years. Killed police, elephants, suspected informants, kidnapped people. He was killed south of Madras in the state of Tamil Nadu (Madras is in the northern corner by the ocean).

Monday, October 18, 2004

Measure 36

This is probably the most controversial measure on the docket this year. At least emotionally. I wonder if the polls would indicate that it really was a close issue. In a sea of Kerry/Edwards signs here in Portland, I do see an awful lot of Yes on 36 signs. People are not afraid to show their sleeves on this one, unlike the Bush supporters. We've seen, after the media made us think that national opinion was basically pro-gay on this issue, that many states are now, by popular votes, defining marriage as between a man and a woman. With the exception of Massachusetts, the nation is fairly still against gay marriage.


You can go to the Sec of State site and read the text and explanatory statement, but they are pretty brief. Here's the text right here:
It is the policy of Oregon, and its political subdivisions, that only a marriage between one man and one woman shall be valid or legally recognized as a marriage.
That's it.

Here are the official for and against sites:
Defense of Marriage Coalition
No on Constitutional Amendment 36

Now you will see, especially on those two websites above, that there are lots of emotional arguments to both sides of this debate. Let me first do you the respect of telling you where I come from on this issue. I am a 35 year old GIS professional with a wife and two kids. I live in the Portland city limits, but it's really more like mid-county Multnomah. I am an Evangelical Christian. That should do it right there.
But it really doesn't. In the core of my beliefs I hold that God set things up, and he commanded that marriage is between a man and a woman. The question for me is not, it is OK, but what should the government's role be. I do think that any church that professes to be Christian and still maintains that it can marry homosexuals and elevate them to the positions of authority in the church should pick up their bible and study it a bit more. The whole thing.
But this is really a forum on what the Government's role is. I would like to go through some of the arguments on both sides.

  • "Because Oregon laws deserve open debate." Well, this is a reaction of what the Multnomah county commission did earlier this year. It was pretty slimy on their part, and it did contradict current Oregon state law. But I'm not sure open debate is what we are getting right now. If they have a point here it is that at least it's a public vote. But public majorities are not always right. And if this passes in November, the debate ends.
  • "Because children do best with a mom and dad." This is not debatable with me. This is actually a good reason to define it on a state and federal level. I understand that some gay people have kids through other marriages and they stay with the gay parent. They probably should stay with a parent if the alternative is worse, or someone who is not their parent. But I believe this statement, because of my faith most of all, but also there has been considerable research that documents the stability of a traditional family unit.
  • "Because Oregon law already defines it that way." This is true, but if that is the case why do we need an amendment?
  • "Because 40 states already have defense of marriage acts." And that makes it OK? Again the majority thing.
  • "Because this is our last chance to save marriage." I don't really buy this all together. As a Christian I am sickened by how unseriously even people of faith take marriage. Most churches turn the other way when divorce happens. The divorce rate among Christians is pretty bad, and we have no one to blame but ourselves. Society is too soft on marriage as well, but we're doing a pretty good job of sullying up marriage on our own. That said, allowing the traditional definition of marriage to linger from man/woman invites a stretching of the definition even further. Where does it end? Will polytheism be next? Where are their rights? I'll get to that in a moment.
The argument for why this needs to be a constitutional amendment from the conservative side is both ridiculous, and frighteningly serious at the same time. The conservatives know that there is already a law that defines this. It stands up to the current constitution, which doesn't really address it by itself, but conservatives fear something. Judges. It would be one thing if the state congress changed the definition, or the public by measure, but having Judges do it is something I definitely don't agree with.
See, the constitution doesn't address it specifically and there is a current law defining it. For a judge to say that the current law is not constitutional is stretching the bounds of what judicial power should be. The law as it stands passes the objectivity test. ANY man can marry ANY woman, regardless of race, creed, color, etc. I see what their argument is on this level. This is disturbing because I see judges doing this more and more. I desire to see more deconstructionism in the court, but what I see is courts deciding what THEY think the constitution and law is, not how it was intended.

  • "The constitution should not be used to settle partisan or ideological debates." Well, ordinarily I would agree with this statement. And in this case I am reluctant to do so, but I fall into the category I just mentioned (about courts and activism) and don't think that just having the law is enough. I would be against this measure if I though it was. I read someone's opinion that the government should get out of the marriage thing altogether. That would be great, but as long as married people are defined and treated differently in taxes, adoption and other areas, the government needs to define what marriage is. Oregon already has this, but current events caused conservatives to react, and this is how they have.
  • "...And it should not be changed in a way that hurts people." Really this change would not do anything but maintain the status quo. This is a flimsy argument.
  • "It would deny thousands of gay couples and their families access to health care." Actually this is not a government issue, but an insurance issue. Some insurance companies and businesses already offer this benefit.
  • "It would deny survivor rights, inheritance and the ability to make serious medical decisions to gay partners." This is also not true. Really the measure will change nothing. Any two people can make a short trip to their friendly neighborhood lawyer and get a will and power of attorney written up to solve all these problems.
The no on 36 site has "100 ways this amendment hurts families" (read "Families" as gay couples, possibly with children). Some of these are covered in what I said above. Some of them are petty, like "no right to donate partner's body or organs after death." But some are serious, and may not even be solved with power of attorney. So there is room for debate on what gay couples need in this society. But marriage isn't necessarily it.

Le Grand debates the issues:
This guy, proclaiming to be a Christian differs from my view, but he has a better argument than most.
Indeed, the law has long recognized marriages that certain churches do not. I routinely perform weddings for couples who cannot or will not marry in churches - including previously divorced people, those of different faiths and those of no faith at all. The law has never required churches to recognize such unions.
Yes, but it's still called marriage, and they have the right to adopt and raise children. The article does not talk about the ramifications of opening the door to other civil arrangements, like polygamy, which is a natural progression from this point of view.
However, I submit that a constitution is a document setting out the fundamental organization of government and the principles under which it operates. It also declares the rights of its citizens in relation to the government. It is hardly the place to establish for all time what marriage should be, especially when that serves to deny to some citizens rights enjoyed by others.
Not that the Oregon constitution has way too much junk not involved with the general principles and organization of the government already. Not that I don't agree with him, but that's not going to sway anyone.
The ACLU is, of course, against it.

As is the libertarian party. Looking at the voter's pamphlet, other than those two organizations I see a lot of individuals, interest group organizations created for just this election measure and anecdotes on the NO side. On the YES side I don't see much more, but there are lots of legislators and lawyers there, where most of the people on the NO side are unidentified.
I think the real question here is should this be an Amendment. As long as people go into this thinking about that, perhaps we can escape all the emotional crap.

Darfur update.
Lord Alton, upon returning from Sudan, reports to Tony Blair what's going on in the Darfur region.
"On my two-day visit, I found that nothing much has changed. The government of Sudan has reneged on its promise to disarm the Janjaweed. Their campaign has the sole objective of eradicating the black tribes and installing the Arabs in their place. If this isn't genocide, then it's difficult to imagine what on earth is."
So things aren't improving. The UN actions are not doing anything. Is anyone surprised? Will somebody do something now?
Democracy in Afghanistan
Elections went off well. The turnout was giant, and the violence was non-existent. Interim President Hamid Karzai is the clear runaway winner, but the real winners are the people of Afghanistan. Dispite the lack of security due to there not being enough US troops there, the elections went off almost without a hitch, and the government is doing a good job keeping the warlords from getting uptite and causing trouble.
Winds of Change's Arthur Chrenkoff has a long post (and boy is it long) with lots of links and thoughts on what's going on. Some good and bad, but mostly positive.
Crushing of Dissent!
It's happened. My wife and I decided, for the first time ever, to put a political sign in our front yard. I happen to favor Bush this year, so we got a small Bush/Cheney 2004 sign and put it in our yard, inside the fence.
I woke up Saturday morning to find my sign gone. Stolen! Not just stolen, but we found the sign later down the street. It had been mangled and the wire frame bent up like a pretzel.
We indeed have some anger management issues.

In an effort to be fair and ballanced, I saw this writeup (hat tip to RoguePundit) outlining the fight against measure 36 (one man-one woman) in the more rural parts of Oregon. Seems people in Klamath Falls are afraid to express dissent for that measure, and stolen signs have been reported.
I do hope that this is just a fringe problem, like a Democrat friend of mine stated lately, but there have been way too many reports this year of things like this and worse.

Friday, October 15, 2004

Measure 35
Oh this is one of the big ones. Measures 33 and 34 have their hot moments, but 35 and 36 are generating real furnace heat.

The text of the bill seems fairly straightforward. It limits lawsuits of patients for non-economic damages. That is pain and suffering, loss of companionship, emotional suffering, interference with stuff other than job related. Stuff like that. It still allows unlimited recoverable reward for medical costs, past and future, and income lost from inability to perform while under medical care.
One paragraph says that the limit is $500k, but later there is a section that determines the annual increase of this limit using some sort of equation that most normal humans don't understand.
The text defines economic and non-economic damages in sections 6 and 7.

Now I like the motive behind this bill. I don't like how lawsuit happy this country has become, and the damage done to our legal system by people who want to sue for every scratch they get is pretty abysmal. The rational they get for trying to pry millions from insurance companies are pretty lame as well.
However, I also believe that if a healthcare provider is truly negligent you want to hit them so that they are forced to change what they are doing, make it economically preventative for them to continue doing something that, while efficient, is detrimental to patients (because of course, MORAL pressure to change is worthless effort, right?). The standard way to do that is to let courts impose huge awards to the plaintiffs for reasons of "mental anguish" and the like.
Really, this measure is not the answer, but I don't know what is. Ironically, I heard some fresh stuff (fresh to me, anyway) from John Edwards in the vice-presidential debate last week regarding lawsuit reform. It involved making the lawyers more responsible for the outcomes of the cases. I'm not sure if that's the answer either, as lawyers may be more skittish about providing services if they get seriously penalized for losing, but at least its another idea.

Bill Kettler of the Jackson County Mail Tribune has an article that lays out both sides of the argument well, including the players and some state by state comparisons:
Proponents of the measure — a coalition that includes physicians, hospitals and insurance companies — say it should pass to ensure that Oregon has enough doctors to deliver babies and treat patients with life-threatening injuries. Opponents — a group that includes trial lawyers, senior and consumer advocates and many labor groups — say it should fail in order to preserve citizens’ rights to trial by jury.
Caps on jury awards are nothing new. Oregon had a cap from 1987 until 1999, when the state Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional. About 20 other states have caps, including California, Idaho, Colorado, Utah and Texas. Many of those states’ caps are under Oregon’s proposed $500,000 limit, which would be adjustable to account for inflation.
He points out what happened to insurance costs of doctors after the previous cap was removed in 1999.
One of the points in there, as well as this advertisement is that controling the size of lawsuits will help east the rising insurance costs in the medical profession. Premiums have skyrocketed in the years since the cap was removed. That may be partially true. The Oregonian (see the add link) points out that caps on damage awards do not directly affect insurance premiums, and the link is uncertain.

Insurance is a game of guessing and statistics. One thing is certain and that the health care industry is under pressure from high insurance costs. There may be plenty of doctors in Oregon, but the costs of insurance premiums are generally passed on to the consumer, and seeing your doctor costs much more that it needs to. The argument for having caps in place is that, as witnessed by the caps that used to be in place, insurance companies don't need to overcompensate when they know the boundaries of how much each claim is going to be. It's not a direct coorelation, but would it make it better?
I'm not sure about all the coorelations. As I said above I'm not sure this is the best way to change the system and reform things. I might just vote against it because I had changing the constitution, when a law might do just as well.

Here's another FOR editorial from the Oregonian

Former Governor Kitzhaber, a former Doctor, and current Governor Kulongoski, a former trial lawyer, are on opposite sides of this debate. Guess which is for and which is against.

The Portland Alliance has a lengthy document against the changes.

Here's the Yes on 35 website.
Here's the official no on 35 website.

Raising the costs for bad actors.
Winds of change had a great summary of all the votor fraud/intimidation scandals that are out there. He made a point to note that this is bi-partisan and has examples of foul play on both sides of the aisle. Although he notes
Fund, who has written Stealing Elections: How Voter Fraud Threatens Our Democracy, describes the extent of this problem. It's not exclusive to one party, as he notes very clearly, but let's just say that there's strong Democratic Party representation in the case studies.
Katzman notes the RNC campaign office shootings, yard sign destructions, votor fraud incidents currently in the mix, and the Florida "purge" lists.

Note: I thought I would put the word purge in scare quotes. Don't ask why.
The Voter's Pamphlet
The pamphlets are out in Oregon now for the ballot measures. I assume the candidate pamphlet will come out later. I have been taking a look at some of the measures, and intend to hit measure 35 later today or tomorrow, but everyone should at least breeze through the pamphlet too. The full text of the measure is there, and also the for and against statements. Those statements don't hold much new information for me, as I try to be informed before the pamphlets ever arrive, but who is for and against each measure can be very revealing. I noted that googling each measure or reading the Oregonian's editorial page isn't as revealing as reading the voter's pamphlet.
Just look at who is against measure 33, the Libertarian party and the authors of the original OMMA measure in 1998, gives you a whole new perspective.
Measure 34 is the same way. The litany of people and organizations against that bill is astounding. It includes the Governor, which I did not realize.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

A positive development?
Reports are that the people of Fallujah are rebelling. Against foreign fundamentalist fighters. Apparently they are afraid of the Americans possibly staging an all out offensive there before the election and are taking matters into their own hands. I.E. submission to a secular government and shared power with Shi'ites and Kurds is better than death or imprisonment.
This is a good development, but I wonder what would have happened if we had taken Fallujah by force last spring when all this was still fresh. Would the result have been the same? Would the left have been able to say that things were still terrible if we had shown more force and controlled the Sunni Triangle?
Been Crazy
My appologies to all for not blogging for the last week. I have been really crazy busy. As of last Wed. and Thurs. I was rushing to finish my bathroom at home. Late Thursday night (Friday morning, actually) I did a bone-head thing and drove my utility knife into my forearm. Five stitches and 2 hours later I knew my bathroom would not get finished before my sisters arrived, so I at least got the water closet (toilet) and sink in.
I got to spend some quality time with the siblings, which doesn't happen often as they live in New Mexico and New York, so my attention to worldly events suffered.

On the upside, I noticed that RoguePundit has me on the bloglist!!!!!
I am honored, and a bit nervous now as folks other than close friends might actually be reading this blog. Coupled with a new sense of responsability, I will make a more purposeful effort to blog on those subjects that I originally started this blog to do.
That doesn't mean that I will stop talking politics. As of today or tomorrow I will pick back up my journey into the Oregon Measures.
Media Watch
Winds of Change, in addition to their regular regional reports and war on terror roundups (which you all should be reading) has a new one called Media Watch. With a roundup of various stories and opinions about what is currently happening in the media and how it is being watched post Rathergate.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Regional Reports
I know I haven't written a "Country of the Week" for a while now. I've been listening to the political retoric of the election and spending lots of my free time working on my bathroom at home. I also haven't been linking to Winds Of Change. Here are their recent regional reports.
In Africa, Mugabe is not allowing aid into Zimbabwe and sending his people into a downward spiral, solidifying him on the list of worst world dictators. And more...
Joel Gaines' Iraq Report as all the news you hear about in the media, and much more. He spends time in reports of reconstruction, local happenings and international help. There's so much more going on than you will get from listening to your nightly news.
Cicero has an interesting post on Iran. Yes they are going to develop the bomb. Yes they are funding insurgency in Iraq. Bush has proven he won't sit still for this kind of thing once. Will he do it again? Both he and Kerry haven't spent the time necessary debating this.
Joe Katzman thinks that Kerry sounds like Owen Wilson in "Shanghai Knights."

Update: Here's their Asian subcontinent roundup and their Israeli "roadmap" roundup.