Friday, April 30, 2004

Transition of power in Fallujah

The US Marines currently on station in Fallujah are reportedly going to hand off the situation to an Iraqi military force to be built by some of the former generals of the Iraqi Army. The thought is that the Iraqis should be better able to persuade the militia inside the city to lay down their arms. Certainly sounds reasonable and I have no issue whatsoever with letting Iraqis step up and handle the security arrangements of Iraq. That's a better deal all around if the new Iraqi Army can actually produce results. In this case, results = militia stand completely down and Mr. Sadr the cleric surrenders to the Iraqi courts. And I don't mean in a year, I mean now.

My only concern in all this is making sure we don't send the message that we're actually running away. I don't want the people who have been taking shots at our soldiers to be given the idea that we got afraid and that we needed the Iraqi Army to save us. That's an image that would cause us lots of trouble down the road and not just in Iraq. If it can be made very plain and very open that we're doing this out of respect for the civilians of Iraq and for the new Iraqi Army as well as to avoid needless destruction, then I'm all for it. Can't wait to see those Iraqi troops with their new flag on their shoulder!

Thursday, April 29, 2004

The Abortion "Debate"

The recent march of 750,000 supporters of reproductive rights here in DC has spurred more so-called "debate" on the topic than is usual. Certain people and certain venues I'd never have expected to see engaged in the matter have been in the past few days. Some of the talk I've been seeing stretches to the point of breaking the concept of "debate."

The definition of debate, according to Webster, is "Pronunciation: di-'bAt, dE-; Function: noun; : a contention by words or arguments: as a : the formal discussion of a motion before a deliberative body according to the rules of parliamentary procedure b : a regulated discussion of a proposition between two matched sides." Not included, but certainly implied, is the concept that one actually listens during a debate as well as speak. It's not required by debating that one be convinced at all, but when the opponent makes a statement or proposition it usually is considered appropriate to at least acknowledge that they have done so. Further, in the spirit of debate, one should consider the statement given and judge it for it's validity. Is the statement accurate? Is it relevant? If it is used in support of an argument, does it convey the necessary information or refer to a previously accepted conclusion?

In a debate, one does not hear the opponent make a statement and then proceed on with one's own arguments as though the statement was not made. And if it's the accuracy of the statement that is the source of an objection, address it. Don't simply pretend it was never proposed. Communication failures do happen, and differing accepted definitions of terms can cause problems. True debate demands that one confirm that both the opponent and oneself are speaking the same language when these happen.

What happened here in DC last weekend was not, in any respect, a debate. Even when opponents on the issue met, they weren't debating. What we saw was advocacy - a visible and audible sign of the opinions of the participants. These 750,000 people were there to show they felt a specific way on the subject, not to actually debate the topic. When I ran into the groups of people talking about it later in the week, they were also showing their advocacy, not actually debating.

The process of debate becomes even more corrupted when people are disingenious about their choice of terms and in how they attempt to frame the opponents' arguments. I was asked, for example, was I pro-choice or anti-abortion. I replied, both. That earned me a dumbfounded look. Make no mistake: I don't like abortion. For everyone to be honest, I think it must be admitted that no one likes it, period. There are no such things as pro-abortion people or so-called "abortionists." None. The attempt by the alledged "pro-life" movement to brand anyone not agreeing with their side of the issue as "abortionists" is simply a matter of injecting an emotively-charged word in their speech in the hopes that the opponents will lose face in the eyes of the undecided. It is a trick, a gimmick. It is most certainly not a valid point of debate. The pro-choice side tends to allow their opponents to make up the labels and sit at a disadvantage for doing that. Their opponents call themselves "pro-life" and "anti-abortion." Well, who isn't? Those terms sound great on paper and allows the adherants to that viewpoint to look good on camera as well.

I am pro-choice. What I believe is that the question of whether to have an abortion or not should rest in the hands of the woman facing the pregnancy guided by her doctor, not in the hands of legislators and law enforcement. That is all I am saying by claiming to be pro-choice. The so-called "pro-life" movement is the one with the wrong name. Their real point is that they do not believe that choice should be allowed to the women citizens of this country. That's what they're fighting to accomplish, regardless of what they say about saving lives or anything else. Their proper name should be "anti-choice" and that's what I intend to call them from this point on.

A young family member of mine got pregnant way ahead of her schedule and faced this very choice. She made it, with medical and spiritual advice, and carried the pregnancy to term. She's placed her daughter with an adoptive family. There was no thought in her mind about the State and Federal legislators who expound on the topic in the State houses and halls of Congress. There was just her voice, turning over the decision with the information provided by doctors and parents and priests. When she made the call, it was her call, not Senator Whatshisname from East Blowhoe, Idaho. Our female fellow citizens have hard decisions to make and, in the end, they are the ones living with their decision. I trust them to make the right call for their situation.

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Signs of Aging

As seen and laughed over at Sgt. Stryker's Daily Briefing, I give you "the list":

1. Your house plants are alive, and you can't smoke any of them.

2. Having sex in a twin bed is out of the question.

3. You keep more food than beer in the fridge.

4. 6:00 AM is when you get up, not when you go to bed.

5. You hear your favorite song on an elevator.

6. You watch the Weather Channel.

7. Your friends marry and divorce instead of hook up and break up.

8. You go from 130 days of vacation time to 14.

9. Jeans and a sweater no longer qualify as "dressed up."

10. You're the one calling the police because those damn kids next door
won't turn down the stereo.

11. Older relatives feel comfortable telling sex jokes around you.

12. You don't know what time Taco Bell closes anymore.

13. Your car insurance goes down and your payments go up.
Continue reading "Signs That Say, Sadly, You've Grown Up"... »

14. You feed your dog Science Diet instead of McDonalds leftovers.

15. Sleeping on the couch makes your back hurt.

16. You no longer take naps from noon to 6 PM.

17. Dinner and a movie is the whole date instead of the beginning of one.

18. Eating a basket of chicken wings at 3 AM would severely upset, rather
than settle your stomach.

19. You go to the drug store for ibuprofen and antacid, not condoms and
pregnancy tests.

20. A $4.00 bottle of wine is no longer "pretty good stuff".

21. You actually eat breakfast food at breakfast time.

22. "I just can't drink the way I used to," replaces, "I'm never going to
drink that much again."

23. 90% of the time you spend in front of a computer is for real work.

24. You drink at home to save money before going to a bar.

25. You read this entire list looking desperately for one sign that
doesn't apply to you and can't find one to save your sorry old butt!!

Thanks to Sgt. Mom!

Saturday, April 24, 2004

White writer banned for expressing same opinion as black one

Compare the content of these two quotes written in columns published in newspapers in the US:

Space Here"I think blacks should be more careful in deciding whom they choose to support. They need to grow beyond the automatic reaction of defending someone because he or she shares the same skin color and is in a dilemma."Space Here


Space Here"Blacks ought to be more thoughtful about whom they choose to rally around, ought to be less automatic in leaping to the defense."Space Here

Pretty congruent, aren't they? If you're already starting to bristle about the concept of whether the black community needs to follow the advice written or about to voice the opinion that some other community needs to do the same, put it on hold. That's not what this post is about. The issue today is that 1 of the statements above got someone fired, the other was welcomed. By the same community. Now why would that be? After all, the statements make the same suggestion and neither is filled with any more invective than the other.

The reason is that 1 of them was written by a white author and the other was a black author.

A college senior in Oregon, David Williams, was fired by the editor for writing the 1 statement, published in a college newpaper. The black students on campus were apparently angered enough to protest and the editor reacted by firing Williams. The second statement was written in a column by Leonard Pitts, a black author. Both writers were addressing the concern that the black community appears to immediately leap to the defense of an accused black person - regardless of the crime or scandal in question - without really weighing the particulars of the situation. They support those so accused based on the color of their skin. Mr. Pitt's column was welcomed and drew no controversy at all. Mr. Williams' drew protests and got him fired. Quoting from the article on the topic:

Space Here Black leaders on campus disagreed with Williams' firing but admit they protested against the article and didn't take the same action for Pitts because of their different races.

Williams "does not know the experiences African-Americans have gone through. He will never know that," said Lauren Smith, president of the university's Black Student Union.
Space Here

They didn't take the same action because of the difference in the authors' races. That, ladies & gentlemen, is racist, no matter how you care to spin it. It's appalling that such actions are not only tolerated, but are lauded as correct by the very people who scream loudest about being the victims of racism themselves. The concept that because I'm not such-and-such color or that I've never held a particular job means that I cannot possibly understand something is bigotted drivel. If a white author doesn't understand something simply because he's not black, then perhaps the black community isn't trying to explain it well enough. That's not Mr. William's fault, either. The only thing that making that kind of comment ever achieved was convincing the party who "can't understand" that maybe it's not worth trying to understand. And if that's the lesson learned, whose fault is that?

Mr. Williams should be granted his job back, the editor should file a written apology on the front page, and the "Black Union" on campus should be given mandatory racial sensitivity classes. They clearly need them.

Yeah, everything's Bush's fault...

As noted from Right Voices, sometimes you just can't make this stuff up.

Space HereCOURTNEY Love knows whom to blame for her troubles. The rocker - who has gone broke, been arrested for drugs, and is fighting for custody of her daughter, Frances Bean - somehow blames President Bush. "The last thing I want to say is that I'm a victim, but I am," Love told Rolling Stone. "I believe it's a trickle down from Bush," she said, particularly of her financial situation. "I should have done an audit. But did I bring it on myself? I don't think so."Space Here

Please. Do drugs, fail to watch your finances, and it's someone else's fault? Right.

Mr. Pope, you're starting to piss me off

You know, after I get caught in an embarrassing "whoopsie" situation where I was caught doing something I shouldn't have been doing, I tend to keep a low profile. I sure don't charge around drawing attention to myself by demanding actions of everyone and threatening dire consequences if they don't capitulate. Seems the Vatican doesn't share my ethic, however, feeling that they've recovered enough respect from the American People over the conspiracy to hide pedofiles in their ranks that they can come 2 steps shy of threatening excommunication against those of us who are Pro-Choice. Priests everywhere have been admonished to not grant Communion to Pro-Choice Catholics. I can understand the Church's taking a stand on abortion, and I don't have a problem with "them" taking the other side of the issue from where I stand. My stance is pro-choice, after all. To toss down the moral gauntlet of threatening to somehow remove my ability to have a relationship with God, however, is just a bit too much of a hypocrisy given the state of their affairs, thank you.

I've already started to have dialogs with members of my church on the pro-choice/anti-abortion issue and, yes, even with the priest. It's amazing how you can actually hold a civil debate when everyone tries. Those that don't try aren't worth my time.

At least we're talking.

Friday, April 23, 2004

Paul Tillman, ex-NFL, killed in Afghanistan

Paul Tillman was the Arizona Cardinal who turned down a $3.6 million contract to play football in the NFL to join the Army after 9/11. He went into the Rangers and was deployed to Afghanistan. There aren't many details, yet, but the news is out that he was killed in action today.

My heart goes out to his family and I salute his bravery and willingness to serve. A true hero and role model.

Noted by Citizen Smash, and Insults Unpunished. Thanks for spreading the words, guys.

Bloggus Interruptus

I've started a new contract with a government agency here in DC this week. This is a good thing because being unemployed sucks. The bad part is the security.

Oh, they've always had security here. That's not the issue. The problem now is the extreme amount. Until my full badge comes in, I am not allowed to go anywhere by myself. Yes, that includes the bathroom. Yes, that means my escort has to come into the john with me and stay until my "business" is complete. So I get escorted in to the lab I'm working in and dropped off by the escort. Now I'm stuck until that escort comes back. Assuming he does.

No problem, right? Just login and get to work. Oh, that's right - I don't have a badge. Which means no login ID. Which means no login. So, here I sit at the 1 "unclassified" terminal in the lab with an internet connection I know with 100% certainty is being monitored. Woo-hoo. Fun city.

More to come later.

Saturday, April 17, 2004

Progress in Iraq: Judge for yourself.

I'm reading more and more stories that are implying or outright stating that Coalition efforts at reconstruction in Iraq are at a standstill. Judge for yourself and read the report from the USAID paying special attention to the "Highlights this week" in each section. The report is dated 13 April, so we're not talking ancient history.

Doc's back up

Doc in the Box is back on-line after several days without power. The Corpsman is bending his talents to electrical work in an effort to keep the lights on and what cooling the tents have up. He makes a suggestion to anyone sending a care package over: consider a solar shower. Sometimes there are water problems and some of the troops are showering by holding bottles of water over their heads. Solar showers are much better.

As for myself, I'm involved in a new contract which has me reading 10 megs of documentation just to get up to speed on what the project's about. That's been taking my time but I hope to be able to post more regularly.

This just in: Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle just signed a law into being allowing Wisconsin's teachers to demand students get an HIV test if they feel they've been exposed. Go read the story over here, especially if you're from WI. Sometimes laws like this get passed and the State's own citizens never hear about it.

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Medicine worse than the disease?

Well, maybe not worse. In making my rounds of the blogosphere, I ran across a part of an entry from Dagger JAG in which he refers to the malaria medication he's taking:

Space HereWe were issued malaria pills yesterday. I remember a while ago when they were blaming the deaths in Fayetteville on malaria medicine. I honestly don't know whether there's any truth to that allegation. They took blood from all of us before the deployment to check if we could take the malaria medicine safely and apparently I'm good to go. I have to take one pill of chloroquin once a week. They had us read a packet describing the reasons for the pills and the possible side effects. Malaria will cause nausea, headaches, sweating and fevers. They said the possible side effects of the pills are nausea, headaches, stomach cramps and fever. Now, this just seems a bit odd to me, taking medicine that creates the same symptoms as the disease. I pointed this out to the medic but she just told me to take the pill with food to decrease the risk of symptoms and stop being a smartass.Space Here

Ya gotta love the military...

Friday, April 09, 2004

Iraq is not Vietnam

Over the past 48 hours I've heard the comparison made between Iraq and Vietnam by Senators and talking heads on TV so often that I feel it necessary to speak up. Iraq is not Vietnam. It's sure no "Tet".

The reference, for those of you not already familiar, is to the Tet Offensive during the Vietnam War in January, 1968. During the Offensive, the Vietcong attacked by surprise during a truce called for the Chinese New Year, a celebration that saw truces in conflicts dating back literally thousands of years. NVA General Giap sent 70,000 Vietcong into South Vietnam to take 16 specific objectives. Most of the South Vietnamese Army and their US allies were caught off-guard. There was quite of bit of panic in those initial hours, but they got back into the fight and repelled the Vietcong while exacting an extremely heavy price. The Offensive, viewed militarily, was a complete and utter failure for the NVA. With 1 exception - that being the US Embassy in Seoul - not a single objective was actually taken and over 50,000 of the 70,000 men were annihilated. That's 71% of the attacking force lost, with no objectives actually met.

The US Embassy in Seoul was penetrated but the attackers were killed - to a man - by the Marines on station.

The US Commander in the field chased the survivors north well past the previously established front lines and called Washington literally begging for more troops so he could finish the war off. He firmly believed that he could do it right there. Unfortunately, the media had other ideas. Seeing the images of Vietcong in the lobby of the US Embassy, they immediately began to say that we'd lost the war. Walter Cronkite said that nearly verbatim on the News and that's the reality that got set into the minds of the media execs that night. Therefore, that's the reality they portrayed to the American people. The anti-war protests picked up more steam, laid in more pressure, and caused Congress to buckle and withdraw support. South Vietnam was doomed. Not by the Tet Offensive, but by lack of American resolve.

And so we have people today so willing to invoke the name of Tet, trusting that they can continue to hide the truth about Tet from America. Good to see there's a reporter still around who was there and can set the record straight. Arnaud de Borchgrave covered Tet as Newsweek's chief foreign correspondent and had seven tours in Vietnam. He was there. He knows. Here's a bit of what he says:

Space Here Iraq will only be another Vietnam if the home front collapses, as it did following the Tet offensive, which began on the eve of the Chinese New Year, Jan. 31, 1968. The surprise attack was designed to overwhelm some 70 cities and towns, and 30 other strategic objectives simultaneously. By breaking a previously agreed truce for Tet festivities, master strategist Gen. Vo Nguyen Giap in Hanoi calculated that South Vietnamese troops would be caught with defenses down.

After the first few hours of panic, the South Vietnamese troops reacted fiercely. They did the bulk of the fighting and took some 6,000 casualties. Vietcong units not only did not reach a single one of their objectives -- except when they arrived by taxi at the U.S. Embassy in Saigon, blew their way through the wall into the compound and guns blazing made it into the lobby before they were wiped out by U.S. Marines -- but they lost some 50,000 killed and at least that many wounded. Giap had thrown some 70,000 troops into a strategic gamble that was also designed to overwhelm 13 of the 16 provincial capitals and trigger a popular uprising. But Tet was an unmitigated military disaster for Hanoi and its Vietcong troops in South Vietnam. Yet that was not the way it was reported in U.S. and other media around the world. It was television's first war. And some 50 million Americans at home saw the carnage of dead bodies in the rubble, and dazed Americans running around.
Space Here

Seems that reports were available a couple of weeks later, interviews and interrogations of prisoners and defectors, that showed the facts about what happened. Mr. de Borchgrave says it seemed as though the reporters weren't interested in them. Why would they be? The media clearly didn't want the facts getting in the way of their message, just like today. More important than casting stones at an administration they don't like should be the lessons certain Democratic Senators and media moguls should be learning. Again, from Mr. de Borchgrave:

Space Here That is the real lesson for the U.S. commitment to Iraq. Whatever one thought about the advisability of Operation Iraqi Freedom, the United States is there with 100,000 troops and a solid commitment to endow Iraq with a democratic system of government. While failure is not an option for Bush, it clearly is for Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., who called Iraq the president's Vietnam. It is, of course, no such animal. But it could become so if Congressional resolve dissolves.

Bui Tin, who served on the general staff of the North Vietnamese army, received South Vietnam's unconditional surrender on April 30, 1975. In an interview with the Wall Street Journal after his retirement, he made clear the anti-war movement in the United States, which led to the collapse of political will in Washington, was "essential to our strategy."

Visits to Hanoi by Jane Fonda and former Attorney General Ramsey Clark and various church ministers "gave us confidence that we should hold on in the face of battlefield reverses."

America lost the war, concluded Bui Tin, "because of its democracy. Through dissent and protest it lost the ability to mobilize a will to win." Kennedy should remember that Vietnam was the war of his brother who saw the conflict in the larger framework of the Cold War and Nikita Khrushchev's threats against West Berlin. It would behoove Kennedy to see Iraq in the larger context of the struggle to bring democracy, not only to Iraq, but the entire Middle East.
Space Here

Bravo, sir. Bravo.

Item of Note: Sgt. Hook is in theater

One of the MilBloggers I've been keeping track of is Sgt. Hook whose unit is now in Afghanistan. They're normally based in Hawaii, so that's no small change in scenery. Hawaii has haunted my soul since I 1st went there almost 10 years ago but I can't imagine the feeling Hook has about leaving both that lovely home and his family. After a bit of a gap in his entries due to travel, he's back on the wire and I just wanted to take note of that.

Go get 'em, Sarge. And come home safe...

Unexpected Hiatus

My apologies for the sudden absence, but issues at home took me away from the blogging for a bit. I'm free to update more now.

Thursday, April 01, 2004

Fallujah response

I watched Henry Kissinger on the news today and they asked him what he thought the response to the killings of the 4 Americans in Fallujah should be. He said he thought we needed to 1) find some of the people shown in the tapes dragging the charred corpses around town and dancing about it and see that they're punished, 2) retaliate for the action against Fallujah as a whole, and 3) regain control decisively in the city.

I'm with him. We have clear imagery of the people who were involved. Not everyone, perhaps, but enough. Those people should be captured and tried by a military tribunal. Evidence of what they did being clear, they should be subjected to the most severe penalty available under Iraqi law: execution. As for the community, this action wasn't the mark of 1 or 2 "bad people" in a community of otherwise peaceful people. There were dozens - some reports say hundreds - of people involved in this inhuman display. Those people are supported by and hidden by the community as a whole. Fine. The community needs to understand the cost of that kind of decision. No further improvements to their infrastructure should be performed. A cordon should be placed around the town and no one - no one - should be allowed in or out. Pick a figure, 1 month, 2 months, whatever. Tell the local clerics or officials exactly why we're doing this and tell them we won't tolerate it. We won't leave. And we'll be happy to escalate as far as we're pushed to do so.

The actions of the citizens of Fallujah are inexcusable and we should act accordingly.

NRA Priorities, Part 2

So, in the last entry I went over the highlights of S.1805, the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act. If you haven't read that one yet, you might want to go have a look first. Go ahead, we'll wait.

OK, so now we know what the bill was intended to do. The NRA supported this bill as did I. In fact, I believe this bill served wonderfully as a template to be used for other industries that suffer from lawsuit abuse as well. It was concise, dealt with the 1 problem, and pretty much left everything else alone. This is how laws should be written. Ah, but along comes Congress and the amendments process. The bill itself was introduced to Congress on 31 October, 2003. It was read into record and then, on 3 November, 2003 it was read in a second time and placed on the calendar. No action was taken until 26 February, 2004 when consideration of the bill was taken up. It was immediately subjected to a barrage of amendments, including (in order of consideration):

  • S.AMDT.2620 - To amend chapter 44 of title 18, United States Code, to require the provision of a child safety device in connection with the transfer of a handgun and to provide safety standards for child safety devices. This amendment was itself amended under S.AMDT.2622. 2620 included a provision that a firearm sold or transferred in the US was to include a "child safety device" of some type. The amendment allowed for that to be a mechanical trigger lock, a combination lock, or a lock box or safe. This amendment passed after the 2622 amendment, which merely clarified some language. The arguments in favor of the amendment made use of data from the FBI claiming a child is killed by a firearm every 48 hours. The FBI data, however, includes people up to 23 years of age in that assessment and it also includes suicides. The speakers on the Senate floor made sure that the statistics sounded like those children being killed every 48 hours were all accidents that could have been avoided with a trigger lock. Untrue. I am looking for links to that data and will update this as soon as I get it.

  • S.AMDT.2621 - To clarify the definition of "a qualified civil liability action". The amendment sought to expand the types of civil liability actions that would still be permitted under this law. The text of the amendment changed the wording of that section to say "including, but not limited to", as opposed to just "including." It's a small change but it opens the door to allow arguments to be presented to a court to allow a given lawsuit to proceed. The judge would then have the option of accepting that argument. This was an installation of a loophole. This one passed, too.

  • S.AMDT.2623 - To amend title 18, United States Code, to exempt qualified current and former law enforcement officers from State laws prohibiting the carrying of concealed handguns. Fair enough idea, but what does that have to do with Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms?

  • S.AMDT.2619 - To expand the definition of armor piercing ammunition and to require the Attorney General to promulgate standards for the uniform testing of projectiles against body armor. Same objection as with 2623.

  • S.AMDT.2625 - To regulate the sale and possession of armor piercing ammunition. Same issue here as with 2619. I approve of regulating the sale and possession of armor piercing ammo, but what does that have to do with this bill? Nothing, that's what. Stuff starts getting tossed in here pretty good now.

  • S.AMDT.2617 - To extend and expand the Temporary Extended Unemployment Compensation Act of 2002. At least the other amendments so far have had something to do with firearms. Where did this come from? To its credit, the Senate raised a point of order about this amendment and the chair ruled it out of order shortly after.

  • S.AMDT.2626 - To make the provisions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 permanent. Say, what? This amendment was seen as the leech rider it was and was withdrawn from consideration.

  • S.AMDT.2627 - To exempt lawsuits involving a shooting victim of John Allen Muhammad or Lee Boyd Malvo from the definition of qualified civil liability action. I personally lived in the environment created by these 2 convicted snipers in late 2002. One of them has been sentenced to death, as both should have been, but their actions were hardly the fault of a firearms manufacturer. The dealer who sold them the weapon was most certainly in violation of Federal law in not keeping the correct records, but the maker of the rifle didn't do that. They sold the gun to the dealer who was Federally licensed and they had no reason to believe he wasn't doing his job. Before this amendment could get a vote, however, a substitute amendment was offered. (See next.)

  • S.AMDT.2628 - To exempt any lawsuit involving a shooting victim of John Allen Muhammad or John Lee Malvo from the definition of qualified civil liability action that meets certain requirements. Those requirements were the same requirements that any other lawsuit needs to meet, which is right and proper. This one passed and 2627 was defeated.

  • S.AMDT.2629 - To protect the rights of law enforcement officers who are victimized by crime to secure compensation from those who participate in the arming of criminals. Sounds like quite the indictment, doesn't it? This one wants to exempt federal, state, and local law enforcement from the provisions of this bill. That means that while you couldn't file a civil liability action, Officer Smith next door could. (I found the naming of this amendment to be particularly telling since it clearly implies that the firearms industry is a participant in "arming criminals.") Again, however, this amendment had a substitute offered.

  • S.AMDT.2630 - This kept the same name as 2629 but added the requirement that any such lawsuit had to conform to the same requirements as 2628, above. In short, the lawsuits were held to same standard as any other citizen. 2630 passed, 2629 was defeated.

And that was just day 1. The Senate picked things back up the next day, 27 Feb 2004.

  • S.AMDT.2631 - To exempt any civil action against a person from the provisions of the bill if the gross negligence or reckless conduct of the person proximately caused death or injury. Simply put a lawsuit could still be brought against a person whose negligence or reckless conduct was a proximate cause of injury. The original bill already took care of this but apparently there was a feeling that it needed to be spelled out really well.

  • S.AMDT.2624 - To improve patient access to health care services and provide improved medical care by reducing the excessive burden the liability system places on the health care delivery system. Yet another of the "Huh?" amendments, this one set time limits and award limits on medical liability suits. That's certainly an issue worthy of debate and a law should certainly be proposed for it, but it's way, way out of place here.

  • S.AMDT.2632 - To require that certain notifications occur whenever a query to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System reveals that a person listed in the Violent Gang and Terrorist Organization File is attempting to purchase a firearm, and for other purposes. This would require a seller performing a background check on a prospective buyer to notify the FBI, Department of Homeland Security and state and local law enforcement if the buyer came up on a terrorist or gang watch list.

  • S.AMDT.2633 - To exempt lawsuits involving injuries to children from the definition of qualified civil liability action. Any action involving injury to a child would be allowed to proceed.

  • S.AMDT.2635 - To modify the definition of reasonably foreseeable. The amendment sought to define it as "the reasonable anticipation that harm or injury is likely to result." The amendment was voted down.

  • Previously submitted amendments 2624, 2631, 2632, 2633, 2619, 2623, and 2625 were also considered during debate. No action was taken on any of them.

Debate continued on 2 March, 2004, which was the date the Senate was scheduled to vote on the matter as a whole. This was the day those desiring to kill the bill had to either get it killed outright or add enough to it to make it poisonous to those that wanted it passed.

  • Debate opens with 2619, 2623, 2624, 2625, 2631 and 2632 being brought up for debate.

  • 2624, the Patient Access to Health Care amendment is withdrawn from debate. This happens when the Senator who submitted it voluntarily removes it from consideration and from the bill.

  • 2632, the Notification amendment is withdrawn from debate.

  • 2633, the "childrens' injury" exemption amendment is withdrawn from debate.

  • S.AMDT.2636 - To require criminal background checks on all firearms transactions occurring at events that provide a venue for the sale, offer for sale, transfer, or exchange of firearms, and for other purposes.This is 1 of the 2 "poison pill" amendments reported by the media. We'll get into this one in detail in a moment. It passes 53-46 and becomes part of the bill.

  • S.AMDT.2637 - To provide for a 10-year extension of the assault weapons ban. This is the 2nd of the poison pills. Again, we'll get into this in a moment. It passes 52-47 and also becomes part of the bill.

  • 2623, the amendment to exempt qualified current and former law enforcement officers from state laws prohibitting carrying concealed weapons, is brought to a vote and passes 91-8.

  • 2625, regulating sale and possession of armor piercing ammo, is brought to a vote and passes 85-12.

  • 2619, The amendment to expand the definition of armor piercing ammunition and require the Attorney General to promulgate standards for the uniform testing of projectiles against body armor, is brought to a vote and is defeated 34-63.

  • 2631, the amendment to exempt any civil action against a person from the provisions of the bill if the gross negligence or reckless conduct of the person proximately caused death or injury, is tabled.

  • The question on the bill as a whole is called, the vote taken, and the bill fails 8-90.

As you can see, there was a whole lot more going on in that bill than simply the protection of the firearms industry, the assault weapons ban, and the background checks at gun shows. In Part 3 I'll deal with these 3 issues specifically and tell you why I'm no longer angry about the NRA's change in tune. See you then.