Archives for: May 2011

Obama’s spend crazy gets major blow when House defeats debt increase request 318-97

Let’s look at ho CNN, one of those that constantly feels things go bad for the Obama Admin unexpectedly, puts the story into perspective right here:

Washington (CNN) — In a symbolic vote to send a message to budget negotiators, the House on Tuesday defeated a measure to raise the national debt ceiling without any accompanying deficit or spending reduction provisions.

The Republican-controlled House voted 318-97 on the legislation that would have raised the federal government’s debt limit by approximately $2.4 trillion.

Under rules for the vote set by the GOP leadership, the measure needed at least two-thirds support to pass, ensuring it had no chance for approval.

Symbolic vote? Heh, if a nuke going off is symbolic I guess. And WTF is it with this attempt to pretend the GOP rigged the rules to prevent this form passing? 82 democrats, including Pelosi, Hoyer, and DNC chief Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, voted with republicans and the American people and against the WH on this, leaving the other 97 donkeys to piss on our legs and tell us not to worry because its just warm rain by voting for this, and another 7 to vote present, in honor of Obama’s past votes of the same kind, I am sure, and 6 to not even bother showing up. The bad guys here aren’t the republicans you dimwits, no, the bad guys are the morons that think we can just keep spending our kid’s future into servitude to our debt holders.

The vote was scheduled by Republican leaders to show that any attempt to divorce an increase in the debt ceiling from spending reduction efforts — a move initially favored by the Obama White House — cannot win congressional approval.

At least the reality that the collectivist money printers are not going to get to keep spending like they know an asteroid is going to wipe civilization of the planet in a few months anyway, so there isn’t any reason to worry about the long term consequences of their Keynesian bullshit, is sinking in. And Obama didn’t favor this shit “initially”. The WH has wanted this debt bump so the democrats could keep playing the games they have been playing for the last 3 or so years with the budget. Spending in ways that would make drunken sailors hitting the red district after months at sea look like fiscal conservatives. The other side?

Democrats called the move a dangerous political stunt that could rattle financial markets.

“We understand the views that are being expressed” by the vote, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters before the vote. “We share the concerns that drive those views. (But) in the end, the debt ceiling has to be raised.”

Yeah, that’s why 82 of them House donkeys went on the record for that “dangerous political stunt”. And no, the debt should not be raised. This out of control spending has to be rolled back, and rolled back drastically. We can’t afford it. That’s the facts.

President Barack Obama is scheduled to meet with congressional Republicans on Wednesday as part of the administration’s ongoing debt-ceiling and related budget negotiations. Vice President Joe Biden has been holding similar talks with a bipartisan congressional delegation in recent weeks.

Hopefully he will get the message. Oh, and if you have a chance read the comments on that CNN article. Some of those libs make our old resident fool Moogoo look like a freaking Noble Peace Prize winner for all that is worth these days. Anyway, now, maybe the crazy spenders will finally agree to real cuts and we can start moving things in the right direction.

The story that keeps on changing – and keep off Twitter!

What am I talking about? Well, how the NYT reports Breibart carrying the story of how a poor democrat liberal congressman by the name of Weiner claims now that this is public that he had is Twitter account hacked and a picture of his wiener sent to some young college reporter:

Representative Anthony D. Weiner, one of the most prolific users of social media among politicians, said his Twitter account was hacked this weekend when someone sent out a lewd photograph under his name to a young woman in Seattle.

The episode unfolded Saturday night when it was reported on the Web site biggovernment.com, run by the conservative blogger Andrew Breitbart. It played out all day Sunday on the Internet, with Mr. Weiner, a Democrat who represents part of Brooklyn and Queens, addressing the matter on his own Twitter and Facebook accounts, and with bloggers from the left and the right arguing about whether this might be the start of a scandal or an example of how easy it is for political rivals to harm each other’s reputations using new technologies.

Neither Mr. Weiner, an outspoken defender of liberal positions, nor Mr. Breitbart returned messages requesting comment on Sunday night.

Representative Wiener also so far refuses to ask the FBI to investigate the hacking of not just his Twitter account but several others, to pull of this stunt or say if that’s Weiner’s wiener. The claim that his account was hacked shouldn’t bode well for Twitter and any of the other media involved. If this stuff is so easy to hack anyone on twitter can be compromised. It makes Twitter a serious hazard for its users. Still, so far, neither Twitter nor any of the other companies with technologies involved have given any indication that they are investigating what really happened. My guess is because Weiner told them not to. Such a high profile hack would not go ignored otherwise. The story doesn’t end there. The fact that a picture was loaded to his yfrog account, then deleted, is confirmed, despite Wiener’s claims that was not the case. Most of the MSM remains uninterested or in excuse making mode.

My guess is that it won’t be very long before the claims that this was a hack job completely fall apart and Weiner then proceeds to replace that lie with a new one where they lay all the blame on some staffer. Yeah right. Didn’t we go through a revelation, quickly dismissed by the MSM, followed by someone else getting out the facts that were so easy to get at, just like this story seems to be looking to develop, with John Edwards, just recently? Stay of the social media stuff guys. Either Twitter takes security to lightly, someone else can too easily pretend to be you on it, and make you look bad. And unless you are a democrat with a complacent MSM willing to shill for you, people are going to think you are a perv when the hacker or friend posts a picture of your boner to someone you shouldn’t be doing that with!

Charity bleg – Tour de Cure 2011

Tour de Cure

Photo credit: Nessie Photography - http://flic.kr/p/9LMdNw

Some of you may have wondered why I haven’t “passed the hat” yet. Well, partly because I hate doing it, and mainly I knew I was going to post this soon. I’d rather the hat get passed for this.
I’m riding the Tour de Cure event in North Haven, CT this year. Hoping for the metric century (100K/62-ish miles, although the route they have mapped out is more like 73!). If you’d like to sponsor my ride to help fight diabetes,you can donate online here.

While I share the belief of many that large charity organizations are at best top-heavy, the main goal of the American Diabetic Association is to inform & educate people with diabetes and pre-diabetic conditions. This is the kind of mission that can only be done by a large group with good name recognition. I only have four charities that I truly care about, and this is one of them.

As you may know, as we age the risk for getting Type II diabetes increases dramatically even when we do everything right, and our population as a whole is trending older and older each year. But, did you also know that one of the largest growing segments of Type II diabetes patients is now children? Type II used to be called “Adult Onset” diabetes. Now that so many more children are getting this disease each year, the medical community has dropped that name. So many kids get what was an adult disease, doctors have dropped the “adult” part. The American Diabetic Association can do a lot of good by educating children and parents as to how they can fight off Type II diabetes, and that’s why I am supporting them. I’m asking for your help as well.

The North Haven Tour de Cure is June 12th. You can donate anytime, but I need to raise $150 by the 11th or they won’t let me ride. It’s a good cause. One that can actually reduce health costs to society in the aggregate if they can spread the message of education. On top of that, we’re all likely to at least flirt with Type II diabetes if we live long enough. In my opinion, it actually benefits us all to support this particular organization…and what’s a better motivation than self-interest?

Don’t Feed The Animals

Yesterday, while remembering those that made the ultimate sacrifice, we also remembered that in a free society we must tolerate those that sacrifice good taste.

Nice little play pen they got there, what, no sandbox? And with only 3 females(?) present, at least they won’t breed.

The KKK confronting the Westboro haters, I guess the local chapter of the nazi party was at a Bar Mitzvah. When even the semi looney groups think you are “out there”, it might be time to recalibrate your beliefs.

I like how the local police cordoned off the fringe groups into manageable areas, no doubt designed for their protection (notice that none of those 3 lady types would venture within swinging distance of the railing? They may be crazy but they are not stupid).

Standing in front of them with the American flags was a nice touch, but next time Westboro come for a visit, cordon off their cage with a big white canvas, with something appropriately written on it like ,”God loves American soldiers and fags, but he is not too keen on haters”.

Coburn on the Move

Tom Coburn is on the warpath against the NSF for supposed wasteful spending on scientific research, citing such wasteful programs as running shrimp on treadmills and having robots fold towels as examples of NSF waste.

I’ve blogged on this subject before. NSF does not dole out research grants on a whim. They are, in fact, a paradigm of how government agencies can work. They stick to a strict budget. The rank proposals by peer review and then only fund the programs they have the money for. Regular reports are required to release funding in subsequent years. And funding is contingent on past performance. If Coburn had dug a little deeper, he would have found that many of these so-called wasteful programs are useful. The shrimp treadmill program, for example, is about monitoring the health of shrimp — shrimping being a multi-billion dollar industry. The towel folding experiment, while sounding trivial, was a key breakthrough in robotics. Even though folding towels seems simple, it’s a very complex task. Getting robots to do it is a big step toward getting them to do other things (and providing insight into how humans do complex tasks so easily).

To be fair, however, you will almost certainly find any list of government research grants to have more than its share of clunkers. Indeed, that’s the reason we have government-funded science — to put money into projects that don’t have an obvious and immediate payoff but may have big benefits down the road: the sort of high-risk, high-reward projects that can sometimes bump science along. Most scientific experiments fail, most scientific theories prove wrong. Scientific investigation often sounds dumb because … well, it often turns out to be dumb. This is why scientists get so defensive about ideas like AGW and evolution: because it’s rare to find a theory so supported by the available evidence.

The best thing to do is let NSF continue to control its budget. Accountability is always good. Let’s make sure there are no conflicts of interest and that money isn’t being put into clearly failed projects. NSF’s policy of publishing layman’s summaries of all approved research should be continued and highlighted. But micromanaging it is a recipe for disaster. As I said in the above linked post:

If we need to cut science funding to balance the budget—and I think it’s a bad place to start cutting—the way to do it simply to cut NSF’s budget and let NSF figure out what programs they can ditch. Maybe we can shift some gross budget items. But having 535 lawyers looking over scientists’ shoulders is bad medicine.

The worst thing about Coburn’s rant is that is has inflamed the usual suspects into claiming that the GOP hates science. In the middle of an otherwise good debunking of talking points, the above blogger says:

Republicans don’t like science and scientists because they are sources of data that are independent of GOP-approved propaganda mills like Fox News. Pesky scientists and academics are always popping up to dispute the Roger Ailes-approved buzz-quote of the day — on climate change, on health care, on the effects of poverty on the rapidly evaporating middle class, on the diversity of American families, and on the importance of funding basic research instead of commercially-driven ventures constrained by short-term considerations like ROI.

Today’s GOP has a visceral distrust of scientists for the same reason that it has a visceral distrust of the “lamestream media” (particularly deeply reported news organizations like The New York Times), teachers, organized labor, regulatory agencies, National Public Radio, and protest movements that are have not been astroturfed for Fox News’ cameras by Koch Industries: They’re not with the program, whatever this week’s program might be — more windfalls to Big Oil, justifying torture, or floating amendments to officially brand gay people as second-class citizens.

Science, you could say, has a built-in left-wing bias, because it does not appeal to simplistic notions of God, country, tribal supremacy, or any of the other lesser angels of our nature that the GOP finds handy for its get-out-the-angry-vote drives.

This is absurd. Ronald Reagan was a tremendous supporter of science as were both Bushes. Here, from the NSFs own website, is NSF’s historical funding, which has risen steadily, including when Bush and the Republicans controlled the government. There was a short (and ill-advised) spike in funding in 2008.

As for not being on the Fox News approved message: the only prominent politicians who are openly questioning the War on Drugs and the War on Terror — I mean, when there isn’t a partisan advantage to doing so — are Republicans like Rand Paul and Gary Johnson. Turn on Fox News and you’ll sometimes find someone like Andrew Napolitano vigorously disagreeing with the GOP on constitutional issues. John McCain and Jon Hunstman have both said they agree that climate change is occurring. McCain, you may remember, is such a marginal figure that he was the Republican President nominee in 2008.

Furthermore, the Left is more than happy to ignore science they don’t like. When The Bell Curve was published, the Left responded with anger, not debate. When Larry Summers, in the midst of discussing how to get more women into science, had the temerity to suggest that sexism was not the root cause of the gender disparity, the Left didn’t just dispute him; they hounded him out of office for blasphemy.

The Left continues to support climate-change related pseudo-science like food miles, locavorism, electric cars and corn ethanol. They continue to treat scientific ignoramus Algore as some kind of prophet. The Democrats have specifically buried reports they don’t like, such as those showing Head Start to be a failure and Obamacare-style reforms to drive up healthcare costs. They continue to flog welfare spending, “fair” trade and raising the minimum wage despite decades of research showing the disastrous effects of such policies. They ignored the parts of Climategate in which scientists tried to silence climate dissenters and have said nothing about unfair and brutal attacks on climate realists like Bjorn Lomborg.

Hell, right fucking now, they are running around claiming the spate of tornados is a result of global warming despite the dearth of any evidence supporting this position. They’ve even said that the null hypothesis should be that any weird weather is a result of global warming. They’re calling for states to make long-term plans to deal with AGW even though no one really knows what those long-term effects will be beyond unscientific “narratives” conjured up out of the imagination.

And frankly, the profligate spending of both parties is the biggest menace threatening science today. Just the interest on the stimulus would be enough to fund a complete second NSF.

But … the Republicans are determined to make it easy to fling these charges at them. Their positions on AGW and evolution open the door wide. They recently cut funds to overhaul our weather satellite system — a crucial part of hurricane prediction. Eric Cantor put numerous small scientific programs on the ridiculous You Cut website.

As long as the GOP continues to act as if science is the enemy, they will be accused of … seeing science as the enemy. As long as they continue to tolerate ignorant anti-science screeds from politicians who can’t be bothered to read the publicly available layman’s summaries of funded research that explain what the research is and why it’s being done, they will be branded this way.

And that’s a pity. Because science won’t survive in the hands of the Democrats either. Science is many things; but it’s never politically correct.

(As always, disclosure: I’ve been funded by NSF programs at various points in my career.)

Lost Potential

One day, not too long ago, I was reading about J. R. R. Tolkein, who survived the trenches of World War I and drew on their horrors when describing the Dead Marshes. I thought of how the world would be different if a bullet had been a few feet from its mark and all he was to create vanished in a spray of blood and bone. I thought of Earnest Hemingway, who narrowly missed death from a mortar shell. I thought of my second cousin, who almost vanished from the world, along with the children he would have, on the beaches of Normandy.

For the United States alone, 1.3 million men and women have had their stories cut short — left their novels unwritten, their children unborn, their monuments unbuilt. A city of people roughly the size of San Antonio have seen all that they were, all that they could have been, taken away in an instant. But it is that loss, that sacrifice that makes all of our stories possible — that allows our children to be born, our novels to be written, our monuments to be built, our potential to be met.

The only way to repay that debt is to live the lives they couldn’t and be worthy of them. And to read the stories of those who’ve gone.

French Racing Hoops

A lot of stuff is going on right now in the world of sports, got something to say about it?

First up, auto racing. I’m not a big fan of NASCAR or Indy car racing, but this weekend, I should have been.

In Charlotte Dale Earnhart Jr. would have given his left (pick your body part) for a half gallon of gas:

At Indy a rookie made a rookie mistake, and just like Dale, where he had the finish line in sight, disaster struck:

Hildebrand, a Bay Area boy, hits the wall at the very last turn:

So Hildebrand, driving flat out, decided to pass Charlie Kimball, in a slower car, on the high side at the fourth turn at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Hildebrand hit the “marbles,” bits of tires that settled near the walls, skidded on his worn tires and thudded into the wall with a flash of fire.

A gasp rose from a crowd estimated at 300,000. Hildebrand, the right side of his car mangled, made it to the finish line — but not before Wheldon, a 32-year-old Briton, passed him to win the Indy 500, which celebrated its 100th anniversary this year.

The NBA finals start tomorrow. Experience won over youth in the conference finals. The Bulls and Thunder might be the teams of the future but for now both got exposed for lack of depth and for being woefully unprepared for the big stage. James did promise 5 or 6 titles for Heat, and Dirk (who will do down as the best shooting big man in history) went a long way towards dispelling the theory that he was soft and lacked intensity. I’m rooting for Dallas even though I think Cuban is a putz, and hope it goes 7.

 

Some interesting goings on at the French Open. Most of the big names went out early on the women’s side (Caroline has got to get herself a real coach, this dad/coach stuff can only take you so far, Richard Williams notwithstanding), but I’m in the, “anybody but Schiavone ” camp, some body check her for PED’s, and make sure you watch it go from penis to cup. Nadal has Soderling next, watch out. Federer will take out Monfils in 3 quick sets, and Novak had a walk over, so he will be tanned, rested and ready. For that “immovable object vs. unstoppable force” scenario to play out, we want Nadal and Djokovic in the final.

I believe we also have something about a Stanley Cup being contested, but I’m a little fuzzy on the details.

Remember

Graves at Arlington “People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.” George Orwell

Today we remember those rough men.

We Americans can be a peculiar lot, proud, arrogant, boastful, take your pick, but it’s hereditary.  Benjamin Franklin, while attending the Second Continental Congress, felt that America, more violent and more enterprising, deserved to be a new nation, separate from it’s mother country.

The American soldier typifies the American dream, that freedom is not free, and today we honor our war dead.

I had a difficult time deciding what video to post, I almost went with this (talk about getting all weepy) but this honor’s more our current military, not those that died in the line of duty.

Today we offer a salute, a prayer of thanks, give a proper respect to those in our military. We don’t hash the reasons for going to war, the utter waste of good men , the heartache of a broken family, or why they are fighting thousands of miles away, that we reserve for the other 364 days.

We remember, God bless our troops.

Measles in Mass

Ulp:

Measles continues to spread in Massachusetts, with two new cases confirmed this week, including one involving a 23-month-old boy from Boston who had received his first measles vaccination last year, according to the Boston Public Health Commission. The other was a teenage boy from outside the city who was treated at a Boston health care facility.

That brings the state total to 17 this year — and counting. In each of the previous four years, Massachusetts has had one to three cases. The surge has been occurring nationwide as well, with federal health officials announcing Tuesday that measles cases have been on their fastest pace since 1996. So far this year, 118 infections have been reported in 23 states, compared with 50 in a typical year.

And we’re lucky that most parents have not bought into the whole anti-vax nonsense:

France reported 10,000 cases — and six deaths — during the first four months of the year, most likely due to low vaccination rates. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention attributes the rise in measles cases in this country to the surge in cases globally, most notably in France, India, and the Philippines.

Vaccinations are one of the greatest scientific breakthroughs in human history. Measles alone used to strike about half a million Americans per year. At that rate today, we’d be seeing a few billion dollars and a couple of thousand lives gobbled by the virus every year. And that’s just measles. I won’t say anything about whooping cough, the resurgence of which has killed children too young to be vaccinated. Even if vaccines caused autism — which they don’t — they would still be worth the risk.

The efficacy of any vaccine is dependent on having herd immunity: having enough people vaccinated to deny the virus the reservoirs it needs to break out. For that, you need to vaccinate almost everyone who isn’t immuno-compromised. You can maybe make some religious exemptions. But you simply don’t have room for people who refuse to vaccinate because they believe the tissue of lies that was Andrew Wakefield’s discredited study.

For people to turn their backs on this miracle is maddening. It’s like they’re going back to living in caves. Only they’ll take a few innocent people with them.

The Rainy Day

How often do you find Matt Yglesias and Megan McArdle agreeing on something? Yglesias, talking about the need to be conservative with future budget projections, says:

The other thing, of course, is that “stuff happens.” Nobody sitting down in 1925 to write a 25-year budget forecast would have made the funds available to win World War II. It’s nice to think that you have a plan that leaves headroom to engage in some deficit spending if it turns out a meteor is going to strike the earth, or Jack Layton is the leading edge of a Viltrumite invasion.

We don’t even need to go back to World War II. We can go back to 2001, when we had a projected surplus. So we spent and cut taxes. And … suddenly we didn’t have the money for a trillion dollar war. We can look at Japan, which invested zillions in “stimulus” spending, got themselves into massive debt and then got hit by one of the biggest natural disasters in history. Hell, we can look at our current situation, where we were pushed to the maximum sustainable debt and suddenly had an economic collapse. We see it in states that cut back on snowplow budgets in warm years, then scream for help when they get a blizzard.

McArdle makes the comparison to people’s personal finances.

Have you ever known anyone who got into trouble with credit cards? I don’t mean someone who had something go wrong and ended up deep in credit card debt because they had to pay the rent somehow; I mean someone who wakes up one day with $21,000 in debt, a closet full of shoes, and no idea where the money went?

The way they get into that trouble is often that they don’t budget. They consider each purchase in isolation: “can I afford these shoes? Can I make the payments on that television?” And in fact, they can afford each of their purchases. They just can’t afford all of them.

We hear this constantly on the spending side. “What kind of country are we if we can’t afford education?” “Surely, this country can afford to provide healthcare to everyone!” “Farm subsidies are such a small part of the budget!” Yes, we can afford some of these things; the problem is that we’re trying to afford all of them simultaneously.

And we’re setting ourselves up to make the same mistakes again. The liberal plans to sort of balance the budget all have taxes rising to historically high levels. The problem is that you now have no room if something really bad happens. Technically, yes, you’ve “balanced the budget”. But you’ve put yourself into such a tenuous fiscal position that a war, a disaster or an economic downturn is ruinous.

A time of peace and prosperity is not the time to be pushing your taxation level to the “break glass in case of emergencies” level. You have to leave some room for the unexpected.