Howto Close a Budget Gap

From George Will:

Bringing Thunder-ous change to New Jersey: He inherited a $2.2 billion deficit, and next year’s projected deficit of $10.7 billion is, relative to the state’s $29.3 billion budget, the nation’s worst. Democrats, with the verbal tic — “Tax the rich!” — that passes for progressive thinking, demanded that he reinstate the “millionaire’s tax,” which hit “millionaires” earning $400,000 until it expired Dec. 31. Instead, Christie noted that between 2004 and 2008 there was a net outflow of $70 billion in wealth as “the rich,” including small businesses, fled. And he said previous administrations had “raised taxes 115 times in the last eight years alone.”

So he closed the $2.2 billion gap by accepting 375 of 378 suggested spending freezes and cuts. In two weeks. By executive actions. In eight weeks he cut $13 billion — $232 million a day, $9 million an hour. Now comes the hard part.

Exactly! Closing a budget gap CANNOT mean raising taxes in this economy. The only responsible thing for government to do is what struggling families are forced to do: tighten their belt. Without needing laws to be passed, and simply by executive order, he managed to trim $13 billion from the budget??? [Why can’t Deval Patrick do this](

Time for a new Pope?

From The London Evening Standard:

Pope ‘led cover-up of child abuse by priests’: The Pope played a leading role in a systematic cover-up of child sex abuse by Roman Catholic priests, according to a shocking documentary to be screened by the BBC tonight.

In 2001, while he was a cardinal, he issued a secret Vatican edict to Catholic bishops all over the world, instructing them to put the Church’s interests ahead of child safety.

The document recommended that rather than reporting sexual abuse to the relevant legal authorities, bishops should encourage the victim, witnesses and perpetrator not to talk about it. And, to keep victims quiet, it threatened that if they repeat the allegations they would be excommunicated.

If this actually happened (and given the recent issues that have surfaced, I think it likely), there’s no choice for this Pope but to resign.

They let Cardinal Law get away with it nearly a decade ago, and that was troubling enough. But now the Pope?!? It’s time for a complete overhaul of the church hierarchy. This cannot go on, and cannot be ignored.

Amen, Brother George

From The Washington Post:

Sarah Palin and the mutual loathing society: Sarah Palin, who with 17 months remaining in her single term as Alaska’s governor quit the only serious office she has ever held, is obsessively discussed as a possible candidate in 2012. Why? She is not going to be president and will not be the Republican nominee unless the party wants to lose at least 44 states.

You got that right George. What is the attraction of Sarah Palin to the Republicans, or even the Tea Partiers? Ok… I kinda understand the whole sexy librarian thing, but other than that, she’s as qualified as… as… a sexy librarian.

Please people, can we stop paying attention to her so she can just go away?

A Review of Taubes’ “Good Calories, Bad Calories”

From Entropy Production:

Entropy Production: All Medical Science is Wrong within a 95% Confidence Interval
or: A Review of Taubes’ “Good Calories, Bad Calories”
: Recently I read a very impressive book by Gary Taubes, previously a reporter for the journal Science. The work in question is, “Good Calories, Bad Calories.”‘ In the book, Taubes collects research to challenge the common knowledge of nutrition: that fat is bad for you, that we should eat polyunsaturated vegetable oils, that we should exercise for sixty minutes a day, etc.

One cannot help but wonder how a number of the weak hypotheses that Taubes explores came to become common knowledge in the field of nutrition? Taubes paints a picture of a few egotistical researchers who were able to effect what was essentially scientific fraud, by fitting their bias to the data rather than examining it critically. In Taubes words (p. 451), “it is difficult to use the term “scientist” to describe those individuals who work in these disciples [ed: nutrition, chronic disease, and obesity], and, indeed, I have activity avoided doing so in this book.”

This article is a fantastic summary and commentary on Gary Taubes enlightening book. I highly recommend purchasing and reading the book. It changed my life for the better (starting with article that Taubes wrote for the New York Times Magazine). Since reading the article / book and following (for the most part) it’s tennets, the following has happened to me personally:

  • I’ve lost 50 pounds
  • My blood cholesterol has dropped from 220 to 160
  • My trigycerides have dropped
  • My blood pressure has dropped

If you are overweight or borderline diabetic, you NEED to read this book.

Drinking age of 21 doesn’t work


Commentary: Drinking age of 21 doesn’t work – One year ago, a group of college and university presidents and chancellors, eventually totaling 135, issued a statement that garnered national attention.

The “Amethyst Initiative” put a debate proposition before the public — “Resolved: That the 21-year-old drinking age is not working.”

…Most of the rest of the world has come out in a different place on the drinking age. The United States is one of only four countries — the others are Indonesia, Mongolia and Palau — with an age as high as 21. All others either have no minimum age or have a lower age, generally 18, with some at 16.

Young adults know that. And, in their heart of hearts, they also know that a law perceived as unjust, a law routinely violated, can over time breed disrespect for law in general.

Exactly correct. In a country that was founded on the ideals of freedom and responsibility, that it can be acceptable for someone to be old enough to die for one’s country, but not old enough to raise a tankard of ale in tribute to that same country is insane. That it’s legal to drive at 16 (which causes WAY more deaths every year than drinking), and consent to sex at 16, and vote at 18 (which has a direct impact on the future of the country), and smoke at 18 (which is WAY more unhealthy than drinking)… that you are considered an adult in every way in this country, but you can’t have a beer is just plain stupid.

The Supreme Court’s Chance to Dump McCain-Feingold and Aid Free Speech

From The Washington Post:

George F. Will – The Supreme Court’s Chance to Dump McCain-Feingold and Aid Free Speech – Last March, during the Supreme Court argument concerning the Federal Election Commission’s banning of a political movie, several justices were aghast. Suddenly and belatedly they saw the abyss that could swallow the First Amendment.

A friend and I were talking a while ago and he made the argument that we needed term limits because Congress makes election law that affects their own election, and he pointed directly at McCain/Feingold as a prime example. Let’s take a closer look.

Don’t blame me. McCain-Feingold orders people to shut up when political speech matters most. It bans “electioneering communications” (communications “susceptible of no reasonable interpretation other than as an appeal to vote for or against a specific candidate”) paid for by corporations in the 30 days before primaries and 60 days before general elections. Corporations include not only, or primarily, the likes of GM and GE; corporations also include issue advocacy groups, from the National Rifle Association to the Sierra Club. So, yes, if a book published (as books are) by a corporation contains even a sentence of election-related advocacy, the book could — must — be banned by the federal government, and not just during the McCain-Feingold muzzle period.

I think he’s right, and I think George Will is right. McCain/Feingold must be thrown out as unconstitutional. The very reason for the first amendment is to protect political speech as a check against the state.

Ed Rollins Grades Obama’s First 100 Days

From CNN:

Ed Rollins, a senior political contributor for CNN, was political director for President Reagan and chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee.

Commentary: Is Obama a Clinton or a Carter? – give him high marks as the commander in chief. From retaining Secretary of Defense Robert Gates (one of the best in that job I can remember) to the symbolic inaugural “Commander-in-Chief Ball” (for members of our military) to his redefining the missions in Iraq and Afghanistan, he has impressed many skeptics.

And by allowing the Navy SEALs in Somalia to take out the pirates and by authorizing the use of drones to take out the suspected Taliban terrorists in Pakistan, he showed that he is willing to make the tough decisions and allow our troops to engage.

I do strongly object to his running around the world with “I am sorry!” as his message in apology for American missteps, and I think he has to realize that high-level diplomacy is about taking sides. Not everybody will be — or wants to be — your friend. And we need to pick our friends carefully.

All I can say after 100 days is: Good start, Mr. President; I wish you well!

This is the kind of analysis I like. Ed Rollins, clearly a conservative, clearly a Republican (look at his credentials) is being a thoughtful critic, giving Obama high marks where he deserves it, and taking him to task for things that he hasn’t done well.

I’m getting really sick of hearing the Republican Attack Machine (henceforth known as RAM) make stupid accusations, call for impeachment, and try and make it sound as if Obama’s been doing a crappy job.

He hasn’t.

Have I agreed with everything he’s done? Nope. Is he a tremendous improvement over the last few President’s? So far, I’d say yes. He’s provided leadership as needed, made a bunch of touch decisions, and has helped improve our standing in the world.

Overall grade: B.
Domestic grade: Not sure… his spending scares the hell out of me.
International grade: A

Keep it up Mr. President (but try not to spend too much of our money… we can’t afford it).

Senate OKs delay of digital TV transition


Senate OKs delay of digital TV transition: Overcoming partisan divisions, the Senate on Monday night unanimously voted to delay the digital television transition until June 12

This is a mistake, and is the same reason that we’re still not on the metric system. Everyone is ready, the die is cast, it’s a done deal. We’re only 3 weeks away from completing the transition. Why do politicians do things like this?

Calif. Jobless Rate Jumps to 9.3%

From Economy:

Calif. Jobless Rate Jumps to 9.3%: California’s unemployment rate jumped to 9.3% in December as employers in the nation’s most populous state cut 78,200 jobs during the month.

Holy **expletive deleted**… almost double digits. I’ve never experienced anything like this before. Is it time to panic yet?

Please, please Mr. President… figure something out to help us out of this mess.

Inauguration of President Obama

I’ve never been as proud of being a citizen of the United States as I am today. Today is the [Jackie Robinson]( moment for our entire country, not just the national pass time.

From [Wikipedia]( The nation was initially divided on whether Robinson should be allowed to play. Virtually all blacks and many whites applauded the decision as long overdue, but a large number of whites also objected. Many major league players also objected. Most newspapers supported the move. Robinson’s integration and subsequent high level of play was a major blow to segregation and caused racial barriers to fall in other areas.

The culmination of this happens today.

Here’s a bit more context for todays events:

From [The United States Declaration of Independence]( We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

From [Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address]( Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal…
this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

From [Martin Luther king’s I Have a Dream speach]( I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.’

Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksand of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children.

I’ve been a supporter of [Barack Obama]( for a long time. As such, I’m having a huge problem with conservative commentators that are hoping for his total failure. I cannot understand this. I *do* understand how you, as a conservative (as I consider myself to be), would hope for **specific** policies that he may propose to fail to pass muster (for instance, a doubling of our income tax). But to hope for him, as our President, to fail, is hoping for the failure of our country, and that is as unpatriotic as can be imagined. Dissenting against policy is patriotic. Dissenting against our President is not.

* 11:33am: The coverage on [WGBH]( is fantastic.
* 11:33am: **Michelle Obama** just stepped on stage.
* 11:37am: President **George W. Bush** steps on stage. He got a (basically) warm welcome. Some boos. Stop it people… show some respect. Even if you didn’t like him or his politics, he’s our President (for a few more minutes).
* 11:40am: More dignitaries step on stage
* 11:41am: **Joseph Biden** steps on stage
* 11:43am: More dignitaries
* 11:44am: **Barack H. Obama** steps on stage. A huge swell of cheers greets him
* 11:47am: **Diane Feinsten** (yawn)
* 11:47am: … peaceful transition … the power of the ballot over the bullet …
* 11:49am: **Rick Warren** steps up to make the invocation.
* 11:50am: … celebrate a hinge point of history with the election of the first African American as President of the United States …
* 11:53am: thankfully nothing controversial
* 11:54am: It’s gone on a bit long though
* 11:55am: **Aretha Franklin** sings *My Country ’tis of Thee*
* 11:56am: I don’t like the Gospelization of anthems like this. Oh well. To each his own.
* 11:57am: She better hurry. Mr. President Obama needs to take the oath before 12:00pm!
* 11:58am: Senator **Robert Bennet** of Utah
* 11:58am: **John Paul Stevens*’ administers the oath of office to ‘*Joseph Biden**.
* 11:59am: *… I Joseph Biden do solemny swear…*
* 12:00pm: Performance of John Williams piece
* 12:01pm: Yikes… we don’t have a President!!!! at Noon, President Bush officially is no longer President, and President Obama hasn’t taken the oath yet.
* 12:06pm: **John Roberts** steps up to administer the Presidential Oath of Office
* 12:07pm: *I Barack Hussein Obama do solemny swear…*
* 12:08pm: I’m a little misty… President Obama!
* 12:09pm: Hail to the Chief

Time for the address.

* Thanks to President Bush (nice touch)
* Know this America… they WILL be met. YEAH.
* … time has come to set aside childish things…
* All are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness!
* greatness must be earned
* acknowledging the sacrifice of our forebearers
* we must start TODAY! Pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin the work of remaking America
* a nation cannot prosper long when it only favors the prosperous
* we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals
* know that America is a friend to those who seek peace
* we will not apologize for our way of life
* the world has changed and we must change with it
* remembers the soldiers
* a return to our truths
* we have a duty to ourselves, our country, and the world
* George Washington: Let it be told to the future world

Beautiful speech.