Audacity of hypocrisy

Putting the Vastness of Obama's Proposed Budget into Perspective


... as a candidate, Barack Obama criticized Pres. George W. Bush for adding $2.9 trillion to the national debt over eight years. But under the budget released today, President Obama plans on adding $3.2 trillion by the end of fiscal year 2010, 20 months and 11 days into his term. Over the full four years, Obama will expand the national debt by $4.7 trillion

Comment: Or maybe boldface lying!

"Oracle of Omaha": "the economy will be in shambles"

Buffett Offers Gloomy Outlook for ’09


In his eagerly-anticipated annual letter to Berkshire shareholders, Buffett also offered a gloomy economic outlook, saying "the economy will be in shambles throughout 2009 -- and for that matter, probably well beyond."

Still, despite what he called "paralyzing fear" resulting from the credit crisis and falling housing and stock prices, Buffett was optimistic about American resilience.

"Though the path has not been smooth, our economic system has worked extraordinarily well over time," he said. "It has unleashed human potential as no other system has, and it will continue to do so. America's best days lie ahead."

Comment: Other outlooks (and of course there are many!)

Dr. Sung Won Sohn (It is imperative for the Obama Administration to introduce a concrete plan to improve confidence in the credit process. Without improved confidence and trust in the credit markets, the stimulus plan won’t have the desired effect.)
Wells Fargo research (What is shaping up as the deepest and longest recession since the 1930s will end in the second half of 2009)

$145 a linear inch!!

Whistleblower: Is 1-mile bike path worth $9.2 million?


A mile-long bike path planned for downtown Minneapolis promises a quick, safe way for cyclists to travel separate from busy street traffic. But its estimated $9.2 million price tag has some gasping.

It's a total that, in the past, paid for nearly 2 miles of highway lane on Interstate 94 in St. Paul, or 5.7 miles of bike trail on government land for the Midtown Greenway.

Proponents say it's the final link in a century-old vision for paths connecting the city's lakes and the river. It will extend the Cedar Lake Trail, an off-street bicycle "freeway" linking western suburbs with the heart of the city. Downtown, the paved route will take cyclists next to the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad, under the new Twins ballpark and to the Mississippi River Parkway -- without crossing a single street.

Others say the path has become too pricey to justify as governments consider cuts to critical services because of the recession.

At issue is a geographically difficult three-block stretch of construction to extend the path all the way to the river, a change of plans for which proponents raised an extra $4.8 million in federal and state funding in 2005 and 2006. A city plan would have put bike traffic up a ramp and onto painted bike paths along local streets at that point.

HT: Citypages

Comment: As long as it is someone else's money (sourced from the Federal government) or "creates jobs" the average Joe won't care about this kind of waste. The comments on the Citypages blog are humorous!


Rocky Mountain News - gone after 150 years

Rocky Mountain News: Goodbye, Colorado


After nearly 150 years, Denver has lost the newspaper that it grew up with. The paper's publisher could no longer sustain the financial losses at the Rocky Mountain News

Comment: We lived in the Denver metro area for 9 years and from time to time picked up a RMN. The "other" paper is The Denver Post. It did not appeal to me because of the tabloid format that I thought was more difficult to read (in contrast with the traditional broadsheet format. The competition between the RMC and the Post kept newspaper prices low! The RMC had a great sports page!

Buyers' remorse

Obama Declares War on Investors, Entrepreneurs, Businesses, And More


[President Obama] is declaring war on investors, entrepreneurs, small businesses, large corporations, and private-equity and venture-capital funds.

That is the meaning of his anti-growth tax-hike proposals, which make absolutely no sense at all — either for this recession or from the standpoint of expanding our economy’s long-run potential to grow.

Raising the marginal tax rate on successful earners, capital, dividends, and all the private funds is a function of Obama’s left-wing social vision, and a repudiation of his economic-recovery statements. Ditto for his sweeping government-planning-and-spending program, which will wind up raising federal outlays as a share of GDP to at least 30 percent, if not more, over the next 10 years.


Study after study over the past several decades has shown how countries that spend more produce less, while nations that tax less produce more. Obama is doing it wrong on both counts.

And as far as middle-class tax cuts are concerned, Obama’s cap-and-trade program will be a huge across-the-board tax increase on blue-collar workers, including unionized workers. Industrial production is plunging, but new carbon taxes will prevent production from ever recovering. While the country wants more fuel and power, cap-and-trade will deliver less.


Noteworthy up here on Wall Street, a great many Obama supporters — especially hedge-fund types who voted for “change” — are becoming disillusioned with the performances of Obama and Treasury man Geithner.

There is a growing sense of buyer’s remorse.

Comment: There have been no surprises!

Obama's trash talking the banks!

Bankers to Obama: Stop trashing us


The American Bankers Association has a message for the president: Stop talking trash about banks.

In his unofficial State of the Union address Tuesday night, Barack Obama said that it's "unpopular ... to be seen as helping banks right now, especially when everyone is suffering in part from their bad decisions."

In a letter to the White House, ABA CEO Edward Yingling says bankers across the country were "disappointed and concerned" with rhetoric like that.

"Mr. President, of the over 8,000 banks in this country, very few ever made a single subprime loan, and they did not engage in the highly leveraged activities that brought down Wall Street firms," Yingling said.

Yingling referred the president to statements made by Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), the powerful chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, in which he said that the toxic mortgage lending that sparked the current crisis was done by mortgage brokers and others not subject to the strict rules that govern commercial banks.

"Mr. President, the failure to distinguish between Wall Street and the thousands of FDIC-insured banks across the country undermines the confidence in our banking industry, the industry which is the foundation on which our economic recovery must be built," Yingling said.

Electronic kits

Thanks for the comments on the capacitor post yesterday. I thought the video was fascinating.

I grew up with a Dad who loved all things electronic and mechanical. He would undertake almost any project: fixing radios, fixing TV's, repairing cars, home repair, small engine repair, bicycle repair, woodworking, etc. He had this incredibly cluttered workshop with all kinds of things ... including capacitors.

If Dad was a 10 in his interest and ability, I was a 2 or 3. But both my brother and I loved doing his kind of projects. My brother built a TV from a Heathkit. Today TV's are so inexpensive that it would seem a waste of time to do that.

Essentials (for electronic kits) where we were younger: soldering irons, ohm meter, multimeter, etc.

Some of the fun things I built when I was a junior: alarm clock, crystal radios, electric motor, electromagnet, etc. Some of the fun electrical projects I have done: adding outlets to our bedroom (when we set up our water bed), exterior lamps on the house, etc. (Obviously working with 110 is a different thing than DC!). Years ago I helped a guy fix a key on his Apple II keyboard. This involved disassembly and soldering in a new key. Today one would just buy a new keyboard! Also I had an old daisy wheel printer (I think it was a DEC). I was able to bump it up from 300 baud to 1200 baud (a little soldering) and wire up a RS232 connection to my TRS-DOS computer. Another time Kathee (wife) and I soldered in a graphics panel into a Radio Shack TRS-3 computer (she was not pleased to participate in this as I recall). Another project (also involving my wife) was running a new wire up the steering column of our VW bug, installing a new steering wheel, a horn button, and a new horn. Kathee did a lot of the manual work on this.

If you have young children involve them in electronics and kit building. There's a lot to learn and enjoy there!

Snow pics (02/27/09)

Comment: Kathee and I got out at about 6:15: I plowed snow (my driveway and Mrs. F's next door). Kathee cleared the walks, steps, and porch. The green thing is my trusty John Deere (now 9 years old). I snapped these photos from my open garage door as we left for work and from my car window (looking back at the house). It was 2 degrees this morning.


The Capacitor

MAKE presents: The Capacitor from make magazine on Vimeo.

Comment: Interesting

Housing Prices in 20 Cities

NYTimes Graphic: Housing Prices in 20 Cities

Comment: Check out Vegas, LA, Phoenix. Very interesting.

Vista top tech "Fiasco"

Microsoft Vista voted tech world's top "Fiasco"


It's official, Microsoft's Windows Vista operating system gets the prize for being the most over-hyped, under-performing information and communication technology (ICT) project. Windows Vista garnered 5,222 of 6,043 votes (86 percent) entered via the Web to snag top honors

Comment: From the first time I saw Vista demonstrated (by a Microsoft marketing guy) - I was underwhelmed; through engineering and pilot; through pre-production; and our first production image ... A FIASCO! Now off the table ... Windows 7 on the horizon!

Major snow storm

Traffic Seizes Up As Snow Blasts Twin Cities


parts of the Twin Cities to see anywhere from 4 to 8 inches of snow


Kathee and I are downtown so we will have to brave the commute home. I canceled the Metro Women's Center board meeting for tonight. Will need to plow tonight: I'm thinking ... do I have enough gas in my John Deere tractor???

Obamamania "angel" float!

Yahoo news: Obama float


A carnival float depicting a flying U.S. President Obama with Europe being dragged along is seen during the traditional carnival parade in Duesseldorf, Germany, on Monday, Feb. 23, 2009. Rose-Monday-Parades in the carnival strongholds of Duesseldorf, Mainz and Cologne are watched by hundreds of thousands of revelers and mark the highlights of Germany's carnival season.

Comment: GAG! Obamamania archive!

Updated w video:

Win a Calfskin Version of the ESV Study Bible!

From "A Boomer in the Pew"

Comment: Kathee and I have 4 ESV versions. We both have pocket editions of the NT, Psalms, and Proverbs; Kathee has the Literary Study Bible in the ESV, and I have the ESV Study Bible. Click over to From "A Boomer in the Pew" for instructions about how you can win a Calfskin Version of the ESV Study Bible!

Obama's new math

The 2% Illusion - Take everything they earn, and it still won't be enough


Even the most basic inspection of the IRS income tax statistics shows that raising taxes on the salaries, dividends and capital gains of those making more than $250,000 can't possibly raise enough revenue to fund Mr. Obama's new spending ambitions.

Consider the IRS data for 2006, the most recent year that such tax data are available and a good year for the economy and "the wealthiest 2%." Roughly 3.8 million filers had adjusted gross incomes above $200,000 in 2006. (That's about 7% of all returns; the data aren't broken down at the $250,000 point.) These people paid about $522 billion in income taxes, or roughly 62% of all federal individual income receipts. The richest 1% -- about 1.65 million filers making above $388,806 -- paid some $408 billion, or 39.9% of all income tax revenues, while earning about 22% of all reported U.S. income.


A tax policy that confiscated 100% of the taxable income of everyone in America earning over $500,000 in 2006 would only have given Congress an extra $1.3 trillion in revenue. That's less than half the 2006 federal budget of $2.7 trillion and looks tiny compared to the more than $4 trillion Congress will spend in fiscal 2010. Even taking every taxable "dime" of everyone earning more than $75,000 in 2006 would have barely yielded enough to cover that $4 trillion.

Comment: There's an opportunity for genuine fiscal conservatives (whether they are "blue dog" Democrats or Republicans) to define themselves and appeal to common-sense voters that "change that can be believed" will be a ballot choice in 2010 and 2012!


Fifth Third up 33% - closes at $ 1.94

My 5th 3rd Experiment: 1000 shares of FITB

Go go go!!!

Vikes stadium a "non-starter" at State Capitol

Vikings can’t get stadium momentum


The Minnesota Vikings' already wobbly prospects of getting public financing for a new stadium this year got no firmer Monday at the State Capitol, where legislators said the state's dire financial picture made the project nearly unthinkable.

In doing so, a House panel brushed aside a new study by the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission, owners of the Metrodome, that said a new stadium on that site in downtown Minneapolis would generate $734 million in construction spending, create 13,400 jobs during construction and generate $32.2 million in taxes during the first year after a new stadium opened.

Comment: Yeah like DUH! It's the economy stupid! A note about "the jobs" ... higher taxes on businesses and individuals have a negative impact on jobs too! Let aircraft owning Ziggy Wilf pay for his own stadium!

Hail storm - 9 months later

Above: Lamp with finish knocked to bare aluminum by by hailstone.

Nine Months ago: Hail storm - 5/31/2008

Finally after nine months, this project has been closed out. We had our roof replaced, 11 windows replaces, 3 lamps (across the front of the house) replaced, siding on 2 sides replaced and gutters replaced. Additionally we had 2 posts repainted on the front of the house.

Yesterday I received the final check from Allstate and today paid the project off. I still have funds in restricted escrow at US Bank but all the paperwork is in place to have that check sent to me next week.

We did a nice upgrade: we had a window installed in our garage (on the N side where siding had to be replaced).

Today was a day of calling the contractor, calling US Bank, conferencing the two, faxes received, documents signed, faxes sent. Additionally there were faxes sent that went into a black hole (lost), follow up calls, confirmations that that faxes had been sent, faxes resent, etc.

Kathee still has hail stones in a baggy in our freezer. It's amazing what golf-ball sized hail can do!

Archbishop critiques President Obama

Denver archbishop warns against ‘spirit of adulation’ surrounding Obama


Archbishop Charles Chaput [spoke] about how Catholics should live out their faith in the public square. He warned that in the U.S., Catholics need to act on their faith and be on guard against "a spirit of adulation bordering on servility" that exists towards the Obama administration.


The Denver prelate then provided his critique of President Obama.

"President Obama is a man of intelligence and some remarkable gifts. He has a great ability to inspire, as we saw from his very popular visit to Canada just this past week. But whatever his strengths, there’s no way to reinvent his record on abortion and related issues with rosy marketing about unity, hope and change. Of course, that can change. Some things really do change when a person reaches the White House. Power ennobles some men. It diminishes others. Bad policy ideas can be improved. Good policy ideas can find a way to flourish. But as Catholics, we at least need to be honest with ourselves and each other about the political facts we start with."

Comment: I think the Archbishop is dead on right! A reaction to Obamamania.


Econ4U: Celebrity Financial Mistakes

Comments: See if you can match the celebrity with the mistake:

  • Mike Tyson (also has a biting issue!)
  • Willie Nelson (this one is easy!)
  • Michael Jackson (he also has the problem of the nose that falls of!
  • M.C. Hammer
  • Ed McMahon ("Heeeeeeeeeeeeeeere's Johnny!")
  • Dorothy Hamill
  • Britney Spears
  • Barron Hilton

Celebrity Financial Mistakes


Since the dawn of Hollywood, financial illiteracy has caused dramatic falls for some of America’s wealthiest and most famous names. But even as certain celebrities’ net worths tumble, their mistakes remain valuable – as lessons. ...

[the list]

  1. Poor Financial Planning
  2. Bankruptcy
  3. Money Hungry Relatives
  4. Bad Investments
  5. Tax Evasion
  6. Big Spending
  7. Foreclosure
  8. Loans and Credit Card Debt

Let the patriot losers die and be maimed

Salon: Should I go to grad school or join the military?


... it is understandable that you are considering alternatives. But this is not such a good time to join the military. For one thing, there are wars going on. Many men and women are dying in these wars. Many are being maimed. It's terrible.

Comment: That's right .... the best and the brightest need to let others serve our country!

Savers are "dead weight" for the economy

When Consumers Cut Back: An Object Lesson From Japan


The economic malaise that plagued Japan from the 1990s until the early 2000s brought stunted wages and depressed stock prices, turning free-spending consumers into misers and making them dead weight on Japan’s economy.

Comment: HT from the Woot blog ... more below:

New York Times: Thrifty Consumers Are "Dead Weight"


Scoop! The current economic crisis isn't the fault of unregulated lenders making bad decisions, or of financial traders leveraging themselves too heavily with phony paper wealth. It's because millions of people have banded together in a conspiracy not to spend money on things they don't need.

That's according to a New York Times piece on Japan's "lost decade" of low growth. These "misers" are "dead weight on Japan's economy" because they "tend to shun conspicuous consumption", "to disastrous effect". Horror of horrors, sales of Louis Vuitton handbags are down as "Young Japanese women even seem to be losing their once-insatiable thirst for foreign fashion."


And it's no excuse for the irresponsible actions of Tokyo housewife Hiromi Kobayashi, whose family "has not gone on vacation in two years and still watches a cathode-ray tube TV." (Wait a minute - that describes me exactly. I'm a traitor and I didn't even know it! Somebody arrest me, for my own good!) Kobayashi says she plans to buy a flat-panel TV, but this dastardly fiend is scheming to "find a bargain, then wait until it gets even cheaper." And yet, at press time, Japanese authorities allow this monster to walk the streets.

Comment: Nice to be called a eco-consumer-terrorist!


Why Cerberus won't do it!

Why Can’t Cerberus Foot the Bill?


For its $5.3 billion — on top of the $4.3 billion it has received since December — Chrysler offered little more than an assurance that it has already cut costs and accomplished most of what it had to do to become a valuable, viable company. It offered to trim production by a paltry 100,000 units — leaving it with capacity to make almost one million vehicles more than it will sell this year — on the questionable assumption that demand, and its market share, will bounce back next year.

Chrysler said the only reason it was back asking for more money so soon was that the car market was worse than it had expected two months ago.

This cavalier approach to the public purse raises a very big question. If Chrysler is really on track for a turnaround and all it needs is some financing to get over a bad patch in sales and debt markets, why doesn’t Cerberus Capital Management, which owns 80 percent of the company, put up the money itself? Why should taxpayers have to take the risk? That’s what private equity funds like Cerberus are supposed to do.

Cerberus and Daimler, which retained a stake in Chrysler, have promised to convert $2 billion in loans to Chrysler into equity, which should help reduce its debt. But Cerberus said giving fresh money would violate its fiduciary duty to investors, breaking company rules limiting how much it can commit to any given investment.

We suspect these rules would be more pliant if Cerberus deemed Chrysler to be a good deal.

It seems the secretive private-equity fund is willing to gamble on Chrysler’s survival with the taxpayer’s dime, but not its own.

Chrysler warns that if it doesn’t get more money from Washington it will have to declare bankruptcy.

Comment: Cerberus won't do it because it is a bad investment. Maybe someone in the Obama administration should get a clue from this fact.


SpoofCard and TrapCall

Comment: two phone related web services. I demoed the SpoofCard to my daughter today (called her cell phone and spoofed her brother on caller ID)




Preposterous brouhaha

Cartoonists tread lightly when drawing Obama


Editorial cartoonists are bending over backwards a lot these days, as they try to satirize the nation's first black president. And when they don't, the result is the kind of outcry that erupted this week after a New York Post cartoon featured a bloody chimpanzee — intentionally or unintentionally evoking racist images of the past.

Those expressing outrage:

Roland Martin: NY Post cartoon is racist and careless

Sharpton, 'New York Post' At Odds Over Political Cartoon

Comment: I actually love political cartoons and political satire. This is kerfuffle over nothing. By the way ... Pelosi and her team authored the stimulus bill!


Financial bloodbath!

Visualizing Financials: Charting the Carnage

Comment: I bought 1000 shares of Fifth Third today ... just pennies above a buck a share.


Second Proper loan goes South

More than a year ago I began making micro loans via the peer to peer lending site, Prosper.com. I'm still in the black and much better than my 401K and other investments.

The above loan was my second one to default and result in a charge off (of $ 50.) This one was a complete surprise as the borrower had no delinquents in the previous 7 years, had a credit grade of "A" and had a stated income of over $ 100,000. In the case of this particular loan, the borrower did not make one payment! Oh well, live and learn.

My Prosper.com stats are here.

Is an Israeli attack imminent?

Comment: With this news and with a newly elected conservative government in Israel, one wonders how long until Israel acts preemptively to protect itself.

Iran holds enough uranium for bomb


Iran has now built up a stockpile of enough enriched uranium for one nuclear bomb, United Nations officials acknowledged on Thursday.

In a development that comes as the Obama administration is drawing up its policy on negotiations with Tehran over its nuclear programme, UN officials said Iran had produced more nuclear material than previously thought.


“It appears that Iran has walked right up to the threshold of having enough low enriched uranium to provide enough raw material for a single bomb,” said Peter Zimmerman, a former chief scientist of the US Arms Control and Disarmament Agency

The new figures come in a report by the International Atomic Energy Agency, the UN’s nuclear watchdog, released on Thursday.

This revealed that Iran’s production of low enriched uranium had previously been underestimated.


David Albright, the head of the Institute for Science and International Security, said: ““If Iran did decide to build nuclear weapons, it’s entering an era in which it could do so quickly.”

From the second article:

Israel's election this week left doubts over who will become prime minister, but a clear majority of voters supported parties that regard military force, rather than peace talks, as the best way to safeguard the country.

Team logo of the "Vegas Vikings"

Despite the deficit, the team is still lobbying the Legislature, stressing that their Dome lease is up in 2011


Even as legislators grapple with numbing economic news and most discussions at the State Capitol involve budget deficits, proponents of a new stadium for the Minnesota Vikings have been quietly trying to rally interest in the project.

Over the past two weeks, labor leaders and the Vikings have met privately with legislative leaders, and while the odds of a publicly subsidized stadium proposal advancing this year remain long, the idea is showing some signs of life.

After a Vikings official publicly criticized Gov. Tim Pawlenty for not showing enough leadership on a new stadium, Pawlenty met with owner Zygi Wilf late last week and a team official said the Vikings were "pleased" with the outcome.

Comment: Please, please, please DO NOT TAX US anymore for stadiums. Let the Vikes move to Vegas!


Obamamania "Viviane"

Carnival queen will have Obama painted on her body


The Carnival beauty famed for proving it's possible to get too naked for Brazil's samba parades is looking for the spotlight again—by painting her body with an image of President Barack Obama.

Viviane Castro last year made headlines by appearing as a samba school drum queen while wearing nothing but a tape 3 centimeters (1.6 inches) wide—managing to violate a little-enforced nudity rule and drawing a penalty for her group.

Castro, 26, said she will wear slightly more on Friday—but will still have plenty of room to have Obama's image placed somewhere on her body for all to see.

The exact location won't be revealed until Sao Paulo samba school X-9 Paulistana parades Friday night, said spokeswoman Ana Neiva.

"This year I will come back with minimal clothing again but honoring the great political figure Barack Obama," Castro told the G1 Web site in comments confirmed by Neiva. "Everyone, in a certain way, is looking at him to create a good government and take the world out of the crisis."

Comment: Unfortunately ... no photo! Full Obamamania here.

Will's Laws (on doomsaying)

Comment: George Will (always readable) on "eco-pessimism", "calamitous food shortages", "experts", "global warming", "global cooling", and other things that go bump in the night.

George Will: Dark Green Doomsayers


  1. "Law of Doomsaying": Predict catastrophe no sooner than five years hence but no later than 10 years away, soon enough to terrify but distant enough that people will forget if you are wrong
  2. Montaigne's axiom: "Nothing is so firmly believed as what we least know."
  3. Because of today's economy, another law — call it the Law of Clarifying Calamities — is being (redundantly) confirmed. On graphs tracking public opinion, two lines are moving in tandem and inversely: The sharply rising line charts public concern about the economy, the plunging line follows concern about the environment. A recent Pew Research Center poll asked which of 20 issues should be the government's top priorities. Climate change ranked 20th.
  4. Real calamities take our minds off hypothetical ones

Founder of the Democrats: the debt a "national curse"

A Short History of the National Debt - Deficits are nothing new. It's the trend that should worry us


There have always been two reasons for adding to the national debt. One is to fight wars. The second is to counteract recessions. But while the national debt in 1982 was 35% of GDP, after a quarter century of nearly uninterrupted economic growth and the end of the Cold War the debt-to-GDP ratio has more than doubled.

It is hard to escape the idea that this happened only because Democrats and Republicans alike never said no to any significant interest group. Despite a genuine economic emergency, the stimulus bill is more about dispensing goodies to Democratic interest groups than stimulating the economy. Even Sen. Charles Schumer (D., N.Y.) -- no deficit hawk when his party is in the majority -- called it "porky."

It was not ever thus. Before the Great Depression, balancing the budget and paying down the debt were considered second only to the defense of the country as an obligation of the federal government. Before 1930, the government ran surpluses in two years out of three. In 1865, the vast debt run up in the Civil War amounted to about 30% of GDP; by 1916 it was less than a tenth of that.

There even was a time when the U.S. made it a deliberate policy to pay off the national debt entirely -- and succeeded in doing so. It remains to this day the only time in history a major country has been debt free. Ironically, the president who achieved this was the founder of the modern Democratic Party, Andrew Jackson.

Jackson was a Jeffersonian through and through. The smaller the federal government, the more he liked it. And, like Jefferson, he hated banks, speculation and the "money interest." Unlike Jefferson, however, he was born poor and made his own fortune. An early personal encounter with debt had taught him to fear it. When the notes of someone who had bought land from him proved worthless, he became liable for the debts he had secured with those notes, and it took him years to pay them off.

When he ran for president the first time, in 1824, Jackson called the debt a "national curse." He vowed to "pay the national debt, to prevent a monied aristocracy from growing up around our administration that must bend to its views, and ultimately destroy the liberty of our country."

Comment: We need more Jeffersonian small government thought!

Schwarzenegger morphs into "Car-taxula"

The Decline of California - They still think they can tax their way out of this one


It's sad to watch. The Golden State -- which a decade ago was the booming technology capital of the world -- has been done in by two decades of chronic overspending, overregulating and a hyperprogressive tax code that exaggerates the impact on state revenues of economic boom and bust. Total state expenditures have grown to $145 billion in 2008 from $104 billion in 2003 and California now has the worst credit rating in the nation -- worse even than Louisiana's. It also has the nation's fourth highest unemployment rate of 9.3% (after Michigan, Rhode Island and South Carolina) and the second highest home foreclosure rate (after Nevada).

To close the current deficit, the pols in Sacramento are nearing a deal that cuts spending by $15 billion and raises $14.2 billion in higher taxes on income, sales, gasoline and cars. Six years ago Mr. Schwarzenegger helped depose Governor Gray Davis by calling him "Car-taxula." Now he's agreed to double the same tax.

Mr. Schwarzenegger has won at least some concessions from Democrats, who run the most liberal legislature this side of Trenton. The budget deal contains a handful of useful tax breaks for job creation and the first public union workplace reforms in a decade; it also creates a new rainy day fund. These taxpayer victories wouldn't have been possible if Republicans in the legislature hadn't held out for them.

But the plan is still far short of the radical tax and spending surgery the state needs. It's loaded with short-term gimmicks -- such as $5 billion of borrowing from future lottery receipts and nearly $10 billion in one-time federal stimulus cash. Even proponents concede the plan doesn't balance spending and revenues 18 months from now.

The tax increases will continue to chase even more productive people out of the state. For at least two years, the sales tax would rise by one percentage point to 8.25% and the income tax by 0.3% to a top marginal rate of 10.56%.

Comment: Raising taxes in their current economic climate is like pulling back the yoke in a stall


We watched "Expelled" today

Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed

Kathee and I watched Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed today and I wanted to post some brief comments:

What is is not:

  1. It does not promote Biblical creationism or
  2. A "young earth" view of creation
  3. It is not a Christian film

It's value:

  1. It exposes the holes in Darwin's hypothesis.
  2. Ben Stein exposes the academic bias against scientists who believe in Intelligent Design.
  3. It explains that the above is a "free speech" issue.
  4. It explains the incredible complexity of a single cell.
  5. It exposes the presuppositional worldview of evolutionists and how true evolutionism is atheistic
  6. It exposes the hostility of mainstream science against Christianity. People who believe in creation are called "insane" and "stupid".
  7. It demonstrates cabal of science and the mainstream media in the promulgation of evolutionism.
  8. It shows the link between evolutionism and the death industry (Planned Parenthood, etc)
  9. It shows the link between evolutionary thought and the murderous engine of Nazi Germany

What did we think? First our own view: We are Biblical creationists (young earth (don't ask me how young as I don't know) creationists. We found it very valuable. There was nothing really new but it was nicely assembled and well presented. One highlight was the extraction (by Ben Stein) of the shocking conclusion about the origin of life held by Richard Dawkins. What that is, in my view, a giant leap of faith: "Popular author and atheist Richard Dawkins tells Ben Stein in this film that there could have been a designer of life on earth, but it would have had to have been “a higher intelligence” that had itself evolved “to a very high level . . . and seeded some form of life on this planet.”" Quoted from Myths about 'Expelled'.

The appropriate audience for this film would be High School students and above. We highly recommend it.

Other reviews:

EXPELLED: No Intelligence Allowed
CT: Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed

He failed to "portray Muslims in a more positive light"

Prominent Orchard Park man charged with beheading his wife


Muzzammil Hassan is the founder and chief executive officer of Bridges TV, which he launched in 2004, amid hopes that it would help portray Muslims in a more positive light.


Orchard Park police are investigating a particularly gruesome killing, the beheading of a woman, after her husband — an influential member of the local Muslim community — reported her death to police Thursday.

Comment: Please don't view this as an anti-Muslim rant. Some so-called Christians have done stuff equally as heinous!

Astronaut wisdom on global warming

Former astronaut speaks out on global warming


... the 74-year-old geologist argued that the "global warming scare is being used as a political tool to increase government control over American lives, incomes and decision making."

Williams said Heartland is skeptical about the crisis that people are proclaiming in global warming.

"Not that the planet hasn’t warmed. We know it has or we’d all still be in the Ice Age," he said. "But it has not reached a crisis proportion and, even among us skeptics, there’s disagreement about how much man has been responsible for that warming."

Schmitt said historical documents indicate average temperatures have risen by 1 degree per century since around 1400 A.D., and the rise in carbon dioxide is because of the temperature rise.

Comment: Graphic from the NOAA: here.

Meanwhile: Hamburgers are the Hummers of food in global warming

Simply switching from steak to salad could cut as much carbon as leaving the car at home a couple days a week.

'Catastrophe' language - President imitating Dr Evil

Obama a Mike Myers Fan

I have been wondering where Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi got this stimulus idea from. I thought where could they find a plan like this, so laughable, so ridiculous. Now, I think I have found the source of the Democrats’ inspiration. Not FDR. Not LBJ. No, this plan is so much more Dr. Evil, complete with disaster rhetoric and the demand for ungodly amounts of money. I can see the prensident’s next slogan on his Stimulus Tour:

” We will never recover from this disastrous economy, that is unless of course you pay me one trillion dollars! Muhahahaha! ” - President Obama

USA Today: Obama: 'Catastrophe' if Congress delays stimulus


President Obama said Wednesday the recession will turn into "a catastrophe" if the federal economic stimulus is not passed quickly, lobbying anew for the plan as its price tag climbed above $900 billion and drew more criticism.

Comment: hyperbole alert!!!

Updated - more from the Wall Street Journal: Obama's Rhetoric Is the Real 'Catastrophe'


... every gloomy statistic on the economy becomes a harbinger of doom. As he tells it, today's economy is the worst since the Great Depression. Without his Recovery and Reinvestment Act, he says, the economy will fall back into that abyss and may never recover.

This fearmongering may be good politics, but it is bad history and bad economics. It is bad history because our current economic woes don't come close to those of the 1930s. At worst, a comparison to the 1981-82 recession might be appropriate. Consider the job losses that Mr. Obama always cites. In the last year, the U.S. economy shed 3.4 million jobs. That's a grim statistic for sure, but represents just 2.2% of the labor force. From November 1981 to October 1982, 2.4 million jobs were lost -- fewer in number than today, but the labor force was smaller. So 1981-82 job losses totaled 2.2% of the labor force, the same as now.


Repeated warnings from the White House about a coming economic apocalypse aren't likely to raise consumer and investor expectations for the future. In fact, they have contributed to the continuing decline in consumer confidence that is restraining a spending pickup.


Obamamania license plates

Illinois to offer temporary Barack Obama license plates


The cult of personality (and associated merchandising onslaught) surrounding the 44th President of the United States now extends to Illinois residents' automobiles. For a mere $50, motorists can acquire special-edition temporary license plates that further pledge their allegiance to President Barack Obama (beyond the usual assortment of Hope/Change/Etc. bumper stickers).

Comment: My collection of Obamamania. Someday they may have his face on 100 Billion Dollar bills.

Combine vs Bear

Farmer Kills What Could Be Record-Setting Black Bear


This bear was killed last month near Boyceville. The bear was hibernating in a corn field when a farmer ran over it with his combine. The farmer's wife says the bear measured seven feet long from head to tail and weighed more than 700 pounds.

Comment: We were out to dinner with friends last night and heard about this. This is where Aaron B of SharperIron pastors a church. Article has pic of massive bear.

Nothing says love like a ..... router!

Cisco Pitches $250,000 Router as Valentine’s Gift


The networking company has put up a comic Internet ad, championing the ASR 9000 router that it started selling last November. This is some serious metal with an average price around $250,000 and meant for large service providers sending out vast streams of data.

Comment: Yeah that's the ticket!

Decorated USMC Vietnam vet dies on Flight 3407

Fifty Varied Lives, Ended on a Cold, Foggy Night


Clay Yarber was on Continental Connection Flight 3407, a decorated Marine who had twice survived helicopter crashes in Vietnam but was left with a fear of flying so deep he often preferred to drive, even cross country. But Thursday, Mr. Yarber, 62, had boarded a flight from California, connecting through Newark, to visit a friend in the Buffalo area.

He had received two Purple Hearts and a Bronze Star for his service in Vietnam.

“He was a really great father,” said Michele Keratsis, his last wife.

She said that around the time of the Tet offensive in 1968, Mr. Yarber was twice in helicopters that were shot down, but that in each instance he basically walked away from the crash.

“That is one of the bitter ironies of all this for us,” she said. “He was not happy to get on a plane at anytime.”

A stepson, Richard Curtis, said he was so inspired by Mr. Yarber he joined the Marine Corps, following in his footsteps. “He raised me after my father was killed by a drunk driver when I was 13,” Mr. Curtis said. “I called him Dad.”

Comment: The opposite of the soft landing on the Hudson


Daily Mail takes on "The Prince of hypocrites"

The Prince of hypocrites: Charles embarks on 16,000 mile 'green' crusade... aboard a private jet


Prince Charles was accused of hypocrisy last night for using a private jet on an 'environmental' tour of South America.

The prince will travel to the region next month in a visit costing an estimated £300,000 as part of his crusade against global warming.

He will use a luxury airliner to transport himself, the Duchess of Cornwall and a 14-strong entourage to Chile, Brazil and Ecuador on a 16,400-mile round trip.


'To hear that the Prince of Wales is flying to South America to save the environment and taking 14 staff on his jet at hideous cost just for this trip is the height of the absurd.

'At a time when the greed of bankers is causing much adverse comment I would have thought that Prince Charles would have had more sense than to be so financially and ecologically wasteful.'

Comment: He flies in a custom Airbus 319!

Vote without reading


GOP Leader Boehner Floor Speech Opposing Democrats' Trillion-Dollar Spending Bill

Comment: 1000+ pages ... just recently posted on House website. Democratic Senator Predicts None of His Colleagues 'Will Have the Chance' to Read Final Stimulus Bill Before Vote



Comment: Anyone tried this? What's your experience. Looks like the price is very reasonable ... free for 2 Gig ... $ 99 per year for enhanced service. Can synch with Max, Windows, and Linux. Let me know. Thanks


The Zimbabwe 10 Trillion dollar note


The 100 Billion bill was released on July 1st 2008. The purchasing power was 3 eggs. I have 5 of these notes. They have printed on them - "pay on demand ... on or before December 31, 2008" (basically the money expires!)

The latest ... the 10 Trillion dollar bill.

Find them on Ebay: Search "zimbabwe dollar"

How not to blow your nose

The Claim: Never Blow Your Nose When You Have a Cold


Coughing and sneezing generated little if any pressure in the nasal cavities. But nose blowing generated enormous pressure — “equivalent to a person’s diastolic blood pressure reading,” Dr. Hendley said — and propelled mucus into the sinuses every time. Dr. Hendley said it was unclear whether this was harmful, but added that during sickness it could shoot viruses or bacteria into the sinuses, and possibly cause further infection.

The proper method is to blow one nostril at a time and to take decongestants, said Dr. Anil Kumar Lalwani, chairman of the department of otolaryngology at the New York University Langone Medical Center. This prevents a buildup of excess pressure.

Comment: OK a stupid post ... I admit it. I find nasal irrigation w saline solution helpful.

Roll-n-Glow: "a work of engineering genius from the China coast"

Amish Space Heater: Is That an Oxymoron?


The ads, which have been around for more than a year but have been running with increasing frequency this winter, have become something of a sensation themselves, turning the Roll-n-Glow into a next-wave Clapper. Appearing in publications as varied as National Geographic, Popular Mechanics, Parade and The New York Times, and on local TV stations across the country in the form of an infomercial, they have given rise to much word-of-mouth speculation and online commentary.

Web sites and blogs have debated the merits of the product and parsed the curious and sometimes byzantine wording of the ad copy, which describes the heater as being given away for free, though to get one customers must buy a $298 oak mantel (cherry is $338; sold alone, the heater is $249). The infomercial, meanwhile, has given rise to a number of spoofs on YouTube.

The aspect of the ads that seems to have stirred the most interest is the claims they make about the involvement of the Amish.

In December 2007, soon after the ads first appeared, a reader of the product review site alternativeconsumer.com suggested that there was something absurd about the idea of an Amish man inventing a “miracle” space heater, considering that the Amish have traditionally been wary of modern technology.

Comment: I've actually managed to miss the ads until last week when my daughter pointd it out to me in the Sunday Star Tribune.

Kryptonite for a quarterback

No Tears This Time, Favre Says So Long


Favre repeatedly said his torn right biceps tendon, which he refers to as a shoulder injury, provided the final push toward retirement, acting as kryptonite for a quarterback who started every regular-season game since early in the 1992 season.

As far back as training camp, Favre occasionally felt symptoms similar to those he felt after he tore his left biceps tendon a few years ago. After the Jets played at San Francisco on Dec. 7, Favre received a cortisone shot to alleviate the pain. It helped, but only briefly, and in Seattle two weeks later, Favre underthrew several open receivers running seam routes. If he felt fine physically, Favre said, he would have considered playing next season.

“I got my answer as the season progressed,” Favre said. “I finally can’t throw the ball like I once threw it.”

Comment: What a tribute - "started every regular-season game since early in the 1992 season". I'll miss him!

More Obamamania

Students: Change Boulder High name to Barack Obama High


A Boulder High student group is pushing to rename the school after a hot new historic figure: Barack Obama.

"We initiate this campaign in order to honor the momentous achievement of his election as an African-American, inspire the community with his ideals of unity and hope, and reflect the progressive spirit that is shared by both Barack Obama and our school environment," the Student Worker Club said in a press release today.

Previous Obamamania: Mount Obama, Barack Obama Day, & Obamamania

Comment: The Student Worker Club should get on the bandwagon and wear brown shirts! A little too much premature adulation!


Vikings: Out of touch with reality

Vikings VP Lester Bagley blasted Gov. Tim Pawlenty over the lack of progress on building a new venue.


Lester Bagley, the team's vice president of public affairs and stadium development, provided biting remarks Wednesday about the lack of engagement from Gov. Tim Pawlenty and intimated the clock could be ticking on the Vikings' time in Minnesota if something doesn't happen in the current legislative session.

"With all due respect, he's been governor for six years, and he hasn't done anything," Bagley said of Pawlenty. "He hasn't lifted a finger to engage in a problem-solving discussion to help us on our issue. And that's the frustration that the NFL feels, that our ownership feels and a lot of our allies [feel], whether they be elected officials or not. There's a lot of frustration, and there's been no meaningful engagement by the executive branch."

Bagley's remarks came as he provided an update on the team's hope to get public funding for a multipurpose, retractable-roof venue that would be built on the site of the Metrodome. Although a final cost analysis isn't finished, the Vikings are expected to ask for about $700 million in public funding for a $954 million stadium. Their lease at the Metrodome expires after the 2011 season.

The state's economic woes -- Pawlenty said Wednesday he expects Minnesota's projected deficit to be as high as $7 billion when the next economic forecast is released in March -- factor in, but Bagley pointed out the team brought this issue to the attention of politicians long before the country's financial troubles began.

Comment: As far as I am concerned they can pack up and move to Vegas.

Wells Fargo CEO on the Hill today;

Live-Blogging the Bankers’ Showdown on Capitol Hill


11:01 a.m. | And yet more loans: Mr. Stumpf of Wells Fargo says the bank made $72 billion of new loans in the fourth quarter. “We do business and lend money the old fashion way — responsibly and prudently,” he says. “We are Americans first and bankers second.”

12:00 p.m. | Fannie and Freddie: Rep. Edward R. Royce asks to what extent the mortgage securitization process, led by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, was part of the problem. Mr. Stumpf of Wells Fargo — which originated relatively few of the most exotic kinds of mortgage loans — says that the problem started a long time before 2007 with “crazy things” such as negative amortization loans and so-called liar loans. “There’s no question that Fannie and Freddie played a part in that,” Mr. Stumpf says.

1:44 p.m. | Autos and bonuses: What are these banking chiefs’ views on the viability of the American auto industry? Several executives say that they are supportive of the industry, including by making auto loans.

Back to TARP money received, salary and bonuses, or lack thereof.
Mr. Stumpf: $25 billion. $850,000 salary. No bonus.
Mr. Pandit: $45 billion. $1 million salary. No bonus. He will take $1 salary until Citi turns a profit again.
Mr. Mack: $10 billion. $800,000 salary. No bonus.
Mr. Logue: $2 billion. $1 million salary. No bonus.
Mr. Lewis: $15 billion. $1.5 million salary. No “incentive.”
Mr. Kelly: $3 billion. $1 million salary. No bonus.
Mr. Dimon: $25 billion. $1 million salary. No bonus.
Mr. Blankfein: $10 billion. $650,000 salary. No bonus.

2:06 p.m. | Where’s the money?: Will the banks lose more money? Mr. Stumpf recollects his time as a collector and says that job losses are key to answering the question. Mr. Pandit agrees that unemployment is important; when asked about when credit will flow again, he says “we’re doing everything we can.”

3:42 p.m. | No less anger: A congressman from Texas says the American people won’t have any less anger after the hearing because they don’t know where the money has gone. He asks if the bankers can ascertain the amount of new money that has been lent out directly attributable to TARP. Everybody raises their hands except for Mr. Stumpf, who says all of the loans go into the same pool of capital.

4:16 p.m. | Mark to market: Mrs. Biggert asks whether anyone would do away with mark-to-market accounting. Mr. Stumpf and Mr. Lewis said it should be modified for extraordinary times when there is no market for products.

4:20 p.m. | “Feed the troops”: Representative Joe Donnelly, Democrat of Indiana, tells the bankers to “feed the troops before they feed themselves.” “We are counting on your good judgment,” he says. He also asks the bankers whether they can work with small businesses who are paying their loans but their ratios might be off. Mr. Stumpf says they are working with small companies.

Comment: My favorite part ... does not involve Wells Fargo:

3:30 p.m. | “Mr. Countrywide”: A congessman from Florida doesn’t seem to know who the bankers are. He mispronounces Mr. Dimon’s name and asks the panel who “Mr. Countrywide” is. Mr. Lewis said he is “not Mr. Countrywide.”

Wells Fargo CEO before congress today

Full statement here: Testimony of John Stumpf
President & CEO, Wells Fargo & Company, House Financial Services Committee, February 11, 2009


Last quarter alone, we made $22 billion in new loan commitments and $50 billion in mortgages – a total of $72 billion in new loans. That’s almost three times what the U.S. Treasury invested in Wells Fargo. With the merger, we have reopened lines of credit to some Wachovia customers who previously had been denied credit.

Comment: Meanwhile CNN's Campbell Brown bashes Wells Fargo


WSJ: Reaganomics vs. Obamanomics

Reaganomics vs. Obamanomics


In his inaugural address, President Barack Obama said, "The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works -- whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified." Or as administration spokeswoman Stephanie Cutter said in January, the touchstone is, "What will have the biggest and most immediate impact on creating private sector jobs and strengthening the middle class? We're guided by what works, not by any ideology or special interests."

Unfortunately, this rhetoric is not true. Mr. Obama's economic policy is following not what has been proven to work but liberal ideology.

The best way to understand this is to compare what's being proposed now with what Ronald Reagan accomplished. In 1980, amid a seriously dysfunctional economy, Reagan campaigned for president on an economic recovery program with four specific components.

The first was across-the-board reductions in tax rates to provide incentives for saving, investment, entrepreneurship and work. The second component was deregulation to remove unnecessary costs on the economy. In today's world, that would especially mean removing the onerous restrictions on energy production -- allowing drilling offshore and onshore for oil and natural gas, revival of the nuclear power industry, and construction of more electric power plants.

Third was the control of government spending. In 1981, Reagan forced through Congress not only his famed, historic tax cuts, but also a package of budget cuts close to 5% of the federal budget -- equivalent to roughly $150 billion today. In constant dollars, nondefense discretionary spending declined by 14.4% from 1981 to 1982, and by 16.8% from 1981 to 1983. Moreover, in constant dollars, this nondefense discretionary spending never returned to its 1981 level for the rest of Reagan's two terms. By 1988, this spending was still down 14.4% from its 1981 level in constant dollars.

Comment: A worthwhile read. I pray that a new generation of Reaganites will revive the Republican party!


"soak-the-rich" - a history of polarizing rhetoric

Railing Against the Rich: A Great American Tradition


Franklin Roosevelt himself, trying to steal the thunder of the populists, proposed the so-called "soak-the-rich" tax, passed in 1935, which targeted high corporate salaries and investment income, even though it did little to increase government revenues or reduce the real wealth of those required to pay. He made a series of speeches in 1936 excoriating the selfishness and greed of the "economic royalists." He had struggled, he said, "with the old enemies of peace, business and financial monopoly, speculation, reckless banking, class antagonism, sectionalism, war profiteering…. Never before in all our history have these forces been so united against one candidate as they stand today. They are unanimous in their hate for me, and I welcome their hatred." This polarizing rhetoric was greeted with some of the most enthusiastic responses of any of his speeches.


Few 21st-century Americans have any real experience with economic populism. That appears to be changing fast. In the 1930s, the demonization of the upper class did not really begin until almost two years after the stock-market crash. We are now six months into our own economic crisis, and signs of populist resentment are already visible: in the perverse fascination with Bernard Madoff's remarkable fraud, the popular outrage at the tax problems of public officials, the growing contempt for the many overseers of the credit markets, the ruined investments of millions of ordinary people, the growing army of the unemployed (still far below the 15% to 25% unemployment of the 1930s, but 7.6% in January and growing fast), the likelihood of a recession that could last not just for months, but for years. These are the preconditions of populist revolts. Mr. Obama's chastisements of bankers and CEOs have been relatively mild compared to the routine denunciations of "economic royalists" in the 1930s. But the longer the crisis goes on and the deeper it grows, the more Huey Long-like challenges to those in power will arise, and the more pressure there will be for national leaders to launch populist battles of their own.

Whether that would help or hurt the Obama administration is hard to predict. In 1896, in the midst of another great depression, the Democratic party chose as its candidate the great populist hero William Jennings Bryan. His crushing defeat ushered in 36 years of almost unbroken Republican rule. In 1936, at the height of Franklin Roosevelt's populist rhetoric, his landslide re-election helped solidify a comparable period of Democratic dominance. Cultural populism has been a staple of the right since at least 1968, and it has alternately helped, and badly hurt, conservative candidates and causes. Economic populism has the same capacity either to bring down the president's ambitious agenda or, if handled skillfully, to open up opportunities for greater change than he may yet have imagined.

Comment: I used to think like this - basically thinking that the rich got that way by luck or inheritance. The "soak the rich" mentality is actually counterproductive to real economic progress.

Blue Dog Heath Shuler stands up to Pelosi and Reid

Pelosi, Reid have "failed," Shuler says


Rep. Heath Shuler (D-N.C) has further ingratiated himself with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi — not — by declaring that Pelosi and Harry Reid "failed" the bipartisanship test on stimulus.

"In order for us to get the confidence of America, it has to be done in a bipartisan way," Shuler said in Raleigh following an economic forum, according to the AP.

"We have to have everyone — Democrats and Republicans standing on the stage with the administration — saying, 'We got something done that was efficient, stimulative and timely.'"

Here's the kicker: "I truly feel that's where maybe House leadership and Senate leadership have really failed."

Shuler, rumored to be mulling a '10 Senate run, was one of 11 House Democrats to vote "no" on the stimulus and was already deep in Pelosi's doghouse. Now he'll have to build a Harry Reid wing.

Comment: Heath Shuler Blue Dog Coalition. We need more "Heath Shulers"!


Biden: "new tone" or "newspeak"?

Biden promises 'new tone' in U.S. foreign affairs


Vice President Joe Biden emphasized a "new tone" in Washington and around the world as he delivered his first major speech Saturday in Munich, Germany.

Biden told delegates at a security conference that the United States will work "preventively, not pre-emptively" whenever possible to avoid conflict, and will at the same time "vigorously defend" the nation's security.

Comment: Newspeak; Prevent; Preempt


G.K. Chesterton quote: on wine

The dipsomaniac and the abstainer are not only both mistaken, but they both make the same mistake. They both regard wine as a drug and not as a drink.

Comment: I can't verify that it is a G.K. Chesterton quote but looks like he cited it here.

Why (and How) I Drink


During my formative-drinking years, when alcohol was still a relative novelty, I had something that many of my harder-drinking friends did not: parents who demonstrated a responsible relationship with alcohol. My father and sometimes my mother would crack a cold beer on hot days, and wine was regularly served at dinner on weekends and special occasions to everyone including the kids. They kept a decently stocked liquor cabinet, but usually only opened it for drop-by guests and the occasional dinner party, which were celebrated in good cheer but were seldom if ever followed by awkward phone calls the next day.

This open yet modest approach to alcohol was in contrast to the paths taken by the families of some friends and neighbors, whose habits ranged from over-indulgent to abstemious and were sometimes an odd mix of the two: it was not lost on me during my secular Bible Belt upbringing that some of my hardest-drinking friends – whose relationships with booze were often of the vomit-in-the-shrubbery, loss-of-all-personal-control variety – were from religious homes in which alcohol was seldom if ever served.

Comment: My parents drinking was like the authors: very rarely! To my Christian teetoalling brothers, I am not advocating drinking! There appears to be three Christian views on drinking: 1.) Abstinence (prevalent Baptist view); 2.) Moderation; 3.) Prohibition. My view is as follows: 1.) it is clear that drunkenness is sin (Galatians 5:21, Ephesians 5:18, and other verses! 2.) it is doubtful that Jesus turned water into grape juice (John 2) (if I am right about this, there is an application there!); 3.) The Christian should eschew activity that would cause another brother to stumble (Romans 14:21); 4.) It is possible to be a moderationist in theory but an abstainer in practice (see Romans 14:21 in previous point).

Romney rebuts Obama

Mitt Romney: Stimulate the economy, not government


... any new spending must be strictly limited to projects that are essential. How do we define essential? Well, a good rule is that the projects we fund in a stimulus should be legitimate government priorities that would have been carried out in the future anyway, and are simply being moved up to create those jobs now.


if we're going to tax less and spend more to get the economy moving, then we have to make another commitment as well. As soon as this economy recovers, we have to regain control over the federal budget, and above all, over entitlement spending for programs such as Social Security and Medicare. This is more important than most people are willing to admit.

There is a real danger that with trillions of additional borrowing -- from the budget deficit and from the stimulus -- world investors will begin to fear that our dollars won't be worth much in the future. It is essential that we demonstrate our commitment to maintaining the value of the dollar. That means showing the world that we will put a stop to runaway spending and borrowing.

... we must begin to recover from the enormous losses in the capital investment pool. And the surest, most obvious way to get that done is to send a clear signal that there will be no tax increases on investment and capital gains. The 2001 and 2003 tax cuts should be extended permanently, or at least temporarily.

And finally, let's exercise restraint in the size of the stimulus package. Last year, with the economy already faltering, I proposed a stimulus of $233 billion. The Washington Post said: "Romney's plan is way too big." So what critique will the media have for the size of the Obama package?

In the final analysis, we know that only the private sector -- entrepreneurs and businesses large and small -- can create the millions of jobs our country needs. The invisible hand of the market always moves faster and better than the heavy hand of government.

Comment: He defines essential stimulus! Nice rebuttal to Obama's editorial yesterday. He also asks a good question: "what critique will the media have for the size of the Obama package?". Mitt should be the GOP front runner for 2012!

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Snake story

Prehistoric 'monster snake' remains discovered


Named Titanoboa cerrejonensis, the snake would have weighed 1,140 kilograms (2,500 pounds) and measured 13 meters (42.7 feet) nose to tail tip -- dwarfing the largest modern pythons and anacondas which can grow to 6 meters (19.5 feet).

Scientists believe it slithered around the planet between 58 and 60 million years ago.

Geologist David Polly, who identified the position of the fossil vertebrae which made a size estimate possible, said in a statement Wednesday: "At its greatest width, the snake would have come up to about your hips. The size is pretty amazing.

"But our team went a step further and asked, how warm would the Earth have to be to support a body of this size?"

Titanoboa's fossilized remains were discovered at a coal mine in the tropical Cerrejon region of northern Colombia by an international team of scientists.

"Truly enormous snakes really spark people's imagination, but reality has exceeded the fantasies of Hollywood," paleontologist Jonathan Bloch, who co-led the expedition, told reporters.

"The snake that tried to eat Jennifer Lopez in the movie 'Anaconda' was not as big as the one we found."

Based on the snake's size, the team was able to calculate that the mean annual temperature in equatorial South America 60 million years ago would have been about 91 degrees Fahrenheit, about 10 degrees warmer than today, Bloch said.

"Tropical ecosystems of South America were surprisingly different 60 million years ago," said Bloch. "It was a rainforest, like today, but it was even hotter and the cold-blooded reptiles were all substantially larger.

"The result was, among other things, the largest snakes the world has ever seen...and hopefully ever will."

According to Nature.com, snakes are poikilotherms (cold-blooded) that, unlike humans, need heat from their environment to power their metabolism. Therefore research suggests that at the time the region would have had to be no less than 86 to 93 degrees Fahrenheit for the snake to have survived.

Comments: I am a young earth (don't ask me how young because I don't know) creationist, so I don't buy the "60 million years ago" part of the story. But how about that size. And the temps ... it was (as if they really know) "10 degrees warmer than today". Touches on the global warming debate. Pic from Fox News.