Friday, April 30, 2010

Bankrupting America

Is Washington bankrupting America?

What do you think?

Cheerful? No. Important? Very.

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The Lexington Muster

Muster Weekend:
Come One, Come All

Rain or Shine

Enjoy a weekend of 18th Century Music, Pageantry and Entertainment

Friday, April 30, 2010 at 7:00 P.M.
Minute Man National Historical Park Visitors Center
For your listening enjoyment three of the nation’s top fife & drum corps will be performing

Saturday, May 1, 2010 at noon
A brief parade, ending at the National Park visitor center, will include 30 fife and drum corps and marching units from all over the Northeast.

Following the parade will be a day filled with music, history, entertainment and fun for all on the muster field at the National Park. There will be colonial crafts people displaying their wares, food vendors and 18th Century encampment demonstrations.

Admission is free.

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Wordle puzzle - 04/30/10

The first three chapters of a book that I've not read in a long time. English, 19th century.

The answer to last week's puzzle is a Little Women by Louisa May Alcott.

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Thursday, April 29, 2010

Apollo 11 launch

OK, this is the coolest thing I've seen in a while. About 30 seconds of the Apollo 11 lift-off in an 8-minute narrated video.

Apollo 11 Saturn V Launch (HD) Camera E-8 from Mark Gray on Vimeo.

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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Compared to Uncle Sam...

...(or at least the people "managing" Uncle Sam's finances) Bernie Madoff was a piker...

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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

"Go and create jobs!"

The brilliant Michael Ramirez:

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Boston 13, Toronto 12

Odds and ends...
  • When the Red Sox scored four in the third inning to take a 5-0 lead over Toronto last night, I thought of what I'd written yesterday morning, that they haven't had a comfortable victory yet this year, and briefly considered that this might be the first, but decided it was far too early, and Beckett's been far too shaky, to start thinking about it right then. Beckett's performance quickly validated the skepticism.
  • They're now 5-2 in their last seven games. Each of the five wins was by exactly one run. That's not a formula for long-term success, but it is the way to significant overperformance of your pythagorean record.
  • Dave O'Brien, in the top of the fourth inning: "Josh has had a night almost as bad as Eveland." Me: "Almost? Beckett's still in the game - it could very well end up being worse." Each starter ended up going 3+ innings, sriking out and walking three and throwing almost the same number of pitches (Eveland 82, Beckett 83). Beckett allowed one more hit and one more run. So, as I feared, it was actually the case that Eveland was almost as bad as Beckett, rather than the other way around...
  • Josh Beckett has been bad. Very, very bad. His second start was OK, the third very good, but the other three have been dreadful. On the season, he's now allowed 50 baserunners by hit or walk in fewer than 29 innings pitched. His ERA after five starts is 7.22.
  • Dave O'Brien, in the fourth inning: "This has been an off night for Beckett." Me: "Is that 'off' as in 'offal' or 'awf' as in 'awful?'"
  • Hidecki Okajima has been every bit as bad as Beckett, and his inability to get anyone out last night meant that it ended up closer than it needed to be, AND Bard had to pitch again. Is Okajima hurt? Is he done? Is the magic entirely gone? Or is it just a slump? Whatever the cause of the ineffectiveness, they can't keep getting that performance in key spots and be successful.
  • There were bright spots last night. Delcarmen, Bard and Papelbon combined to give them four perfect innings. Scutaro, Pedrioa, Youkilis and Beltre all had productive nights. They won, despite allowing 12 runs, because they managed to score 13. They took a lead early, they built on a lead, they came back from a deficit - all of this is good. But if the pitching doesn't get fixed, none of it matters.

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Monday, April 26, 2010

Monday Pythagorean Report - 4/26/2010

A 4-3 week that was possibly more depressing than the 1-5 week that it followed. The Red Sox have not played good baseball yet, at all, failing in every aspect of the game. The stuff people were worried about has been worse than expected, the stuff that people were excited about has been even worse than that.

  • Obviously 4-3 is better than 3-4. But, given that they were at home against weaker competition, given that they had a chance to sweep two different series and swept neither, it was a disappointing week.
  • Even worse than the record, however, was the performance. The starters gave up 8, 6 and 7 runs in the first three games of the week. They finally got a good start on Thursday and were shut out. They finally had a game with good starting pitching and some offensive support on Sunday, and the bullpen tossed it away.
  • People differ in their opinions of the value of stolen bases. As a general rule, I think that teams are better off worrying about the batter than the base-runner, and, while they can be of tremendous tactical value, I believe that's the case less often than many people think. All that said, it's embarassing to have a team steal nine with none caught, indeed, with none even threatened with being caught, as Texas did on Tuesday night. (The Red Sox did win anyway.)
  • And they still do not have a single "comfortable" victory on the season. Their wins have all resulted from either late offense overcoming a lead or the bullpen hanging on for dear life. Only one of their eight wins has come by more than two runs, and that was a game in Kansas City in which they led by two after seven and then scored three more over the last two innings to win by five. Their four wins this week were each by one run, giving them a 4-3 record for a week in which they were outscored by six runs.
  • The offense has not been good yet, certainly not as good as I expect it to be. Ortiz has been horrible, Victor Martinez has been horrible, Drew's been horrible, Youkilis hasn't been good, after a red-hot start Pedroia's AVG is down to .282 and his OBP to .330, Beltre's done nothing. All told, they're a below-average 8th in the AL in offense. But the pitching and defense has been worse. Much worse. They're tied with the Chicago White Sox for the worst run prevention in the AL through three weeks, which is totally unexpected.
  • The Darnell McDonald story was wonderful. He almost single-handedly won the Tuesday night game, ending the long losing streak, and completely changing the atmosphere inside the ballpark. It's a night that he'll be able to remember for the rest of his life, a night of tremendous accomplishment in Major League Baseball. Whatever else he takes away from his baseball career, he was a star for one night.
  • Red Sox Player of the Week - Darnell McDonald, who was added to the 40-man roster on Tuesday and hit a game-tying pinch-hit two run homer and a game-winning walk-off single later that night. For the week, he hit .417/.533/.917, going 5-12 with 3 walks and 2 HR. Jeremy Hermida deserves mention as well, as he put up the identical line.
  • Red Sox Pitcher of the Week - No one. Lester finally had an OK start, struggling through 5 1/3 but not allowing any runs to the Rangers. Scott Schoenweiss was unscored upon in 3 2/3 innings, but mostly by happenstance, as he allowed seven baserunners in that span. My award, and I choose not to bestow it this week.

AL Pythagorean Projection Report - 4/26/2010
Tampa Bay5.95(1)3.32(2)0.744(1)1451450
New York5.33(2)3.72(5)0.659(3)1261260
Los Angeles4.1(10)4.9(11)0.419(9)81210102
Kansas City4.72(4)5.89(14)0.4(12)7117110

Top 5 projections (using current winning %)
Tampa Bay11943
New York10854

Top 5 projections (starting with today's record, using Pythagorean winning %)
Tampa Bay12042
New York10755

Standings for the week

Tampa Bay7.29(1)2.43(1)0.882(1)6152-1
New York4.5(6)3.83(4)0.573(5)33330
Los Angeles4.29(8)4.14(6)0.516(7)43430
Kansas City3.67(11)5.83(13)0.3(11)24240

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Friday, April 23, 2010

Bible blog summaries update

As I've mentioned, I'm blogging the Bible this year. I just added the following "completed" commentaries to my Bible commentary page:


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Wordle puzzle - 04/23/10

American novel. Some will find this trivially easy.

The answer to last week's puzzle is a Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's story, the Red-Headed League. The two words deleted from the wordle were obviously "Sherlock" and "Holmes."

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Thursday, April 22, 2010

Quote of the day

Quote of the day:
In the matter of reforming things, as distinct from deforming them, there is one plain and simple principle; a principle which will probably be called a paradox. There exists in such a case a certain institution or law; let us say, for the sake of simplicity, a fence or gate erected across a road. The more modern type of reformer goes gaily up to it and says, 'I don't see the use of this; let us clear it away.' To which the more intelligent type of reformer will do well to answer: 'If you don't see the use of it, I certainly won't let you clear it away. Go away and think. Then, when you can come back and tell me that you do see the use of it, I may allow you to destroy it.'
-- G.K. Chesterton, The Thing
Wonderful quote. Because when it comes to change, there are a couple of different kinds of mistakes that people make with regard to changing procedures or institutions. One of them is obvious, and everyone understands the logic. The other is more subtle.

Everyone understands that "that's the way we've always done it" is not a compelling reason to keep doing something that someone wants to change. Everyone can see that. However, it's also not a compelling reason to change something, and people don't always see that.

Consider this scenario - you're walking through a nice wooded area, and in one clearing, there are a couple of planks lying side by side in the grass. Those pieces of wood may be there because that's where they fell, and no one's bothered to move them. But they also may be there because there's an abandoned well that they're covering. If you don't know that, then you can't intelligently make a decision about moving them.

Certainly, there are many conventions that we live with because someone made a fairly arbitrary decision at one point that left a legacy. But many significant institutions or conventions or behaviors developed for good reasons, reasons which are still valid even if they aren't obvious to us. It's one of my pet peeves with the gay marriage discussion. Anyone who says, "I can't think of any reason for male-female relationships to get preferential status" hasn't thought it through. It might be that society would actually benefit from modifying the definition of marriage to include same-sex couples, but if you can't conceive of a reason that it might not, you haven't done due diligence. There are so many second and third-order effects of marriage that it's inconceivable that a change to the institution won't have unintended consequences, some of which are certain to be negative.

Anyway, it's a wonderful quote from Chesterton, of whose work I've clearly not read enough.

(Credit where due, I found this quote by reading Jonah Goldberg's Goldberg file today, where this is the ... quote of the day. Well, so be it...)

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When someone says "Happy Earth Day!" to me...

...I say, "Happy Lenin's Birthday to you, too!"


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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Boston 7, Texas 6

An ugly win is better than a beautiful loss, and the Red Sox put together a win of hideous ugliness last night.

  • The starter put the team behind in the top of the first. Again. And allowed six runs over six innings.
  • Serious question - would anyone rather see Wakefield start on Sunday than Matsuzaka?
  • The pitching staff walked nine Rangers on the night, in addition to allowing eight hits and nine (9) stolen bases without a caught-stealing. They're lucky that they managed to hold the Rangers to six runs on the night.
  • The left-handed power-hitters, Drew and Ortiz, continue to struggle, going 0-7 on the night, and are now hitting .140/.237/.244/.481 for the season.
  • Francona pulled out all the stops last night, emptying the bench, managing as if it were a post-season game. Everyone played, as Victor Martinez was run for and Josh Reddick and David Ortiz were hit for.
  • Adrian Beltre put up another 1-5 and is now hitting a not-quite-Drew-and-Ortiz-but-still-dismal .286/.294/.347/.641.
  • The Hero of the night was a 31 year-old career minor leaguer who wasn't on the 40-man roster when the day started, now getting a cup of coffee with his fourth team in the big leagues, whose spectacular night brought his career major league line up to .242/.285/.362/.647 in 158 plate appearances.
  • The McDonald HR in the eighth tied the game only because the umpires blew a call in the sixth, when they missed the fact that Josh Reddick's double to left (which Josh Hamilton should have caught) bounced into the stands and should have been called a ground-rule double, holding Jeremy Hermida at 3rd base in a 6-3 game. Instead, the run was allowed to stand and McDonald's HR in the eighth tied it.

There were a couple of bright spots, though (other than just winning the game.)
  • Kevin Youkilis has been bad for the past week and a half. He was 2-4 on the night.
  • Victor Martinez has been bad for the past week and a half. He was 3-4 on the night.
  • They DL'ed Cameron and Ellsbury, bringing up two more outfielders, and sparing us any more of Bill Hall in center field.

So a couple of good hitters had decent nights, and they got a miracle career night from a career minor leaguer and the benefit of a bad call by the umpires and some poor defense by the Rangers, and they managed to scrape out a come-from-behind one run victory. They still did not play well. But a win is better than a loss.

One of the things to keep in mind about the 4-9 start is this - the Red Sox have played very badly, but they've done it, in 10 of the first 13 games, against really good teams. Teams that have been ready and able to take advantage of the Red Sox' mistakes. There are a lot of stretches on the schedule where the team could play like this for two weeks and go 7-6 or 6-7 instead of 4-9. They happened to play very badly during a stretch where they could not get away with it. We saw that last night, as the Sox' performance didn't improve much, but the team that they were playing was not as good as Minnesota or New York or Tampa, and they came away with an ugly win instead of another hideous loss.


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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Bogus statistics are everywhere

April fools:
A computer game retailer revealed that it legally owns the souls of thousands of online shoppers, thanks to a clause in the terms and conditions agreed to by online shoppers.

The retailer, British firm GameStation, added the "immortal soul clause" to the contract signed before making any online purchases earlier this month. It states that customers grant the company the right to claim their soul.

"By placing an order via this Web site on the first day of the fourth month of the year 2010 Anno Domini, you agree to grant Us a non transferable option to claim, for now and for ever more, your immortal soul. Should We wish to exercise this option, you agree to surrender your immortal soul, and any claim you may have on it, within 5 (five) working days of receiving written notification from or one of its duly authorised minions."


Due to the number of people who ticked the box, GameStation claims believes as many as 88 percent of people do not read the terms and conditions of a Web site before they make a purchase.
This would indicate that 12 percent or more DO read the terms and conditions of a web site before they make a purchase. That sounds farfetched to me...


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Racist Democrats

James Taranto:
The political left claims to love racial diversity, but it bitterly opposes such diversity on the political right. This is an obvious matter of political self-interest: Since 1964, blacks have voted overwhelmingly Democratic. If Republicans were able to attract black votes, the result would be catastrophic for the Democratic Party. Even in 2008, the Democrats' best presidential year since '64, if the black vote had been evenly split between the parties (and holding the nonblack vote constant), Barack Obama would have gotten about 48% of the vote and John McCain would be president.

To keep blacks voting Democratic, it is necessary for the party and its supporters to keep alive the idea that racism is prevalent in America and to portray the Republican Party (as well as independent challengers to the Democrats, such as the tea-party movement) as racist. The election of Barack Obama made nonsense of the idea that America remains a racist country and thereby necessitated an intensifying of attacks on the opposition as racist.
Excellent piece - click and read it all.

The bottom line is that it is the political left in this country that behaves in a racist fashion, that fans the flames of racial disharmony and racial strife. And they'll continue to do so, because a unified black voting bloc is the only way Democrats win elections...

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Monday, April 19, 2010

Monday Pythagorean Report - 4/19/2010

Week 2 was a dismal, dreadul week, a 1-5 week that seemed somehow even worse.

  • For the week, the horrible offense was a little worse than the horrible pitching/defense. For the season, the horrible pitching/defense has been a little worse than the horrible offense.
  • The Red Sox started the season with two centerfielders. They played most of this week without either of them, due to injury. That didn't help. Bill Hall shouldn't ever be playing against right-handed pitching, but they left themselves without any other options.
  • The game that started Friday and ended Saturday was as excruciatingly painful as it is possible for a baseball game to be. Tampa scored on back-to-back two out ground balls which weren't handled by infielders. Boston got a no out double from Ortiz with a runner on but had the runner thrown out at the plate, and ended up not scoring. The played more than two innings in dreadful weather and then, with no change in the weather, the game was suspended for the night. The next night, Ortiz missed a walk-off HR by pulling a ball about 15 feet foul. Two innings later, they loaded the bases with no outs and failed to score on a couple of ground balls. And then the Burrell HR came with a runner on, so they went to the bottom of the twelfth down two instead of just one. Just ugly in almost every way that it's possible for a game to be.
  • The Ortiz situation is very bad. But if it were just David, they'd be still scoring some runs. What's scary is that Victor Martinez has been very little better, and JD Drew's been worse. Cameron hasn't been very good, neither has Ellsbury, and both missed most of the week anyway. Youkilis started hot, but has been bad for a week and a half. It's been a very painful stretch.
  • All of that said, here's the thing to remember. If they had this two week performance in August, it would be easier to have perspective about it, because you'd be able to look at the numbers and that would not be all that there was to see. But right now, it is. So, as bad as it's been, it looks even worse.
  • Red Sox Player of the Week - No one. Varitek was good, Pedroia was good, but I'm not giving anyone an award for a week that bad.
  • Red Sox Pitcher of the Week - No one. Lackey had a good start and Beckett a very good one, but I'm not giving anyone an award for a week that bad.

AL Pythagorean Projection Report - 4/19/2010


New York5.75(1)3.67(3)0.695(1)84931


Tampa Bay5.17(4)3.83(4)0.633(3)84931








Kansas City5.25(3)5.92(14)0.446(11)57570


Los Angeles4(9)5.31(13)0.373(13)58671


Top 5 projections (using current winning %)
New York12240

Tampa Bay12240




Top 5 projections (starting with today's record, using Pythagorean winning %)
New York11349


Tampa Bay10458



Standings for the week


Tampa Bay6.33(2)2.5(1)0.846(1)51601

New York5.5(4)3(3)0.752(2)51510




Kansas City6.67(1)5.83(13)0.561(6)33330

Los Angeles4.67(5)4.17(7)0.552(7)33421








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Saturday, April 17, 2010

"The New Currency Is Obedience"

Wonderful imagery here, and very accurate.

Doctor Zero:
Obama Democrats worship central planning. They have repeatedly expressed the belief that only powerful, maternal government can be trusted to allocate the most essential resources, or manage vital industries. The free market is a playpen, filled with the stuff that isn’t serious enough to merit direct control by the Mother State. When a particular toy causes the children of the electorate to scream, it is quickly snatched out of the pen. The free market can’t even be trusted to deal with airline fees for carry-on luggage… which turned out to be a market response to previous government action. You are expected to sit quietly and swallow your tears if Mother State chooses to beat you over the head with one of your toys.

Central planning is useless if nobody follows the central plans. Where the free market is persuasive, organizing resources by responding to demand and exploiting opportunity, central planning is coercive. It must compel obedience to its designs, and compulsion is always necessary. If people were eager to follow those designs of their own free will, there would be no need for central planning in the first place.
Just an excellent analogy, summarizing the viewpoint and the problem with it...

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Friday, April 16, 2010

Wordle puzzle - 04/16w/10

English short story. I removed two names, but it's an easy puzzle. The author will be easy, but you have to actually identify the story as well. Bonus points for identifying the two words removed, but not many because once the story is identified, the two missing words will be obvious.

The answer to last week's puzzle is a William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice.

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Thursday, April 15, 2010

Not funny, just sad...

If you say that a column is lame, even for E.J. Dionne, well, you're saying something. Today's "effort" from E.J. Dionne is lame, even for E.J. Dionne. What's the thesis?
If you support our troops, you have to support the work of the Internal Revenue Service.
That's right. If you appreciate the young men and women who are risking their lives fighting for freedom, you must also appreciate the army of accountants and bookkeepers who live at home, work 9-5, while getting paid more than comparable private sector workers and having more job security and better pensions and benefits.

Good call, E.J.
Who are the men and women of the IRS? They are the people who collect the revenue that allows the government to finance our troops who are in harm's way, help our wounded warriors, pay Grandma's Medicare bills, cover the costs of keeping our food and drugs safe, and do so many of the other things the vast majority of us want our government to accomplish.
Yes, that's a far nobler calling than the accountants and bookkeepers (and ditch-diggers and teachers and lawyers and butchers and plumbers and chefs and restaurant managers and farmers) who don't work for the IRS but actually provide the revenue that pays for our troops and Grandma's medicare bills, right?

His prompt is the IRS officer who was killed when that whacko flew a plane into the IRS building in Texas earlier this year. Which was obviously tragic for that officer's family, but falls pitifully short as inspiration for a paean to the noble tax collector. The result is a piece so ludicrous that it's not even unintentionally funny, just painful.

Even for an E.J. Dionne column...

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Wednesday, April 14, 2010

"The awful daring of a moment's surrender, which an age of prudence can never retract..."

Elections have consequences.

Grace-Marie Turner:
Officials are facing the growing realization that the legislation is very poorly drafted. The Senate bill never was intended to go into law as is; leaders believed they would be able to merge the House and Senate measures into a cleaned-up and final version of the bill. It was primarily a vehicle to cobble together 60 votes in the pre–Scott Brown Senate.

But after Democrats lost their filibuster-proof majority, the only choice was to pass the dreaded Senate bill as is. Now they have a poorly-drafted bill that exacerbates already overwhelming implementation challenges.

In a bit of justice, it turns out that the law creates significant confusion about whether or not members of Congress actually still have health insurance. The bill was amended in the Senate to make sure members and staff are in the system they created for the rest of us and must get their insurance through the new exchanges. But now there is confusion about whether or not they have coverage until the new exchanges actually start in 2014. A 13-page, single-spaced memo from the Congressional Research Service reaches no conclusion.
Click the link, read it all.


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Will Bush be another Truman?

Mark McKinnon:
Truman holds the dubious distinction of achieving the lowest in-office job approval of 22 percent, edging out Nixon at 24 percent and Bush at 25 percent.

And yet, time and history have been kind to Truman. In the 2009 C-Span Historians Presidential Leadership Survey, the top four slots go to, no surprise: Lincoln, Washington, Franklin Roosevelt and Teddy Roosevelt. And No. 5? Truman. Today George W. Bush sits at 36, while his father comes in at 18.

Will time be as kind to Bush? There are some early indicators that his resurrection may well be under way...
It's a fairly short but interesting read. For the record (again), I've been saying for years that I think history will look on George W. Bush much more favorably than the media did during his Presidency. On the big issues of taxes, judges, and the war of civilization vs. Islamism, he was basically right. Lord knows that he did plenty of things that I disapproved, and still disapprove, of, but he was a good man and he was right on most of the big picture stuff.

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Tuesday, April 13, 2010

What's wrong with this picture?

Here's a pretty good ad...

Hard to disagree with any of it, right?

Anyone know what Michael Bennet does for a living right now? Want to take a guess? Go on, take a guess before reading on.

Figure it out?

He's a sitting United States Senator. A Democrat. Who voted FOR the porkulus stimulus bill. (You remember, the one from "this Washington" where "they spend money they don't have.") Who voted FOR the Obamacare Health Care Reform bill. (You remember, the one from "here" where "they spend money they don't have" and "the special interests have too much power" and "this Washington is broken.") Apparently, Michael Bennet doesn't want to stand up in front of his constituents and defend those votes.

Which makes that about as deceptive and dishonest an ad as you're ever likely to see outside of an Obama or Clinton campaign.

(H/T: Jim Geraghty, who asks, "What's the strategy here, close your eyes and pretend you're not a sitting U.S. Senator?" Sure looks like it...)

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Possibly the greatest karmic unintended consequence ever...

Dear Representative Waxman,

How's this for an unintended consequence?
The law apparently bars members of Congress from the federal employees health program, on the assumption that lawmakers should join many of their constituents in getting coverage through new state-based markets known as insurance exchanges.

But the research service found that this provision was written in an imprecise, confusing way, so it is not clear when it takes effect.

The new exchanges do not have to be in operation until 2014. But because of a possible “drafting error,” the report says, Congress did not specify an effective date for the section excluding lawmakers from the existing program. Under well-established canons of statutory interpretation, the report said, “a law takes effect on the date of its enactment” unless Congress clearly specifies otherwise. And Congress did not specify any other effective date for this part of the health care law. The law was enacted when President Obama signed it three weeks ago.
But don't you worry - they'll be taken care of. And I'm certain that there won't be any other problems resulting from the implementation of a 2000 page bill regulating 1/6 of the US economy. Yes, yes, congresspeople are technically barred, since the President signed the bill, from continuing in the plan that they're in, and that was a mistake, but these are all smart people who want to control the economy. Surely they didn't make any other mistakes. Nosiree, only that wacko-racist fringe element in the country (that 58% fringe, according to recent polls) could have any fear that this might not be a panacea for all that ails us.

Representative Jason Chaffetz, Republican of Utah, said lawmakers were in the same boat as many Americans, trying to figure out what the new law meant for them.

“If members of Congress cannot explain how it’s going to work for them and their staff, how will they explain it to the rest of America?” Mr. Chaffetz asked in an interview.
The same way they've already explained it. Basically, "shut up. You'll get what we give you, and you'll like it."


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Monday, April 12, 2010

Monday Pythagorean Report - 4/12/2010

One of the things that I like to do during the baseball season is compile a weekly report of the AL standings, looking at runs scored and allowed, to see who's better than their records and who's worse.

For those unfamiliar, the Pythagorean report is based on a Bill James discovery regarding the relationship between runs scored, runs allowed and winning percentage. It intuitively makes sense that a teams record will be related to how many runs they score and how many they allow. What James discovered was that, for almost all teams, the winning percentage is very close to a ratio of the square of the runs scored to the sum of the squares of the runs scored and runs allowed. Which was dubbed the "Pythagorean" theorum of baseball.

The report consists of, for each team, their runs/game, runs allowed/game and Pythagorean project winning percentage, along with their rank among the teams in the league for each of those categories. The Pythagorean winning percentage is calculated as (r ^ 1.83) / ( (r ^ 1.83) + (ra ^ 1.83) ). (1.83 has been determined to be a slightly more accurate exponent with the current offensive levels than 2.) Using the Pythagorean winning percentage, the expected wins total is calculated and compared to the actual win total. Finally, any difference is expressed as "luck", with negative numbers representing underperforming teams.

Finally, there's a linear projection of final records, based on current winning percentage, and based on Pythagorean winning percentage.

Week one goes into the books as an unqualified ... well, week. 3-3 is not what we're looking for, obviously.

  • The Red Sox had two of the better starting pitchers in baseball make three of the team's six starts this week. They average about 5 1/2 IP per start with an ERA of 6.42. Beckett was pretty good in his second outing, and they were each pretty bad in their first. The other three starters averaged 6 innings per start, with an ERA of 2.00. Lackey was excellent, Wakefield and Buchholz were pretty good.
  • From the That's Baseball department - they won a game in which their starter gave up five runs in fewer than five innings of work, and they lost a game in which their starter went seven scoreless innings.
  • The starters were better than the bullpen, which allowed 12 runs (11 earned) in its 19 1/3 innings of work. The busiest was Daniel Bard, who's pitched in five of their six games thus far, with mixed results. He threw a bad pitch to Nick Swisher and allowed the tying run to score. He threw a good pitch to Rick Ankiel, shattered his bat, yet allowed the tying and go-ahead runs to score. Papelbon had a bad inning in his second inning of work in a tie game, but converted both of his save opportunities. Ramon Ramirez had a very bad week.
  • Speaking of Ramirez and bad starts, last year he allowed his fifth earned run on June 10, in his 28th appearance. Yesterday, he allowed his fifth earned run on April 11, in his third appearance. When you're a relief pitcher, getting one inning at a time, and you've allowed five earned runs on April 11th, you know that the ERA is going to be ugly for a very long time to come. It's going to take 10 scoreless appearances, probably at least three weeks, to get it under 4.00.
  • Offensive good: Red-hot starts for Dustin Pedroia (.360/.433/.760/1.193) and Kevin Youkilis (.333/.423/.667/1.090). Fantastic performances off the bench from Jason Varitek (.500/.500/2.000/2.500) and Jeremy Hermida (.375/.375/.875/1.250). Marco Scutaro (.250/.400/.313/.713) and Mike Cameron (.294/.429/.353/.782) have gotten on-base, turned the lineup over, kept innings alive, etc., though neither has hit for any power yet. Adrian Beltre (.400/.381/.450/.831) has been productive, but he's had to hit .400 to do it, as his AVG is higher than his OBP. He needs to hit for a lot more power, or draw some walks, because he's not going to keep hitting .400.
  • Offensive bad: Victor Martinez (.231/.286/.462/.747) had a couple of big hits early, and has done nothing since. We've reached the point where a hard out would be an improvement for David Ortiz (.111/.200/.167/.367), who has now struck out 8 times in his last three games. And Drew has helped Ortiz and Martinez make the 3-7 hitters the part of the lineup where rallies go to die.
  • All told, the Sox were 4th in the AL in runs scored per game, on an 890 runs pace. They aren't going to score 890 runs this year, but it's not a bad start.
  • It's also worth noting that they faced two of the best starting pitchers in baseball this week and scored 17 runs in those two games.
  • Red Sox Player of the Week: - Dustin Pedroia. .360/.433/.760/1.193 with three HR, good defense, and an apparent intention of adding another MVP to his trophy case.
  • Red Sox Pitcher of the Week - John Lackey, in his Red Sox debut, went six scoreless innings against the Yankees, allowing just five baserunners.

AL Pythagorean Projection Report - 4/12/2010






New York6(1)4.33(7)0.645(5)42420




Tampa Bay4(8)5.17(12)0.385(9)24331



Kansas City3.83(9)6(13)0.306(12)24240


Los Angeles3.43(12)6.29(14)0.248(14)25250

Top 5 projections (using current winning %)




New York10854

Top 5 projections (starting with today's record, using Pythagorean winning %)




New York10557

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Parade video

At the Bedford Pole Capping parade, the William Diamond Jr. Fife & Drum Corps plays "Lakes of Sligo."

April 10, 2010

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Friday, April 09, 2010

Wordle puzzle - 04/09/10

English. Play.

The answer to last week's puzzle is a section from Dante's Inferno.

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Thursday, April 08, 2010

Red Sox Game report - Game 3, 4/7/2010

Game 3: New York Yankees 3, Boston Red Sox 1 (10 innings)

Finally, three games in, the Red Sox got a good - a very good - performance from a starting pitcher, as Lackey made his Red Sox debut by throwing six scoreless innings. It was squandered, as the offense did almost nothing, the defense failed to make a couple of difficult but probably makeable plays, and the bullpen failed to keep the Yankees off the scoreboard.

  • Through the first three innings, the Red Sox had three walks and four hits, two of which were doubles. When Ortiz singled in Pedroia in the third, they had sent 14 men to the plate and seven of them had reached base safely. Because of the order in which these events occured, and a double-play in the first, however, they managed only one run from all of that production. After that, they sent 25 men to the plate and had only four reach base, on three singles and a hit batsman.
  • The Ortiz drought ends with a solid single, against a good left-hander, driving in a two-out run. The story doesn't end, however.
  • It's hard to tell, but it looked as if Posada's double, which set up the tying run in the seventh, might have been catchable for Cameron. It certainly wasn't too high - the question is, if he'd taken a slightly different route, or not pulled up, could he have gotten in position to catch it. I thought so last night, but having watched it several more times, I think it would have taken a great play. I do think that, given Ellsbury's position and Posada's "speed," the risk of making the attempt was very small. But it's a split-second instinct decision, and it's probably not fair to second-guess it.
  • Posada scored on a play in which Drew's throw beat him to the plate, and Martinez got the ball and tagged him before he got to the plate. Unfortunately, Drew's throw was a little up the line, and Martinez didn't hold on to the ball. If Drew's throw was a little more on a line to home, or if Martinez holds on to the ball, the Yankees don't score.
  • Good: Lackey.
    Bad: Papelbon. The offense.


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24 hours of air traffic

Just because it's very cool...

(H/T: Jonah Goldberg)


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Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Red Sox Game report - Game 2, 4/6/2010

Game 2: New York Yankees 6, Boston Red Sox 4

For the second consecutive game, the starting pitchers were unimpressive, each allowing four runs in five innings of work. And for the second consecutive game, the bullpens were the difference, this time with the Yankee 'pen going four scoreless while the Red Sox gave up individual runs in the 8th and 9th, leading to the 6-4 loss.

  • Lame-O sportwriterism of the day - "Well, I guess they aren't going to go undefeated..."
  • First home run of the season for Victor Martinez.
  • The first error of the season for Marco Scutaro, and it was costly, setting up the go-ahead run in the 8th inning.
  • It's only two games, and I don't want to play, but the "when is David Ortiz going to get a hit" game will be at high volume very shortly. It's already being played. The atmosphere is going to be toxic if he hits .200 with no HR for the first couple of weeks.
  • Despite the evidence of the first couple of games, I have confidence that eventually, the umpires will get a close call at first base right. And probably, they'll blow one that helps, instead of hurts, the Red Sox. It's bound to happen. It hasn't happened yet, of course, but it's bound to eventually.
  • Two games, two "aces" for Boston, 9 2/3 innings, 9 runs. Two games, two "aces" for New York, 9 runs, 10 1/3 innings. Not the pitcher's duels we might have expected given the caliber of starting pitcher working each game. Of course, the offenses aren't bad, either...
  • Good: Martinez HR, two hits for Ellsbury, two more for Beltre.
    Bad: Ortiz. Drew. Scutaro's error. Lester's fifth. Okajima walking Johnson with the bases loaded. The umpires.


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Lawsuit up to 18 states

Can anyone remember the last time that eighteen states joined together to sue the federal government over the constitutionality of newly-enacted law?
The joint lawsuit led by Florida and now grouping 18 states was filed on March 23. It claims the sweeping reform of the $2.5 trillion healthcare system violates state-government rights in the U.S. Constitution and will force massive new spending on hard-pressed state governments.

South Carolina, Nebraska, Texas, Utah, Louisiana, Alabama, Colorado, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Washington, Idaho, and South Dakota had previously joined Florida's lawsuit.

"We welcome the partnership of Indiana, North Dakota, Mississippi, Nevada and Arizona as we continue fighting to protect the constitutional rights of American citizens and the sovereignty of our states," Bill McCollum said.
Anyone? Anyone?

Me neither.

But, hey, I've been assured by all of my facebook friends that ObamaCare can't possibly be considered unconstitutional. These states must all be run by, and filled with, wingnuts...

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Do as I say...

Howie Carr:
The moonbat motto is: Do as I say, not as I do. Consider the charitable deductions (or lack thereof) of the most sanctimonious liberal politicians: Obama, Biden, Kerry. They throw around quarters - their own, anyway - like they were manhole covers. But they would gladly give you the shirt off somebody else’s back.


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Tuesday, April 06, 2010

"Anyone, any time, anywhere..."

Ilya Shapiro, of the Cato Institute:

Words have meanings. The writers of the Constitution had an understanding about what it meant, and while there are aspects about it which are not intuitively obvious to us now, this much is clear - there is no way that they intended the Federal Government to have the power which it claims for itself with the passage of the Health Care Reform bill law. Just no way. And there are any number of constitutional scholars willing to stand up and say so.

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Monday, April 05, 2010

Unintended consequences? What are those?

Hmm... I wonder how Henry Waxman is going to prevent this kind of unintended consequence...
Thousands of consumers are gaming Massachusetts’ 2006 health insurance law by buying insurance when they need to cover pricey medical care, such as fertility treatments and knee surgery, and then swiftly dropping coverage, a practice that insurance executives say is driving up costs for other people and small businesses.

In 2009 alone, 936 people signed up for coverage with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Massachusetts for three months or less and ran up claims of more than $1,000 per month while in the plan. Their medical spending while insured was more than four times the average for consumers who buy coverage on their own and retain it in a normal fashion, according to data the state’s largest private insurer provided the Globe.


The problem is, it is less expensive for consumers — especially young and healthy people — to pay the monthly penalty of as much as $93 imposed under the state law for not having insurance, than to buy the coverage year-round. This is also the case under the federal health care overhaul legislation signed by the president, insurers say.
Oh, well. I'm sure the central planners have got a great solution for this problem, a solution with no other unintended consequences...

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Red Sox Game report - Game 1, 4/4/2010

Game 1: Boston Red Sox 9, New York Yankees 7

The pre-game expectatation was that this would be a pitcher's duel. After all, it was opening day, and each team had its "Ace" on the mound. But Beckett didn't make it through the fifth, and while Sabathia was a little better, he was only a little better, recording only two more outs than Beckett did. In the end, both starters allowed five runs on the night, and neither made it through the sixth.

In the battle of the bullpens, it was a big advantage to Boston. The Red Sox 'pen allowed two runs in 4 1/3, while Boston scored four runs in only 2 2/3 innings of Yankee relief. That was the difference in the game, as both offenses were good and both starters were bad.

  • Each team gave up a run because of catcher error, Boston when Martinez threw to second on a delayed double-steal, New York when Posada let a ball past him.
  • On the whole, Boston's defense looked stronger, as a couple of balls up the middle looked as if maybe Cano should have reached them, and Youkilis' triple was aided by a bad line and forced backtrack by Swisher in right. It's tough to tell on TV, though, and the Cano plays may not have been a problem.
  • The sports talk radio morons were already on the Ortiz countdown this morning, as in "when is Francona going to let Mike Lowell DH, at least against lefties?" Guys, it's ONE (1) freakin' game!
  • Likewise, any of the "hey, the Sox offense will be fine" people who tout this ("hey, Sabathia started and they scored nine - they won't have ANY offensive problems!") are guilty of idiocy, too. It's one (1) game.
  • Impact beginnings: Mike Cameron and Marco Scutaro each went 2-for-3 at the bottom of the order and contributed to run-scoring rallies. Adrian Beltre went 1-3 and drove in the first run and the tying run that finished erasing the 5-1 deficit.

Player of the Game: Kevin Youkilis, 3-4 with three extra-base hits and three runs scored.

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"Progressives can't get past the knowledge problem"

I high recommend this Washington Examiner piece.

Glenn Reynolds:
Economist Friedrich Hayek explained in 1945 why centrally controlled "command economies" were doomed to waste, inefficiency, and collapse: Insufficient knowledge. He won a Nobel Prize. But it turns out he was righter than he knew.

In his "The Use of Knowledge In Society," Hayek explained that information about supply and demand, scarcity and abundance, wants and needs exists in no single place in any economy. The economy is simply too large and complicated for such information to be gathered together.

Any economic planner who attempts to do so will wind up hopelessly uninformed and behind the times, reacting to economic changes in a clumsy, too-late fashion and then being forced to react again to fix the problems that the previous mistakes created, leading to new problems, and so on.

Market mechanisms, like pricing, do a better job than planners because they incorporate what everyone knows indirectly through signals like price, without central planning.
An excellent short summary of the knowledge problem, which is one of the practical (as opposed to philosophical) reasons to be wary (or worse) of big government programs.

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Sunday, April 04, 2010

Happy Easter, everyone!

He is Risen!

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Saturday, April 03, 2010

"I challenge anyone..."

Kenneth T. Cuccinelli, II :
Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution provides that "The Congress shall have Power... To regulate Commerce with Foreign Nations, and among the several States..." For more than 221 years, the Commerce Clause has been applied to affirmative acts of commerce voluntarily entered into by individuals.

The individual mandate in the health care bill imposes fines and penalties if a citizen does not engage in commerce. Nothing could be more antithetical to freedom.

If Congress has the power to force Americans to buy health insurance and thereby subsidize other people, then there is no limit to its power to force people to engage in other forms of commerce for the benefit of others. For example, Congress could force Americans to buy cars from General Motors to save jobs in the face of lagging sales.

I challenge anyone who doubts this analogy to explain how the federal government could compel one purchase (health insurance) but not the other (automobile).
I've been challenging everyone on that for two weeks, and no one even bothers to answer. The fact is, it's plain and simply unanswerable.

The frightening thing is that the people who want the government providing health care don't seem willing to even address the issue of government power and constitutional authority. They won't, for the most part, even make a pretense of answering the question. Many of them profess not to even understand how someone would be concerned. I find myself hoping that they lose their plans and doctors first...

(Mr. Cuccinelli is the Attorney General of the Commonwealth of Virginia, and is a party to the multi-state lawsuit against Obamacare.)


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Friday, April 02, 2010

"God So Loved The World..."

For Good Friday:

Music: God So Loved The World, John Stainer (The Crucifixion)

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"I don't worry about the Constitution on this..."

Meet United States Representative Phil Hare(D-IL).

This is a United States Congressman, a man who took an oath to "support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic." But he doesn't know where the Constitution authorizes the bill that he voted for last week, doesn't know the difference between the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, and doesn't worry about what the Constitution says. DrewM, over at Ace of Spades says, rightly, that "very rarely has so much stupid been packed into just a little more than 3 minutes."

"I believe that is says we have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."
"That's the Declaration of Independence."
"It doesn't matter to me. Either one."


"Where in the Constitution does it give you the authority to..."
"I don't know. I don't know."

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Wordle puzzle - 04/02/10

There's enough information to be doable, I think. The addition of too much context would make it too easy, so I'll just say that English was not its original language, nor prose its form.

The answer to last week's puzzle is the recently-defiled United States Constitution.

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Thursday, April 01, 2010

Quote of the day

Jim Geraghty:
If I find myself in a fistfight, I hope it's with one of these economists who are always getting quoted by Reuters or Bloomberg, because then I'll rest assured that I'll always have the element of surprise. These guys never expect everything.

(From his email Morning Jolt, not online, but it's a great line and I bet he'll tweet it at some point...)


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Beckett extension imminent?

Is this real or smoke?
The Red Sox are moving closer to a four-year, $68 million contract extension with Josh Beckett that could be announced as soon as Monday.

A major league source confirmed the progress in the talks, which was first reported by Sports Illustrated. The deal is not finished, but general manager Theo Epstein and agent Michael Moye have agreed to continue talks beyond the start of the regular season, if necessary.


It is believed the Sox can save money on baseball’s luxury tax by waiting until after Opening Day to announce the deal.
If it's smoke, well, there's been a lot of it. It seems like that this will go through, which would be a good thing.

Beckett's been slightly overrated by Boston fans, I think, in comparison to his actual performance level, but the fact remains that he's a very good, pretty consistent, occasionally dominant starting pitcher, who makes about 30 starts per year. It would certainly take that, and probably more, to sign him next November.

Factoid: There are 67 pitchers who have made 75+ starts in MLB over the last three years. 31 of them, just about one per team, have done so with ERAs under 4.00. Three of those are John Lester (11), John Lackey (12) and Josh Beckett (19).

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The Waxman-Stupak Letter

Because the volume of traffic downtown and the resultant noise and air pollution had become intolerable, the speed limit was lowered to tenty miles per hour and concrete "speed bumps" were installed to prevent cars from exceeding it...the lower speeds forced cars to travel in second rather than third gear, so they were noisier and produced more exhaust. Shopping trips that used to take only twenty minutes now too thirty, so the number of cars in the downtown area at any given time increased markedly. A disaster? No - shopping downtown became so nerve-racking that fewer and fewer people went there...even though the volume of traffic gradually went back to its original level, the noise and air pollution remained significant. To make matters worse, during the period of increased traffic, word had gotten around that once-a-week shopping expeditions to a nearby mall on the outskirts of a neighboring town were practical and saved time...downtown businesses that had been flourishing now teetered on the edge of bankruptcy. Tax revenues sank dramatically. The master plan turned out to be a major blunder, the consequences of which will burden this community for a long time to come.
- Dietrich Dormer, The Logic of Failure

I said yesterday that I want to address Henry Waxman's letter, and I do. As I work through it, though, I find that there's one sentence so egregious that nothing else seems to matter. Yes, he dishonestly cites the CBO, but that's been done, and I don't feel any particular urgency to redo it right now. Yes, he clearly misrepresents the Business Roundtable "report," and I could walk through that, but again, that particular dishonesty1, in context, pales in comparison to the rest of the letter.

So where's the big problem? Right up front. Here, in paragraph one, is the item that most warrants comment.
One of the top priorities of the House Energy and Commerce Committee will be to ensure that the law is implemented effectively and does not have unintended consequences.
The arrogance of that statement is breath-taking. Staggering.

If you've followed me for any length of time, you've heard me talk about unintended consequences. More specifically, I talk about the "law of unintended consequences." I believe that it is a "law," just as gravity is a law. Bugs Bunny could disobey the law of gravity (because he "never studied law") but Henry Waxman would have as a good a chance of disobeying the law of gravity as he does of disobeying the law of unintended consequences. Every time that anyone does anything, there are consequences. Some of them are intended - after all, there's a reason that you took the action. But some of them are not. They may be ancillary, they may be unimportant, but they occur.

Go look at that introductory paragraph again. That's a very typical result of a "master plan." It's from the introduction of an outstanding book, which I guarantee that neither Henry Waxman or Barack Obama has ever read. The idea that Congress can pass a 2000+ page law (about absolutely any topic whatsoever) increasing taxes and regulations on activities which touch virtually every citizen, and which covers approximately one-sixth of the American economy, and that there wouldn't be "unintended consequences" is so farcically unrealistic that I almost cannot believe that he put it into a letter.

People respond to incentives. When behavior is subsidized, you get more of it. When behavior is punished, you get less of it. If you give corporations a tax break or subsidy for keeping retirees on their medical plans, you'll get more corporations doing so. Take away the subsidy and it becomes more expensive for them to do so, and then you'll get fewer corporations doing so. In the 1990 tax deal that effectively ended George H. W. Bush's re-election hopes, the Congress passed high taxes on luxury boats in order to increase tax revenues. The result of that was that people who wanted, and could afford, luxury boats then bought and harbored them offshore, boat-builders went out of business, and tax revenues dropped. The was not the intent of the law, of course. It was just one of the unintended consequences. Subsidize teen pregnancy, because you want to be kind and humane to pregnant teenagers, and you end up with more of it. Subsidize single-motherhood, you get more of it. With all of the social ills associated with it. Make a design decision that you only need two digits to represent the year in your database because memory's expensive, and you have to invest massive resources redoing it as you approach the end of a century.

You cannot see all of the impacts of what you're doing. You try, you do the best you can, but you cannot see them all. No one can. It is not possible. Congressman Waxman is as likely to leap the Capitol Dome in a single bound as he is to prevent "unintended consequences" of this piece of legislation, and the fact that he's willing to say that he can is indicative of a severe mental problem. He either a) doesn't know what he's saying (in which case he's stupid) or b) knows what he's saying and doesn't really believe it (in which case he's lying) or c) knows what he's saying and does believe it (in which case he's both stupid and incredibly arrogant).

Obviously, whichever of those is the truth, the letter reflects poorly on Congressman Waxman (and Congressman Stupak [the father of taxpayer funded abortion]). It is a blatant attempt to browbeat and intimidate private citizens and private enterprizes going about doing their business. And it's prima facie evidence that those "Representatives" ought not hold the positions that they hold.

1 - To be fair to Congressman Waxman, maybe he isn't intentionally misrepresenting the Business Roundtable report. Maybe he just doesn't understand what it says and when it was written. Suffice it to say that it doesn't say what he represents it as saying.

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Maundy Thursday

ΚΑΤΑ ΜΑΡΚΟΝ 14:22-26

Καὶ ἐσθιόντων αὐτῶν λαβὼν ἄρτον εὐλογήσας ἔκλασεν καὶ ἔδωκεν αὐτοῖς καὶ εἶπεν· λάβετε, τοῦτο ἐστιν τὸ σῶμα μου. καὶ λαβὼν ποτήριον εὐχαριστήσας ἔδωκεν αὐτοῖς κὰι ἔπιον ἐξ αὐτοῦ πάντες. καὶ εἶπεν αὐτοῖς· τοῦτο ἐστιν τὸ αἷμα μου τῆς διαθήκης τὸ ἐκχυννόμενον ὑπὲρ πολλῶν. ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν ὅτι οὐκέτι οὐ μὴ πίω ἐκ τοῦ γενήματος τῆς ἀμπέλου ἕως τῆς ἡμέρας ἐκείνης ὅταν αὐτὸ πίνω καινὸν ἐν τῇ βασιλείᾳ τοῦ θεοῦ. Καὶ ὑμνήσαντες ἐξῆλθον εἰς τὸ ὄρος τῶν ἐλαιῶν.

While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, "Take it; this is my body."

Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, and they all drank from it.

"This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many," he said to them. "I tell you the truth, I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it anew in the kingdom of God."

When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.

Mk 14:22-26

Holy week began on Sunday, Palm Sunday, as we remember the last week of Jesus ministry on earth. He entered into Jerusalem as it was prophesied that he would,
Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion!
Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem!
See, your king comes to you,
righteous and having salvation,
gentle and riding on a donkey,
on a colt, the foal of a donkey.

Zechariah 9:9

Today, Maundy Thursday, we commemorate the Last Supper. Jesus sat with his disciples for the last time in life, and they shared a meal and prayer and teaching. Later that night, he was betrayed and arrested.


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