The Bailout Vote Was A Farce

I've had time to rethink the vote on the bailout plan and, as I have done so and read articles and posts on the Web, I've come to the conclusion the results were exactly as Nancy Pelosi wanted them to be. It was a put up job by the Democrats in order to gain political advantage, and the country be damned.

If the economy tanks because of the failed bailout bill, you better believe the Democrats will scream long and loud that “it's all the fault of the Republicans!” Never mind this economic fiasco was the bastard child of House and Senate Democrats, refusing to rein in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, pushing them to back mortgages to moderate and low income families incapable of paying them back.

A number of Representatives and Senators, most of them Republicans, warned about the disaster in the making if steps weren't taken to stop the insane lending policies and the bundling of those iffy mortgages into investment vehicles that, on the surface, seemed like a heck of a money maker. But it was a house of cards. When the real estate market cooled, which was inevitable, that house of cards started coming apart.

It's not just congressional Democrats at fault. There are plenty of Republicans that should take the rap as well. So should the now-failed Wall Street investment banks. And, in the end, consumers taking on mortgages too big for their income to buy oversized and overpriced homes must also share the blame for their predicament.


Bailout Bill Fails In The House

Am I surprised the House of Representatives voted down the $700 billion bailout package? Yes, I am. Am I disappointed they've done so? No, not in the least.

I think one of the Representatives speaking on the floor of the House said it best (I wish I knew who it was): “This bill is 100 pages long. That's $7 billion per page. Before I vote for this I want to read it and know what it says!” I'm sure his constituents want the same thing.

The hastily assembled bailout bill needs more scrutiny, needs some more thought before the taxpayers commit to shelling out $700 billion.

While Nancy Pelosi and other Congressional Democrats point their fingers at Republicans for the failure of the bill, they should also ask why a number of Democrats, 90 of them, I believe, voted against the bill. Two of those Democrats are from New Hampshire, Carol Shea-Porter and Paul Hodes. Both are staunch tax-and spend liberals. Both voted against their party because they saw flaws in the bailout, including lack of oversight. The last thing they wanted to do was hand over $700 billion of taxpayer money to the Secretary of the Treasury, yet have little oversight or review of how that money is spent. With that I wholeheartedly agree, something I thought I'd never do with those two.

Of course the bill might have had a better chance of passing if Nancy Pelosi hadn't made a speech on the floor of the House lambasting Republicans, Republicans she needed to ensure passage. That isn't the way to persuade members of the opposition party to vote for something she wants to pass. I guess she couldn't pass up the opportunity to place the blame for the banking meltdown on Republicans, even though there's more than enough proof it was members of her own party that should take some responsibility for the problems we now face.


Thoughts On A Sunday

It's been raining for two straight days here at Lake Winnipesaukee, with two different storm systems dumping rain from the Atlantic well inland. Even though there have been flood warnings in this area, we haven't seen any of the type experienced in August.

But rainy weekends let us be a bit less productive without the guilt. After all, it isn't easy to do things like mow the lawn or weed the garden or rake leaves when it's raining.


If you thought it was the Republicans at fault for not reforming or reining in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, think again. Instead, it was the Democrats doing their darnedest back in 2004 to make sure they failed this year. But you won't hear about that from the MSM.


Charles Martin refutes yet another lie being told about Sarah Palin, this one about being able to see Russia from Alaska. But it turns out she's absolutely right.


The link above also makes a case for Palin's experience, or non-experience, with foreign policy. (Scroll down) As Beldar points out:

1. No job fully prepares anyone for the foreign policy and national defense responsibilities that attend the office of POTUS because no job shares more than a fraction of those responsibilities — including jobs like "Secretary of State" or "Secretary of Defense" or "U.S. Senator."

2. No new occupant of the office of POTUS has to undertake those responsibilities alone. Each is surrounded by advisers, including career professionals from the State and Defense Departments. In particular, any vice presidents who is suddenly elevated to the presidency is surrounded by advisers originally selected by their immediate predecessor, which would mean in the case of a hypothetical ascension by Sarah Palin to the presidency, advisers chosen by John McCain. As a former naval aviator and, then, commander of the Navy's largest air wing, and as a long-time senator with oversight responsibilities, active participation on the Senate Foreign Affairs committee, and — extraordinarily even for Senators — direct involvement in international negotiations (as when he led the United States' efforts to negotiate the resumption of diplomatic relations with the same regime that once tortured him as a POW) — John McCain's own foreign affairs and national defense credentials are among the most impressive held by anyone ever to run for president.

Anyone in the Democratic Party want to try again?


The New England Patriots have a bye week this week, so we won't be seeing them play again until next weekend.


If you want a snapshot of housing issues around the US, point your browser to the Housing Bubble Blog. It covers foreclosure stats, real estate pricing, and housing demand from sources all over the country. If nothing else it's a good place to find out what's really happening with the housing market.


Granite Grok tells us why the bullseye should be on politicians and not on capitalism in regards to the mortgage and banking meltdown.

I'd say Skip is dead on with this one.


I've seen this trend developing over the last few years: more homes without wireline phones.

A number of my younger friends and acquaintances gave up wired phones (also called landlines) and use cell phones exclusively. For those people that move regularly (every couple of years or so) eschewing landline phones makes sense. With a cell phone you never have to change your phone number no matter where you live. It can make staying in touch a lot easier.

This move to cell phones has affected the landline usage, with the number of residential landlines dropping. Some of the drop can be attributed to cell phones, while the rest may be because of the wider use of VoIP, whether it's something like Vonage, Skype, or cable MSO's offering digital phone service.

We changed over the Official Weekend Pundit Lake Winnipesaukee Manse from landline to VoIP a couple of months ago, the main reason being the cost differential. Our full service landline from FairPoint Communications (before that, Verizon) was costing us about $70 per month. That same service costs us less than $40 per month from our cable provider. We could have gone to Vonage, which costs about $25 a month, but they aren't local and with our cable MSO we can get same day/next day service for problems.

Most businesses will remain wired, using either traditional landline or VoIP services becauae they don't follow the same patterns as residential users, remaining in one place for long periods of time.


And that's the news from Lake Winnipesaukee, where the rains have returned, Hurricane Kyle has missed us, and where Monday has returned all too soon.


Paul Newman, 1925-2008

One of my favorite actors, Paul Newman, has passed away.

I've seen him in many films, my favorites being Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid, Cool Hand Luke, Absence of Malice, and The Verdict.

I also knew him personally, both of us being aficionados of sports car racing. While I never competed against him (we ran in different racing classes), I did have a number of opportunities to speak with him over the years at places like Lime Rock in Connecticut, Pocono Raceway in Pennsylvania, and Watkins Glen in New York. He was always gracious, yet intense when it came to racing. It was one of his passions, a way to enjoy something not movie or politics related. He wasn't Paul Newman, the actor at the track. He was PLN, just another race car driver like us. That's one of the things I liked about him.

Mortgage Mess - An (Almost) First Hand Account

With the financial meltdown resulting from the housing bubble deflation and concomitant mortgage defaults, all kinds of scenarios for the failures have been put forth. Financial and economic experts have pointed to the shortsightedness of some of the banks involved ('No document' loans, where borrowers didn't have to prove they had the income to service the debt; shady mortgage brokers 'cooking the books' to make borrowers appear to have more income than they did; speculators buying properties to flip using sub-prime or interest-only loans, then finding they couldn't unload them; otherwise conservative banks getting involved in a derivative market – sub-prime mortgages – that they didn't really understand, and a host of other causes.)

One cause talked about now and again is the 'eyes bigger than the stomach' effect, where buyers were qualified for mortgage amounts that would strain their budgets to the limit. Many of these were based more upon a borrower's credit scores and less on their income.

How do I know this?

Because it almost happened to us.

When we first started house hunting in late 2004/early 2005 we decided to pre-qualify for a mortgage before we'd even start looking at homes. Frankly, we were stunned to find we could get a $300,000 mortgage. At first visions of large houses with lots of land flashed before our eyes. Then reality kicked in.

A $300,000 30 year mortgage at 5.65% would give us payments of around $1,800 per month. I don't know about you, but that's some major chunk of change for us. That figure doesn't include tax and homeowners insurance escrow, which would add up to an additional $700 to $900 per month. It would have made for a very tight budget, requiring both our incomes to make ends meet. We would have no cushion, meaning if one of us lost our job we wouldn't be able to make the payments. There was no way we were going to put ourselves in that kind of bind.

In the end we settled for a house much smaller than the mortgage broker said we could afford, and a large down payment kept the mortgage amount and monthly payments to a reasonable level where, if need be, we could make payments and pay the bills on one income.

We did the smart thing.

But how many others didn't? How many used the entire amount of that oversized mortgage to buy a house they really couldn't afford? How many found a large portion of their disposable income going to mortgage payments, leaving very little else for things like day to day expenses? How many had no margin for unforeseen circumstances, like the loss of a job or emergency repairs to plumbing, heating, electrical, and the like? I think the answer is obvious: far too many.

Both Deb and I have discussed the house we bought, and the fact that we could have gone for a somewhat more modest home which would have made our mortgage payments even smaller and our property taxes lower than what we pay now. Once BeezleBub is out on his own, we may do just that.

Over all, we have no complaints...other than the land upon which The Manse is located. Frankly, I would have liked something flatter. I don't mind being on a hillside so much, but the landscaping performed when the house was built leaves a lot to be desired. But if that's my biggest complaint, then I really have nothing to complain about at all, do I?


First Presidential Debate - Quick Impressions

A few quick impressions of the first Presidential debate:

The first part dealing with the economy and the bailout plan was neutral, a bit wishy-washy. Neither McCain or Obama impressed me with their comments. Frankly, I didn't expect either one of them to do so. There was a lot of He said - He said, but little more. They did have a few points where they agreed with each other, particularly when it came to spending, but their financial philosophies are so different I'm not sure they were really speaking the same language.

When it came to foreign policy questions, I thought McCain brought up some valid points Obama just didn't seem to get. Obama had his moments, too. Over all I believe Obama was weakest in this portion of the debate, but not as weak as I thought he would be. But his inexperience in foreign policy shows, acting as if talking with foreign leaders of countries hostile to the United States is little different from talking with a city councilman or mayor on the behalf of some of his constituents. He's forgotten half the lesson of Teddy Roosevelt – Talk softly and carry a big stick. Obama can talk softly but it sounds like he's not willing or able to carry the big stick. That's not a good for a possible President of the United States.

Hopefully the next one will be better.

UPDATE 9/27/08: I just watched the debate again (I love my DVR!) and I have to say even though the two were about even with each other through the first hour, it appears to me McCain was starting to get under Obama's skin during the last half-hour. Could this be McCain getting inside Obama's OODA loop?


Poll Shows McCain's Move Seen As A Gimmick

According to a PoliticsHome Online 100 poll, McCain's move to suspend his campaign activity and return to Washington to work with other members of Congress, the Secretary of the Treasury, and others was a political gimmick, but one that may just have worked. A full 87% of the respondents believe it was a gimmick, with that number split pretty evenly along party lines between those thinking it will benefit McCain and those thinking it will benefit Obama.

These verdicts, however was separated sharply by political leanings, as 73% of right leaning members thought that it was a smart move. One respondent noted that, "McCain is showing he's going back to Washington to do the job he was elected to do. Obama is not, a misstep on his part that may hurt him in the end."

81% of left leaning respondents thought that it was politically damaging, noting, "The idea that McCain can add anything to a debate that's been going on without him for over a week is ridiculous and damaging to his credibility."

A follow-up poll asking whether a delayed or canceled debate benefits McCain or Obama shows a clear majority of respondents believe it benefits Obama.

I have to agree with that assessment, because I think that once McCain and Obama start debating, Obama's weaknesses in such things as foreign policy, economics, and energy will become quite clear. Obama is not known as a debater, while McCain is quite strong in debates. No debate means no chance for Obama to be shown for the lightweight he is.


McCain And Obama On The Economic Crisis - Two Approaches

It's a question of priorities, and we now know the priorities of the two Presidential candidates.

John McCain has decided to suspend his participation in campaign activities for the time being and is returning to Washington, DC to rejoin the rest of Congress to deal with the economic problems and the proposed $700 billion bailout. One of those campaign activities he's putting aside for the moment is the first debate with his Democratic opponent, Barack Obama.

Obama, on the other hand, is staying on the campaign trail and will waste little or no time dealing with the crisis. Instead he will continue his preparations for Friday night's debate and continue making campaign appearances.

If I were a cynic, I'd say that McCain's move was merely political showmanship, apparently putting his country's needs before his own. I'd also say Obama sees McCain's 'politically driven' move as a chance to garner some points out on the campaign trail without the need to counter anything McCain says, as well as be able to sell his message without worrying about McCain selling his own message. Yeah, I'd say that if I were a cynic. Yeah. I would. Really. I...would.

But I'm not that much of a cynic. I understand the two camps will see McCain's move in their own light, with the GOP spinning it as proof that McCain is putting country first, and the Democrats seeing it as merely political posturing by Obama's opponent to gain political advantage.

But I see it as John McCain going back to Washington to do the job he was elected to do, and Obama doing what he's done since before he was elected to the Senate four years ago – nothing...other than self-aggrandizement.

I'd say that's indicative of the differences between the two candidates.


PDS Is Rampant In California...But Then We Already Knew That

It is not all that surprising Palin Derangement Syndrome still rages through the ranks of the more rabid Democrats. All one needs to do is read posts at HuffPo or DailyKos, or comments to dead-tree media pieces about her, particularly if they're in any way positive.

One of the latest cases showing the breadth of PDS are the comments to an LA Times op-ed by Alan Whitcomb. The distortions of Palin's record (a public record), long disproven rumors being quoted as fact, and the vitriol show that far too many of the Democrats (or in this case, readers of the LA Times) have reached levels I haven't seen, ever. Any bit of negative information about Palin is taken as gospel, no proof needed. Facts not in evidence are used to paint her as the next coming of Hitler. Even the most tenuous connections to the present occupant of the White House are seen as incontrovertible proof that Palin is under the control of Dick Cheney and Halliburton.

She's accused of being anti-environment (“She wants to drill for oil and wipe out polar bears!”), anti-Native American (Never mind her husband is part Eskimo...and so are her children), anti-rape victim (“She wants to charge rape victims for the rape kits used to collect evidence! My God, has that woman no shame?”), will work to overturn Roe v. Wade (She's never injected her religious beliefs into local or state politics, nor is she ever likely to do so), and of abusing her power as governor by firing the Public Safety Commissioner (As governor, she has the right to do so for any reason...or no reason. Alaska state law and the state constitution say so).

It is quite obvious PDS has infected most of the leftists in the Democratic Party, and particularly those in California, to read the aforementioned comments. They have so unhinged themselves they are no longer capable of being objective about anything.

As if that's something new.


Palin Smear Ads Product Of PR Firm

The Jawa Report has an extensive report on smear campaign ads aimed at Governor Sarah Palin. The ads repeat long discredited rumors and outright falsehoods, as if that's anything new. But it appears the ads were created by a PR agency with strong ties to the Obama campaign, an agency that did not include the claims and disclaimers required by US election laws.

It seems the Dems and their supporters keep digging that hole deeper and deeper.....


Thoughts On A Sunday

Deb returned from Waco, Texas yesterday, spending about 13 hours in transit. To say she was tired would be an understatement.

She had a great time, learning all kinds of things for her business (I say 'her' business even though I am part owner...I own the handyman's work, she owns everything else!)

I did quite a bit of running about yesterday, taking care of errands and putting about 250 miles on the trusty Intrepid (that included the trip to the airport and back).

BeezleBub and I also started rearranging the living room and dining room in The Manse, something Deb had wanted for some time. At first I was skeptical swapping the two rooms would be beneficial, but once we had most of the furniture, rugs, and electronic gear moved I saw the wisdom in choice.

After all this time you'd think I'd stop questioning her decisions when it comes to The Manse, wouldn't you? Maybe some day I'll learn....


The campaign rhetoric has increased by an order of magnitude, with Obama trying to place the blame for the bank meltdowns squarely on George W. Bush and John McCain. I find it interesting that he's chosen to ignore many of McCain's efforts to reel in the financial institutions, particularly when it came to creative financing for mortgages. Obama's record in this area is..is...umm...non-existent. He also has some explaining to do in regards to campaign contributions from many of those same financial institutions that dwarf those made to McCain's campaign.

Is this a case of “Do as I say, not as I do”?


Cal Tech Girl has her take on a statement about Sarah Palin by a professor of Divinity at the University of Chicago. (Profanity warning!)

My comment to about what was said by the learned professor: “Are you out of your effin' mind?”


Here's a decidedly emotional, but no less accurate opinion by one of our all time favorite bloggers, Rachel Lucas. In her post, she tears Joe Biden and the leftist elites a new one for their contention that anyone 'not them' have been confused by Fox News and Rush Limbaugh and that we should know enough to vote for people that are smarter than us, meaning the elitists, of course.

Hmm. For a party that prides itself being on the side of the common man, they sure do sound an awful lot like the aristrocratic turds they've become. We should only vote for “our betters” because we aren't capable of understanding the nuances of running a government. How absolutely...European of them.

I don't know about you, but I want people running the government that have a true understanding of what it takes to run a business, meet a payroll, or have struggled with failure in the past but have worked hard to get past it and have succeeded on their own. The last people we want to make the laws are lawyers. The last people we want to decide what the government will spend are those that have never worked in the 'real' world, like 99% of the people in this nation.

I have seen a number of people enter government that were far better educated and experienced than many already serving there. Most of them were conservatives. Most of them understood the real world effects of laws, regulations, and taxes enacted by the various legislative bodies. They understood “the little people” because that's where they came from.


The New England Patriots played the Miami Dolphins in Foxboro today, losing 38-13. It's the first time the Pats have lost at home since 2005...to the Miami Dolphins.

I know BeezleBub was really pis....uhh...disappointed with the Patriots performance today. But as I reminded him we can't expect them to win every game. Even great teams have an off day now and then. Besides, I'd rather have them lose a few games in the beginning of the season rather than the end.


It could be “Troopergate” may do more damage to Democrats than to Republican Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin.

Looking deeper into the Democrats charges that Governor Palin improperly fired former Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan, it was found Monegan has a history of physical abuse, a charge he denies but his ex-wife confirms. Could it be it will appear the Democrats are in such a hurry to condemn Sarah Palin that it will put them into a position of supporting two spousal abusers, Monegan and Alaska State Trooper Mike Wooten?

That ought to help the Democrats win the women's vote.


Why is it the only people playing the race card in this presidential election season is the Obama campaign?


Speaking of race, both Thomas Sowell and John Stossel write about white privilege, white guilt, racial hype, and the high price we all pay for it.


It appears the only people that can get away with blatant racism are Hollywood liberals.

No surprise there.


Alas, Sunday is the last full day of summer, with fall arriving at 11:44AM Monday morning.

It was a disappointing summer in a lot of ways, with the main one being the weather.

Usually we head out on to Lake Winnipesaukee in the late afternoon or early evening during the week. There's fewer boats out there and we can enjoy cruising or swimming or other boat-related recreational activities without worrying about who we derisively call “Cap'n Bonehead”. Cap'n Bonehead is usually seen during the weekends, which is one reason we boat during the weekdays.

With the tropical weather pattern that hung around for weeks on end, afternoon/evening boating was impossible due to the regular thunderstorms that started popping up around 3 or 4PM. Being on the lake is not fun when one has to dodge heavy rain, winds, and lightning. That summer-long pattern killed off most of our planned after-work trips.

With the weather related problems we made it out on the lake less than a fifth of the time we'd hoped. I figured I'd go through 10 or 12 tanks of gas from early June to mid-September. I've used only two and a half!

We won't be pulling the Official Weekend Pundit Lake Winnipesaukee Runabout out of the water until after Columbus Day Weekend, meaning we can still get some cruising in. But it won't be the same as summer boating by any means.


And that's the news from Lake Winnipesaukee, where summer is leaving, leaves are turning, and where politics is all anyone wants to talk about these days.


We're All To Blame For The Banking Meltdown

It was during our usual lunch time“What are we going to do to save the [place name of latest crisis here]?” bull session that the subject turned towards the banking meltdown, the causes, and the cure.

While many of my co-workers can be as partisan as I, but on different ends of the political spectrum, we pretty much agreed there was plenty of blame to spread around for this debacle, starting with Congress and working its way down to each of us.

Despite what Republicans or Democrats are claiming (“It's their fault!!), both are equally culpable in the crisis, ignoring the warning signs and those telling them the system was broken. Easy credit became available for those wanting to buy a home, even those without the means to pay the actual cost of their mortgages. Those that could afford to buy a home far too often bought houses that were too big and too expensive for their means. Mortgage brokers gave loans that were far above lenders ability to pay, particularly after interest rates reset or the mortgagee had to start paying on the principal of their loans, not just the interest.

Government also had its run of borrowing money on terms that were too good to be true. Congress spent money like there was no tomorrow, willing to borrow it from Asia and Europe all while trying to buy votes from their constituents with pork barrel spending that, in the end, did nothing other than line the pockets of those manipulating the game. They weren't living within their means, and made sure that too many of us were doing the same. Everyone tried to ignore the looming problem, hoping that it would just go away. But eventually we reached a tipping point, in this case the housing market cooling off while at the same time many mortgages resetting their interest rates, leaving too many people unable to pay back their loans or sell their homes. As it got worse, more homeowners found themselves upside down on their mortgages, owing more than their homes were worth. And then the foreclosures started.

Mind you, the rising numbers of foreclosures themselves weren't the problem. They were a symptom of the problem, that being too damn many people, including investment banks and quasi-governmental agencies, were far too willing to buy now and pay later. Unfortunately later came all too soon and the people found they couldn't pay the bill. From there it all rolled down hill until it reached the banks, investment houses, insurance companies, and quasi-governmental corporations (Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac).

No one party is to blame, though some must take more responsibility than others, Congress being one of them. They fed the frenzy, ignored the warnings, encouraged the very behavior they now condemn, yet seem unwilling to accept that they were part of the problem.


How Our Tax System Works

Received via e-mail:

How our tax system works ...

Suppose that every day, the same ten men go out for beer and the bill for all ten comes to $100. If they paid their bill the way we pay our taxes, it would go something like this:

The first four men (the poorest) would pay nothing.
The fifth would pay $1.
The sixth would pay $3.
The seventh would pay $7.
The eighth would pay $12.
The ninth would pay $18.
The tenth man (the richest) would pay $59.

So, that's what they decided to do.

The ten men drank in the bar every day and seemed quite happy with the arrangement, until one day, the owner threw them a curve. 'Since you are all such good customers,' he said, 'I'm going to reduce the cost of your daily beer by $20.' Drinks for the ten now cost just $80.

The group still wanted to pay their bill the way we pay our taxes so the first four men were unaffected. They would still drink for free. But what about the other six men - the paying customers? How could they divide the $20 windfall so that everyone would get his 'fair share?' They realized that $20 divided by six is $3.33. But if they subtracted that from everybody's share, then the fifth man and the sixth man would each end up being paid to drink his beer. So, the bar owner suggested that it would be fair to reduce each man's bill by roughly the same amount, and he proceeded to work out the amounts each
should pay.

And so:
The fifth man, like the first four, now paid nothing (100% savings).
The sixth now paid $2 instead of $3 (33%savings).
The seventh now pay $5 instead of $7 (28%savings).
The eighth now paid $9 instead of $12 (25% savings).
The ninth now paid $14 instead of $18 (22% savings).
The tenth now paid $49 instead of $59 (16% saving s).

Each of the s ix was better off than before. And the first four continued to drink for free. But once outside the restaurant, the men began to compare their savings.

'I only got a dollar out of the $20,' declared the sixth man. He pointed to the tenth man, 'but he got $10'.

'Yeah, that's right, exclaimed the fifth man. 'I only saved a dollar, too. It's unfair that he got ten times more than I got'

'That's true' shouted the seventh man. 'Why should he get $10 back when I got only two? The wealthy get all the breaks!'

'Wait a minute,' yelled the first four men in unison. 'We didn't get anything at all. The system exploits the poor!'

The nine men surrounded the tenth and beat him up.

The next night the tenth man didn't show up for drinks so the nine sat down and had beers without him. But when it came time to pay the bill, they discovered something important - they didn't have enough money between all of them for even half of the bill!

And that, ladies and gentlemen, journalists and college professors, is how our tax system works. The people who pay the highest taxes get the most benefit from a tax reduction. Tax them too much, attack them for being wealthy, and they just may not show up anymore. In fact, they might start drinking overseas where the atmosphere is somewhat friendlier.

This explanation has been attributed to many different scholars and economists, but Snopes wasn't able to pin down the origin of this 'lesson'.

That doesn't make it any less true.

Pseudoscience And Post-Scientific Thought - What A Crock

To quote Squidward, “Just when I thought they couldn't get any stupider...”

It never ceases to amaze me the willingness of people to swallow all kinds of pseudo-scientific twaddle while at the same time discarding the hard, verifiable sciences because they're too “icky”.

Whether it's astrology, palm-reading, or post-feminist condemnation of such things like logic and scientific method merely because someone believes it has some mysterious phallic meaning that denigrates women, minorities, or one of the newer “victim” classes, it's all crap. Every bit of it.

As I have stated many times before, I am an engineer. I deal with scientifically proven concepts every day while practicing my profession. No amount of wishing or thinking positive Gaia-centric thoughts or consulting the stars or planets will change the physical laws that dictate how the electronic circuits or optical components I work with every day will function. Logic gates in digital circuits will always behave in ways dictated by physics of electronics (and computer science), unless acted upon by yet another scientifically proven natural force. There's no getting around it. Yet there are still folks out there that insist we must discard such foolishness in order to understand how the universe ought to work.

Yeah. Right.

A few examples:

Some of you may have fond memories of Dr Sandra Harding, an alleged “feminist philosopher of science,” who claims that Einstein’s theories of relativity are “gender-biased” and thus disreputable. Ms Harding famously described Newton’s Principia as a “rape manual” and claimed that rape and torture metaphors could be used to usefully describe its contents.

So theories that describe, in part, how the universe works are “gender biased” or a thinly disguised “rape manual”? How effin' stupid can people be?

There's more:

Biology is a socially constructed concept too - dated. It categorizes and defines ‘organisms’ a certain way - not wholistically - and not the only way possible, I might add.

First, I have to ask; what the hell is “wholistically”? I can't find it in the dictionary and Google does link to a number of sites using the term, but nowhere is it defined. Could they mean “holistically”? And why would it, whatever it is, be more valid than a system that's been used by biologists world-wide for hundreds of years? And what would we use in its stead?

Then there's this:

I am no science major, but I know Einstein’s theories and physics has already proven most of the fundamentals of biology to be faulty.

I had the same reaction as David Thompson on this one: How exactly do the theories of General and Special Relativity have anything to do with biology? Unless one is talking about the bits and pieces of biology at the quantum level (the quarks that make up the protons, neutrons, and electrons that in turn make up the molecules that are necessary for life), there's no connection between the two.

The diatribe David links goes on to explain how science is nothing but a belief system no different than any other religion. Hmm. I never saw science as a religion, particularly since, unlike religion, it has no room for blind faith in something unprovable or unproven. Instead, science is built upon a foundation of proven theorems, where at any time they can be proven right again and again through observation and experimentation. The science that built our modern civilization is not religious belief. As we learn more we create new hypotheses, and use the evidence we gather and the experiments we try to prove or disprove them. Others will do likewise. No amount of wishing or pseudo-scientific mumbo jumbo will change that. Though that won't stop some folks from trying.

That's fine with me....as long as they leave me alone and let me get on with my work.


A New Find - Campaign News Site

With the elections less than two months away, it gets more difficult to keep track of the various reports, polls, and opinions. As good as many of the blogs are, they can't keep up with everything. However, all is not lost.

There's a website that aggregates much of the information mentioned above, as well as a number of other Presidential campaign features that may or may not be of interest. Head on over to Politics Home and give it a gander.

I leave it up on my browser at home and work so I can keep an eye on what's new(s).

The site also has a UK-centric version available, linked at the US site.


Lehman Brothers Failure

Treasury Secretary Paulson made the right decision in not using taxpayer funds to bail out Lehman Brothers. While some have opined that it didn't seem fair that the government got involved in the Bear Sterns debacle and won't lift a finger to help Lehman, the circumstances between the two were quite different.

Bear Sterns' failure was something that occurred suddenly and with little warning. Lehman Brothers, on the other hand, had half a year to put things right, but failed to do so. Merrill Lynch was in the same boat as Lehman Brothers six months ago, but managed to off-load, write off, or restructure their bad debt, leaving them in a better position than Lehman, making them ripe for acquisition by Bank of America.

It isn't up to the taxpayers to make good on someone else's bad decisions. It sets a bad precedent, making it more likely other banks or investment houses will look to government for bailouts when they gamble with other people's money and lose.

The same is true of US automakers, whose poor planning, bad decisions, and mounting entitlement load should not garner them taxpayer funded bailouts to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars.


Thoughts On A Sunday

One side effect of Hurricane Ike was the cancellation of Deb's flight to Dallas on Saturday. Fortunately she was able to reschedule her flight down for this morning.

I have to give SouthWest Airlines credit for calling us to let us know the flight had been canceled due to the hurricane and helping Deb rebook her flight.

It wasn't until Deb called from her layover in Chicago that it became real for BeezleBub and I that Deb was going to be gone all week. We already miss her.


It never ceases to amaze me the ignorance the average person in America when it comes to economics.

When gas prices go up because supply is disrupted due to unforeseen circumstances, like hurricanes, accusations of price gouging become long and loud.

It's a shame people have no idea how the economics of supply and demand work.


It was the first game for the New England Patriots without quarterback Tom Brady, who will be out the rest of the season with a torn ACL.

It will be backup quarterback Matt Cassel's first start for the Patriots, not counting exhibition season. He'll be up against veteran Brett Favre and the New York Jets.

During the Patriots' first possession, they looked no different than when Brady was in the game, scoring with a field goal after a good series, getting on the scoreboard first.

The Pats managed to win, 19-10, making them 2-0.


I've caught the trailer for the remake of The Day The Earth Stood Still, with Keanu Reeves playing the roll of Klaatu. The role was originally played by Michael Rennie in the 1951 version.

I can only hope they do a better job with this one as compared to the War Of The Worlds and Flight Of The Phoenix remakes, both which were stinkers.


Sitemeter has made some changes. Frankly, I don't like them one bit. Like Glenn Reynolds, I wish they offered a Classic view option.


Eric the Viking links and comments about Obama's failure to understand tax rates have nothing to do with neighborliness and fairness and are instead about “equity, revenues, and logic.”


It may soon be time to resurrect, reorganize, and rename the Paugus Diner Poll© in order to answer the question everyone is asking: “Who's going to win the presidential election in November?” We haven't run the poll for a national election since 2004, so its return is long overdue. Rather than using a single, non-scientifically selected location to run the poll, I'm hoping to use about a half dozen non-scientifically selected locations, diners all, for this year's poll.

Rather than calling it the Paugus Diner Poll©, henceforth it will be known as the Lake Winnipesaukee Diners Poll™. It makes the sample size larger, but no less unscientific. I hope to enlist a few of my fellow Lakes Region bloggers to make this work.

Let's see what happens, shall we?


And that's the news from Lake Winnipesaukee, where the NASCAR faithful have departed until next year, the boating weather is improving, and where BeezleBub and I are missing Deb....


Gibson's Interview With Palin Has Some Major (Edited) Holes

I used to have a lot of respect for ABC's Charlie Gibson, believing him to be one of the more level headed and impartial newscasters out there. But after his heavily edited interview with Sarah Palin aired, and transcripts if the entire interview became public, it showed him (or his editors) worked very hard to paint a picture of Sarah Palin that fit the narrative of the Democratic Party. They did not create an impartial vehicle as they should have. It will be very difficult for ABC to claim they didn't change the meaning of any of her responses with their editing.

It is “gotcha” interviews like this one that made Glenn Reynolds suggest to anyone being interviewed by the media , and specifically politicians or wannabe politicians, to bring their own camera. If nothing else it will keep the media honest because it will be possible to refute any creative editing they may perform. Out of context quotes will be able to be put back into context with the release of the interviewees own video.

More on the bring-your-own-camera meme at Instapundit.

Another Nail In The Coffin Of The UK

Just when I thought things couldn't get any worse in the UK, the British legal system finds a way.

In this case, a jury found a group of global warming “campaigners” not guilty of causing £35,000 damage to a coal-fired power plant because their vandalism was “justified”.

Jurors accepted defence arguments that the six had a "lawful excuse" to damage property at Kingsnorth power station in Kent to prevent even greater damage caused by climate change. The defence of "lawful excuse" under the Criminal Damage Act 1971 allows damage to be caused to property to prevent even greater damage – such as breaking down the door of a burning house to tackle a fire.

To borrow a phrase from John Stossel, “Give me a break!”

All this will do is allow anyone with a cause to claim any criminal action they take was a lawful excuse to prevent one social malady or another. It's going to be open season for anyone with a grudge and the will to commit violent acts.

Now if they also allowed the “They just plain needed killin'” justification for stopping such criminal miscreants, then it would all balance out. But seeing that Britain is one of those places where only criminals are allowed to carry guns, I doubt that will come to pass.

As I wrote in a comment over at No Looking Backwards, where I found this story, “I think I'm going to call a few friends in the UK and strongly suggest they either emigrate to the US or start an underground revolutionary organization to return sanity to British law.”


The PDS Virus Has Spread

At first I thought it was just an anomaly, this burst of Palin Derangement Syndrome. As time passed I expected it to lessen until only a few of the crackpots were left to declare her the Anti-Christ. But I was wrong. If nothing else it's become worse. Even some so-called feminists have aimed their cannons at her, trying their best to strip her of her gender.

Even state Democratic Party leaders are piling on, with the chairman of the South Carolina Democrats opining upon John McCain's running mate “whose primary qualification seems to be that she hasn’t had an abortion.” Never mind that Sarah Palin is the governor of the state of Alaska.

Even the local folks here in New Hampshire - usually a pretty levelheaded bunch, even those who are Democrats - have been infected with the PDS virus. A perfect example is this diatribe, doing it's best to convince everyone that a successful McCain/Palin ticket will mean (insert ominous voice here) “The Destruction Of Everything!”

Spin it any way you want. At the rate we're careening off course, we're on the brink of extinguishing not only human life, but also all of nature, the planet and its animals.

Having just endured eight years of the Bush/Cheney debacle, we cannot afford to make another disastrous mistake. Our economy, the environment, foreign relations, human relations, civil rights and our health-care system are in the toilet.

Doesn't it make sense at this juncture to elect thoughtful, intelligent leaders who can help move us beyond the "blow-it-up-and-ask-questions-later" mind set? With Sen. John McCain's blessing, President Bush led us into a war that is wasting trillions of desperately needed dollars and has claimed far too many lives. Shock and awe; facts be damned.

The “thoughtful, intelligent leaders” the writer is referring to? Barack Obama and Joe Biden, of course. Only the Obamessiah can save us! Or that's what she'd like you to believe.

I'm now waiting for the deranged to start blaming Sarah Palin for a whole host of ills, from “Who shot J.R.?” to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Next someone will be telling us they actually saw her out on the field in Foxborough, Massachusetts during last Sunday's Patriots game, wrecking Tom Brady's left knee.

With PDS it's only a matter of time.....


On That Day...

I thought long and hard about this, the seventh anniversary of that horrible day. I doubt that anyone forgets where they were that clear September morning.

I looked over a large number of tributes, photos and cartoons both, to find one that adequately expresses how I feel about that day. There was more than one that could have easily done that, but this one says it far better than I ever could. More than just an image of what we all lost, it is a personal account about a single person, a neighbor, and a corner of a driveway.


Unabashed Partisan Leading A Biased Inquisition

You know it's dirty pool when a Democrat investigating a Republican governor promises an “October surprise” that will ruin the governor's chance for higher office even before the investigation is anywhere near complete.

So much for an impartial investigation. What makes it even more ludicrous is the Democrat in question is a wholehearted Obama supporter working in earnest make sure his man wins in November, and ethics be damned. It is well known he has an ax to grind in regards to the governor.

Will this kind of action be the norm for an Obama presidency? Unfortunately, I believe the answer is yes. I have a feeling we'll see more of these types of “inquisitions” should the man from Chicago take the Oval Office.


Why William Ayers Matters

Neo-neocon tells us why ex-Weather Underground bomb thrower William Ayers matters as an element in Barack Obama's past and future. She also explains why Obama's handling of the Annenberg Foundation's $110 million of the Annenberg Challenge must be questioned as it indicates Obama's executive experience, or lack thereof.


Palin Smears By Left Countered With Actual Facts!

The rumors have been flying in an attempt to smear Sarah Palin, but a number of blogs and other websites have been working to dispel those rumors and counteract the attacks from the Left.

First, Charlie Martin assembled the various rumors and fact checked them, finding the most egregious ones were outright fabrications and others, particularly political opponents of hers in Alsaka, took facts and twisted them in a manner that made Sarah Palin look guilty of things she'd never done. Charlie provided numerous links to verifiable information so readers could check them out for themselves. He also posted them to his own blog, here. It's also entertaining to check out the comments posted at both blogs, showing too many of the Left will readily choose to ignore official records, newspaper and TV reports, and statements from the people directly involved with the alleged wrongdoings or other actions. We probably shouldn't confuse them with the facts.

Next, FactCheck.org also did some checking and found the same things as Charlie Martin, dispelling the innuendo and rumors generated by the Left, proving them to be false or gross distortions of the truth.

Does this wholesale assault by the official and unofficial organs of the Obama campaign show the desperation and panic on the part of the Democrats? It must as I've never seen this level of vitriol aimed at a candidate before, particularly a Vice Presidential candidate. The Democrats must be scared of this lady from Alaska.

More power to her!

Iraq War Veteran Questions Obama

I like this McCain campaign ad put together by an Iraq War veteran. I think his words carry far more weight than those of Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Nanci Pelosi, or Harry Reid.


Thoughts On A Sunday

It was an unusual morning for the three of us, driving about an hour northwest of The Manse to attend a surprise birthday breakfast for Dawn, wife and boss of Submarine Tim. It was held in a small, out of the way organic farm/restaurant that was literally off the beaten path.

Submarine Tim managed to pull off the surprise because Dawn didn't realize all of the people in the upstairs dining room were people she knew until we yelled “Happy Birthday!”

A good time was had by all.


The rain generated by Hurricane Hanna swept over New Hampshire late last night and early morning. Other than some localized flooding, there was little damage suffered in this area. The same was not true in the 'big city' of Manchester, including flooding of the lower levels of the Manchester Police Department and Fire Department headquarters.

It's been a very wet year here in New Hampshire.


The New England Patriots won their season opener against the Kansas City Chiefs down in Foxboro, 17-10.

The bad news: Tom Brady was hurt during the first quarter and had to come out of the game.

The really bad news: After tests and an MRI, it was determined he'll need surgery and will be out for the rest of the season.


Senator John Sununu (R-NH) writes in this column why he doesn't support the Employee Free Choice Act, a bill that does away with the secret ballot when employees are to vote about forming a union or not. I am also against the bill, knowing all too well the unions will use it to intimidate people into forming unions.

I was a member in good standing of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) for almost 20 years, and the things I saw taking place in my local made me sick. If those actions (intimidation, selective enforcement of work rules, less than open elections of stewards, etc.) I saw were atypical of unions, I might have a different take on the issue. Unfortunately they are all too common, making the thought of belonging to a union again unappealing. Passing the EFCA would do nothing but make it easier to force unions on unwilling employees, and make labor unions far more powerful (and even more corrupt) than they are now.


There's a blog devoted to facts about Sarah Palin called, fittingly, Sarah Palin Facts. Give it a read, it's a hoot!

(H/T Jack Lewis)


Lorie Byrd explains why the smears against Sarah Plain won't work. A lively discussion in the comments makes it clear that far too many on the left are buying them despite evidence to the contrary.


And speaking (again) of Sarah Palin, she will be making her first media interview with Charlie Gibson on ABC.

While Joe Biden has been slamming Sarah for not doing any interviews, most of the people understand the campaign's reluctance to expose her to the feeding frenzy the media's created until things, specifically the smears by the Left, have calmed down a bit. Rick Davis, McCain's campaign manager, said Palin wouldn't subject herself to any tough questions from reporters "until the point in time when she'll be treated with respect and deference."

Seems only fair to me since the two presidential candidates and the other vice presidential candidate are treated that way.


Michelle Malkin is all over a George Soros funded Democratic slush fund. Where these funds spent is eye opening...and outrageous.

She also points out that Soros is not a friend of America and provides some links that back up her statement.


Ted Nugent likes Sarah Palin, as do the Brits and Aussies. As Tim Blair writes, “Everyone Wants Sarah.”


Could it be that Hillary Clinton secretly wants Sarah Palin to win, too?

(H/T Maggie's Farm)


And that's the news from Lake Winnipesaukee, where the latest downpours have departed, people are pumping out their basements, and where political talk has turned to Sarah Palin around the clock.


How To Ruin A State Economy In One Easy Step - Another Lesson

This is something I wrote a week or so ago for my New Hampshire-specific blog, but it seemed that it would stand as an object lesson for the rest of my seven or eight readers. I have changed it a bit, removing the bits dealing with the state budget issues in the Granite State. If you want to see the parts I removed, you can see them here. (Scroll to the bottom of the post.)


Back in May I wrote a cautionary tale about how easy it is to ruin a state's economy. The tale highlighted Michigan's efforts to drive the final nail in the coffin of their economy, raising taxes again and again to bolster falling revenues only to see revenues fall even further, widening an already horrendous budget deficit. Pro-labor/anti-business legislation didn't help things either. These things have had the effect of seeing twice as many people moving out of Michigan as are moving in, not something anyone in state government wants to see.

More than one state has fallen into that trap in the past and present. Some have done that more than once, proving Santayana right: ”Those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it.”

Connecticut is starting to feel the strain, as is Massachusetts, with incipient tax revolts brewing even as both states continue their profligate spending. Massachusetts should know better, having suffered through economic self-immolation back in the 1970's. But Governor Deval Patrick and the Massachusetts House and Senate seem bent on ensuring a return to those dire times. They've forgotten the lesson.

California is also in a mess, with a deficit measuring somewhere around $15 billion (that's “billion” with a “b”). Raising taxes will only deepen their problems, and businesses and taxpayers will soon start voting with their feet. It doesn't help that Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and the Democratic-controlled Assembly are at loggerheads, with neither side willing to budge on spending cuts and tax increases.

But the best object lesson anyone can offer is the state of New Jersey, which was once considered one of the most business friendly states because of its low tax burden. But those days are long gone. Between one of the highest tax burdens in the nation and more restrictive business laws and regulations making it more difficult for businesses to survive, is it any wonder the Garden State is turning into an economic basket case?

Jersey’s decline has been rapid and astonishing. Back in the 1960s, one study judged it among the country’s ten most business-friendly states because of its light tax burden, which allowed it to attract a steady stream of businesses and residents from New York. Though there were occasionally signs of trouble over the years—like the pension shenanigans of Governor Christie Whitman, in which government shirked its long-term obligations—the state’s real decline started with the election of Jim McGreevey and a Democratic-controlled legislature in 2001.

In the middle of a recession, McGreevey and the legislature raised taxes and fees an astonishing 33 times to raise $3.6 billion. The state also passed a heap of labor-friendly, antibusiness laws that rapidly worsened conditions. The McGreevey administration hammered an executive at one of the state’s biggest employers, Federated Department Stores, for announcing that the new taxes would force the company to reevaluate future growth plans in Jersey. In 2002, the Beacon Hill Institute rated Jersey 26th among the states in overall competitiveness, but by 2004 Jersey had plummeted to 44th, the largest decline of any state, noted the institute, which also ranked Jersey’s government performance next to last among the states—in case you were wondering what prompted the decline.

Yet Jersey’s leaders have learned little. In 2006, the state enacted several billion dollars of new taxes. And Governor Jon Corzine recently signed into law one of the most astonishingly anti-growth and simply foolish (there is really no other word for it) pieces of state legislation in memory. The new law requires towns hosting private-sector commercial or residential development to build subsidized affordable housing as well. Towns say that they will have to tax developers and raise property taxes to pay for this. If you knew nothing about New Jersey, you might assume that the state was prospering and that its developers were rolling in money. But the state’s commercial vacancy rate is a whopping 19 percent (by contrast, Manhattan’s is about 7 percent), and prospects for filling up that empty space are slim, considering that a recent national survey of corporate executives ranked Jersey as one of the least attractive places to expand. A state in desperate need of business just made doing business even more expensive.

It's always a recipe for disaster, pissing off the folks that actually create jobs by stealing even more cash from their wallets while at the same time tying their hands when it comes to how they will run their businesses. You'd think that no one in New Jersey government had ever taken (and passed) an economics course. If the state government can't get its act together, cut spending, cut taxes, and shake off the influence of organized labor and other special interests, businesses and taxpayers will leave the Garden State in droves, heading to more business and taxpayer friendly states that will gladly welcome them.

Is it a coincidence the states suffering the most from these kinds of problems are controlled by Democratic majorities in their legislatures? Is it any coincidence most of the states having the biggest problems of this type also have Democratic governors? It's something to think about as we approach Election Day this November.

PDS/PHS Abounds

I've spent the past few days perusing blogs the blogs, left, right, and moderate, watching the unfolding “drama” over Alaska Governor Sarah Palin and the wide range of opinions and, dare I say it, almost psychotic diatribes. Most of what I've been reading points to a meltdown among Democrats, doing their darnedest to tear her down in an effort to feel better about their own candidates. But it's taken on a tone of desperation, sounding like someone on the edge of a major panic attack.

They point out her lack of experience while ignoring their own presidential candidate's even thinner resume. They try the sexist angle, the religious angle, the “pro-choice” angle, and just about every fringe idea they could use to discredit her. With every attempt their efforts sound more shrill. That they are constantly making comparisons between her and Barack Obama rather than between her and Joseph Biden, or between Obama and McCain, shows how much she has thrown their world view into turmoil.

We've seen the first wave of PDS/PHS (Palin Derangement Syndrome/Palin Hysteria Syndrome) in the media and leftists blogs. Even my wife has been hearing trash talking of Sarah Palin in her place of business, the most egregious being the repetition of the “Trig isn't really her baby, but her daughter's” canard. The character assassination has kicked into high gear.

Many mention the so-called Troopergate, relating to Governor Palin's ex-brother-in-law, an Alaska State Trooper. Many on the Obama camp have painted it as an abuse of her power by trying to get him fired due to a personal vendetta. But there was plenty of reasons to see him dismissed, among them drinking while in his cruiser, tasing his 11-year-old stepson, and a number of other actions that would have gotten anyone else arrested, tried, and jailed.

All any of this does is show how panic-stricken the Obamanauts have become, trying as best they can to get Palin to step down. Despite protestations to the contrary, they figure the only way defeat the McCain-Palin ticket is to eliminate Palin from the ticket. If they were so confident Obama and Biden could easily defeat McCain-Palin, they wouldn't be expending so much effort to cripple the GOP standard bearers, would they?


Anti-War Protesters Attempt Murder Of Delegates

I'm trying to remember how many attacks by protestors were made against Democratic convention delegates in Denver. I don't remember hearing of any.

However, the screaming moonbat anti-war protesters and anarchists tried their darnedest to injure or kill Republican delegates on their way to the Excel Center for today's opening session of the convention by dropping sandbags and bags of cement from overpasses as the buses carrying the delegates passed beneath them.

Those bags of cement weigh at least 50 pounds, and the sandbags weigh at least 35 pounds. One of those crashing through a windshield would be all it takes to injure or kill someone on the bus.

What kind of effin' animals do things like that, particularly to protest against war? These guys are the looniest of the lunatic left because they're willing to kill to get their point across...whatever it is.

Mandatory Volunteerism?

We keep hearing Obama's plan for “mandatory” volunteerism from our youth in junior and senior high school, as well as some version of the same for college students.

My question is this: Is it really volunteering if you're forced to do it?

Keeping that in mind, Jim Lundgren questions Obama's plans.

What's next, the Obama Jugend?