Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Blunt the Elder Goes Birther

Perhaps Roy Blunt was confused when he voted Monday to recognize Hawaii as the birthplace of President Obama. He apparently hasn't decided on the issue.

"What I don't know is why the president can't produce a birth certificate," said Blunt. "I don't know anybody else that can't produce one. And I think that that's a legitimate question -- no health records, no birth certificate."
Why Blunt would acknowledge the president's birthplace on the official record but propogate a known lie when asked elsewhere is a mystery. Oh wait, it isn't a mystery. Roy Blunt is a bad person.

Identifying the Undead - A Flowchart

Via Yglesias.

Monday, July 27, 2009

The Greatest

Rickey Henderson gave a great speech at the Hall of Fame ceremony. Perhaps it was a bit of a surprise because, as Ricky said recently, "Speech and me don't get along sometimes." But maybe it wasn't a surprise, because the guy was always clutch. He through one more time on Sunday, and I was happy to see him do it.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Quote of the Day

I missed this yesterday, but I kind of can't believe it hasn't been more out there (at least on liberal blogs). It's a quote from Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) on the PAYGO measures the House is considering.

BLACKBURN: Let’s agree that we’re going to have PAYGO enforcement. That we’re not going to cry ‘emergency’ every time we have a Katrina, every time we have a Tsunami, every time we have a need for extra spending, that we don’t go call for a special appropriation that allows us to circumvent the PAYGO rules.
It seems to me that suggesting that the federal government should not be involved in disaster relief for events like Katrina is a fairly radical position. Not to mention apparently believing that Katrina may not constitute an "emergency." This is what happens when the bar for ridiculous behavior gets set so high. Something like this sort of slips under the radar because it's only 75% as crazy as a lot of the things said in the House of Representatives.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Rickey Still the Best

The Freakanomics blog on the New York Times site hosted Buster Olney as a guest to answer questions about baseball. Many of the questions are stats related, of course, but it also included a question about my favorite player and entertainer.

Q What’s your favorite Rickey Henderson story? — Nann

A Last spring, Rickey went on the ESPN radio show Mike and Mike and, one by one, he addressed the Rickey legends deeming them either truth or myth. He acknowledged that yes, in fact, he did frame the rather large bonus check (I think it was for $1 million) rather than cash it; yes, in fact, he did suffer frost bite in the middle of the summer because he fell asleep on an ice pack in the trainer’s room; and he acknowledged other stories. What I loved about this whole thing was that while a whole other lot of stars would have refused to answer these questions, Rickey answered with candor, and with a smile on his face. It was classic Rickey, because he has always been steeped in confidence, very sure about who he is, and comfortable about who he is.
Rickey Henderson - best leadoff man and most awesome guy in baseball history.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Doing Pretty Well

Unless you're a socialist, you are probably applauding this Wall Street Journal story:

The pay of employees who receive more than the Social Security wage base -- now $106,800 -- increased by 78%, or nearly $1 trillion, over the past decade, exceeding the 61% increase for other workers, according to the analysis. In the five years ending in 2007, earnings for American workers rose 24%, half the 48% gain for the top-paid. The result: The top-paid represent 33% of the total, up from 28% in 2002.
Of course, that means that the rich are continuing to run away and hide from the rest of us in terms of income. But it means a lot more than that too...

The growing portion of pay that exceeds the maximum amount subject to payroll taxes has contributed to the weakening of the Social Security trust fund. In May, the government said the Social Security fund would be exhausted in 2037, four years earlier than was predicted in 2008.
All just a part of capitalism right. These people have clearly been working harder, not receiving any special treatment.

For example, health insurer Humana Inc. contributes 4% of pay to employees' retirement accounts on salary up to the taxable-earnings wage base -- and 8% above it. Thanks to the richer contribution, Humana Chief Executive Michael B. McCallister received a total contribution of $22,370 under the plan in 2008. (He also received $314,790 in company contributions to his supplemental executive retirement and savings plan.)

Typically, employers can't discriminate in favor of high-paid employees who participate in taxpayer-subsidized retirement plans. But a "permitted disparity" exception enables them to provide additional benefits on the portion of pay that isn't subject to payroll taxes, ostensibly to replace the Social Security benefits executives won't receive on the portion of their pay that is exempt from payroll taxes.

Via Kevin Drum.

Monday, July 20, 2009

UMKC - Famous

UMKC made an appearance in the New York Times today. The article is about law professor and one-time Congressional candidate Kris Kobach's crusade against illegal immigration.

That ought to be a boon for the International Student Office.

Friday, July 17, 2009


If you don't think weather is a major factor in the public mood (and thus in the entire history of the world), go look at your facebook or twitter feed right now if you live in the midwest. That would be the midwest where it is in the upper-seventies on July 17.

Everyone's feeling good.

Charts and Charts and Charts and...

In case you were getting ready to write your Congressman about the potential devastating effects of raising taxes on the wealthy to pay for universal healthcare.

You can relax.

Recession Solved

A Missouri dealer has a new incentive to buy a truck.

Buy a truck and get a free AK-47 gun.

That's the deal a Missouri truck dealer is offering new customers who buy a pickup truck in August.

Mark Muller, owner of Max Motors in Butler, says he knows people will be bothered by the promotion.

But not to worry, Muller is not handing out free guns. Instead, he will give buyers a voucher to use at a gun store after they obtain a license to carry a concealed weapon.
This could be genius. The firearms industry is one of the few doing well in this economy because of a fear that Obama will take away everyone's guns. So this dealer takes a hard to sell truck and attaches a must-have item in a possibly soon to be banned weapon. He struck on the solution to our economic woes - a fear-based economy.

All we need is to convince conservative websites and news outlets that Obama might soon ban vehicles and sit back while the auto industry magically recovers. Or better, we could suggest that homes are a soon to banned. Housing slump over.

Sometimes you find genius in unexpected places.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Zach Greinke, All-Star

He pitched a great inning in the game last night, throwing only 10 pitches and getting to strikeouts and a foulout. Before that he was an all-star with the media. Sam Mellinger put together a collection of Greinke gems. Like:

On Roy Halladay:

"There's nobody else like him. He throws 93-mph sinkers and cutters, and he never misses his spot. Nobody else can do that. There are maybe a handful of guys out there who can throw 93-mph sinkers. Maybe. But they can't control it. There's not much else to say. It's really simple for him...It's not even that fun to watch. I mean, you can watch it if you want to. But it's like that every time."

Friday, July 10, 2009

Proof Day #2: St. Louis is Full of Snobs

How else to explain the island of "soda" drinkers in the middle of "pop" and "coke" country?

Proof Day #1: Republicans and Science Don't Mix

There you have it, science has a liberal bias.

This, of course, helps explain why so many scientists say climate change is real. They're just a bunch of liberals who have bought in to the b.s. They probably think the world is millions of years old too.

Via Kevin Drum.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Yo Joe!

Slate is on a roll with this summer movies section. The newest treasure is a look back at the G.I. Joe cartoon series of my childhood. The topic is the fact that no one ever dies in the show despite the fact that 75% of each episode is spent with Joes and Cobras trying to kill eachother.

The slide show contains 8 pieces of video about the improbable escapes of each side. There is also a lot of great commentary like this:

Joes who are shot down also have an uncanny ability to parachute directly into an enemy's aircraft and start punching the pilot in the face.
Check it out, especially if you're a child of the eighties.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Kickin' Ass

Slate has a story up about which action movies stuntmen think are most impressive. The list is great, and has a few things I've never seen. Read the story to get the whole explanation, but two pieces of impressive action movie-making I think should be added are the chase at the beginning of Casino Royale (the new one) and something (anything) involving Jackie Chan.

I think Jackie's stunt cred is harmed a little by his affable nature and his willingness to be in Rush Hour 3. But action scenes don't get much better than this from First Strike:

Healthcare Costs

The chart shows healthcare spending by country as a percentage of GDP.

Interesting particularly in light of a Jonathan Cohn story on a couple of the health systems similar to what some have proposed for the U.S.

Last year, I had the opportunity to spend time researching two of these countries: France and the Netherlands. Neither country gets the attention that Canada and England do. That might be because English isn’t their language. Or it might be because they don’t fit the negative stereotypes of life in countries where government is more directly involved in medical care.

But in the course of a few dozen lengthy interviews, not once did I encounter an interview subject who wanted to trade places with an American. And it was easy enough to see why. People in these countries were getting precisely what most Americans say they want: Timely, quality care. Physicians felt free to practice medicine the way they wanted; companies got to concentrate on their lines of business, rather than develop expertise in managing health benefits. But, in contrast with the US, everybody had insurance. The papers weren’t filled with stories of people going bankrupt or skipping medical care because they couldn’t afford to pay their bills. And they did all this while paying substantially less, overall, than we do.
Ladies and gentlemen, the horrors of socialized medicine.

Via Matt Yglesias.

Welcome Interruption

It's been a few days since I got post up, but I can assure you my time was better spent. Headed back to the home town for the 4th of July weekend, and filled four days with all kinds of fun.

I waded through a cattle pond up to my chest in a pair of canvas shoes and some classy swim trunks looking for frogs. I played golf for the first time in a couple of years and almost honored the hole's designation with my score on #14. I attended a baseball game that had a pretty nice fireworks show at the end. I participated in the hometown parade on a family float, and we even won a trophy. I had a great evening playing backyard games, watching fireworks, eating homemade ice cream and shortcake, and sitting around a bonfire.

And for the whole weekend, I had excellent company - the three other names listed on this blog included. Thanks boys.

p.s. BSD and I figured out this weekend that it is 2009, so not only does the end of this year require a best of 2009 music list but also a best of the decade list. If you are inclined to participate in such an activity, I suggest you start now. We have already discovered it is going to be a challenge.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Good News, Bad News

Al Franken finally won Minnesota's second Senate seat after the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled in his favor. I think that is good news.

But there is plenty of bad news. It is coming mostly in the form of coverage of the event by the media. Everyone is focusing on the idea that the Democrats now have 60 seats and that means they are philibuster proof and able to enact anything they want.

The first part of the statement is true, but the second part is completely false. Democrats have already proven unable to keep all of their Senators on the same page, and that doesn't include the two Independents whose votes help make up the 60.

Given the way American politics have evolved over the last two decades, it seems there are quite a few Senators who might have been Republicans 20 years ago but are now Democrats. That certainly doesn't make them liberals. And they have been pretty loathe to help enact liberal policy so far.

So if the American public thinks the Democrats can do whatever they want, but they never actually have 60 votes for anything, then Republicans are in some ways better off than they were before. It could be a long year and a half until the next elections.

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