Posts

Showing posts from January, 2012

Politics: Florida Forecast

Image
Romney 39%
Gingrich 33%
Santorum 16%
Paul 12%

My PJ wearing bottom lines:
Romney gets the win but not big enough to put the race away.
Paul is running for a cause so he will keep going no matter what.
If Santorum and Gingrich both land in the 20%, Santorum will have reason to stay in.  But a third place showing below 20% means he should sit down with his team after Florida to decide whether to keep going or call it a valiant effort and go home.

UPDATE:
Wow!  I got the Gingrich number about right and was close on Santorum but clearly underestimated the shift to Romney!  Paul's protest vote seemed to have peaked in Iowa and New Hampshire.  I wonder if it is simply that those two early states like to be contrarian, whereas South Carolina (more conservative) and Florida (much larger) have an electorate that is actually voting for whom they think is a winner and less willing to make a protest vote?

Was listening to an interview with a pollster (Rasmussen?) on a podcast and he speculate…

Politics: More or less power to the Federal Government? A question since the founding of America!

After America won its independence from England, it became apparent that the Articles of Confederation provided for too weak a central government for the nation to thrive.  Thus, the Constitution was drafted to increase and yet limit the powers of the central government.

One of the great gifts of the first President, George Washington, was his good character to actually attempt to live by Constitutional limits.  As the military leader of the Revolution, he was such a hero to the American people that he could have easily ruled as a dictator.  In the history of the electoral college, how we select Presidents, he was the only one to receive a vote from every elector in 1788 and 1892, and thus be unanimously elected President!  Nonetheless, he filled out a cabinet with strong figures with differing views and did not seek a third term.

I recently read Thomas Jefferson by R.B. Bernstein.  On pp. 90-91, he described the tension between Hamilton who wanted a stronger government and Jefferson…

Politics: Differences between civilian and military life - Post President's 2012 SOTU Speech Analysis

President Obama is noted for giving pretty good speeches.  I didn't catch all of the latest SOTU.  As is typical for such speeches, there was the list of proposals as well as emotionally stirring passages about some aspect of American greatness.

I tip my hat to the President for recognizing the tremendous sacrifices and dedicated work of the military in the beginning and the end of the speech.

Excerpt:
Last month, I went to Andrews Air Force Base and welcomed home some of our last troops to serve in Iraq. Together, we offered a final, proud salute to the colors under which more than a million of our fellow citizens fought -- and several thousand gave their lives. We gather tonight knowing that this generation of heroes has made the United States safer and more respected around the world. For the first time in nine years, there are no Americans fighting in Iraq. For the first time in two decades, Osama bin Laden is not a threat to this country. Most of al Qaeda’s top lieutenants h…

Politics: Your mission should you decide to accept it is to design a tax system ...

Image
Here is my attempt to diagram what happens when Mr. Carl Citizen earns a salary at a company, saves money at his local bank, buys various things around town, responsibly keeps up his home, invests in a mix of dividend paying companies (so called "value" stocks) and companies that if successful will result in a capital gain (so called "growth" stocks).

Taxes are a necessary part of living in a modern society.

However, as you can imagine, Mr. Carl Citizen wonders how much government spending is useful versus wasteful and whether there are simpler and fairer ways to levy taxes for government revenue.

Non-profit of the month: January 2011 - DonorsChoose.org

Image
Their tag line:  Teachers ask. You choose. Students learn.

Browse the list and see if there is something at the school you went to.

Take a look around and see if the school in your neighborhood has a project.

After finding something, go ahead and give to help fund that classroom's needs.


Science: Vitamin D and Math Modeling

As a molecular biologist, I work on trying to better understanding the actions of vitamin D.

A few years back, we established a collaboration with a mathematician to see if there might be some way of looking at the problem from that angle.  Click the link below to see the result!

Vitamin D Binding Protein and Monocyte Response to 25-Hydroxyvitamin D and 1,25-Dihydroxyvitamin D: Analysis by Mathematical Modeling

Politics: South Carolina Bounce Onto Florida

Real Clear Politics keeps running track of the major polls for Florida.

Right after Gingrich's big win in South Carolina, Insider Advantage and Rasmussen Reports reported on their 1/22 pool data (the day after the SC primary).  Gingrich was up 8 and 9 percentage points respectively.

The Florida primary will be held on January 31.

Will be interesting to see what the ebb and flow of the numbers are this week and over the weekend.

Is there going to be buyer's remorse and Gingrich bounce fades?
Will Romney rally or will he continue to decline?
If there are declines in Gingrich and/or Romney's numbers, will they go to Santorum or undecided?
What will the level of die hard protest voting be for Paul?

IA numbers for 1/22:
Gingrich 34%
Romney 26%
Paul 13%
Santorum 11%
Others/undecided 16%

RR numbers for 1/22:
Gingrich 41%
Romney 32%
Santorum 11%
Paul 8%
Others/undecided 8%

The numbers have changed! And there is enough time for it to change again before next Tuesday's voting!

RR…

Politics: Things not looking good for the GOP Presidential nominees

Leave it to Canadian Mark Steyn to cut through the noise and hit the problem with the GOP nominees on the head.

Excerpt:
Historians will look back mystified at a contest between Mitt’s soporific trimming and Newt’s histrionic showboating.

Newt is a great rhetorical puncher but will he be able to govern?

Romney's claim has been, vote for me, I can win. But he now apparently lost in Iowa and is looking to be headed to a defeat in South Carolina.  He needs to make a positive case for his candidacy beyond a vague sense of inevitability.

Politics: South Carolina Primary Guesses

Image
Gingrich 35%
Romney 34%
Paul 17%
Santorum 11%
Others 3%

Gingrich being from the South gets a bump and his jabs against President Obama and the media are crowd pleasers.

Paul will continue to get around 20%.  Sometimes a little more as in Iowa and New Hampshire and sometimes a little less like in South Carolina.

Santorum seems unable to repeat the Iowa success and notification that he "won" Iowa is too little too late.

Romney's railroad keeps chugging along but not exactly wowing the GOP.

Update:  CNN is posting a poll with Gingrich gaining a huge lead.  I'm a little skeptical that his surge is that large.  Clearly, he is getting a lot of movement because people think of him as a fighter and people are in a fighting mood.  But I think Romney will pick up some support from those who think Gingrich might be a little too over the top.  I predicted the 1% win for Gingrich late Friday night.  As I sit here in my PJs this Saturday morning, a larger win for Gingrich is proba…

Politics: President Obama's Team of 1% Folks

How does the left feel about the 1% on its side of the aisle?

Check out the salaries of some Team Obama members in their lives before working at the White House.

$1.1 million - President Obama’s new chief of staff, Jacob Lew
$8.7 million - Prior chief of staff, William Daley
$16 million - First chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel
$5 million - National economic director, Larry Summers
$2 million - Budget director, Peter Orszag
$7 million - National security adviser, Tom Donilon

I think firing up anger at the 1% is foolish whether one truly believes the 1% are evil or whether the anger is stoked for political purposes.

Are there excesses in a capitalist society?

Yup.

Does that mean we should decry all the "1%" folks?

Nope.

Art: Time Lapse Video

Image
1.98 million hits as of this morning.  Enjoy!!

Politics: Wow, things are happening fast ...

A few days ago, it looked like the HMS Romney was sailing easily to victory.

But with the questions about what Bain Capital was about and his tax returns, Team Romney is bailing water.

Santorum's bounce from Iowa has clearly faded and the endorsement of an evangelical group over the weekend seems to have made little difference in his declining fortunes.  Look for him to bail out after South Carolina.  Who will he endorse?

Huntsman saw the writing on the wall and bailed out and endorsed Romney.

Perry saw the writing on the wall and bailed out and endorsed Gingrich.

Gingrich is gaining ground because people love a fighter and in debates he hits POTUS with one hand and the media with the other and the GOP undecideds are eating it up.  But just as this is happening, ABC News lands a tell-all interview with the ex-wife.  Will this make a difference?

Meanwhile, Paul marches on getting 15-20% of the vote because his two note message, cut spending and bring the troops home, draws those no…

Faith: Eucharist Haiku

Tearing up the bread
Darkness falls hard, the wine spills
At the cross, he pays

Pass around the bread
Share at table, the good wine
We remember him

He breaks the warm bread
He pours out the cup of wine
We are home with him

Politics: Bain Capital - Venture Capitalism or Vulture Capitalism

Mr. Romney cites his experience in leading Bain Capital as one of his qualification for the Presidency.

However, he has come under attack for that role.

One would think his role at Bain would be easy to assess.  Alas, because of the nature of a private equity company, it isn't so simple according to this Politico.com article.

Memo to Romney campaign:  if you think Newt and Perry are hitting hard, wait until Team Obama hits with $100+ million of negative ads.  If the truth is your friend, you got to get hard facts out there AND compelling narratives.

Sports: Pac12 and March Madness

It is a down year for the Pac12.

The question on the minds of Pac12 fans (and in my case a UCLA fan) is how many teams the Pac12 will get into the tournament?

As of today, Lunardi has three teams in:  Stanford as a 9 seed, California as an 11 and Colorado a 14.  Lunardi has Colorado in only because it is currently atop the Pac12.  If that were not the case, I think he would only have two Pac12 teams in.  However, he has Arizona sitting in the first four out group; thus, Arizona could get in under the right circumstances bringing the Pac12 invites back up to three.

The winner of the Pac12 tournament automatically gets into March Madness.  

I would guess that if the Pac12 tournament winner is not the regular season champion, the regular season champion would get in as an at-large.  This would be the best path for UCLA.  I suspecting for UCLA to finish number two in the regular season and lose in the Pac12 tournament might be risky unless the loss is in the Pac12 championship game again…

Politics: New Hampshire Primary Predictions

Image
Like any other blogger in pajamas, I can make predictions about the elections!

New Hampshire is somewhat different than Iowa for various reasons:
The primary system allows more casual voters to participate compared to the more activist participation rules of a caucus of Iowa.  Thus, it is a more moderate electorate.I think New Hampshire allows non-registered Republican voters to cross over and vote in the primary.  Thus, liberal and independent non-Republican voters can boost certain candidates.Historically, New Hampshire voters almost have an anti-Iowa mood as shown in recent history in recent contested GOP election cycles. Iowa winner 1980 - Bush 1988 - Dole 1996 - Dole 2000 - Bush 2008 - Huckabee 2012 - Romney/Santorum (essentially it was a tie)

New Hampshire winner 1980 - Reagan 1988 - Bush 1996 - Buchanan 2000 - McCain 2008 - McCain 2012 - ?

I think the unique features of NH probably helps Huntsman the most.  Also, Huntsman camped out in New Hampshire much like Santorum worked I…

Politics: The new health bill - promises and problems

Having been through the recent open enrollment period at work late last year and looking at the various health plans.  I realize that health plans come in really two major flavors.  Pay more per month but pay less in deductibles and co-pays when you have major health services.  The other type has lower monthly payments but higher deductibles and co-pays when you have major health services.

How will the health law affect these flavors I don't know.

What are some features in the new health law and what are the promises and problems that might arise?

The new health plan tries to get rid of denial of coverage due to pre-existing conditions.

Having heard and read stories of honest people getting the run-around from insurance companies on these issues, one can understand the desire to shake up the system.  The insurance companies do deserve the PR black eye they get for those stories.

But there is another side to the story in defense of the insurance companies because the sad reality is …

World: Iraq and the Vietnam Analogy

The US fought in Vietnam for a long time.  The last American troops left in 1973.  In 1975, Saigon fell.

Will Iraq be like Vietnam?

Some will say that South Vietnam's collapse was inevitable and that the American presence there just delayed it.

Some will say the same of Iraq.  The argument goes that Iraq was destined for civil war without a dictator like Hussein ruling with an iron fist. 

What is the "answer" to the historical "what if" regarding the Iraq war?

What would have happened if there was no war and Saddam Husein remained in power?

How would Afghanistan be today if instead of invading Iraq we had put in more troops in Afghanistan earlier on?

Would the governments of Egypt, Tunisia and Libya have fallen without the Iraq invasion?

Some will say, eventually Hussein would have died or someone would have staged a coup and civil war would break out with the support of the neighboring Iranians.

Some will say, whether American troops stayed in large numbers o…

Politics: US Military Spending

Image
How much do you think the US spends on its military?

How much should the US spend on its military?

Below are three graphs that show how much the US actually spent on its armed forces in recent history.

The first graph goes all the way back to 1930.  As you can see, there was the huge spike in the 1940s during World War II.  American truly transitioned into a war economy at one point having 42% of all economic activity devoted to the military. 


The second graph shows the period from 1950 to 1980.  One can note the peak in the 1950s probably due to the Korean War and the Cold War with the USSR.  In the 50s, routinely 10% or more of the US economy was dedicated to military spending.  President Eisenhower warned of the military-industrial complex.  And indeed, since then, the USA has not spent near the levels of the early 50s.

In the 60s, America fought in Vietnam and kept a strong military for the ongoing Cold War.  8 1/2 to 11 cents of every dollar in the US was placed toward defense s…

Politics: "Non-partisan" California Redistricting Apparently Partisan

Recently, in California, a ballot measure was placed before the voters to establish a "non-partisan" commission to draw up the boundaries for various elective offices.  The theory was to take the process out of the hands of the elected officials who would draw up district lines that protected themselves and their parties from competitive elections.

Alas, it appears that the "non-partisan" commission's work got manipulated by partisans posing as non-partisans.

Excerpts:
The report included an exclusive interview with a redistricting commission member who alleged partisan behavior by his supposedly non-partisan commission colleagues, but the series didn’t cause much attention in the media, the Capitol, or among the public. Apparently, no one was surprised that a commission formed with the best of intentions - i.e., taking backroom political deal-making out of the process by which political lines were drawn - was cynically manipulated to create a partisan advantag…

Politics: Iowa Prediction

Image
I think Ron Paul's isolationist views are not a good idea but he captures the anti-Washington sentiment and has a very loyal following.  Rick Santorum is now the current not-Romney candidate.

Thus, my forecast:
Paul 24%
Romney 23%
Santorum 21%
Gingrich 13%
Perry 9%
Bachman 7%
Others 3%

UPDATE:  Here is a screen grab below from the NY Times.  My predictions were pretty close to the final results in the sense I figured the top 3 would be pretty bunched up with some spread between the other three.


Life: Thoughts by the Shore

The constant crash of sea to shore
How small we on this earthly place
Enamored with our thoughts that roar
Drowning out God's whispers of grace.

You are constant as sea to sand.
Water gently caressing my feet
Sand settling around where I stand
Embedding grace - God and I meet.