Saturday, July 30, 2011

Are we winning the war on drugs?

Check out this Washington Post article:

"In Sonora state, Mexico’s military said Saturday that troops seized five metric tons of marijuana near the U.S. border in Puerto Penasco, a beach city popular with visitors from Arizona."

When the drug cartels are moving their shipments aliquots of 5 metric tons, its a good sign that they aren't really having trouble bypassing our border and/or law enforcement counter measures.

What a waste of effort.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Time to see if I was right

Over 3 months ago, I posted my predictions for the debt ceiling battle over the horizon. Well, judgment day is here. A recap of two essential points:

1. Republican intransigence was, and continues to be, unwarranted. The Republicans were always holding a weak hand, although it actually shocks me that apparently none of them figured this out. When they approached this debt ceiling issue as a battle, they set themselves up for defeat. At this very moment, the pressure is relentlessly building. The House is being inundated with angry phone calls from constituents. The IMF and credit agencies are warning of a downgrade and economic calamity. Obama is taking to the bully pulpit nightly to (rightly) berate the GOP for being uncompromising. And at the end of the day, the Tea Party isn't playing chicken with Obama. Rather, Boehner and powerful GOP backers are playing chicken with the 41 most liberal members of the senate, led by recently re-elected Harry Reid.

2. This in particular turned out to be true:

I absolutely believe that if Republicans put partisan battles aside, Democrats would join them and real progress on spending could be made. There are tons of low-hanging fruits that could be plucked to get real reductions in government spending.

Obama was offering Republicans a bill that cut the debt by FOUR TRILLION DOLLARS. It was something like 85% spending cuts, including cuts to entitlements. 85% is a very historically fair figure when looking at austerity situations. Democrats were furious at Obama for making such an offer, but luckily the GOP bailed them out by refusing Obama's deal. The Economist, a right-of-center newspaper, had a few good editorials about what a great deal the GOP passed up.

At this moment there is what, a week left before D-Day? I think the Democrats have the advantage at this moment. The Republicans WILL jump, but it remains to be seen whether the Democrats get scared and jump first.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Fact of the day: lung cancer

Something like 80% of lung cancers can be linked to smoking. However, only 15% of heavy smokers will develop lung cancer. 86% of those people will be dead within 5 years of diagnosis. I actually am shocked at how low that number is, though. That most people, fully 85% of them, could smoke a pack per day for decades and not get cancer is remarkable. It is a testament to how resilient the human body is.

So should you play the odds and smoke? There are only two games that I enjoy at the casino: Texas Holdem Poker and craps. If you're a smoker, your odds of getting cancer are the same as your opponent catching his open-ended straight draw on the river...or the same as tossing 7 and crapping out. Those things sure seem like they happen more than they do, and that's only when there is a little money on the line.