I iz confused.  A couple of weeks ago I decided to take another crack at setting out limited portions of cat food in order to slim down my critters a bit.  However, after a few days of this, a bit of googling persuaded me that I might have gone too far.  I was underfeeding them, which is potentially dangerous, and in any case not what I had in mind.

So I decided to apply some Science™ to the problem.  Step 1: go back to free feeding them, which has produced their present rotund condition, and see how much they hoover up.  Answer: over the course of five days they ate 24 ounces of dry food and five cans of wet food.  Converting from metric (because the boffins at Hill's list calories per kilogram on the side of their bag), that comes to 2,000 calories of dry food and 400 calories of wet food.  That's 480 calories per day, or 240 calories per cat.

No problem, then.  If I want to shrink them by 20% or so, just cut that down to about 200 calories.

But here's where I'm confused.  As it happens, this matches up perfectly with the recommendation printed on the dry food bag, which suggests that a 15-pound cat needs about 200 calories per day.  But if you google the subject of how much to feed your cat, virtually every source suggests 20-30 calories per pound.  In other words 300-400 calories for a 15-pound cat.

This is ridiculous.  These recommendations aren't even close.  However, since both Science™ and the dry food instructions converge on approximately the same answer, I'm going with 200 calories for now.  The internet appears — shockingly, I know — to be wildly misinformed.

Or something.  Anyway, here are today's Before pictures.  On the left, Domino and Inkblot are lying around in close proximity.  Why?  Because the carpet had just been cleaned and their sensitive little paws didn't like the slight dampness.  So they decamped to the foyer.  On the right, the carpet's all dry!  Inkblot obviously approves.

House liberals have struck a deal with Henry Waxman to bring legislation that would establish a single-payer health care system up for a floor vote this fall, a senior House Democratic staffer tells Mother Jones. H.R. 676, a bill that would create a national single-payer system—essentially Medicare for all—has been languishing in Waxman’s Energy and Commerce committee for months. "Waxman is saying our request will be honored," the staffer says.

The agreement came after a week of bitter in-fighting among liberal and conservative Democrats over health care. The battles were especially intense on Waxman’s committee. After the panel’s conservative "Blue Dog" Democrats successfully pressured Waxman to weaken the so-called "public option," progressives rebelled. Fifty-seven signed a letter refusing to vote for the bill unless the concessions made to the Blue Dogs were thrown out. Late on Friday, Waxman told reporters that he had brokered a final deal that would move health care reform out of his committee.

Any vote on single-payer is likely to be symbolic, but even bringing the bill to the floor is a big step, and one that liberal pressure groups will be happy to see.

UPDATE: Politico says Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the House, has promised a vote on single-payer, too.

Did the Stimulus Work?

Josh Bivens of EPI digs into today's second quarter GDP report to try and figure out what effect the stimulus package has had:

Federal government spending grew at an 11% rate in the quarter, adding roughly 0.8% to overall GDP. State and local government spending grew at a 2.4% annual rate, the fastest growth since the middle of 2007. It is clear that the large amount of state aid contained in the ARRA made this growth possible.

Furthermore, real (inflation-adjusted) disposable personal income rose by 3.2% in the quarter, after rising by only 1% in the previous quarter. A large contribution to this increase was made by the Making Work Pay tax credit passed in conjunction with the ARRA.

....The consensus of macroeconomic forecasters is that ARRA contributed roughly 3% to annualized growth rates in the second quarter. This means that absent its effects, economic performance would have resembled that of the previous three quarters, when the economy contracted at an average annual rate of 4.9%.

The argument that the stimulus bill has "failed" because times are still tough has always been dimwitted.  There was never any chance that it was going to miraculously end the recession, only that it might make it a little shallower than it otherwise would have been.  So far, it appears to have done exactly that.

This is, I admit, pretty cool.  It's almost the dictionary definition of a massive abuse of technology, but pretty cool anyway.  If they could make it work for telephone interviews, I might even get one.

Actually, as things stand now, I can't record telephone interviews at all.  A few years ago, for no reason I've ever been able to figure out, my phone line suddenly developed a loud hum.  You can't hear it during an ordinary conversation, though, only when you plug a tape recorder directly into the line or into the Mic jack on the phone.  I've tried a million different combinations to try to figure out what's causing this, but no dice.  The hum is always there, and it's loud enough to drown out actual conversation.  Very annoying.

Take Back the Beep

Gabbing about Medicare reimbursements rates is all well and good, but on a purely personal level this is the kind of stuff I really love.  It's from David Pogue:

Over the past week, in The New York Times and on my blog, I’ve been ranting about one particularly blatant money-grab by American cellphone carriers: the mandatory 15-second voicemail instructions.

Suppose you call my cell to leave me a message. First you hear my own voice: “Hi, it’s David Pogue. Leave a message, and I’ll get back to you” — and THEN you hear a 15-second canned carrier message.

....In 2007, I spoke at an international cellular conference in Italy. The big buzzword was ARPU — Average Revenue Per User. The seminars all had titles like, “Maximizing ARPU In a Digital Age.” And yes, several attendees (cell executives) admitted to me, point-blank, that the voicemail instructions exist primarily to make you use up airtime, thereby maximizing ARPU.

Right now, the carriers continue to enjoy their billion-dollar scam only because we’re not organized enough to do anything about it. But it doesn’t have to be this way. You don’t have to sit there, waiting to leave your message, listening to a speech recorded by a third-grade teacher on Ambien.

Apparently Pogue's campaign to end this ripoff, which he calls "Take Back the Beep," is already having an effect.  It just goes to show that the mainstream media isn't dead yet.  Now if only we can get Lou Dobbs hot and bothered about this.

It appears members of the House ethics committee want to have it both ways. When it came time to vote yesterday on a series of amendments to strip earmarks from the pork-laden defense appropriations bill, each of the panel's ten members voted "present," declining to support or oppose the measures. Presumably these lawmakers were trying to demonstrate their impartiality, since they are presently investigating earmarks steered  to clients of the PMA Group, the now defunct lobbying firm founded by an ex-aide to Jack Murtha. (Under scrutiny along with Murtha are Democratic Reps. Peter Visclosky of Indiana and James Moran of Virginia, who also had PMA ties.) Yet, at the very same time as these lawmakers were abstaining from these votes, they had their own pet projects tucked into the approps bill. Twenty nine of them, according to the Washington Post, worth $59 million.

Congressional ethics experts said the ethics committee earmarks create at least the appearance of a conflict of interest, and some in the public would naturally question how thoroughly the committee might investigate members on the subcommittee that granted their funding wishes.

"At the same time the committee is investigating the ties between lobby shops and earmarks and appropriators, they are actually playing the game themselves," said Steve Ellis, of the watchdog group Taxpayers for Common Sense. "It's hard not to see some conflict of interest in that."

Ethics committee chair Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), who has three earmarks in the bill, explained to the Post: "When one is appointed to the ethics committee, one is not relieved of the responsibility to represent one's district." That is, just because she's leading an investigation into the corrupting powers of pork, doesn't mean she's going to stop bringing home the bacon herself. Then why vote "present" on the earmark amendments? Perhaps to avoid news stories questioning whether ethics committee members can truly investigate earmarks, when they themselves rely on them to direct funding to their districts. Too late.

Chart of the Day

This comes from a Research 2000 poll commissioned by Daily Kos.  Apparently a majority of Southerners aren't willing to say that Barack Obama was born in the United States.  That's some serious crazy.

Nationwide, 58% of Republicans are unsure that Obama was born in the U.S.  That's some even more serious crazy.

We've obviously spun back into a version of the full-bore Clinton Derangement Syndrome that swept the nation in the early 90s.  This kind of thing always starts with a few fringe characters, but there's a difference this time around.  Clinton craziness was initially pushed by the fringe media and then picked up and amplified by the mainstream guys.  This time it started in the mainstream media: Glenn Beck, Lou Dobbs, Andy McCarthy, Sean Hannity, etc. etc.  No middleman required.

Which makes you wonder: what would it be like if Hillary Clinton had been elected?  I think we've suspected this all along, but now we know the answer with scientific precision: it would have been exactly the same.  It was never Clinton Derangement Syndrome in the first place.  It was Conservative Derangement Syndrome.

Libby Lewis has a piece for MoJo today explaining the government's climbdown in the case of Guantanamo detainee Mohamed Jawad. One thing I don't think the press coverage has fully captured is just how caustic the presiding judge, Ellen Huvelle, has been towards the government throughout the proceedings. Below the jump are some crackling exchanges from a July 16 hearing that reveal Huvelle's intense frustration at the government's stalling tactics—it sounds more like an episode of Judge Judy than a terrorism case. (There's a particularly great bit where Huvelle really lays into a DOJ lawyer for seeking a delay in order to go on vacation.)  It's well worth reading. Full transcript is here.

 

The Lord has been kind to Senate majority leader Harry Reid lately. First, John Ensign, his fellow senator from Nevada and a Republican, got caught having an affair with a staffer. Then it was revealed that Ensign's parents gave the staffer's family nearly $100,000 as part of a "pattern of generosity." That distracted the Nevada media from Reid, who has a tough reelection battle coming up in 2010. Lately, another of Reid's colleagues has been helping him out: Max Baucus, chair of the Senate Finance Committee. With Baucus enraging the left by reaching out to Republicans to put together a deal (or not) on health care reform, liberals have less energy for a once-popular pasttime: slamming Reid. The left used to obsess about getting Reid out of his leadership post. Now all the talk is about dumping Baucus from his chairmanship.

Meanwhile, the White House has been lending Reid a hand by making moves that could delay or cancel the proposed nuclear waste depository at Yucca Mountain, which is extremely unpopular with Nevadans. Reid has also stayed out of Nate Silver's list of the 10 Senate seats most likely to change hands in the 2010 elections, as prominent Republicans have decided not to run against him. And then there's the not-so-small matter of Reid's war chest. He raised $3.25 million between April and June, has $7.33 million in cash on hand, and aims to have raised $25 million by next November. With the media distracted by Ensign, the White House boosting his cause, Republicans shying away from the race, the blame for the health care mess falling on Baucus, and the coffers filling up, it's been a good month for the majority leader.