Sunday, July 31, 2011

Anti-Tea Party Vitriol

Annhilating Democracy with the Tea Party

Tyranny of 87 Must Stop

The Tea Party is a real threat to America

Kerry: Tea Party a group of 'Absolutists' who don't understand what they're doing

The Tea Party Taliban

So, the Tea Party are crazy extremists, but the Glorious Compromisers of both parties who, over the last 80 years, have in unmitigated greed, pornographic power lust, and undiluted narcissism sunk us into this position are the sane ones who we should all hail as our saviors.

Annihilating Democracy? That's Crony Capitalism (see Fannie and Freddy, corporate welfare, etc.). Tyranny? Every usurpation of state and individual rights by the ever-ravenous federal government is tyranny. The Tea Party a real threat? You mean, citizens learning about and getting involved with their own government threatens your ideological goals. Kerry is such a joke ... but, YOU, Senator Kerry, have helped put us here, so if you have known what you were doing then you have intended to bring America to the brink of destruction, and if you haven't, then you're a tool, an absolute tool. And Taliban? Taliban? Please. Again: The rest of the political establishment has brought us to the brink of destruction, not of two ancient statues, but of the economic lives of 300,000,000 people and all their descendants, and all because of your ideological inflexibility and greed.

Do we need more revenue? Sure, but the last century tells us that if the government raises taxes, they will just spend it; they won't pay down the debt. So no more taxes until we make structural changes that will eliminate the debt. We don't trust you.

And yes, if what the leftist media reports is true about how much the various plans would cut were true, one of them might be acceptable. But time after time politicians and their brown-nosing media enablers have heralded on front pages that huge sums have been saved or cut only to admit, on page 27, three weeks later, that those cuts / savings were really just accounting gimmicks and the deal really raised spending by billions. We don't trust you.

We don't trust you at all, and you have given us every reason not to do so.

And all those sycophants of the Grand Compromisers who are building up hatred for the Tea Party are idiots, or they expect us to be idiots. Why would we EVER again trust the political wheelers and dealers who put us in this position? To do so would be madness, idiocy, extremism of the worst kind. Doing so would destroy us, destroy democracy, destroy our world.

Today's Links of Interest

Syrian officers defect, form Syrian Free Army to fight Assad

Moody's: Neither Debt Plan Protects the Nation's AAA Rating

Fiscally responsible punk rock

Can the president ignore the debt ceiling set by Congress? Tasty snippet:

Isn't it funny how this "tea party" philosophy just sounds like a fair reading of the text? But only Clarence Thomas is crackpot enough to do that!
An interesting post and discussion in the comments on 'Asians as White'

Getting it right: Woodward and Bernstein did NOT bring down Nixon

Sen. Marco Rubio: “Compromise without solutions is a waste of time.”

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Today's Links of Interest

Overcoming Bias, an interesting blog I ran across. From the site: "... economist Robin Hanson's blog, on honesty, signaling, disagreement, forecasting, and the far future."

The Art of Manliness, yet another interesting blog.

Gilligan's Island all about democracy. Who knew? This guy did.

At Business Insider, Wynn CEO Goes On Epic Anti-Obama Rant On Company Conference Call:

You bet and until we change the tempo and the conversation from Washington, it's not going to change. And those of us who have business opportunities and the capital to do it are going to sit in fear of the President. And a lot of people don't want to say that. They'll say, God, don't be attacking Obama. Well, this is Obama's deal and it's Obama that's responsible for this fear in America.

The guy keeps making speeches about redistribution and maybe we ought to do something to businesses that don't invest, their holding too much money. We haven't heard that kind of talk except from pure socialists. Everybody's afraid of the government and there's no need soft peddling it, it's the truth. It is the truth. And that's true of Democratic businessman and Republican businessman, and I am a Democratic businessman and I support Harry Reid. I support Democrats and Republicans. And I'm telling you that the business community in this company is frightened to death of the weird political philosophy of the President of the United States. And until he's gone, everybody's going to be sitting on their thumbs.
The LA Times attacks the first amendment. (It's a right or it isn't; when you start saying 'These people have first amendment rights; those people don't,' you've endorsed the end of the idea of a human right to free speech.)

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Paul Ryan's Plan

Gregory Mankiw:

As I have pointed out before, a bipartisan group of ten former CEA chairs (including your humble blog host) has endorsed the Bowles-Simpson commission report as a starting point for dealing with the long-run fiscal imbalance.  So readers might like to know that Bowles and Simpson themselves have called the Ryan plan a positive step.

If you want to learn more about the Ryan plan, you can look at this side-by-side comparison of two plans or read this CBO report


Apparently, Minnesota is getting along well without a government (at least, without parts of one), and the Democrats and Republicans are still wrestling over the budget. It seems the Democratic insistence on redistributing wealth from private to public hands is the sticking point.

I'd like to take a closer look at a couple of articles I linked that discuss conservative tax proposals. First, Steven Hayward's proposal:

But here’s the case: one problem with our current tax policy is that at the moment the American people as a whole are receiving a dollar of government for the price of only 60 cents.  (I don’t say a “dollar’s worth of government,” but let’s leave that snark for another time.)  Any time you can get a dollar of something at a 40 percent discount, you are going to demand more of it.  My theory is simple: if the broad middle class of Americans are made to pay for all of the government they get, they may well start to demand less of it, quickly.

In other words, if you want to limit government spending, instead of starving the beast, serve the check.

Indeed, tax forms sent to each individual should include an itemized receipt for the goods and services the taxpayer is purchasing, showing where every penny will go. Where the citizen has received services paid for by others, that should also be shown clearly on the receipt. When there is a proposal to increase government expenses, the cost to each citizen should be published well in advance in the form of "If bill XYZ passes, your taxes will go up by $X each year."

Hayward goes on to note that:

Back in the Reagan years, there was a vigorous internal debate about whether to resist tax increases because “starving the beast” would hold down spending.  But evidence is now in: this strategy doesn’t work.

Why? He cites a 2006 CATO study that showed that decreases in federal funding correlate to increases in federal deficits. Politicians don't stop spending; when the amount of public money available decreases, they just borrow more. In addition, the author points out that Reagan raised taxes and increased federal revenues.

If tax increases are on the table, then, what kind of tax increases should we support? Let's take one more slice from Haywood as our starting point:

A debate on how to raise taxes might actually be fun to have with liberals, because their only idea—eat tax the rich—doesn’t produce anywhere near enough revenue to fund their programs.
Indeed. HotAir covers that angle, showing that if we took 100% of what the top 10% of earners in the US make, it would not be close to covering Obama's budget gap. (More: WSJ, one of HotAir's sources for their article; Walter E. Williams; Steve McCann.)

Now let's shift our attention to Reid J. Epstein's article in Politico, Debt Blogs: Out of Left (& Right) Field Ideas:

While President Barack Obama and congressional leaders are gridlocked in their attempts to negotiate an agreement to raise the nation’s debt limit, there is no shortage of wacky ideas from the nation’s online peanut gallery.

Glenn Reynolds at Instapundit proposed a 50 percent surtax on the post-administration private sector incomes of top government officials and excise taxes on movie tickets, DVDs and digital music downloads.

But this isn't nearly enough. In the comments to Haywood's article a number of commenters take the position that everyone should pay taxes, even if it's just a few dollars a year for the poorest. This isn't a bad idea, and I've heard it in a number of other conservative forums, but again, it isn't enough. I don't have the answer, but there are two forms of tax increase I would like to see.

First, end virtually all federal corporate welfare and government subsidies of various industries through tax breaks, etc. While overall tax rates would remain the same, this would increase federal revenues.

Second, end or substantially reduce the number (or where that is impossible, the size) of public-private Frankenstein's like Fannie and Freddie. These organizations allow a few top people to take millions by risking taxpayer money; Fannie and Freddie were a key part of the housing crisis, and yet their top executives got away with millions and no condemnation, unlike executives in entirely private companies. This too, while avoiding increases in overall tax rates, would end tax subsidies to semi-private, wealthy, and powerful companies and individuals, effectively increasing taxes on them.

All of these proposals together would not be enough. At some point, there will have to be broader tax increases. However, except for ideas like the above, government must cut first. The federal government has continuously proven that it cannot handle money responsibly; it has left Social Security full of IOUs, it has wasted untold billions on pork barrel projects, and it has stuffed the pockets of big donors with public cash for decades upon decades. Federal profligacy is the reason for the crisis we are in now.

Therefore, in order to prove that tax increases will not be wasted, the federal government must now demonstrate that it can act responsibly by making deep and lasting cuts, and it must show that new tax revenues will go toward solving our financial crisis, not to the pockets of big donors or to useless "public works" projects just to buy votes for incumbents by drastically increasing transparency on the finances of the United States.

Webmail Software Comparison

Noah S over at Arvixe Blog* compares the top three webmail software programs: Horde, SquirrelMail, and RoundCube. Very useful, even though it was written in 2009.

*Arvixe is a web hosting provider.

Saturday, July 09, 2011

Update on Going Without Google

In last Saturday's post on escaping Google I listed alternatives recommended by others.

I gave DuckDuckGo a try this past week, but it simply didn't turn up the quality of results Google does. I have since switched to Yahoo! for searching, and its results seem equal to Google's.

I have also been looking at Zoho to replace things like Gmail and Google Docs. Zoho really offers quite a bit of useful stuff. I suspect the usefulness of Zoho as a collaboration tool would depend on getting others to use it as well; most people already have a Gmail account, so it's simpler to just use Google's services.

Today's Links of Interest

Thanks to Instapundit, I've been reading a lot of Susannah Breslin lately.

She led me to The Graffiti of War Project.

xkcd has an interesting comment on postmodern dating.

Speaking of which, Javier Tordable has an interesting post on the best cities for singles in America.

And, in a complete non sequitur from the above links, James Pethokoukis makes the case that Obama may have really made things worse.

However, Politico tells us, there are a number of left and right tax proposals to address the debt problem.

Steven Hayward, at Power Line, makes the conservative case for higher taxes, more or less.

Continuing a circle of non sequitur, Instapundit also sent me to Molinaro Media, which sent me to a good article on how to make text look interesting by Kurt Edelbrock.

And here's a paper on the legal relationship between photographers' rights and law enforcement.

Sunday, July 03, 2011

Yet Another Deception on the Internet

Today I discovered Traffic Faker, a service you can subscribe to that will generate a list of URLs and then send a robot out to plant your URL in those websites' referral logs, making it look like you visited the sites.

There's nothing illegal about it, of course, but the point is to deceive website owners into visiting your site. To which I say: What putzes! Both the company offering this service and the users of it -- putzes all!

Update: Maybe I should have titled this 'Referral Spam.'

Saturday, July 02, 2011

Escaping Google

If you have something that you don't want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn't be doing it in the first place. -- Google CEO Eric Schmidt

Here are two very good articles on escaping the ubiquity of Google online. Of course, it's not entirely possible, but there are a lot of alternatives out there for Google functions.

How I Learned to Live Google Free, by Joshua J. Romero

A Week Without Google, by Chris Reynolds

Some of the replacements that interested me were:

  • for RSS, Sage extension for Firefox
  • instead of Gmail, Zoho Mail (though Romero notes that, for better security, Lavabit or FastMail might be better, and each has a plan for less than $10 a year)
  • for searching, DuckDuckGo seems even better than Google and doesn't save or pass on data about you or your search; Blekko also seems to have some useful functions
  • YouTube seems to be the indispensable Google site, though Vimeo is an alternative
  • Todoist replaces Google Tasks, and Romero notes it is by far superior

I will update this post with more alternatives to Google in the near future.

Update: Speaking of the near future ...

  • Lightning, a Thunderbird plug-in, replaces Google Calendar and Tasks
  • Hootsuite replaces Twitter
  • Chris Pederick's Web Developer replaces Chrome's WebKit (though Reynolds laments the lack of Inspect Element, some similar add-ons are available for Firefox)
There's a lot more; the above is only the beginning.

Here are two more guys who took up the week-without-Google challenge:

A Week Without Google! on Tech Guru

One Week Without Google, by Tom Krazit

The Tech Guru's article offers some more alternatives:

  • He suggests Yahoo! search for web searching.
  • Instead of Gmail, he too recommends Zoho, and as an alternative,
  • He claims Zoho is better than Google Docs, but also suggests Thinkfree, which offers (like Zoho) an online office suite.
  • For Google Maps, he suggests Microsoft's Virtual Earth (though this doesn't seem, at first glance, to lead to an easy-to-use map application - maybe this has become Bing Maps?) and Yahoo Maps, and also Ask Maps. For Google Earth, Microsoft has Virtual Earth 3D, though this seems to have been dropped.
  • For YouTube, he offers Yahoo Video, Metacafe, Vimeo, Revver, and Veoh.
A few more apps of interest that I ran across in the above articles and in research stemming from them:
  • Web Developer does seem cool.
  • SeaMonkey is an integrated Mozilla app with browser, email, HTML composer, and more.
  • Tabberwocky seems like an interesting Firefox tab manager.