Friday, December 31, 2010

Top 5 Tech Purchases For 2010—#1



Amazon Kindle.

Ok, this was a birthday present, not a purchase.

Best birthday present ever.

I have the 3G+WiFi model, but I almost never use the WiFi. Unfortunately, they don’t make a 3G only model anymore, just a WiFi only model.

I wasn’t sure I wanted one of these for the longest time. It irked me (and still does) that it’s black and white. The original one irked me with its limited support for other formats, like PDF.

What doesn’t irk me is how well it works, and how easy it is to use and to read. I also got the Lighted Leather Cover. It’s very nice, much nicer than typical book lights. Whether you get the lighted one or not, I do recommend a cover of some kind, just for protection.

Readers like me whose eyes aren’t as good as they used to be will love the crisp clean display and love the fact that you can resize the fonts as big as you like.

Pros:

  • Size. Fits comfortably in your hands. It’s about the size of a paperback book.
  • Display. Unlike a tablet computer such as an iPad, the digital ink display is easily readable in bright sunlight. In fact, it looks like reading a book in bright sunlight.
  • Cost. Yes, you spend the $150-$200 up front to get the thing, but if you read much at all it pays for itself quickly. Kindle books are much cheaper than regular books.
  • Convenience. There are Kindle readers now for just about every device you can imagine, from phones to personal computers. You can download the book you’re reading to any Kindle reader on any device you own, and it knows where you stopped reading. Then if you go back to the Kindle, it will again know where you stopped reading.
  • Weight. I don’t travel as much as I used to, but I used to get on a lot of planes. And I always carried books to read with me. Often this would be two or three or more books, depending on the length of the trip. And I’d guess about half of them or more were hardback books. That adds a lot of weight to your carry on luggage. The Kindle weighs about the same as one paperback book and yet can hold thousands of books.

Cons:

  • Black & White. Amazon wants you to be able to read magazines, RSS feeds, and technical books on your Kindle. Quite a few of these have color pictures and charts. Those don’t come over very well. If you’re just using it to read books by the pool for enjoyment, you’ll never notice this.
  • Proprietary format. Actually, I don’t know if this is a con for me or not, but I am sure it would be for some people. Barnes & Noble has pretty much lost me as a customer. I can’t go to B&N and buy a book for my Kindle. Amazon has me locked into their service. If it wasn’t so cheap, that might bother me, but it doesn’t.

    Actually, the format is well known and other publishers could publish to it, but I don’t believe anyone does. Eventually, this is something that’s going to have to get ironed out in the e-reader market. There will be one standard format, and all e-readers will be able to handle it. We’ll get there eventually, but don’t hold your breath. Look at all the different music formats we have out there.

Anyway, this is my favorite gadget of 2010, ahead even of the laptop and the phone. Worth every penny. Frankly, it’d be worth every penny at twice the price.

Top 5 Tech Purchases For 2010—#2



Dell Precision Mobile Workstation M4500.

I haven’t used a desktop computer in 10 years. We have three personal computers at my house and all three are laptops. We have a couple servers too, which aren’t. I recently had to change the DVD drive on my wife’s HP laptop and I was reminded once again why I’ll never buy anything but a Dell again.

Yes, Dell has had some issues in recent years. They started cutting corners on cost, which made their computers less reliable. They also shipped all their phone support off shore at the same time. So, they had bad phone support at a time when they needed it most. Not a good combination to say the least.

They seem to have learned from their mistakes. Support is back on shore and the quality is back up. And they understand that even laptops need parts changes occasionally, and that needs to be as simple as possible. That’s something that has always been a feature of Dell computers.

The Dell Precision M4500 is almost their top of the line laptop. Many laptops bill themselves as desktop replacements. This one really is. It has two quad core Intel i7 processors and a nice big 15.6” screen, and a much better than average video card. My dock has two HDMI outs, and I have been able to run anything I desire. Video card can keep up with all the current games, and my 500 GB hard drive is big enough to store whatever I need. My system rating is a 5.9. The slowest part is the disk drive or I’d be up near 7.

This is a wonderful machine.

Pros:

  • Dual Quad i7’s
  • nVidia Quadro FX 1800M video card
  • Dual HDMI outs
  • 500 GB HD

Cons:

  • 8 GB RAM. That’s the max that can go in this beast. The 6500M can handle 16 GB and actually has an even better video card as well as a 17” screen upgrade. However, the 6500 costs about $1000 more than the 4500 once you load it up, and the 4500 ain’t cheap. In fact…
  • Cost. While you get a good bang for your buck with Dell, to get this many bangs, you’re still spending quite a few bucks.
  • No WiFi support for 802.11n. Limited to 802.11g.
  • No USB 3 support.
  • SSD’s are still too small and too expensive. I had a Crucial 250 GB SSD in the machine for a while, but it was unreliable for my usage style.

    Top 5 Tech Purchases For 2010—#3



    HTC EVO 4G.

    I admit it. I’m a huge fan of HTC smartphones. The EVO is my 3rd, and first Android phone. I won’t say I’ll never switch from HTC, but it would have to be a very impressive phone for me to even consider it.

    The EVO is THE world class smartphone. Nothing is as good. Very few are even good enough to be considered competitors, and all fall short in some way or another. The iPhone4? Slow, small, 3G only, and currently only available on AT&T, the worst of the cell phone providers. The Droid X? Awkward shape, and 3G only, but if you’re stuck with Verizon, this is the best you can do until the HTC Thunderbolt becomes available. Samsung Epic? Closest you can get to an EVO, and has the advantage of a slide out keyboard (although that does make it bulkier), but it’s a Samsung, and thus doesn’t have the HTC Sense UI.

    Windows Phone 7 has recently been released, and does have some interesting devices. I’m a longtime Windows Mobile user, but WP7 seems a little too late for me. We’ll see. Right now the app market is too small, and WP7 hasn’t really been put to the test. And for me, they don’t have any Sprint offerings, so I’m not interested just yet. I’m a Sprint Premier customer, so I can upgrade my phone every year. Check in this time next year, I may have more to say about WP7 phones.

    Pros:

    • 4G
    • Size – bigger than an iPhone, but small enough to fit in a pocket
    • HTC Sense UI
    • Android

    Cons:

    • HTC Sense UI. I love HTC Sense, but many prefer a “clean” Android experience, and it’s likely that having that makes upgrades easier.
    • Video calls don’t work quite as well as I’d like. That’s the only thing that I’d like to see significant improvement. Still, it’s far superior to the iPhone in that it works in 3G, 4G and WiFi. iPhone video calls are WiFi only. There’s no doubt that this is the next major feature revolution in cell phones. Give it another year or two and all the smartphones will have it and the software will be significantly better and easier to use.
    • Battery life. This is the bugaboo of all smartphones. Still, I do ok with my EVO. I have to charge it every night, but that was the case with my previous two smartphones as well. It lasts me through the day with normal use, so I’m happy.

    Top 5 Tech Purchases For 2010—#4



    Acronis True Image Home.

    Yes, I know #5 was also a backup solution. What can I say? Backup is important.

    Unlike Crashplan, Acronis True Image does full system backups. Once set up the system runs in complete “set it and forget it” mode. You can tell it how long to keep backups around, how often to run them, etc. It does a mix of full, incremental, and differential backups to minimize space requirements and maximize reliability. Like Crashplan and Carbonite, Acronis does have an Online Backup offering. It’s pricey, though, at $50/yr. for a mere 250 GB of storage. Need more than that and you’ll probably want to do some combination of Acronis and Crashplan. And now you see why they’re both on the list.

    True Image has a continuous method too, that seems to be incredibly quick and doesn’t chew up your disk space.

    I did have some problems with it not pruning old backups automatically for me, but I recently got an updated version (updates come down automatically), and the problem seems to have been resolved. The real problem for me is that I have so much data that needs to be backed up, and my external backup drive is only 2 TB. That doesn’t allow for many backup versions to be stored. I think I’d be ok with a 4 or 5 TB drive, but those just aren’t available. If you’re not a disk hog like me, you should be fine.

    Acronis also offers a family pack which contains three licenses for Acronis True Image. The current pricing for this is $60 which is a great deal. Deal expires today, though.

    Pros:

    • Set it and forget it
    • System backup
    • Continuous option
    • Automatic updates
    • Automatic pruning of backup sets

    Cons:

    • Offsite storage is pricey and limited in size.

    Top 5 Tech Purchases for 2010–#5



    CrashPlan.

    If you watch FNC or other cable programming, you’ve likely seen ads for Carbonite. I think they advertise on Rush, too.

    Well, no offense to El Rushbo, but Crashplan is better and cheaper than Carbonite. They offer a similar service, an online backup mechanism.

    One advantage Crashplan offers over Carbonite is that you don’t have to use Crashplan’s servers. You can back up to any machine that has Crashplan installed. So, if you have several computers at home, you can have them all back up to each other. This gives you some reliability, but you’re still in trouble if your house burns down. But Crashplan allows keycodes to be exchanged between its users, and you can backup to anywhere if you have the appropriate keycodes. Thus, if your friend or relative has Crashplan, you can exchange backups there, as well, thus giving you the offsite security necessary for a true backup system.

    The cost of all this? $0. Crashplan is completely free as long as you don’t use their servers. But even if you do, it’s cheaper than Carbonite. Carbonite costs $55/yr. per computer. Crashplan’s per computer price is $50/yr., and $120/yr. gets you every computer in your house. Multi-year discounts are available cutting the price even more. This cost is for unlimited data. That’s important when comparing Crashplan and Carbonite with other online storage. Many companies charge you based upon data size. Also, the non-free version of the app has a few more features, such as continuous backups, which can be nice.

    In a nutshell:

    Pros:

    • Price. It’s hard to beat free, and even their $$ offerings are cheaper than the competition.
    • Offsite storage
    • Version archives. Crashplan allows you to keep as many versions of a file as you want. You also can recover deleted files, and set a time frame for how long deleted files are kept in the archive.
    • Paid version can be set to run continuously or to exclude certain times of the day
    • CPU/Bandwidth throttles

    Cons:

    • Crashplan is a file backup, not a system backup. You can’t use it to backup your applications and system settings.
    • Crashplan works by doing an initial seed of everything in your backup folders, and then looking for differences. If your initial seed is large (mine was several hundred GB), this may take a while. And by a while, I mean weeks. It ain’t incredibly speedy on restores, either. Plan on spending at least a day or two restoring your data, longer if the data is offsite or very large.

    The Streak Is Over



    Rats. I was hoping they would make it to 100.

    The UConn women lost last night to Stanford, 71-59. This after 90 consecutive wins. Stanford was the last team to beat UConn before the streak as well. Coincidentally, this is exactly what happened with the UCLA men’s 88 game streak in the 70s. Notre Dame was the last team to beat them, and the team that ended the streak as well.

    They have seemed a little less dominant this season, so this is probably not surprising, just disappointing for them and their fans. I don’t rate the women’s teams with my computer, so I can’t add data which supports my opinion. Maybe I’ll add that in sometime.

    Anyway, hats off to UConn and to Stanford. And good luck to both teams as the season moves forward.

    Monday, December 27, 2010

    GOP Unveils New House Rules



    Read here or here.

    There’s some good stuff here and some fluff. Former members can’t use the House gym? I suppose that’s to keep lobbying out of the House, but it seems like window dressing to me.

    Reading of the Constitution? Photo op. Blegh.

    I like the separate vote on raising the debt ceiling, but there’s no doubt that’s going to be contentious.

    But the stuff about committee roll calls, committee votes, and making the text of the bills public all sounds great.

    I like the idea of CUT/GO, but then I like PAY/GO too.

    Let me repeat. All of that sounds great.

    We heard similar things before the start of the 111th Congress. The Democrats repeatedly ignored their own rules. If PAY/GO had been enforced, almost nothing the 111th House did would have ever been passed. We’ll see how the GOP House does. I remain skeptical.

    I give it a tentative thumbs up, but will state again something I’ve been saying for months and expect to say often over the next two years.

    Actions speak louder than words, GOP. If you think of this as a second chance, you’re wrong. It’s your last chance.

    Saturday, December 25, 2010

    Merry Christmas



    And God Bless Us Everyone!

    (and I’m not even going to apologize for not being PC)ChristmasTree1

    Wednesday, December 22, 2010

    About That Census



    apportionment

    There’s the pic showing who gained and who lost. In short, the GOP. With such a map, Bush would have won 2004 without OH. Also, 2000 would not have appeared nearly as close in EVs, giving Bush a victory 285-253. However, he still would have needed FL.

    As Jim Geraghty points out, if we’re looking at a battleground state type of Presidential election in 2012, the GOP is starting with a base of about 248 EVs. Obviously, that’s not going to be the case if Obama wins by 7 points or more again. In such an election, the GOP candidate will lose some of those 248. But in a close one, the GOP candidate would only need 22 votes from the battlegrounds:

    Those 22 votes could be won in a variety of ways, but the most likely scenario would appear to be Ohio (18 electoral votes) and any other state (Iowa, New Mexico, Colorado, Nevada, New Hampshire, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania).

    Right now (things can change a lot in 2 years), OH looks like it should be pretty solidly red, so President Barack Obama (D-USA) will have to hold serve in all of IA, NM, CO, NV, NH, WI, and PA.

    We will definitely look at this again, and look at which GOP candidates might fare best in those states.

    Congratulations to UConn Lady Huskies



    Yesterday they won their 89th straight game, defeating the 20th ranked Florida State Seminoles 93-62. The Division I record was 88, long held by UCLA, whose streak ended to Notre Dame in 1974.

    The word “dominant” barely describes the Huskies during the last 89 games, winning only 2 games by less than 10. Their average margin of victory against teams ranked in the top 25 is over 20 points. They have annihilated the competition at every turn, and barely been challenged. And it’s not like they’ve been ducking the competition. Some victories of note:

    12/21/2010 vs. #20 Florida State: 93-62
    12/19/2010 vs. #10 Ohio State: 81-50
    11/16/2010 vs. #2 Baylor: 65-64 (a close one, but keep reading)
    4/6/2010 vs. #2 Stanford: 53-47 (their only other close game, for the national title)
    4/4/2010 vs. #14 Baylor: 70-50
    3/30/2010 vs. #11 Florida State: 90-50
    3/28/2010 vs. #16 Iowa State: 74-36
    3/9/2010 vs. #8 West Virginia: 60-32
    3/8/2010 vs. #7 Notre Dame: 59-44
    3/1/2010 @ #7 Notre Dame: 76-51
    2/15/2010 @ #12 Oklahoma: 76-60
    2/13/2010 vs. #24 St. John’s: 66-52
    2/2/2010 @ #8 West Virginia: 80-47
    1/18/2010 @ #7 Duke: 81-48
    1/16/2010 vs. #3 Notre Dame: 70-46
    1/9/2010 vs. #7 North Carolina: 88-47
    12/28/2009 @ #11 Florida State: 78-59
    12/23/2009 vs. #2 Stanford: 80-68
    11/17/2009 @ #13 Texas: 83-58
    4/7/2009 vs. #7 Louisville: 76-54 (national title)
    4/5/2009 vs. #2 Stanford: 83-64
    3/31/2009 vs. #19 Arizona State: 83-64
    3/29/2009 vs. #13 California: 77-53
    3/24/2009 vs. #22 Florida: 87-59
    3/10/2009 vs. #7 Louisville: 75-36
    2/22/2009 vs. #24 Notre Dame: 76-66
    2/15/2009 vs. #23 Pittsburgh: 95-42
    1/26/2009 vs. #10 Louisville: 93-65
    1/19/2009 @ #2 North Carolina: 88-58
    11/30/2009 vs. #4 Oklahoma: 106-78

    These are scores that you usually see between the #1 seed and the #16 seed in the NCAA tourney, not in games between teams in the top 25. Of the 89 games, one third of them, 30, were against ranked teams. Average score for those games? 79-54.

    For comparison, let’s look at this season’s #1 men’s team, the Duke Blue Devils. They are currently 11-0 and have won 7 games by 25 points. Here’s the list:

    11/14/2010 vs. Princeton: 97-60
    11/16/2010 vs. Miami OH: 79-45
    11/19/2010 vs. Colgate: 110-58
    11/22/2010 vs. Oregon: 98-71
    12/8/2010 vs. Bradley: 83-48
    12/11/2010 vs. St. Louis: 84-47
    12/20/2010 vs. Elon: 98-72

    Not exactly murderer’s row. Their two games against ranked competition?

    11/23/2010 vs. #4 Kansas State: 82-68
    12/1/2010 vs. #6 Michigan State: 84-79

    You often hear sports commentators say things like “we’ll never see anything like this again.” In the Huskies case, that may actually be true. It’s hard to imagine any team being this dominant.

    Thank God For The FCC



    Yesterday, the FCC voted 3-2 to approve “new rules meant to prohibit broadband companies from interfering with Internet traffic flowing to their customers”. This despite a shot across the bow from the Senate GOP reminding the FCC that they have no such authority to enact such regulations.

    You and the Commission’s general counsel have admitted in published statements that the legal justification for imposing these new regulations is questionable and “has a serious risk of failure in court.” It is very clear that Congress has not granted the Commission the specific statutory authority to do what you are proposing. Whether and how the Internet should be regulated is something that America’s elected representatives in Congress, not the Commission, should determine.

    So, I say again, thank God for the FCC. We need more corrupt over-reaching executive agencies  to protect our country from freedom and free enterprise. Now if we can get the EPA to step in and turn us all into green, global warming fearing hippies, we’ll be be set for life.

    In fairness, this decision was not as bad as it could have been. Chairman Genachowski backed down from some of his most unreasonable demands, such as not allowing tiered pricing for high speed access or pricing based upon data use.

    But still, these regulations do require business to act against their own best self-interest, and that kind of thing is always good for consumers and free enterprise. Oh wait. I meant never good, not always good.

    The good news? This likely isn’t going anywhere. The Senate GOP is correct that the FCC doesn’t have this authority, and the Roberts court will surely rule that way if given a chance. So, expect in the next few days or weeks for someone to file a court challenge against the new rules. The court challenge will lead to an injunction against the FCC until the case is ultimately decided. So, we’ll sit around for two years waiting for this case to make its way to the Supreme Court, where it will be shot down.

    Might actually turn out to be a boon for the GOP, in that it may become a campaign issue for 2012, depending on what rumors we’re hearing then about impending Justice retirements.

    Tuesday, December 21, 2010

    Sarah Palin Hits One Out Of The Park



    Actually, we’re still waiting for it to land.

    Sarah penned an article for the Wall Street Journal last week (yes, I’m behind on my reading, but I’m catching up. It discusses the reports on the Presidential Commission on Fiscal Responsibility.

    The publication of the findings of the president's National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform was indeed, as the report was titled, "A Moment of Truth." The report shows we're much closer to the budgetary breaking point than previously assumed. The Medicare Trust Fund will be insolvent by 2017. As early as 2025, federal revenue will barely be enough to pay for Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and interest on our national debt. With spending structurally outpacing revenue, something clearly needs to be done to avert national bankruptcy.

    Of course, the commission, working under a Democratic administration, could not figure out what to do about this problem. It mentioned making cuts in defense, but neglected to even discuss costly new entitlement programs (e.g. ObamaCare) favored by the administration. In fact, its recommendations would lead to an expansion of ObamaCare, not a cut back (how that’s supposed to save money is a question left unanswered).

    Palin brings up the plan presented by Paul Ryan (R-WI-01) last year which he calls the Roadmap for America’s Future. There are a few things in the Roadmap that I’m not in favor of, but on the whole, it’s something I can support. As Palin says:

    On health care, it would replace ObamaCare with a new system in which people are given greater control over their own health-care spending. It achieves this partly through creating medical savings accounts and a new health-care tax credit—the only tax credit that would be left in a radically simplified new income tax system that people can opt into if they wish.

    The Roadmap would also replace our high and anticompetitive corporate income tax with a business consumption tax of just 8.5%. The overall tax burden would be limited to 19% of GDP (compared to 21% under the deficit commission's proposals).

    Obviously I’m happy about the removal of the corporate income tax. And I’ve said many times that I believe that some sort of consumption tax is not only inevitable, but necessary, for this country to succeed in the 21st century.

    What does the CBO say about the Roadmap? Emphasis mine.

    According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the Roadmap would lead to lower deficits and a much lower federal debt. The CBO estimates that under current spending plans, our federal debt would rise to 87% of GDP by 2020, to 223% by 2040, and to 433% by 2060. Under Rep. Ryan's Roadmap, the CBO estimates that debt would rise much more slowly, peaking at 99% in 2040 and then dropping back to 77% by 2060.

    Put simply: Our country is on the path toward bankruptcy. We must turn around before it's too late, and the Roadmap offers a clear plan for doing so. But it does more than just fend off disaster. CBO calculations show that the Roadmap would also help create a "much more favorable macroeconomic outlook" for the next half-century. The CBO estimates that under the Roadmap, by 2058 per-person GDP would be around 70% higher than the current trend.

    And Mrs. Palin summarizes it perfectly.

    Let's not settle for the big-government status quo, which is what the president's commission offers. We owe it to our children and grandchildren to make these tough decisions so that they might inherit a prosperous and strong America like the one we were given.

    Sorry for quoting so much this time. It’s just that I agreed so closely with what she said. I also apologize for once again posting Palin’s words on this topic rather than Romney’s or Huckabee’s or one of the other 2012 Republican contenders.

    When they write something meaningful, I’ll quote them. Until then, you and I are still waiting.

    Today’s A Big Day For Congress



    No, not because of expected votes.

    And not because they’re going to adjourn.

    And not because they’re holding a hearing or a press conference.

    Today the Census results will be released.

    Today we will know which states gain seats in the House, and which states lose. This also affects the Electoral College and the 2012 Presidential election.

    From Jamie Dupree:

    The biggest change is expected to be in Texas, which is forecast to get three or maybe four extra seats in the House.
    "They're going to be the big winners," said Kimball Brace of Election Data Services, a company that specializes in how the Census will change the makeup of Congress.
    The big losers could be Ohio and New York, which could both see a loss of two seats, more evidence of the American transition away from the Rust Belt and into the Sun Belt.

    I haven’t made much note of it, but one of the lesser talked about issues of the 2010 election was the gains Republicans made in state legislatures all over the country. The state legislatures will re-draw the district lines and eliminate districts as necessary. You can be sure that the party in power will eliminate a district controlled by the other party.

    Personally I’m against this sort of gerrymandering, and prefer rectangular districts based upon population density, but that’s a topic for another post.

    Anyway, you play by the rules you have and with the cards you’re dealt. Right now the rules and the cards appear to favor the Republicans.

    Stay tuned.

    Islam: The Religion Of Peace And Tolerance



    Do you recognize this girl?

    No? How about another pic. Maybe you recognize her from this?

    Ah. Well, that makes things a bit easier, doesn’t it?

    The girl’s name is Afshan Azad, and she plays Padma Patil in the Harry Potter series.

    Her father’s name is Abul Azad and her brother, Ashraf Azad. They are both practicing Muslim. The two peaceful men assaulted Afshan, branded her a prostitute, and threatened to kill her. In fact, an exact quote from the peaceful father was that he would kill her because he didn’t want his sons to “have her blood on their hands and he would do time for it.”

    The reason these peaceful men were so outraged is because she dated a non-Muslim, a Hindu, in fact. The religion of peace and tolerance doesn’t allow for that sort of thing.

    Unfortunately, as often happens in domestic violence cases, Afshan later equivocated, through fear or embarrassment, and refused to give evidence to convict the two men. Her brother yesterday pled guilty to assault and charges of threatening to kill her were dropped against both.

    Read more in the Telegraph and the Post.

    This is Islam. The religion of peace and tolerance.

    Monday, December 20, 2010

    We’re Number One!



    Woohoo! We’re Number One! We’re Number One!

    America now has the highest corporate tax rate of all developed nations.

    Wow. Yay for us.

    Japan had been #1, but they dropped their rate 5%. Why?

    Japan will cut its corporate income tax rate by 5 percentage points in a bid to shore up its sluggish economy, Prime Minister Naoto Kan said here Monday evening.Companies have urged the government to lower the country’s effective corporate tax rate — which now stands at 40 percent, around the same rate as that in the United States — to stimulate investment in Japan and to encourage businesses to create more jobs. Lowering the corporate tax burden by 5 percentage points could increase Japan’s gross domestic product by 2.6 percentage points, or 14.4 trillion yen ($172 billion), over the next three years, according to estimates by Japan’s Trade Ministry.

    Japan’s sluggish economy currently has an unemployment rate around 5%, in case you’re keeping score.

    This blog has long been in favor of completely eliminating the corporate tax in America. Corporate taxes are merely an effort by the government to disguise the actual personal tax rate. All corporate taxes are passed on to the individual in one way or another. Eliminating corporate taxes would be a boost for transparency in government and would be like giving the economy about 12 double espressos.

    From the CATO Institute:

    It’s also worth noting that the average corporate tax rate in Europe has now dropped to less than 24 percent, so even welfare states have figured out that a high tax burden on business doesn’t make sense in a competitive global economy.

    Sometimes you can fall farther behind if you stand still and everyone else moves forward. That’s a good description of what’s happening in the battle for a pro-growth corporate tax system. By doing nothing, America’s self-destructive corporate tax system is becoming, well, even more destructive.

    Others in the world are starting to see the relationship between a growing economy and corporate tax rates. South Korea’s is 24%. Germany is 29%. Still too high, but headed in the right direction. Our government doesn’t care. President Barack Obama (D-USA) is anti-capitalist, anti-populace, and anti-transparency. He will do anything possible to continue to hide the ever increasing encroachment of the government over our personal lives.

    I’m Starting to Agree With Ron Paul



    Let’s get rid of the Federal Reserve.

    The latest Obamanation from the Feds occurred in Oklahoma.

    Federal Reserve examiners come every four years to make sure banks are complying with a long list of regulations. The examiners came to Perkins last week. And the team from Kansas City deemed a Bible verse of the day, crosses on the teller’s counter and buttons that say "Merry Christmas, God With Us." were inappropriate. The Bible verse of the day on the bank's Internet site also had to be taken down.

    […]

    Specifically, the feds believed, the symbols violated the discouragement clause of Regulation B of the bank regulations. According to the clause, "...the use of words, symbols, models and other forms of communication ... express, imply or suggest a discriminatory preference or policy of exclusion."

    The bank is a private enterprise. This is not about putting a nativity scene in front of the state capitol building. This is about the federal government using its authority to limit what private enterprises can say and do. This is a clear First Amendment issue as well as a personal liberty one in general.

    This isn’t something government needs to be involved in. And shows once more that our current administration doesn’t understand capitalism and the free market at all. If people are offended by what the bank is doing, they are free to choose another bank or complain to the bank management about it. If enough people do so, the bank will realize that it’s losing money on the issue and change its practices. That’s how things work in a free society.

    Each time that I think my disgust with Washington has reached its zenith, something like this happens and I realize that there’s still a long way to go before this government stops finding ways to sicken me.

    The 2012 National Local Issue



    One of the things Republicans have done well in this century is turn nationwide angst into local issues that help them at the ballot box. Ok, maybe it’s one thing they’ve been sleazy about, but it has been effective.

    President George W. Bush (R-USA) benefited greatly in both 2000 and 2004 due to gay marriage initiatives appearing on several state ballots. This increased conservative turnout in those states which helped him win.

    It appears that there’s a sleeping issue on the horizon for 2012, and that’s state enforcement regarding control of illegal aliens. The Arizona law, despite being challenged by the Barack Obama (D-USA) White House, remains immensely popular, not only in Arizona, but nationwide. Democrats predicted it would be the swan song for Governor Jan Brewer (R-AZ), when in fact she won re-election in a landslide and was never seriously challenged.

    Now, Florida is following in Arizona’s footsteps. Governor-elect Rick Scott (R-FL) has made it a priority.

    Scott, in particular, made the Arizona law a major piece of his race for governor, frequently mentioning it at campaign stops and urging Floridians to follow his lead and make a donation to Arizona's Border Security and Immigration Legal Defense Fund. Since his election in November, the incoming governor has been largely quiet on the subject and has not drawn up any specific proposals yet, but his spokesman said the governor maintains his position on the issue.

    And they aren’t the only ones:

    According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, as of Nov. 10, six other states have already filed immigration bills similar to Arizona's and six other states have filed resolutions either supporting or condemning Arizona's law.

    Two of these six states are Michigan and Pennsylvania. Combined with Florida, these three states control enough electoral votes to easily flip the Presidential 2012 election. And it’s hard to see how Obama can spin it to his advantage. He’s been extremely publicly critical of the Arizona law and has urged his Justice Department to pursue an attack on the law in a manner most closely resembling a Chicago-style vendetta. Even if he keeps quiet on the other cases, Republicans in those states will surely bring up Obama’s obvious views on the subject.

    Sunday, December 19, 2010

    222 Companies Now Protected From ObamaCare



    222 companies have now been granted waivers from the penalties created by ObamaCare.

    As I keep saying, these waivers create additional cost for the law. This must be made up by a) increasing taxes, b) increasing debt) or c) increasing penalties upon those not granted waivers, or the average small business, in other words.

    At this point you’d have to be a lunatic or a moron to believe this law is a success.

    President Barack Obama (D-USA) is using this waiver process to decide who must face this burden and who can skip right on by. Think he’ll be nicer to companies that donate heavily to Democrats? Again, if you own a small business, you probably can’t donate enough to make his radar. Of course, if you’re the owner of The Home Depot, and you’ve been criticizing Obama publicly lately, you probably shouldn’t expect a waiver either.

    If this sounds to you like the way capitalism is supposed to work, then I think you slept through that lecture in your civics class. If this sounds to you like economic freedom, then I think you slept through that lecture in your economics class. If this sounds to you like its going to improve health care or health care costs in America, then I think you slept through all your lectures in all your classes.

    This law has to go and soon, before it single-handedly destroys America.

    Keynesian Economics 101



    The Center for Freedom and Prosperity has a good, but not great, video on what’s wrong with Keynesian Economics. Consider this video a first day lecture on Econ 101 or even Keynesian Econ 101. There’s much more to this class to come.

    Still, the video is worth watching. Take a peek below.

     

    Ed Morrissey at Hot Air nails it with his summary:

    Think of it as a Cash for Clunkers economic plan on a larger scale.  The intention is to fool people into spending money in order to give the illusion of growth, and have that illusion somehow become reality through a process best known as FM; the M stands for “magic,” and you can guess what the F means.  The problem is that the interventions run out of steam quickly without addressing the actual issues of income and asset value that drives organic consumer spending.  Instead of increasing the size of the pie, we just cut it in different shapes.

    The policies implemented in the early 1980s, in contrast, focused on generating growth in investment and income by reducing the government’s role in the economy and their bite out of it.  That approach succeeded in long-term growth and prosperity by increasing the size of the pie.  Critics scoff at this as “trickle-down economics,” but as the last two years showed, the Reagan approach worked while Keynesian Obamanomics has mainly generated nothing but short-term gimmicks and long-term stagnation.

    In truth, Keynesian economics ONLY works if you have a surplus that you’re willing to spend to stimulate the economy. Keynes even basically said so, a fact that’s forgotten by his purported followers these days. Otherwise, as noted below, the only way to get a temporary stimulus is by borrowing. And the stimulus is indeed temporary so more borrowing is needed to keep it going. And more borrowing, and more borrowing.

    This is essentially President Barack Obama’s (D-USA) plan. The problem is that the borrowing creates a burden on the economy, thus requiring the need for more stimulus.

    And more borrowing.

    If you can see the death spiral here, you’re smarter than the average Democrat in Washington, D.C. If you can’t, please run for office. You’ll fit right in.

    This Has Been a Pretty Good Week



    Senator Harry Reid’s (D-NV) NIGHTMARE act died a glorious and painful death. The New York Times calls its fate “uncertain”, but that’s putting so much spin on it that they should sell tickets for being a thrill ride. If a bill granting amnesty to illegal aliens couldn’t be passed in the first two years of President Barack Obama’s (D-USA) Presidency, it has no chance whatsoever of passing in the second two years, facing a Republican controlled House and a much slimmer Democratic majority in the Senate. The only things more certain than this bill’s demise are death and taxes.

    Obama’s pork-laden omnibus spending bill died a glorious and painful death. And Republicans may be finally getting the message. Some of them, anyway. Others still need work.

    But Republicans said one lesson they learned from last month's election that big spending bills - in this case, a 1,924-page measure Democrats produced just two days earlier - shouldn't be jammed through the chamber with short-circuited debate.

    Bingo. That goes for START too, btw.

    Most of the Obama tax increases were defeated.

    The bill, which was largely worked out earlier this month between the White House and Congressional Republicans, extends the Bush-era tax cuts for all Americans for two years, extends unemployment benefits for 13 months and includes a one-year Social Security tax cut, among other measures.

    Yes, I know that DADT repeal passed a cloture vote in the Senate, and therefore will likely head to the President’s desk for signing before the year is out. But…

    First, I’m ambivalent on the entire topic. Yes, I think it will create some hardships on the American military. However, these are some of the best people we have, and I’m confident of their ability to handle the hardships. Will there be bumps and bruises along the way? Yes. But it’s clear that homosexuality is far more mainstream and acceptable to the average Joe than it was when Clinton put DADT into effect. And the military is a dinosaur in that respect.

    Second, let’s face the truth here. DADT is going away, no matter what. The courts have made it clear that if the legislative and executive branches don’t act on this topic, then they will. And that’s very wrong. The way to handle this is through legislative deliberation and executive sign off. That’s what we’re going to get, and from that perspective this is a victory for the Constitution.

    Third, DADT does amount to discrimination. Something that I am opposed to in any way shape or form. Anytime discrimination is eliminated, I’m going to be generally for it.

    So, as I said, a pretty good week. Of course, this week least year, I thought ObamaCare was dying, so there’s obviously more weeks ahead that will not be as good.

    Saturday, December 18, 2010

    Congratulations to Drew Brees



    Hats off to New Orleans Saints (and former Purdue) quarterback Drew Brees. He has been named Sports Illustrated’s Sportsman of the Year.

    Go Drew!

    Palin Couldn’t Be President of Black America or Hispanic America



    So says Richard Cohen of the Washington Post.

    Sarah Palin teases that she might run for president. But she is unqualified - not just in the (let me count the) usual ways, but because she does not know the country. She could not be the president of black America nor of Hispanic America. She knows more about grizzlies than she does about African Americans - and she clearly has more interest in the former than the latter.

    Remember that being a liberal means having contradictory thoughts and not seeing the contradiction. They’d fit in well in Orwell's 1984. Liberals claim to be all about inclusion and integration, when in fact they are all about exclusion and segregation. They see African-Americans and Hispanic-Americans and Irish-Americans and a thousand others. They see Hispanic America and Black America.

    Conservatives see Americans and America. I don’t give a whit that President Barack Obama (D-USA) is black. Or half-black, or Kenyan, or whatever. I care that he’s a stupid, inept President that is destroying our country and turning it into a third world nation.

    Mr. Cohen, your words show the elitist snob you are. Sarah Palin understands our country in ways that the Obamas never will. When she looks out across our nation and talks to our people, she sees our successes and our failures, our strengths, and our weaknesses, our hopes and dreams, and our despairs and nightmares. And she sees where we can go if we follow our hopes and dreams. The Obamas only see where we can go if we announce our guilt over our failures and weaknesses. That is a weak attitude from a weak person. Mrs. Palin’s attitude is one of strength.

    That’s why Mrs. Obama has never been proud of her country. She never even sees the strengths. She is a weak person and so is her husband. Their desire has been to make Americans feel shame for our history, not pride. Well, they have accomplished that, at the very least. I’m ashamed of what our country did on November 4, 2008.

    Mr. Cohen, Sarah Palin is extremely qualified to be President. Not because she’s a Caucasian American, but because she’s an American.

    You need to learn the difference.

    Big Surprise. Democrats Hate Fox News



    Well, why shouldn’t they? Everyone wants reliable news, right? And we’ve commented on Faux News before. Oh yeah, that’s right. None of those were on Fox. And surprisingly, the Democrats didn’t complain about them. So, faux news isn’t the problem. Maybe, like Lt. Daniel Kaffee, they “can’t handle the truth”.

    The other thing they can’t handle is the First Amendment, because since they can’t handle the truth, they want to shut it up.

    These ideas are not just from lunatics at the fringe, but leaders of the party, people like Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) and Howard Dean.

    Don’t believe me? Let’s go to the tape.

    And here.

     

    Notice they’ve gotten a bit craftier here. They know that MSNBC is hard left and has been beaten up a bit lately, so they throw them under the bus along with Fox News in an effort to look like they are balanced.  Make no mistake. This isn’t about MSNBC. This is about shutting up Fox News. That’s what the resurgence of talk about the Fairness Doctrine has always been about. Shutting up Fox News and Rush Limbaugh. If they have to take down MSNBC in the process, that’s no big deal. No one watches them anyway.

    Liberals always claim to be all about tolerance. Yet this is just one more of the numerous examples of them showing that they are the intolerant ones. Voices of dissension can not be tolerated. President Barack Obama (D-USA) has made a point of attacking Fox and Rush since day one of his administration. In fact, that’s about the only thing for which he’s shown unrelenting consistency.

    Let’s check a couple quotes from those videos again.

    From Dean:

    Americans don’t know what’s going on and therefore the media can have their way with them intellectually.

    And from Rockefeller:

    There’s a little bug inside of me which wants to get the FCC (Federal Communications Committee) to say to Fox and to MSNBC “Out.  Off.  End.  Goodbye.” Would be a big favor to political discourse, our ability to do our work here in Congress and to the American people to be able to talk with each other and have some faith in their government and more importantly in their future.  We need slimmed down channel packages that better respect what we really want to watch

    These are terrifying words. Dean thinks that government control of the media is the answer to an uninformed electorate. And Rockefeller wants to eliminate diversity with “slimmed down channel packages”.

    You know, they tried this in the Soviet Union. They had two newspapers, one controlled by the Communist party, and one controlled by the Soviet government. Those were the only two allowed news sources. The names of the two newspapers were Pravda and Izvestia, which mean “truth” and “news” respectively. This led to a popular Russian saying, "v Pravde net izvestiy, v Izvestiyakh net pravdy", which translates to “In the Truth there is no news, and in the News there is no truth.”

    This is what the Democrats want. No truth and no news. Only Democrat approved spin. And then they will own you and the country, lock, stock, and barrel.

    New And Noteworthy

    What’s Going On?

    Well, I really have missed doing my September 11 timeline. My daughters have asked about that, and I want them to understand it a little bet...

    All The Best