Saturday, September 18, 2010

Occasionally they tell the truth - part 7

In today's edition of this recurring theme on my blog, we have Governor Moonbeam himself. Running again for governor of California, Jerry Brown had this to say: "‘I have a plan. I'll tell you after the election." Which means, of course, that he doesn't have anything close to a plan.

Video from Brietbart:

Friday, September 17, 2010

TSA is evil

Okay, maybe this title is a little harsh. But I really couldn't think of a better one. Big government always takes things to extremes. Consider this article from Gizmodo:
"TSA Poster Reminds That Photography Is For Creepy Terrorists Only"

One of the comments in response to this story sums things up nicely:

Meanwhile, back in the Secret Terrorism Cave…

Evil Mastermind: "At last, my evil plan is complete! We shall photograph private jets, then blow them up!"

Henchman #1: "Hey boss, why must we photograph them first?"

Evil Mastermind: "You fool! How can we blow them up if we don't have photographs? The photographs…they are the key!"

Henchman #2: "And why private jets? Wouldn't we cause more fear blowing up commercial jet liners?"

Evil Mastermind: "You fool! Commercial jets would require a wide angle lens! All we have is the kit lens!"

Henchman #1: "I still don't understand why we need to take a picture of the plane first."

Evil Mastermind: "Fools! The plan is simple: Take a picture. Blow up! Why is this so difficult to grasp?"

Henchman #2: "Couldn't we just use the photos on Gulfstream's website?"

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Immigration is a benefit

I have talked about immigration extensively on this blog. That is why I was so interested to see this story from Slate:
"Give Us Your Tired, Your Poor. Really. We Mean It.
Economists are making the case politicians are afraid to: Immigration is great for the U.S."

The root question is: are people a benefit or a burden? I don't think there is a clear answer to that question. I believe it depends on what type of immigrants we attract and which we allow into the country. It depends on the individual. If he comes for the right reasons, rather than to take advantage of the system, I don't have any problem with immigration. I have said this in previous posts on this blog, most notably this one: "Address the root cause of illegal immigration," June 14, 2010.

Interestingly, John Morton (Assistant Secretary, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement), recently issued a memo essentially saying that not all illegal immigrants will be subject to deportation.

Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) has a good take on this news:
"ICE Chief Morton to Field: See No Illegal Aliens" by Jessica Vaughan

"Morton has already implemented a 'catch and release' policy, whereby ICE catches removable aliens in jails or through local arrests, and then releases all but the most serious offenders from custody."

"But this policy goes farther, stipulating that ICE will not even take a look at the illegal aliens who expose themselves to law enforcement by committing a traffic violation. And, neither will those local officers who have discovered lots of illegal aliens in the course of enforcing traffic laws."

I'm not sure what to make of this memo. I'm no fan of John Morton, and neither are the people who work for him, apparently:
"Head of ICE receives unanimous no-confidence vote from own agents...accused of de facto amnesty"

But I think that this memo just formalizes how we feel as a country. I think the majority of us do not begrudge people who come here for honest work, to make a better lives for themselves. So why don't our laws reflect this reality? And why do our social policies tend to attract too many people who do not come here for honest work? Incentives matter.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Best wedding cake ever

Staying on the theme of desserts today...

This is the best wedding cake I have ever seen:

It is inspired, of course, by the best comic strip in the world right now. Here is the comic to which the cake refers:

Google CEO Eric Schmidt: A Creepy Ice Cream Man?

Check out this ad, which apparently ran in Times Square: paid for this ad. They also have have a site dedicated to Google, called Inside Google.

The ad is a brutal critique of Google CEO Eric Schmidt's recent statements about internet privacy. While the ad seems to be over the top, in my opinion, it does touch on many concerns people have about Google. I discussed these in a previous post on this blog, "Young will have to change names to escape 'cyber past'? Google will do our thinking for us?", August 30, 2010.

My first reaction is that Schmidt is an engineer at heart, and an honest one. He doesn't fully comprehend the impact of his statements. He's just assessing the situation and giving straightforward answers, discussing reality as he sees it. Should we vilify Schmidt for telling us the hard truth that we need to hear?

Google's whole business model is based on trust. Store your e-mail on Google's servers. Store your documents on Google's servers. Store your LIFE'S INFORMATION on Google's servers!

If people can't trust Google, that business model falls apart. They will stop using Google's services and a good chunk of the eyeballs watching Google's ads (and thus a large chunk of Google's revenue) will be lost.

On the other hand, it is quite possible that Schmidt is brilliant. Better to feel out the public's reaction BEFORE trying something new and making a huge mistake like they did with Buzz.

Google has some tough decisions to make. Google sits on a HUGE amount of information. The temptation must be great to try to monetize that information, at the expense of their users' privacy. Was Buzz just a mistake or was it a sign of bigger problems at Google?

From Counternotions:
"Buzz launch wasn’t flawed, Google’s intentions are"

This article raises a serious question about Google. They did miss the boat on one item, however: "It’s ludicrous to think that the Buzz fiasco was simply a result of under-testing. Indeed, it was not an implementation snafu at all, as often described. It was a reflection of the strategy with which Google has decided to capture the enormous territory left up for grabs by the decline of Microsoft."

The author of the article seems to think that either Buzz was not tested enough or that Google has evil intentions. These are not the only two possibilities.

Buzz was tested internally at Google. But if everyone is on the same team, working for the same company, the fact that Buzz contacts were populated from GMail contacts was not at all controversial. It was the natural way to implement it, to make sure people tested it and used it. The mistake, of course, was rolling it out to the public in the same way. Put it another way: This could have been an honest mistake, a result of mistaking extensive INTERNAL testing for sufficient real-world testing. The former does not take the place of the latter.

I may be biased but I believe that Google's privacy missteps and misstatements are more likely a result of engineering myopia and brutal honesty than evil intentions. But Google is such a large company that even if it makes mistakes without evil intentions the public will not cut it any slack--nor should they. If Google compromises on privacy, users could be seriously harmed.

And finally, leave it to XKCD to lend the proper perspective on this issue. In other words, if Google truly is evil they are doing a really shitty job at it.
XKCD #792, "Password Reuse"

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Song of the Day: Dragonette - I Get Around

Here's a fun song, with a great video to go along with it:
Dragonette - I Get Around

I had this on my iPod and I listened to it many times during my first A2A, in 2008. (It's a long skate and I didn't have that much content loaded!) It's been one of my favorites ever since.

And a bonus song:
Dragonette - Pick Up the Phone

You may laugh at this (with me, at me, whichever!) but one reason I like this song is because it's perfect for my cell phone ring tone. I used Ringdroid (You DO have Ringdroid on your phone, RIGHT?) to make the refrain of this song my ring tone. "Pick up phone, pick up the phone! ..."

Docs 4 Patient Care

Are you sick of all the media's spin on health care reform? Wonder whether the AMA really speaks for doctors on this issue? Well, I have just the website for you:
Docs 4 Patient Care

From this site:
"Attempting to enact his big-government health care scheme, President Obama and his supporters frequently claimed that a “majority” of doctors supported his health-care plans. When the American Medical Association – which had opposed HillaryCare – signed onto Obama’s plan last year, the organization seemed to make the President’s case. Most people assumed that the AMA represented most of the doctors in the country. But in fact, the AMA represents less than 20 percent of all physicians in the United States. And yet as the organization’s leadership moved more to the left, it held a near monopoly on media attention on issues pertaining to public health. No longer."

This site gained national prominence from a Wall Street Journal piece by Docs 4 Patient Care President Hal C. Scherz, MD:
"Dear Patients: Vote to Repeal ObamaCare"

The basic message of the piece is: Democrats realize that the health care legislation they rammed through is not at all popular, so now they're saying they will fix it. DON'T BELIEVE THEM.

"Dear Patient: Section 1311 of the new health care legislation gives the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services and her appointees the power to establish care guidelines that your doctor must abide by or face penalties and fines. In making doctors answerable in the federal bureaucracy this bill effectively makes them government employees and means that you and your doctor are no longer in charge of your health care decisions. This new law politicizes medicine and in my opinion destroys the sanctity of the doctor-patient relationship that makes the American health care system the best in the world."

And if you do nothing else, please check out this slide show describing the new health care reform legislation:
"Health Care Reform: What the new law really says" by Jill Q. Vecchio, MD

Meanwhile, on the left, here is an article by John Walsh:
"The Health Insurers Pretend to Cover Us; and We Pretend to Pay the Premiums"
"Fighting Back Against ObamaCare "

All the predicted ill effects of government-run health care are coming true in Massachusetts.

And the worst part about it is that as the systems such as what we have in Massachusetts, and now in the country as a while, fail there will be a belief that we need a single-payer system. That is, the overlords on the left are okay with a flawed health care reform bill. All they needed to do was pass something, ANYTHING. Then when it fails (which it will), they will assert that we need total government control.

As always, we don't need more government, we need LESS.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Quote of the day: C.S. Lewis on Tyranny

"Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience." - C.S. Lewis, British writer (1898-1963)

Cash for Clunkers, Revisited

Jeff Jacoby of the Boston Globe had a great article following up on the Cash for Clunkers fiasco:
"'Clunkers,' a classic government folly"

There's not much more to say. Anyone with a brain knew from the beginning that this was a horrible program. So file this under the "I told you so" column.

Nonetheless, here are some highlights:

"The price of 'pre-owned' vehicles has climbed considerably over the past year."

"...the supply of used cars is artificially low, because your Uncle Sam decided last year to destroy hundreds of thousands of perfectly good automobiles as part of its hare-brained Car Allowance Rebate System — or, as most of us called it, Cash for Clunkers."

"Congress and the Obama administration trumpeted Cash for Clunkers as a triumph — the president pronounced it 'successful beyond anybody’s imagination.' Which it was, if you define success as getting people to take 'free' money to make a purchase most of them are going to make anyway, while simultaneously wiping out productive assets that could provide value to many other consumers for years to come. By any rational standard, however, this program was sheer folly."

"To be sure, Cash for Clunkers gave a powerful jolt to car sales in July and August of 2009. But it did so mostly by delaying sales that would otherwise have occurred in April, May, and June, or by accelerating those that would have taken place in September, October, or later. 'Influencing the timing of consumers' durable purchases is easy,' Edmunds CEO Jeremy Anwyl wrote a few days ago in a blog post looking back at the program. 'Creating new purchases is not.' Of the 700,000 cars purchased during the clunkers frenzy, the estimated net increase in sales was only 125,000. Each incremental sale thus ended up costing the taxpayers a profligate $24,000."

"Even on environmental grounds, Cash for Clunkers was an exorbitant dud. Researchers at the University of California-Davis calculated that the reduction of carbon dioxide attributable to the program cost no less than $237 per ton. In contrast, carbon emissions credits cost about $20 per ton in international markets."

"When all is said and done, Cash for Clunkers was a deplorable exercise in budgetary wastefulness, asset destruction, environmental irrelevance, and economic idiocy. Other than that, it was a screaming success."

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Our pro-terrorist president

Obama proved once again that he could not care less about fighting terrorism. I really have no words for this. From the Washington Post:
"Administration halts prosecution of alleged USS Cole bomber"

I'll let the Patriot Post speak for me on this one:
"A Decision Made in Cole Blood"

"The White House proved again that to them terrorist acts are simply domestic criminal acts committed by 'foreigners' as the Obama administration just announced a halt to the prosecution of the suspected al-Qa'ida mastermind behind the attack on the USS Cole, Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri. The Cole was attacked on Oct. 12, 2000, by suicide bombers who detonated more than 1,000 pounds of explosives in a small vessel that pulled alongside the ship while it was on a refueling stop in Yemen. The blast killed 17 U.S. sailors and injured 39 others.

"Why the sudden change of prosecutorial heart? A military official speaking on condition of anonymity to The Washington Post explained that 'the administration does not want a high-profile terrorist tried in a military tribunal before major figures held at Guantanamo Bay start having civilian trials.' Let that sink in for a moment: The Chosen One, through his legal lackey, Attorney General Eric Holder, has decided not to try the terrorists who attacked the Cole on the basis that doing so would introduce even more uncertainty into the execution phase of a poorly contemplated decision. Never mind the evidence linking al-Nashiri to the bombing.

"Never mind, too, the palpable link between the Cole bombing and 9/11. Notably, one of the 9/11 hijackers -- Khalid al-Mihdhar -- also helped plan the Cole bombing. Additionally, imam Anwar al-Awlaki, who was linked both to the Fort Hood shootings and the Christmas Day 'Undie Bomber,' is also tied to the Cole attack. No, apparently the key take-away from the administration's actions is that an attack on an American warship -- one that resulted in the deaths of 17 American Patriots -- doesn't count nearly as much as ensuring that the civil-trial-for-war-criminals agenda remains on track.

"Of course, it's also very understandable why the ironically named (of late) Justice Department would want to shed cases right now, especially in light of its legal offensive against Arizona holding the federal government to task in enforcing U.S. law. But we digress. For its part, Team Chosen has apparently borrowed a line from 'Monty Python and the Holy Grail': 'Please! This is supposed to be a happy occasion! Let's not bicker and argue about who killed who.'

"As for us, our hearts are with the families of the victims of the attack on the USS Cole. We are truly heartbroken for these families that have now witnessed a full decade of justice denied, and our blood boils at the thought that this injustice will continue."

But it will continue as long as Obama is president. Let's look back over a year ago, to see what Debra Burlingame wrote in the Wall Street Journal:
"Obama and the 9/11 Families
The president isn't sincere about 'swift and certain' justice for terrorists"

Kelo on steroids: Big government seizing property again

There was a lot of outrage about the Kelo decision, in which the City of New London, Connecticut was able to forcibly seize property for private development. Despite the outrage, nothing has changed. Big government knows no master.

From the Cato Institute:
"Bulldozing Homes, Billing Homeowners"

In this case the City of Montgomery, Alabama is demolishing houses and billing the homeowners. "The city then markets the properties to private developers," according to the story in the video link. This despite the fact that Alabama passed legislation to prevent what the City of New London did!

See the original article by Christina Walsh of The Daily Caller
"Eminent domain, by any other name . . . still stinks"