Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Google have lost the plot

Amid the great issues of the day, complaints about Google must seem small-minded, but Google is after all a worldwide phenomenon and a very profitable corporation. So it surely deserves to have a light shone upon it. So I thought I might spend a few moments more to give background to Google's latest disaster.

Google's blogging program ( is as buggy as a tropical night but it is hard to understand why. It was in beta for about a year and up for voluntary use for several months after that. So many people must have used and commented on it. Yet its faults are so great that it looks more like a first stab at a blogging program rather than a mature product. Whoever is in charge of it should be fired.

I haven't got the time to mention all the things that are wrong with it but in addition to the faults I mentioned yesterday, I note today that in the listing of my blogs on, the most recently updated blog is almost out of reach. The access to it is almost completely overlaid by another feature so that you cannot even see what the name of the blog is. Only a tiny sliver of color keeps it accessible at all.

How can they put a out a program that has so many childish errors in it? I can only conclude that the success of their search engine has inflated their heads to the point where they think they are super-human. Sadly, all they are is super bunglers.

I am not in much of a mood to be amused but perhaps I should be. The problem just mentioned above seems to occur only when I use my usual browser -- which is -- wait for it -- Google's own "Chrome" browser. I can see a complete blog listing if I use clunky old IE8! One for Ripley, I think. And chalk up one for Bill Gates too, I guess.

Do I have any advice for Google? Futile though it undoubtedly is, I do: Allow users to revert to the earlier version of if they want. The earlier version worked fine and was much more convenient. If it aint broke, don't fix it.

The only excuse for the new version seems to be that it has a more "modern" look -- whatever that means. Sounds pretty subjective and air-headed to me.


America's professional diplomats under Obama/Clinton

Diplomats are trained to be inoffensive at all costs. That's what diplomacy means. So the degeneration of America's diplomatic service under Hillary Clinton is both amazing and alarming. They now have no patience with probing questions and it shows:

You have probably heard about it, but if you haven’t yet read the email exchange between Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Philippe Reines, Hillary Clinton’s personal spokesman, and Michael Hastings of BuzzFeed, you should read it in its entirety. It begins with Hastings asking legitimate questions about the State Department’s Libya fiasco. The immediate subject was CNN’s discovery of Ambassador Chris Stevens’s diary at the unguarded consulate in Benghazi.....

The email exchange deteriorated rapidly from there. Hastings was the first to use a profanity:

"Why don’t you give answers that aren’t bullshit for a change?"

Which prompted this remarkably unprofessional response from the Secretary of State’s official spokesman:

"I now understand why the official investigation by the Department of the Defense as reported by The Army Times The Washington Post concluded beyond a doubt that you’re an unmitigated asshole.

How’s that for a non-bullshit response?

Now that we’ve gotten that out of our systems, have a good day.

And by good day, I mean Fuck Off"

There is an obvious irony in the Secretary of State’s spokesman –the diplomat’s diplomat– being reduced to this sort of profane, out of control spluttering, which one would normally expect from a left-wing blogger.

But the reality goes far beyond the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State’s meltdown. It appears that the Department itself is in disarray. First it failed to protect its own employees, including an American ambassador, against obvious threats which the ambassador himself, among many others, recognized. Then it tried to mislead the American people about the circumstances of the Benghazi terrorist attack, an effort that continues to this day, although Barack Obama admitted on The View today that what happened in Benghazi "wasn’t just a mob action." Not unless mobs typically plan staged military attacks featuring RPGs, machine guns and mortars; but Obama was not willing to call it a terrorist act, either.

We can add the scandal of Hillary Clinton’s State Department to that of Eric Holder’s Department of Justice and many others that have accumulated over the last four years.



Obama's Fact-Challenged Tax Claim

Where are the "fact-checkers" when you need them?

On CBS News’s "60 Minutes" Sunday night, President Obama said, "Taxes are lower on families than they've been probably in the last 50 years. So I haven't raised taxes."

As of Monday morning, neither the Washington Post’s Pinocchio-awarding Fact-Checker, nor the Annenberg Public Policy Center’, nor the Tampa Bay Times’ Pulitzer-Prize-winning had risen to this opportunity, so let us take a stab.

There are a variety of possible ways to measure the tax burden on American "families" over the past 50 years. Fortunately, Mr. Obama’s own White House Office of Management and Budget provides a spreadsheet that summarizes federal tax receipts from 1940 through the present. Fifty years ago, in 1962, federal tax receipts were $99.7 billion. In 2011, they were $2.3 trillion. Far from being at a 50 year low, the taxes extracted from American families last year were about 23 times what they were fifty years ago.

Okay, but aren’t there more families in America now than there were 50 years ago? Sure. The 1960 Census counted about 179 million Americans, while the 2010 Census counted about 309 million. The population hasn’t even doubled, but the federal government’s tax receipts have increased 23 times.

Okay, but what about inflation? President Obama’s own Office of Management and Budget tries to deal with that question by using something called "constant (FY 2005) dollars." It’s not as trustworthy a measure as, say, the price of gold, but since the White House uses it, it’s worth at least a look. By this measure, federal taxes climbed to nearly $2 trillion in 2011 from about $660 billion in 1962. In other words, the taxes trebled, even as the population didn’t even double.

Remember, too, that 1962 wasn’t some kind of blissful Jeffersonian small-government era to which we can never possibly return. It was the height of the Cold War. President Eisenhower had only shortly before warned of the military-industrial complex. President Kennedy was going around giving speeches about how the tax burden was too high.

Okay, what about tax rates? By that measure, taxes aren’t at a 50-year-low, either. Don’t take my word for it: look at the chart from the Tax Policy Center operated by the Brookings Institution and the Urban Institute, two center-left think tanks whose work President Obama likes to cite when he claims that a President Romney would raise taxes on the middle class. Sure enough, in 1988 and 1989 the top marginal income tax rate was 28%. In 1990, 1991, and 1992 it was 31%. Today it is 35%.

Okay, that’s the federal income tax rate. But what about the payroll tax rate? Here, too the Brookings-Urban Tax Policy Center has a useful chart. In 1962 the Social Security payroll tax was 6.25%, applied to the first $4,800 in wages. There was no Medicare tax, because Medicare did not yet exist. In 2011 — even after the two percentage point temporary payroll tax "holiday" — the tax was 10.4% applied to the first $106,800 in income, plus a 2.9% Medicare tax that applies to all wage income, with no cap. The tax, in other words, has more than doubled since 1962.

How about the federal gas tax? Fifty years ago, in 1962, it was four cents a gallon, according to the Tax Foundation. It’s now 18.4 cents a gallon. Far from being at a 50-year low, it has more than quadrupled.

There is one measure — federal tax revenues as a percentage of GDP — by which taxes under President Obama have been at a 50-year low, at least according to the Office of Management and Budget. But if that’s Mr. Obama’s yardstick, then it also shows government spending and budget deficits have been at 50-year highs under Mr. Obama.

The second sentence of Mr. Obama’s "60 Minutes" claim — "I haven’t raised taxes" — is similarly slippery. Before Mr. Obama had been in office for a month he signed a law increasing the tobacco tax by $71 billion over 10 years. A 10% tax on tanning salons went into effect on July 1, 2010, a tax increase of $2.7 billion over 10 years. If Mr. Obama hasn’t raised more taxes, it hasn’t been for lack of trying; the only thing stopping him has been the Republican House of Representatives.

It would be a shame if voters fall for Mr. Obama’s misleading claim that their taxes are at a 50-year low. But who can blame the voters, or, for that matter, the fact-checkers, if even Mr. Obama’s opponent, Mitt Romney, buys into the idea. In the same "60 Minutes" program, Mr. Romney said taxes would remain essentially unchanged if he won. "I don’t want a reduction in revenue coming into the government," Mr. Romney said.

It’s enough to make one nostalgic for George W. Bush, or at least to prompt one to wish for a politician who can articulate the tax issue not in terms of what it means for the government’s revenues but in the language of what it means for the individual.


Dead Cat Bounce

The Democratic National Convention produced not much of a bounce in the polls for Obama, and the bounce was soon gone. A big part of the reason was the continuing economic bad news that rained on the propaganda parade. This news is worth analyzing, because most people don’t see its significance. Certainly the mainstream media don’t.

First, early in the week of the convention, the feds announced that we officially hit the $16 trillion mark in national debt. This happened during the administration of a man who questioned his predecessor’s patriotism for having spent much less in eight years than his own administration has spent in less than four. The media ignored this, of course.

But much worse were the job figures. The jobs report showed a measly 96,000 net jobs created in August. And the numbers for the previous two months were revised downwards — 41,000 fewer jobs were created in the previous two months than had been reported earlier.

The unemployment rate "dropped" from 8.3% to 8.1%, but only because an incredible 368,000 people simply left the labor force. Yes, four people quit searching for work for every one who found it.

In fact, if the labor participation rate were what it was on the day Obama took office, the unemployment rate would be a whopping 11.2%. Hell, if the labor participation rate had just stayed the same as it was last month, the unemployment rate would have gone up to 8.4%. Count in the underemployed along with those who have given up looking for work, and the rate is really 19%.

Meanwhile, in the last month for which data are available, the number of Americans on food stamps rose by 173,000. Yes, about two Americans applied for food stamps for every one who got a job. More than 45 million Americans — i.e., roughly 15% of the population — are now on food stamps, almost double the 7.9% rate that was the average from 1970 to 2000.

The number of people on SSI (Social Security disability) has now hit 11 million, half signing up under Obama’s enlightened reign.

The fruits of neosocialism are bitter, except for the neosocialists themselves.


They haven't got a clue

Breaking news: officials in our U.S. Federal Government do not know how to solve all our woes. This actually shouldn’t be "news." Leaders from none other than the Federal Reserve, itself, have repeatedly admitted this in recent months.

Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke has admitted this multiple times, and in a variety of different contexts (a point I’ll review momentarily). But last Wednesday, the President and C.E.O. of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas reiterated this point himself, and his announcements have largely been ignored.

In a Speech before the Harvard Club of New York City, bank President Richard Foster publicly restated his opposition to the Fed’s recent decision to launch "QE3," its third attempt in three years to use monetary policy to stimulate the economy. Foster began his speech noting that "with each program we undertake to venture further in that direction (in the direction of using monetary policy as stimulus), we are sailing deeper into uncharted waters. We are blessed at the Fed with sophisticated econometric models and superb analysts. We can easily conjure up plausible theories as to what we will do when it comes to our next tack or eventually reversing course. The truth, however, is that nobody on the committee, nor on our staffs at the Board of Governors and the 12 Banks, really knows what is holding back the economy."

Later in the speech, Mr. Foster noted that our economy "is already flush with $1.6 trillion in excess private bank reserves owned by the banking sector and held by the 12 Federal Reserve Banks. Trillions more are sitting on the sidelines in corporate coffers. On top of all that, a significant amount of underemployed cash—or fuel for investment—is burning a hole in the pockets of money market funds and other non-depository financial operators. This begs the question: Why would the Fed provision to shovel billions in additional liquidity into the economy’s boiler when so much is presently lying fallow?"

The economy is being held back despite trillions of dollars "lying fallow," and the highly educated experts at the Federal Reserve can’t figure out why. Mr. Foster deserves our thanks for being so truthful – yet we should all be concerned about his observations.

Of course, it was only three months ago when Chairman Ben Bernanke admitted that he had "no idea" why our economy is so "fragile." This is the man who has overseen the lending of more than $3 trillion American taxpayer dollars to foreign banks; the rapid-fire acquisition of the former giant Merrill Lynch by the gargantuan Bank of America; the multi-billion dollar taxpayer bailout of Wall Street; and – although he craft legislation or sign bills in to law, he nonetheless supported the $800 billion "economic stimulus bill" from the Congress and the Obama Administration.

And after all that – and before the latest stimulus effort announced less than two weeks ago – the Fed Chairman nonetheless admits that he has "no idea" what is wrong with our economy.

The talent, econometric models, and superb analysts at the Federal Reserve notwithstanding, Americans of all stripes need to come to grips with some basic economic realities. If it is still a goal of our country to create wealth and opportunity for all, then we’ll have to start demanding that our government officials think and act differently.

For example, we will not have entrepreneurs once again using those "fallow trillions" to create new businesses and jobs in large quantities, until we demand that government stops bullying private enterprise. Despite the claims at the recent Democratic National Convention that President Obama "saved G.M" with government bailouts, last week General Motors announced that it wants to sever ties with our government. According to G.M. leadership, the restrictions on executive salaries that President Obama has forced upon the company have put G.M. at a competitive disadvantage with other car companies.

The fact that the Obama Administration would use an entire car company to satisfy its political agenda of cutting executive salaries, even at the expense of the company’s wellbeing, does not create a business-friendly environment. It conveys to entrepreneurs that President Obama’s agenda is preeminently important, and prosperity is secondary.

And did you hear about the Gallup organization? After publishing both political polling data and unemployment data that reflected poorly on the President, Obama campaign strategist David Axelrod engaged Gallup in a series of intimidating conversations demanding that Gallup change their methodologies. Gallup didn’t budge – and mysteriously found themselves targeted with a lawsuit from the Department of Justice lawsuit over an "unrelated issue."

Americans must also demand that both Washington, and Wall Street, embrace the economic wisdom of Main Street. Most of us realize that, just as a drunken person cannot drink himself sober, no individual, household, nor organization can borrow and spend itself out of debt. This reality applies to our government, as well.


List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or here (Pictorial) or here (Personal)


The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)


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