Wednesday, February 29, 2012

'Don't Be Evil' Becomes Evil

Today's your last chance to make changes before the floodgates open up:

We've been talking about it for weeks, but the big day is almost here: On March 1, Google will implement its new privacy policy and terms of service, unifying 70 separate privacy policies and extending them across most of Google's offerings.

This grand consolidation means that all of your Google account data will live in a single database that every Google service can access. Google Maps will have access to your Gmail data, which will have access to your YouTube history, and so on. Google insists that this change will ultimately benefit users, but privacy advocacy groups such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation fear that users will lose control over the personal data they've shared with Google.

If you'd like to exert control over your Google-based data, you still have time to act before March 1. Google's privacy settings can be tricky to navigate--the privacy Dashboard doesn't provide full access to all privacy settings, and Google's Data Liberation tool doesn't support everything yet. But these tips should help limit what Google can find out about you.

Check the Dashboard

Your first destination is Google Dashboard. It provides an overview of the information Google has stored on your account across many of its most popular services. To get started, go and log in with your Google account (typically an email address). There, you can see much of the data that Google has on you--from your Google+ account to your Gmail account.

Take a few minutes to click through the various services and to review the information Google is storing. Then clear out any data you no longer want associated with your account.

Clear Your Google Web History

Google Web History keeps track of your Web browsing in order to help Google serve up more-relevant search results, According to the company, Google Web History "saves information about your web activity, including pages you visit and searches on Google. Over time, the service may use additional information about your activity on Google or other information you provide us in order to deliver a better search experience."

Even while you're logged out of your Google account, Google achieve a similar effect by tracking your search history via a browser cookie.

To turn this off, visit while signed into your Google account and click Remove all web history. In the next screen, click OK to confirm your decision, and thenceforth Google will no longer track your Web history for the sake of improving search accuracy. As the EFF notes, however, Google may still log this information for various internal purposes.

If you don't have a Google account, or if you're logged out of your account, and click Disable customizations based on search activity.

Tweak Your Ads Preferences

By default, Google serves up "personalized" ads, based on search queries or on the content of your Gmail messages. For example, if you run a search for "Mobile World Congress," Google may serve up an ad for a phone or a tablet. If you find that kind of activity too invasive (or just plain creepy), you can dig into Google's privacy settings to disable personalized ads.

Head on over to Google's Ad Preferences page; and in the left-hand column, under 'Ads on Search and Gmail', click Opt out. From there, click the Opt out button to the right, and Google will stop serving up personalized ads based on your search results.

You can also opt out of personalized ads that appear on other sites through Google's Web ad services. In the left-hand column of the same Ad Preferences page, under 'Ads on the Web', clickOpt out, and then click the blue Opt out button to the right.

Liberate Your Data

If you want to remove some (but not all) of your personal data from multiple Google services, head over to Google Takeout, which lets you download a copy of your data from Google Buzz, Circles, Docs, Picasa Web Albums, Gmail contacts, and other tools and services. Get started by logging in to the Google Takeout page. Once there, you can download your data for all supported services, or you can pick and choose the data you want to download. Once you've chosen what you want to download, click the Create Archive button at the bottom of the page. Google Takeout will create an archive consisting of your downloadable data (it may take a few minutes for Google Takeout to create the archive for you).

After downloading the archive, you can delete the data from the individual Google services. Unfortunately, doing so is a manually operation--Google doesn't let you automatically delete the data you download from its servers. In addition, Google Takeout doesn't yet support all of Google's services, so you won't be able to take everything with you. Still, some data removal is better than none.

The Nuclear Option: Delete Your Google Account

If you feel truly paranoid, you can remove your Google account completely. Deleting your account will mean losing all of the information associated with it, including your Gmail account, your Google+ profile, and anything you've stored within Google Docs.

If you're willing to take the leap, log in to your Google account and visit your account settings page. Scroll to the bottom and, under Services, click Close entire account and delete all services and info associated with it. On the next page, Google will ask you to confirm that you really, truly want to delete your account. Follow the instructions, enter your password, take a deep breath, and click Delete Google Account.

On the other hand, you may want to delete just your Google+ account. If so, scroll to the bottom of the account setting page, and click Delete profile and remove associated Google+ features. From there, you can delete your Google+ content or your entire Google profile, which will remove you from Google+, Google Buzz, and several other services.

We're all for personal privacy, of course, but we also appreciate convenience. If you feel the same way, and you can deal with the reality that Google probably already knows a lot about you (and will soon know even more), you can leave your Google account as it is.

If you're on the fence, or just want to be fully informed about how Google collects and uses personal data, we recommend that you take one more step: Read Google's overview of its new privacy policy, or take the plunge and read the revised policies for yourself.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Classical Music Blow-Out

I love classical music.  It all started when my girlfriend (now wife) played the demo cassette tape (oh yeah, it was that long ago) that came with her new Mercury Tracer that contained John Williams' Olympic Fanfare and Theme.  That was it, end of story, all she wrote, period.

Ever since then I've been a big fan of classical music, and I've played many of the big name songs in various orchestras over the years.  My tastes have run toward movie soundtracks and trailers in the past couple of years, but classical music is called 'classical' for a reason - it never gets old, and it never goes out of style.  For people who love classical music, Amazon is your friend today.  They're currently running a special where you can get DRM-free classical music albums containing 100 tracks of the best music by the best composers throughout history for a measly $2.  Check it out here.

I have no idea how long this special is going to run, but if this is your cup of tea, I suggest you go get it ASAP.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

No Additional Comment Necessary


It's a big purple goose-egg for the prima donna turncoat:

Rodney McGruder scored 24 points and Angel Rodriguez added six assists to propel the unranked Wildcats to a 78-68 road win over No. 3 Missouri at Mizzou Arena. The victory marked the second time this season that K-State has defeated the Tigers, and it came just three days after Martin's squad topped then-No. 10 Baylor in Waco.

Yes, folks, the vaunted MU Tigers just got swept by the lowly KSU Wildcats!  Anyone who pays any attention to college basketball knows that MU is a good team and will be placed higher in the NCAA bracket (and will likely do better in the Big 12 Tournament) than K-State, even though the Cats appear to be heating up at the right time.  Regardless, it's immensely gratifying to see the 'best' team in the Big 12 get sent on their way to the SEC in such fine fashion.

Major kudos to the Cats!

PS - I'll be rooting big-time for the Jayhawks on Saturday.  Let's make it a state-wide smackdown that locks MU out of first place!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

One of Obama’s Biggest Opponents in 2012

(link) Now that it’s confirmed in the minds of all but those terminally afflicted with Bush Derangement Syndrome that rising gas prices this time around aren’t the fault of two oil men in the White House, barring the miraculous, the price of gas will be one of President Obama’s major election year opponents:

Gasoline prices are rising at an almost unheard-of pace, and painfully so in California, where the cost for a fill-up now exceeds $4 a gallon in five cities and is approaching that dreaded mark in numerous others, including San Jose and Oakland.
The statewide average of $3.96 on Friday is 25 cents higher than just a month ago and 46 cents more than this time last year. The price jumped a nickel from Thursday, a huge increase, as day-to-day changes are usually measured in fractions of a penny.
Some oil analysts predict $4.50 a gallon or more by Memorial Day on the West Coast and major cities across the United States such as Chicago, New York and Atlanta. Prices in that range could be a major issue in the presidential campaign, especially if they slow the nation’s economic recovery.
“I give $4.50-per-gallon gasoline on the West Coast better than 50-50 odds,” said Patrick DeHaan, senior petroleum analyst for “Some stations could be closer to $5 in remote areas. … It’s just a matter of time before motorists are again ransacked at the pump.”
The rising price of gas hasn’t escaped the notice of Washington. The Associated Press reported Friday that the threat of higher gas prices could lead President Barack Obama to authorize the sale of oil from the country’s emergency reserves, as he did once before.
“We never take options off the table,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said Friday.
The emergency reserve option will be more on the table than ever if we’re heading into autumn without a significant price drop.

While rising gas prices can be blamed on a plethora of factors, points on which the Republican nominee should be relentless are Obama’s opposition to opening up ANWR, the EPA blocking drilling elsewhere in and around Alaska, the Gulf moratorium, Keystone Pipeline denial, and the list goes on. Couple that with billions in loans to countries like Columbia so refineries there can be upgraded there while refineries in the US and Europe are being shuttered and Canada tries to send their oil to China instead of getting the runaround from US officials, and Obama is forced to deal with an election year headache that he didn’t seem to mind bringing on himself for the sake of forcing a “green economy” into existence.

On the topic of energy independence, here’s some common Democrat rationale for opposing ANWR drilling:
“There won’t be a thimble of oil for seven to 10 years,” said a spokesman for Democrats on the Senate Energy Committee.
That was said almost eight years ago. I thought Democrats were the ones billing themselves as the “forward thinkers.”

Here’s the correlation between gas prices and presidential approval going back to the days of Cap’n Malaise (h/t Powerline):


Friday, February 17, 2012

Campaign Shirts

A friend sent these to me recently.  When hilarity and reality intersect, they should be celebrated:


Friday, February 10, 2012

The Obamamobile

Explaining The National Debt And The Debt Ceiling

A friend of mine forwarded me this little illustration of the national debt and the debt ceiling, and I can't think of a better way to present it:

Lesson # 1:

* U.S. Tax revenue: $2,170,000,000,000
* Fed budget: $3,820,000,000,000
* New debt: $1,650,000,000,000
* National debt: $14,271,000,000,000
* Recent budget cuts: $38,500,000,000

Let's now remove 8 zeros and pretend it's a household budget:

* Annual family income: $21,700
* Money the family spent: $38,200
* New debt on the credit card: $16,500
* Outstanding balance on the credit card: $142,710
* Total budget cuts: $385
* Total budget cuts: $385

Got It?

Lesson # 2:

Here's another way to look at the Debt Ceiling:

Let's say, You come home from work and find there has been a sewer backup in your neighborhood....and your home has sewage all the way up to your ceilings.

What do you think you should do ......

Raise the ceilings, or pump out all the crap?

Your choice is
coming November 6, 2012

Beautiful!  This applies to both Democrats and Republicans, of course.

My personal rule of thumb: if you don't know anything about the candidates in any particular race, always vote out the incumbent.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

On The Subject Of Inheriting


Every time you challenge Democrats on the bad shape of the economy three years (and $5 trillion) into Barack Obama's presidency, you get hit with something like "when Obama came into office, the economy was so bad," etc.

So let's remember exactly how things were when Obama came into office. 

When Obama came into office, the Democrats concluded two years of controlling both the House and Senate for the first time in over a decade.  Until they showed up, everything was quite all right. All hell broke loose after their anti-business policies started kicking in, and things became worse when the Democrat won the White House, too.

When Obama came into office, he didn't show up as a sitting governor.  Instead, he was a voting member of the majority party in the Senate -- the majority party, remember, who created the mess -- and he only made things worse once in the White House.  See for yourself:

...When Obama came into office, the economy had just concluded a year of 0.0% growth.  In Obama's first year, however, the economy shrank by 3.5%.

...When Obama came into office, we had a mess due to the housing market.  However, the worst year for new home sales in U.S. history took place in Obama's third year, not Bush's last.

...When Obama came into office, we concluded Bush's worst year of banks closings under Bush, with 25 banks shuttered in 2008 due to insolvency.  Obama's best year of bank closings (2011) saw 97 banks go under.

...When Obama came into office, the economy had just concluded a year that lost 1.4 million fewer jobs than what the economy lost in Obama's first year.

...When Obama came into office, we had concluded a year (2008) where the unemployment rate was on average 5.8% for the year.  The best UR month on Obama's watch is above eight percent.

When Obama came into office, we were losing a half a million jobs a month.  However, just as the waters in New Orleans started receding before Bush did anything, jobs losses in the U.S. were bound to recede even if Obama did not lift a finger.  The only question was how fast jobs would come back.

A rule in modern economics suggests that the steeper the downturn, the faster the comeback.  But even if you look only at Obama's "good" job months (largely since we elected a do-nothing Congress which by default tied and limited Obama's hands...), the job gains are less than what President Ford -- with an economy and population 35 years smaller than now -- delivered at this time following the steep downturn of the mid-1970s, and it's a drop in the bucket compared to what Reagan gave us after the steep 1981 downturn.

When Obama came into office with an economy of 133.5 million non-farm jobs, his economic team projected that at the end of 2010, we would have 137 million of those jobs if we were to follow Obamanomics.  However, at the start of the current year, we had fewer than 133 million jobs -- which is four million jobs short of what we were supposed to have a year ago!

Finally, when Republican President Warren Harding came into office in early 1921, the economy was in a depression, with GDP (then called GNP) being down almost four times more than the recent downturn.  However, when Harding concluded his third year in office after pushing through steep tax cuts, the unemployment rate was lower than the pre-depression levels despite the fact that more people came into the workforce.  Now, by contrast, despite millions giving up on looking for jobs, the unemployment rate is still higher than "when Obama came into office."

In brief, things might not have been exactly hunky-dory when we got Obama...but they're a heck of a lot worse now that we have him.

Just sayin'...

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

And Then There Were Two Three Again

Well, it looks like my endorsement carried a lot of weight throughout the Midwest yesterday:

It took one night for Rick Santorum to become a player again in the Republican presidential race.

The former Pennsylvania senator came out on top in the voting in all three contests Tuesday night, including an unexpected five-point victory in Colorado's caucuses. Santorum also won the Minnesota caucuses, by an 18-point margin, and he won by 30 points in the Missouri primary.

Santorum moves on without any new delegates, but with plenty of momentum.

For everyone who flat-out declared the GOP battle a two-man race between Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich, voters in three states Tuesday night said, "Not so fast." Rick Santorum pulled off huge wins in Missouri, Minnesota and, incredibly, Colorado -- a state Romney was supposed to have locked up.

"Conservatism is alive and well in Missouri and Minnesota," Santorum told a cheering crowd in Missouri.

Santorum was such an underdog that, just a week ago, people were speculating he'd drop out. Last night, he not only won -- he blew out his competition.

"Your votes today," he declared, "were not just heard loud and wide across the states of Missouri and Minnesota, but they were heard loud and louder all across this country."

I think there are a couple major takeaways from last night, one of which is mentioned later in the article:

Still, Santorum's strong showing is a huge blow to the front-runners, especially Newt Gingrich, who's been campaigning as the conservative alternative to Romney.

But with Gingrich's stumbles, and voters nervous about his baggage, Tuesday night, Santorum assumed that title.

The Republican establishment wants Romney.  The Republican base wants anyone but Romney.  Romney has demonstrated himself to be a flip-flopper approaching John Kerry status, and he clearly has no genuine connection to conservative principles, instead just using the words as a tool to try to sucker a base that he must secure in order to win.  Perhaps even more critically, Romney has the millstone of Massachusetts' failing Romneycare around his neck, and the Republican base still fervently wants Obamacare repealed.  If Romney is the nominee, there is zero chance of that happening, and, in fact, the removal of one of the most potent campaign issues will dramatically elevate the probability of a second Obama term (I'm planning a major post on Obamacare in the coming days, so stay tuned for that).  Polling has remained consistent that Republican voters don't want Romney, and Gingrich had positioned himself as the most logical non-Romney choice.  He was making headway on that despite his considerable baggage...until last night.  As this article said, Santorum could now have unseated Gingrich.

The other interesting thing to me is the fact that none of these candidates worked really hard at any of these three states.  Relatively little money was spent on advertising by all of the candidates, and none of them spent a significant amount of effort campaigning in any of them.  One could argue, then, that these three states are perhaps more representative of what middle America thinks of these candidates based purely on the candidates' histories and records rather than on a chosen media spin blitz.  If that is the case, then this means more good things to come for Santorum.

Of course, the reality is that these wins mean little if increased fundraising doesn't follow.  Considering that Santorum has now gained Romney's attention, the 'front runner' will likely extend his scorched-earth campaign and start pummeling Santorum with negative ads.  Just ask Gingrich -- who was out-spent by Romney 65:1 in Florida -- how painful that can be, especially with no money to fight back.  We'll see in the coming days if that increased fundraising materializes.

The Fundamental And Irreconcilable Difference

Between conservatives and liberals, that is.  I've discussed with more than one person over the past few months whether or not more bipartisanship and cooperation is needed.  I firmly believe it is not - if you've followed my blog for any length of time, you know my feelings of bipartisanship, and I believe cooperation is precisely what has put us in such a precarious national position in the first place.  As always, Rush Limbaugh puts the finest point on it that I've heard, so I'll defer to his comments on the subject of the fundamental difference between liberals and conservatives:

What do we have to agree with people like Obama and the whole Democrat Party?  We don't.  There aren't any areas of commonality, folks.  We have a Democrat Party led by a man whose avowed aim is to change America, transform it.  And his biggest impediment is the Constitution.  That's the single biggest obstacle he's got.  I wish I could tell you the biggest obstacle he's got is the Republican Party, but, sadly, that's not the case.  The biggest obstacle Obama has is the Constitution.  The Constitution gets in his way. ... 
Here's a proud member of ... the Democrat Party and the American left who think the Constitution here is an obstacle, it's an impediment.  And you know why?  Because it doesn't say what the government can do.  The Constitution is a document that empowers citizens.  It empowers the individual over the state, and that is despised by people like Obama.  That's despised by most Democrats.  It is the state, many doofuses believe an altruistic state, which is to have dominion over citizens.  Citizens are a bloc of nameless, faceless robotic parts to be collectively controlled and manipulated and shaped and formed by the altruistic state.  
The Constitution has proscriptions against government.  The Bill of Rights tells government what it cannot do.  Obama and his buddies have a name for this.  They say the Constitution is a set, if you will, of negative liberties, negative liberties from the point of view of the government.  If you believe government should be all powerful, the Constitution's your enemy, it's an impediment.  And that's why Obama, whenever he can, is just ignoring it, such as recess appointments when there are no recesses. Such as telling the Catholic Church and other religious institutions -- from the same bunch that runs around and talks about separation of church and state.  The only time they care about that is when a religious conservative is about to win office or a religious conservative has a set of values and issues.  Then we hear about separation of church and state.  
When Obama wants to tell the Catholic Church what it must sell, what it must make available to people, and the things that it must do go counter to every moral underpinning it has, that's not separation of church and state.  No, that's the church not knowing what's good for it; that's the church standing in the way of the state; that's the church getting in the way of the state doing what it wants to do.  And that's really the root of all this, that obstacle that the Constitution is, is at the root of what Obama's attempting to do here with the Catholic Church and contraceptives.  It must provide abortion education in its schools. It must do these things as part of Obamacare.  Obamacare itself, taken as a whole, has as its premise that the Constitution is wrong, that the Constitution's flawed.  
I mentioned this last week.  We now have some audio.  Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg of the US Supreme Court was on Egyptian TV.  She'd never say this on American TV, by the way.  Not yet.  But on al-Hayat TV, this is what she said to the Egyptians as they put together a constitution and reorganize their country. 
GINSBURG:  I would not look to the US Constitution if I were drafting a constitution in the year 2012. I might look at the constitution of South Africa. That was a deliberate attempt to have a fundamental instrument of government that embraced basic human rights, had an independent judiciary. It really is, I think, a great piece of work that was done. 
RUSH:  Don't model whatever you're doing after the US Constitution.  Why not?  The greatest document in the history of mankind, preceded of course by the Magna Carta.  Why not?  Why not?  Because, ladies and gentlemen, the Constitution is an impediment to people like Ruth Bader Ginsburg.  The Constitution tells her what she cannot do, and everybody else in government.  The Constitution raises up the individual over the state, enshrines the whole notion of the pursuit of happiness, which you may think that's just a throwaway phrase.  That's normal, everybody wants to pursue happiness, everybody wants to be happy.  
When your founding documents mention that that is one of the fundamental aspects of creation, therefore that's one of the fundamental aspects of our human spirit, the right to pursue happiness, no government shall impede that or get in its way. It is a major reason why this country has become a superpower in so few years, compared to all the other nations that have been on the earth for thousands of years, all the other civilizations. Yes, it's freedom, but it's the definition of that freedom vis-a-vis the state.  Right to life, liberty, pursuit of happiness.  It is fundamental.  There's Ruth Bader Ginsburg.  She's speaking for the regime.  She's speaking for Obama.  Don't model it after the US Constitution.  No, no, no.  There's not enough about human rights, no basic human rights in the US Constitution.  
No basic human rights?  That's another term that's been bastardized and now means something entirely different from what its true definition or meaning is. The US Constitution spells out human rights better than they've ever been spelled out before.  Ruth Bader Ginsburg was the ACLU's top lawyer before she became a justice.  They despise the US Constitution.  It's a problem.  Obama doesn't like it.  And you know what they're replacing it with?  By the way, we have conversations on this program and we have since this program's founding.  This particular program's founding was August 1st of 1988.  And a lot of people think we live in a democracy.  We don't.  We live in a representative republic where theoretically the people have a say in what the government does.  
A democracy is pure majority rule, and that's what Obama is attempting to set up, a pure democracy, no representation, no republic, a pure democracy where the majority runs the show regardless.  They couch all this in the need for basic human rights and civil rights.  But of course when you look at what they do it's the denial of all of that and the elevation of the state over the individual who, in their perfect world, would cease to exist.  The individual would be part of a conglomerate, faceless, practically nameless, just numerical, numbered robots who are plugged into various places by the state as part of their collective, part of the command-and-control that they, and only they, have the intelligence and the understanding to be able to run.

The representative republic that is America's government has been transformed, little by little through liberal policies over the years, into something more closely resembling an oligarchy, where a small number of people rule the entire nation.

You may be asking why a liberal would want a pure majority rule system, when it is inevitable that the pendulum of political favor is likely going to be constantly swinging back and forth.  Well, that's the other key thing to remember here.  Liberals have an ace in the hole that gives them an advantage over conservatives because conservatives refuse to play the same game.

Agenda-driven courts.

Have you ever heard of a conservative (or originalist, as they are sometimes called) judge blatantly ignoring, changing, or revising a law based on nothing other than his or her own personal feelings?  No.  On the other hand, liberal (or activist) judges do it all the time.  Liberals cannot realistically win at the ballot box because they are a minority of this nation, and that means they can't get their agenda enshrined into law through normal legislative processes.  Instead, they must rely on legislating from the courtroom.  It is only in rare times when a liberal ran as a conservative (remember all of Obama's talk of tax cuts for the middle class, a strong America internationally, and so on? those are conservative principles, which is why they resonated with so many who wouldn't normally have voted for a liberal Democrat like Obama) and succeeded in a perfect storm scenario where Democrats also controlled Congress.  Ironically (or not), the last three times that has happened, America has experienced the largest three expansions of government in history:

1. FDR in the 1930s - initiated Keynesian economics via the New Deal, which also included many government social programs
2. LBJ in the 1960s - initiated the Great Society, which furthered government growth through more social programs like Medicare and Medicaid
3. Barack Obama in 2008 - implemented Obamacare and Keynesian stimulus spending on a globally unprecedented scope that caused annual trillion-dollar deficits

The American people now understand what Obama was all about, and they are rejecting his agenda.  His approval rating is in the toilet, and he often can't even get Democrats to sign onto his agenda now because they know it's tremendously unpopular and will damage their own chances at re-election.  But, with the infrastructure of judicial activism, we now have legal insanity all over the place, and in many cases the legislative control of Congress is irrelevant to governing.  One obvious example is the EPA, which has now declared all air, dirt, and water to be under their control, thus they are developing and implementing regulations to control anyone and everyone affected by all occurrences of air, dirt, and water.  Hm, last I checked, that would include pretty much everyone in America.

Or how about Obamacare, which almost 2/3 of American citizens opposed but liberals in Congress passed into law anyway?  It was promised to reduce costs and increase the number of people covered, and it has been proven to do neither.  It was also promised that critical provisions like the religious conscience clause wouldn't be violated, but that has also been ignored:

Catholic leaders are furious and determined to harness the voting power of the nation's 70 million Catholic voters to stop a provision of President Barack Obama's new heath care reform bill that will force Catholic schools, hospitals and charities to buy birth control pills, abortion-producing drugs and sterilization coverage for their employees
"Never before, unprecedented in American history, for the federal government to line up against the Roman Catholic Church," said Catholic League head Bill Donohue.

But the insanity of judicial activism doesn't stop there.  Take, for instance, a recent ruling by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in California (where else?) that declared a voter-approved ban on homosexual marriage was unconstitutional.  Stop and think about that...

A voter-approved law was ruled unconstitutional by three judges.

When judges fabricate and/or destroy legal precedent like this, liberals don't necessarily need to control Congress to drive their agenda forward.

The bottom line is that compromise, bipartisanship, or whatever other nicey-nice sounding terminology you want to use is the last thing we need right now.  If we want to restore America as the free and prosperous nation it has been since its founding -- indeed, if we want to restore the vision of the Founders -- we need the opposite.  We need elected representatives who are willing to stem the slow creep of liberalism and activist judges.  We need citizens who are angry and concerned about the direction of this country to stand up and demand accountability from their local, state, and national representatives.  We need informed, confident voters in every state of the union to flush out the liberals -- regardless of party -- and usher into office people who are itching for a confrontation and willing to boldly call out those people and policies that are destructive to this nation.

The time for playing nice is long past because this nation is on the brink of self-immolation, and the liberals and activists of the Left can taste their impending victory.  It's up to us to beat them back, prying America's bloody and battered body out of their claws, and to restore its health.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

More On Facebook Security

Wow, Facebook's new Timeline interface is shockingly revealing.  If you haven't yet checked it out, you need to.  The bottom line is that everything you've ever posted on Facebook (or anyone else has ever posted about you) is easily accessible from a single screen.

Stalkers of the world: rejoice!

For the rest of us, action is definitely warranted.  Check out this post at PC World about how to make your Facebook account secure and private as secure and private as possible.  I just finished going through my whole Facebook history, making every post hidden from my Timeline (except for a couple posts about how to protect yourself from Facebook's new Timeline).  It's tedious and aggravating, but if you don't want your entire life on display for everyone else in the world -- and I mean, seriously, everyone in the world -- you need to do this.  Everyone will get the new Timeline interface whether they want it or not by February 13th, so you have until then to implement the new look and change your settings proactively.

Don't mess with this.  Protect yourself, protect your family, protect your friends.   If you don't get off of Facebook entirely, you need to get under cover.  If you don't, you're taking major and unpredictable chances with your privacy.

Monday, February 6, 2012

A Voter's Guide To Republicans

When you're hot, you're hot.  No one does political videos like Bill Whittle, and here's another excellent one:

For what it's worth, I've been trying to decide if I should post a big comparison or write-up of the GOP candidates, and have ultimately decided it's not worth the time.  Instead, here are a few general thoughts to roughly outline where I'm coming from.

Most of the pretenders have dropped out by now.  The only one of them with a halfway realistic shot at any point was Rick Perry, but being another Texas Governor and lacking any authentic conservatism, it just wasn't going to happen for him.  I suspect he was simply running in order to become known for a serious potential future run.

There are four main candidates still standing now, so here are my thoughts on each based on my understanding of them at this point in time (in order of easiest to most difficult to comment on).

Ron Paul
He's a certified nutcase.  I will grudgingly admit that he's pretty solid on a number of economic issues, but otherwise he's a wacko in every sense of the word.  His foreign policy ideas are suicidal, he lacks all notion of common sense in terms of social policy, and he's made a whole lot of really awful statements throughout his political career.  It frightens me that so many Republicans would actually support him, though I suspect that much of his support comes from people who simply don't fit into any other categorization and are simply anti-government.  Don't believe anyone who suggests that he's the 'Tea Party candidate'.  He has no chance at winning either the primary or the general, and can only cause turmoil by splitting the right-leaning vote.

Mitt Romney
He's the frontrunner and the 'inevitable' candidate.  You know, like Hillary Clinton and Rudy Guliani were 'inevitable' last time around.  He lost Iowa, he won New Hampshire (where no one else even tried), and he cleaned up in Florida (because his advertising dollars were a 65-to-1 avalanche blanket of the entire state, and the vast majority of them were aimed at destroying Newt Gingrich).  For me, he's the John McCain of this year - the least good viable candidate.  I would vote for him over Obama, but only by holding my nose really hard.  The two biggest issues of this campaign season are shaping up to be the economy and Obamacare.  As Governor of Massachusetts, he implemented Romneycare, which has tanked the state's budget, driven up health care costs, and infringed upon the freedoms of people living there.  Romneycare is essentially the same thing as Obamacare (in fact, Obamacare was actually built on the foundation of Romneycare).  If Romney is the GOP nominee, one of the most potent issues against Obama -- since Obamacare was first proposed through now, almost two years after it was passed, it has had a steady 55-60% disapproval in every legitimate poll ever taken on the subject -- has been rendered irrelevant.  Not only can the GOP not afford to give up such a powerful campaign issue, but the country itself cannot afford another President who does anything less than fight tooth and nail for a full repeal, and Romney has already stated flat out that he won't fight for repeal.  On the economy, Romney does have a decent business background, but the Democrats have smoothly laid down a foundation of him being an elite rich white guy who hates poor people and indulges in class warfare (I know, the irony of it smacks hard), and he will be thrashed mercilessly on it.  Given the mood of the country, that thrashing will connect with a lot of people, and will hurt Romney big time.  Add to that a few of his more idiotic statements lately ("I love to fire people" and "I don't care about poor people" come to mind), and Romney isn't really helping himself, either.  It doesn't matter that those snippets are out of context, and that if the context was filled in around them he's actually dead on correct...the liberal media will ensure that doesn't happen.  He's the guy the Republican establishment wants because they think he'll draw the Independent vote, but he's the guy who appears to be the least liked by the actual voting base.  He's not anything remotely approaching genuine conservatism, so he generates zero enthusiasm in the conservative base of the GOP.  Remember how much enthusiasm the similarly non-conservative McCain got?  Exactly.

Newt Gingrich
To me, he's the most perplexing of the bunch.  On the one hand, Newt is the most potent debater and seems to revel in zinging the media and Obama whenever possible.  He's also pretty good at it.  For example, he's the one who first called Obama the 'food stamp President', which accurately points out the immense increase in the number of people who have become dependent upon government during Obama's first three years.  He's gotten the most standing ovation moments on the campaign trail, and I think he would genuinely destroy Obama in a live and open debate (might take out the liberal moderator while he's at it, too).  He's a brilliant historian, very well versed in the actual motivations and machinations of the Founding Fathers, and I believe he genuinely knows and understands conservatism like few others on the national stage.  On the other hand, Newt has a maddening tendency to undermine that foundation with monumentally stupid moves like endorsing global warming (which has now been thoroughly disproved, by the way) while sitting on a tiny little couch with virulent anti-American and anti-Republican Nancy Pelosi.  He's fundamentally an idea guy, which sometimes leads him to toss out half-baked ideas -- like establishing a permanent base on Mars -- that make him look a bit crazy.  Personally, despite his conservative underpinnings, I think he's still a Washingtonian at his core, and he believes that government is the best solution for a whole lotta problems.  The social conservatives of the right-leaning base have a hard time with him because of his infidelity issues (though to be fair, I think I've started to see a trend toward the base caring a lot less about that lately), and the all-important Independents have a generally poor view of him.  Bottom line: he's got the mental firepower and the intestinal fortitude to cause a lot of damage to the Democrats and Obama...if he's not too busy playing nicey-nice with them.

Rick Santorum
That leaves us with former Senator Rick Santorum.  He's probably the most boring, the least wealthy, and the least well known.  In my opinion, and in the opinion of a lot of other right-leaners, these are actually positives.  I'd be absolutely shocked if anyone could dig up any kind of scandal or skeletons in his background.  Sure, the Obama machine will do their best to find something, and will likely make stuff up if they don't, but I don't see it sticking.  Between having a special needs child, a strong and authentic Catholic faith, a single and (by all accounts) happy marriage with un-screwed-up kids, and a long history of consistent pro-life stances, he's a no-brainer for the social conservatives.  He won Iowa based on those hidden strengths, and in other less metropolitan states he will probably do well for the same reasons.  I think one of his biggest problems is that he's been out of elected office for several years.  Sure, he's got a long career to point to, but it's somewhat aged experience.  He's going to have to be 110% on top of his game in terms of policy (and that includes looking like he's 110% on top of his game) if he's going to overcome that critique.  He also has a few votes that encouraged big government (which is really unpopular among the GOP base right now), and that may prove to be problematic at some point.  Another thing that may or may not matter is that he's not flashy.  A lot of Republicans aren't so concerned with policy nuances or details, they just want a candidate that they can proudly claim as 'their guy'.  Preferably one who can articulate properly and doesn't resort to saying 'whatever' during interviews.  George W. Bush had his strengths, but appearing to be a savvy, intelligent, and articulate leader wasn't one of them.  I think a lot of Republicans supported him but were somewhat ashamed to do so, and often sat on the edge of their seats when he gave major speeches for fear of him looking like a dolt.  These people envy their Democrat counterparts because even when he's 100% wrong and blindingly clueless, Barack Obama sounds and looks like a million bucks.  I don't know if Santorum can be this guy, but I think it's possible.  Santorum has the least amount of money, but after winning Iowa and hanging tough through the next couple states, he's proved that he's for real.  As Romney and Newt continue to slander and destroy each other, Santorum has flown pretty much under the radar, and if he can hold on long enough he may prove himself to be the most reasonable candidate left standing.  He's not as well known nationally, but that won't be a problem for long, and in some ways may prove to be a benefit.  He doesn't have deep pockets like Romney or a long-time Washington machine like Newt, and is going to have to strategize very carefully to maximize the dollars he's got, but if he can prove that he's the best shot at unseating Obama, the money will come.  He's been awfully sharp in the last couple of debates, scoring major points against the other guys on big issues like Obamacare/Romneycare, the economy, and the environment.  He has rightly pointed out that he's the only one who hasn't (at some point) formally supported those policies that are most hated by much of the Republican base, and if he can propagate that message far and wide enough, he could generate some real support in the coming weeks.  I think the question for Santorum is simply whether or not he can linger long enough...can he hang around until the base rallies around him as their preferred not-Romney candidate?  That is the question.  He's still a long shot at this point, but probably the closest to a genuine conservative in terms of history and policy that we're going to get.

As I've said before, I'm not thrilled by any of these guys.  I think this year is similar to 2008 in that it's more a question of finding the least bad choice to go up against Obama than to identify the best choice.  Obviously, the primary season is already underway and it won't be long until Missouri heads to the polls.  Now that the field has narrowed down quite a bit, it's time to start forming opinions and paying attention (if you haven't been already).  I reserve the right to change my mind as new information comes to light and as we see how these candidates conduct themselves moving forward, but if I had to pick someone to vote for tomorrow I'd pick Rick Santorum.

For what it's worth.

Your thoughts are most welcome if you'd like to drop a comment below.

Super Bowl Wrap-Up

Well, I wanted a good, exciting game...and it's hard to envision a better, more exciting game than we got.  Awesome!  Congrats to the Giants for the great win!

PS - I bet Tom Brady is getting real sick of the name 'Manning'...

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Super Bowl Halftime Thoughts

At halftime, it's New England 10, New York 9.  Not a flawless game for either team, nor a juggernaut vs. juggernaut performance.  If I had to lean one way or the other, I'd pick the Giants, but my main desire is for a close game that's worth watching.  So far, it's delivering.

Best commercial so far: a dog buying his owner's continued silence over the missing family cat...with Doritos, of course.

Biggest commercial disappointment so far: Budweiser.  Okay, okay, I get that you're introducing a new product, but for a company that has revolutionized and set the bar for commercials in past years, this year is a total dud.

Highlight moment: preview of summer movies.  SWEET...!

Friday, February 3, 2012

The Vote Pump

Remember that tipping point that means America is finished?