back to article Yes, Obama has got some things wrong on the internet. But so has the GOP

Last month, Texan Congressman and lead voice in the Republican party in the US, Ted Cruz, wrote an opinion piece about the internet. Last week, Wall Street Journal columnist and media-Republican L Gordon Crovitz did the same. Both dig into critical decisions that will be made in 2015 and cast a critical eye over them. Both …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Republicans? Think? That’s a oxymoron, surely?

    1. jake Silver badge

      Oh, the republicans think, AC ...

      ... They think about their bank accounts.

      So do the Democrats.

      Unfortunately, neither thinks about Citizens.

      It's supposed to be "government of the people, by the people, for the people", not "I've been elected, so I can collect graft until I retire from politics" ... The idiocy of the American general public (as assisted by Government dropping funding for schools) doesn't help the one-way flow of money. The rich get richer, the poor get poorer.

      1. earl grey

        Re: Oh, the republicans think, AC ...

        so I can collect graft

        It's not graft when your stock portfolio does REALLY well and when you leave politics behind; you can get a well-paying job with your favourite donor company.

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: Oh, the republicans think, AC ...

          That's the very definition of graft, earl grey.

      2. Fatman

        Re: Oh, the republicans think, AC ...

        It's supposed to be "government of the people, by the people, for the people"


        and you will have it correct.

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: Oh, the republicans think, AC ...

          Note the "supposed to be", Fatman. I wrote that for a reason.

        2. Number6

          Re: Oh, the republicans think, AC ...

          But corporations are people too...

    2. Komit

      Youre and oxymoron.

  2. DJO Silver badge


    nations hostile to human rights and democracy

    What, like the USA?

    A country where the police can execute pretty much anybody they want and hardly ever get punished?

    A country where gerrymandering and rigged voting machines are used to force a certain result.

    Put you own house n order before criticising others.

    1. dogged

      Re: ROTFLMAO

      > A country where the police can execute pretty much anybody they want and hardly ever get punished?

      Provided the executed person earns less than they do. It's the new system in the USA - pure meritocracy where your merit is determined by how many dollars you have.

    2. kainp121

      Re: ROTFLMAO

      As Yank I want to defend my country, damn. Every thing you say is a true. The truly scary part is it's these things that the US wants to export While I would say protest , the game is rigged.

      1. DJO Silver badge

        Re: ROTFLMAO

        As Yank I want to defend my country

        It's a great shame you can't, in the post war period the USA showed amazing potential but Reagan shifted the priorities and from there it got progressively worse, Thatchers' legacy over here is similar but we had some safeguards to prevent it getting as bad as in the USA such as a Boundaries Commission which reduces (but does not eliminate) the opportunities for gerrymandering and our elections have a secure paper trail instead of easily rigged machines.

        I hope something can be done to bring the USA back to where it should be but I'm regrettably not hugely optimistic.Nothing is likely to happen from the top but a large number of American citizens are noticing that portions of the US police are out of control and desperately need to be brought back in line as the protests around the States testify. You might have some politicians either sensible or cynical enough to realize that doing something about the police could be a big vote winner.

        1. Anonymous Coward

          Re: ROTFLMAO

          Really? Go back a century and a half or so if you want to see when things started shifting. Long before Reagan did the various levels of government begin to gather and usurp the powers protected under the Ninth and Tenth Amendments. The Civil War and most every government since have been gutting the Constitution since. It's not even hidden if you go and look at the newspapers of the times. Each step made some kind of sense at the time, just the overall result being as sure as each step towards the ovens at Auschwitz. (OTT? Sure. Just wait and see. About time I collect some major downvotes.)

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Where the fuck do you think your country (where ever that may be) is any better than the USA?

      You lying Euro trolls have no idea what our country is like or our government and you can shove your idiotic misconceptions and outright lies up your ass. Next time your traitorous country asks for help, try pissing off.

      We'll wait until most of you're dead and buried next time before we offer any help.

      The RESOUNDING failure of the Dummycrats in the most recent elections has NOTHING to do with rigged voting machines or gerrymandering. Now we have the whole House AND Senate majority, whiners. But you lazy morons see a conspiracy around every corner. Prove your allegations! YOU CAN"T.

      It has EVERYTHING to do with the remaining people who are not on the "dole" and that have not drunk the Obama Kool-Aid or had their vote paid for, overwhelmingly rejecting the democrats stupid and wasteful policies and came out in record numbers to vote for their party and take back the government from lame dipshits like you.

      Republicans got up and voted and Dummycrats sat at home with their thumb up their ass and moaned and complained but didn't bother to vote. Other Democrats saw that if they voted for their party, they would get the same shit that has not worked the whole time Obama has been in office.

      I am rolling on the floor laughing you ignorant dumb fuck. We did it the way it is supposed to be done, something you twerps can't even understand.

      What, like the ISUK (apropos acronym) where the immigrant population is actively plotting terrorism with the support of your weak and ineffective government? Put your own house in order indeed.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: ROTFLMAO (TROLL!) @DJO

        Take a deep breath and calm down...

        People outside the United States are permitted to disagree with the policy of the government of the United States, and yes, we can even disagree with citizens. It does not mean we hate gringos.

        Yes, we can be disturbed by the Rethuglicans winning power - since they have a habit of invading other countries and killing lots of civilians (yes, the Nobel Peace Prize winning president is not adverse to a bit of killing either).

        And if we look at the "achievements" of past presidents the entire world has reason to worry - but I agree with you about Obama. All my Democrat voting New York and Boston friends can't say a good thing about him.

      2. DJO Silver badge

        Re: ROTFLMAO (TROLL!) @DJO

        Where the fuck do you think your country (where ever that may be) is any better than the USA?

        Sigh, I know it's a waste of time trying to reason with trolls like this one.

        a: I never said where I live is better.

        b. Unlike you I take no pleasure in the sorry state of other countries such as the US

        c. The Republicans have opposed every action by Obama and then they say he is ineffective, can you not see the dichotomy? In a mature democracy the opposition will support good policies and not just automatically oppose.

        d. Since WWII one country has spent more money supporting & promoting terrorism than the rest of the world combined, that country was the USA. (Mujahideen & Contras for example)

        e. Gerrymandering isn't even denied by either the Republicans or the Democrats and has been a part of American elections since the founding of the country. And is very undemocratic.

        f. I'm bored now so others can add any more examples. Incidentally swearing does not lend strength to your arguments, actually it makes you look a bit of a prat, just some friendly advise.

      3. dogged

        Re: ROTFLMAO (TROLL!) @DJO

        @AC - 7/10 troll. Good effort.

        1. kainp121

          AC - 7/10 troll. Good effort

          some one is off their meds again.

  3. Ken 16 Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    american politics


  4. jake Silver badge

    The real problem is ...

    The left wingnuts and the right wingnuts will never agree on anything as long as lobbyists are allowed to spend money without public oversight.

    That, and the general public wants change[1] NOW!, despite the fact that making change in US government policy takes a decade (or more) to come into effect.

    The US public is totally, completely, stubbornly, intentionally ignorant when it comes to politics ... and the politicians & their lobbyist suck-ups like it that way. (Why do you think school funding keeps falling?)

    Waste, America. I weep for my nation.

    [1] And the idiots are GETTING change ... I think they actually want dollars ...

    1. big_D Silver badge

      Re: The real problem is ...

      2 new amendments to the constitution:

      1. No corruption by politicians, punishable by death

      2. No corrupting a politician, punishable by death...

      Unfortunately, due to lobbying, it would never pass.

  5. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

    "There are more than 9,600 state and local sales tax jurisdictions across the nation."

    America is fucked.

    1. big_D Silver badge

      My thoughts exactly.

      It is 1 fragging country, why is it so hard to have a single rate, like most sane countries?

      1. jamesb2147

        Who said we were sane?

        It's a weird mish-mash. Originally founded as a federation of independently sovereign States, our legislative, judicial, and executive processes have morphed us into a weird hybrid model where not all rights are clear. For better or worse, though, every jurisdiction (federal, state, locality, and possibly county) has a clear right to tax the ever living F*&$ out of every single individual, as long as that's what society wants.

        With all that said, I don't see why this particular issue is such a huge deal. It only takes one company to track it all and run the simple multiplication tables on each transaction. They could keep a small % of each, the same way Visa does. C'est la vie. Though I certainly agree that an economic analysis is called for; if it doesn't make financial sense yet, then it just doesn't make financial sense yet.

      2. kainp121

        State rights. Think of the us like the EU. you have individual countries with different vats. But the in the END the EU has total control over it's member states

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        One country @ big_D (that you can't even begin to understand)

        Because each of our STATES are as big as one of your picayune little countries and they have an individual GDP in many cases that is much larger than yours!!

        Please fuckoff even attempting to understand because it is sadly obvious that you can't.

        You don't have the mental facilities to do so.

    2. earl grey

      Taxes; it's not that simple.

      You also have multiple jurisdictions in which earnings are taxed. If you live across a state line, you can end up paying earnings taxes to TWO states and possibly to two or more localities (did I mention local school taxes are possible, too?).

      You want to get the government off peoples backs; get rid of multiple taxing locales; make purchase taxes the same across the country for food, clothing, hard goods, autos, etc. You are NEVER going to see this change, as the pols are too interested in keeping their hand in your pocket and picking whatever loose change you have (left over). It's the ONLY reason red light and speed cameras are so popular... it has NOTHING to do with safety; and everything to do with the $$$.

      1. Number6

        Re: Taxes; it's not that simple.

        Any time one of my US friends mentions 1776 and Independence, I point out that after successfully objecting to British taxes, they then came up with the IRS, so I reckon that Britain got the last laugh.

        Then there's this lark of taxing their citizens anywhere in the world, a practice followed by very few other tinpot regimes.

    3. kainp121

      I'm surprised that it's that little. In my state we have sales tax at the state level which is set. Then there is tax at the county level. not all counties have the same tax rate. Some cities have sales taxes.

      Just for shits and giggles when it comes to income tax you have federal in come tax. Some states have state income tax. If you happen to work in the wrong city you get city income taxes. That's right you can get taxed three times on your income.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      No, America partly fucked because people believe the bullshit when people say "Oh no, it would be way, way too hard to calculate sales tax when you buy stuff and oh poor small stores."

      9,600 jurisdictions! Oh my god, that's so complicated. That's going to require a humungous database to track the sales tax rates. However will we be able to store all of that data with storage being so expensive.

      function tax_jurisdiction( address )

      function sales_tax_rate( jurisdiction_id, sales_tax_code )

      jurisdiction_id = tax_jurisdiction( billing_address )/tax_jurisdiction( mailing_address ) Pick 1

      tax_rate = sales_tax_rate( jurisdiction_id, sales_tax_code )

      We're talking about online businesses, FFS. As part of your transaction, they're already calling out to payment processors.

      Seriously, the whole process is not hard.

      1) Unify sales tax coding.

      b) States can define mapping from local coding to unified mapping

      2) Build database and method for governments to update database

      3) Allow people to download the database

      4) Set update schedule.

      For the business:

      1) Look up jurisdiction with billing address

      2) Calculate taxes

      3) Take money

      4) Send taxes to state periodically; state will distribute breakdown to jurisdiction.

      Any programmers out there think that this is a technically hard process and it's not just that Amazon and other online retailers are lobbying against it because they know that they profits from people dodging taxes?

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The GOP seems to be doing OK if their recent hack of Sony is anything to go by.

  7. fnj

    Common sense

    The issue of sales taxes on internet transactions seems crystal clear on the face of it. Just say HELL NO DAMMIT to those 9600 state and local sales tax jurisdictions for online transactions[*], on the basis of simple insanity. If the brick and mortar guys cry about their business model, let them commiserate with the buggy whip manufacturers. And yeah, that would mean so sorry, states, "use" taxes won't fly so screw you and fix that shit NOW.

    [*] If your online transaction happens to be with someone headquartered in your state/locality, then yeah, I don't see how you can wave away the sales tax(es) in that particular case. But I'm not talking about "local presence" bullshit; I'm taking about the headquarters location.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Common sense

      So the same should happen for bricks and mortar stores.

      When I buy petrol the transaction could be with Shell Holdings in the Dutch Antilles and so I don't pay any local sales or environmental taxes. just ask Google how it works.

      1. fnj

        Re: Common sense

        <blockquote>So the same should happen for bricks and mortar stores.</blockquote>

        I don't think so. For a brick and mortar store the transaction is simple. For every transaction made at a particular store address, only one state and maybe one or a couple of local taxes are charged. It is a trivial matter to do the accounting. And it has nothing whatever to do with where the customer lives.

        It is a different matter altogether for online purchases. You have to ascertain where the customer lives and keep track of 9600 tax codes.

        See the difference?

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: Common sense

          It's not trivial even for a bricks and mortar store.

          Not only is there a different tax rate for each state/city/town/municiplailty - different things are taxed.

          Imagine if every hamlet in europe had totally different VATregs on what was a cookie vs a cake.

        2. Fatman

          Re: Common sense

          It is a different matter altogether for online purchases. You have to ascertain where the customer lives and keep track of 9600 tax codes.

          EXACTLY, and, there is the extreme possibility, that due to the way municipal boundaries may arise, two addresses that are adjacent to one another may be in different municipalities.

          Or one side of a street is in municipality A and the other side of the street is in municipality B. Then, consider the metropolitan areas, where the county line may run down the middle of a street; or the possibility where a state line runs down the middle of a street.

          Hello nightmare!!!! You might have to have an address database that contains all of the 'exceptions' to the rules.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Common sense

            The US Postal Service already has a national database containing all addresses. Just add Jurisdiction to that, most of which will be actually not be complicated.

            It is NOT hard.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Common sense

          And I repeat: billing address or mailing address. Pick 1.

          Then look up in a database, perform arithmetic.

          Programmatically a absolute piece of piss, as long you unify the sales tax coding of the line items.

          The complexity of it is just a big, fat, lie.

    2. Number6

      Re: Common sense

      If they really must have taxes on on-line sales, do it at a federal level at a nominal fixed rate and then split up the proceeds between the states. They can spend the next decade or so arguing whether it ought to be done on the basis of relative population, equally between states or try to determine which states spend the most. If they ever get agreement they can implement it. Then each state can decide whether to keep hold of the money or repeat the process and distribute it down the tax tree. All of that should keep it safely in the long grass for many years.

  8. 404


    Everything needs to shake out over the next two years that's been done so far imo. None of these fsckers stand by what they have said thus far. None of them.

    Lock the budget down, no changes unless WWIII or something - go play CandyCrush or fuck off, whatever you like.


  9. bozoid

    "Then there is the fact that it would go against the very underpinnings of the internet: the network was built and run and is owned by private companies connecting together. The amount of government-owned internet infrastructure is minimal, not just in the US but globally."

    Um, that's a fact, but it's not a problem. The US electrical grid is (successfully) regulated as a public utility, even though essentially *all* of it is owned by private companies. Likewise, "common carrier" rules kept the railroad barons from running the entire country in the late 19th century.

  10. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    Amazon will start lobbying for online taxes

    Imagine if every little craft shoppe with a web store HAD to deal with 9600 tax codes and submit payments - the only peoplw who could afford to build the system would be Amazon/Ebay.

    So they would have a monopoly on online commerce.

    1. NullReference Exception

      Re: Amazon will start lobbying for online taxes

      Unless that craft shop only takes Bitcoin, they are already dealing with a third-party payment processor of some sort - Paypal, Google Wallet, Visa, etc. Said payment processor almost certainly has the resources and information needed to calculate and handle the sales taxes for you, and would be happy to provide the service (for a small additional fee, of course.)

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Amazon will start lobbying for online taxes

      It would be a web service, just like those payment processors. Except the online lookup for sales tax would be very cheap because there wouldn't be money moving around.

      It's not hard.

  11. Cipher

    F**k all this political posturing, what we the people really want is:

    High speed internet delivered as advertised. Within 5% of speed quoted.

    An end to shaping or throttling. Sell 30 Mbps, deliver it. Period.

    Broadband competition.

    An end to any restrictions ISPs place of what brand of equipment is used on our end of the pipe.

  12. Oninoshiko

    Title 2

    I'm not convinced that the offending parts of Title II wouldn't apply. Once we say the internet is covered under Title 2, I would expect all aspects of Title II to come into force, not just the ones that make us feel warm and fuzzy.

    I've yet to see a compelling legal argument that says why all of Title II wouldn't apply without gutting and rewriting it. You may think it's nonsensical, but a nonsensical law is still law and courts will try to enforce them as best they can (rather then trying to just "unwrite" something that's been on the books that long).

  13. Dr Stephen Jones

    Definition of a "useful idiot"

    "You will find few folks, except those with intellectual property interests, to disagree with this sentiment."

    People with "intellectual property interests" include:

    a) anyone posting a photo to Flickr

    b) anyone posting a photo to Instagram

    c) songwriters and musicians

    d) any inventor

    ... to name a few. Which actually leaves only a few "folks" left. People who don't use the internet.

    The genius of the corporate tycoons is persuading people they will be happier and more free once they have surrendering their economic power to the tycoons.

  14. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    "If sales taxes were also imposed on online sales, it might even spark competition between states to pass low online-only taxes as a way to drive business to their jurisdictions."

    Well, the problem is, the sales tax is supposed to be paid based on where the stuff is going, not where your business is located.

    Municipalities already bend over backwards to say "Well, we won't charge your business x, y, or z taxes if you move it here." (usually property taxes and some other tax breaks.) And then, in some cases, act surprised when it doesn't work out... The city of Dubuque here in Iowa is STILL complaining about Google... the city offered all these tax breaks since Google was going to bring hundreds of jobs (based on the size of the buliding, assuming it was going to have a factory inside or something.) Google straight up TOLD the city, *multiple times* during this process, that it was largely automated and would hire 50 people max. The city stuck fingers in their ears and kept claiming the hundreds of jobs would be so great, it came as this big surprise to the city when they actually hired like 50 people like they said they (repeatedly!) said they would.

    As for Democrats versus Republicans... well, that's the US's broken political system. We effectively have a single-party system, both parties favor large, intrusive, and expensive government, while blaming the other party for all the country's problems. Even though these two parties political views are almost identical* (compared to what is available in a proper democracy with wildly different political parties), well, look at the comments... people will defend their almost-identical political party, swear up and down it's SO different, say the members of the other are party are wingnuts, fascists, hippies, use "liberal" and "conservative" like swear words, blame that other party for all the problems, and sooner or later start swearing at each other. Oh and swear at anyone looking in from the outside pointing out how screwed up it all is. US politics are truly dreary and awful. I say this as a Libertarian.

    *I'm not saying they are 100% identical. But, they're closer than is healthy compared to places with like 5 or 6 parties in the mix.

    What is the root problem? Polls and reporting. When an election comes up, the polls will ask ONLY if people are voting for the republican candidate or the democratic candidate -- not even "or somebody else". If you plan to vote for ANYONE else, they'll either no record anything at all for you, or say that means you're "undecided". No, I'm not undecided, I'm not voting for either main party! We've occasionally had third-party candidates hit 20%+ of the vote (and win in a few jurisdictions.) They'll show up as 0 on the polls (since the poll excludes the possibility of a third party), the news will report the poll result just claiming high numbers of "undecied" voters up to the point they get surprised by the election results; and in debates, it's strictly republican+democrat, the third party candidates are NEVER invited. This then feeds into this sick view I've heard from some that they can't stand either main-party candidate, but they are "throwing their vote away" if they vote for someone they actually want in office because they don't have a chance of winning (of course, for some odd reason, this doesn't stop the republicans in places that are like 75% democrat -- or vice versa -- from voting even though their candidate has no chance of winning.)

  15. stiv

    and you know they won't happen because?

    Cruz undermines his message by arguing, quite unnecessarily, that things that won't happen might.

    'cause we're only gonna enforce the right parts of this law, and they will be interpreted and enforced intelligently and equitably, like we do with all our laws!!

  16. Kepler

    On-Line Sales Tax Competition?

    "If sales taxes were also imposed on online sales, it might even spark competition between states to pass low online-only taxes as a way to drive business to their jurisdictions."

    Unfortunately, that only works if the sales tax is imposed by the jurisdiction in which the seller is located. In the United States, for reasons that remain mysterious to me, sales tax is imposed where the buyer lives — even though the transaction took place elsewhere, and therefore is not the buyer's state's to tax. (Sometimes this inconvenient but obvious problem is got 'round by calling it a "use tax" instead of a "sales tax".) We've clearly got it wrong, but we've had it wrong for a long time now, and it will not be easy to switch from doing it wrong to doing it right. Especially since states realize that doing it the right way will undermine their ability to impose onerous levies.

    Otherwise, a great suggestion, Kieren (if not exactly a new one).

  17. Number6


    The US only needs to watch what happens with the EU's foray into imposing VAT on all cross-border on-line transactions.

    Then drop the idea like a hot coal.

    1. Alien8n

      Re: VATMOSS

      I know a few authors that sell e-books. They've pretty much unanimously decided they will no longer sell anything online in the EU due to the almighty mess of this. Doesn't help that like most laws of this type the advice given is completely different each time you ask.

      "No, e-books aren't covered by VATMOSS"

      "Yes, e-books are covered by VATMOSS"

      And that's asking the same person at HMRC on 2 different days. It's the biggest mess ever, designed to ensure large businesses cough up their taxes and in reality putting thousands of small businesses out of business as it's actually too much hassle for them to ensure compliance.

  18. Stevie


    The current crop of Republicans has bee rewarded for putting a supercharger on what politicians normally prefer to do: nothing until ALL the wheels fall off. They aren't about to stop working to the plan that won them Congress and the Senate.

    And as for the President becoming a unilaterally-acting nightmare, well, that's what happens if you spend 6 years of an 8 year term "just saying no". Eventually the president has nothing to lose and starts behaving badly in his or her last two years out of sheer spite in payback mode.

    Politicians are always venal, always up to their elbows in smelly brown stuff they hope no-one else will find out about, and are always unhelpful toward each other. But the current crop of Republicans are turning the art of obstreperous non-cooperation into a science.

    As for the Tea Party and their "take back America" rhetoric: all they've achieved in their first six years is to drag down the value of the American dollar and with it the value of my pension fund (a mixture of financial assets, part employer funded, mostly funded by me) with their frightening lack of acumen and knowledge about how their own country's economy works.

    And the Democrats never met a charismatic leader they wouldn't pull apart in order to claim "nothing to do with me" at the first excuse. Every battle they've lost since I made America my home is thanks to their "every man for himself" credo, and their "abandon ship!" tactic in the last two years of a president's term has reaped for some their just reward. Maybe they've learned to grow a backbone. I wouldn't bet on it.

    If anyone can point to a more morally sickening sight to watch in "action" than the US Congress I'd like to know what it is, just so I could say "no matter how willfully stupid this lot are, there's always *that* lot over there to make them look good".

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not a Democracy

    I would like to point out the United States is not and was not by design a Democracy. A lot of the problems we are in today is because most citizens seems to have forgotten this. Paraphrasing Marvin Simkin: “Democracy is not freedom. Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to eat for lunch. Freedom comes from the recognition of certain rights which may not be taken, not even by a 99 percent vote

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