Author Archives: Lee

[BlogEntry] Handy tips for Google Deskbar

Anyone who's ever looked at URLinOne knows that I'm always looking for ways to expedite my access to online information. In the past, one of the things I started doing was using Start > Run to quickly get to a browser when one wasn't open. I would just type the URL in there (or just enter about:blank) to get a browser open. (One other little tip that few people know is that the Windows key on most keyboards has some nice shortcuts. Windows-R opens the Start > Run dialog box without having to click anything.)

Anyway, if you have the Google Deskbar installed, you can paste or type a URL in there, and it will open a browser to that site. Pretty sweet.

The other thing it's really great for is spell check, dictionary, and thesaurus. Type or paste a word and do Ctrl-D to get a definition. Ctrl-T for thesaurus. And just search with the word to see if it's spelled right. If it's wrong, you'll see "Did you mean…" at the top of the search results.

Good stuff, Google.

[BlogEntry] Bill Maher takes a beating

I'm surprised Bill Maher allowed them to air this week's installment of HBO's Real Time with Bill Maher. Former CIA Director James Woolsey made Bill and his two anti-Bush guests look like the emotional, uninformed, knee-jerk liberals they are.

Mr. Woolsey was quite frank in his criticism of President Bush's administration where fitting, but he also, with his Bob Newhart-esque demeanor, shoved all their rhetoric, propaganda, and hype back down their throats. He made it clear that it was not a mistake, a lie, or inappropriate to link Saddam Hussein with Al Qaeda.

It was a pleasure to watch them squirm as he shot down the mantra they've been chanting for months. Too bad none of it sunk into their thick skulls. They'll continue to believe what they want to, because they aren't interested in the truth. Never let facts get in the way of a good smear campaign, right, Bill?

And just to really drive home the point that Bill Maher is the most irrational, hyperactive whiner on cable television, Dr. Bernadine Healy of the National Red Cross [apologies for not getting her title] made Bill look silly and childish with his nonsensical arguments and inaccurate views on vaccinations and medicine. It was like watching a teacher gently correct the rantings of a tantruming student.

Bill can be tough to take for any period of time. He is so righteous, so judgemental, so intolerant, and so wrong that it's hard to watch. This episode was much better, though.

Great show, Bill! You keep this up, and I'll be a regular viewer.

Maybe you should consider renaming the show to "'Yeah, But…' with Bill Maher."

[BlogEntry] The (Lack of) Power of the Presidency

It never ceases to amaze me how much gets blamed on Presidents, versus what's really in their power.

Kerry, who himself would be President, and who surely knows what a President is and is not capable of, loves to blame Bush for healthcare and jobs, neither of which is under any President's control.

Aside from the fact that inputs into these complex systems take months and often years to propagate through, Presidents are not the ones who write laws. Kerry has been in the Senate for twenty years; he's had more opportunity to affect healthcare and jobs than Bush has. Why doesn't he blame himself for these problems? Because it's not politically expedient.

Does anyone remember Clinton's first term, when he and Hillary were going to fix the American healthcare system? That went on for at least a couple of years. Great job, guys. I'm so glad you solved that problem, so that it wouldn't be a campaign issue twelve years later. This is an example of a horribly complex, nth-order system that it is simply stupid to blame on Bush, as if he's the reason that millions of people do not have coverage. And anyone who votes for Kerry because they think he's going to get them healthcare is a sucker.

Kerry also loves his nonsense about "this President being the only President since the Depression to lose jobs." First of all, jobs don't come from the President; they come from nasty, evil corporations. Second of all, Bush took office in the midst of a major economic downturn and then 9/11 only added to the severe situation. It's very convenient for Kerry to blame Bush, but that's completely unfair. No President, not even the great John Kerry, could have done a thing to prevent those companies from laying off workers. On top of that, we had all the corporate scandals (Enron, Worldcom, etc.), which did even more damage to the economy.

I might also add that these problems, the dot-com bomb, the 9/11 attacks, and the corporate corruption, all grew and festered on Bill Clinton's watch; Bush was just foolish enough to take the reins. If you want to blame a President, blame Clinton. Bush's first term was really the hangover from eight years of Clinton irresponsibility. To be fair, though, I don't think you can even blame Clinton for the dot-com bubble or the corporate corruption. His failure to recognize the growing threat of Al Qaeda for what it was, I do think he bears responsibility for. And that same lack regarding terrorism is exactly what I expect from John Kerry.

The reality, though, is that economies are bigger than any President, and they outlast any President's administration. Presidents don't hire people. Presidents don't write laws. Presidents are basically people who point in a direction and say "I'm taking the country that way." It's usually years before we can see the progress of his journey.

It really bugs me that politics and politicians can't talk honestly about this. They use the public's ignorance to sling mud at the emotional level and place blame that educated people understand is unfounded. Why can't we raise politics to a level where we can talk about real issues and solve real problems? Why is it all about posturing and cheap accusations? It's probably because that's what the American public responds to, unfortunately.

This is why less government is better. Corporations, for the most part, are honest, because the bottom line is what matters. It's not about tricking people into believing your rhetoric. Business is about offering a product that people want at a fair price. Politics is about fooling people into putting you into a job where they can no longer really see what you're up to. Corporations really try to innovate and solve problems, while politicians, for the most part, simply try to get elected.

To me, Kerry is exactly that kind of a politician. He is interested in getting elected, because it's the next thing he'd like on his resume. He's already envisioning the decor of his Presidential library. I think George W. Bush actually sees himself as part of an epic struggle for Good to triumph over Evil. Whether that makes him a megalomaniac or not is another story. But at least he's got a vision and a mission bigger than himself and his own glorification.

[Comment] Re: Kudos to Frontline and PBS for…

I'd recommend that you read Plan of Attack. As the only book recommended by both candidates, it is about as close as you can get to "truth". And the "truth" is that the evidence was somewhat weak and that it WAS questioned and that the CIA operatives in Iraq WERE getting limited intelligence. Colin Powell questioned it, he told Bush about the Pottery Barn rule (You break it you buy it), and he was laughed at by the rest of the cabinet. And I do mean *laughed* at… read the book. I don't believe this is a professional administration. Being stead-fast is nice, but a the most admirable and smartest people I've ever met were those that re-evaluated their choices and admitted mistakes when better alternatives were presented (and I'm not pointing to Kerry here).

I would also like to say that Plan of Attack did change my feelings about Bush et al. I no longer feel that really any of the members of the administration are "evil". Rather, I feel that they are frightened and are bullies and they only know one way to respond. It just so happens I believe that they aren't responding the correct way.

I plan to start blogging a LOT about politics. I'd love to debate the issues back and forth between posts.

[Comment] Re: Kudos to Frontline and PBS for…

Hi Lee,
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Thanks for posting your insights on this tough choice we have this November. I agree with much of what you say about president Bush. It did feel weird invading Iraq, but I think it was the right thing to do. And it bothers me when Kerry overly criticizes the war that he voted to authorize.
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However, I think I have generally a more favorable opinion on Senator Kerry that you do. I'm still not sure who I'm voting for, but I'd better decide soon.
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I agree with President Bush, who in the first debate, when asked, are we more likely to suffer a terrorist attack if Kerry is elected? He answered no.
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With that in mind, we have to consider, If there is another attack, or another leader like Hussein that openly calls for the murder of American citizens, who will more effectively counter the attack or threat?
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There's no clear answer to the above. If we talk about just an attack with a clear state sponsor such as Afghanistan, I'm confident that either leader would deliver an appropriate response. When we talk about a perceived threat, I'm not sure … President Bush has some good experience in this area, aside from removing Hussein, there has been a global effort to arrest and kill terrorists that I think the US is leading. Even countries such as France and Germany have participated in this. An obvious and appropriate reaction to The Atrocity. So I applaud Bush's efforts in the War on Terror.
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Now after reviewing Kerry's book "Our Plan for America" and perusing his website, I'm convinced he would continue these efforts. For example he says he'd keep 95% of the Patriot Act.
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Still, based on Bush's work and focus on the War on terror, I give him a slight edge over Kerry on this issue.
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When I consider the personalities and leadership abilities of both candidates, I like them both, but I think I give Kerry a slight edge.
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This forces me to move on to other issues such as the economy, taxes, size of government, which I honestly haven't thought through.
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But let me revert to what was the original thought of this post. I don't doubt that the documentary you watched was at least somewhat biased. But is it possible that in a head to head comparison of the two candidates, you personally started to realize that Kerry isn't as awful a choice as you may have thought earlier? Perhaps your opinion of him is changing.
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I mention this mainly because that's what's happening to me right now.
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Part of me likes president Bush, and would prefer not to change horses mid stream, yet part of me thinks that a new face on the war on terror might be the right thing right now.
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This battle against the terrorists will continue across many administrations, I think it's important not to overly politicize it.
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Why not try Kerry's approach for a while? We can always put Rudy Giuliani in charge in 2008.

[BlogEntry] Kudos to Frontline and PBS for…

…crafting a two-hour commercial for the Kerry campaign that goes down like a documentary. It was so effective that I actually feel like Kerry being elected isn't the end of the world. I can only imagine how swing voters will feel after watching it.

After the first hour, I thought, "well, Kerry and Bush were very different in their youth; Bush will make up ground in the second half." However, Frontline had plenty more "materiel" for the second hour. And it's so subtle that you barely notice it's happening.

Depending on how many people actually watch it, I honestly believe this program may have changed the outcome of the election. Very impressive, public television.


We haven't suffered a terrorist attack on American soil since 9/11/01. All the gosh, we're sorry's and I guess we were wrong's aren't going to mean much when we get hit again. Kerry's failure to recognize and reluctance to act on the absolute realities of terrorism scares the hell out of me.

Bush tried to get allies lined up, but they weren't interested. If Kerry can't get the world to buy in, he's not going to act. That puts us in grave danger. Kerry's overanalyzing and inaction are terribly dangerous when we face suicide bombers, beheaders, and other madmen. Most of the rest of the world is not going to back us. They'd rather sit back and stay "safe" while we become the primary target.

One thing that documentary did show me is that Kerry's Vietnam experience makes him unfit to command. We don't have the luxury to be anti-war in the world of Muslim terrorism. Kerry's mindset after Vietnam makes him a liability. The fact that Vietnam is what he points to in describing himself indicates just how entrenched his thinking is in post-Vietnam waffling and misgivings. We simply can't afford that. The very future of America is at stake. Remember 9/11.

[BlogEntry] So, what is the right time, right war?

On a mailing list from a former employer, someone just posted the following (edited to protect their identity):

My son is over in Iraq. A few weeks ago,
he said to me "I've got my job to do here. Your job is to go
out and help get Kerry elected!"

You might say I have a vested interest
in ousting the man who put my baby in "the wrong war, at the wrong
time", to quote Senator Kerry. I'd feel much better about his
deployment if he were in Afghanistan or Sudan – someplace that makes
sense!

I daresay that this same person, and the rest of the Kerry supporters (along with most Bush supporters), had they been asked on September 10, 2001 about going into Afghanistan or Sudan, would have said "wrong war, wrong time." Had we inspected Afghanistan on 9/10/01, we would have found no weapons of mass destruction. By the standards we suddenly find ourselves so attached to, it would have been difficult to justify such an invasion. Yet, that invasion is now justified in most peoples' minds, including Kerry supporters.

Over the course of his eight years in office, Clinton got away with several military maneuvers including Bosnia, Somalia, and even bombing Iraq with 200 cruise missiles over a four-day period! Where were the standards then? What made each of those "the right war at the right time"? Was it just his lack of commitment to actually winning that made it palatable? Or was it just the fact that he was a Democrat?

Had we invaded Afghanistan and captured Osama bin Laden prior to 9/11/01, many people would have objected. However, if we had prevented the attack on the World Trade Center and Washington, D.C., there would have been no way of knowing what disaster had just been averted. Yet, it still would have been the right move. How, then, can people be so damned sure that eradicating the Saddam Hussein regime was the wrong move? Is it possible they are just using that strategic move as an opportunity to bash a political foe?

Hindsight is 20/20. It is so easy to second guess the choices made by someone else after the fact. Candidate Kerry would have us believe his foresight is as keen as his hindsight. But even hindsight does not give you the benefit of seeing what might have been. Hussein had years to develop all kinds of weapons and then conceal or export them. Look how long it took to find Hussein, himself, living in a hole. For all we know, Bush's invasion of Iraq prevented a 9/11-style attack with nerve gas. Or maybe he was too late, and it's still sitting underground in Iraq or hidden in Syria, yet to be deployed.

But it's awfully cheap and easy to just say "wrong war, wrong time" when you have no idea what could have been. There's a reason Saddam Hussein refused to comply for so many years. I'd rather accept Saddam Hussein's evil intentions at face value, consider his unwillingness to comply with the weapons inspectors as the crime it was, and be safe rather than sorry. If you choose to opportunistically use this perfectly valid interpretation against the President who had the nerve to act, even though it was unpopular, I hope you're right, because the cost of being wrong is another 9/11 or worse.

And I don't think Kerry has the nerve or the conviction to do anything unpopular, based purely on principles. So, be an ostrich, if you like. Just hope you're a very lucky ostrich, because these Muslim terrorists are not kidding around. How many more horrific acts must they commit before you are convinced?