[BlogEntry] If Kerry wins…


I hope all you Kerry supporters remember this campaign. Remember all the easy criticism and second-guessing of every move Bush made. Remember all the "I have a plan"'s from Kerry and Edwards. Remember all the promises about health care, about jobs, about security, about hunting down terrorists, about the price of oil, about not equivocating with the U.N. and the rest of the world on U.S. security.

If elected, he will have no more power than George W. Bush did. He is not a wizard with a magic wand. He is subject to the same laws of physics, economics, and world opinion that Bush has been. He is going to have as hard a time delivering on any of them as Bush has, and I think Bush has done admirably. (And, by the way, Bill and Hillary promised to tackle health care in 1992.)

The so-called "rush to war" that took well over a year, and really over a decade of Saddam Hussein's flouting terms of his surrender, was influenced by bad intelligence, including lies from France and Russia due to their scamming the oil-for-food program. Had Kerry been in office, he would have been subject to those same inputs and conditions. Do you think he is clairvoyant, or simply unresponsive to threats based on the information available to him?

If Kerry delivers on all his magical plans, then he'll be the greatest president ever, and we'll all owe you a debt of gratitude for electing him.

If he doesn't, he's just another damned politician. And in 2008, I hope you remember all the expedient condemnations he made about Bush's every move and all the easy promises he made to get your vote. Don't be surprised when his opponent sings the same tune that Kerry sang four years earlier.

Either way, it's time that the American people develop a longer memory for these things. And stop being so gullible. Politicians say what you want to hear, and you actually believe them. It's because of this that our politicians talk to us this way. Grow up, America!

[BlogEntry] Searching in Outlook, Lookout, and Google Desktop (that's a real workout for my 'O' key)


I'm not sure if local search is really the new killer app, but I've got no shortage of options at the moment. I needed to find all the emails I've received from WasteIndustries. I ran all three searches at the same time, pitting the various search tools against one another.

I started Outlook first, because I knew it was slow. Next, I started Lookout, because it's convenient, right there in the Outlook toolbar. Finally, I double-clicked on the Google Desktop icon in the taskbar and waited while a browser opened up.

Google Desktop came back almost immediately with six hits. The downside of Google Desktop (aside from the fact that it's a long name to type every time I mention it), is that it doesn't provide native access to these items. If I want to open, delete, or move these emails, I have to click once on the item in the search results and then on "View in Outlook," not to mention having to go back to the search results for subsequent items. It's fast and powerful searching, but it has the disadvantage of being browser-based.

Lookout finished a close second (although it wouldn't have been as close if I had already had a browser open to Google Desktop). Lookout's main problem is that I can't delete items from its search results list. Very often, I'm trying to whittle away at the *mumble mumble* thousand emails in my inbox (okay, so I'm an email packrat — according to Lookout and Google, that's okay, so leave me alone), and Lookout's search is nearly worthless for that, because I can't delete what I find without opening each item and deleting it manually. If they would fix that, Lookout would be the top choice for email searches.

Outlook search was just sad. I let it chug along for about a minute, beating the crap out of my hard drive, and then I just stopped it. When it finally finds what it's looking for, it's the best, because its search results list items are just like the items in the inbox itself. You can delete, flag, mark as read/unread, etc. They are native Outlook email objects.

Too bad there's no way to pipe Google Desktop's or Lookout's search results to Outlook, so you could combine the best search with the best native item handling. More and more, I think we'll see that kind of integration become possible, as software becomes more service-oriented and pluggable. Google Desktop could be a search service that feeds to an Outlook item list service. All we have to do is re-engineer every piece of software that's ever been written, and we're good to go.

[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,
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
Still, based on Bush's work and focus on the War on terror, I give him a slight edge over Kerry on this issue.
When I consider the personalities and leadership abilities of both candidates, I like them both, but I think I give Kerry a slight edge.
This forces me to move on to other issues such as the economy, taxes, size of government, which I honestly haven't thought through.
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.
I mention this mainly because that's what's happening to me right now.
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.
This battle against the terrorists will continue across many administrations, I think it's important not to overly politicize it.
Why not try Kerry's approach for a while? We can always put Rudy Giuliani in charge in 2008.