Windows "Checks" Performance

Late in the installation process for Microsoft Windows Vista, the system displays the following message: Please wait while Windows checks your computer's performance. It then proceeds to display, at a leisurely clip, a series of Vista's exciting new features while, presumably, Windows is doing something useful. At the same time, the person (me) wanting to use the computer is prevented from doing anything useful with it. While observing this, it occurred to me that the word "check" has more than one definition. I think this is the one Microsoft intended: check: stop or slow down the progress of Then it all made perfect sense!

Good-bye, Karl Rove!

Karl Rove is the unelected agent responsible for much of the mess our country is currently in. It was his advice and guidance that put W in the White House and led to the countless disasters that constitute W's Presidency. And he did those things by exploiting fear, rank partisanship and divisiveness. When the list of Great Americans is compiled, Rove clearly belongs nowhere near it. On the contrary, one might ask whether he really wanted to damage our nation. Whether he wanted to or not, he certainly succeeded in doing so. This article accurately describes my view of Mr. Rove. I won't miss him when he disappears from public view, although it won't happen soon enough.

Is Joe the Plumber a winner?

Many pundits declared "Joe the Plumber" the winner of last night's debate between Barack Obama and John McCain. If suddenly becoming famous counts as winning, then they're right. But beyond that, it's not so clear how much of a winner he really is. He claims to like McCain and dislike Obama, especially the latter's tax plan, but:
  • He admits to making far less than $250,000 per year right now, which means that Obama's tax plan would be far better for him than McCain's.
  • He says the firm he wants to buy "makes" about $270,000 per year, but it's unclear whether that figure represents revenues or profits. If the former, then the taxable profits would be far below $250,000 and, again, he would do better under Obama's plan than McCain's. On the other hand, if the figure represents taxable profits, then he would be doing quite well for himself - certainly better than most plumbers - and the additional $600 in taxes (on $270,000) he would pay under Obama's plan would not be a difficult problem.
His fundamental dispute with Obama appears to be that, if he becomes extremely wealthy someday, he shouldn't have to pay more taxes. (I'll assume he's referring to tax rate, not the actual dollar amount.) Although there are attractive arguments for a truly flat tax rate, the fact remains that we've had a progressive income tax rate for much of our nation's history, and there are compelling arguments for keeping it that way, especially during our current financial downturn. It's ironic that Joe, given his current circumstances, is complaining about Obama instead of McCain. It's equally ironic, although not too surprising, given his campaign performance to date, that McCain would bring attention to someone who has more to lose from his (McCain's) tax policies than his opponent's. It will be interesting to see what Joe does if Obama wins and is able to implement his tax policy. Will Joe accept his tax cut even knowing that it comes at the expense of someone making more than $250,000?

Do the McCains really support our troops?

A pair of interesting articles over at Huffington Post. First, read how hypocrite Cindy McCain offends some military spouses with her attacks on Barack Obama. Then, sit down before reading about John McCain's long and distinguished record of not supporting our troops. Even the Disabled American Veterans - an organization which I support, by the way - gives McCain only a 20 percent rating. Obama has an 80 percent rating from the group.

Should the RIAA hold a cabinet-level seat in the White House?

From this morning: President Bush on Monday signed into law an [RIAA-backed] intellectual-property enforcement bill that would consolidate federal efforts to combat copyright infringement under a new White House cabinet position. Congress and the President have determined that copyright infringement is so doggoned important that it, out of all the critical problems facing this country, merits a new Cabinet-level position. If this doesn't prove that the RIAA owns a majority in Washington, nothing will. It's not that I dislike copyright. If I ever write something that people would be willing to pay for, I might want copyright protection. But to give it this much importance is mind-boggling. How about new Cabinet-level seats for, say, oil drilling? Or war profiteering? Or golden parachute preservation? Don't they deserve equal time with the RIAA? Don't those lobbyists have money just as good as that of the recording industry? Let's be fair here! Oh, wait! Somebody's probably already working on them. Let's see how soon they have to build an addition to the White House for that extra-extra-long Cabinet table. So what will they call this new position? Secretary of the Recording Industry? Will they have to build a new Department of the RIAA building? If there's any good news here, it's this: I use iTunes and rip my own CD's. So if John McCain wins in November, I should be qualified to serve in this new position. I bet it pays well!

Dear Cindy McCain

Dear Cindy, You recently criticized Senator Barack Obama for once voting against funding for our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. You said that his "vote to not fund my son when he was serving sent a cold chill through my body." Why haven't you criticized your own husband, Senator John McCain, for voting similarly two months before Obama did? You and I know perfectly well that each voted against different versions of the bill, not because they don't support our troops, but because of other provisions that were or were not in the respective bills. So why was it wrong for Obama to vote against funding if it was okay for your husband to vote against funding? I like to think the best of people, especially those I've never met, but the only explanation I can come up with for your seemingly hypocritical behavior is that you're -- well, a hypocrite. Perhaps there's a more pleasant explanation. If so, I hope you'll contact me and explain yourself. I'd really like to know. Sincerely, Tom


In my previous post, I mentioned Project Vote Smart. Another useful site for voters is Glassbooth. Glassbooth lets you compare the presidential candidates against your views on those issues most important to you. Check it out!

Project Vote Smart

James Madison wrote "A people that mean to be their own governors must arm themselves with the power that knowledge brings." For those voters who want more and better information than what can be gleaned from TV commercials, check out Project Vote Smart ( or 1-888-VOTE-SMART). Vote Smart provides a wealth of unbiased information about federal and state political candidates. The service is free. One of their tools is their Political Courage Test, in which candidates for public office are asked to state for the record their positions on key issues of the day. Regrettably, many of our candidates lack the courage to take that simple test. Both Barack Obama and John McCain refused to take the test this year. McCain's refusal is especially vexing in that he was listed for many years as a founding board member for Vote Smart. As such, he pushed other candidates to take the test. Now that he's a candidate for President, he won't take the test himself. Apparently, "Straight Talk" doesn't mean straight talk. Vote Smart removed him from their board earlier this year because of his reticence. Obama and McCain are not alone, though. It's too bad that so many of our current and would-be leaders have such contempt for their constituents that they cannot simply state what they believe, but that's where we're at today. Fight back! Visit Project Vote Smart and arm yourself with the knowledge you need to make an informed decision in the voting booth.

Experience? Good or bad?

One of Hillary Clinton's mantras during her primary campaign against Barack Obama was her claim of being more experienced in governing. If that claim is worth anything, then why was her campaign so dysfunctional as compared to his? Many others are offering their analyses of "What went wrong," but I'll mention a few obvious ones:
  • She assumed she would have the nomination locked up on Super Tuesday. Based on that assumption, she had no strategy for the day after when her lock was nowhere to be found. It's the same kind of best-case-only planning that we've seen elsewhere — say, in the planning for the invasion of Iraq.
  • How many different staff shake-ups did her campaign have? I stopped counting a while ago.
  • Although she clearly has major policy differences with the Republicans, she all too often borrowed some of their worst policy, personality and pandering traits if she thought it would help her defeat Obama. I don't think she fully understands how much Americans detest the poisonous partisanship that our politics have endured over the past few decades. Obama does.
During his concession speech on election night of 1992, George H. W. Bush stated (paraphrasing), "If Bill Clinton runs the country as well as he ran his campaign, we'll be okay." Sixteen years later, one could easily say, "If Hillary Clinton were to run the country as well as she ran her primary campaign, it's a good thing she didn't win."

His lips are moving...

On tonight's NBC nightly news, Richard Engel asked President Bush about the impact of requiring extra tours of duty from our soldiers. Bush answered by stating that those soldiers volunteered for those extra tours. Later in the show, Jim Miklasewski reported on the large number of soldiers who have been forced to delay their exits from military service by stop-loss orders, which force them to stay for additional tours after they should have been done with their service. At least 58,000 men and women have had their military careers extended by stop-loss orders. Incredible. When W said what he said, was he lying or just clueless? Does it matter?


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