There is no such thing as a free lunch.

Posts from — October 2008

You’ve Got to Get Mad!

Even if you’ve previously heard the famous rant of fictional news anchorman Howard Beale from the 1976 movie Network, you have to watch it again:

32 years later, I think this diatribe still resonates with the American public. It surely does with me.

October 24, 2008   1 Comment

Palin Can’t Get a Fair Shake

I’m not the biggest Sarah Palin fan, but I know media bias when I see it (or when someone else points it out).  Bill O’Reilly first mentioned this on his show – Sarah Palin was interviewed by Drew Griffin on CNN, and Griffin misquoted a National Review article written by Byron York.  Read those two pieces for yourself.  Basically, York was clearly referring to media bias in his article, while Drew Griffin from CNN portrayed the article as being critical of Palin herself.  Griffin then used this information to blindside Palin, who responded with surprise, understandably, because the accusation was untrue.  Apparently there has been no retraction or apology from CNN at this time.

October 22, 2008   No Comments

Obama’s 95 Percent Myth

I’m watching the third and final Presidential Debate between Barack Obama and John McCain. I’ve heard for the umpteenth time from Senator Obama that he will cut taxes for 95% of the American population. This cannot be true. Almost 40% of Americans have zero tax liability. I repeat, 40% of Americans do not end up paying any taxes and in many cases receive tax refunds. Senator Obama does plan to raise taxes on people making more than $250,000 a year, and balance that with refundable tax credits (not deductions, credits) for people on the low end of the pay scale. What’s important about a refundable tax credit is that once that money is used to offset taxes, the remainder ends up in the person’s pocket. Senator Obama is not simply going to increase taxes on the rich and decrease taxes on the poor – he’s going to increase taxes on the rich, and give that money to the poor. That’s income redistribution, and I vigorously oppose it.

October 15, 2008   No Comments

Get a Dropbox!

The best little background Windows app to come along since Launchy is something called Dropbox. It’s also available to Mac and Linux users.  This app runs in the background, and basically attaches itself to a folder on my machine, aptly named “My Dropbox”.  Whenever I put a file into my Dropbox, it quickly appears in the Dropboxes on the other computers.  If I’m not using one of my own computers, I can still access any of the files in the Dropbox through the website.  The Dropbox also has a “Public” folder.  Files in your Public folder have a URL which you can give out to people for downloading. This comes in handy if you don’t want to send out a large attachment to a group of people. You can also create directories in the Dropbox that you can share with a specific group, for example, to collaborate on a document.  It also has version control!  Thanks to Swash for finding this little gem.  Give it a try:

October 9, 2008   No Comments

Obama and Ayers

Here’s what I think about Bill Ayers and his relationship with Barack Obama. I know that Ayers was one of the founding members of the Weatherman organization, which bombed some U.S. government buildings. I don’t think Ayers himself committed murder, but if those bombs killed people I don’t think he would have cared much. And I don’t know how this guy is not in jail right now. I also know that after charges were dropped and he turned himself in, he returned to school and later founded an educational organization in Chicago.

I know that Barack Obama was the Chairman of the Board of that organization. I also know that Obama and Ayers served together on the board of one another organization. I think Obama knew Ayers sort of the way that co-workers know eachother, but I wouldn’t go so far as to call them friends. I don’t think they spent any time together outside of these organizations, but they did work together. To what extent? Ayers and Obama probably sat together at a few dozen meetings over the course of a decade or so, and probably exchanged some work-related emails (or memos) related to the organizations. One such email might have looked like this:

Hey Bill,

I’m just putting together that quarterly presentation for the trustees, and was wondering if you were done with your report. Please try to get that to me by tomorrow at the latest.



I think Obama was happy to have these board positions, and probably didn’t want to make any waves by alienating another board member. I think Ayers liked Obama, saw that he had potential in politics and probably helped him to get his political career started, likely by hosting some sort of gathering at Ayers’s own house. I think Obama was probably a little wary of Ayers’s past, but since Ayers was such a fixture in local Democratic politics and non-profit circles in Chicago and could help Obama’s career, he didn’t reject that help.

I think the Republicans are justified in questioning Obama’s association with Ayers. When I read about some of the things that Ayers and the Weathermen did, I wonder why Obama didn’t just refuse to work with this guy. Or quit. It’s a legitimate concern because it raises question about Obama’s character. If I found out that someone in my group at work previously bombed some government buildings, even 40 years ago, would I continue to work with that person? Probably not. I don’t know if I would quit my job, but I would probably refuse to work with that person and I think most people of good character would do the same.

But I cringe when I hear some pundits on the right clearly overstate the closeness of Ayers and Obama’s relationship. They just don’t have enough proof to draw the conclusion that they are great friends, to name an example. I think there is so much to go on already, that any exaggeration of the relationship is unnecessary and only backfires because it plays into the other side’s hands.

I also cringe when I read articles like this one from Gail Collins. Collins, apparently an aspiring comedian, is so smug in her characterization of the issue that it makes my blood boil. I think people in the free world are a little sensitive right now when it comes to terrorism, and they might be concerned about the character of a Presidential candidate who previously chose to work with a former domestic terrorist. Her opinion piece demeans anyone who has such concerns.

I’ll probably vote for Obama anyway. I think he’s way too liberal, but he’s certainly the more cerebral candidate and I think he does have a decent sense of fiscal responsibility. My taxes are going to go up a bit, but he’ll bring our troops home and I think he’s the best equipped to handle a crisis. And I like him. But his relationship with Ayers does give me pause, and I think it is perfectly all right for Republicans to keep bringing it up.

October 9, 2008   No Comments