Intellectual Honesty and Barack Obama

by Ryan Sawtelle, Pepperdine University
(reprinted with permission)

Many of my close friends with whom I have engaged in political discourse know that I am no huge fan of President Bush – but I surely do not harbor immense hatred for the man that is seemingly present in the left.

My reasons for disliking George Bush would be the very same reasons to dislike Barack Obama had Barack been the one to make/not make such public policy decisions. Wrong is wrong no matter who says it is right. Bad policies, bad decisions, and improper inaction are just that – no matter what politician it is that is committing the fault.

I, like many others, am drawn to watch the Inauguration of Barack Obama on Tuesday – but I watch with unease. Unease that so many people who have championed his cause in the past year will be unable to be intellectually honest with themselves regarding the paths he chooses to take throughout his presidency – that is, anything to go right in these next 4-8 years should be credited to Obama and anything to go awry will be blamed on the policies of Bush without any proof or substantiation of either.

This isn’t all speculation.

In any matter of reasoning the result is contingent upon one’s premise. Only if the premise is steady within an argument can correct judgments be made.

Since Bush got into office I have heard outcries that President Bush is to blame for rising gas prices with nothing to substantiate such a claim. For the president to cause a rise or drop in gas prices he or she must enact a policy that affects the supply or demand of gasoline. Economic talk, even in the simplest of terms, is of no use to someone who decries a man because of immense dislike. Proof or any reasoning is useless to those who are ready to champion a certain cause in which they foster strong emotions.

Interestingly enough, gas prices have dropped to amazing lows in the past 6 months yet those who were eager to bash the President evermore as the prices continued to rise are the same ones that have been noticeably silent to voice their affirmation for the President for the drop in prices.

That is not intellectually honest. One cannot have it both ways.

Bush’s inauguration in 2005 was seen by the BBC, AP and various leftists to be too expensive. Democrat Anthony Weiner (NY) suggested the festivities should be “muted- if not canceled, in wartime.” Stating that “as a country we face huge deficits.” The Associate Press’s Will Lester alluded that the money would be better spent armoring Humvees in Iraq.

I agree. Private funds should be used for the full costs of inaugurations – not tax payer money.

Of the estimated $170 million cost of Obama’s inauguration $124 million of that will be paid by the tax-payers. Deficits are bigger in 2009 – armoring Humvees in Iraq would still be appreciated. If Lester or Weiner have continued their sentiments about inauguration expenditures, this time with Obama, I have missed them.

Obviously the left aren’t the only ones at fault. Those on the right commit such wrongdoings at a rapid clip themselves – but the amount of unbridled endorsement that Obama has received makes me weary that one may be blind and fluently accepting of bad policies.

My hope is that when tomorrow rolls around and Barack Obama is sworn in as the 44th President of the United States, that we will stand behind beside him and like so many did not do with President Bush and, when deserved, give President Obama credit where it is due and discredit when it is due.

…or we can just listen to Hannity or Maher and regurgitate rhetoric.

I choose the former.

Grandiose Schemes, Phase One:

As the little yellow house has become a veritable storage shed, I have taken it upon myself to thin out and discard (sell, donate) anything of mine that is not of any intrinsic value to me. At the same time, I’m actually making use of those things that are of intrinsic value. It still makes me sad going through a lot of it, but it’s part of pulling myself–kicking and screaming, if needed–into the present and future. This project and it’s sub-parts constitutes phase one of the “Grandiose Schemes.” It’s kind of a “reduce, reuse, recycle” philosophy of mine that, at one time, I tried to live by–then I became a pack-rat. Fortunately, the advent of digital technology and media storage has enabled me to dispense with much of my physical media (videos, music, books, etc.) in favour of digital copies. The fire also helped with the whole “need to cull” mindset.

Part One: Conversion Box
In order to actually partake of this daring scheme, I must first build a media conversion box to handle all the rendering necessary to make these transitions happen. It will also have to run on *shudder* Windows because I will need the software support for my input devices.

Part Two: Vinyl and Cassette to MP3
I have some 3 crates of vinyl albums and a case full of audio cassettes stowed in the house. My goal is to have them all converted to MP3 so I can actually enjoy them without the hassle of transporting them, storing them, or setting up a record player whenever I want to hear them. I’ve completed two similar projects already with backing up my DVDs and CDs. This will simply prove to be more tedious.

Part Three: VHS to AVI
I still have a bag full of VHS tapes to convert to a digital format for editing and storage. This will be nearly as tedious as the audio, but not as time-consuming as there is less to convert.

Part Four: Scanning photos
Boxes of them. Finally make use of my scanner.

Part Five: Disposal
Anything I have that is not of any intrinsic value to me will be either sold, donated, or given away to those who would find intrinsic value in the items. I have already made several hundred dollars on Amazon, and that is keeping my head above water for the time being. Nadia’s things will be boxed-up and delivered at some point when everything is finished.

Hanging Out At The Brewery

Hanging Out At The Brewery

Damn you, Barney

Boyd: The Fighter Pilot Who Changed the Art of War

Boortz signed my book!


It seems like every time I get something fixed, three more crises show up to replace it. I just need to get back to a good, solid zero and I’ll be generally okay. Let’s take a look at the updated situation since New Year’s Day:

I Received a notice of code violation from the county regarding Nadia’s truck that was still parked in the driveway at the house. I called a tow company to have it removed. No confirmation on whether or not the vehicle was, in fact, removed.

I also received some letter from the county building inspector alluding that my house is not up to code. Great. I don’t want the damned place, the bank doesn’t want the damned place, and no investor wants it either! Unfortunately, I’m on the hook for whatever this is, but it’ll be Monday before I can find out the details.

Granny gave me the money to get my flight account squared-away (back to zero), and I got details from Sandy at dispatch on how to monitor the account myself. At least I can keep an eye on it now. Meanwhile, I’m trying to get student loans to go into the account and get some flight time going. I still haven’t passed my instrument rating yet because of this financial craphole, but Chris is helping me stay on top of the game–as long as I keep him informed. Likely, what’s going to happen is that I’m going to not take a flight class this semester and, if I can get money in, fly “on the side” and take another required class instead. Maybe physics.

The downside to my flight account being zeroed is that now my checking account is sitting around ($350). That’s a negative amount, to the uninitiated. It’s all from not keeping track of the balance until it’s too late, so I have no one to blame but me. Unfortunately, I have to find some way to pay for shipping on my Amazon orders so I can continue to receive payments. I just sold my Transportation textbook, and I could use the $120 to offset the negative balance.

I need help from the parents, but when I earnestly ask my father for help to buy books–as he said he would–I just get the same old song-and-dance. I’m not asking for them to pay off my mortgage so I can try to sell the house again, nor am I asking them to bail out my irresponsibility with my checking account. I legitimately need help with school and keeping my head above water in the meantime. I would just like to be able to ask for help without being thrown for a guilt trip–it’s hard enough to swallow my pride enough to ask in the first place.

I’m starting to become more comfortable with being single. I really take solace in the fact that I should be by myself and get my own affairs in order before I get involved with someone who may take on a shared responsibility with me. That was a main problem with my ill-fated relationship with Nadia–neither of us had our idiomatic “felgercarb” together, and it caused a major rift. It’s best to learn from that. If there is someone out there in the meantime, the best thing she can do is be my best friend and confidant until the dust settles. So far, I’m actually fairly excited about staying in Cochran more often–it gives me time to myself. It gives me time to bond with my fellow pilots and start clubs and activities at the school. I want to be proud of my school, and I want be able to remember these years fondly as a time of rebirth and new development. Of course, I have my grandiose schemes, but those will be outlined in subsequent numbers.

Collections calls are still coming in, but with less frequency. With some perseverance, they’ll go away entirely soon. I have at least another Betty-load of stuff to bring down to Cochran for a more permanent existence. I need to get a few things out of the house in Smyrna–desk, light bulbs, maybe the refrigerator. I also have things to get from Nadia–books, mainly. I also have a number of her belongings–her SNES, games, and computer parts, mainly–that need to go back to her.

On a higher note, I do have plans. I have my grandiose schemes. Some of them are starting to come to fruition, and some of them are close to being activated. My friends have been the main focus in my life for several months now, and it’s time to, in the words of Mister Mister, “take these broken wings and learn to fly again.” You may or may not know who you are, but I appreciate your help from the bottom of my heart. I feel like I’m very close to “square one” socially–reconnecting with the people who were important to me in the past, and making them a part of my present and future. I’ve all-but closed my MySpace account; I check in every now-and-again for the few people who I don’t have on Facebook. I feel like MySpace represents a certain time in my life whose chapter has closed–like the middle instalment of a trilogy that we would sooner relegate to the dustbin in favour of the other two. My friends on Facebook represent the best times of my life: early childhood, high school, full-time at KSU, and flight school. Most of my MySpace friends cross over anyway, and I can really only think of four people off-hand that haven’t made the connection, so it’s manageable to call or email them periodically.

Overall, I’m still excited. It’s still an uphill struggle, but I know I’ve got the power available. Now, I just need to make the climb.

It’s a brand new day, and the sun is high….

Adventitious Geekery and other distractions created or curated by Matthew "Atari" Eargle