Election Day 2008

It’s finally here.

I haven’t weighed in a lot about politics over the last few months, but I’m not indifferent toward today’s election results.  My thoughts just haven’t changed much since the election season began, which was seemingly right after the midterm elections of 2006.  It’s been a long campaign season, and like many of you, I’m glad it’s finally over.

In the national government races, I’ll be voting a straight Democratic ticket: Barack Obama and Joe Biden for President and Vice-President, Jim Martin in the Georgia race for U.S. Senate, and Jeff Scott for the House.  While I’m not a registered Democrat, and I have voted for members of both parties in the past, I believe that these members of the Democratic party at the moment have a more rational approach to the issues that are important in this country today than their Republican counterparts (McCain/Palin, Saxby Chambliss, and Nathan Deal).  I’ll also be voting against all three Georgia ballot measures.

You’re probably aware that my politics lean slightly left, and as a result, you’d guess that I’m displeased with the direction our country has taken recently, particularly on issues like social justice, the environment, civil rights, and foreign policy.  I tend to support specific measures to help our poorest citizens, protect personal freedoms, and promote a peaceful worldview.  Progress on these issues has, in my opinion, taken a step back under the leadership of the current Republican administration, and I’m aiming for change in that regard.  There are still Democratic positions with which I disagree, and I dislike the way that both parties seem to retreat to their expected party positions as opposed to taking a stand for positive change.  Clearly there’s a lot of progress to be made on many fronts, and my hope is that the people of our country can work toward practical solutions rather than sit idly by as the world evolves around us.

So, that’s where I stand.  Hopefully you’ve considered the issues that will be relevant to your ballot and made plans to vote today.  Treat yourself to a free chicken sandwich, coffee, or ice cream, and feel good about having participated in the democratic process.

A helpful reminder

I had a great experience in school, from the very earliest days in elementary school all the way through college.

My high school made me study like I was already in college, and I was better off academically for it.  Since McCallie is a private school, they rely on alumni giving as a source of income, and I pledged to give on a yearly basis when I left as a senior.  Although I haven’t given much at this point, I would happily give more if I came across some extra cash.

I also had a great college experience, although going to Harding was totally different from my prep school.  Also a private school, Harding probably relies even more than McCallie did on alumni donations, yet I haven’t given a dime in the two years since I graduated.  This is not likely to change, for a handful of reasons, not the least of which is that Harding has zero financial transparency.  They should be filing an IRS Form 990 but seemingly choose not to under the “religious entity” exception, preventing any potential donors from seeing where donations might be going.  Lipscomb has nothing to hide, and hopefully neither does Harding.

Of course, when Harding presents Dinesh D’Souza (tonight’s on-campus speaker) as “one of the top young public policy-makers in the country” without mentioning that he wrote a book on the (completely reprehensible and destructive) premise that the left is responsible for 9/11, maybe there is something to hide.

I got a good education at Harding, but the bad taste of the school’s radically conservative politics still hasn’t left me, even though I’ve been gone for over two years now.  You’re not helping your case today, alma mater.  What a freakin’ joke.

Schedule for the week of August 25, 2008

Monday: Melissa’s birthday, no posts
Tuesday night: 2008 fantasy football draft #1 (possible later post)
Tuesday Wednesday: Braves Check: Is Anybody Still Watching? Edition (I didn’t think about the fact that my draft Tuesday night would get in the way of posting.  I’ll try to have this up Wednesday and not go another week without posting some actual content.)
Later in the week: Thoughts on Joe Biden, the Democratic Convention, and the Democratic ticket overall
Saturday: 2008 fantasy football draft #2

Today is my wife’s birthday, and part of her present is that I won’t spend tonight working on a blog post or my upcoming fantasy football drafts.  I would tell her she’s an old fogey today, but I’m the one who’s hair is already starting to gray, so she won’t be hearing that from me.  Not after this post, at least.

This will also be a busy week at work, and I’ll be away from the computer a lot.  This time of year, I’m out in the plant more often than not, and we also have 1-2 other big things going on.  I may forgo posting about my fantasy team under the “no one else cares” rule, but there’s a strong chance that I may be too excited not to post.

Tuesday night’s draft is the inaugural draft of a new keeper league I’ve joined with 10 guys who live in my neighborhood, and it’s actually a pretty interesting format: a 5-round auction with a serpentine draft for the remaining 18 rounds.  The keeper rules are not restrictive at all; you get 9 keepers each year, and there are basically no other rules, so it’s a fairly long-term focus.  My other league’s rules are such that 99% of players are not worth keeping for more than two years, so it’s more of a short-term focus.

Hopefully I can also arrange some thoughts this week about the Democratic ticket, since I hear there’s some sort of convention going on right now.  I haven’t been posting much about politics over the summer, but my perspective hasn’t changed much.

The rest of the week begins now.

Is Georgia turning purple?

In response to ME’s post today about the IRS and separation of church and state, I thought I’d infiltrate the usual sports analysis with a few thoughts about the 2008 election.

Where I Live

In December 2006, I moved from an apartment in Chattanooga, Tennessee to a new house in Ringgold, Georgia.  Along with all of the usual hassles of moving, I had to switch my voter registration over to Georgia, gaining totally new representation in the process.

My U.S. House representative had been fellow McCallie alum Zach Wamp (R) and is now Nathan Deal (R), to whom I have no such ties.  (I really didn’t have any ties with Wamp, either, although I felt some connection because of our high school heritage.  For someone whose positions on several issues are totally backwards from what I tend to believe, he’s very polished and argues his case well, as I found when I contacted his office once in 2006.)  My Senate reps are now Saxby Chambliss (R) and Johnny Isakson (R) instead of Bob Corker (R) and Lamar Alexander (R).  Obviously I live in a very red part of the country.

My old congressional district (TN-3) voted 61% for President Bush in 2004, but my county (Hamilton) was just 57% because Chattanooga is the most urban area of the district.  That’s still pretty red.  My new district (GA-9) was redrawn after the 2004 election and is now even more red than it was before.  It would have gone 77% for Bush in that election.  My county (Catoosa) was not much different at 74%.

What I Think

Personally, I lean toward the liberal and libertarian sides of the political spectrum, depending on the issue, and I have a recent history of voting for Democrats, with the exception of Rep. Wamp.  On the district level, there’s little hope of electing anyone to the House in GA-9 other than a conservative Republican, but it’s possible that I have something to look forward to on the state level (assuming my tastes remain constant for a while).

Georgia is one of 18 states chosen by Barack Obama’s campaign to air his first general election ad.  As states like Colorado and Virginia are becoming swing states, Obama is clearly on offense trying to turn the tide in other Southern states.  Atlanta’s black population and the presence of Bob Barr as a Libertarian Party candidate (he used to be a Republican House Rep.), along with Obama’s grassroots movement, may be enough to turn my state purple in 2008.

With Georgia having 15 electoral votes potentially up for grabs, I may get the chance to participate again in an important battleground nationally (the last being the 2006 Ford/Corker Senate race in Tennessee).  The latest poll by Insider Advantage, which included Barr in the poll, listed McCain as having a slim one-point advantage, a statistical tie.

I had the pleasure of voting for Obama in the Georgia primary, which he won handily back in February, and it would be especially sweet to see him pull off a general election victory in a state no one would have thought possible as recently as 6 months ago.  John McCain to me represents a lot of what’s wrong with American politics and the Republican Party, and I’d love to see Obama beat him this fall.

Weekly Notes: April 18, 2008

Here are a few things I’ve been thinking about this week:

  • I had planned to explore this in depth, but I got way too far off-topic with what I was writing to even think about posting it.  Here’s the condensed version: This week in the Wednesday night Bible class I’m teaching (3rd-5th grade), I had the opportunity to answer a difficult question about a doctrinal issue that makes the Churches of Christ unique.  I knew my answer beforehand, and it’s not what a majority of the church or its elders believe.  So, I was placed in the position of having to choose between advancing what I believe to be the truth and placating the elders and the kids’ parents by giving a politically correct answer.  I think I emerged unscathed, but I didn’t really tell the kids what I believe.  I mostly just read a few Bible passages and left it up to them to decide what they believed.  Ultimately, I was satisfied with the way I handled it, but since I deal mostly with adults, I’m not used to thinking about how to wield my influence (deserved or not) over kids.
  • I’m satisfied with last night’s episode of The Office for the first time in a while.  I’m afraid the show’s peak has passed, but last night’s “Chair Model”  (SPOILERS) had a solid balance of funny lines (“I don’t want to be the one that got away”), awkward moments (Michael’s “date” and trip to the graveyard), and effective plot-moving personal scenes (Pam’s sympathy for Michael, Kevin’s relationship struggles, and Jim’s engagement ring talking head scene).  B.J. Novak wrote the episode, so he’s probably an even better writer than he is acting the part of Ryan.
  • I didn’t watch Wednesday night’s Democratic debate, but I got the impression from reading snippets of the transcript that ABC has very little interest in helping Americans figure out which candidate is the best for our country.  The only remaining candidate whom I care to support (Obama) was subjected to some ridiculous questions that have very little bearing on his ability to handle the office of President.  ABC chose to increase ratings and focus on the easy talking points (Rev. Wright, Obama’s careless “bitter” remark) while avoiding the issues that ultimately matter.  I thought it was a strong opportunity for people-powered independent media to step up and distance themselves from the major networks, which have mostly been a letdown this campaign season when it comes to covering real issues.
  • There are a lot more major leaguers born in August than in July, and it’s no coincidence.  Slate had an interesting piece this week, revisiting some older research to suggest that little league baseball’s age cutoffs have an effect that lasts all the way into the major leagues.  It’s a quick read and quite interesting.  If you plan on preparing your children for that kind of path, you’d better start planning before conception.
  • Did you know that the next frontier of baseball analysis is already here?  I’ve been reluctant to really dive into it, but Pitch F/X will be the next stomping ground for the sabermetric community to learn about how the game works.  I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned it before, but if you’re unfamiliar with this system, Mike Fast can get you thinking about it with this THT article.
  • The Braves continued to mock Pythagoras in Florida by losing another one-run game on Wednesday and then blowing out the Marlins last night.  I’d rather be on the 2007 D-Backs end of the spectrum than on this side, but at least I can take solace in the fact that aside from the bullpen, my team still looks pretty good on paper.  It’s still early, and they’re certainly not that far behind in the division.
  • It’s a good thing I didn’t try to stay up until my fantasy team was done playing last night.  Willy Taveras and Brian Fuentes are the only players I have from the Rockies or Padres, who last night played the longest regular season baseball game (by innings) in 15 years.  It ended just an hour and a half before I woke up, at about 4:21 this morning.  The Rockies won 2-1 in 22 innings, and Taveras went 3-for-10, scoring both runs.

Hopefully I’ll get motivated to write some more substantial posts in the coming weeks.  I’ve been sticking to the Braves-and-Notes formula for too long, but I have to come up with some ideas first.

Weekly Notes: February 21, 2008

I didn’t do any notes last week, so here’s what’s going on:

  • Let’s start with a quick comment or two on today’s big NYT story about John McCain’s relationship with a lobbyist: I don’t much care about the adultery angle, nor do I think this was a sinister plot by the Times to destroy the GOP.  The most devastating timing of the story would have been in October, and because of McCain’s financing arrangement, it looks like he was going to be fine without receiving the Times’ endorsement.  So, the theory that they endorsed him to weed out the other guys, then dropped him at the first chance, doesn’t seem to hold up.
  • What concerns me about McCain is his inability to avoid ethical conundrums, when he has staked his recent political career on being the Republican campaign finance reform go-to guy, even against his party’s wishes.  To me, the story is substantive enough to be damaging from that perspective, but I already disagreed with him on enough issues that I probably wasn’t voting for him anyway.  Even though the NYT conspiracy theories are still a bit too far-fetched for me to believe, I fear that the spin on this story will be about the timing of the story’s release and subsequent accusations of the mainstream media’s supposed liberal bias, thus uniting Republicans who otherwise weren’t ready to back McCain and/or Huckabee.  I’m sure we’ll find out more about this in the coming days, if not later today.
  • Harding is up to #6 in the latest regional rankings, with four games to play.  I think a 4-0 finish would probably be enough to move into the top 5, which is important because a top-5 ranking in the final poll pretty much guarantees an NCAA Tournament berth (since there are 8 spots and 3 automatic bids for conference champs).  Winning the GSC Tournament is the only sure-fire way to make it, but I thought I’d throw this out there.
  • Right now, based on Log5 predictions of the remaining GSC games, Harding’s most likely finish is 3-1, which should be enough to maintain first place.  The two worst teams remain on their schedule, but Arkansas Tech and Christian Brothers are also left.
  • I try not to link every post from FJM, but here we go: This Is What We’re Up Against.  My favorite line among many good ones: [Referring to A-Rod vs. Jeter] “You would never, ever want a guy scientifically proven to be dramatically better at fielding.”
  • Melissa and I brought home two kittens this past weekend, and we’re having plenty of fun with them.  Glance at some pictures here.
  • Right now I’m reviewing some options for fantasy baseball leagues, since I’ve become dissatisfied with CBS over the last year or two.  I suppose not winning will do that to you, but what bothers me most is the roster setup, which mandates a very short bench.  CBS leagues have a 22-man active roster with just two bench spots, which isn’t enough for someone like me, who wants to hoard as many guys as possible.  More seriously, though, it’s just not as much fun when starting 2-3 injured players is a viable strategy.  If anyone’s had a good experience with a paid league, I’m all ears.  I’d rather not step back down to a free league, since those inevitably have only half the league paying attention by July.

Any other thoughts?  Leave them in the comments.

Weekly Notes: February 8, 2008

The first week of February is in the books, so now you can get ready for Valentine’s Day next Thursday. Hopefully you take some time on days other than February 14th to make your special someone feel loved, though.

  • I don’t exactly keep a list of things I never thought I would do, but later did. However, if I did, teaching 3rd-5th graders would now be on it. Wednesday night was the second week of a six-week Bible study I’m doing with a group of 10-15 kids. It’s about Bible basics, trying to get them the knowledge they’ll need when they start thinking about becoming Christians. I’m just co-teaching, but it’s a new experience for me.
  • The Bisons lost their first GSC West road game last night at UAM after Trent Morgan missed a possible game-tying three at the buzzer. A full review will be on the way this weekend.
  • Tomorrow, Melissa and I are visiting the Nantahala Outdoor Center to outfit ourselves for kayaking this summer. A few months ago, we bought a second sit-on-top boat, and we’ve been looking for life jackets and other things we may need for paddling. Unfortunately, local shopping options are somewhat limited, so we’re taking a day’s drive into the mountains with the intent of getting ourselves completely ready.
  • I always love it when Congress passes legislation to solve problems and maintain our rights as citizens. Government can be a blessing for the unfortunate, and the power of citizens’ pooled resources can be great. Unfortunately, our lawmakers sometimes feel compelled to throw crap like this into otherwise reasonable pieces of legislation: campus-based digital theft prevention. Basically, colleges must sign up for an approved music subscription service, even if they don’t want to, and even when they’re doing nothing wrong. Why bother appeasing the MPAA and RIAA? This is a total waste of time, and because it’s part of a much larger piece of legislation, it’s tough to figure out who in the House really wants legislation like this and who just wanted to pass the entire education bill. It should come as no surprise that “Dr. No” voted against it.
  • Just for the record, as a Duke fan, I’m still not totally convinced they’re better than Carolina this year. Wednesday’s win was a fantastic shooting display, but will it hold up against a UNC transition game that was obviously somewhat crippled? I was hoping Ty Lawson would play, so that I could at least get a better understanding of how they might fare against a national title contender, but I guess that matchup will have to wait a month or so.

Weekly Notes: January 11, 2008

2008 is already flying by for me because of the giant task at work known as YEAR END. Here’s what I’ve been thinking about this week:

  • I’ve been thinking a lot about Ron Paul, and I want to make it clear that I don’t actually think he’s racist. I dug a bit more into the story about the Ron Paul Political Report, or whatever it was called, and his subsequent remarks alleviated some of my fears about his beliefs. The next few notes are my revised quick thoughts about Paul.
  • I love his record on civil liberties and non-intervention in foreign policy in general, except in humanitarian efforts. I understand where he’s coming from, but I would prefer that he support efforts like the one to stop the Darfur genocide. As the barriers between us and the rest of the world get smaller, I find that some of his stances are increasingly impractical in that regard. This particular aspect of foreign (and domestic) policy is probably my biggest gripe with him.
  • He seems like perhaps the most genuine and forthcoming candidate (on the Republican side) about his beliefs, and it’s by a huge margin. I love that he kept up his OB/GYN practice as a Congressman, delivering babies while back at home on the weekends.
  • I’m not totally on board with his economic policy because I admittedly don’t understand how it would all work. I would like to see some specifics/estimates for what might happen if he follows through on some of his plans to eliminate certain branches of federal government (income tax, education, etc.).
  • While I disagree with him on some religious ideas, his libertarian philosophy of government virtually negates whatever influence those ideas might have on the actions he takes.
  • Call me a communist or whatever you want for bringing this up, but I’d like to see how Paul would combat the problem of poverty in our own country.  I’m not saying he can’t do some things to help, but it’s hard to do that when you plan to cut as much spending as he does.  Not all poverty is the result of laziness, and we have a flawed welfare system in place right now trying to combat it.  So here’s hoping he would try.

I would be interested in anyone’s comments or other thoughts about Paul. While I still back Barack Obama as the Democratic nominee and hopefully for the general election, I strongly favor Paul among Republicans, perhaps now more than ever.

Other notes:

  • I heard on the radio this morning that the federal government has been failing to pay some of their phone bills related to their warrantless domestic spying program.  The people in charge of this program not only don’t care about my civil liberties, but now they also don’t care about wasting away my money.  This should surprise no one.
  • In a related story, President Bush says he would be an “agent of change” if he were running for president now.  In the same breath he was denying that others’ messages of change were a rebuke of his presidency, but it’s still an interesting thought.
  • Chuck Knoblauch has nothing to to with baseball, apparently.
  • Mac Thomason is doing his yearly player reviews over at Braves Journal, which is far and away the best Braves blog out there.  His player insights are informed, concise, and interesting.

I know I posted this kind of late in the day, so I guess it will have to be food for your weekend thought.  There are lots of good major college basketball games tomorrow, and Harding will start the conference season against UAM.

Weekly Notes: January 4, 2008

It’s the first week of 2008 and there’s plenty to talk about.

  • This afternoon I’ll have a review of Harding’s loss last night in Florence.
  • If you’re looking for one site you can bookmark to get a nightly comprehensive college basketball TV schedule, this is the site: Eye On Sports Media. It’s especially nice if you have HD or get channels like CSTV or ESPNU, so you don’t have to scroll through hundreds of channels on your TV’s channel guide, or if you’re into planning out your viewing in advance.
  • Congratulations to last night’s Iowa Caucus winners: Barack Obama and Mike Huckabee. I tend to favor one over the other (three guesses which one), and I relish the prospect of those being the final nominees. Iowa doesn’t determine everything, but it’s still important for early momentum. With Chuck Norris on his side, is it possible for Huck to lose?
  • My early review of Netflix is that it’s pretty good. We’re getting movies quickly and it’s been nice to line up a bunch of movies I have been meaning to see for a while in the queue. The third Pirates of the Caribbean movie wasn’t exactly a great movie to break in the service, but I suppose I did want to see how the trilogy ended. Next up: all three movies from the Bourne trilogy. I’m catching Melissa up on the first two, and we’ll both see the third one for the first time.
  • Last night I made the decision many others have made before me: I will no longer be shopping at Wal-Mart. “But they’re the great American retailer,” you say. Perhaps, but I’m fed up with getting poor customer service and dealing with the interesting crowd there. They don’t have the best track record as a corporate citizen (while Wikipedia’s articles on Wal-Mart criticism have previously been a complete circus, the current one is pretty well-sourced and balanced in terms of POV), so it’s probably for the best. Low prices are nice, but they’re not everything. Regardless of how much they may save me per year in dollars, the other costs are not worth it. I’d much rather shop at Publix, which has a significantly better (but not perfect) record.
  • More on Wal-Mart: One prime example of their ambivalence toward the community around them was at home in Chattanooga, where in spite of protests, they bought land from U.S. Senator (then Chattanooga mayor) Bob Corker and built on the site of the Brainerd Mission, the subject of my Eagle Project and my dad’s subsequent work. Thanks at least in part to him, the adjacent cemetery became a site on the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail. A more extensive history of the Mission can be found here. More on the Brainerd Wal-Mart and Corker’s involvement can be found here and here.
  • Tomorrow I’ll be making the trip to Huntsville and will hopefully see Harding’s first road win of the season. The game is at 8:00 Eastern time and will probably at least have live stats coming from UAH’s website.

If you want, sound off on these topics or anything else in the comments.

Weekly Notes: December 28, 2007

Here are some thoughts as you think about how you’re going to watch the Pats-Giants game on three different networks tomorrow night:

  • I would be slightly offended if I were a New York Giants fan who decided to make some money by selling my season ticket to tomorrow’s game to a Patriots fan. The team apparently doesn’t care for my financial support, so next time I might not buy the ticket at all. I’m sure the Giants’ PR team is ready to hurt Brandon Jacobs and Justin Tuck, who were quoted in the article.
  • My Christmas/birthday haul included some DVDs, games, books, and other such things that have taken my time away from working on this site.  You’ve probably noticed (or not) that I’ve been a bit light on content lately, but I plan to pick things back up in the new year.
  • Last night, I became a Netflix subscriber after having toyed with the idea for a while.  I’m going to use it to catch up movies I should have seen in the past, and I might chime in with a review of either a movie or the service from time to time.
  • The more popular some of the 2008 Presidential candidates become, the more dirt we get on them.  I guess that’s part of the process, and possibly an agonizing one for the revolving door of Republican favorites.  While the top three Democrats have remained the same for some time (Clinton, Obama, Edwards), the Republicans have seen McCain, Giuliani, Romney, and Huckabee take turns in the limelight.  Ron Paul, whose candidacy has mostly flown under the radar, except on the internet, may be next.  Here’s a little tidbit from Think Progress showing one way that Paul, while sometimes refreshingly libertarian, is also a little scary.

That’s all I have.  See you in the new year.

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