Archive for October, 2004

State by State Breakdown, Final

Friday, October 29th, 2004

It’s been over a week since my last breakdown, but life has been hectic and whatnot, so blogging has been light. I did find this (via South Knox Bubba), and figured it might be easier to just publish my predictions with it. So here it is….

Bush 291, Kerry 247

Campus Protest

Thursday, October 28th, 2004

A “major” antiwar, anti-Bush protest was held here on the University of Tennessee campus yesterday. Approximately 70 people showed up to voice their disapproval of the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and President Bush in general. Among the groups present were the UT College Democrats, the Progressive Student Alliance (sadly, the Living Wage Chicken was not attendance), and plenty of Naderites. The event featured speakers, a march across campus, large heads of unidentified individuals made from paper machete, and typical, peacenik signs.

The antiwar people were not alone, however. They were joined by about 30 supporters of President Bush and the liberation of Iraq, including myself. We held placards in support of the President, in an effort to shed the light of liberty on the UT campus. I was able to take the following photos.

Random Election Thoughts

Thursday, October 28th, 2004

As we near Election Day, it seems fitting to discuss a number of issues in the current political and cultural scene. Therefore, I wish to make the following observations.

It is somewhat amazing how foreign leaders attempt to get involved in our political process. It is most interesting when foreign thugs try to influence American voters. Russia President Vladimir Putin has endorsed Bush, as have the Iranian Mullahs. Senator Kerry also has the support of North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il and Cuban dictator Fidel Castro. I wonder how thrilled Bush and Kerry are with these endorsements?

My column last week (where I questioned the wisdom of federal disaster relief) generated some very interesting responses. My favorite piece of hate mail has to be the one I got from “Paul,” who writes, “Three or four (I can’t remember the number) large hurricanes hitting Florida in the space of a few weeks is about as rare as a tornado in Knoxville. When that UT tornado comes, I hope it picks you up and deposits you in swimming pool full of broken glass and barbed wire.” Thank you, Paul, for showing me just how insensitive and mean spirited I really am!

The three most potent swing states are Florida, Pennsylvania, and Ohio. I have this prediction for the election next week: The candidate who can win two of these states will win the election.

Bush will, in all likelihood, carry Florida. Kerry will probably win Pennsylvania (I hope I’m wrong on this). Therefore, my prediction is that whoever wins Ohio will go to the White House. Bush narrowly won this state in 2000, but polls have consistently showed the Buckeye state to be a tossup this time around, so it is still anyone’s race.

Scare tactics are all the rage from the Kerry campaign. According to him, President Bush has a secret plan to end Social Security (if only he did!) and reinstate the draft. Both of these are bogus issues designed to instill fear in two demographics that Democrats are not doing as well in as they should be (Senior citizens and young voters). Regardless of who is elected, Social Security will continue to bankrupt America, and there will be no draft. Anyone who honestly believes otherwise is simply duped by the Democrats.

All reasonable people can agree that it would be best for the country if the winner of the election is known on election night (or at least by early the following morning). No one wants a repeat of the 2000 election. Unfortunately, it appears we may get just that. Democrats have hired teams of lawyers to challenge any results they do not like. We could see this election stretched out again, which would be very bad for America. Here’s hoping we have a clear winner on election night.

The Electoral College has been criticized frequently over the years. It is undemocratic, its opponents argue. But to them I say, look deeper. The system has worked for over 200 years, a major accomplishment in a world where governments rise and fall on a daily basis. Also, stop and think about what our country would be like without it. The Electoral College empowers smaller states that otherwise would not even be considered by political candidates. Without the Electoral College, how much time do you think presidential candidates would spend in Tennessee? More than likely, Democrats would be pushing for massive voter turnouts in large Democratic states like California, and Republicans would be doing the same in states like Texas. The Electoral College gives a voice to the Tennessees, Colorados, Iowas, and Wisconsins of the world, something we should all be happy about. Besides, contrary to what most people think, the United States is not a democracy; it is a republic.

Is anyone else sick of seeing attack ads? Yes, I know they are effective, but that does not stop them from being quite irritating. An out of context quote by candidate X, a slip of the tongue by candidate Y. They make for great “bumper sticker slogans,” but tell us little about any candidate’s ideas. Anyone who bases their vote solely on an attack ad (which are generally pure propaganda) probably should not be voting in the first place.

Finally, something I have been wondering. How can anyone who is planning to vote STILL be undecided? The campaigns have been in high gear for months. If you have yet to make a decision, when will you? And, on such late notice, can it truly be an informed decision?

I’m Back

Monday, October 25th, 2004

I’ve been on a slight hiatus from blogging due to the incredible amount of school work (and, admittedly, goofing off time) I’ve had the past few days. I would just like to make two quick announcements, then it’s back to the books for me….

Tennessee’s win over ‘Bama was very, very sweet. Sure, it wasn’t a blowout, and sure, UT could have played better. But at the end of the day, a win is a win. One step closer to Atlanta, and this year, it won’t be for the Peach Bowl.

I caught Friday Night Lights over the weekend, and was impressed. I read the book a few years back, and enjoyed it. The movie mostly faithful to the book. I recommend seeing the movie, but be warned: It is not the typical, feel good sports movie.

That’s all for now. More soon, I promise!

Red Sox Win Pennnant

Thursday, October 21st, 2004

Yes, the Boston Red Sox just defeated the New York Yankees in game 7 to win the Pennant. I’m generally not a big baseball fan, but watching a team come back from a 3-0 series deficit to win is enough to get anyone pumped!

State by State Breakdown, Part III

Wednesday, October 20th, 2004

As I continue my breakdown and predictions for each of the 50 states (with Bush up 125-113), I find myself examining the Great Lakes States…

Ohio: (20 electoral votes) This is it, the mother of all battleground states. This is the most important state in the election in my view. No Republican has ever made it to the White House without carrying Ohio, and that trend will probably hold true if Bush comes up short here.

The President won Ohio by only four percentage points in 2000. This time around look for it to be even closer. Many manufacturing jobs have gone overseas, and the economy here is not very strong. The polls have consistently shown this race to be a dead heat, with neither Bush nor Kerry gaining a double digit lead.

My call: This is a must-win state for both the President and the Senator. This is one of the few states I believe is a true tossup. Ohio is culturally conservative, and the power of the incumbency will give Bush a slight edge. Then again, the poor economy also helps Kerry. Still, Ohio is traditionally Republican, so in what could be the closest state of them all…….. Bush in a squeaker.

Indiana: (11) Unlike it’s neighbors to the East, West, and North, Indiana strongly supports Bush. Most polls I have seen show him up by double digits.

My call: Bush by double digits.

Illinois: (21) The exact opposite of Indiana, at least politically. Formerly a Republican state, Chicago has allowed this to become a solid Democratic state. While Republicans are not hard to find in the rural areas, they are not enough.

My call: Kerry by double digits.

Michigan: (17) This traditionally Democratic state with a strong union presence is considered a swing state this time around. Bush has been polling well here, though most polls show Kerry with a slim lead.

My call: Will be closer than 2000 (when Gore won by 5), but Kerry will still win by single digits.

Minnesota: (10) Another swing state that is traditionally Democratic. Minnesota has gone for the Dems in presidential elections more consecutive times than any other state in the Union, but the most recent poll shows the race in a dead heat.

My call: Minnesota has been trending Republican, but it’s not quite there yet. Kerry in a squeaker.

Wisconsin: (10) The blue state that could most easily become a red state. Gore won here by less than 1 point. Polls have shown Bush leading for quite sometime, and though some recent polls show Kerry with a very small lead (all within the margin of error), I think this is one of the few states that will change from 2000. Kerry’s “Lambert Field” gaffe also hurt him in a state every bit as pumped about football as Tennessee.

My call: Bush in a squeaker.

Current standings – Kerry cuts into Bush’s lead, which now stands at 5… Bush 166, Kerry 161.

In Defense of the Electoral College

Wednesday, October 20th, 2004

Jonah Goldberg has a defense of the much-maligned Electoral College.

I can’t say I disagree.

Hate Mail Hilarity

Wednesday, October 20th, 2004

I received in response to my column yesterday….

“It’s going to be funny when your house or your parent’s house is destroyed by a tornado (I’m assuming either you or your parents have a house).  Most people can’t help living in high risk areas, and high risk areas aren’t the only ones where the threat of a natural disaster is present.  Three or four (I can’t remember the number) large hurricanes hitting Florida in the space of a few ones where the threat of a natural disaster is present.  Three or four (I can’t remember the number) large hurricanes hitting Florida in the space of a few weeks is about as rare as a tornado in Knoxville.  When that UT tornado comes, I hope it picks you up and deposits you in swimming pool full of broken glass and barbed wire. Then maybe you’ll think that maybe a few measly tax dollars are worth the contribution that our gov’t rightly makes to those in need.

take care,
Paul”

Thanks, Paul, for showing me just how heartless I really am.

Federal Disaster Relief = Wrong

Tuesday, October 19th, 2004

Natural disasters are a part of life. We are always hearing about floods, hurricanes, and earthquakes, and their devastating impact on people’s lives. If we are lucky, we will never experience these things for ourselves. The hearts and prayers of all decent people go out to those misfortunate enough to have had their homes or other property destroyed by such a disaster.

Seeing homes devastated and families left with no material possessions is enough to choke up even the hardest person. As fellow Americans, we naturally want to help them. Unfortunately, we seldom think about what would be the best way to do this.

Most of us have wondered at some time or another, why must we as taxpayers continue to bail out such people? Why must our money go to rebuilding their homes? After all, they did know when they build on a coastline or a fault line that a hurricane or earthquake was likely at some point in the future. It was a risk they assumed when they chose to live there.

Some of you are probably bemoaning my lack of compassion. How can you be so heartless, you ask? To that I say, no, I am not heartless. I believe in lending a helping hand to those in need, and would have no problem making reasonable charitable donations to aid disaster relief. But I think it should be done voluntarily, because a good deed is only truly good if it is done by your own free will.

Compassion is defined by what YOU do with your OWN money (or time, or other resource), not what you do with someone else’s money. Let’s say I pull a gun on you, and force you to give me $100. Then, let’s say I use that $100 to feed a starving person. Would that be compassionate? No, because I used your money to do it. Had I used my own money, it would have been compassionate. But since I didn’t, it would be theft. Doing a good deed with stolen money does not make your theft of that money legitimate, and it negates the good deed you did.

Why do you think that people continue to rebuild in high risk areas? The answer is simple: they know that if something goes wrong, the government will bail them out. If they had to pay their own rebuilding costs, and the high insurance rates that would normally accompany such areas, they would think twice about living in such areas.

In all likelihood, these areas would have far fewer people. They’d live in safer areas. And, as a result, far less people would be killed when a disaster did strike. It is common sense that rebuilding their homes encourages people to live in dangerous areas they probably would not otherwise live. So, in reality, not rebuilding their homes is the truly compassionate thing to do.

All this is not to say that the government should have no role in disaster relief. Certainly, the government should maintain order and protect citizens from looters and criminals. But it should not encourage people to live in dangerous areas, something that it is doing at the present.

On the other hand, I am not advocating that the government discourage people from living in such areas. People should be free to choose where they live. Left to their own devices, such incentives as high insurance rates, the hassle of disasters, and their own foresight would give most people enough incentives to avoid such areas altogether. If, under these circumstances, they still chose to live along fault lines and coastlines with a history of hurricanes, then so be it. It is their choice.

Politicians love to dispense federal aid because it gains them votes. There is little doubt that this thought has crossed the minds President Bush and his brother, Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. Other politicians bring home such relief to their districts just like it’s pork. We really cannot fault politicians for doing what politicians do: attempting to get votes. We can, however, fault ourselves for allowing this to happen. At the end of the day, our silence allows politicians of all parties to buy votes with our money.

When we stop allowing this, we will have a safer and far more compassionate America.

Federal Disaster Relief = Wrong

Tuesday, October 19th, 2004

Natural disasters are a part of life. We are always hearing about floods, hurricanes, and earthquakes, and their devastating impact on people’s lives. If we are lucky, we will never experience these things for ourselves. The hearts and prayers of all decent people go out to those misfortunate enough to have had their homes or other property destroyed by such a disaster.

Seeing homes devastated and families left with no material possessions is enough to choke up even the hardest person. As fellow Americans, we naturally want to help them. Unfortunately, we seldom think about what would be the best way to do this.

Most of us have wondered at some time or another, why must we as taxpayers continue to bail out such people? Why must our money go to rebuilding their homes? After all, they did know when they build on a coastline or a fault line that a hurricane or earthquake was likely at some point in the future. It was a risk they assumed when they chose to live there.

Some of you are probably bemoaning my lack of compassion. How can you be so heartless, you ask? To that I say, no, I am not heartless. I believe in lending a helping hand to those in need, and would have no problem making reasonable charitable donations to aid disaster relief. But I think it should be done voluntarily, because a good deed is only truly good if it is done by your own free will.

Compassion is defined by what YOU do with your OWN money (or time, or other resource), not what you do with someone else’s money. Let’s say I pull a gun on you, and force you to give me $100. Then, let’s say I use that $100 to feed a starving person. Would that be compassionate? No, because I used your money to do it. Had I used my own money, it would have been compassionate. But since I didn’t, it would be theft. Doing a good deed with stolen money does not make your theft of that money legitimate, and it negates the good deed you did.

Why do you think that people continue to rebuild in high risk areas? The answer is simple: they know that if something goes wrong, the government will bail them out. If they had to pay their own rebuilding costs, and the high insurance rates that would normally accompany such areas, they would think twice about living in such areas.

In all likelihood, these areas would have far fewer people. They’d live in safer areas. And, as a result, far less people would be killed when a disaster did strike. It is common sense that rebuilding their homes encourages people to live in dangerous areas they probably would not otherwise live. So, in reality, not rebuilding their homes is the truly compassionate thing to do.

All this is not to say that the government should have no role in disaster relief. Certainly, the government should maintain order and protect citizens from looters and criminals. But it should not encourage people to live in dangerous areas, something that it is doing at the present.

On the other hand, I am not advocating that the government discourage people from living in such areas. People should be free to choose where they live. Left to their own devices, such incentives as high insurance rates, the hassle of disasters, and their own foresight would give most people enough incentives to avoid such areas altogether. If, under these circumstances, they still chose to live along fault lines and coastlines with a history of hurricanes, then so be it. It is their choice.

Politicians love to dispense federal aid because it gains them votes. There is little doubt that this thought has crossed the minds President Bush and his brother, Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. Other politicians bring home such relief to their districts just like it’s pork. We really cannot fault politicians for doing what politicians do: attempting to get votes. We can, however, fault ourselves for allowing this to happen. At the end of the day, our silence allows politicians of all parties to buy votes with our money.

When we stop allowing this, we will have a safer and far more compassionate America.