Election 2008 – Who You Pulling For?

Has anybody been keeping up with the candidates so far? I’m pretty undecided at this point. I mean, I’m not the most politically savvy person out there (actually, I’m probably one of the least), but I’ve been trying to follow some of the coverage for the upcoming primaries, and I still can’t pick a favorite.

Republicans
Ok, for the Republicans, Mike Huckabee has been my favorite. I like his core values; I like the fact that he’s not so staunchly “Republican” that he won’t work with others; and I’ve really liked a lot of his answers in the debates. I think he makes a lot of sense, and everytime I’ve seen him, he’s stayed calm and cool. I like those things.

But I do have a strike against him: as I’ve learned more about his tax position (and you can read more about it here), I’ve become more leary. He’s a big supporter of the “fair tax.” Sounds great with a name like that, doesn’t it? The fair tax works like this: instead of taxing people on their income — that’s right, no income tax! — you simply charge a higher sales tax. That way, people are only paying tax for the things they buy. If they don’t buy much, their taxes drop substantially.

Now on the surface, that sounds really good. But here’s the problem: lower and middle income people spend almost 100% of what they make, while upper income people spend a lower percentage of their income. Therefore, the gap between rich and poor becomes much wider, and people with lower incomes will carry a much bigger tax burden than those with more money.

Huckabee says this “fair tax” would be about 23%. Considering you might pay 8-10% already, that doesn’t necessarily sound outrageous. But remember, only 4% of that is federal. And that 4% would be replaced with 23%, which is substantial. And you should also know that 23% isn’t exactly accurate. It’s actually closer to 30%. Most people, when they talk about sales tax, talk about it as a separate thing from the cost of the item. In other words, if I buy something that costs $100, and it has a sales tax of 23%, I’d expect to pay $123. But Huckabee isn’t talking about tax in the same way. He’s talking about the tax as a percentage of the total price. In other words, that $100 item would actually sell for $130, because the $30 of tax only accounts for 23% of the total figure. Basically, we’d be looking at a national sales tax of 30% on everything we buy. Once you add back in your state and local sales taxes, you could easily be facing a sales tax of 34-36%, maybe higher.

To be honest, that scares me to death. When you contrast it with the current system where low and middle tax brackets are able to take advantage of many different deductions, the “fair tax” would take us in the opposite direction.

But to be fair, you have to remember that the future President can’t just do whatever he wants. Congress would still have to approve an idea like that, and I doubt it would fly. Aside from that issue, I do really like him. And if he’d change his stance on the tax issue, I would easily pull for him to get the Republican nomination.

Romney is a guy that I still need to do some research on. The fact that he’s Mormon doesn’t bother me, especially after the speech he gave. But in the debates, he sometimes seems to have trouble deciding how he wants to answer questions. That could be for many different reasons, but it still makes me feel a little less certain of him. Is he just unsure of how he wants to answer, or is he just trying to tell people what they want to hear?

Ron Paul is the other Republican candidate that I’m really interested in. Personally, I completely buy in to his ideas on foreign policy. I think many of our problems stem from us rubbing our nose in everyone else’s business for so many years, and I highly favor less military action and more diplomacy. We’ve got enough issues in our own country that should be dealt with. I’d prefer we leave everyone else alone. I’m not as familiar with his position on some other issues, and he’s another candidate that I’ll have to do more research on. The only thing that has concerned me a little with him is that he sometimes seems anxious in the debates. I want a President who can stay calm and rational, and I have less confidence with Ron Paul in that area than I do with Mike Huckabee. But at the least, I’m still intrigued by him, and very interested in what he has to say.

Honestly, the other Republican candidates don’t do a lot for me. Fred Thompson seems to almost be an extension of what we have right now, and I certainly don’t want that. I have a lot of respect for McCain, but I think his position on the situation in Iraq seems just a little too one-sided. I don’t pull for Giuliani because he doesn’t really mirror my own moral and social concerns, and those are the only real reasons I ever vote Republican. Honestly, if he wins the Republican nomination, I’ll definitely vote Democrat. I like him, but I wouldn’t vote for him. Now, I’ve liked some of what Tancredo has had to say, but I don’t think he really has a shot at it. And Hunter just makes me nervous. It seems like everything he says is for effect, and I just don’t want a car salesman in the White House. It looks like he’s trying to wink and grin everytime he says something.

Democrats
I’m still researching the Democratic nominees right now. If I had to choose one out of the bunch it would probably be Joe Biden. I like the things I’ve heard from him on health care, Iraq, Iran, and education. I also like the fact that he’s been in Washington politics for a very long time. He seems consistent and seems to be the real deal. I’ve even heard that he takes public transportation to work every day. I think that’s impressive. I think it’s really unfortunate for him and the American people that he hasn’t had as much attention as the other guys.

I’m also interested in Barack Obama, but I’m woefully uninformed about him right now. And the same thing applies to most of the other candidates. I’ve listened to some debates, but that doesn’t always give you the deeper issues in a campaign. The only one I really don’t like right now is John Edwards. I’ve really gotten tired of hearing about his father’s factory, or whatever it is. Edwards seems to blame every problem America has on “BIG BUSINESS.” I’m not an economist. But I do know enough about economics to know that there are many factors that go into why jobs come and go. But it seems like he wants to blame everything on trade deals and Corporate America. Someone who continues to oversimplify a problem like that seems to have an agenda in my opinion, and for that reason he tends to scare me.

The Bottom Line
Anyway, I really wrote this stuff out just to get my thoughts on paper. But feel free to comment on it. Like I said, I’ve tried to stay informed and keep up with what’s going on, but there’s a lot of information I’m still not aware of at this point. So I’d love to hear some other ideas on the different candidates. Who do you like and why? If I’ve misunderstood something about any of these guys, let me know. The Alabama primaries aren’t until Feb 5, and I intend to do some hardcore research between now and then. I’d absolutely welcome direction from anyone.

Good luck to us all, and God bless America!

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DangerMouse

First of all, forgive my recent lack of posting. Hopefully, I’ll be back in the swing of things for a while.

Somehow, I ran across the DangerMouse wiki today. Do you guys remember that show? I loved it as a kid (“Shush, Penfold!” was often heard around our house during that time). And from what I remember, it was a good enough show for adults to dig as well. Turns out they’re going to release the full series on DVD this coming Tuesday (8/28). You can preorder it from Amazon, if you’re interested…

Lovey

I don’t know why it didn’t strike me to write about this earlier. Ryley’s comment on my last post made me think about it.

My youngest daughter, Hailey, absolutely fell in love with one of the toys she was given at birth. I’m not sure what to call it, exactly, although we always referred to it as “Lovey.” It was a pink fleece blanket with satin trim, and in the middle of the blanket, it had the head and paws of a little plush tiger. Her name had been embroidered on it, as well as a picture of the little tiger. It was really cute, and Hailey never went anywhere without it.

A few weeks ago, my wife had gone to the mall with her sister, Leslie, and had taken the girls along. When they were loading everyone back into the car, one of our worst fears was realized: Leslie put Hailey in the car seat and noticed that Lovey was missing. They checked the strollers and bags, but couldn’t find it, so Leslie went back into the mall.

We’re thinking that Hailey either dropped or threw Lovey at some point in the mall, but even though Leslie backtracked to every place they had been, she couldn’t find it. We spend the next few days calling (and visiting) every store, customer service kiosk, and security station we could find in search of Lovey. My father-in-law even asked every janitor he ran into to see if any of them had seen it.

Lovey’s just gone.

But that’s been hard for us to accept. Obviously, Hailey’s been upset. She’s cried and asked for Lovey many times, and putting her to bed has been much more difficult than normal. The rest of us were sad too. Lauren and I had gotten attached to Lovey also; it’s one of those things from your kid’s childhood that you always plan to hang onto. Even Madelyn, who’s three and a half, has been upset about it.

We’ve also been searching the internet to try to find a replacement. But this toy was bought a good 2 years ago, and we haven’t been able to find the same one anywhere. The lady that got it for Hailey went back to the store she had gotten it from, but had no luck. The internet has plenty of toys like this, but none are close enough to even mildly resemble Lovey.

We ended up getting a similar toy that has a monkey on it. Hailey tolerates it, but it was almost like seeing it only reminded her of Lovey, which really just made her sad.

Finally, last week, I ran across an ebay auction with only 10 hours left in it that had something almost identical to Lovey (you can see the picture here). There are some subtle differences, but it’s stil amazingly close to our original Lovey.

Yesterday, it finally came in. We were pretty anxious to see if Hailey would like it or not, and Lauren even felt a little like she was “betraying” the original Lovey. When they opened the package, Hailey cried out, “Lovey!” and pulled it to her tiny chest. She looked at it for just a second as though something seemed different, but I guess she wanted to believe badly enough that she gave in to the illusion. Lauren said she held it, hugged it, talked to it, sang to it, for a very long time yesterday (I was at work and didn’t get to see it). And she went to sleep with no problems at all, both for her nap and at bedtime.

We still hope to find the original Lovey one day. We hope that someone will finally run across it at the mall, or maybe some kid picked it up and the parent will return it to mall security. But we don’t really expect to have any luck there.

If your child has his or her own “Lovey,” I recommend memorizing (and photographing) every detail of that thing. Get a replacement early on, if you can (just in case). And definitely put some kind of contact information on it. There’s some other great information about them at articles like this one.

Oh, and if you’re ever at the Riverchase Galleria, and you see a little pink “lovey” with “Hailey” monogrammed on it, please let me know!

Amber Alerts

Just wanted to let everyone know about a service I heard about this morning. It’s every parent’s greatest fear to be in a crowded place, look down, and realize your child is missing. Many times, you’re lucky, and the little twerp has merely wandered off somewhere. So then once you place your fragile heart back into your chest, you really tell him (or her) off for doing that.

But there are times (and I pray it never happens to you or me) when a child hasn’t merely wandered off. When the parents frantically search for their child to no avail. As you know, in those cases, Amber Alerts are issued to try to help locate that missing child. The faster the alert goes out, the greater the chance of rescue.

To help spread the word even faster, there’s a new website you can go to, WirelessAmberAlerts.org that will send a text message to your cell phone any time an amber alert has been issued in your area.

All you have to do is go to the link, enter your cell #, answer a few questions, and you’re good to go. If there’s an emergency near you, you’ll be one of the first to find out.

I highly encourage you to check out this service. It could help save a child one day; maybe even one you know.

I’m Back!

Sorry it’s been so long since I last posted. Things have been very busy for me. Last week I worked in Huntsville, Thursday night I had my first class, Friday night we went to that Star Wars concert, and Saturday I helped a friend and his family move some furniture. Sunday I went to church services, and then we had a Bible study at our house that evening.

_mg_1054-1200.jpgThe concert on Friday was a lot of fun. I hadn’t expected it, but the 501st Legion showed up. As I was walking down the steps into the amphitheater, I glanced up and saw a sandtrooper and someone dressed in the Boushh disguise (what Leia wore when she infiltrated Jabba’s palace). It was awesome.

800px-merson2.jpgThe 501st is a group of people that all own authentic Star Wars costumes (there’s also a group for those who like dressing up as Rebels and Jedi). Membership is free, so long as you have an approved costume, and they often support different social functions all on a volunteer basis. At this concert the other night, there was a girl dressed as Princess Leia, several Storm Troopers and even Darth Vader. A couple of other people had some great Jedi costumes as well. It really helped set the atmosphere for the show, and all these people worked great with the kids. Lots of them posed to have pictures taken, etc.

Needless to say, I’m now researching how to get my own suit… 🙂

When We Were Idiot Children

I was perusing Guy’s blog over at The Short Fat Kid and ran across one of his posts that dealt with some of the ridiculous stuff he learned in school. One of the things he mentioned which had not been ridiculous was pencil fighting.

I think I laughed out loud when I read his comments about the art. I had completely forgotten about playing that in school, and it brought back lots of great memories about the stupid stuff we did as kids.

One of the things that I excelled at was Elementary School Origami. This is quite different from traditional origami, which focuses on creating boring things like flowers, swans, and frogs from paper. Instead, I focused on paper footballs, paper airplanes (and not just the standard ones either; I could build one that looked like some kind of spaceship), and my personal favorite – paper guns.

You know, I’ve never needed the Periodic Table in my adult life, but knowing how to make bizarre things from paper has been quite useful.

I also remember throwing pencils into the ceiling tiles while the teacher wasn’t looking to see whose pencils would stay the longest. And when I was in 3rd grade, I went to a school that had no A/C. Our evil teacher Ms Avant (whom Wes remembers well; we actually met in 3rd grade) kept a small fan under her desk that would only blow directly on her. After lunch, she would often doze in class, so some of the braver students would take erasers, bits of paper, or pencil lead and throw them into the fan. The blades would then shoot the projectiles at her legs at a much higher velocity. It was pretty fun to watch!

Micro Machines were another great way to pass the school day. They were small enough to hide from the teacher (and the snobby girls who loved to tell on you), and it was lots of fun to send them exploring the mountainous terrain of textbooks, folders, and desktops. And they definitely beat pretending that paperclips and erasers were cars or jets.

Anybody else enjoy similar pastimes in school?