My Votes on 2016 Alabama State Constitutional Amendments

I won’t get into my national support, but at the state level: Shelby and whoever’s opposing Brooks this time.

I do have brief thoughts about the Alabama State Constitutional amendments on the 2016 ballot (; Ballotpedia also has coverage).  I care about Alabama politics enough to almost get arrested over it.  Here are some irreverent and profane thoughts:

  1. Yes, because Boards of Trustees need continuity, although no one needs the Cub in there in perpetuity (seriously, fuck that guy).
  2. Yes, especially because my wife and I were married at Lake Guntersille State Park.  This amendment preserves funding below a certain level and lets them self-fund up to and above that level if they can.
  3. Yes, because I am tired of having to vote on other counties’ shit.  (See below.)
  4. No, because the crazy independent streak in this state needs tampening down.  Also, if you give government the power to organize but not the power of the purse, you will get shitty government.  We have enough shitty government in Alabama as it is.
  5. No, because I hate the Alabama State Constitution and want it to be repealed.
  6. HELL FUCK NO, because we should never raise the bar for impeaching state officials.  That this sailed through the legislature gave me pause to read through the amendment again.
  7. Yes, because I don’t care but I like Etowah County.  (This is always a consideration in these votes for me.)
  8. No, because I believe that unions have an (unlikely) place in Alabama.  I might be the only no vote in Madison County.
  9. No, because 1) I hate Pickens County and 2) this is probably in place to let some old-fart judge sleep-gavel his way into retirement.  Nope, nope, nope.  Old crusty judges help few in Alabama.
  10. Yes, because … well, I can’t be bothered to care about Calhoun County.  I had to look up where it is.  Oh, Anniston?  I like Anniston.  Shine on, you crazy dreamers.
  11. Yes, mainly because Huntsville will use this judiciously while everyone else will fuck it up, allowing my beloved city to continue to rise out of the miry swamp that is this Godforsaken state.  “You live in Madison!” you say.  Yes, Madison will screw this up, because Madison is always going to screw things up (other than the schools).
  12. Yes, because I think that this is a terrible, terrible idea, but it’s Baldwin County, and … fuck Baldwin County.
  13. No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, get rid of those old judges non-judicial officials and legislators.  This is the “Let Roy Moore Back on the Court Bill”.  NO.  You can contravene every vote I have in this list but this one and #6 and I’ll be happy.  Thanks to Tommy Cole for pointing out that this doesn’t affect judges, but it could be an attempt to get the Cub back on the University of Alabama System Board of Trustees.
  14. Yes, because I do actually believe in some limited autonomy and don’t want Montgomery screwing things up any more.  I almost considered a No because I do like it when Montgomery screws up, possibly leading us closer to the Constitutional Conventional Apocalypse, but that’s too risky.

If we ever do get that new Constitutional Convention, I want Lin-Manuel Miranda there to cover the events and write songs.

#NeverTrump Electoral Math

This one is pretty simple.  Say you’re a standard-bearing GOP voter who is absolutely disgusted with the candidate that your fucked-up primary/caucus season selected.  Your last name doesn’t have to be Bush here.  You could be my dad or my brother, but you’re definitely #NeverTrump.

Trump has the temperament to be a lot of things, but I think that the most likely one is “Andrew Jackson re-incarnate”.  Jackson was so terrible that his party threw him out, leaving him the only President without a political party.  The GOP should recognize that and bar him from office in the first place.

The electoral math is simple: if you vote Republican, you can choose to not vote or vote third party, at which point you make Trump -1.  But if you choose to vote for Hillary Clinton, you’re making it -2, as she gains while he loses.

I support Sec. Clinton for office because I have become far more liberal over the last decade than I ever expected.  I would encourage you to make your vote count double in November if you’re the sort that simply cannot stand Trump and want to push him under whatever electoral rocks he slithered out from underneath.  That said, I respect your right to just go -1.

[An aside: I would expect Clinton to be a one-term President unless the GOP implodes.  She’s pretty polarizing and no spring chicken.  I want to see what she can do, though, given the chance.  18-yo me is so, so confused.]

On Mid-Term Elections for First-Term Presidents

Starting with the 20th Century, the following first-term Presidents of the United States have gained ground in midterm elections: T Roosevelt, F Roosevelt, GW Bush. That’s the list. Note the Teddy only gained ground in House elections, as the 17th Amendment had not yet been ratified.

First-term Presidents get killed in midterm elections. The two exceptions are crisis Presidents: Bush after 9/11 and FDR in the Depression. I remember being terribly surprised in 2002 that Bush gained ground; I figured that, at best, he’d just hold serve. I was, of course, wrong about that. As much as the Obama administration calls the current economic situation a crisis, it clearly does not rise to the level of the Depression or 9/11. I, for one, am thankful for that.

Many folks have criticized Obama for pushing a liberal agenda early in his first term as President, choosing to push big-picture, big-government ideas early on. I think that was the right call for his administration, because they undoubtedly know the history. Bill Clinton came to office with healthcare on his agenda, but fumbling it around in his first term ended up sinking it, and with the Contract for America class of Republicans sweeping through in 1994, any chance of getting his ideas through Congress intact ended as soon as the last polls closed.

As someone who generally favors President Obama’s platform, I think that his strategy was a good one, even though the narrative is now about how the public wants a course correction. I do get that many Americans do, but Americans vote for politicians for many reasons, and single issues or broad themes do not generally apply. If Bud Cramer had not retired a few years ago, I expect that AL-5 would have remained Democrat, but that would have not been some announcement that North Alabama is pro-“Obamacare” or pro-big-government. Huntsville just isn’t—except where it comes to government spending on NASA and defense, and then we’re as big-government as it gets.

I’ll forgive journalists for wanting to make the 2010 midterm elections fit a narrative: journalists have to tell a story to hold viewer/reader interest, and a simple theme will do that. Would people stay tuned to CNN if Wolf Blitzer stood in front of a green screen and said, “First-term presidents in mid-term elections always lose ground”? No, people would nod off and flip over to Jersey Shore. But you, dear reader, care enough about context to read ~450 words from me on the subject, and are maybe interested enough to go do some reading yourself on the history. Chances ar you weren’t swayed by a single attack ad, either.

Libertarian v. Liberal Christianity

It seems to me that, amongst my peer set of evangelical Christians, there are two main groups: the Ron Paul-loving, libertarian types, and the Barack Obama-loving, liberal types.

I’ve spent a lot of time since the 2008 election cycle was well underway thinking about these things. Both groups are for social justice and the being made right of all things. Both groups come at it from the same theological foundation. To my mind, the only fundamental difference is this: whether you think that government, being an institution of man, can be used as a part of the being made right of all things. If you do, you’re probably with me on the Obama side of the debate; if you don’t have that faith in government, you’re probably in the Ron Paul camp.

As much faith as I have in government, I certainly have far more in God. It just seems to me that a belief in government as a positive or a negative is the differentiator here. Perhaps I’m wrong, but I’d love to know your thoughts.

Obama Inaugural: Audio of “Air and Simple Gifts”, Obama’s Oath of Office, and Obama’s Inaugural

I had the idea last night to put my radio SHARK 2 and Radioshift to good use: recording Obama’s inauguration. My audio started from 11:30 a.m. Eastern and goes through 1:00 p.m., so if there’s any audio in that timespan you’d like [Rick Warren’s invocation, Joseph Lowery’s benediction, Joe Biden’s oath, etc.], I’ll splice it out for you. But I thought that these three cuts symbolized the day.

Some technical notes before I get started:

  1. These recordings are my own, and are shared under a Creative Commons 2.0 license by geoF:stop media.
  2. These recordings were made legally, from my understanding of the law, but if this is not your understanding—especially if you work for National Public Radio, or WLRH here in Huntsville [where I am a member], please let me know.
  3. All photos used for album art were Creative Commons-licensed on Flickr. URLs for the originals are below.
  4. Click any cover image to download that MP3, or use the audio player below them to stream the audio. I want people to download the audio, and I don’t mind if you share this with your friends. However, please use the links provided so I can track how many downloads I have; right-click to save the full URL, please. [Most times, Web hosts would be cringing at such an offering, but I host myself on a dedicated server I lease. That said, “Do you hear me baby? Hold together.”

“Air and Simple Gifts”

I loved this arrangement by John Williams of the old Shaker hymn. The photo I chose for this MP3 was, perhaps, the most striking portrait I saw today: a man watching the inauguration in Times Square.

Photo by Tristan Brand
Photo by Tristan Brand

[6.6MB, 5:14]

“Oath of Office”

Listen for yourself as Chief Justice John Roberts and President Barack Obama both fumble the Oath of Office!

Photo by jurvetson
Photo by jurvetson

[2MB, 0:55]

“Obama’s Inaugural Address”

I loved BL1961’s “fractalius art portrait” of Obama giving his address:

Photo/Portrait by BL1961
Photo/Portrait by BL1961

[18.6MB, 19:02]

My fellow Americans: whether you voted or not, whether you voted for him or someone else, Barack Obama is our President. This is our country. Let’s work, together, to make it the best America it can be.

Happy Hopemas

So I’m sitting on the couch, post present-opening, when the lady who stays with my grandmother brought me the Obama memorial coins she’d bought. I looked at them, handed them back, and told her, “Unlike the rest of my family, I actually voted for the guy.”. I then proceeded to turn to my mom, sitting next to me on the couch and say, “We won! Y’all lost!” while shaking her arm. She just laughed.

This is the only time I’ve gloated. But it was worth it. 😉

In Whom Our Hope Is Found

A note: many of you are tired of reading about politics. I ask you, then, “What the hell are you doing here?” Seriously. I don’t write about politics every four years, y’all. 🙂

Barack Obama placed his campaign on the concepts of hope and change. I think he was smart to do that—mere change enough wasn’t going to be enough to win this election. Why? Change is hard to articulate—just ask John McCain. Obama, with his steadiness of character, charisma, and leadership skills, knew that asking people to believe in America again was a way forward. It is, of course.

It’s also a dangerous thing for Christians to buy fully into that. We serve a King and a Kingdom, and that is where our allegiances really should lie. A Christian’s ultimate allegiance is not to the earthly citizenship we have, but to the eternal life yet to come. This is not to say that we should not have hope in President Obama, our boss, our pastor, or anyone else in any position of authority over us. Our hope can only be conditionally placed, understanding that we are all humans and we will all fail.

One of my friends noted last night that he found it sad, watching Twitter’s election tweets, that America seemed to be seeking a messiah more than a President. I think that it’s a difference worth noting, and I’ve had that fear myself. Please don’t get me wrong—I voted for the man, donated to his campaign, etc. I eagerly await his inauguration. I welcome his progressive pragmatism, as I find myself increasingly progressive and have long been pragmatically bent. I will pray for him—as I would McCain were he President-elect today. [I will pray for McCain anyway, because I think he needs to re-establish his persona now that the election is done. Also, I think his 2000-era brand of conservatism is more of what the GOP needs than, say, Sarah Palin.] But I do not place all my hope in Obama, Savior of American Government. He only heads one branch, only gets 24 hours in each of the next 1,460 days, and can only do so much.

No, I find my hope in God. If you’re placing it fully in Obama, I’m afraid that he’s gonna let you down, one way or another. Every politician does, and at the end of the day, Barack is a politician—a great one, but still a man with feet of clay.

Lord, please guide him. He will need every last bit of help he can.