Wednesday, December 29, 2010

James Madison

I was reading a post on The Daily Dish about a 19 year old girl who is a massive over achiever who started a website in honor of her hero James Madison. My first thought was, wow, this girl is awesome. My second thought was that such a website is sorely needed. Click here for the site. Here is an exert:

James Madison was perhaps the wisest of the Founding Fathers of the United States. As an author of its Constitution, The Federalist Papers and the Bill of Rights, he provided both the intellectual framework and rigorous analysis that were essential ingredients to organizing the nation's government.

That's quite the resume. He didn't even want to right the Bill of Rights. He thought it was unnecessary. But he did so in order to get the anti-Federalists on board with the Constitution.

Most people don't know much about Madison. I didn't know anything until I took an American Political Thought class as an undergrad at UT Knoxville. Actually, I got into political science because of the intro class that I had in which we read about the Constitution, which of course Madison wrote and along with Alexander Hamilton was the strongest advocate for ratification. So even before I was fully aware of him it was Madison who sparked my interest in political science.

Once I read some of the Federalist Papers and some background on him he became one of my favorite thinkers. The more I read about him the more I appreciate what he did to establish the type of gov't we have, which despite its problems is probably the most freedom enhancing the world has seen.

So I fully endorse the site and its efforts and those who think James Madison's accomplishments should be made more well known to the American people who benefit from them.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Palin loses again

Obama will enact end of life plan that Palin lied about:

WASHINGTON — When a proposal to encourage end-of-life planning touched off a political storm over “death panels,” Democrats dropped it from legislation to overhaul the health care system. But the Obama administration will achieve the same goal by regulation, starting Jan. 1.

Under the new policy, outlined in a Medicare regulation, the government will pay doctors who advise patients on options for end-of-life care, which may include advance directives to forgo aggressive life-sustaining treatment.

Ridiculous that it had to be taken out to begin with. And kind of ridiculous that they are trying to keep this quiet instead of addressing it as loudly as Palin lied about it. But what really matters in the end is the policy and Obama seems to have won.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Coaching adjustments

I just got back from the Georgetown @ Memphis game. The game was tight at half but Georgetown pulled away in the 2nd. Memphis is a young team. So I expect them to struggle a bit, at least offensively. And Georgetown is an old team with really good guards. So its not too surprising that they beat Memphis.

But what I don't understand is why there weren't any defensive adjustments made by Memphis. And this is something I have always complained about with Duke and Coach K. They played man to man the entire night. Georgetown's guards are really quick and athletic,hence they are good at beating guys off the dribble. Not only was Wright able to do that, they also ran numerous cuts to the basket that got them easy layups.

This is why they shot 55% from the field. They didn't have to settle for long and contested jump shots. Defensively, when this is happening why don't you switch to playing some zone to make sure they don't get into the lane and covert the easy baskets they were getting all night? Why not pack it in and force them to drive through multiple players or shoot long jumpers?

Am I missing something or are coaches being to stubborn to adjust?

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

START passes

The new START treaty passed the Senate today. Daniel Larison points this out:
The side of the debate championed by Romney, Palin, Thune, Santorum, and Bolton has lost, and the virtually unanimous opposition to the treaty from movement conservative leaders, think tanks, and magazines has been ignored. For once, deceit and fearmongering did not win the day in a foreign policy argument. More substantively, U.S.-Russian relations will not be disrupted, our allies in Europe will continue to see their security enhanced by the thaw between Washington and Moscow, and inspections of Russia’s arsenal will resume to our benefit. The harm to U.S. credibility and diplomacy that I had feared would result from the treaty’s defeat will not materialize. All in all, this should prove to be a very good week for the United States and our allies.

Anytime those people lose its probably a good day for the country. Someone like Bolton is just a neocon who doesn't hide what he believes. I disagree with him most of the time but at least he isn't full of shit. Someone like Palin is the worst of both worlds. She comes off as a neocon but probably doesn't even know what she is arguing for or against. All she knows is that Obama supports it so it must be bad. That is not the kind of person we need running the executive branch.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

START

I don't often get to praise the Senators from my state. But today I'll give some props to Senator Lamar Alexander for agreeing to vote for the new START treaty:

"I will vote for the treaty because it allows for inspection of Russian warheads, and because our military leaders say it does nothing to interfere with the development of a missile defense system. I will vote for the treaty because the last six Republican Secretaries of State support its ratification. In short, I'm convinced that Americans are safer and more secure with the new START treaty than without it."

Well said Senator Alexander. I don't care about missile defense because I think its a waste of money. But we should be doing all we can to make sure Russia's arsenal (and every other nuclear arsenal) is safe. We should also be getting rid of much of our own arsenal because we don't need all of them and they cost money to maintain.

It seems like the Senate will pass the treaty now that Alexander and the other Senator from Tennessee, Bob Corker, have come on board. I'm glad to see my state's Senators have put aside the typical Republican obstructionism of the past several years and decide to do what is right. Now if they could just do that on the health care for 9/11 first responders bill, which sadly is being held up for reasons I can't fathom.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

The worst offense in the NFL

Is the Carolina Panthers. But have you seen the Miami Dolphins offense lately? They are giving the Panthers a run for their money. And at least the Panthers have the excuse of a rookie QB.

The Dolphins have a third year QB who had looked decent at various times. They have one of the best left tackles in the game. Brandon Marshall is very talented. Davone Bess is barely distinguishable from Wes Welker.

But now Henne looks like a rookie. He is afraid to throw the ball downfield and when he does he isn't accurate. He has poor footwork in the pocket which makes for inconsistent accuracy. He doesn't have good pocket awareness. He stares down receivers and doesn't go through his progressions. The predominant thinking among Fins fans is that the coaching staff has really messed up his head. I'm not sure he can't be saved, but it won't be by this coaching staff.

Speaking of the coaching, Sparano is supposed to be an offensive line guy. Yet the only guy worth a shit is Jake Long. And Jake Long was good from day 1, so I'm not giving them much credit for developing him. Vernon Carey is solid at RT but he was holdover from Wandstedt. Otherwise its nothing special. Though they were good in pass protection at the beginning of the season. Still not as good as they should be overall.

Ricky Williams is what he is. Maybe if we had the Ricky of 2002 we would have a decent running game. But that Ricky was supremely talented. Ronnie Brown is an indecisive runner who doesn't excel unless he is given a lot of touches. The coaches refuse to give him the touches he needs to excel. He got 10 carries today against the worst run defense in the league.

Fasano is an average TE. He doesn't really hurt the offense. But he doesn't add much. Bess is fine. Very reliable hands, really good on third downs. Marshall spends his time running 5 yard curls, 3 yard crosses, and the very occasional intermediate route that is inaccurately thrown a third of the time.

Hartline was actually playing well before he got hurt. But I wouldn't mind trying to upgrade the #2 WR. Hartline would be a very good #3 or 4. But god forbid using 4 WRs. That would require a playbook created after the merger.

I'm not aware of a reason why anyone on the offensive coaching staff should keep their job. The only coach that should definitely keep his job is Mike Nolan. Its a shame his defense has been wasted. Until coaching changes are made I won't even speculate as to who should be signed or drafted.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Pills are good (sometimes)

I haven't been able to get to sleep until well past 4 am lately. Of course that leads me to sleep well through the morning and into the early afternoon and that makes me feel extremely lazy.

So I've taken a sleeping pill in order to help me fall asleep earlier. Though as evidenced by me typing this post over an hour after I took it, it isn't working perfectly. I should probably go back to reading a book before I go to bed. But the book I'm currently reading isn't all that interesting, and its not interesting in a way that keeps me awake.

I'll just have to wait til Christmas in order to start a new book. I'll choose between "Unequal Democracy" by Larry Bartels (whose work was part of the first paper I wrote for grad school) and "Zombie Economics". I'll probably go with Bartels first since that is right up my alley and I've heard that its a great book.

Opposition to the ACA

The latest news regarding the ACA is a judge in Virginia declaring the individual mandate unconstitutional. The fact that this is the third different case involving the mandate probably means the Supreme Court will have to make the final decision.

That is a ways off. So for now I'll post this response to the conservative happiness with this decision:

So, conservatives, be careful what you wish for. By fighting the mandate needed to make private insurance solutions work, and doing nothing to ease the health cost burden on everyday Americans, you'll hasten the day when the public throws up its hands and says, "Just give us single-payer and price controls." Don't think the anti-government wave this fall won't reverse itself on health care if the most private sector-oriented health care system on earth keeps delivering the world's costliest, most inefficient care

The individual mandate was a conservative idea that the likes of Mitt Romney implemented as governor of Massachusetts. He did so in order to insure as many people as possible and to keep the cost of premiums down. Most indications I've seen says that worked and the people of Massachusetts really like their system.

The reason I posted Miller's take is because I agree that conservatives need to tread lightly in demanding for repeal of the individual mandate and the ACA in general. If they get their wish and health care costs keep rising the way they have been people won't stand for it. More people won't be able to afford insurance and they will continue to pass the costs on to those who can. If things get really bad they will demand the public option like Miller suggests. And we were close enough to getting the public option in the ACA.

If you move the goal posts enough you won't be playing on the same field. And I doubt many conservatives will like playing on the field of a public option.

Cliff Lee

As a Braves fan I'm not happy about Lee signing (presumably) with the Phillies. The Phillies are already a very good team. Now they add one of the best pitchers in the game to an already good rotation and very good offense. I don't like the chances of the Braves winning the division next season.

But I am glad Lee didn't choose the Yankees. I'm not a big Yankees hater. In fact I've softened on them over the last few years, ever since A-Rod started catching flack and the Red Sox eclipsed them in the annoying factor. But since they gave Jeter a ridiculous contract I'm warming up to not liking them more.

And even though he is going to the Phillies I'll be interested to see how well him and Halladay pitch together. The thing about baseball that is different to me than football is that while I'm loyal to the Braves that doesn't prevent me from liking individual players from other teams and wanting to see them succeed. There is just something about baseball where I want to see great players perform great. In football I could care less about Tom Brady or Ray Lewis. But I want to see Cliff Lee pitch as well as he has in recent years, just not when he plays the Braves.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

A good night's sleep

A few nights ago I had the best night of sleep I've had in a long time. I wasn't any more tired than normal when I went to bed. And I didn't do anything out of the ordinary that day.

But on this rare occasion I didn't wake up in the middle of the night or early in the morning. I don't know how rare that is for the general population. But its pretty rare for me.

The one thing I noticed is that I remember the dream I had, which I usually don't. And if I do remember my dreams its usually because I wake up as I'm about to hit something after a long fall or a snake is chasing me. But this was a really good dream which I won't go into detail about here.

So I wonder if there is a some kind of correlation between how well I slept and my ability to remember my dream. Does a more vivid dream mean you are in a deeper sleep? Could that deeper level of sleep be why I didn't wake up? And how do I achieve it more often, especially the plot of the dream?

Monday, December 6, 2010

Why the GOP should let the tax cuts expire

Conservatives say they want the "Bush tax cuts" extended because they think it will help the economy. But if Obama signs off on an extension and the cuts have the effect they expect, won't that help Obama get reelected? Come 2012 he can say he cut everyone's taxes and made the economy better off. He won't even have to say that because people will see the effects themselves, that is, according to the logic of extending them.

So why not let them expire, let the economy drag along, bring in more revenue to help with the deficit, and increase your chances of getting rid of the socialist abomination that is Obama. Then you get your person in, cut taxes, the economy booms and you have at least another 8 years of true capitalism and a restoration of liberty.

If the GOP really believed what their ideology tells them on tax cuts they should be calling for all of the cuts to expire. After all, isn't getting rid of Obama more important to them than cutting taxes for a few years?

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Kyrie Irving

WOW! Not much else to say about the freshman point guard. He was unbelievable tonight against a very tough Michigan State team and one of the best point guards in the nation, Tyler Lucas.

He is being compared to Jason Williams, who was the great Duke point guard from 2000-2002. Jason was a bit shorter and had a stronger build. I also think Jason was quicker. But Kyrie is probably a bit of a better shooter and can finish just as well around the basket. Plus he is already a better free throw shooter than Jason ever was.

An athletic point guard is what I think Duke has been missing since Jason Williams and Chirs Duhon. When the offense is struggling they could break down their defender one on one and either get to the basket or pass to an open player. Kyrie showed how well he could do that tonight.

I love the kid already. I just hope he sticks around for a while.

Tax Cuts

Obama and Republicans met today to discuss what to do about the Bush era tax cuts expiring. Its being reported that they spent their time discussing what other issues they could be brought to the table in order to get a compromise on the tax cuts, which according to this would be extending all the cuts for a few years.

The Republican position on the tax cuts is crystal clear. They want them all extended at pretty much any cost. The Democrat position is not as clear. The one thing every Dem wants is to extend the current income tax rate for people making $250,000 and below. The logic being that people need to keep as much money as they can right now because the economy needs them to spend money.

Where the Dems differ from the Reps is that they want to let the cuts on $250,000 and above expire. The logic there is that these people aren't likely to spend that money they would get from the current tax rate. They will simply save it instead of investing it back into the economy.

If the Dems compromise and give Reps full extension of the tax cuts they better get a lot in return. At minimum they should extend unemployment benefits. I really don't see why Dems can't play as hardball as Reps are on the tax cuts for the rich on this issue. They should also get the debt ceiling raised because the tax cuts will add a lot to the debt. Those two seem like easy no brainers to me. I just don't see why Dems can't get them if Reps are indeed willing to compromise.

If they aren't willing to compromise the Dems should split the vote on the different tax brackets and force Reps to vote against publicly popular policy. I don't think they should include the repeal of DADT. I'd save that for either the START treaty or the appropriations bill.

Dems have leverage here and they need to use it, both publicly and privately. There is no reason they can't be aggressive in public discourse. They should not let Reps get away with favoring tax cuts for rich people and not benefits for unemployed.

Wikileaks

I mentioned Wikileaks in my first post and I wanted to comment on that while its still in the news.

The most important part of it that I've read about so far is how the US tried to keep other countries from prosecuting torturers:http://www.harpers.org/archive/2010/12/hbc-90007836
The embassy engaged Spanish authorities in detailed discussions about the specific judges handling these cases and on at least one occasion extracted a promise from prosecutors to seek to have one sensitive case—in which former U.S. attorney general Alberto Gonzales, former vice presidential chief of staff David Addington, John Yoo, Jay Baybee, Douglas Feith, and William J. Haynes figured as potential defendants—reassigned to a judge they considered friendlier to the United States. In fact, around the time of the cables in question the prosecutors acted just as the cable suggests they would.

Just another sad instance of the higher ups in the US gov't trying to shield itself from prosecution under US and international law. We knew the Bush and Obama administrations have done all they can to protect the people responsible for torture from prosecution. But we didn't know the US was trying to manipulate foreign courts.

Just another disgusting chapter in the saga of US torture. As usual nothing will come of this. No one will be held accountable. And future leaders will not fear any consequences of their actions. But who cares? Terrorists are trying to kill us. That apparently justifies anything the gov't wants to do.

And that brings us to the big picture issue with the Wikileaks. Obviously the gov't needs to operate with some level of secrecy. But in a democracy, where does the line get drawn? Its easy (and I think right) to say that the US is too committed to secrecy. But unless you think the principles of democracy cease to retain their importance when it comes to foreign policy and national security there needs to be a certain amount or level of information made available to the public.

We need to realize that the trade offs between security and democratic accountability aren't zero sum. If the gov't is forced to disclose more information that doesn't automatically mean security will suffer. The Pentagon even said the previous Wikileaks release didn't do so. Nor should we assume that being super secretive automatically means security is better. It could mean we are spending too much time trying to keep information secret that doesn't really affect security and thus doesn't need to be secret.

People need to know what their gov't is doing in order for democracy to work properly. Contrary to what some may think, politicians do respond public opinion (on some things anyway). Its a bit unclear if Wikileaks will accomplish the goal of making the gov't more transparent or if it will accomplish the opposite. But at least it has forced us to have that discussion. I at least commend it for that.

Intro

Hello all. My name is David Plunk. Most people call me Dave for short, which is why I've titled the blog 'Daveverse'. The other half of the title is a reference to the term 'Whedonverse', which is itself a blog dedicated to the great Joss Whedon.

This is not a blog specifically about Joss Whedon. Though I'm sure he will come up frequently. Rather, I decided to start a blog because I feel like I have stuff to say and others might want to hear it, or not. I've been reading blogs and message boards for some time now. And I figured I should add my unique voice to the community.

What I'm going to do is combine all of my interests and just write whatever comes to my attention. That will involve mainly politics, sports, tv, and movies.

For instance, the Duke Blue Devils play the Michigan State Spartans tonight in college basketball. I'm a huge Duke fan and will give my thoughts on the pounding we will issue Michigan State tonight.

Politics is a little slow right now because Congress isn't in session. But there is stuff like the Wikileaks and talk about what will happen when Congress comes back from vacation.

So I hope you find my ramblings of some interest. And I look forward to lots of feedback from people. Let's have fun and hopefully learn something every once in while.