31 August 2005

Cost of Corruption Continues to Climb

The Bureau of Workers Compensation (BWC) invested $50m in rare coins, $13m of which is so far "lost".

On Monday, the State Controlling Board approved Attorney General Jim Petro's request for funds to hire attorneys in the lawsuit. The approval, which covers this year's costs only, brings the total legal bill to about $7.3m so far. Added to the "lost" money, it brings the total cost (known) of corruption to about $20m.

The article also mentions "another $1.9 million for workers' compensation lawsuits not related to the scandal." I wonder what that's about. Is it normal for the BWC to be sued for millions of dollars every year? How much of that is recouped (the BWC can ask for repayment of legal costs if it wins, apparently)?

I don't know if this case is typical, but in this case the legal cost of corruption is fifty cents on the dollar.

Parade to be Happy but not Gay

Diversity Dayton, a group for people “interested in actively promoting the civil rights of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender community through advocacy and publicity,” has been denied a request to march in the Kettering “Holiday at Home” Labor Day Parade.

The foundation that sponsors the parade did some investigating into Diversity Dayton and found that it had begun as a local extension of the Human Rights Campaign, an organization “working for lesbian, gay, transgender, and bisexual equal rights.” The foundation president said that an organization working for “human rights” in the broadest sense might have been fine, but the fact that Diversity Dayton represented just one area, and that area happens to be a “hot-button” issue, was reason for denial.

He explained that a Diversity Dayton sign would be as much of a hot button to some as a “Right to Life” sign would be to others.

Diversity Dayton understands that it is legal for them to be excluded from the parade and is discussing other plans.

In terms of a civil rights issues, would this situation be different if a group of women wanted to march in a 1900 parade for suffrage? Or a black group marching in 1950 for civil rights? If so, how?

30 August 2005

Sick and Tired of President Bush's Liberal Views?

Then you've probably seen this website, which has one page for Christians and another for non-believers.

But what if you want the dish on Bush? What's the real scoop that the liberal media won't tell you? You'll find all that here, with horrifying headlines like:





Ladies and gentlemen, your Republican base.

More Pay-to-Play from Statehouse Republicans?

From the Right Angle Blog comes word of a Plain Dealer article linking state contracts with campaign contributions. The article states:

Four of every five dollars requested by Attorney General Jim Petro for special counsel contracts for this fiscal year will go to law firms that have given money to his political campaigns.

…state Democratic leaders said 41 of the 57 law firms receiving contracts on Monday have given Republican Petro more than $800,000 since 1998. Those same firms yesterday were awarded $15.4 million in contracts.

In accordance with the GOP playbook, Petro’s office sidestepped questions and accused critics of playing politics. And then they went on to point out that over half of the firms been given contracts for years, going back to a Democratic AG.

This is another classic Republican reaction: well, the Democrats used to do it, so you’re not allowed to say anything about it now. All this illustrates is that both major parties are corrupt and under the influence of special interests. It does not exonerate the Republicans from culpability or the appearance thereof. If there is the appearance of impropriety, then the office should open itself up to a transparent investigation and either exculpate itself or accept fair punishment.

Unless you’re in Kentucky

For Boone County Residents

An opportunity to have your say in land use policy:

Boone County Planning Commission will have a public hearing at 7 p.m. Wednesday in courtroom 3A of the Boone County Administration Building on Ky. 18.

The commission is seeking input for its comprehensive plan, which affects future land uses for unincorporated Boone County, Florence, Union and Walton. It includes information on population, environment, economy, business activity, housing, recreation, agriculture, historic preservation, public facilities, transportation and land use.

(from the Enquirer)

FOP Joins Winburn on Planet X

Charlie Winburn, the neoChristian candidate who performs exorcisms and said only born-again Christians should hold office, has been endorsed by the FOP, report the Enquirer and Post.

According to FOP president Keith Fangman, Winburn supports the police and could make the city safer.

In other words, Winburn would do nothing to improve the problem-laden police system. The police have consistently resisted investigations and changes, so it is fair to assume that they want a mayor who will not want to change or even question their lousy attitude and behavior. Their endorsement implies Winburn is that man.

The 10-member endorsement committee voted unanimously to endorse, and said “support for our officers” was the top reason. This is code for “don’t make us change.” More evidence is in the FOP’s citing of the 2002 police contract as one of the decisive issues.

Winburn’s only crime initiative is his build-more-jails plan. Besides the fact that David Pepper suggested this months before, jail-building is not a crime solution. Intelligent people know this. It is like building another band-aid factory to deal with the hemophilia problem. Yes, band-aids are needed, but preventing a cut in the first place is the best solution (and the cheapest, long-term). That is why more jail space is only a part of Pepper’s plan.

Winburn’s plan does not reduce crime; it provides temporary storehousing of criminals at a cost of millions of dollars every year. It is a long-term tax/spending increase, and that’s what it should be called.

Want to Try Diebold's Voting Machines?

Then head up to Van Wert County (west of Lima) for the county fair, Sept. 1-7. The Van Wert Independent reports:

Van Wert County residents will have a chance to try out the new touch-screen voting machines prior to the November general election at this year's county fair. The County Board of Elections will have the new machines on display in the Administration Building from noon-5 p.m. Thursday, September 1, through Wednesday, September 7. Local residents can view the machines -- and even have a hands-on opportunity to try out the new touch-screen voting system. Representatives from Diebold Election Systems, maker of the machines, will also be on hand to answer any questions residents may have.

ANY questions? What if people ask how they can trust a machine made by someone who promised to deliver Ohio to Bush in '04? What if they ask how they can trust a company whose owner was a Bush "pioneer"? What if they ask how they can trust a machine that has repeatedly failed security tests? What if they ask how they can trust a company that not only won't use open-source software, but has used uncertified software at least twice (once illegally, in Maryland)?

More news and information about voting machines is available at this page from CASE, the Citizens Alliance for Secure Elections. And VerifiedVoting has a page called "The Verifier" where you can look up the voting standards for any county in any state.

28 August 2005

Sandra Queen Noble is Seriously Quite Abnormal

Kudos to Dan Hurley’s show Newsmakers (Saturdays 11 a.m., WKRC) for giving equal time to this year’s independent mayoral candidates, Sylvan Grisco, Justin Jeffre, and Sandra Queen Noble.

Unfortunately, those of us who watched the show will have to come to terms with the fact that we will never get those 30 minutes back. One way we can do this is by recognizing the value of witnessing three unqualified candidates. This can be useful. I would make this point with an analogy to the time someone recommended the book “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.” Sounds good, I said, but wouldn’t it also be a good idea to write about habits of highly ineffective people? I mean, you don’t know what not to do if you don’t know you’re doing it, right?

In a similar vein, it is nice to contrast qualified candidates with unqualified ones just to see the contrast and get an idea of what not to want in a candidate.

For those who think Alicia Reece is a case in point, I say get ready to chortle a-plenty. Sandra Queen Noble makes Reece look like a Rhodes scholar. She is, unfortunately, not a credible candidate for any office at any level. A normal human does not show up for a television forum wearing curly, green giftwrapping ribbon all over her hair, and a shiny, gold stetson on top of that (seemingly plastic).

No, I am not making it up. Also, she can’t answer questions.

According to the SmartVoter guide, Noble lists her occupations as fashion designer and "law enforcement" (she used the same phrase on the show). And she lists her education as "Jim Crow/George Wallace."

Her response to the SmartVoter question "
What are your qualifications for office?" was:

Currently a presidential candidate running for the Mayor of Cincinnati 3 times candidate for President 5 times for City Mayor Candidate Congress and City Council Candidate once

And her response to "What plans do you have to address your top three priorities?" was:

Power and compassion; the right to protect children; when you take from the land of native people respect the people of the land you take from.

(There were actually 5 questions, but that's 3 too many in this case).

There’s a bit of a guilty feeling in harping on Ms. Noble, since she clearly isn’t playing with a full deck. But she put herself out there. If you want a spectacle, go see Ms. Noble. If you want a mayor, don’t.

27 August 2005

So Why Did Eric Minameyer Support Schmidt?

The Smoke Eater reports that Eric Minameyer, the man responsible for swiftboating Paul Hackett, is now taking Hackett's position on Iraq on his (Minameyer's) blog:

We need to exit ASAP, by which I mean as soon as sufficient Iraqi security forces exist to defend the constitutional government. The cost to our economy, in the lives of Americans, and in the loss of unity of the country are too great to extend the mission past that.

Smoke Eater pointed out to Minameyer that this is pretty much what Hackett has been saying for several months, to which Minameyer responded that he, too had been saying it for several months. Minameyer then attempted to cast his view as something totally different by parsing minor differences and then-- and I am not making this up-- he accused Hackett of inciting insurgents with his rhetoric. Maj. Hackett still has 5 months left to serve, by the way.

Here is the new Republican viewpoint on Iraq: We need to get out, but if you say we need to get out because we were wrong to go in, then you are wrong and are inciting insurgents. If you say we have to pull out but we were right to go in, then you are right and down with Jesus.

Who Reads What?

Okay, it's not a "real" who-reads-what. It's a funny take on the readership of the U.K.'s newspapers I picked up on Deepak's blog out of Melbourne:

Daily Mirror - Read by people who think that they run the country.

Guardian - Read by people who think that they ought to run the country.

Times - Read by people who actually do run the country.

Daily Mail - Read by wives of those who do run the country.
(Remember at the time when Yes Prime Minister was being screened in UK, the Government predominantly had more males in the service compared to females)

Financial Times - Read by those who actually OWN the country.

Morning Star - Read by those who think UK should be run by another country.

Daily Telegraph - Read by those who actually THINK that UK is run by another country.

So what similar assessments would you make about our newspapers?

Democratic Party: Strategy vs. Vision

From the strangely named Echidne of the Snakes I came across this quote from Laksmi Chaudhry from her new book, Making Sense. Turning the Lessons of Election 2004 Into Winning Progressive Politics. It is from the section on culture wars.

The Democratic Party's strategy of moving to the right on the economy has clearly worked against its own interests. Yet it's not surprising that many of the party leaders have responded to the latest electoral debacle with calls to do the same on social issues. Within weeks of the election, the Senate Democrats had selected pro-life Harry Reid as their leader, even as California Senator Dianne Feinstein blamed San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom's decision to legalize gay marriages for the party's defeat. No policy is indispensable in a party that substitutes strategy for vision.

It was the last line that struck me. The attempt to substitute strategy for vision is a major problem in the Party.

A Republican Explains Why Daft Should Resign

Gov. Daft has the lowest approval ratings of any governor since they started taking approval ratings. I'm talking about the country here, not just Ohio.

He's an incompetent executive who, like many republicans, does little more than open up the candy store for corporate lobbyists. But people (in both parties) are split over whether he should resign. There are arguments both ways.

Democratic Gubernatorial candidate Michael Coleman called for resignation, but he's just trying to get his name in the news. Locally, Greg Hartmann (Hamilton County Clerk and County GOP Chair) has called for resignation. Hartmann is also running for Secretary of State, so maybe he wants attention, too.

Here's the viewpoint of VikingSpirit, a Republican who is not running for office:

Yes, I disagree with those whom say Taft's crimes aren't that bad in the big picture. I say that because of a couple points:

-Taft played with many lobbyists, politicians, and others, including Tom Noe (we all know what he did). What kind of favors did he promise when these people paid for his rounds of golf?

-You don't just "forget" to file reports for 40+ rounds of golf. There's a reason that these reports weren't filed, which I think is because of what he did while golfing (i.e what kind of favors he promised).

In the end, Taft did commit a crime, and I think he needs to resign as a result.

25 August 2005

This Fill-in-the-Blank Is About George W. Bush

A post at the Right Angle Blog (link at right) made what I felt was yet another, mercilessly exhausting reference to fellato Clintonato. Enough, I commented, Clinton is hardly the poster boy for sexual indiscretion. Actually, if you want to know my exact words, they were:

By the way, the world is tired of repubs holding up Clinton as if he's the poster boy of sexual indiscretion. He's not, and everyone knows that sexual indiscretion is rampant in all politicians, regardless of party.

The notion that republicans are more ethical and above this sort of thing is ridiculous.

Responding to my comment, another commentor pointed out the fact that "he was the President for God's sake."

So the fill-in-the-blank is to complete the sentence: George W. Bush is the poster child for...

Democrats Are Spineless Wussies

That's basically the message from former Presidential candidate Gary Hart, as he recommends growing cajones in his WaPo editorial. He says it nicer than I do.

24 August 2005

Directory of "Lefty" Blogs

"Taking back America in all 50 states" it says. It is a directory of progressive and Democratic blogs, and you can see listings by state.

It doesn't actually just list the blogs; it works on some kind of feed which puts up the most recent post from each blog, with the blog name & link below.

Another directory of political blogs covering the entire spectrum as well as humor and religion is here.

Some Goups Won't Condemn Robertson's Words

The NYTimes reports that some organizations and leaders have said Pat Robertson was wrong to say what he did, but:

But other conservative Christian organizations remained silent, with leaders at the Traditional Values Coalition, the Family Research Council and the Christian Coalition saying they were too busy to comment.

And Obsidian Wings points out:

The obvious parallels here are the Islamic clerics who don't condemn assassination fatwas or terrorism in rapid or clear enough terms for many Americans...

Splinter Group Follows Christ's Example

Some wacky churches are taking control of their dollar votes and choosing not to invest in companies that support violence from Israel directed towards Palestinians. The story is reported in, of all places, the Arabic News.

The church groups are first meeting with the companies to express their concerns and hope for changes.

One woman elder expressed her motivations:

Gamblin said she realizes that some people think the action is anti-Semitic, but added: "I respectfully disagree. It is about our brothers and sisters in Christ. It is about hurting people in the land that we call holy."

"Christ has always called us to speak and act on behalf of the powerless and the oppressed," Gamblin said, reading from a prepared statement. "We must take action."

Pennsylvania Now Has a Paul Hackett

But he calls himself Patrick Murphy. And Innisfree reports that he's running for Congress as a Democrat in '06.

We'll see much more of this, I'm sure.

Think Tanks Recommend Overhauling Education

The Institute for America's Future and the Center for American Progress have published the results of an intense series of meetings to address America's "brain drain."

The report can be downloaded here. In includes many recommendations also supported by the ClarkStreet Educational Policy Centre, such as year-round schools and a focus on early childhood development.

If the Dems had the sense to read this blog, they would know to make education reform a centerpiece of their vision, since they're shopping for one.

More Pay-to-Play from Gov. Daft?

From the Ohio News Network:

The Columbus Dispatch reports Taft pushed the Bureau of Workers' Compensation to invest in Athersys Incorporated. The company was asking investors for 100 million dollars in part to fund stem-cell research.

Taft had touted the company in his 2002 State of the State address and his spokesman says he wanted the investments to encourage growth in the high-tech company.

Democrats say Taft was rewarding a political contributor. Company officials gave Taft more than ten-thousand dollars during his 2002 re-election campaign.

You Mean Proper English, or Like, American and Stuff?

The town of Norton, Ohio (just outside of Akron) has passed a resolution declaring English as its official language.
Councilman Bill Mowery, who sponsored the resolution, said he can't understand why anyone would oppose it.

"It seemed to me like a no-brainer," Mowery said. "Mom's apple pie and the American way."

He said his inspiration for the resolution came from Norton resident George Tomko, a World War II veteran and self-described City Council watchdog.

Tomko said it bothers him to go to stores and see bilingual signs.

Anyone who thinks Americans know how to speak English should read an international newspaper or watch an international news program. I suggest starting with one from China or India so you can start getting used to the world on their terms.

ABC Asked to Remove Robertson's TV Show

Watchdog group Media Matters is calling on the ABC Family network to remove Robertson's show, The 700 Club, from the air. The show airs 3 times a day.

Media Matters has also points out that this is not the only instance of recorded cognitive dysfunction from a right-wing gasbag. Here are others:

Bill O'Reilly
Glenn Beck
Ann Coulter

Those who wish to express their views to ABC should send a brief, typed letter with a clear heading ("RE: Pat Robertson's 700 Club" for example) to the following address:

ABC, Inc.
attn: ABC Family Programming
500 S. Buena Vista Street
Burbank, CA 91521-4551

Those who are wondering why the hell Pat Robertson would comment on Venezuela anyway might want to read this (and note that it was written 2 months ago).

Another Way Asia Will Kick Our Ass

A study published in the latest Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS or “pee-nas” to researchers) details differences in eye movements of Asians vs. Americans. In other words, how they look around at stuff. Apparently, this is more meaningful than we think:

Asians and North Americans really do see the world differently. Shown a photograph, North American students of European background paid more attention to the object in the foreground of a scene, while students from China spent more time studying the background and taking in the whole scene, according to University of Michigan researchers.

To be specific:
Nisbett illustrated this with a test asking Japanese and Americans to look at pictures of underwater scenes and report what they saw.

The Americans would go straight for the brightest or most rapidly moving object, he said, such as three trout swimming. The Japanese were more likely to say they saw a stream, the water was green, there were rocks on the bottom and then mention the fish.

The Japanese gave 60 percent more information on the background and twice as much about the relationship between background and foreground objects as Americans, Nisbett said.

In the latest test, the researchers tracked the eye movement of the Chinese and Americans as they looked at pictures.

The Americans looked at the object in the foreground sooner -- a leopard in the jungle for example -- and they looked at it longer. The Chinese had more eye movement, especially on the background and back and forth between the main object and the background, he said.

But the important thing is to keep your self-esteem intact:
"When you look beyond this study to all of the studies finding cultural differences, you find that people from one culture do better on some tasks, while people from other cultures do better on others. I think it would be hard to argue from these studies that one culture is generally outperforming the other cognitively," Cave said.

Bullshit Protector

Now you can make your own version of the ear gear Bill Moyer (same name, different man) wore at a Bush speech in Idaho.

23 August 2005

What Does a Sierra Club Endorsement Mean?

The Sierra Club has endorsed Mallory for Mayor. On his website, Mallory expresses his gratitude and his committment to the environment.

I used to subscribe to Sierra (the Club's outdoor magazine) about 13-14 years ago. The environment was one of the issues that got me interested in politics and government because I was kind of an outdoors guy. And then one issue came with an editorial perspective on abortion. "Why is this in here?" I thought.

I supported the Sierra Club because I cared about the environment. I didn't appreciate the fact that it was trying to be a "panliberal" organization, accreting other causes unrelated to the environment. But I wasn't naive; I understood that organizations typically support other organizations when there is substantial crossover in members' ideology. But on principle, I felt it was wrong, so I let my subscription lapse.

The reason I bring this up is that it means the Sierra Club may not be endorsing Mallory for reasons strictly about the environment. There is a common attitude among some liberals and Democrats that supporting black candidates sort of proves you're more progressive-minded than everyone else. In other words, support is often based on race rather than policy.

The only way to know whether this is the case is to research the candidates' backgrounds, but this is what we're supposed to trust organizations like the Sierra Club to do. So you see, this is what happens when you don't adhere to principles: you lose credibility.

Since I've only read Sierra a few times since, someone else will have to tell me whether I can trust them.

Online Restaurant Reservations!

Exciting news for those who like food and technology. These two popular interests have now come together with online restaurant reservations. For now, the service is only available in states with computers and restaurants that take reservations.

The site seems to have a very easy and practical interface. The interface is based on a live internet connection to the restaurant's computerized reservation system, so the information is in real time. If it says a table for 4 is available, then it is. Currently only 6 Cincinnati area restaurants have signed on to the service, but hopefully that will increase quickly. Indianapolis and Louisville (which lists a restaurant called Equus...) as well as Cleveland and Columbus are listed.

It's a great resource for the business traveler who has to host a dinner in a another city (consultant or attorney, for example)..

And if you're an interested restauranteur, your info page is here.

Full Deck Still Eludes Pat Robertson

Pat Robertson, Yale Law graduate, erstwhile Presidential candidate, and voice of "Christian" fundamentalism, is now advocating assassination of a foreign head of state.

This is further evidence for what the ClarkStreet Division of Social Psychology has been saying for years: that religious extremism/ fundamentalism is not an "extreme" level of faith; it is an abnormal psychological condition. It should be investigated from a psychological perspective rather than accepted. Normal psychology doesn't involve irrational patterns of thought and action.

Nice posts on the matter at Walk In Brain and WireCan also.

The sad thing is that Pat Robertson may be discredited, but the radical movement he speaks for will not. Maybe that wouldn't happen if more people read this.

22 August 2005

Time for Katherine Harris to Put Out...

... her campaign signs. From the All Headline News:

Pensacola, FL (AHN) - Two businessmen active in GOP politics say Florida's Republican Party is enticing cable TV host Joe Scarborough to challenge U.S. Representative Katherine Harris in the 2006 Senate primary race.

Collier Merrill, a Pensacola businessman, tells The Pensacola News Journal Scarborough has met with senior Republican officials.

Eric Nickelsen, the other businessman, says he has contacted Scarborough and encouraged him to run, adding other party leaders want the talk show host to challenge Harris.

I was under the impression Harris was a go-by-the-GOP playbook kind of official, which I figure is just the kind of person the GOP would want in Congress. So I wonder what Scarborough adds that Harris doesn't have (at least in the eyes of the 2 businessmen).

GOP to America: Don’t burst our bubble

As more Americans begin to take note of failed foreign policy, Bush and other GOP leaders and officials are taking to the streets to defend themselves. The theme of the effort seems to be to clothe the Iraq mission in machismo. A highly successful marketing ploy (frame, if you will) in America, it is the “husband,” so to speak, of using female sexuality to market goods. But will it sell failure?

The machismo clothing has been a theme of the Bush administration in particular. Even Bush, a college cheerleader and addictive personality (the common alcohol-to-religion type), is believed by many to be a rough-and-tumble honest, hard workin’ country boy. One woman in a focus group replied “cowboy” to the question “what is the image you think of when you hear the name ‘George W. Bush?’" NASCAR driver Darrell Waltrip derided Kerry for having a mansion and praised Bush for having a "farm".

In this campaign, the GOP is framing its foreign policy in terms of courage and cowardice. The phrases being used to frame
the opposition suggest running away from a fight. “Tuck and run”, “duck and run”, and “cut and run” are some that I’ve heard. The sublimbinable message: stay the course if you believe in good old fashioned American toughness, run and hide if you’re a lilly-livered faggot.

As the mass media continues to pat their backs, the republicans will continue to burp their talking points. But will it work? That depends on the strength and savvy of the opposition (unfortunately). Can it create an effective echo chamber through elected officials? Can it use its antiwar fundraising for something besides ads in the NYTimes? Can it develop effective marketing strategy and framing of its own?

The republican bubble now shielding us from reality is as thin as its been since Nixon. If the opposition can’t break it now, somebody hand the Democratic Party (which is the main organization in the opposition) a glass of water and help it drown; it’s continued presence could only make it worse.

Tennis: Roddick still Federer’s bitch

The world’ finest individual sport had its annual tournament here in Cincinnati last week. ClarkStreet does not recognize corporate monikers, so this tennis tournament is known as “The Cincinnati ATP Masters” or simply, “The ATP”.

This year’s final continued the pattern of hardcourt domination by Federer and Roddick, and unfortunately for Roddick, the pattern was repeated to its extent as Federer took Roddick, 6-4, 7-5.

Roddick is one of the all-time greats. In addition to superior athleticism, he’s got a strong head and fights every minute of the match. Coaches love athletes like that because it’s one of the things you really can’t teach. He’s a competitor in the best sense of the word and it’s been great for fans and the game.

Compare him to Marat Safin, another strong player with a similar game. But Safin doesn’t have Roddick’s maturity and mental fortitude, and it has cost him matches (and therefore, titles). Safin can be brilliant beyond description one day and dull and lifeless the next. You never know with that guy.

But Roddick is a workhorse player in the mold of champions like Connors, Lendl, Agassi (phase II), and Hewitt. With Roddick, you get 110% every day. Like every player, Roddick has choked a time or two, but he doesn’t beat himself. Either you beat him, or you lose. And there aren’t many players who can beat him.

Roger Federer can, and now he’s done it 8 times in a row. Roddick is 1-9 against him.

I think what we have here is a redux of Laver and Rosewall. Like Roddick, Rosewall was a great player who had the bad luck of playing at the same time as the greatest ever.

My prediction is that at the end of 2005, Roddick will talk to some coaches and former players and run his situation by them. He will not accept that he must take a backseat to Federer, no matter how great Federer is. Roddick will be on a mission to be the world #1, and the clash of the titans that will ensue will be better for the game than any of the past ones.

And I haven’t even mentioned the Rafael Nadal factor…

20 August 2005

Senators Job Approval Ratings

Polling firm SurveyUSA has a public opinion poll of Senators’ job approval ratings. There is no discernible rhyme or reason to the ratings, which is interesting itself. But polling methodology may provide at least part of the reason. The remainder of the reason can probably be explained by the fact that the average person is ignorant about government but figures you can't go wrong being negative.

The poll surveyed 600 individuals in each state. That’s not a lot, and in states where there are urban concentrations, the methodology would have to deliberately factor in the percentage of voters in urban, suburban and rural areas to give a truly representative cross section. In other words, an Ohio poll would have to make sure about 50% of survey respondents lived in metropolitan areas and 50% didn’t. The poll methodology breaks down results by demographic characteristics, but not geographic ones.

Both Ohio Senators ranked in the bottom five. It’s not a reflection of their moderate politics (a few months ago both were rated the most moderate republicans the Senate) because the top of the list is full of moderates, including Maine’s maidens, Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, in first and second place.

Among the 25 most-approved Senators, 60% are Democrats.
Among the 25 least-approved, 68% are Republicans.

It’s even more pronounced at the acme and nadir:

67% of the top 15 are Democrats;
80% of the bottom 15 are Republicans.

Good numbers for Democrats, but how reliable is the polling methodology?

"Bob Ney gets a challenger"

…reports the seven-cent nickel. According to the article in the Chillicothe Gazette, challenger Joe Sulzer has served as councilman, mayor, and state representative. He is a Vietnam veteran and an attorney. On paper it looks like a formidable challenge.

This is a good thing, as Congress would be better without Bob Ney. Besides being tied to Tom DeLay’s ethical shenanigans, Ney sat on a bill to guarantee a voter-verified paper trail for electronic voting machines. Ignoring voluminous evidence to the contrary, Ney expressed complete confidence in voting machine security and viewed any skepticism as a radical liberal conspiracy.

For putting party over principle and failing to recognize the importance of election security, Ney deserves a ticket home.

Frist Divorces Reality for “Office” Mistress

Bill Frist has stated that he will run for neither Senate nor Presidency. Yet his actions this year seem tailored for a future campaign.

His springtime pandering to religious fundamentalism over the Teri Schaivo matter violated the AMA’s own rules for video diagnosis and resulted in a letter from 31 of his medical school classmates telling him he misused his medial degree. He was heavily criticized for his actions, but it pleased theocrats.

But issues brought to light by the Schaivo and stem cell debates threatened an ideological schism within the GOP. So Frist’s support of stem cell research seemed like a clever plan to retain sensible conservatives within the GOP while still maintaining fidelity to theocrats. But the theocrats weren’t so pleased this time.

So now, Frist has endorsed the teaching of creationism (aka Intelligent Design).

Why is Frist pandering to the theocrats if he does not intend to run? According to the ClarkStreet behavioral science division, the plan may be for Frist to position himself as a VP candidate. None other than Bob Woodward has predicted a Cheney vs. Clinton race. If this turns out to be true, then Cheney can serve one term (or resign after the next infarct) and hand over the reigns to Frist. Frist could then run for the next two terms, potentially allowing him to be President for 8 to 12 years.

Cheney's outrageous voting record in Congress would surely be a liability... but only if the media were to report it.