30 September 2005

Will DeLay's Indictment Change Anything?

DeLay's indictment will not result in any substantive change in the way the House works. The transfer of political power from people to corporate lobbyists has been going on for decades, but it was DeLay who came forth and unashamedly made government-for-sale the status quo.

But now that it is the status quo, will it change with DeLay's indictment? The Republican House leadership supports DeLay and even wants to keep him as Majority Leader after the indictment. You will recall that the House ethics committee already changed its rules as well as its membership to keep DeLay safe. A real watchdog, that House ethics committee.

When Trent Lott was stripped of his Senate Majority Leadership a few years ago, he was replaced by Bill Frist, who has turned out to be anything but a refreshing change from partisan politics. And it will be no different if DeLay is replaced. Control of Congress is in the hands of corporate lobbyists, and it will remain in their hands for the foreseeable future.

For a good review of the DeLay and Roy Blunt (the majority whip) machine, follow Talking Points Memo's recommendation and read this one-pager from WaPo.

29 September 2005

Democrats for Life, Republicans for Choice

I've met pro-life Democrats, and I've met pro-life Republicans. With few exceptions, only the Democrats are pro-life consistently-- i.e. across the board. Republicans essentially misuse a more general term, "pro-life", where they should use the narrower "anti-abortion", although I prefer the term "abortion criminalization" because it's even more specific and highlights the fact that criminalization is just one means to a goal, not the only means.

If you're going to say you are pro-life, then at least be consistent about it. It's absurd that so many people are hypocritical about this.

I recall that Howard Dean said in a speech this spring that one of the Democratic Party Leadership's goals should be to convince their constituents that a pro-life Democrat is better than a pro-choice Republican.

So he'll be happy to read about Democrats for Life, which says it "exists to foster respect for life, from the beginning of life to natural death." It also notes that it is a member of an international network dedicated to "peace, justice and life." Be sure to read about the 90/10 initiative.

I was curious if there was a "Republicans for Choice" site, so I typed it into the URL box. It took me here.

28 September 2005

Statistics Say Wealth Inequality Has Been Worsening for Decades

The Gini coefficient is an economic index of wealth inequality. According to Census Bureau data, the Gini coefficient in the U.S. has shown a consistent trend towards increased wealth inequality since 1968, the earliest year for which data was presented.

The historical Gini values have been:

.388 (1968)
.397 (1975)
.403 (1980)
.419 (1985)
.428 (1990)
.450 (1995)
.462 (2000)
.466 (2001)

Overall, the Gini coefficient increased by 20% over the period 1968-2001. It would be interesting to know what is the most recent year with an official figure, if anyone out there has it. I would expect it has gone up over the period 2001-2005 as well, perhaps considerably so.

Is it not an economic achilles' heel to have too much wealth concentrated in too few places? Why has wealth inequality increased, and what can be done to re-establish a large middle class? These should be among the questions asked to future Congressional and Presidential candidates.

27 September 2005

But Isn't God an American?

Thanks to Innisfree for citing this provocative article which will never get the attention it deserves:

Societies worse off 'when they have God on their side'

RELIGIOUS belief can cause damage to a society, contributing towards high murder rates, abortion, sexual promiscuity and suicide, according to research published today.

“In general, higher rates of belief in and worship of a creator correlate with higher rates of homicide, juvenile and early adult mortality, STD infection rates, teen pregnancy and abortion in the prosperous democracies.

“The United States is almost always the most dysfunctional of the developing democracies, sometimes spectacularly so.”

The full research paper is here.

Conflict of Interest on Ohio Supreme Court?

FirstEnergy has a court case at the Ohio Supreme Court on Wednesday to decide whether it can continue some of its billing practices. But 5 of Ohio's 7 justices have received a total of $125,000 in campaign contributions, about half going to Chief Justice Tom Moyer.

Before the Bush era, there was a general rule about avoiding the appearance of impropriety, let alone impropriety itself. Do these campaign contributions not lend themselves to the appearance of impropriety? Do we consider the appearance of judges being bought to be acceptable? Will we hear any cries of "judicial activism" when corporations are likley to be the beneficiaries?

As of this point none of the justices have indicated they will recuse themselves.

23 September 2005

A Good Renewable Energy Idea

"Micro" wind turbines atop tall buildings? I mentioned the idea over a year ago to someone and got a very funny look. But it makes perfect sense: it's always windy up there (make a visit to the Carew Tower deck), so why not harness it?

Now a building in Manchester, England is doing just that.

Another good idea: putting solar panels onto all car rooftops. I think the Audi A8 had this feature once, and it used the energy to cool the car while it sat in the hot sun.

22 September 2005

FBI Goes Simon Leis On America

The FBI is diverting agents and resources to fight porn. It is an initiative of Alberto Gonzales, perhaps to shore up support from the religious right. Congress provided funding for the anti-obscenity initiative, which is different from that of the previous Atty General, John Ashcroft. His crusade was against child porn, whereas Gonzales's is against adult porn.

The initiative was apparently met with mockery and derision among FBI agents, one of whom said 'I guess this means we've won the war on terror.'

The FBI's top 10 priorites at present are:

1. Protect the United States from terrorist attack.
2. Protect the United States against foreign intelligence operations and espionage.
3. Protect the United States against cyber-based attacks and high-technology crimes.
4. Combat public corruption at all levels.
5. Protect civil rights.
6. Combat transnational and national criminal organizations and enterprises.
7. Combat major white-collar crime.
8. Combat significant violent crime.
9. Support federal, state, county, municipal, and international partners.
10. Upgrade technology to successfully perform the FBI’s mission.

Where should anti-obscenity fit in?

The WaPo article "Recruits Sought for Porn Squad" is here.

Voinovich Puts Principle Ahead of Party (Again)

Sen. Voinovich, who did not (initially) support Bush's tax cuts nor the ludicrous Bolton nomination, is once again showing he has the guts to put principle over party.

Given the costs of the Iraq and Katrina fiascos, he says this is just not the time to revisit Bush's tax cut plan, particularly the estate tax repeal.

Voinovich is right. He is sensible. Why is he the only one?


Chabot Does RIght Thing in Wrong Way

Rep. Steve Chabot is proposing a gasoline tax credit to ease the burden of high prices at the pump.

Unfortunately, this incredibly unimaginative proposal is another "band-aid for hemophilia" idea that does nothing to address the cause of a problem, it just provides mild short-term relief to those who can wait months before realizing some savings.

He gives us the same lovely reasoning we've come to expect from today's Republicans: increasing the deficit will stimulate the economy and therefore reduce the deficit. I read once that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over but expecting a different result. Is Steve Chabot insane?

If Chabot were serious about lowering gas prices, perhaps he would have voted differently on H. Res. 375, a "resolution of inquiry" into the Downing Street Memo. Perhaps he would be more vocal about Halliburton's war profiteering. Perhaps he would look for ways to reduce our consumption and dependence on oil, such as additional incentives for hybrid vehicles, biodiesel, and alternative energy R&D. Perhaps he would promote light rail.

But he didn't.

Mr. Chabot has a reputation as a fiscal conservative and tax cutter. But given the choice between short-term tax relief and long-term economic relief, he made the wrong call.


Panel Recommends Firing BWC Managers

Gov. Daft's 3-person panel that investigated how BWC managed its investments will issue its report today, and among the recommendations is that all or most of its 70 investment managers should be fired.

The panel is led by the Ohio Lottery Directory, ironically enough. The man in charge of the state's only legal gambling operation was put in charge of investigating what essentially turned out to be a BWC gambling operation. Interesting.

The ONN article is here.

21 September 2005

Pepper Sprayer Found !!

The racist caller(s) who tried to pee pee on Pepper's campaign have been found out, says the Queen City Forum Blog.

It was just a matter of time. What will happen next?

Congress Investigating Politicization of PBS

Corporation for Public Broadcasting's (CPB) chairman, Kenneth Tomlinson, has been heavily criticized for politicizing the programming on public television.

Tomlinson, whose journalistic background includes manufacturing pro-U.S. propaganda for overseas markets under Reagan and being an editor at Reader's Digest, thinks PBS is full of liberal programming and thinks he must change it.

It was Tomlinson who gave Tucker Carlson and the Wall St. Journal programs on PBS even though both had programs on other networks. He is one of those who believes that information can never really be objective, so the only way it can be "balanced" is to present two opposing views.

If you want to know about the Katrina disaster response, are you better served by an analysis of the process, or by one person presenting the "pro-FEMA" talking points and another presenting the "anti-FEMA" talking points? The former is objective analysis; the latter is subjective opinion.

The Tomlinson doctrine does not recognize the former, and wants to make the latter the standard.

The politicization of CPB came to the attention of Congress and some members asked the Inspector General to investigate the matter and issue a report, which is expected by early November. Stay tuned.

20 September 2005

Two More Corporate Criminals Get the Slammer

Former Tyco execs Dennis Kozlowski and Mark Swartz were sentenced to 8-25 years for corporate fraud yesterday. They were also fined tens of millions of dollars, and had to pay restitution of hundreds of millions.

This is the type of thing that has to happen if boardrooms are ever going to get the message that crime doesn't pay. Right now the risk-benefit balance makes it easier to commit fraud because the chances of getting caught are low enough.

But does malfeasance have to be this excessive in order to get caught? That allows far to much fraud to sneak by under the radar. More Eliot Spitzers are needed.

18 September 2005

Ohio U: Top Tier Partying, Bottom Tier Students

Apparently, being some of the hardiest partiers isn't enough for OU students; they want to be some of the most obnoxious, too, according to an article in the Athens News. Students seem to have a penchant for starting fires, destroying property, disrespecting police, and disturbing the peace.

[a city official] expressed disgust and disbelief that at a time when "first responders" such as police, firefighters and paramedics are being honored nationwide for their work in disasters, in Athens, they are being barraged "with bricks, bottles, beer cans."

The police and university may start using a new state law that allows students convicted of certain crimes to lose their financial aid. That will weed out the middle class, at least, but what about all the little George W. Bushes?

17 September 2005

FEMA Ordered Doctor to Stop Treating the Sick

Did FEMA prioritize bureaucracy over treating dying Americans?

In the midst of administering chest compressions to a dying woman several days after Hurricane Katrina struck, Dr. Mark N. Perlmutter was ordered to stop by a federal official because he wasn't registered with the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

"I showed him (the U.S. Coast Guard official in charge) my medical credentials. I had tried to get through to FEMA for 12 hours the day before and finally gave up. I asked him to let me stay until I was replaced by another doctor, but he refused. He said he was afraid of being sued. I informed him about the Good Samaritan laws and asked him if he was willing to let people die so the government wouldn't be sued, but he would not back down. I had to leave."

Read the complete article here.

16 September 2005

Looking Beyond Roberts

What kind of person will be the next nominee after Roberts is confirmed? Some good analysis from Election Law includes the following:

I now expect the President to nominate neither a Brown nor a Gonzales for the O’Connor seat, but rather to choose a woman or minority much like Judge Roberts. The model is to pick someone with impeccable legal credentials (Brown and Gonzales both qualify) whom the president trusts as strongly conservative (this eliminates Gonzales) but who lacks a public record of strongly conservative statements or judicial opinions (this eliminates Brown). The Roberts experience shows that such a nominee is not easily defeated...

The blog points out, however, that some on the far right can't see past abortion, and want a nominee with a proven track record against Roe v. Wade.

Such a nominee could bring us back to the filibuster vs. nuclear option drama that gave the media an orgasm earlier this spring. What would bring about a Democratic filibuster and how would it play out? The Legal Theory Blog suggests that Dems would probably filibuster a clearly anti-Roe nominee, and the GOP would have to decide whether it can corral 51 votes (including Cheney) to bust an anti-anti-Roe filibuster.

Bush may also use an anti-abortion nominee to shore up his base if his approval numbers continue to plummet. The media would of course forget about actual problems and masturbate on the nomination fight. But such a strategy may backfire, since polls consistently show the majority of Americans don't want Roe overturned. But the majority of Americans don't vote, either.

For more on the nomination, visit the professional commentary at the SCOTUS Blog.

An Inside Scoop on FOX News

A southern belle moves to New York to satisfy her big-city dreams. She gets a job with NewsCorp. After a while she leaves the job. Then she starts a blog, on which she writes:

At 22 I began working for Fox News Channel. I idolized Sean Hannity and longed to be Laurie Dhue so I put up with the grunt work, minimum wage, leering, middle-aged producers (not to mention Bill O’Reilly’s roving eye). The environment was toxic. A few months under the thumb of Rupert Murdoch and Roger Ailes and I had undergone a crash course in personal compromises, professional concessions.

Should BWC Be Privatized?

Ohio House Speaker Jon Husted thinks maybe it should, and he might be right. According to the ONN article, Ohio is one of only 5 states that has a state-run monopoly running the workers' comp system.

The key issue here is the poor management of the BWC investment portfolio. It was an underperforming fund because of poor investment decisions. Furthermore, the BWC has problems reporting its performance accurately, and one analyst earlier this year couldn't even figure out what they did from their own records.

But there are caveats to privatization. For one thing, statehouse Republicans are essentially corporate lobbyists. There is plenty of reason to believe they will do the right thing in the wrong way, and use the BWC fund as a cash cow for corporate contributors. 'It probably has the insurance companies and bankers salivating,' says Dem leader Chris Redfern.

One solution is to set standards of good corporate governance and citizenship as a requirement for those who wish to manage the funds. For example, the company must be legally headquartered in Ohio (or at least not the Bahamas). And it should be prohibited from investing in companies that don't adhere to similar standards of corporate governance and citizenship.

Props to the Right Angle Blog for its post about the issue.

Ohio's Bleak Future, vol. 23

More evidence from Policy Matters Ohio showing how bad the lobbyist-written budget from Gov. Daft will hurt Ohio's future. Their August report, College Bound: Taxes and Tuition in Ohio, finds that middle income families with children in college will lose more than they will gain under the new budget.

Because the tax cuts are geared towards the wealthy, their tax reductions will outweigh tuition increases. But for everyone else, this is not the case. Therefore, those who stand the most to gain from a college education will have the most to lose in Ohio. The report also notes:

Nationally, Ohio ranks 49th in affordability of college, 46th in state higher education operating appropriations per student, 37th in increase in higher education spending between 2000 and 2005, and 40th in percent of people over age 25 with a bachelor’s degree, according to various sources cited in the report.

How long can Ohio afford a state government controlled by business interests that have so little understanding of-- indeed, almost a disdain for-- the development of human capital?

UPDATE: Add irony to this story by reading this article in the Post, which details UC's investment in humanities research... with funding help from Taft family foundations.

15 September 2005

A Brief Review of Regional Beers

The Clark Street Authors Society has released its September booze report. The following beers were reviewed:

Christian Moerlein Select Lager: A hometown brew, CM was the first beer to qualify to be served on airplanes, although I have neither seen nor heard of anyone ever ordering one on a plane. Nevertheless, this is a great beer. Smooth and tasty, this beer was a satisfactory complement to preseason football.

Christian Moerlein Oktoberfest: Even better. Watching football without this beer would be like drinking beer without watching football. I drank it while watching FOX19's supberb telecast of high school football all night long. Those of you who saw it know what I'm talking about. Please do that again, FOX19!

Iron City: I don't need to tell you what city this is from, but I do need to tell you that it's much better than the $4.50 per 6-pack would suggest. When you need a good beer for friends you actually respect, give Iron City a try. The bottle is cool, too.

Lone Star: If you walked into a dive bar in the middle of Texas and said "Give me a beer," this is what you would get. It's not a catastrophe, but if you're reading this blog, you're better than Lone Star. Leave it for the students.

Xavier Men's Basketball Schedule

It won't help those of you still suffering from Post Huggins Stress Disorder, but Xavier, the other hoops show in town, has the Musketeer's schedule here.

XU will have to hit the ground running. The first three rivals are Purdue, Coppin State, and Illinois.

The crosstown shootout will be Jan. 19.

An Amazing Fact About the Web

The Alexa blog reports that of the 18 million web sites out there, the chances of someone being on one of the top 500 is 45%.

Think about that for a moment; it's an amazing statistic. The top 0.003% of web sites account for almost half of all web traffic. Alexa perspicaciously analogizes it to the distribution of wealth on Earth.

14 September 2005

Now Accepting Applications for Supreme Court Justice

Recruiting firm Accolo (which may or may not be legit) is helping Bush find the next SCOTUS justice. It claims it is "supporting the effort to fill this job as part of our civic duty in an unofficial capacity."

Do you qualify? You might, if this descibes you:

You read legal doctrines for fun and shine in legal and political careers. Your endless barbeque debates about civil rights, race relations, criminal procedure, freedom of speech and press, and church-state relations regularly make you the center of attention. While this job has no formal requirements, previous top-performers have been natural-born citizens with significant judicial experience.

More of the jocularity here. Don't forget to do the interview questions.

Voter Turnout Map Backs Up ClarkStreet Assessment

An update to the previous post in which I stated:

The likelihood of a person going out and voting correlates with income level. Wealthier people are more likely to vote. So Pepper is more certain to get his votes than Mallory is to get his from his traditional constituency, at least according to statistical probability.

The Enquirer's Gregory Korte has a map on his blog that shows turnout percentages by precinct, and it proves the above statement to have been true for the primary.

Therefore there is more reason to believe that the key for Mallory will be to get out the vote.

Mallory & Pepper tie, Reece Gets Faced

With a difference of only 0.5% between them, Mallory and Pepper tied for a primary win.

More interesting is the 3rd place finish, which went to Winburn and not Reece. Reece's repeated problems maintaining integrity (or perhaps having it in the first place) are surely the reason for what is essentially a last-place finish.

Reece and Winburn together pulled in 36% of the vote. It's safe to say that most of those votes will go to Mallory in the election, which is good for him. But Pepper will get the Republican and moderate Democrat vote, so it's hard to predict which way the election will go.

The likelihood of a person going out and voting correlates with income level. Wealthier people are more likely to vote. So Pepper is more certain to get his votes than Mallory is to get his from his traditional constituency, at least according to statistical probability.

The key factor may be how well Mallory can motivate his constituency to go to the polls. If he can get out the numbers, his chances are good. If too many stay home, it favors Pepper.

And what will become of Reece? The Reece ego is indefatigable, so it is unlikely that she and dad will ever make an honest assessment of their fitness for public office. The Post says she may consider running for Mallory's vacated Senate seat.

And what about Jeffre? He was mocked and scoffed at, but the fact is that Jeffre knows what he's talking about and has outstanding ideas that deserve to be considered. But a person with no demonstrated leadership experience of any kind cannot run for mayor of a major city.

Jeffre has much to offer this city; he should stay involved and work with organizations like the Green Party (which endorsed him) and Cincinnati Advance to make a difference. Jeffre simply will not be taken seriously until he proves that he can lead and manage, regardless of how good his ideas are.

13 September 2005

Religious Group Pays Attention to Bible

The Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) which represents about 75,000 Catholic women nationwide, has issued a public statement opposing the war in Iraq. The statement in part reads:

War dehumanizes and diminishes all of the human community and devastates Earth. The ongoing war in Iraq is taking an immense toll on human life, not only of young men and women in the military but also the lives of innocent civilians of all ages. This war has caused untold damage to the land and to the infrastructures of Iraq. We also have grave concerns about the alienation and diminishment of the moral and political leadership of the United States in the world community.

The group's statement also alluded to the 1983 Pastoral Letter of the United States Bishops entitled “The Challenge of Peace: God’s Promise and Our Response” which stated:

The whole world must summon the moral courage and technical means to say no to nuclear conflict; no to weapons of mass destruction; no to an arms race which robs the poor and the vulnerable; and no to the moral danger of a nuclear age which places before humankind indefensible choices of constant terror or surrender.

Easier said than done, no question. Will more Christian groups join the chorus for peace? What about Muslim groups? They, too must effect change from within.

People You Want to Smack, vol. 1

I am not making this up:

James O. Flynn is 63 years old and the head of Cleveland State University's Department of Operations Management and Business Statistics. He has no children and he is not married. But he had a desire to "leave something behind when I die," so he and his girlfriend, 60-year old retired dentist Eileen Donich, decided to have children.

Presumably because Donich's age makes her unfit for pregnancy, Flynn searched out a surrogate mother. The firm
Surrogate Mothers Inc. hooked him up with 27-year old Danielle Bimber who lives near Erie, PA. Bimber, an unmarried mother of 3 children, was paid $24,000 for being a surrogate. It's money she could use since she has only had low-wage jobs and declared bankruptcy a couple of years ago.

But you can't use a uterus without sperm and egg, so an egg donor had to be found for Flynn's sperm. They found one in
Jennifer Michelle Rice, a college student in Texas.

So Jennifer's eggs from Texas met James's sperm from Cleveland and they moved into Danielle's womb in Pennsylvania. But there's so much more...

Just short of 9 months later, Bimber gave birth to triplets. But Flynn never came to pick them up, citing paperwork and insurance delays. The hospital prepared to hand them over to foster care. Bimber, in apparent disbelief at the situation, got permission to take them home to her family. Flynn sued for custody in Pennsylvania court.

But Pennsylvania has no surrogate law, so the decision was up to the judge. Unimpressed with Flynn's testimony, he gave custody to Bimber but gave Flynn visitation and said the babies could have Flynn's name. And Flynn had to pay child support.

But Flynn wants full custody, so the case is on appeal.

And then there's Ms. Rice. Remember her, the egg donor? Well, she filed for parental rights, too. A Pennsyvania court denied her request, but an Ohio court said she should be able to make her case. So now she's in the mix, too.

Two couples and one woman. None of them want to be married, but all want to be parents.
This absurd situation is now being decided by court cases pending in 3 states.



12 September 2005

Mayoral Candidates Make One Last Pitch

For those who just can't decide who to choose from this year's uh, "interesting" pool of mayoral candidates, I suggest a visit to the Dean's office.

The Dean invited all the candidates to write a one-page pitch and is posting the responses. An excellent resource and a good example of how new media can enhance citizen participation in government and politics.

Remember to vote for only ONE candidate.

10 September 2005

Willie, You Did a Heck of a Job

I read an email which has the following astounding excerpt from President Clinton's book, My Life (red added):

... I went to Florida a few days after President Bush did to observe the damage from Hurricane Andrew. I had dealt with a lot of natural disasters as governor, including floods, droughts, and tornadoes, but I had never seen anything like this. I was surprised to hear complaints from both local officials and residents about how the Federal Emergency Management Agency was handling the aftermath of the hurricane. Traditionally, the job of FEMA director was given to a political supporter of the President who wanted some plum position but who had no experience with emergencies. I made a mental note to avoid that mistake if I won. Voters don't chose a President based on how he'll handle disasters, but if they're faced with one themselves, it quickly becomes the most important issue in their lives.

Bushie, you're doing a a heck of a job.

09 September 2005

And Now Even Fewer Black People Are in Kentucky

There has been a sharp drop in enrollment of black students at UK, as the Lexington-Herald reports:

The number of black freshmen at the University of Kentucky has dropped this year by 40 percent -- a stark reversal from UK's 20 percent increase in black freshmen a year ago.

The drop can be attributed to UK's slight increase in the minimum score on the ACT entrance exam, he said.

Forty percent?

Higher standards or more black students: what a painful choice. Education is so important, especially for those who come from lower socioeconomic backgrounds. It is the path to opportunity.

The black community needs a leader who will bring this issue to the forefront of national dialogue, not just for blacks, but for all Americans. The educational system is being gutted by corporate economics, and as a result, opportunity is being closed off for Americans of lower socioeconomic backgrounds. To acquire political and economic power, they must value education and emphasize it as a critical part of a person's character and worth.

But I won't hold my breath. If someone asked me the best way to make yourself employable for the future, I would say learn Chinese and Hindi.

Jeff Sinnard Kind of Disagrees but not Really

Jeff Sinnard, a Democratic also-ran in this year's district 2 race, just posted a comment on the Cincinnati Blog in which he simultaneously disagrees with as well as supports Winburn's infamous and outrageous belief that only neoChristians should hold public office:

I can’t imagine paying money for Winburn's book, but from the excerpt he does not seem to say that only the born again can hold office. He says that "We" (born again Christians) should elect born again Christians. This, in my opinion, is not news worthy. It would be like Tim Burke saying Democrats should only elect Democrats, which he does - he just is not very successful at doing it.

Winburn certainly does and says a lot of things I disagree with, this is just not one of them. And certainly not the one to pick a fight over.

Sinnard's analogy is improper. People choose (or at least should) party affiliations because they agree with certain tenets of policy and government. That is not why people join religions or cults.

Faith is personal (and should stay that way). Politics is public (and should stay that way).

I also wonder if Mr. Sinnard is consistent across the board. Should a neoChristian baseball manager only sign neoChristian players? Should a neoChristian only hire neoChristians to work on his house? What if his daugher started liking a Buddhist just a little too much?

Coke Goes Flat at Oberlin

A student-led movement at Oberlin initiated a campus-wide boycott of Coca-Cola, and now the school does not even purchase it. According to the article in The Oberlin Review, students' main beef is with the company's criminal anti-union actions in Columbia.

The article mentions that other schools have also rejected Coke, but doesn't say how many. Coke did meet with student representatives from a few schools, so the issue is on their radar.

07 September 2005

Wright State Grad Gets Her Film in Sundance

Congratulations to Wright State graduate Selena Burks, whose 26-minute short film was one of 82 shorts to be accepted from a pool of 3800 submissions. Her film "Saving Jackie" is about her mother's struggle with drug addiction. It's a tired theme, and I'm sure it was a theme well represented among the other 3799 films, but there must be something special about it for it to be accepted.

I don't plan to be in Utah anytime soon, but maybe I'll catch it on IFC or Sundance someday.

06 September 2005

Racists Try to Salt Pepper

Those who followed the 2000 election know about dirty tricks. Just before the Iowa caucus, a robocaller called homes in the middle of the night and asked them to vote for Howard Dean (then the front runner). In South Carolina, a robocaller asked voters what they thought about John McCain's black child (McCain had just won the NH primary).

Now, here in Cincinnati, the ugly menace of the robocaller has once again reared its ugly head. According to an email sent out by the Pepper campaign, people have received phone calls asking them to vote for Pepper because "he is the only white candidate."

The Pepper campaign does not yet know from where the calls have been originating, but is asking those who received such calls to contact the campaign (I assume contact info is on the website).

Given the racist theme of the message, is it fair to assume the calls originate from Reece supporters? Mallory wouldn't sink this low, and Winburn would lose more than he would gain by playing the race card. He's also not that stupid. Crazy, maybe, but not stupid.

Also, Reece's base is fairly racist, something that is illustrated every day on WDBZ (1230 AM). She also has a record of questionable actions and behavior, so something like this is not exactly a stretch of imagination.

Given that the perpetrators are not high-level Republican operatives, my hunch is that they will be easy to catch. And I will also predict that they will be "stand alone" operatives with no apparent connection to any campaign.

The solution? How about banning robocalling? I know campaign professionals would have a heart attack, but come on, seriously, is there anyone besides campaign staff that actually thinks calling voters is a good idea? Not voters.

UPDATE: The Who-Dey Hotel blog reports that "At events all across the city, African-American individuals have been handing out anti-Pepper materials. I have personally received 2 of these (at Blues Fest and at the AFL-CIO Labor Day picnic)."

The blatant racism of Cincinnati's black community cannot be questioned. The fact that nobody except this blog speaks out about it is absurd. There is no way such behavior would be tolerated from whites, and there is no reason it should be tolerated from blacks. Those who think Cincinnati's race problem is because of white Cincinnatians should think again. Everything I see and hear points to racist blacks as the overwhelming reason for racial tension in this city.

This blog credits Mr. Pepper for staying above the fray and conducting his campaign with class and integrity. He has set a fine example for public officials.

Hopefully the actions of a few bad apples won't hurt the image of Mark Mallory, who is also a class act.

04 September 2005

Is Bush to FEMA What Katrina is to NOLA?

Props to BluegrassRoots for posting the links about FEMA history.

First is this piece about how Canadian authorities are standing by to deliver succor, but are apparently being prevented from flying into U.S. airspace by Homeland Security.

Canadian agencies are saying that foreign aid is probably not being permitted into Louisiana and Mississippi because of "mass confusion" at the U.S. federal level in the wake of the storm.

And then there's this article called Disaster in the Making which details some history of FEMA and how it was systematically weakened under Bush.

At FEMA, President Bush appointed a close aide, Joe Allbaugh, to be the agency's new director. Allbaugh had served as then-Gov. Bush's chief of staff in Texas and as manager of his 2000 presidential campaign. Along with Karl Rove and Karen Hughes, Allbaugh was known as one part of Bush's "iron triangle" of professional handlers.

Some FEMA veterans complained that Allbaugh had little experience in managing disasters, and the new administration's early initiatives did little to settle their concerns. The White House quickly launched a government-wide effort to privatize public services, including key elements of disaster management. Bush's first budget director, Mitch Daniels, spelled out the philosophy in remarks at an April 2001 conference: "The general idea--that the business of government is not to provide services, but to make sure that they are provided--seems self-evident to me," he said.

And here's an article from the Knight-Ridder newswire about the initial response and what disaster-relief experts think of it.

The experts, including a former Bush administration disaster response manager, told Knight Ridder that the government wasn't prepared, scrimped on storm spending and shifted its attention from dealing with natural disasters to fighting the global war on terrorism.
And if you want just a quick & dirty timeline review of FEMA under Bush, this piece from the Washington Monthly should suffice.

02 September 2005

How to Donate and Not Donate

I received the following warning about donating to FEMA to help flood victims: an attorney in Columbus states that the FEMA website directs a portion of the contributions solicited therein to an organization chaired by... PAT ROBERTSON!

And a Hoosier friend relays a great idea for those who want to donate, but are short on funds:

If you are short on funds to contribute to the Katrina aid effort, you might consider finding a couple things around the house that you no longer need/want and offer them on ebay. If you haven't used ebay, it is VERY easy, and there is a service they use called Missionfish (all explained on the ebay site) that allows you to designate any portion (minimum of $10) of the sale price to any of about 15 charities, including the American Red Cross.

Ebay walks you through the listing steps and Missionfish will do the rest, including sending you a statement of amount contributed, for tax purposes. All items listed with Missionfish can be searched separately, but all also have a large font promotion in the ad text, letting all ebay shoppers know their purchase will be supporting the effort.

USA: The New Model for Excellence in Failure?

The flood is a terrible catastrophe, but it is revealing what kind of society we have today here in America. As I watched some news coverage last night, I saw desperate people in desperate circumstances. It is horrific to see human beings in such distress. But it couldn’t help but think that the actions and attitudes of the victims reveal much about Americans, and it wasn’t heartening. As this article points out:

The world has watched amazed as the planet's only superpower struggles with the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, with some saying the chaos has exposed flaws and deep divisions in American society.

"Anarchy in the USA" declared Britain's best-selling newspaper The Sun.

"Apocalypse Now" headlined Germany's Handelsblatt daily.

"I am absolutely disgusted. After the tsunami our people, even the ones who lost everything, wanted to help the others who were suffering… not a single tourist caught in the tsunami was mugged. Now with all this happening in the U.S. we can easily see where the civilized part of the world's population is."

Many newspapers highlighted criticism of local and state authorities and of President Bush. Some compared the sputtering relief effort with the massive amounts of money and resources poured into the war in Iraq. "A modern metropolis sinking in water and into anarchy -- it is a really cruel spectacle for a champion of security like Bush.”

And another article highlights questions about federal funding for levee repairs in 2002:

Bush administration funding cuts forced federal engineers to delay improvements on the levees, floodgates and pumping stations that failed to protect New Orleans from Hurricane Katrina's floodwaters, agency documents showed on Thursday.

A May 2005 Corps memo said that funding levels for fiscal years 2005 and 2006 would not be enough to pay for new construction on the levees.

“White House spokesman Scott McClellan said the administration had funded flood control efforts adequately.”

Uh-huh. Hey, remember that wacky Iraq minister who gave us some good laughs with his fantastic ideation and disconnection with reality? Well, looks like you don’t need a brutal dictatorship to have a spokesman like that.

Lindner Family Funds Neuroscience Center

At 2pm this afternoon, UC announceda multi-million-dollar gift from the Lindner families to establish a behavioral neurosciences center at the College of Medicine and a new facility in Mason.”

This is a good thing, as it will improve Cincinnati’s scitech profile and help attract an educated workforce.

No word yet on whether the center will study the type of obsessive-compulsive disorder that makes people use all their energy to acquire more money.

Alicia Reece: Not the Mayor of Math

An email sent out by the Reece campaign includes the numbers from a WCPO poll. The numbers are below. Reece's name was in red in the original email:

Reece 27%
Pepper 25%
Mallory 23%
Winburn 13%
Other/Undecided 12%

Sample Population 583 Likely Voters
Margin of Error 4.1%

The important line to notice is the last one. According to these numbers, this poll is a statistical tie.

Does this email reveal a serious inability to perform basic math, or does this email reveal a deliberate attempt to mislead voters?

No corporation, municipality, or large organization would accept a chief executive with lousy math skills. Such a person could not be counted on for fiscal prudence. George W. Bush did it for the nation; Bob Taft did it for the state. Should voters let Reece do it for the city?

And if it's a deliberate attempt to mislead, is that the kind or person we want in the mayor's office? That would be like, well, Taft or Bush.

Ohio Stats Could be Better

If you want to go where the money is, you might not be coming to Ohio. The Census Bureau ranked 70 cities in terms of their household income. The median was Indianapolis ($43k). Toledo, Cincinnati, and Cleveland were 55, 58, and 68, respectively. Only Columbus was in the top half, barely making it at #34.

Also interesting to note is that 5 of the top 10 are in California, and all of the top 15 are in coastal states.

The Ohio counties with the highest percentage of college graduates is Franklin (Columbus). The lowest percentage are Stark (Canton) and Lorain (Cleveland). Interestingly, both Lucas (Toledo) and Mohoning (Youngstown) have a greater percentage of advanced degrees, even though they are lower in terms of college degrees.

As a state, Ohio ranks 39th in terms of percentage with a college degree (23%). Indiana is 44th, Kentucky 47th, and West Virginia is last. Six of the top ten are in the northeast.

Great News for Obese, Diabetic Kids

P&G has come out with Pepto for kids. I was not aware that indigestion and acidity were problems in the under-40 group, let alone the under-13 group, but this is great news for the modern, obese, diabetic child on the go who doesn't have time for, well, kids stuff.

Holy Crap! World Still Cares About Us

When foreigners are asked what they think about America, they often make a point to say they like Americans, they just don't like what the government does. I have heard many people make this distinction.

There's more evidence of this as the list of countries offering help is growing by the hour. NPR reports that Hugo Chavez, a week after Robertson's fatwa, has offered help (oil, I believe) but made a point to call Bush "President Vacation."

No comeback for that one, George!

And how about this: Greece has offered to send cruise ships to house the homeless. Think about that. That's a BIG deal. That's stepping up to the plate.

01 September 2005

Log Cabin Says Winburn Must Walk the Walk

Ted Jackson, president of the Cincinnati Log Cabin Republicans, says the group will not endorse Winburn because of his clear anti-gay record. Most recently, Winburn was an advisor to the anti-Article XII repeal effort, where he made over $3000 a month, according to The Enquirer's Gregory Korte.

In Tuesday night's WCET mayoral forum, Winburn said that he would include gays in his administration, to which Jackson commented "If mayoral candidate Winburn, has had a change of heart about gay people, that is great. We will wait to watch his actions to see if it is real."

Winburn deserves even more derision now than before. The only thing worse than someone with bad principles is someone who tilts at windmills and suddenly develops campaign-induced plasticity of principles. It's bad enough that Winburn is on record being a neoChristian (only born-again Christians should be in office, e.g.), but then he backtracks on his own words. It's bad enough he is an anti-gay bigot, but now that he wants to be mayor, suddenly he welcomes them with open arms.

Winburn is not a leader; he is a politician in the worst sense of the word. What is his position? Is it the same as yesterday's? Will it be the same as tomorrow's? Winburn is just another gutless narcissist whose lust for power trumps any principles he might have once had.

Jackson said Log Cabin would not make a mayoral endorsement, but it will make council endorsements soon. Is it safe to say that Ghiz will get an endorsement but Malone and Monzel will not? What about Bortz (he is a Charterite)? It would be shocking if Nick Spencer didn't get an endorsement, even though there were rumors of a falling our between Spencer and Jackson (his erstwhile campaign manager).

Hurricane Victim Details Story on Blog

He seems to be located at some kind of military post, not in the storm's direct path but in its wake. But apparently he knows what's going on in the streets, like this:

The police are looting. This has been confirmed by several independent sources. Some of the looting might be "legitimate" in as much as that word has any meaning in this context. They have broken into ATMs and safes: confirmed. We have eyewitnesses to this. They have taken dozens of SUVs from dealerships ostensibly for official use. They have also looted gun stores and pawn shops for all the small arms, supposedly to prevent "criminals" from doing so.

More here.

Are You Ready for Googie?

A Frisch's of the Future is coming to Lebanon. The new restaurant will basically go retro, or in its case, remain the same. It will re-emphasize the Big Boy icon and design itself in what I'm guessing is a kind of diner look:

The new building incorporates elements of Googie architecture, a style that thrived along America’s roadsides in the 1950s and ‘60s. Googie architecture originated in Southern California and demanded motorists’ attention with bright colors, bold angles and pop-culture imagery.

That sounds like half an excuse to visit Lebanon. It won't open for a year, so there's plenty of time to find the other half. The Golden Lamb is not the other half.