29 December 2005

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Congress

"'Everybody lost their minds,' recalled a former congressional staffer who lobbied with Abramoff at Preston Gates. 'Jack was cutting deals all over town. Staffers lost their loyalty to members -- they were loyal to money.'"

The rise and fall of Jack Abramoff.

28 December 2005

DeWine's Seat Is One of Several in Democratic Crosshairs

Ohio is one of several states targeted by the Senate Dems for 2006 (the others: Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Missouri, Montana, Tennessee and Arizona).

So far, the DSCC has an almost 2-to-1 fundraising advantage, but that didn't scare the NRSC much: "NRSC spokesman Brian Nick said [the Dems'] current fundraising advantage 'means zilch.'"

According to the article, Dems will try to capitalize on public dissatisfaction with Bush. This is the same strategy the Dems used in 2002 and 2004. Many Republicans laugh at this and wonder why the Dems don't change strategies. Well, the Dems aren't going to "cut and run" just because they're "losing" or "not getting elected" (as Republicans would phrase it). That would be allowing the Republicans to win. The best strategy is to stay the course and keep doing the same thing.

And remember, the Dems are kicking ass. It just doesn't seem that way because the liberal media never reports the good news.

America's Priorities Looking Better and Better (for Asia)

It's a good thing kids can't vote. If they could, they'd probably vote for their own selfish interests, giving themselves perks like safe schools, small classes, computers and athletic equipment. They might even go off the deep end and indulge themselves with arts & music. I even heard one girl say her teachers deserved more money.

If kids had their way, they'd only think about themselves and "the future." That's why it's so important to have responsible adults who will prevent wasteful abuse of OUR MONEY on communist social welfare programs like education and Head Start. Kudos to Warren County for standing up to powerful schoolkids' special interests and spending county money on what's truly important.

The Democratic Party is Kicking... What?

I get the word play, but I think you'll agree that the pun factor is far exceeded by the absurdity factor in the title of the Democratic Party's blog.

Is detachment from reality the bipartisan issue that will bridge the gap between the major parties?

26 December 2005

"Catch & Release" with Jim Petro

From the AP:

"Attorney General Jim Petro's chief fund-raiser told a lawyer that legal work for the state was available for a $25,000 donation, the lawyer said in a statement for a lawsuit "

"[the lawyer] said [Petro's chief fundraiser] told him a contribution would be needed if he wanted legal work from the state. 'I asked her what the going contribution was and she said $25,000.00; in addition to that she said that most contributors agree to host several fund raisers for the candidate and there would be some expense involved in hosting the fund raisers.'"

It's a little hard to believe someone would be so obtuse as to come right out and say it. We all know it happens, it's just hard to believe it happens this way. Then again, it's hard to believe county chairs getting into rumbles, but that happened, too.

Unfortunately, we may never know whether Petro ran a corrupt office and if so, to what extent. The lawsuit that challenged Petro's actions has just been dropped because of mounting legal costs.

24 December 2005

23 December 2005

Cronyism and Corruption

Those are the two words that characterize one-party domination. Karl Rove's GOP operates more like the Mafia than a legitimate organization. If you go against THE FAMILY then you get whacked (like McCain or Jeffords) but if you're loyal, well then...

... you might become Assistant Secretary of State...

...or enjoy retirement in an Italian mansion at taxpayer expense in spite of a history of criminal business practices.

Somebody should write a thesis comparing the operations and tactics of the GOP and the Mafia. Where are the grad students?

22 December 2005

DHS Does Not Remember the Alamo

You might think DHS has its hands full protecting us from vegans, Catholics, animal lovers and Quakers, but those workhorses still found the time to block a kidney transplant patient from returning to the U.S. for treatment.

People think just because someone has a kidney transplant and lies in a hospital bed all day that he can't be a terrorist. Nonsense. When people lose kidneys they get mad. And when people get mad they start to hate our freedoms. DHS made a big mistake letting in this dangerous person. People with failing kidneys accumulate high concentrations of creatinine and urea, both of which contain nitrogen, which is used in explosives. How can we be sure this person didn't deliberately destroy his kidneys so that he could come to the U.S. for treatment and blow up San Antonio by holding in his pee? We could have a new type of suicide bomber here, and the feds are just letting him waltz right in.

ACLU Still Tearing America Apart Like a Fluffy Muffin

The ACLU hates America. We know that. Militant lesbians get degrees in Womyn's Studies from Smith, then they go to law school and work for the ACLU. We know that. Their agenda is to put an abortion clinic and gay repertory theater in every strip mall in suburban America. WE KNOW THAT.

So I'm not sure what to make of this recent ACLU case. I know the enemy of my enemy is my friend, but what if the enemy of my friend is acting all friendly and stuff, is he still my enemy, or is my friend my enemy, and the enemy is actually a friend of my enemy? That would still make the enemy the enemy, unless the enemy actually is a friend, which we know is impossible. So if the enemy is still the enemy, why is he being friendly to my friend, unless my friend is the enemy or unless the enemy wants to infiltrate and destroy the only thing saving us from roadsides littered with dead fetuses and gay-themed programming on prime-time network TV?

Don't be fooled America, the ACLU hates you. If you think civil liberties are so important (i.e. you hate America, too), then by all means give them your elitist money so they can help terrorists like bin Laden and al-Zarqawi escape. After we catch them, I mean. And then don't release them ourselves.

21 December 2005

Playing Poker with Dick Cheney

Playing Poker with Dick Cheney won an online award for the funniest post of 2005. If you haven't read it, you should. If you did, read it again because it's still great.

Voinovich: Right Thing, Wrong Reason?

The Post has an article about Voinovich's changes to oxygen tank reimbursement rules in the new Medicare bill.

Voinovich is often a thorn in the side of the right wing and its generally goofy agenda. He's stood up and asked for higher standards from his party on more than one occasion, and it's been a refreshing change from the groupthink typically manifested by Republicans.

But I wonder about two things: First, would Voinovich have pushed for the change if he was lobbied by citizens rather than industry? Would he have had the gumption to take the issue to the House and nip it in the bud (he didn't change the Senate version; he told the House it had to change it's version or he would kill it in the Senate later).

Second, let's face it: these changes would have been rejected if proposed by a non-Republican, no matter how much sense they make. It seems like the industry just happened to have interests that coincided with those of patient's and the industry has a good relation with its Senator, who, luckily enough, is a member of the ruling party.

Voinvovich did the right thing in asking for this change, but did he do it for the wrong reason? Is this just special interest politics as usual?

Good government shouldn't be the product of happenstance.

20 December 2005

Sherrod Brown Performs One-Act Drama for ODP

Not sure what to make of Sherrod Brown's apparent meltdown at the ODP, except to say that campaigning is a laborious, exhausting, stressful process that can get to a person.

Tim Russo got chewed out, apparently for lack of genuflection.

And he wasn't the only one; the master of the Buckeye Senate Blog got a piece of Brown's sharp tongue as well. And it reminded him of another time not so long ago that he witnessed questionable behavior from Team Brown.

And check out what OH-2 wrote just yesterday about Brown's efforts to use the blogosphere (emphasis mine):

He's investing a lot of resources online, but I’m not seeing the return on the investment...
[Hackett's] strong suit is dramatic confrontations...

Ten points to OH-2 for hitting the bullseye.Five points for great irony.

Would Mr. Brown display such churlish behavior to a newspaper reporter? If he did, his temperament would have to be questioned. I am assuming he takes corporate media seriously but new media lightly, so he feels he can talk down to some young upstart (or two) with a blog.

If Mr. Brown wants to learn his lesson the hard way, that's his choice. But if he wants to make things easier, he might start by learning some Dos and Don'ts of Online Political Campaign Marketing.

And it's probably not a bad idea to show a little respect for people who can influence campaigns and elections.

The Benefits of Spying On Your Friends

(The post title is spun-off a song title by The Apples in Stereo).

The neocons spied on Americans, and it should come as no surprise that spying was as politically motivated as it was motivated by security interests.

From today's NYTimes::

One F.B.I. document indicates that agents in Indianapolis planned to conduct surveillance as part of a "Vegan Community Project." Another document talks of the Catholic Workers group's "semi-communistic ideology." A third indicates the bureau's interest in determining the location of a protest over llama fur planned by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

Does those sound like national security considerations or more like J. Edgar Hoover's paranoid delusions ("he brought true passion to catering to the paranoias that fester beside the Potomac")?

God bless the GOP for protecting us from the hellacious agenda of gay, vegan pet-owners.

FISA warrants are not hard to obtain; they're almost always granted (what's FISA?). One talk radio caller said only about 19 out of several thousand have been turned down. An acquaintance suggested that the reason for circumventing FISA is to spy on thousands of people (i.e. a fishing expedition) instead of certain targets.

If that is true, then Bush's NSA directive is political espionage; a tech version of the Watergate break-in.

UPDATE: The Pentagon spied on Quakers in Akron. QUAKERS!! Are you f*cking kidding me? The entire world wants our ass in a bag and the neocons are chasing people who'd rather not step on bugs. Bloody great.

19 December 2005

Jean Schmidt: Model Republican

No, not "role" model, silly... fashion model!

Just when you thought Republican standards couldn't possibly get any lower... SURPRISE!!

Maybe that will teach you to misunderestimate Republicans.

She's unattractive. She's unintelligent. She's shameless. She's obsequious. She's got a big mouth. But those are just civilized society's descriptions of her behavior; Republicans have their own perspective.

Nation Transfixed by Bush Speech

President Bush gave the 99th version of his only speech last night. He repeated the same talking points ("major policy statements" as the MSM calls them) we've come to know and love:

We were attacked.
All my decisions were right.
Those who disagree were wrong.
I was right yesterday, I am right now, and I will be right tomorrow.
I am a leader ("I lead").

What can we say? He's the king of the world.

I'd like a more satisfactory answer to this question, though.

Who Will Be the Next UC Basketball Coach?

Despite Andy Kennedy's success so far, he won't get the top job, says sportswriter Gregg Doyel. It looks like Skip Prosser is the leading candidate but Doyel has some other picks, too.

17 December 2005

21st Century Has Distinct Advantages

We take for granted just how easy things are in 2005. For most of human history, "life" meant a 45-year period of abuse and travail. Life was tough and so were the people it victimized.

This first-person account of a gun accident in Greenland in 1899 (click on August 2003) is a perfect snapshot of how dangerous and unpredictable life was for early settlers who lived off the land. It's almost comical how stoic and matter-of-fact the writer is.

GOP: Good Ol' Propaganda

More information about the well-funded right wing propaganda machine.

It still takes two to tango.

16 December 2005

The World in 2121

Charlie Chaplin and Adolf Hitler were born in 1889. So were a lot of other people, of course-- like Ecuador's Maria Esther de Capovilla. But unlike everyone else born that year, she is still alive. At 116 years, she is the world's oldest person.

In 116 years it will be 2121. Given what has happened between 1889 and 2005, anyone care to toss out predictions for the future 116 years hence (besides the Iraq war...)?

And another question: given a choice to spend the rest of your life 50 years in the past (1955) or 50 years in the future (2055), which would you choose?

14 December 2005

Xenophobia: the New Black?

Homophobia is great, but it's soooo yesterday. Hipsters at the RNC executive committee are saying that xenophobia, not homophobia, will be the smash hit of the next decade.

A few months ago I posted about Norton, Ohio getting into the swing of things. Now a high school in Kansas has raised (lowered?) the bar and suspended a student for speaking Spanish in the hallway.

And you thought Kansans blew their wad of ignorant foolishness on ID, didn't you?

Here's what the National Libertarian Party's blog said about the student's father, who is considering filing suit:

"Zach's father displayed a greater understanding of due process than the Endeavor Alternative School administrators. He said, 'I learned in America, they can't punish you unless you violate a written policy.' Rubio asked the principal to show him the written policy against speaking a foreign language at school. The principal replied the school did not have such a policy."

A great philosopher offers this insightful counterpoint:

"Jim Boulet, executive director of the Virginia-based group English First, says the school did the right thing in suspending the high school student. 'Let's face facts here; if the kid had been saying in Spanish, 'The bomb is around the corner,' the school would be held liable for not knowing that.'"

But if he said it in English, then there's no liability? And isn't it true that anybody anywhere speaking in a language you don't understand could be talking about a bomb? And what about hard-to-understand dialects?

There is only one way to keep this country safe from bomb-toting polyglots, and I call upon all American-speaking Americans to join me in that way.

Is Republican Government Bad for Health?

That's not one of the conclusions of the United Health Foundation's 2005 state health rankings, but a modicum of further analysis suggests exactly that: red states are consistently worse than blue states in health measurements (red/blue based on 2004 Presidential election). Some results:

Out of 5 states with greatest overall improvement (1990-2005), 4 were blue.
The 3 least-improved were all red.

Of the 15 states with the fewest reckless drivers, 11 are blue.
Of the 15 states with the most reckless drivers, 15 are red.

Of the 15 states with the most health insurance coverage, 10 are blue.
Of the 15 states with the least health insurance coverage, 13 are red.

Of the 15 states with the fewest children in poverty, 8 are blue.
Of the 15 states with the most children in poverty, 12 are red.

Of the 15 states with the most per capita health spending, 8 are blue.
Of the 15 states with the least per capita health spending, 12 are red.

Of the 15 states with the lowest rate of premature death, 10 are blue.
Of the 15 states with the highest rate of premature death, 15 are red.

Of the 15 states with the lowest rate of infant mortality, 11 are blue.
Of the 15 states with the highest rate of infant mortality, 12 are red.

These facts are provocative, but they only tell part of the story. It would be interesting to also correlate the data to the politics of state government, which is also important. Let me know what you find out.

13 December 2005

Will the Real Fiscal Conservative Please Stand Up?

The GOP always runs on a platform of fiscal conservatism but usually delivers a plate full of corruption. So far, the first half of the equation is playing out in the GOP Governor's race.

Petro and Blackwell both favor anti-spending plans based on additional regulations. Pete Draganic favors an across-the-board spending cut. Last week, Betty Montgomery unveiled her plan that keeps the onus on state government to make the tough calls.

Does Montgomery's approach mark her as the true fiscal conservative? The Blackwell and Petro plans practically concede that Republicans cannot be trusted to spend properly, so they remove spending authority from people and put it into new regulations. That's a cop out, folks. If our officials can't be fiscally responsible, then we need new officials, not new regulations.

I applaud Montgomery for her "buck stops here" policy. It shows more guts than the other candidates. Montgomery's current position as state auditor also gives her added credibility when it comes to fiscal matters.

It remains to be seen whether Montgomery's profile will get any boost from her fiscal policy, given that "Holy Jim" Petro's ads seem to be resonating with the base.

12 December 2005

Will Ohio Dems Sing to the Tune of Todd Portune?

The Ohio Democratic Party needs a new chair now that Denny White has stepped down. Vying to fill his small shoes are Todd Portune, Chris Redfern and several other people we've never heard of.

Todd Portune is Hamilton County's most popular official. He got more votes in 2004 than anyone else on the ballot-- more than Bush and Voinovich (and Voinovich set an Ohio record for the most votes statewide).

And it's little wonder why; Portune is a great official who has bipartisan respect. He is smart, hard-working, and committed to the public interest. He is not overly partisan. Eric Kearney practiced law with him years ago, and respects Portune's legal mind and work ethic. And Kearney is also not overly partisan (in fact, liberal partisans objected to his appointment), so his support for Portune carries weight.

The ODP would not be served well by someone overly partisan. That would just continue the bipartisan 'Cold War' and we'd be right back where we started, with two huge political organizations whose primary function is to perpetuate their own [expensive] existence.

Portune's background is as a public official, not a party activist, and that's an advantage. He has actual experience with government and citizens. He can make the Democratic Party the force of Ohio’s future, rather than the force of special interests. Portune isn’t old school; he’s one of the new wave of progressive Dems like Mark Mallory and Eric Kearney.

But Portune is a County Commissioner, and his primary obligation is to serve the people of Hamilton County. The ODP chairmanship would be a second job on top of the one he already has. Portune (as far as I know) has no plans to leave one job for the other, and has said he can fulfill the role as Dem chair without compromising his duties as Commissioner.

In my judgment, that has to be true for Portune to get support. It is not acceptable for Hamilton County citizens to be shortchanged. After all, we are already being shortchanged by the other two commissioners: an anti-democratic ideologue, Phil Heimlich, who is working to undermine the voter-approved Drake levy as you read this, and Pat "I deserve higher office” DeWine. Portune has lost more commitment to local citizens than either of these two clowns ever had to begin with.

Nevertheless, Portune was elected, and he has to do his job, period. It is easier for the Dems to find another chair than it is for Hamilton County to replace Todd Portune. If he can do both jobs effectively, then it would seem the ODP can do a lot worse than Todd Portune.

10 December 2005

Conservative Pundit Reported to Be 'Douchebag'

There's nothing like the feeling of pride in promoting a local blogger, and I'm just warm and fuzzy all over about this post from Tavern Wench.

I don't know what bar she works at, but I'll go there if they have big TVs and a good kitchen.

(and I can take my poodle...)

HealthSouth CFO Gets the Slammer

After losing his marriage, home, and bank account, HealthSouth CFO Bill Owens was sentenced to 5 years for his role in the health care company's accounting fraud.

CEO Richard Scrushy was acquitted of all criminal charges earlier this year, which this judge alluded to, calling it a "travesty" because the evidence against him was "overwhelming." He still has to face civil charges, though. What's the diff?

Criminal cases require evidence beyond a reasonable doubt, whereas civil cases require a preponderance of evidence. The bar is a little lower in the latter. That's the brief explanation from a lawyer friend.

Corporate criminals have to go to prison in large numbers if there's going to be any deterrence to corruption. Otherwise they'll just move here and join the Ohio Republican Party.

09 December 2005

Let's Eat Out Tonight

You know that visage of indecision in which a tiny devil is over one shoulder and a tiny angel over the other? Well, the devil won.

Rumsfeld Resignation Rumor Resists Riddance

Just heard on Talk of the Nation: Rumsfeld is on the way out; Lieberman is on the way in.

Provocative, but still just a rumor.

"I have no plans to retire" is what the Secretary said yesterday.

08 December 2005

You Gotta Fight for the Right of the Paaaarty

Jim Petro and Ken Blackwell are courting the right wing. Petro made the first pass with his "check it out, I'm Christian!" TV ads, and it looks like he's ready to go for 2nd base.

Is Jim Petro using the Attorney General's office as a political tool now? Is he making decisions on the basis of legal merit, or on the basis of how much it can help his campaign?

DNC Moves Forward With Anti-Schmidt Billboard

After being rejected by Lamar Advertising for ad space on two Porstmouth billboards (near Schmidt's local office there), the DNC has decided to make its own:

"During the next week we will purchase full-page newspaper ads in local newspapers and just so everyone is sure to get the message -- a mobile billboard will hit the streets in the 2nd district." [Daily Kos]

As usual, the DNC is being stupid. First of all, it should make this about the GOP, not Jean Schmidt. She is not a lone wolf with a loud mouth; she represents the party line, and that is what the DNC should be attacking. The DNC should be using Schmidt to attack the GOP, but it is just using Schmidt to attack Schmidt. It's a wasted opportunity.

Secondly, all the DNC is really doing is helping Bob McEwen win the GOP primary. Is this what the Dems want? Why do they think this would work in their favor? Do they think any Dem candidate would have an easier time beating McEwen rather than Schmidt? Or do they have a particular candidate in mind that they're setting up?

07 December 2005

Blame Game Begins for the Banks

Today's Post has an op-ed disguised as article about fallout over The Banks. Arn Bortz of Towne Properties is enjoying his I-told-you-so hissy fit and blames the County Commissioners for blowing off the Port Authority (which hired 3CDC, which Bortz is a member of). In other words, Bortz thinks any plan that doesn't involve him and his company is bad. I wonder if councilman Chris Bortz feels the same way.

Arn Bortz has a perfectly valid point that the County bungled its role. The County has bungled many things since Republicans Heimlich and DeWine (insert joke here) waltzed into office under the apparent impression that the election gave them the deed of ownership to the County. But Democrat Todd Portune was on board with them on this issue. Why?

Probably because the Port Authority was given 5 years to develop a plan, and all they came up with was parking garages.

So we're back to square one. I am not as distressed by this as others in the local blogosphere, because I have no confidence in civic planning that is led by developers. Developers are not urban planners. Developers build strip malls and condos, not vibrant metropolises.

The first step in a Banks project should be to purge the decision making bodies (the Economic Development Task Force, e.g.) of business executives. There is no reason to believe that business execs are any better at urban planning than any other profession, and I'm constantly flabbergasted at Cincinnati's automatic faith (and reliance) in its business community to solve all problems.

So how should the "new" Banks project move forward? Perhaps Robert Manley has the right idea.

If you're more interested in wrong ideas, some of The Enquirer's staff chimed in with their ideas, most of them copycat ideas from other cities. At least no one said casinos, thank god.

The best idea? Buy the baseball Hall of Fame from Cooperstown and bring it here. Rename The Banks "Pete Rose Park" and laugh at Major League Baseball forever.

06 December 2005

Polluters & Republicans: Peas in a Pod

I followed up on The Post's article "Toxins ID'd in river areas" about the Ohio River's major polluters and looked up some campaign contribution data on the companies. For the [Ohio] companies whose data I found, about 85% of their PAC contributions consistently went to Republicans. Individual contributions (from employees) went 100% to Republicans.

This in itself does not prove that Republicans favor polluters (they do, but this doesn't prove it). The industries would simply say that they do business with the state, and they want to ensure a good relationship. Fair enough. It's just a coincidence that Ohio has insufficient environmental oversight and is generally rife with corporate welfare.

In addition to supporting Republicans in general (through contributions to individuals as well as campaign committees), the companies also targeted the legal system. Contributions were made to the Attorney General (Petro), State Auditor (Montgomery), and Supreme Court Justices. Employees bundled contributions to three Justices in particular: Tom Moyer, Judith Lanzinger, and Terence O'Donnell.

Corporate corruption has infiltrated the state's executive and legislative branches. Are Justices Moyer, Lanzinger, and O'Donnell the ones who will usher corporate corruption into Ohio's Supreme Court?

05 December 2005

State GOP Better Off Avoiding Primary

Now that Columbus mayor Michael Coleman has dropped out of the race for governor, Ted Strickland is the Democratic front-runner. This creates a problem for the state GOP because they still have three big names in the race, and that necessitates a money-eating, mudslinging primary.

So the Party wants to see if it can expedite things and choose a front-runner now while hoping to convince at least one of the other candidates to seek other office. So far none of the candidates have hinted they would be willing to do so.

A GOP primary would move politics to the far right, so it would be good for voters in general to avoid one. Jim Petro has already staked out the religious right with his new TV ad, which you might have caught during the Bengals game. If you didn't, it points out that he is a holy Christian man with a holy Christian family.

The GOP will poll party members over the coming weeks, but it's safe to say that it will follow S.O.P and choose the person who best supports corporate and religious special interests. It remains to be seen whether Petro's ad has helped him gain favor.

I would be surprised if they didn't pick Blackwell. He has the most name recognition, he's a staunch party loyalist, and he has national ties. I also wouldn't be surprised if the RNC chimed in on Blackwell's behalf.

02 December 2005

Information, Propaganda... Tomato, Tomahto

Here's what retired General and a professor of defense studies Walter Jajko thinks would improve U.S. foreign policy:

...the U.S. military has been paying millions of dollars to plant pro-American, Pentagon-written propaganda articles in Iraqi newspapers and to buy off Iraqi journalists with monthly stipends... it's about time."

We need to be using all the means available in the war of ideas: public diplomacy, psychological operations, influence agents, disinformation and computer information warfare — from open and overt to clandestine and covert, from public explanation of policy to secret subversion of enemies. All of these must be well-orchestrated.

...the CIA owned or subsidized, at various times, more than 50 newspapers, news services, radio stations, periodicals and other communications facilities...

...at least 22 U.S. news organizations employed American journalists who were also working for the CIA. Nearly a dozen U.S. publishing houses printed some of the more than 1,000 books that had been produced or subsidized by the CIA.

A permanent leadership is needed in the form of a new Cabinet department that can knock together heads to force integrated influence activities — a Ministry of Propaganda, if you will.

What General Jajko is basically saying is that U.S. foreign policy needs used car salesmen. They are the ones best suited to selling bad merchandise. A good car doesn't need a big sales pitch; it sells itself. The salesman can basically just stand there and let you look over the car as long as you want (I am making an analogy to transparency here). Go ahead, look under the hood. There's nothing to hide. Come back tomorrow with an expert if you want.

The good car salesman knows that the more you know about the car, the more you will want it.

But that's not the case with crappy products. You have to fudge the truth a bit to move those. You can only sell a poor product with superior marketing, and you sure as hell aren't going to let anyone look under the hood. That's really what propaganda (read: "U.S. foreign policy") is all about.

So the U.S. has two options: we can be a great country and tell the truth, or we can be a lousy country and sell lies. We know where the right stands on the matter.

So next time you meet a used car salesman, don't jeer... he might be working out of the White House someday.

01 December 2005

A Clever Way to Schedule Meetings via Email

Those who schedule meetings regularly with the same people have their own scheduling method, but for those of us who schedule occasional meetings with different attendees, here is a clever method that beats back-and-forth emails.

Pentagon: Next Time We'll Be Less Stupid

From now on, the Pentagon will include post-combat planning into its military operations.

Good news? Don't make me laugh. People have been harping about post-combat plans since BEFORE the war started, and the neoPentagon has ignored it all. Unless this directive includes changes in the cognitive ability of neocons, it will have no effect.

So what is the point of this "new" policy? To make it seem like the neoPentagon has brain cells and can actually learn from 4 years of unrelenting ineptitude.

I don't know about you, but when I hear a bunch of inept morons make nice-sounding promises, I don't exactly make a note of it.

Another Hat Tossed Into District 2

It's Thor Jacobs', and apparently he kinda sorta ran in the special election earlier this year.

Little is known about his policies, but hopefully that will change when his website is up and running (which should be soon, according to an email he sent out).

What we know at this point is that he graduated from Madeira High School (which has a good academic reputation) where he captained the 9-1 football team in 1975. He was also inducted into their athletic hall of fame in 1994. And apparently he was recruited by Nebraska for football, but he went to Ohio State (which I'm not allowed to talk about) and got a BBA followed by an MBA from UC.

After college he stayed around these parts and worked for NCR and Convergys before starting Sovereign Construction, a basement remodeling company, with his brother (who played football at 'Bama).

What's This... Democrats Have Good Ideas?

That's right... the Democrats, perhaps having realized that the Republicans have the problem of gay communists firmly under control, are now addressing issues that matter, such as the future of electronic society. Maybe they should start talking about their ideas instead of storing them in secret underground bunkers.

This Will Show Up on CSI Someday

“A Sheboygan woman was seriously injured Wednesday night when her live-in boyfriend allegedly beat her with a cactus. 22 year old Nathaniel Radzicki was arrested and charged with substantial battery withadangerous weapon and is facing up to 8 years in prison. Sheboygan Police report they received a 911 call and responded to the apartment in the 600 block of South 8th Street about 10 p.m.

The victim said Radzicki became upset over some phone calls he had made and then “went psycho”, hitting her repeatedly with the cactus plant. Officers said the victim was covered with blood bleeding from the face, head and arms. She needed stitches to her upper lip, had a broken eardrum, a severely bruised jaw and medical staff had to use tweezers to pick large half-inch thorns from her neck, face and arms.” [WHBL News Radio]

25 November 2005

Iraq Soldier Says "Go Bengals!"

Seen last night on The Jimmy Kimmel Show: he talked to a group of soldiers and they went around and each said their name and hometown. Sure enough, there was one from Cincinnati and he said "Go Bengals!"

We're thinking about you, too, my friend. Hope you'll be back soon to enjoy the games with all of us.

22 November 2005

A Response to Schmidt's Statement

In her statement, Schmidt sticks to the pattern of prevarication that has already come to characterize her in just a few months on the job. After reading it, I can't help but recall the previous post, "Jean Schmidt Helps Toe Party Line." A closer look at her statement:

"Since that moment I have been attacked from across the country by the left."
The definition of “left” is not “everyone who disagrees with me.” The people who have been criticizing Schmidt since before the election come from across the political spectrum. Cincinnatians are aware of how unpopular she has been among a significant portion of conservatives and Republicans, but perhaps the rest of the country is not.

"I never meant to attack Congressman Murtha personally."
It’s clear from Schmidt’s statement that her remarks were (a) insulting and of a personal nature, and (b) directed at Rep. Murtha. Therefore this is a lie. Moreover, she violated House rules as well as her own pledge of personal conduct.

"But this story has been way too focused on me, my conviction and word selection. Instead this story should be focused on the extremely poor policy the minority now propose."
Such attempts to divert the public’s attention from failed policies and constant attack-style politicking are not working as well as they have in the past. Schmidt is hardly in a position to call anything else “poor policy” as the lowest ranking member of Congress and a member of the party that has done little else EXCEPT fail.

No, the focus should not be on how all your Party's failures are the Democrats’ fault; that’s classic narcissism. The focus should be on the outrageous corruption behind the neocon war plan.

"I have been attacked very personally, continuously since Friday evening."
Schmidt’s campaign personally attacked Marine Paul Hackett just a few months ago. Now she has made a personal attack upon another Marine, John Murtha. And she pledges blind loyalty to the party that trashed veterans John McCain, John Kerry, and Max Cleland—all of them decorated soldiers.

Mrs. Schmidt will not get any sympathy for receiving personal attacks. Certainly not in this case, when she herself opened the door with invective and partisanship.

"First and foremost I support the troops."
I don't believe Schmidt is lying; however, it's a false statement. In my opinion, Schmidt does not know what this really means, and she really does believe that her blind ideology is pro-military and patriotic. So it's not part of the pattern of prevarication, but it is part of the ancilliary ignorance that allows people to draw conclusions without critical analysis.

"I strongly oppose withdrawing our troops until we give them a chance to do what we sent them there to accomplish. They haven’t failed us. We must not fail them."
You have already failed them.

U.S. troops were sent in to establish a corporate-run state (“democracy” to neocons). That is the goal of Iraqi occupation. Had the neocons not been such idiotic war planners, they might have pulled off the boondoggle quickly and no one would have noticed the scam.

Most Americans are ignorant of the corporate takeover and the media is still too lazy and corrupt to report it, but they will notice that soldiers keep dying and money keeps bleeding and nothing seems to be getting better. Eventually they will ask why and demand answers.

- - -

Rep. Schmidt's statement reveals what 'damage control' means to the GOP. To those who hold principle and personal integrity in high regard, the damage done here was to the honor of a respected U.S. veteran and member of Congress. To the GOP, the damage was to the party.

If Schmidt was a person of honor and integrity, she would have ignored the political considerations and taken full personal responsibility for her words. That would have been a non-partison statement from an official to her constitutents. But that is not what she did. Instead, she chose to lie about her intentions and EXACERBATE partisanship by putting forth divisive partisan rhetoric.

Rep. Schmidt's statement falls short of apologizing or explaining her behavior. She does not even suggest that she will do better. It is unclear whether she even understands that she did something wrong. If her statement signifies anything, it is that the GOP stands by their doctrine of failed policies and personal invectives against those who demand better.

New Memo Says Bush Wanted to Bomb Al-Jazeera

LONDON (AP) -- A civil servant has been charged under Britain's Official Secrets Act for allegedly leaking a government memo that a newspaper said Tuesday suggested that Prime Minister Tony Blair persuaded President Bush not to bomb the Arab satellite station Al-Jazeera. [full story]

Democratic Leaders Should Pay Attention

From an editorial at American Firearms, the site of the Professional Gun Retailers Association:

“As a person who was once very active in the Democratic Party…I liked Howard Dean. I saw, and still see Dean as a Gorbachev for the Democratic Party. I see Dean as somebody who could have been an effective Party reformer. Those Democrats who endorsed Dean: like President Carter, Al Gore, Senators Bradley and Harkin and other thinking Democrats, they made the correct choice.” In retrospect, Kerry, Mr. perfect hair at the head of the ticket, he lost the Presidential race, lost the Senate races and House races, and most of the races for Governor, so if Dean had run he couldn’t have been a bigger loser…”

“The Republicans think of Dean as a joke, but their
[sic] wrong. Dean will identify the main weaknesses of the Democratic Party and create perceptions that will in part correct those weaknesses.”

Will the Dems have better judgment in '08, or will they find a way to lose an easy election for the 3rd time in a row?

A Peek Into the Future, Pt. 2

The other day I posted an entry comparing the woes of American auto companies with the rising fortunes of the Asian economy. Just today GM announced massive reductions on top of Ford’s. Both companies seem to be okay for now, but their futures are uncertain.

This is a bit of a bummer, at least symbolically.

It’s hard to be sympathetic, considering the companies are in this situation for no other reason than boardroom stupidity. To be faced with the exact same problem and make the same disastrous mistake (within a generation, no less) is, in my judgment, incompetence. Should there not be an outcry for accountability from the boards of these companies? Should we not be talking about the ills of having industries driven by quarterly profit reports rather than long-term solvency?

21 November 2005

Why Ugly Men Want to Pollute

The latest evidence reveals why unattractive men (sure, let’s pick on him again) might prefer a polluted world.

Today's Jean Schmidt Links

The NYTimes has an article on the row.

Here's a worthwhile blog entry from a woman who lived on Schmidt's street when they were kids.

A cartoon by Danzinger.

Read what the group Veterans for Justice thinks about Schmidt and her ilk. And in case you forgot, Jean Schmidt has no military experience and John Murtha has plenty.

A blog named People of Seabrook gives Schmidt the coveted Dumbass Award.

And some lady somewhere came up with a couple of Schmidt limericks.

20 November 2005

Pssst... Hey Kid, You Wanna See the Future?

As one powerful nation fades away:

Ford Motor Co. plans to eliminate about 4,000 white-collar jobs in North America early next year as part of what the automaker has called a painful but essential restructuring plan. [AP story]

General Motors Corp is expected to unveil sweeping plant closures and job cuts in coming days, in response to falling market share and revenues, analysts say. [Economic Times]

Others rise to take its place:

Toyota Motor Corp. grabbed more U.S. retail market share than Ford Motor Co. in early November and it was less than one share point behind General Motors Corp., J.D. Power and Associates said on Friday. [Reuters]

Automobile exports from India moved up 33 per cent in the seven months of this fiscal, boosted by healthy demand for two-wheelers and commercial vehicles... [Economic Times]

China will buy 70 Boeing 737 airliners, a U.S. official said Saturday as President Bush arrived on a visit expected to include discussion of Beijing's surging trade surplus with the United States. [AP story]

19 November 2005

Mrs. Schmidt and Colonel Bubp

Blogesque looks into the matter of just who is Mrs. Schmidt's little Marine friend and what kind of person is he?

Ohio State 25, Michigan 21

Not precisely the 24-20 final I predicted, but not bad, eh? I thank you in advance for your genuflections.

And tomorrow it's the Bengals turn. I bought some meat & cheese at Avril's deli on Court St. this morning (I like their rare roast beef) and the cashier bellowed "Who-Dey" as I turned to walk out.

Corporate Media, Schmidt, and Lindner

News of Schmidt’s folly is all over the grassroots media. What about the corporate media?

As of 9 a.m. Saturday morning, only The Enquirer has an article on Schmidt's folly (“Schmidt causes ruckus in House debate on Iraq”). It also has the article “Lindner buys $300,000 worth of police radios for Norwood.”

Nothing in The Post about Schmidt or Lindner.

Nothing on WCPO about Schmidt, but they do have the article “Carl Lindner Buying Norwood Radios.”

Nothing on WKRC about Schmidt, but they do report “Lindner buying police radios for Norwood.”

FOX19 has a few sentences under the heading “House Democrat Demanding Iraqi Withdrawl. [sic]” Pretty different heading than “Schmidt causes ruckus in House debate on Iraq,” huh? It doesn’t even mention Schmidt. FOX19 also has the article “Norwood Gets Radios Thanks To Carl Linder.”

WLWT: Nothing on Schmidt; something on Lindner: “Lindner Buys Police $300,000 In New Radios.”

(FYI: The Lindner family gave over $30,000 to Schmidt’s campaign).

So The Enquirer is the only local corporate media to report on Schmidt’s folly. How did they do? Not too bad, but here’s a couple of things from the article I noticed:

Dressed in a red, white and blue suit, Schmidt, a Clermont County Republican and the most junior member of the House, took to the floor to protest the resolution.

Dressed in a red, white and blue suit. Jean Schmidt’s sartorial profile is hardly relevant to this matter. I presume this is The Enquirer’s gauche attempt to paint Schmidt as a patriotic.

The House took a 10-minute recess as Schmidt was told to stop talking. Democrats called for her remarks to be stricken from the official transcript, but Republicans ruled that the remarks would be reported.

Based on the video I saw, it was not Democrats who called for her remarks to be stricken. It was she herself who requested this. Democrats suggested tabling the resolution for another day (since Schmidt basically shot this day to hell) and voiced no objection to her request that her remarks be stricken.

18 November 2005

Even Low Expectations Prove Too High for Jean Schmidt

I could hardly have been more on-target about invertebrate sycophant Jean Schmidt (below). Get the whole scoop at Political Cortex, who has the complete play-by-play.

Be sure to watch the video of Schmidt's speech, where tries to paint John Murtha a coward and the Marines as heroes. The chamber erupts in boos (Murtha was a Marine for 37 years. He also earned the Bronze Star, two purple hearts, the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry, and the Navy Distinguished Service Medal. And for the last thirty years he's been one of the most respected voices in Congress on military issues -- universally respected by Democrats, Republicans and military brass alike).

And there's much more, so check it out if you can stomach it.

I also wonder if the House leadership chose Schmidt for the statement. It makes sense because the GOP knows they are toast on this issue. Anyone who makes a statement risks losing serious credibility, so who better to pick than Schmidt, who has very little? If it works, then it's win-win, but if it doesn't, then Schmidt is damaged more than the party, and she can be replaced soon, anyway, so the party doesn't have to carry the baggage.

So let's remember: it's not just Schmidt, it's the whole Party. This is one flare-up among so many others. That's how hemorrhoids are. You can't just keep treating the flare-ups, you have to take the big step and get the surgery. And we need to have the surgery, folks. It's just going to be one flare-up after another until we make the political system bend over and we take out those painful, irritating blood vessels swollen with corporate lobbyists.

Jean Schmidt Helps Toe Party Line

Jean Schmidt is the perfect GOP official. She has no political views of her own and toes the party line completely. She is neither smart, well-informed, or independent. She made no secret of this during her campaign, as she annoyingly seemed to answer every question with "I support the President's position..."

Schmidt displayed her blind loyalty this week when she joined a chorus of Republicans in denouncing gutsy John Murtha's call to quit fucking around in Iraq. The NYTimes has transcribed the press conference; scroll to the end for Schmidt's portion.

It remains to be seen who Schmidt's competition will be in next year's election and whether she can hang on, but here's what one Ohio blogger thinks of what OH-2 did last time:

Congratulations, OH-2's GOP voters. You had the chance to elect Iraq veteran Paul Hackett (who actually has some clue of what the war over there is actually like) and instead you elected this stupid cow. Well done.

That's how people feel about Schmidt. Whatever her political views, Jean Schmidt is a person of such meager intellect and character that she cannot be considered suitable for Congress. OH-2 is lucky it gets another chance next year; they won't have Hackett on the ballot, but they can certainly do better than Schmidt.

What about Jeff Sinnard? His social conservatism is sure to be a hit out in the burbs and on the farms. And Victoria Wells-Wulsin's public health background could benefit OH-2 directly and maybe even kickstart some progress on health care in Congress. On the Republican side, I think Bob McEwen is still considering the Senate and I don't think Brinkman is getting the thumbs up from anyone. McEwen could certainly win since he came in a close 2nd last time.

Anyone except Schmidt.

17 November 2005

DeWine's Record "Shameful," Says Vet.

As an addendum to the post below, more information is available about DeWine's voting record on Veteran's benefits from another army veteran, who describes the record as "shameful."

Strong word. Will this issue come back to haunt DeWine in the election?

(Orig. post at the OH-2 Blog.)

16 November 2005

Sen. DeWine Rights a Wrong

The Senate just passed the 2006 Defense Authorization Bill (S. 1042) which includes an extension added by Mike DeWine to allow children of soldiers K.I.A. to receive health insurance beyond the 3 years originally provided. DeWine said the extension would end what amounted to punishment for the families whose sacrifice was the greatest.

He's right. But interestingly, the extension only 'de-punishes' children, not spouses. Does anyone else see the irony in nickel-and-diming poor military families while military contractors make record profits?

Nevertheless, Sen. DeWine is to be commended for trying to right a wrong. I'll give him the benefit of the doubt and presume he would have done this whether it was an election year or not, but I won't be surprised when it shows up as a talking point to help him campaign against the Major.

The House still has to pass its version of the bill, but its version does not include the extension. So it remains to be seen what will end up in the final compromise bill.

The families of those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for their country deserve health insurance. Period. I personally think they deserve 4 years of college, too.

Send an email to your House member and tell him/her to support an extension for military health insurance in H.R. 1815.

Click here to email Steve Chabot

Click here to email Jean Schmidt

Ohio Needs More College Grads

The Ohio Board of Regents wants to increase college enrollment by 30% over the next ten years. As pointed out previously on this blog, Ohio is bleeding students and young professionals. This trend must be reversed if Ohio is to maintain economic competitiveness and QOL.

The Cincinnati Business Courier reports:

"While 24.4 percent of adults nationwide had a bachelor's degree or higher in 2000, only 21.1 percent in Ohio did, according to U.S. Census figures. Enrollment at Ohio colleges rose 14 percent from 1997 to 2004. But during that period, enrollment in a six-state region that includes Ohio went up 17 percent, and enrollment nationwide rose 21 percent, regents statistics show.

...Ohio's obstacle will be finding the $15 million to $20 million the 10-year endeavor would cost."

I can't wait for lobbyists (including Luken, perhaps?) to start yapping about how it should be funded with casinos.

15 November 2005

Dave Lapham’s Rx for the Bengals

Player-cum-analyst Dave Lapham suggested the following 3 things would be key to the Bengals’ staying competitive in the 2nd half of the season:

Turnovers: They won all 6 games in which they were (+) in turnovers and were 1-2 in the games where they broke even (no negative games). Lapham said this has been a key factor, especially in the first 5 games. What has really made the difference, though, is not just the turnovers, but the points off turnovers. The Bengals scored 70 pts. off turnovers in the first several games. It’s been a huge factor.

Red Zone Offense: Lapham says the Bengals need to score TDs in the Red Zone 60% of the time and hold the opponent to under 40%.

Third Down Conversions: Bengals have to make 3rd downs at least 10% more of the time than the opponent.

If they can do these three things and keep penalites under control, the Bengals would be strong postseason contenders.

How to Solve the Union "Problem"

An interesting idea from BadTux on how to level the playing field for union vs. boardroom.

Travesty of Justice in Libya

I hadn't heard about this story before last night: the Libyan government has accused 6 hospital workers, all foreign nationals (1 Palestinian, 5 Bulgarians) of intentionally infecting hundreds of children with HIV.

The international community is protesting, since it's obvious that Libya is using the workers as patsies to cover up poor hospital practices. But so far efforts have been futile. The workers have been imprisoned, tortured and sentenced to death. And they are running out of options.

14 November 2005

Read This Before Your Next Campaign

A list of do's and don'ts to marketing your candidacy online. A great set of rules for the 21st-century campaign, and a 'must read' for any campaign worker.

You Say Torture, I Say Tomaahto

We do NOT torture.

Nevertheless, it's important to give the CIA exemptions, even though they don't need any. And this article doesn't prove anything because, as I said, we do NOT torture. We just need the exemption. You wouldn't understand. It's a black thing.

13 November 2005

Taxes Are for Chumps

Instead of levying taxes (which the Bible points out are "Satan's tolls" in Republicans 3:16), how about charging "user fees" to citizens (see this previous post) or billing their auto insurance companies for reimbursement if emergency services are required at an accident?

It's obviously still a tax, but it's a "hidden" tax and it's only levied on citizens that use it rather than all citizens. Several major Ohio cities already do this, and Columbus is about to join the club.

I wonder why (a) so many municipalities are facing shortfalls in emergency funding and (b) how it can be better to fund services with large user fees for a small number of citizens rather than low taxes for a large number of citizens?

I know part of the reason for (a) is Ohio's lousy economy (Ohio ranked 46th in terms of average annual growth rate in Gross State Product from '97-'03), but the economic boondoggles of the Ohio Republicans have really added insult to injury.

In a state where major cities can't fund their emergency services, there's no excuse for passing tax cuts for the wealthiest nor for the top 50 corporations to have paid zero taxes.

There are people out there enjoying the libertarian utopia--no taxes and all the perks-- they're just not you.

11 November 2005

Accidental Time Warp

This is an interesting site: a photographer seeks out old cameras with film still inside them. He buys the cameras, develops the film, and posts the shots on this web page. Very interesting.

Props to local blogger Lewis Riley.

Homosexual Defeats Homophobe for Council Seat

CLEVELAND HEIGHTS-- Closet homosexual Rev. Jimmie Hicks, Jr. lost his bid for a council seat to openly gay Mark Tumeo. No word yet from Pat Robertson on what the city can expect in the way of God's wrath.

Full Deck Continues to Elude Pat Robertson

Yep, God called Pat again and gave him this message. You have been warned.

By the way, is he still operating tax-free?

18-Year Old Mayor is Interviewed

Go here to link to Keith Olberman's interview with Hillsdale, Michigan's new 18-year-old mayor elect, Michael Sessions.

10 November 2005

Enquirer and Post Losing Subscribers

Both papers lost 3300 subscribers in the past 6 months. Is this because SW Ohio has experienced a net loss of people in the past 6 months? Is it because new media is replacing old media? Or is it because people have noticed a difference between news and propaganda and aren't interested in a paper that delivers a dearth of the former and a plethora of the latter?

Would you say they have a plethora? Si, senor, they have a plethora.

Purple People Bridge Idea is Over-the-Top

Just a couple of weeks ago I made a post about the transfer of ownership of the Purple People Bridge and wondered whether "the transfer of ownership to a local entity may bring some exciting and creative things to the bridge."

Indeed it has!

09 November 2005

Dorothy, You're Not In Reality Anymore

Pennsylvania's reality-based community came out on election day, ousting 8 out of 9 school board wackos who backed creationism.

Kansas still has a way to go, unfortunately. There's no place like home school... there's no place like home school...

If Your Kindergarten Teacher Is Behaving Strangely

Then you should take note of this story:

Lynne Filippini, 47, was teaching at French Valley Elementary School about 65 miles north of San Diego on Tuesday when "other teachers noticed she was acting strange," said Earl Quinata, a Riverside County Sheriff's spokesman.

Turns out she was on meth.

Gigantopithecus Blackii Is Not A Porn Actor

It was a giant gorilla—the largest primate ever, in fact—and it roamed around southeast Asia until it went extinct 100,000 years ago. It stood 10 feet tall and weighed over half a ton.

Humans were already populating the world during the giant gorilla’s time, so you’re mega-great grandaddy probably saw a few… but don’t tell that to an American!

Top 8 Fundraisers Get Council Seats

8 out of the top 9 fundraisers got Council seats this year. The only exception was 9th-place fundraiser Christopher Smitherman, who was replaced by Cecil Thomas from down the list at no. 16.

Despite the 90% correlation between being among the top 9 fundraisers and winning one of the 9 Council seats, there was minimal correlation between the amount of money raised and the number of votes received (0.105).

The average dollars-per-vote for the 9 winners was $4.63. The range with Std Dev is $2.11 to $7.15. Only two candidates fell outside this range: Jeff Berding had the most at $8.94 and Cecil Thomas had the least at $0.77.

Perhaps the most telling statistic comes from the next 9 finishers: the average dollars-per-vote for them was $1.76. This figure is far lower than that of the winner's group. One candidate, Gerry Kraus, did average out to $4.31 per vote, but to no avail. She turned out to be the "losing" exception and Cecil Thomas the "winning" exception.

The top 5 white finishers raised $160k (+/- $66k) which is an average of $5.30 per vote received.
The top 5 black finishers raised $43k (+/- $19k) which is an average of $1.70 per vote received.

08 November 2005

GOP Officials Still Plagued by Avian Stupidity Virus

State Rep. Courtney Combs, who we've previously surmised has his head up his ass, is now exchanging unpleasantries with Butler County Commissioner Michael Fox, who is an ass.

At least these two Republicans have the modicum of maturity to use words, which is more than can be said for these three.

Election Predictions

Mayor: Mallory will be elected mayor by a wider margin than expected;



Issue 1: YES
Issue 2: YES
Issue 3: YES
Issue 4: NO
Issue 5: NO

Issue 8: YES
Issue 9: NO

04 November 2005

State Issue Endorsements

Issue 1: NO

The goals of Issue 1 are worthwhile: high-tech job creation, economic development and university R&D. So how did it end up as mostly another corporate welfare program? Probably because it has some of Taft’s genes.

Issue 2: NO

This bill is not the answer to long voting lines; better (and fairer) election management is (see Issue 5). Furthermore, I share the concern that expanding early voting concomitantly expands opportunities for fraud and error. It might be a case of one step forward and two steps back.

I also don’t understand why this requires a constitutional amendment and not just a law.

Issue 3: YES

Of course Ohio needs campaign finance reform. After passing last year’s insulting House Bill 1 that blatantly skewed campaign rules to favor one party and their special interests (see this article), reform is badly needed to level the playing field. The special interests’ campaign to defeat Issue 3 ignores its background and grabs at air with moot talking points about out-of-state money.

Again, I don’t understand why it has to be a constitutional amendment instead of a law, but the need for campaign finance reform is so critical that this just has to be done. It’s been one corruption story after another this entire year. It’s ridiculous and embarrassing that Ohio’s government is characterized by corruption, and we should take this opportunity to change that.

Issue 4: NO

This was a tough one. The benefit is that this issue will take redistricting out of the hands of politicians and into those of an independent commission’s. Politicians should not be in charge of drawing their district lines because they have a conflict of interest. The formula authorized by this issue to create more competitive districts is a better system.

But the disadvantage is that the formula only takes into account the two major parties. I view this as a serious disadvantage because the two-party duopoly stifles the marketplace of ideas and produces worse government than is otherwise possible. It is critical that third parties and independents acquire a greater presence in government, and this bill does not allow that.

Once again, if this issue were a law, then I would probably vote ‘yes’ because I think it would be easier to diversify the political marketplace under a competitive-districting system than the current "self preservation-" districting system, and it would be easier in the future to amend legislation than to amend (again) the constitution. But making it an amendment is too much.

Issue 5: YES

The Secretary of State is in charge of election oversight, and that means there is a clear conflict of interest for him to also be in charge of a campaign. I would never have expected that anyone would actually have the sass and/or poor judgment to actually do this, but that was before Ken Blackwell. Let’s not have any more of that nonsense.

03 November 2005

Local Issue Endorsements

Issue 8: NO

Issue 8 is the kind of political gimmick that appeals to people who watch local news. The only rationale for this issue is that Council salaries are (a) unreasonably high for (b) part-time employees. If this is the case, I suggest (a) changing the formula at the statehouse (to 50%, for example), or (b) making Council a full-time job. And voting for this issue out of fiscal constraint is like rejecting the sunroof option on your new Mercedes to save money. Council spends far more on corporate welfare and out-of-state consultants.

Issue 9: NO

Even my rudimentary understanding of fiscal management and tax policy is enough to recognize this issue as piece of junk. The fact that COAST would put forth such a fiscally catastrophic proposal (now for the second time) totally discredits them as pro-Cincinnati group. I would take COAST much more seriously if they recognized that corporate tax loopholes shift the burden to individuals, and that eliminating those loopholes would level the playing field and lower individual taxation.

City Council Endorsements

Clark Street's Council endorsements are below. Key considerations in the selection process were:

Does the candidate have a vision of what the city can be like in the future and can he/she develop sensible, creative ideas that lead there?

Does the candidate have the intellect to understand and critically analyze the range of issues that may come before council (policy, administration, economics, technology, etc.)?

Can the candidate work well with a team? Council will have difficulty implementing policies and dealing with crises if it cannot work cohesively and efficiently. Candidates with “issues” are a red flag.

Council should reflect the city’s diversity to at least some extent (geographic, ethnic, religious, socioeconomic).

Samantha Herd
Paul McGhee
David Crowley
Wendell Young
Cecil Thomas
John Cranley
Christopher Smitherman
Nick Spencer
John Eby

It’s disappointing to end up with only 1 woman, but I won’t add another woman just for balance. Maybe next time I’ll end up with 8 women and 1 man. I’d pay a poll tax to see that.

I like the idea of district voting more than the idea of Jeff Berding on Council.

Chris Bortz’s association with Towne Properties was all it took for me to reject him. Developers are the antithesis of smart growth and the last thing we need on Council is more influence from developers and home builders.

A final thanks to all the candidates who stepped up to the plate for public service.

02 November 2005

Blade Series Reveals Corruption and Pay-to-Play

Corruption and quid pro quo: that’s what characterizes the Republican Party, as a new series in the Toledo Blade is revealing. Link to the relevant articles through HypoSpeaks.

01 November 2005

Fairfield Republican Puts Head in Ass

State Rep. Courtney Combs, R-Fairfield, has said he will introduce his Ohio English Unity Act, which would require state agencies to produce records only in English by the end of the year. Combs believes society has been “coddling” Spanish-speakers for too long so they won’t learn English. Julia Arbini Carbonell, president of the Ohio Hispanic Coalition, said the legislation disrespects immigrants. She calls it "a bill about intolerance." [Cleveland.com]

Does this really make any sense? Let's look at some statistics comparing Ohio to the nation (Ohio figures in yellow):

White persons: 85% / 75%

Asians: 1.6% / 3.6%

Hispanics: 2% / 12.5%

Foreign-born persons: 3% / 11%

Language other than English spoken at home: 6% / 18%

Minority-owned enterprises (1997): 6.3% / 14.6%

Clearly, Ohio should not be ground zero for xenophobia. Furthermore, it is well known that immigrants are good for economic growth. A steady influx of immigrants means a steady infusion of human capital. That grows economies, something Mr. Coombs should be well aware of as a member of both the Commerce & Labor and Economic Workforce & Environment committees.

There is also another reason Mr. Combs gets recognition for cephalocolonoscopia: the GOP is making a concerted effort to bring in Latinos into the Party, and he's pretty much shooting his party in the foot with this kind of idiotic right-wing grandstanding.

Somebody send Mr. Combs to Toronto for a weekend so he can experience a better melting pot than Hamilton or Fairfield.

Mr. Combs has sponsored 3 other bills this year: HB209, a bill to allow nonprofits to sell booze; HB303, a bill to designate the children's book Lentil as the official children's book of the state and its author as the official children's book author of the state; and HB313, which modifies the sentence an offender receives under the Sexually Violent Predator Law so that any person who is sentenced under this law (and who is not sentenced to death) must receive a term of life imprisonment without parole.

Interesting guy.

Purple People Bridge Getting New Owner

The ball is rolling to transfer ownership of the Purple People Bridge from Kentucky to Newport and then to a subsidiary of private firm Southbank Partners, which will then own the bridge.

Southbank already oversees the bridge, but once it gets ownership it’s possible things may change because it will be able to set its own rules and usage fees. Will it allow certain kinds of public gatherings and not others? Will it permit certain kinds of banners and not others? Will it set restrictive policies and fees? How much profit will Southbank want to make after covering maintenance costs?

Aside from these questions, the transfer of ownership to a local entity may bring some exciting and creative things to the bridge. I don't know how much you can really do with a bridge, but who knows, maybe they'll come up with something out-of-the-box.

Big Pharma’s ‘Screwball’ Marketing Scheme

An exec at the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, or PhRMA, came up with the idea to commission a novel. The plot was to focus on the danger of importing cheaper drugs from Canada.

“According to the proposal, PhRMA would pay Phoenix a six-figure sum for the marketing and production of a written-to-order fictional thriller. The plotline was what Hollywood would term high-concept — a group of shadowy terrorists conspires to murder thousands of Americans by poisoning the medicine they're importing from Canada to beat U.S. drug prices.”

Eventually, higher-ups discovered the "screwball" idea and pulled the plug. The authors “were informed that PhRMA didn't like the book and was pulling out. He says the group offered them $100,000 if they would agree never to speak ill of PhRMA or the drug industry for the rest of their lives. They refused.”

Also noteworthy: PhRMA’s new president is former Rep. W.J. "Billy" Tauzin (R-LA). Another one through the revolving door.

31 October 2005

William O'Neill Will Run for Ohio Supreme Court

Judge William O'Neill has announced that he will run for Ohio Supreme Court. His reputation is one of integrity and incorruptibility. Last year he refused any campaign contribution over $10 and still raised over a million. But he didn't win.

O'Neill is exactly the type of person we say we want and then don't vote for. Now that we've confirmed that corrupt officials tend to bring corruption, perhaps it's time to go for old school integrity.

30 October 2005

Pentagon Lied, No One Di... Oh, Wait a Minute

Last year the Pentagon denied that it kept figures of Iraqi deaths, but since it submitted those figures in a report to Congress a few weeks ago, it looks like the Pentagon was full of shit.

OSU Study Pleases Dan Quayle More Than Murphy Brown

“It's more difficult for unwed mothers to get married, and if they do, they tend to not marry well,” said OSU sociology professor Zhenchao Qian, summarizing in one sentence his latest research study.

The findings:

Women who have children outside of marriage are less likely than other single women to marry, and when they do marry... mothers are more likely to have husbands who are significantly older and less educated than those of childless women.

...among never-married mothers slightly more than half -- 55.8 percent – were black, while about 10.3 percent are Hispanic.

[unwed mothers] are far more likely to live below the poverty line than married women. Over one-third of female-headed families with children live in poverty compared to only 6 percent of married couples with children.

Qian also suggests that Federal programs to promote marriage among low-income Americans should begin to address out-of-wedlock childbearing as well.

29 October 2005

Why Can't Sam Malone Be More Like Sam Malone?

I came across this by surfing happenstance, but its irony is sure to effect a chortle from fellow Cincinnatians.

Non-locals will get up to speed with this .

Now that you get the idea, you'll find this ironic as well.

Perspectives from an Iranian Dissident

Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad recently said that Israel should be “wiped off the map.” Is his attitude typical of Iranians? Butterflies & Wheels has an interesting interview/discussion among anti-establishment Iranians. It is interesting in itself, but more so because of some unexpected (at least to me) parallels to the U.S.

The interviewer, Maryam Namazie, is a key figure in-- and I am not making this up-- the Iran’s Worker-Communist Party.

Here is another article in which she addresses those Iran-U.S. parallels directly.

Could This Be the End of Celebrity Viagra Spokespersons?

Leading figures in the medical academe are calling for an end to direct-to-consumer pharma advertising. They say at the very least the FDA should regulate it.

28 October 2005

The "I" is for INDICTED

I. Lewis Libby won't be saved by his warm, fuzzy nickname now. Out of the 5 violations which the investigation looked into, Libby has been charged with violating 3 of them, two of them twice. The charges are obstruction of justice, false statements (2) and perjury (2).

You can read the indictments here (skip to page 9).

27 October 2005

The Next Best Thing to Being Patrick Fitzgerald...

...is reading this article called " Background to Betrayal: Behind the CIA leak investigation." I'm thinking this is as much as one could know about the case without being Fitzgerald himself.

A more readable version (formatting-wise) is at the Chalabigate blog, if you prefer.

Rove Connected to DeLay, Abramoff

Karl Rove's assistant worked for Jack Abramoff before her White House job, reports the NYTimes. She's a key witness in the Special Prosecutor's case.

26 October 2005

Hugo Chavez Unplugged

He was interviewed by Ted Koppel for ABC's Nightline several weeks ago, just after Pat Robertson's fatwa. I saw it, and it was very good. You can read the transcript here. Some excerpts:

You know where right now my medical team is? In the presidential plane, 200 kilometers from here. The government of the United States, in violation of the laws of the United States and conventions, prevented my doctors from coming to New York. Where is the chief of staff of my military detachment and my chief of security? On the plane. They've been locked into the plane, two days. They can't come out of the plane.

Those are the signals we're receiving.

And so perhaps Christ recommends that when we get a slap in our cheek, we turn the other cheek. We have both cheeks red and blue because we've turned the cheek so many times. But we... do love the people of the United States. We want to be brothers and sisters of the people of the United States, independently of their government.

Practically no one in the United States knows that we've donated millions of dollars to the governorship of Louisiana, to the New Orleans Red Cross. We're now giving care to more than 5,000 victims, and now we're going to supply gasoline, freely in some cases, and with discounts in other cases, to the poorest of communities, starting with New Orleans and its surroundings.

...nobody can say that Venezuela is a country that commits aggression against the United States or is an enemy of the United States because it has open relations with [the] world. We have open relations with China. With Colombia we have very good relations. We have good relations with everyone.

The only country, the only administration with whom we don't have good relations on the face of the earth is the administration of Mr. Bush. That's the only example.

I have friends throughout the entire world, kings, princes, presidents, prime ministers. Only with Washington is where the relationship doesn't work.

A Brief History of Lying

A brief review of the lies told by Cheney, Rove, and Libby over Plamegate.

Cheney Wants More Torture

Well, this is what happens when you start getting into the dirty, kinky stuff: you find that it takes more and more to get you off.

And so it is with Dick Cheney, who is jonesing for more sadism & torture, as noted in this WaPo editorial.

What better way to mark the 2,000th military casualty than to snub the Geneva Convention rules intended to protect soldiers.

25 October 2005

Electronic Voting not Ready for Prime Time

That's what a GAO report concluded last Friday. The report considers issues of security and reliability, neither of which are satisfactory at this point. That's sure to surprise Rep. Bob Ney (R-OH), who has had no shame touting his partisan ignorance for the past 18 months on this issue. Ney believes e-voting technology is perfectly secure and anyone who disagrees is an America-hating liberal homosexual atheist.

The report makes several recommendations, most of which seem fairly obvious (ensure proper testing, ensure conformity to local election systems, e.g.). But then there's this: "draft changes to existing federal voluntary standards for voting systems, including provisions addressing security and reliability."

Voluntary? Compliance with federal voting standards is voluntary? Suddenly Britney Spears' motherhood doesn't look so ridiculous.

According to the report "there is a risk that many state and local jurisdictions will rely on voting systems that were not developed, acquired, tested, operated or managed in accordance with rigorous security and reliability standards -- potentially affecting the reliability of future elections and voter confidence in the accuracy of the vote count."

Happy voting!

24 October 2005

Strike Two for Sherrod Brown?

Sherrod Brown has been taking some flak lately, but let's give the man at least some credit for keeping the Kerry memory alive. Perhaps John Kerry was even one of the Senate Democrats who convinced Brown to change his mind, giving Brown the opportunity to paraphrase Kerry's defining moment: "I decided to run for the Senate, after I decided against it."

That was strike one.

But now some are saying Brown is stabbing Hackett in the back again. Brown is raising money with blog ads, but with a twist: the money doesn't go into Brown's campaign, it goes into a fund that will be used by the eventual primary winner, whether Brown or Hackett.

What has some people irked is that the ad has both men's pictures. So is Brown using Hackett to raise money for himself, or he just going through a "nobility" phase?

Well, one of Brown's campaign strategies is to use the blogosphere. He has bloggers on the payroll at DailyKos and MyDD, and he wants to expand this to Ohio blogs. I am guessing that Brown's primary strategy will focus on GOTV from core Democrats rather than fundraising & advertising. The former can be done with the ODP apparatus [however lame] of which he is an insider.

By contrast, Hackett is an outsider who must sell himself to core Dems, non-core Dems, independents, and Republicans, so he will therefore need more money than Brown for travel & advertising. Hackett's money needs are immediate, while Brown's are not. So Brown may be hoping that while he's shmoozing his colleagues, Hackett will burn up his money just trying to keep up. And when it's over, Brown expects that he'll have the votes to win the primary and money in the bank to battle DeWine.

It's a solid strategy, but the fact is that Brown is using Hackett's image for his own benefit. Brown is paying for the ads himself; if he truly believed they could benefit Hackett equally, he wouldn't buy the ads. What kind of candidate spends campaign money with no hope of return? Brown is running a campaign, not a foundation. He shouldn't pretend otherwise.

I say strike two for Sherrod Brown.

21 October 2005

Former State Dept. Official Shines Light on BushCo

The State Department’s Chief of Staff under Colin Powell, Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, recently spoke to the New America Foundation. Like several other insiders to the Bush administration, he finds plenty to fault them with. The full transcript is long; some notable excerpts are here:

But the case that I saw for four-plus years was a case that I have never seen in my studies of aberrations, bastardizations, perturbations, changes to the national security decision-making process. What I saw was a cabal between the vice president of the United States, Richard Cheney, and the secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld on critical issues that made decisions that the bureaucracy did not know were being made. And then when the bureaucracy was presented with the decision to carry them out, it was presented in a such a disjointed, incredible way that the bureaucracy often didn’t know what it was doing as it moved to carry them out.

But if you want to read how the Cheney-Rumsfeld cabal flummoxed the process, read that book [“The Assassin’s Gate,” by George Packer]. And of course there are other names in there: Undersecretary of Defense Douglas Feith, whom most of you probably know Tommy Franks said was the stupidest blankety, blank man in the world. He was. (Laughter.) Let me testify to that. He was. Seldom in my life have I met a dumber man. (Laughter.) And yet – and yet – and yet, after the secretary of State agrees to a $40 billion department rather than a $30 billion department having control, at least in the immediate post-war period in Iraq, this man is put in charge.

…what Dwight Eisenhower warned about – God bless Eisenhower – in 1961 in his farewell address, the military industrial complex – and don’t you think they aren’t among us today – in a concentration of power that is just unparalleled… If one of them is a lead on the satellite program… the others are subs. And they’ve learned their lesson; they’re in every state. They’ve got every congressman, every senator. They’ve got it covered.

…my army right now is truly in bad shape – truly in bad shape. And I’m not talking about the billions and billions of dollars of equipment it’s burning up in Iraq at a rate 10 or 15 times the rate its life cycle said it should be burned up at, but I’m also talking about when you have officers who have to hedge the truth, NCOs who have to hedge the truth. They start voting with their feet, as they did in Vietnam, my war.

I like to use the world gracelessness, and I use that word because grace is something we have lost in the modern world. It’s a very important product. It’s very different, for example, to walk in with a foreign leader and find something you can be magnanimous about. You don’t have to win everything. You don’t have to be the big bully on the block. Find something you can be magnanimous about, that you can give him, that you can say he gets credit for, or she gets credit for. That’s diplomacy. That’s diplomacy. You don’t walk in and say, I’m the big mother on the block and if everybody’s not with me, they’re against me, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. The difference between father and son, in my mind, sort of comes from that attitudinal approach to the world.

Again, I recommend to you “The Assassins’ Gate.” George Packer gets this right. There was simply no plan, other than humanitarian assistance and a few other things like protection of oil and so forth, with regard to post-war Iraq. There was no plan.

WaPo has an article on the speech here.

Thoughts on Brown vs. Hackett

As I see it, the Brown vs. Hackett contest is basically an insider Dem vs. outsider Dem contest. This does not make Brown intrinsically unsuitable, but it does have significance.

The insider Dems do nothing to help their party. In fact, their actions have generally made it easier for Republicans to win. Their choices during the 2004 election were ridiculous. Instead of backing Howard Dean, the man who exhumed their party, they back Gephardt! And then Kerry. And who can forget Kerry's campaign advisor, Bob "Silence is Golden" Shrum?

The insiders did not back Hackett until late in the race. In fact, it was Dean's grassroots organization, Democracy for America, which came through with the big initial fundraising. Only after they raised enough did the DCCC pitch in. And the folks from Washington may have hurt as much as they helped: their phone canvassing was a fiasco; many people in district 2 reported getting repeated calls for Hackett, one couple told me they got 12.

What I am most intrigued about is Brown's change of mind. It is now known that Strickland twisted his arm, and what I want to know is this: did beltway Dems assure Strickland their support (for Governor) if he could get Brown instead of Hackett?

It's not illogical: the GOP can pass all of its nutty legislation because it votes as a block. It's not outrageous for the Congressional Dems to want a member who will be more likely to join in a voting block than not. This will make them a more effective opposition party. Hackett has a reputation as a maverick, so they may view Brown as being more "one of them" than Hackett.

Also, the Dem insiders know Brown and Strickland, but not Coleman or Hackett.

The fact that the beltway Dems want Brown is all the more reason to support Hackett, because one is voting not only for a candidate but also for a change in the stultifying atmosphere among the beltway Dems.

20 October 2005

Which Would You Rather Have, Taiwan or Iraq?

As America's power continues to wane and China's continues to rise, Taiwan will be in the balance and may find its own fortunes in question.

America has thus far been a cautious supporter of Taiwan's autonomy, but as American influence decreases, the fate of Taiwan will be more a matter between China and Europe. Russia and China have been buddying up lately, so Russia may find itself having to play an important hand.

China will be in an increasingly better position to act militarily in Taiwan, as well as to influence other countries not to recognize Taiwan diplomatically. And China is still serious about Taiwan, as this recent spat with Google revealed.

I suppose we can't deride China too much for wanting another province since we just got our 51st state, but somehow I'm thinking they'll get more out of Taiwan than we'll get out of Iraq.