Monday, January 31, 2005

One of These Things is Not Like the Other...

Scioto Downs Racetrack
Donerick's Pub
St. Christopher's Catholic Church
Frisch's Big Boy
Sawmill Lanes Bowling Alley

If you answered Donerick's Pub in Dublin, Ohio, you would be right.

All of these other public establishments were impacted by Columbus's Smoking Ban, which went into effect at midnight last night. The ban forbids smoking in all public buildings: bars, restaurants, bowling alleys, and churches alike.

This is just another example of a law designed to protect us from ourselves. I hear all the proponents talk about the dangers of secondhand smoke. How they have a right to a smoke free environment. How public establishments actually do better financially when they are smoke free.

I say, then let the market decide. If a smoke free establishment does better, let someone start one up and put the smoke filled ones out of business. If someone is doesn't want to be exposed to second hand smoke, just don't frequent places that welcome smokers. It's that easy.

My wife is eight months pregnant. We don't need a law to protect us. We just don't go to places that have a lot of smokers. It's pretty simple.

And just in case you were curious, it's the Bingo players who were complaining at St. Christopher's.

Oh, and another thing, I don't smoke.

Coleman to Run for Ohio Governor

The Akron Beacon Journal is reporting that Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman will announce his intention to seek the Democratic nomination for the Ohio govenor's race in 2006.

Coleman, the popular mayor of Ohio's largest city since 1999, ran statewide in 1998 as Lee Fisher's lieutenant-governor running mate. The Democrats lost to Republican Bob Taft's ticket by 5 percentage points.

Coleman rolled up an easy victory the next year, becoming Columbus' first Democratic mayor in 28 years. He had no GOP opponent in his 2003 re-election campaign.

Republicans have held the governor's office since 1991. Taft easily defeated little-known Democrat Tim Hagan to win re-election in 2002.

Coleman, 50, would bring a formidable campaign to the Democratic ticket, the chairmen of both state parties said. Republican Chairman Bob Bennett acknowledged Coleman's popularity but said the Republican nominee will be able to run a strong campaign should Coleman win the nomination.

The Columbus Dispatch has an exclusive interview:
"I have to stand up,'' Coleman said. "I feel a need, an obligation and frankly a duty to run and it's because our state's in crisis.''

"My family said go for it,'' Coleman said.

The state, facing a potential $5 billion budget shortfall, is adrift and has been failed by Republicans' decade-long control of state government, Coleman said.

"I don't think our state can afford more of the same,'' he said. "It's time for a change.''

Coleman said he would not shy away from a Democratic primary challenge that could come from talk-show host Jerry Springer of Cincinnati, U.S. Rep. Sherrod Brown of Lorain, state Sen. Eric Fingerhut of Cleveland, and former Attorney General Lee Fisher of Shaker Heights.

"My decision to run has not been based on other candidates' decisions,'' he said. "My decision to run is based on my believe[sic] that I have a duty and an obligation to serve, to stand up and not stand by.''

Coleman is a moderate Democrat with limited statewide name recognition. He will need to increase his exposure over the next year. With that said, I expect him to be a strong contender.

More tomorrow.

"Hillary's Husband"

Hillary fainted.

But it was this line that caught my attention.
In September, Clinton's 58-year-old husband underwent quadruple bypass surgery.
The article did not mention her husband by name or title anywhere.

Obviously another step in the moderatization of Hillary.

Sunday, January 30, 2005

Kerry's "Warning" Applicable to Democrats

Read the full transcript of Geraldo reporting live on Fox News if you haven't already.
All I know is what I saw with my own eyes. What I saw with my own eyes were the people of this community turning out to vote, turning out in droves....I tell you, the job they did, it's--they've created an environment stable enough so that these people--not only are our GIs heroes, each one of these voters is a hero. Remember what they have been threatened with. Remember what they have endured. Remember the people who have been beheaded. Remember the threats that if you come out today, this is your last warning, you're going to be killed, your family is going to be killed. Well look at them. They're turning out anyway....

It's just amazing....There are the explosions, there's no doubt about it, in the background, the occasional fire, but that's not the news. Yes, it's the news of course, but the real news is that despite everything they are going to cast their ballots. It's incredibly heartwarming....
An exciting day, an historic day here in Iraq. It is the dawn of freedom....You folks who live in the United States who are watching this, just be proud. Be proud of this. This is amazing. This was inconceivable, wasn't it, during the days of Saddam Hussein. Look how far this country has come. It will heal its wounds. The terrorists are going to lose.
The next time you hear somone say the results are not legitimate, that the votes don't count, remember these words. The Iraqi people certainly didn't behave as if they thought their votes were meaningless.

Hopefully, over the next couple of days, the Democrats will realize how hollow and cynical the words of the Kennedy, Kerry, and Boxer coalition sound.

To paraphrase Kerry from Meet the Press this morning, what the Democrats do in the next few days will decide the outcome of the Democratic party for years to come. And this is - not may be - this is the last chance for the Democratic party to get it right.

Hopefully they will realize that we, as Americans, should be working together against a common enemy.


If not, they will isolate themselves from mainstream America in ways they haven't even dreamed of.

Live from Baghdad

The cable channel HDNet is broadcasting live from the Iraq elections as I write this. No newsmen. No commentators. Just the sights and sounds from the streets. Uncut and uncensored.

What strikes my is how ordinary the scene is. Poll workers registering the voters. Women with children waiting in line. Going to vote behind cardboard boxes. Smiles, conversations, and neighborly greetings.

All juxtaposed with security guards and US infantry men frisking people. An old man describing the increasing violence over the last couple of weeks. Another stating he is not scared, he is proud to help his country take a step in the right direction.

More smiles. More belief. Iraqi flags. Long lines and big crowds.

These are people who believe their actions are making a difference. And they are. Over the next couple of days, it will be interesting how this election will be portrayed.

I expect there will be some who attempt to declare it illegitimate due to low participation rates in parts of the country. To do so would be an absolute insult to the many Iraqi's who risked there lives by coming out to vote. Those who celebrated their next step towards democracy. Those who know their actions are making a difference.

For those in the US who consider waiting in long lines too much of a burden and a form of voter suppression, the Iraqi people are displaying just how valuable the right to vote is. What sacrifices and risks many are willing to take in order to exercise that right - a right many of us take for granted. A right that others of us seek to undermine and discredit. I right that I suspect none of us fully appreciate.

Today is a great day for the Iraqi people. It's also a great opportunity for all Americans to reflect on just how blessed we are.

UPDATE: As predicted, it didn't take long for some to question the legitimacy of the election, despite what appears to be an heroic turnout by the Iraqi people. Even I didn't expect it in a nationally televised interview hours after my initial post.
"It is hard to say that something is legitimate when whole portions of the country can't vote and doesn't vote," Sen. John Kerry (news - web sites), D-Mass., said on NBC's "Meet The Press."
Disgusting is not a harsh enough word.

Friday, January 28, 2005

Sticker Price: $500,000

The Other Paper describes the Bad Boy, a $500,000 street legal vehicle made in Grove City, Ohio that makes a Hummer look "like a small compact car."

What kind of person buys a $500,000 vehicle with a high-tech air-filtration system designed to withstand a biological, nuclear or chemical attack?

"I see people like, you know, Bill Gates will probably get one. I think Arnold Schwarzenegger definitely needs one," Connaughton said. "A lot of basketball stars are going to want to park these in their garages."

And that's not all...

Ayres told Connaughton what he wanted—a luxury vehicle that could withstand a terrorist attack—and Connaughton got to work.

The result is a truck you can drive safely and comfortably as your less-fortunate fellow humans perish right outside your tinted windows.

"You could literally drive through the hot zone," Ayres said.

The truck is equipped with a satellite phone which the driver could use to call for help—if there's anyone left alive to call—and is built so that a helicopter could lift the truck to a safe area, Connaughton said.

But what if guerilla fighters happen to be peppering your tires with machine-gun fire while you're trying to escape? No worries.

The air pressure in the Bad Boy's tires will stay consistent even if there are soda can-sized bullet holes in them, Connaughton said.

The truck was crafted to be driven through up to 5 feet of water, and the engine is capable of working in temperatures ranging from 120 degrees to 50-below.

and then...

The inside of the truck is carpeted and the seats are black leather. The ceiling is mirrored, and features flashing colored lights.

The Bad Boy also has a safe, a joystick-controlled floodlight, an elaborate sound system, a satellite radio, two liquid crystal display screens, a shortwave radio, a satellite phone and a global positioning system.

But is doesn't have everything...

The Bad Boy does have its limitations, however. Unlike the Army's vehicle, the Bad Boys don't have machine guns in their recesses.

"We elected not to offer that to the civilians," Connaughton said. "That could be dangerous, with road rage and all."

Phone Conversation

Me: Hello
Ford Service: Sir, we found the cause of your Check Engine light turning on.
Me: OK.
FS: Dogfood.
Me: What?
FS: Dogfood.
Me: {Silence}
FS: Sir? Do you have a dog?
Me: Yes.
FS: We found dogfood all inside your air duct. About 5 pounds.
Me: What?
FS: About 5 pounds. And they're still finding more and taking it out.
Me: What?
FS: We had to remove the battery to get to all of it. We are going to exceed our original estimate, do you want us to continue?
Me: Cleaning out the dogfood?
FS: Yes. We think a small rodent has been getting in your dogfood and carrying it to the car where it is warm.
Me: 5 pounds?
FS: Yes. That's the only thing we can think of. Do you give us permission to exceed our original estimate?
Me: Yes.
FS: Great, we should be done in about an hour. Good bye.
Me: Bye.

Me: Honey, you aren't going to believe this...

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Here's a Ping Pong Punchline for You

In response to DC, who seems to enjoy a good - and I use the term very loosely - ping pong joke without a punchline...

I proudly present the Top 10 Ping Pong Joke Punchlines of all time, jokes not included:

10. He got excited and fell off the table.
9. You can play ping pong without a paddle.
8. See if it's truly possible to launch a ping pong ball 20 feet in the air.
7. A lid.
6. The now satisfied mathematician tosses the ping pong ball aside, sits back down and resumes thinking about his math problems.
5. You've ever had Thanksgiving dinner on a ping pong table.
4. "Ping Pong, the witch is dead."
3. "Ping pong balls? I thought you said King Kong's balls!"
2. "Bill Cosby, see you Tuesday!"

And finally, just for Julie with a B:
1. They had the volley of the dills.

Just to be clear, these punchlines are not alternative endings for DC's Ye Olde Ping Pong Ball Joke. They are actual punchlines for 10 separate jokes about Ping Pong balls pulled from the far reaches of the internet.

Included among them are a knock knock joke, a you might be a redneck joke, and obviously the obligatory pun. It's an exercise for the reader to figure out which is which - as well as try to track down the rest of the jokes.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Me Blog Gooder

Stating Me Blog Good, Brian from Cincinnati Blog points out that Cincinnati was rated above average in a recent Men's Health survey rating 101 cities from smartest to dumbest, leaving it to me to point out which city is Ohio's smartest...

Cleveland got a D-plus and just escaped the bottom quarter by ranking 74th out of 101 cities -- between Anchorage, Alaska, and Scottsdale, Ariz.

We [Cleveland] trailed Columbus -- Ohio's "smartest" city, in 19th place with a B-plus -- and Cincinnati (27th, B-minus) and Akron (53rd, C).

For those keeping score, Minneapolis, MN ranked #1 and Fort Wayne, IN ranked #101.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

New Ohio License Plates?

Plans for by Ohio officials to begin issuing license plates with a "Choose Life" slogan on them are now up in the air after the US Supreme court let stand a lower court ruling that the plates violated the First Amendment because an equivalent pro-choice plate was not offered.

I never thought the plates were appropriate. I don't think religious or polical views belong on license plates. But that doesn't mean they violate anyone's constitutional rights.

While trying to define where to draw the line, I came up with these new Ohio plates that I think are probably needed to provide a forum for alternate points of view of existing Ohio plates.

Current plate: Cincinnati Bengals
New plate: Cincinnati Bengals Still Suck

Current plate: Cleveland Indians
New plate: Cleveland Native Americans Whose Land the White Man Stole and Abused

Current plate: Celebrate Kids
New plate: Celebrate Birth Control

Current plate: Ducks Unlimited
New plate: Peking Duck Dinners

Current plate: Future Farmers of America
New plate: Future Construction Workers Supporting Urban Scrawl

Current plate: Leader in Flight
New plate: Aviophobiac

Current plate: Ohio Cattlemens Association
New Plate: Vegetarians Unlimited

And of course...
Proposed Plate: Choose Life
Alternative Plate: Choose Death

Holocaust Survivor 1, Deer 0

Not quite sure how a deer gets inside your house, but here's what happens once it does:
"I never, in my mind, was thinking that when my wife was yelling, 'Look it's a big deer in the living room!' ... I couldn't believe it," Tibor said. "I just didn't know what to do."

As Tibor distracted the deer, his wife ran outside and flagged down a passing taxi for help."When that buck was charging on me, and there were 10 antlers close in on my stomach, I don't know where I got the strength, but I guided him to the side with the antlers I was holding," Tibor said.

Tibor said the same inner strength that he found to make it through six years in a Siberian prison camp helped him survive the ordeal with the deer.
Six years in a Siberian prison camp would pretty much put any "ordeal" in perspective.

UPDATE: reports that Tibor is expected to fully recover and should be back home today.

Ohio Town Makes Superbowl Footballs

USA Today traveled to Ada in northwest Ohio to visit the only remaining football factory in the US:

In his trips to eight Super Bowls, Charles Moore has met fans who figure perfect spirals originate with somebody hitting a button: "Some people think you just put leather in a machine and out pops a football."

Hardly. Super Bowl footballs come from workers such as Moore, who used his bare and bandaged hands Monday to twist 600 balls. As a "ball turner," Moore grapples with balls that are inside out, so they can be stitched, and turns them right-side out.

He has had the job for 40 years. Not that it would be easy to take his specialty elsewhere: Every ball used in the NFL, and most used in college and high school games, comes from the Wilson Sporting Goods factory in this town of 5,582.

What's abundantly clear from the article is how manual the process is and how long the average employee has worked at the factory. Of the 5-10 people interviewed for the story, the newest employee started 15 years ago.

I don't think I would last 15 days.

No Moore Osc

Oscar nominations are in, and Fahrenheit 9/11 received zero nominations:
Michael Moore, a 2002 documentary winner for "Bowling for Columbine," missed out on nominations this time with his hit "Fahrenheit 9/11." Moore decided against entering "Fahrenheit 9/11" in the documentary category to boost its prospects for best-picture and other categories, but the film failed to earn any nominations.
Funny, I always thought the decision was made because a film has to have at least some factual basis to be considered a documentary.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Next Target for the RIAA?

The band from Renoldsburg High School, a suburb of Columbus, will pay a $3,300 fine to a British composer:

The marching band used the copyrighted music -- without approval -- last year during its halftime show performances and during various competitions.

"They copied it and didn't buy it," said Richard Ross, district superintendent. "They decided to make it part of (their) program."

Ross said the legal situation is unusual but the band "appears to be in the wrong."

The money to pay for the alleged music swiping will come from the Band Boosters, a parent and community organization that supports the band, Ross said.

OK, I admit it. I'm looking for any excuse not to start talking about the 2006 Ohio gubernatorial race. But as far as distractions go, I kind of liked this one.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Roethlisberger Leads Team to Victory

The Findlay Courier reports...

Carlee Roethlisberger scored a career-high 36 points and grabbed 11 rebounds Friday as she led Findlay High's girls basketball team to a 78-60 Greater Buckeye Conference win over Lima Senior.

Meanwhile, her big brother had a rough game today, although his hometown is still proud of him.

And for anyone who is wondering what Cincinnati thinks for Corey Dillon, this ought to answer that question.

Remember When Doing The Taxes was the Hard Part?

I finally got around to getting my tax software for this year. I browsed through the Sunday flyers and decided to visit the local OfficeMax, which was offering a free cordless phone with the purchase - after rebates of course.

I came home with 6 different boxes and almost $200 charged to my credit card: TaxCut, TaxCut State, H&R Block Deduction Pro, Microsoft Money, Norton AntiVirus, and of course the phone.

My next step: start filling out rebate forms.

After literally two hours of reading fine print, interpreting confusing instructions, and cutting out UPC symbols, box tops, box bottoms, box SIDES, and even the front page of an old user manual, I now need to make six copies of my original sales receipt and mail seven separate rebate forms to get about 90% of my money back.

All this, just to get ready to start my taxes.

And once I file electronically, there will be another rebate that I will have to send in.

Sometimes I need to remind myself that computers are making my life easier.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Refreshing View From Wisconsin

Wendy, from Boots & Sabers, has an open letter for her fellow Wisconsinites:
Now is not the time to quibble about who really won Wisconsin. The results have been certified, and, though it may be small consolation, John Kerry can rest easy knowing that Wisconsin is officially blue. We must make clear that what we are about to do is NOT to try to change 2004, but to ensure that whoever wins the next election is determined by a fair, honest, and incorrupt voting system.
I agree. It's time to move on. In Ohio, Wisconsin, and Washington. The focus should not be on trying to change the election results of the past - even if there is reason to believe they are wrong. But to ensure that such things can't happen in the future, and to restore faith in our electorial system.

Faith in our electorial system is far more important than any single election result. Faith that I believe the Democrats have systematically undermined as a strategic goal over the last 4 years. Nevertheless, restoring this faith is important to all of us, as Americans. And to do so requires letting go of the past, and focusing on the future.

Focusing on the future requires faith in fellow Americans. And this is where I believe Republicans differ from the liberal elite. Compare their response to the election results (apologies to the world, talking down to flyover country, denigrating those with strong religious beliefs) to Wendy's concluding paragraph:
I grew up in Wisconsin. I love this state and the people in it. I like to believe that the people here are the honest, upstanding, freedom-loving sort. They are. Most of them, anyway. But we need to protect ourselves, our way of life, and the integrity of our system. Help me do that. Call or write to your legislator today.
If you have faith in your fellow Americans, you want open and honest elections.

If you worry that maybe you are in the minority - or worse - know you are but still think you're right and the ends justifies the means, you will continue to look for ways to undermine faith in the process. You will continue to focus on the past, instead of taking steps to improve things in the future.

It is time for everyone to have faith in America. It is time to start working on the process improvements for our next election. It is time to take the first step in restoring the faith in our election system that has eroded over the last several election cycles.

Over the next couple of months, it will become clear who has faith in Americans, and who is more interested self serving activities.

It's Like a Train Wreck

I know I shouldn't go over to The Free Press and look, but sometimes I just can't help myself.

The latest is a proposal for Plan B: Parallel Elections & Signed Ballots:
A Parallel Election would be held in tandem with the official election. It could be organized on a precinct, county, or statewide basis. And anyone could do it. It's simple. On Election Day, "parallel election pollworkers" (PEPs) would position themselves outside the polls. They would provide voters with “parallel ballots” to mark and a ballot box in which to cast them. At the end of the day, PEPs would compare their tallies with the official election returns. If the tallies don't match, the election can be challenged.
Oh, it gets better...
But, the really big deal is this... voters would be asked to print their names and addresses and sign their ballots. What's the point? To provide proof. Candidates need hard evidence in order to challenge election results. A signed ballot would act as a voter's affidavit - as direct evidence of the voter's intent.
No selection error issues there.

But what the heck, let's just eliminate the secret ballot period.
The original goal of the secret ballot was to minimize vote selling and voter intimidation. It seemed like a good idea at the time. But, that time has passed.
By this point, you may be thinking the author hadn't considered the downsides of this proposal. You'd be wrong. Of course they were considered.
What are we afraid of? Are we afraid we'd lose our jobs if our employers knew how we voted? That ship has sailed - quite literally. Millions of jobs in America have already been outsourced to foreign countries. It's only going to get worse if we can't boot these lunatics out of office. Are we afraid that some voters will sell their votes? Oh, you mean like our legislators already do? Listen. I wouldn't make vote selling legal, but I wouldn't get my shorts in a twist over it, either. Or, are we afraid to disappoint our friends and family? It's more important not to disappoint yourself.
So there you have it. Parallel elections. The answer to all of our problems. I don't know why I didn't think of it myself.

Friday, January 21, 2005

It Must Have Been All Those Political Ads

The Plain Dealer reports:

Drinkers guzzled 9.4 million gallons of hard booze in 2004, shelling out $571 million and breaking all previous sales records, the Division of Liquor Control in the Ohio Depart- ment of Commerce reported Thursday.

The sales of spirituous liquor, defined by the more than 21 percent alcohol contained in the bottles, topped 2003's record of $536 million by 6.5 percent, or $35 million.

"It's the highest dollar sales the division has ever had," said liquor division spokesman Matt Mullins.

Don't Say I Didn't Warn You

This is not for the squeamish.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Conyers Gets Back on His High Horse

Yesterday I covered the fact that Ohio AG Jim Petro asked the Ohio Supreme Court to sanction the attorney who filed the frivolous lawsuit challenging the Ohio election results.

Today, our favorite Wolverine, John Conyers (D-MI) responds:

Dear Attorney General Petro:

I write to express my concern regarding your recent request to sanction those attorneys who brought a legal challenge to last year's presidential election in Ohio. In particular, I am concerned that by seeking official censure and fines, you are engaged in a selective and partisan misuse of your legal authority.

Glad you're all about stopping partisan politics John.
As an initial matter, one would be hard pressed to see how the legal challenges brought under the Ohio election challenge statute were "frivolous." First off, it is widely known that the Ohio presidential election was literally riddled with irregularities and improprieties, many of which are set forth in the 102 page report issued by the House Judiciary Committee Democratic Staff. As a matter of fact, the problems were so great that Congress was forced to debate the first challenge to an entire state's slate of electors since the federal Electoral Count law was enacted in 1877. In short, there is more than an abundant record raising serious, substantive questions about the Ohio presidential election.
See John, we have three branches of government. While Congress may not consider accusations based on hearsay and incorrect statistics frivolous, our court system does.
The Ohio Secretary State also refused to respond to numerous questions regarding the irregularities submitted to him by several members of the House Judiciary Committee, has refused to respond to a single concern set forth in the Judiciary Report, and also sought a protective order to avoid any discovery related to the legal challenges. In short, Ohio election officials have compounded public doubt concerning the election by refusing to provide any sort of accountability and acting in almost every respect as if they have "something to hide."
Don't be ridiculous John. As you know, Ohio's county election boards are bipartisan and the recount process was open and observed by respresentatives of those requesting it. Even the Democratic official you cited in your report as observing tampering stated that she had no reason to suspect foul play. The only people who compounded public doubt were you and your like-minded friends.
I would appreciate it if you would respond to me though my Judiciary Committee staff, Perry Apelbaum and Ted Kalo, 2142 Rayburn House Office Building, Washington, D.C. 20515 (tel. 202-225-6504, fax 202-225-4423) by no later than January 27. Thank you.
On this John, I will take you up on your offer. I will let you know that I am glad that we have a court system that is based on facts, not fiction.

I will let you know that I am disappointed - not that AG Jim Petro is asking for sanctions for a frivolous lawsuit - but that Congress will not sanction you, as you hypocritically embarassed your country in the grandstanding you called a debate.

Yes Rep. Conyers, I will respond to you. And I hope others do too.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Ohio Election Irregularities Heading to Court

While Washington and Wisconsin continue to investigate voting irregularities, Ohio is beginning to take legal action on a number of fronts. Turns out there were some problems, just not in the areas the Democrats were pointing to.

First, Chad Stanton, the man who infamously registered Mary Poppins and Dick Tracy to vote in return for crack cocaine, was indicted on felony charges.

Then Ohio AG Jim Petro asked the Ohio Supreme Court to sanction the attorney who filed the frivolous lawsuit challenging the Ohio election results.

And now, a Lakeside woman could face criminal charges for voting twice in the November election. Once in Ohio and once in Maryland.

I hope Ohio prosecutors take strong actions on all of these fronts.

While some continue to squawk about counting every vote, Ohio continues to take action to make sure that only every legal vote is counted.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Ashley's Epilogue

USA Today reports that Ashley Faulkner will be attending Bush's inauguration first hand.
It's only fitting that Mason, Ohio, teenager Ashley Faulkner will get a chance to see President Bush's inauguration firsthand this week.

After all, her ad helped make it happen.

Ashley Faulkner was the focus of Ashley's Story, a pro-Bush campaign ad that aired nearly 30,000 times in the month before the election Nov. 2.

I remember when this ad started running in Ohio. I still can't watch it or read the Enquirer article that started it all without choking up all over again.

At a time when we were being bombarded with negative ads 24/7, this one cut through the noise like nothing else. The emotion on Bush's face in the picture was unmistakable. You knew it - and he - was real.

At the same time, Kerry was out hunting for votes. And the pictures from his trip - which transparently screamed panderer - stood in sharp contrast.

Lynn Faulkner, who runs a foundation for orphaned children, said Ashley "is glad she helped other people see what she saw."

Enjoy your trip Ashley. You are still in our thoughts and prayers.

PD Analysis: Cleveland Suburban Precincts Busiest

The Cleveland Plain Dealer reports on it's analysis of the distribution of voting machines in Cuyahoga county. It's findings:
But a Plain Dealer analysis shows that, in Cuyahoga County at least, the elections board distributed machines equally to city and suburban polling locations...

Before the Nov. 2 election, the elections board allotted each Cleveland precinct one machine for every 117 registered voters within its boundaries - the same ratio of machines that suburban precincts received.

In other words, the more registered voters a particular precinct had, the more machines it received, regardless of where that precinct was.

And in the end, the busiest precincts - when measured by the number of ballots cast per machine - were actually in the suburbs, not Cleveland, according to a Plain Dealer analysis of records from the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections.

If this sounds like a duplicate of a previous post, it should. The Columbus Dispatch reported it's analysis of Franklin county precincts a month ago.

As previously noted, the Dispatch also found that Republican leaning districts in Franklin county were busier (again, as measured by ballots cast per machine), than Democratic leaning districts.

Given the analysis of two out of Ohio's three major cities, one can only assume that John Kerry was talking about another state when he said the following at an MLK Breakfast on Monday:
"Voting machines were distributed in uneven ways. In Democratic districts, it took people four, five, eleven hours to vote, while Republicans sorted through in ten minutes - same voting machines, same process, our America."
Hat Tip: JawsBlog

Monday, January 17, 2005

Now it's Wisconsin's Turn

Boots & Sabers is now reporting suspicious election results from Milwaukee. Wisconsin allows same day registration, and it seems 75,000 voters in Milwaukee registered to vote at the polls on election day, and then cast their vote immediately.

Of those 75,000 registrations, a full 13% of them, or about 10,000 registrations, are illegible. Presumably the identity of the registrant was checked on election day, but since the registration can’t be read, there is no way to verify the registration. Off of the bat, we have 10,000 votes that were cast in Milwaukee for voters whose existence can’t be verified.

Of the remaining 65,000 registrations for which confirmation cards have finally been sent, the Elections Commission says to expect that a full third of them, or about 22,000, will be returned undeliverable.
To put this in perspective, Ohio registered 800,000 new voters in 2004. Ohio Republicans attempted to challenge 35,000 of them due to due to invalid addresses.

This turned into a PR nightmare when several people they challenged showed up and with their proof of address and were quoted complaining about Republicans trying to disenfranchise them. The Ohio election boards eventually denied all of the challenges.

One of the lessons learned was that undeliverable mail does not necessarily mean that the address - or the voter - does not exist.

With that being said, the undeliverable rate in Milwaukee is significantly higher than Ohio and certainly is enough to raise concern.

The biggest surprise to me is that evidently these 75,000 voters were given regular ballots, instead of provisional ballots, and they were immediately intermingled with other valid ballots, instead of counted later once they were validated.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

14 Days Down, 125 to Go

That's the status of Jeff Tweiten's wait in line for the next Star Wars movie, which opens May 19, 2005.

He sees worth in the waiting, especially in a culture that demands instant gratification.

"Coming out here and sitting and waiting -- embodying the anticipation -- I think people need to see that," Tweiten says. "Maybe they'll slow down. So many people are in such a hurry that they miss the savoring of time."

A whole community has developed around Tweiten's mission. His friends bring him changes of clothes, snacks and their company. Nearby businesses offer a bathroom, a shower or a warm cup of coffee. Passersby might laugh in amusement, shake their heads in wonder or strike up a conversation.

Me? I'm part of that instant gratification crowd.

UPDATE: It must just be a Star Wars day. Check this out for only $20K from

Kos On Jerry Springer's Payroll Too

With all the discussion lately on Kosgate and Kos being paid by the Dean campaign, this nugget was casually dropped in an editorial entitled Springer's blog gives him edge in the new world of politics by Michael Meckler in the Columbus Dispatch today. As usual, this Dispatch link requires a subscription and I am looking for a second non-pay source of this information.
What Dean managed to accomplish was not lost on Springer, whose longtime friend and political consultant Mike Ford worked on Dean’s campaign. Springer hired two of the masterminds behind Dean’s Internet strategy, Jerome Armstrong and Markos Moulitsas, to devise his site. Moulitsas is extremely well-known in the blogosphere — the worldwide community of bloggers — for his own Web log, The Daily Kos, which averages more than 250,000 visits each day.
Springer's site, Jerry for Ohio, appears to have gone online sometime in January 2004, with it's first post on January 17, 2004. With recent posts entitled Could that possibly apology and Blackwell takes credit for defeating Kerry, it resembles the Daily Kos in both content and form.

A search of the Kos's site reveals no discloser that he is being paid by Springer. Clearly this is one of those "other clients" that he is "helping win elections." There is also no indication of whether Kos was paid a one time fee for "technical consulting" or whether he continues to be on Springer's payroll.

The next question, of course is what is meant by "what Dean managed to accomplish was not lost on Springer?"

What does Springer expect to get from Kos in return for his consulting? And what impact has that had on Kos's coverage of Springer to date, and in the future, as he considers a campaign for Ohio's governor.

Obviously, only Kos can answer that for sure. A quick review of Daily Kos posts referencing Springer, however, suggests that the Springer money is serving to legitimacize Springer as a candidate to Kos's readership.

Consider the changing tone in these three posts that are returned when searching Daily Kos for 'Springer'.

From October 17th, 2003, by Meteor Blades - Prior to the Springer web site going up and presumably prior to Kos's consulting help: Oh, Good, Make Ohio a National Joke
Jerry Springer, yes, that Jerry Springer is pondering a run for the governorship of Ohio. I’d normally express some sympathy to all you Buckeyes, but I live in California. ’Nuff said?
From February 25th, 2004, by Kos - One month after the first post was published on Springer's site: Nader asked Dean for VP Slot
Mike Ford is the guy that ran all of Jerry Springer's early campaigns (for mayor and councilmember of Cincinnati). Lest the "Springer" connection make you skeptical, he's also Joe Trippi's best friend and comrade in arms.
And finally from December 10th, 2004, by Kos - After potentially several months as a Springer consultant: Springer coming to liberal talk radio
Who says liberal radio isn't catching on? Even Clear Channel wants in on the action, signing Jerry Springer for a show in the Cincinnati market and, they hope, national syndication.

It's a one-year deal, which means Springer will still be able to run for Senate or Governor in 2006.
The change in tone is clear.

Springer goes from a joke candidate in the first post, to "you may be skeptical but here's another reason why it's legitimate" in the second post, to finally in the third, being referenced as a legitimate candidate for a Senate or Governor's race in 2006. Does anyone doubt that over the next couple of months the transformation would continue?

The fact that Kos himself made the last two posts is also extremely telling. It implies that Kos himself is personally overseeing the transformation on his site of Jerry Springer from trash talk show host to legitimate Ohio candidate.

There is nothing wrong with this - if Kos discloses his relationship with the Springer campaign. But to date he has not.

One can only assume that the relationship continues to this day.

And one can also assume that the transformation of Jerry Springer - at least as presented at Daily Kos - will continue as well.

UPDATE: A review of the Springer blog shows that Kos has published an average of one post a month to the site starting last March, implying that he is probably still getting something from Springer. None of the posts disclose the nature of their relationship.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Update: Miracles Don't Happen

Earlier this week I reported that Miracles Do Happen, when covering a group's decision to drop their lawsuit challenging Ohio's election results.

Obviously fearing that my reaction was the tip of the iceberg - and many other Ohioans were also taking the group's actions as proof of God's existence - the group has announced plans for their next lawsuit, thus preventing a tidal wave of movement to the religious right.

An attorney behind a presidential election challenge dismissed earlier this week asked a different judge on Friday to make Ohio's top election official answer questions about the Nov. 2 vote.

Attorney Cliff Arnebeck asked a federal judge to allow a group he represents, the Massachussetts-based Alliance for Democracy, to join a complaint filed against Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell on Election Day.

This would be a complaint filed by the Democrats on election day. It would be the same complaint they asked the court to dismiss last year.

The filing Friday asks Marbley to allow Arnebeck to take Blackwell's deposition on an emergency basis.

"The aim of this is to get to the truth as fast as possible and have anyone held accountable who committed any illegal acts or fraud," Arnebeck said.

Clearly, the Ohio secretary of state has a different opinion.
"Courts are serious places for serious people, and Mr. Arnebeck is not a serious person. His filings are frivolous, without merit and not based in any sort of reality," Blackwell spokesman Carlo LoParo said.
Congratulations to Arnebeck on his insidious plan. It clearly has nothing to do with the Ohio election. His secret goal is obviously to bring dispair and anguish to Ohioans who took his initial announcement as a sign of the Almighty's existence.

I'm sure his most recent decision has hundreds of thousands of previously religious Ohioans questioning the existence of a benevolent God. In Arnebeck's devious scheme, the obvious next step of joining the Democratic party is a mere formality.

Hey, it makes as much sense as anything else he's allegedly trying to do.

Good Thing They Have Young Legs

Here's what happens when you get a late start on your high school basketball season because you won the state football championship, and then the makeup games get cancelled because of weather.
BUSY SCHEDULE: Success on the football field and bad weather have combined to give St. Henry and Hardin Northern boys basketball schedules similar to an NBA team’s.
Between Jan. 11 and Jan. 29 the Redskins are scheduled to play nine games — Tuesday, Friday and Saturday for three consecutive weeks. Hardin Northern also has nine games between those dates.
By comparison, in the same time span, the Cleveland Cavaliers will play 10 games. Ohio State’s men’s basketball team will play six games in those 19 days.
Nine games in nineteen days. And I get tired just subbing in a Saturday pickup game. Of course if they are all like this game, maybe it wouldn't be so bad.

On second thought. Maybe it would be worse.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Goodbye Punch Card Ballots

Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell has decided that optical scan voting machines will be used uniformly in all 88 of Ohio's counties, as the Cincinnati Enquirer reports:

"It is just the most efficient and practical way to proceed," Secretary of State Ken Blackwell said Wednesday, as he made the optical scanner the state's primary voting system.

The decision was essentially arrived at by default. First, Ohio needed to replace the punch card ballots by January 2006, as required by the Help America Vote Act (HAVA). Ohio legislature also required a paper trail for the replacement system.

Currently, no electronic voting machines that produce a paper trail have been approved by the state. And when approved, it's estimated that they would have cost approximately $80M more than the optical scan device.

The result: the counties get their choice of two optical scan systems. The ballots will be scanned at each precinct and will warn the voter in real time of undervotes or overvote situations.

Some county election officials are complaining, saying that they didn't have a chance to provide input into the decision. But overall, I think it's a pretty solid one given the circumstances. The idea of uniform voting machines across the entire state is very encouraging.

A combination of electronic and optical scan machines would eventually open up new allegations against one type or the other. Electronic voting machines without a paper trail would always have some who were convinced they were rigged.

Optical scan it is.

Pass the number 2 pencil please.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Rather Provides a Warning to All

I've had a couple days to read a lot of different takes on the Rather report - discussions on political bias in the media, what constitutes proof of a fraudulent document, and coordination between CBS and the Democrats.

The more I read, the more I realized this could provide a warning for all of us. An angle I haven't seen touched on yet in the blogospere. Hindrocket from Power Line provides the starting point:
True enough, but let me offer this alternative theory: the fundamental problem that led to the downfall of 60 Minutes and, perhaps, CBS News, was the fact that no one involved in the reportorial or editorial process was a Republican or a conservative. If there had been anyone in the organization who did not share Mary Mapes's politics, who was not desperate to counteract the Swift Boat Vets and deliver the election to the Democrats, then certain obvious questions would have been asked.
I agree. Those dang people at CBS - surrounding themselves only with people who have the same opinions that they do. Re-enforcing their ideas on each other. Don't they realize that differences in opinions are good. Different viewpoints could have protected them from themselves.

And then I looked at my blogroll.
And then I looked at the blogrolls of the blogs on my blogroll.
And then I looked... well you get the idea.

Are the exceptions? Of course there are. Probably as many exceptions as the rule.

But in a medium where we tend to link to our like-minded friends, it's important to realize a differing opinion isn't always a bad thing.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Miracles do Happen

The plaintiffs challenging the results of the Ohio presidential election asked to drop their lawsuit today, the AP reports. Apparently they realize that it's a moot point now that the electorial votes have been certified.
Without giving specifics, attorney Cliff Arnebeck said challenges of the results would continue in state or federal courts. But he conceded that there was nothing available now to try to prevent Bush's inauguration.

"We are not quitting. We are going on to any other forum that's available and we intend to pursue those avenues aggressively," Arnebeck said.
Presumably, that's any forum that doesn't have that pesky 'burden of proof' requirement. Dan Rather should be expecting a phone call any moment now.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

The Next House Majority Leader?

I've been looking for a reason to talk about this piece that was published in the Cincinnati Enquirer last month.

Now, with Bob Novak stating that Ohio's John Boehner is the "odds-on favorite" to be the next majority leader if Tom Delay is forced to resign, I have the perfect excuse.

The Enquirer covers the fact that Boehner routinely refuses to go after pork for local projects as a matter of principle.
Most of Cincinnati's congressmen happily point out the money they wrangled in this year's budget for local roads, museums, clinics, and colleges.

But not Rep. John Boehner.

He requested nothing for his 630,000 constituents north of Cincinnati...

"I told people in 1990 that if they thought that my job was to come to Washington and rob the federal treasury on their behalf, they were sending the wrong guy here," Boehner, 55, said in an interview in his Capitol Hill office. "I said it, I said I said it. I've said it ever since. It's just not why I'm here."

The Enquirer estimates that he could have brought at least $100M back to Butler county if he wanted to. Obviously this raises concerns, even among local Republican officials, who feel his principled stance is lost on his peers.
"It's a philosophical shout in the dark. Might as well go out and howl at the moon," [GOP Butler county commissioner Mike] Fox said. "It doesn't affect spending in Congress one whit."

Gregory Jolivette, another GOP Butler County commissioner, said Boehner's refusal to get pork hurts his constituents.

"I'd like to see them fight like hell to cut down on (pork). But once the pie has been set, let's go get our slice," he said. "Until he gets more people to support his way of thinking, we're just chasing windmills."

Boehner's response, oh well.
"The federal government shouldn't be building local sewer projects," Boehner said.
Once you start talking to his constituents, however, you start to realize why he won his district with almost 70% of the vote.

"I believe that he should stick to his principles," said Marcia Smith, 42, of Gano. "Too many politicians take whatever they can get, whether it compromises what they believe or not. They go with whatever is popular. I applaud John Boehner for sticking to what he thinks is right and I feel that he should continue to refuse the money."

"I feel good about it. I wish all congressmen would take that perspective," said George Lang, 42, a business owner and West Chester township trustee. "Someone's got to take a stand. Hopefully his perspective will be contagious among his peers."

Perhaps if Boehner gets a chance at the majority leadership position, it will be.

Saturday, January 08, 2005

Which Ohio Gubernatorial Candidate is the Subject of an Award Winning Musical?

If you answered Jerry Springer, you'd be correct.

Seems as though plans by the BBC to broadcast the "award-winning" show, which is also described as a "profanity-laden musical," is causing concern.
Christian protesters set fire to their television licenses outside the BBC's London offices on Friday as outrage spread over the public broadcaster's plans to air a profanity-laden musical.

In the award-winning London show "Jerry Springer -- The Opera," viewers can watch a diaper fetishist confess all to his true love, catch a tap dance routine by the Ku Klux Klan and see Jesus and the Devil locked in a swearing match.

Michael Reid, a pastor and self-styled bishop who organized the peaceful demonstration ahead of the airing on Saturday evening, called the musical "filth."

Update: I was planning on sitting on this post until tomorrow for some light Sunday reading - I didn't realize it was schedule to air so soon. But Drudge is already posting an update stating that after the show aired, BBC executives were forced to leave their homes based on threats made after the show aired.

So much for the light humor.

Ice, Ice, Baby

I already posted pictures of flooding from southern Ohio.

Now here are some pictures of the ice storm that hit the western side of the state this week.



Speaking of raising a stink, this is not a story to peruse over dinner. Melting snow combined with new rainfall have created all sorts of flooding throughout Ohio as these pictures show.

Meanwhile, it seems as though Berliner park, a park on the southwest side of Columbus with over 100 softball fields, had it's own problem.
Untreated sewage stood up to 4 feet deep in Lou Berliner Park yesterday after the highest Scioto River waters since the disastrous 1959 flood forced a city sewer line to back up...
"It’s kind of a big deal," said Greg Davies, spokesman for the city’s sewer and drainage division said of the sewage in the park.
The solution? Wait.

Columbus Health Department officials suggest that Berliner be closed for two weeks, spokeswoman Liane Egle said.

"That might be enough time to pass," she said. "But these are refrigerator temperatures right now and germs can survive in refrigerator temperatures."

Ah, anybody else have a craving for that day-old bologna sandwich in the refrigerator right now?

After the sewage recedes into manholes in the park, sewer workers might have to pump out low-lying puddles. After that, health officials plan to inspect the area for any lingering health risk.

"I don’t think you can clean dirt," Egle said. "The upside is we’re not in softball season."

Meanwhile, if anyone knows how to clean dirt. Cold wet stinky dirt. Please let Egle know. I'm sure the neighbors would appreciate it.

Blackwell Fundraising Letter Raises Stink

Less than 24 hours after I posted saying how the secretary of state should "go the extra mile" of avoid even the appearance of impropriety, the Columbus Dispatch reports on a fund-raising letter sent out by Ohio secretary of state Kenneth Blackwell. It appears to have been covered exclusively by the Dispatch - which requires a subscription to view - at this point, but it will probably hit the wires soon.
Ohio’s chief elections officer is facing criticism for a fund-raising letter that thanks Republicans for "helping deliver" Ohio for President Bush — and asks for illegal corporate contributions for his 2006 gubernatorial campaign.
The problem came when a fund raising letter sent out by Blackwell requested personal and corporate contributions to his gubernatorial campaign. Corporate contributions are illegal in Ohio.
Jeff Ledbetter, fund-raising coordinator for Blackwell’s gubernatorial campaign, said the request was an oversight. He said the printer used a template for an issue committee, which can accept corporate checks.
Mistakes happen. No big deal. More troubling to me however, was this language:
"I want to say thank you for helping deliver the great Buckeye State for George W. Bush," Blackwell wrote, adding that "unapologetic liberal" Democratic Sen. John Kerry could have won Ohio — but "thankfully, you and I stopped that disaster from happening."
Clearly Blackwell meant to speak as the co-chair of the Bush-Cheney campaign for Ohio, not as the Ohio secretary of state. Unfortunately, Ohio secretary of state is not a role he can turn off and on whenever he wants. Blackwell needs to be aware of this, and how his words reflect on the office he holds.

It is disappointing that he did not recognize this, or thought it would go unnoticed.

Update: As predicted, this story has now hit the wires. Here is a link to the story that does not require registration.

Friday, January 07, 2005

Ohio Looks at Election Improvements

The Akron Beacon Journal/AP reports that discussions are already underway to improve Ohio's election processes.

On the state level, discussions are underway in Ohio to expand absentee and early voting options, and require voters to provide identification at polls. The state already is required by federal law to replace all punch card machines by November of this year.

"We did have a lot of successes in Ohio that we need to sustain. We had a million more voters participate in the process," said Carlo LoParo, spokesman for Ohio Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell, who plans to hold an elections summit in March to discuss reforms.

In the Ohio Senate, Republican Jeff Jacobson of Dayton plans to push for a law that would require Ohio voters to produce an identification card to vote while Democrat Teresa Fedor of Toledo wants to create standards for voting machines that would require a paper trail. She also wants to prohibit Ohio's secretary of state from holding a campaign office.

Actually all of the suggestions have merit. The most controversial will be requiring voters to provide identification and putting limits on the secretary of state. I think both are a good idea.

Any identification requirement would be minimal. A picture ID or a piece of mail with the voter's name and address was acceptable this year for the very few who were challenged.

With the way Ohio's bipartisan election boards are set up for each county, limits on the secretary of state aren't required. But at the same time, it is a good idea. In an age where everything is suspect, it doesn't hurt to go the extra mile to eliminate even the potential appearance of impropriety.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Columbus Drops Out of the Top Ten

Men's Fitness magazine has released their annual Top 10 list of America's Fattest and Fittest Cities. After being in the Top 10 Fattest Cities for the last four years, Columbus has dropped all the way down to number 16 fattest.
Columbus is officially out of the bottom 10, having moved up six slots from last year. What's their secret? Well, Columbus residents are watching less TV, have better access to healthcare, and breathe better air. But those improvements are still offset by poor nutrition — especially junk food — and a climate that is not fitness-friendly.
Among the fun facts:
  • Columbus has twice the national average number of pizza places per capita - one of the highest in our rankings.
  • Pizza places outnumber health-food stores by a more than 8-to-1 ratio - the second-highest spread in our survey
I'd protest if I weren't waiting on a delivery from Peppercini's as I type this.

Red Letter Day for the Democrats

While John Kerry was in Iraq meeting with the enemy - oh wait, he actually made these inspiring comments to our troops -
Visiting with U.S. troops in Baghdad on Thursday, failed presidential candidate John Kerry trashed Commander-in-chief George Bush for making "horrendous judgments" and "unbelievable blunders" that have undermined the war effort.

In a series of demoralizing comments first reported by the San Francisco Chronicle, the defeated Democrat griped, "What is sad about what's happening here now is that so much of it is a process of catching up from the enormous miscalculations and wrong judgments made in the beginning."
House Democrats were engaged in what appears to be a new-found quadrennial tradition: protesting the results of a legitimate national election. This time they convinced one of their Senate collaborators, Barbara Boxer to join them.
"We cannot keep turning our eyes away from a flawed system particularly as we have people dying in Iraq every day to bring democracy to those people," she said.
Does this entire party fail to realize the impact and impressions that statements like these have? Are they so focused on partisan politics that they can't restrain themselves even when their outlandish comments hurt so many?

Clearly they make the U.S look bad.

But even worse, they cast doubt on the democratic process in general. At a time when vulnerable democracies are taking root and just beginning to grow, we should be the role model for others to strive for, not the source for them to question the direction they are heading.

The Democratic party is demonstrating just where their priorities are. Ohio, and America, will not forget.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Kerry Email

Evidently John Kerry sent an email to 3 million of his closest friends. I must have been number 3 million and 1.

The good news, he has enough sense not to challenge Ohio's electors.
Tomorrow, members of Congress will meet to certify the results of the 2004 presidential election. I will not be taking part in a formal protest of the Ohio Electors.
But, in true Kerry fashion, he tries to have it both ways.
Despite widespread reports of irregularities, questionable practices by some election officials and instances of lawful voters being denied the right to vote, our legal teams on the ground have found no evidence that would change the outcome of the election.
Come on John. You can say it. Your legal team found no evidence to that would even validate the reports. That's why the outcome wouldn't change.

Oh wait. You can't say it. That would be taking a clear position, unambiguous postion on something.

If It Looks Like a Stuffed Ballot...

From the Seattle Times:

An unknown number of provisional voters, some of whom may not even have been registered to vote, improperly put their ballots directly into vote-counting machines at polling places, King County's elections superintendent said yesterday.

Once those ballots went into the machines, there was no way to separate them from legitimate ballots.

This would definitely explain why Washington's King county had 3,539 more ballots than voters.

Answer: To Those 'Suppressed' Ohio Voters?

The Detroit Free Press provides the question to US House Rep. John Conyers, who is planning to contest Ohio's electors due to perceived voting irregularities: Where did the turkeys go?

Seems as though a Detroit food bank gave Conyers 60 turkeys to distribute to needy people for Thanksgiving. They may not have made it quite to them.

The director of a Detroit food bank wants to know what happened to 60 turkeys -- 720 pounds of frozen birds -- that his charity gave to members of U.S. Rep. John Conyers' local staff two days before Thanksgiving to give to needy people.

Conyers' Detroit office promised an accounting of any turkey distribution by Dec. 27, but the Gleaners Community Food Bank had received no paperwork as of Tuesday, said the charity's director, Agostinho Fernandes.

Fernandes said he became suspicious that the turkeys didn't get to poor people after hearing from a friend that a federal court worker had said he was offered free turkeys from a member of Conyers' staff.

No wonder Conyers is confused with the 5.5 million Ohio ballots. He can't even keep track of 60 turkeys.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Too Funny!

A special thanks to the insightful Ohio Sucks for this.

Red District/Blue District

It turns out Ohio is a lot more like America than I realized.

An archived article entitled 'Ohio's Stacked Districts Yield Few Competitive Races' from Sunday's Columbus Dispatch made it clear that Ohio is becoming more and more deeply divided between red and blue districts within the state, and it's elected officials are becoming more extreme as a result.

In the 2004 U.S. House races, the 12 Republican incumbants won by an average of 29% and the 6 Democratic incumbants won by an average of 59%.

The same thing was true for the Ohio House and Senate as well. Senate Republicans won by an average of 39% and their House counterparts' margin averaged 34%. At the same time, Ohio Senate Democrats won by 32% and House Democrats won by 57%.

Under these circumstances, the primaries tend to be won by those who play to their party base without fear of offending moderates = who they don't really need in the general election. This tends to produce candidates that are more extreme on both sides.

Outgoing Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder, R-Glenford, conceded that only eight or 10 House districts were competitive in the Nov. 2 election. As a result, he said, the number of moderate Republican and Democratic House members has shrunk, making compromise and cooperation between the parties more difficult.

"It always seems like the best members are the ones from competitive districts,'' Householder said. "They've had to appeal to both Republicans and Democrats, to listen to both sides, and they know their districts better because they constantly have to be out talking with constituents.''

Rosenfield agreed: "We're losing the middle in Ohio. There are a few moderates around, but they keep being challenged in their own party and they continually lose because we all know that it's the true believers who turn out in primaries.''

House Minority Leader Chris Redfern, D-Catawba Island, who was unopposed for re-election, said more lawmakers have become ideologically beholden to hard-core partisans rather than their districts' general populace.

This is disheartening and disappointing. We often look to Washington and decry the partisan posturing that goes on, but the same thing is starting to happen in our own backyard.

And Householder, who is leaving due to term limits, was one of the key partisans who was difficult to work with - even with his fellow Republicans.

Hopefully the new legislative leadership, Republicans Bill Harris and John Husted, and Democrats CJ Prentiss and Chris Redfern will resist the temptation to play to the extremes.

The election and recount have shown that at the local level, Republicans and Democrats often work together in a bipartisan effort for the good of everyone. It would be nice if Ohio could show the nation that we can do the same in the Statehouse.

Monday, January 03, 2005

Bush Asks Judge to Throw Out Election Challenge

While Jackson was in town, the Bush campaign officially asked the chief justice of the Ohio Supreme Court to throw out the Election Challenge lawsuit. In another report giving more details on Jackson's protest, the filing was quoted.
The voters' arguments "resemble a poorly drafted script for a late night conspiracy-theory movie and fall far short of a legitimate election contest under Ohio law," the filing said.
But I know a lot of readers won't belief this Bush propoganda, so here's some equal time for the allegations of the concerned citizens with Jackson.
Challengers Allen Zak and his wife, Leslie, are also longtime Columbus activists. Allen Zak, a professional photographer, was a member of Veterans for Kerry and volunteered for nonprofit groups working to elect Kerry.

"I did not witness any irregularities," Zak, 66, said Monday. "The reason I'm involved in this is I believe it's entirely possible there were irregularities."
Well, that's enough to convice me. Of course there's more...
Bonnie Awan waited two and a half hours in line in suburban Upper Arlington, where the longest she'd waited over the past two decades was about ten minutes. Awan, 54, a geologist and former board member of a central Ohio peace group, said she didn't witness any fraud but heard numerous stories from people about machine shortages in minority neighborhoods. She and her husband, Mohammed, both signed on as challengers.
That's the first time I've heard allegations of voter suppression in Upper Arlington, a heavily Republican suburb with an average annual income of $72K and and house value of $214K.

I'm just trying to figure out whether it was Bush or Kerry who was behind this dastardly deed. Or maybe it was both, because Awan reveals she cast a write-in ballot for Nader.

And then of course there's camouflage-clad, shoe pounding, Bill Moss.
"They needed someone that had a history of not backing down," said Moss, 69, before Monday's rally. "That would be me."
With evidence like that, I don't see how the lawsuit could fail.

The Return of Jesse Jackson

Jesse Jackson held his rally today in Columbus protesting something and got a whole 43 seconds of coverage on the local news. By comparison, the today's weather got a minute and 53 seconds of airtime.

No word yet on attendance at the event, but in reviewing the Featured Video attached to the story I can say that there were at least 12 people there.

Of course that includes counting the offscreen camaraman.

Sunday, January 02, 2005

Sobering Look At Unwed Parents

The Plain Dealer ran a sobering look at unwed parents in Cleveland in a piece entitled 'Culture of marriage' disappearing where they cover the relationship between single parent families and poverty. Read the whole article, it's worth it.

The article slams home the extent of the problem with startling statistics.
It was 2002, the same year that Cleveland earned a dubious distinction as a city of unmarried moms. Sixty-seven percent of Cleveland babies had been born to unmarried women the previous year -- the second-highest rate of unwed parenthood in America.

Over the next two years, poverty grew to ensnare nearly one-third of Clevelanders, and social scientists see no mystery. When most of a community's children are born outside of marriage, poverty is all but guaranteed...

Nearly seven out of 10 black children in America are born to unmarried mothers. Add the impact of divorce, and about 85 percent of black children will spend at least some of their childhood in a single-parent home.

The trend is more pronounced in neighborhoods and cities with large black populations. In 2002, about 80 percent of Cleveland's black children were born to unwed mothers.
It'd be easy to stereotype the problem, but stereotypes fall by the wayside when looking at the case of Missy Williams.

Still, most sociologists probably would have bet that Missy had what it took to avoid teen pregnancy, had they met her at 15.

She excelled at volleyball and softball -- talents that should have supplied her with self-esteem. She belonged to a close, churchgoing family, and none of her four siblings had children before marriage.

Her late father doted on her. He explained the rules of every sport to Missy, a tomboy who loved playing tackle football with the guys and dressing in baggy clothes. He bought her the latest sneakers; he cheered at all her games.

But when unwed parenthood loses its stigma, even the youths most likely to succeed can fall to temptation.

At age 15, Missy met Darrick Mize, father of her first child, while playing in summer league baseball. They courted under her parents' careful supervision, going on lunch-and-a-movie dates at Tower City.

Even so, Missy ended up pregnant.

When single parenthood becomes the norm, not the exception, anyone can fall into the trap. If the statistics above don't convince you it's the norm, these quotes should.
Missy has yet to see any of her peers walk down the aisle, although there are many older married couples living in her neighborhood. "All my friends, they're single parents," she said...

Her current boyfriend, Demetrius "Dante" Hall, lives not far from her Mount Pleasant neighborhood. Missy gave birth to a second child, Dante's first, right after her 21st birthday...

He first set eyes on Missy when she was 19 and pushing little Darrick in a stroller. The fact that she was obviously a mom meant little.

"At that age, most girls around here have babies already," he said...

Back at Kennedy High School, Jacqui Black is struggling to get her students to believe in a family structure they rarely see, and to convince them that it's an attainable lifestyle.

"They don't have any examples of marriage," she said. "They don't have any long-term, I'm celebrating my 50th anniversary' couples to show them."

We're talking about an entire generation growing up without any married couples as role models. It's a long slippery slope with no easy answers. Even if you don't want to push your values on someone else, the economic impact alone is huge.

The surest indicator of poverty is the single-parent family, said Ron Haskins, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.

Married people live better and longer and generally have more resources to share with their kids, he said. The children of single parents, meanwhile, are more likely to do poorly in school, exhibit behavior problems and become single parents themselves.

I don't know how you start to make a difference, but people like Williams, who is now attending college, are trying.

On a recent afternoon, Missy stepped into a classroom at Audubon Junior High School. Aware that girls are getting pregnant ever younger, Black hoped to shake up Audubon's eighth-graders and start them thinking about the sexual territory they'll enter at Kennedy next year...

She didn't tell them that she wishes she and Dante would get married. Instead, she delivered a blunt, cautionary tale.

"Right now, don't even think about having sex," she said.

Then she flat out pleaded...

It was a heartfelt soliloquy. And it was impossible to tell if it had an impact. The youths asked no questions and quickly filed out of the room when the bell rang.

The problem is, what do you think has a bigger impact, one hour with Williams, or the next 23 in a culture that says single parenthood is normal and to be expected.

Ah, the good old days...

In another year-end review story, the Akron Beacon Journal/AP looks back on those long lines to vote and they don't seem so bad.
Some Kenyon College students waited 10 hours to vote, eating pizza, playing board games and socializing with friends while they waited in a community center in Gambier.
An OSU student also weighed in.

"It's our job," Amanda Karel, 25, an Ohio State University graduate student, said as she waited to vote at a banquet hall in Columbus. "It's what we're supposed to do."

Then she joked, "It's the only way to make the ads stop."

And the direct mail.

And the automated phone calls.

Although picking up the phone a week before the election and unexpepctedly hearing that trademark voice say "Hi, I'm Arnold Schwarzenegger and I'm calling to pump you up to vote for George W. Bush" was pretty amusing.

Ah, the good old days.

Saturday, January 01, 2005

Elders Save Entire Town

It seems like you can't go anywhere without seeing more Tsunami news, casualty updates, a discussion on what "stingy" is. But here's a story I haven't seen make the rounds yet.
Knowledge of the ocean and its currents passed down from generation to generation of a group of Thai fishermen known as the Morgan sea gypsies saved an entire village from the Asian tsunami, a newspaper said Saturday.

By the time killer waves crashed over southern Thailand last Sunday the entire 181 population of their fishing village had fled to a temple in the mountains of South Surin Island, English language Thai daily The Nation reported.

"The elders told us that if the water recedes fast it will reappear in the same quantity in which it disappeared," 65-year-old village chief Sarmao Kathalay told the paper.

There's something very uplifting picturing the 65-year-old village chief leading his town to safety. In our complex world, it's nice to know somethings really can be pretty simple.

Hat Tip: The Original Musings

Meanwhile, in King county...

Despite all the questionable antics happening in Washington, I was really disappointed when Republican Dino Rossi started calling for a revote. Although a 100 vote loss is significantly different than a 100,000 vote loss, the concept is still the same. Accept the results and move on.

Now, according to The Seattle Times, things are starting to get a little interesting:
The day after King County released a list of nearly 900,000 voters who cast ballots Nov. 2, Republicans prodded election officials to explain why the list appeared to have about 3,500 fewer names than the number of votes that were actually tallied.

In a response that all but said, "Settle down!" county officials stressed the list was preliminary, noting that records of voters who cast certain write-in ballots and people who wanted their addresses kept confidential still had to be reconciled with election data.

After spending the last month criticizing outsiders about jumping in and spreading conspiracy theories based on partial information, I'm not going to suddenly pretend I know the intricacies involved. It is going to be interesting to follow, though. Sound Politics, a Seatle-based blog has been tracking the issue closely.

Hat tip: Blogs for Bush

What's Your Top Story of 2004?

I was planning on writing a piece yesterday on the Ohio's Top Stories of 2004, as determined by the AP. It was going to funny, inciteful, and have multiple references to the Gahanna lion, who I thought got robbed in the voting.

But as I was doing my research on the piece, I came across this item, tied for number 4 in the Zanesville Times Recorder's list of top local stories.

No. 4, tie: Number of teens die in car accidents

High school students and their surrounding communities mourned the loss of eight teens who died in car crashes this year.

Nathan McIntosh, 19, an Avondale native and 2002 honor graduate of Maysville High School, died Jan. 3 when the car he was riding in was involved in a crash on Interstate 70.

Jena L. Snider of Crooksville and Jenna L. Mumford of Roseville, both 19, were killed Feb. 28 in a three-car crash at the intersection of Ohio 13 and Township Road 312 in Perry County. They graduated from Crooksville High School in 2002. Last week, two Corning men -- Jason Barron, 26, and Larry Wilson, 21 -- were sentenced to six years in prison in relation to the crash. Wilson's 1998 Chevy Cavalier collided with Snider's Dodge Neon. Barron was following the Cavalier in his 2003 Monte Carlo and hit both cars.

Jimmy Dickerson, 17, of Crooksville, was killed March 6 after his car veered off Ceramic Road, landed in a ditch, overturned and struck a utility pole. He was a junior at Crooksville High School.

Katie Jenkins, 18, of Zanesville, was killed in a head-on collision April 20. The Maysville High School senior was driving her 1994 Geo Metro up a hill on Pinkerton Road when she crashed with a van coming the opposite direction.

Two West Muskingum High School students were killed May 18 on the way home from school. Colt A. Porter, 15, of Gratiot, and Jordan M. VanAllen, 14, of Zanesville, died on Kimes Road, behind the school.

Brandon Merriam, 16, died Nov. 13 after the Suzuki DRZ motorcycle he was driving crashed into a Gooseneck trailer parked in a private driveway. He was a sophomore at Tri-Valley High School.

My heart stopped. Suddenly elections, snipers, and the woes of Ohio State didn't seem to mean as much as they did just a few minutes before.

These were real kids. Everyday kids. And they were gone just like that. Ask their families what news event was the biggest in 2004, and the election will look mighty insignificant.

News is local - and personal - and it doesn't get more personal than this. Across Ohio, the friends, relatives, and loved ones of the 110,000 of us who passed away in 2004 feel the same way.

But we are blessed as well. When the final statistics are counted, they will show that we celebrated almost 150,000 new births in 2004. That's 150,000 fresh faces, new smiles, and first steps. Again, recount results, Lotto scams, and yes, even the Gahanna lion, don't come close to touching these stories either.

We all have our own top ten stories of 2004. Our own set of triumphs and tragedies. I hope each of you had a good 2004. And I hope you all have an even better 2005.

Happy New Year everyone!