Brief hiatus

I’ll be away from home for a little over two weeks, and my access to the internet will be very limited, so I apologize to the readers of my fledgling blog that there will not be much in the way of new content during that stretch of time.

Of course, when I return, I have much more to write about, so expect a blitz.

–Daniel Jack Williamson

Ohio’s dropouts

It’s about males.

Two-and-a-half weeks ago at Lorain County Community College, I attended the Hispanic Leadership Conference (which I’ll detail more in a future posting). During the conference, one of the workshops I attended was titled “Closing the Achievement Gap.”  The presenter was Nelson Ramirez, formerly a director at two non-profits: Lorain County Community Action Agency (which, among other things, administers Lorain County’s Head Start program); and El Centro de Servicios Sociales, a social service agency serving Lorain’s Hispanic community.  Currently, Nelson Ramirez is a Project Manager in Governor Ted Strickland’s administration who has been assigned to work on an initiative to close the achievement gap among the various population groups in Ohio’s primary and secondary schools.  A great deal of emphasis is being placed on improving high school dropout rates and lobbying the General Assembly for including these initiatives in the biennial budgets.

More than a dozen countries lead the USA with higher high school graduation rates, which is sobering considering that the world’s superpower isn’t leading the pack.  While Ohio’s graduation rate is higher than the nation’s average, there are glaring discrepancies between population groups. One might expect, just from anecdotal evidence, that Hispanics and African-Americans lag behind Caucasians in high school graduation rates.  There’s more to it, though.  Across all racial/ethnic lines, there is a gender dimension to the dropout rate, with males dropping out at a much higher rate than females, and that’s where it becomes all about the males.

To be sure, female dropouts do have troubles of their own, while dropouts of both genders earn less than those who have higher levels of education (and thus pay less in taxes), female high school dropouts have lower per capita incomes as adults than do their male dropout counterparts.  But though female high school dropouts may need to rely on government social programs like WIC, food stamps, and Medicaid, they don’t cost Ohio nearly as much per person in government expenditures as male dropouts do.  That’s because male dropouts have a significantly disproportionate tendency to become imprisoned.

Currently, about 24% of all Ohio teens are dropping out.  High school dropouts comprise nearly 75% of the inmate population at state prisons.  **gulp**

It is estimated that the average high school dropout in the criminal system (ONE individual–am I being redundant?) will require the state to shell out $1.5 million to $1.8 million over the course of that dropout’s lifetime as a direct consequence of that dropout’s criminal activity, alone.  That’s just the cost of the criminal activity IF there is no drug abuse being factored in.  If there is a drug addiction problem, add in a few hundred thousand more, and that the overall cost over a lifetime will balloon to $2.3 million.

Along with the gender and racial/ethnic dimensions of Ohio’s dropout rate, there is a geographic dimension, too, as one might expect since African-Americans and Hispanics are not uniformly spread throughout Ohio’s population in rural, suburban, and urban settings.  As one would expect, dropout rates are usually higher in urban settings, and this leads us to a new statistic: poor performing high schools, or “dropout factories,” which are high schools that graduate 60% or less of each incoming freshman class.  80% of the nation’s dropout factories are located in 15 states, which means the other 35 states are home to only 20% of the nation’s dropout factories.  Ohio is in the group of 15 states.  In Cleveland, Akron, Toledo, Columbus, and Cincinnati school districts, at least half of the high schools are dropout factories.  **gulp**  60% of Ohio’s African-Americans attend dropout factories.  **gulp**  Therefore, the target of the initiative to improve Ohio’s graduation rates is primarily the African-American male high school freshman.

It is relatively easy to predict who is most likely to drop out.  They are already lagging behind classmates in the 4th grade.  A 3rd grade reading level is the point of divergence between those that are likely to graduate and those that are likely to drop out.

Of course, dropping out is an individual decision.  Only 22% of dropouts believe that they were not personally responsible for dropping out.  The reasons given for dropping out include: they didn’t find classes interesting; they missed too many days of school and couldn’t catch up; they spent much of their time with people who weren’t interested in school; they had were given wide latitude in whatever they chose to do with very few ground rules laid down by their parents/guardians; they were failing in school; real life events got in the way of school; and parents/guardians tried to become involved way too late in the educational process.

The strategies outlined in Governor Strickland’s initiative to improve the graduation rate (beyond identifying the key population groups) are:

  • Attendance and behavior monitors
  • Focus on achievement in core courses
  • Tutoring as an academic support
  • Counseling/Mentoring
  • Small learning communities for greater personalization (such as school within a school)
  • Catch-up courses
  • Homeroom, teams, or looping
  • Ninth Grade Academies or transition programs
  • Tiered approach to providing behavioral and/or academic support
  • Focus on positive effects for diverse students
  • Focus on positive effects for students with disabilities
  • Career/College awareness
  • Family engagement
  • Community engagement
  • Ensuring partnerships between high schools and feeder middle schools

The attempt to intervene with these actions is taking place at the boundaries between 8th and 9th and 10th grades.  Naturally, I pointed out that the challenges could be addressed in much earlier years in a child’s education.  There is a desire by the Governor’s administration to address these challenges in earlier years, but so far, they are working to at least get the ball rolling, and this is their starting point.  The chief argument being used in lobbying the General Assembly for appropriations for this initiative is that it is less costly to the state than taking no action to reduce the dropout rate.

Over all, Nelson Ramirez gave a very thought-provoking lecture that concluded with vigorous discussion, as you might imagine.

Defrauding homeowners AND the IRS

Today’s Cleveland Plain Dealer has a sub-prime lender story written by Mark Gillispie detailing just how widespread mortgage fraud is in this country. They don’t mention any Wall Street banks or financial institutions that are exempt from having played a role in the mortgage fraud perpetrated by sub-prime lenders. In fact, in describing the scope of the mortgage fraud industry, the applicable term was “systemic.”

Systemic. That’s downright scary.

Why scary? The Plain Dealer cites the words of Anthony Accetta, a founder of a private investigation firm that specializes in finance, who is also a former federal prosecutor with a history of prosecuting mortgage fraud during the 1970’s, and who worked as a private attorney on behalf of investment banks in the years between his work as a federal prosecutor and his work in private investigations.

“This is a national catastrophe, and the perpetrators [on Wall Street] are not being prosecuted,” Accetta said. “It’s one of the easiest cases to prove because there are plenty of witnesses and plenty of evidence out there.”

So, why the failure to prosecute? Here’s the most chilling part:

Despite the FBI and SEC investigations, Accetta said he doesn’t think the U.S. Justice Department “has the stomach” to prosecute these companies, out of fear it would undermine confidence in those financial institutions and our capital structure.

“So you’re left with prosecuting individuals,” Accetta said. “This was systemic. It had nothing to do with this individual or that individual. There was no individual in any of the investment banks who could have stopped it even if they wanted to.”

Do you see why this is scary?


The Plain Dealer also put together this clever graphic to show how all the financial players fit together to perpetrate their particular aspect of mortgage fraud.

I noticed a puzzle piece that hadn’t been added in, and that’s the part about how companies write off losses from foreclosures when they file taxes with the IRS. Let me add some detail about my prior blog entry, “Sub-prime lender as tax evader.”

When the seller first bought the house (as a buyer), the seller went to a broker in Middleburg Heights who said it would be easy to get a loan at about 5.25%. The seller became furious when the loan that was offered was an Adjustable Rate Mortgage that in just three years would charge interest of over 13%. The seller demanded a fixed rate mortgage. The broker countered with a mortgage fixed at 7.5%. The seller accepted the mortgage offer, even though it was a far cry from the 5.25% the mortgage broker had cited at the outset. The original mortgage loan amount was $133,000.

The mortgage originator was Wilmington Financial, but almost immediately, Wilmington Financial sold the mortgage to JP Morgan Chase. Though JP Morgan Chase became owner of the loan, loan payments were processed by Lytton Loan Servicing. Lytton Loan Servicing claimed to be just a “middle man,” not the loan owner itself. After the seller experienced a precipitous drop in income and had difficulty making house payments, the seller declared bankruptcy, and JP Morgan Chase was the creditor who was owed the most. JP Morgan Chase also forged ahead with foreclosure proceedings. The seller listed the home for sale, and a buyer came forward to buy it. After negotiations between JP Morgan Chase and the buyer, a sale price was agreed upon at $129,000, which was just a few hundred dollars less than the principle still owed on the mortgage. Being that close, JP Morgan Chase graciously permitted that the mortgage would be shown as “paid-in-full,” and the culmination of foreclosure proceedings was averted. That was in 2006.

Fast forward to 2008. The seller is told by the IRS that thousands of dollars in taxes are owed dating back to 2006. The seller discovers that a 1099 form was submitted to the IRS imputing nearly $64,000 of income to the seller. This imputed income was represented as the amount charged off in a short-sale real estate transaction. The seller was never sent a copy of this 1099.

$64,000 was written off in the wake of a sale of $129,000, when the original mortgage amount was $133,000? Does that even pass the smell test?

JP Morgan Chase, the mortgage owner prior to the real estate transaction, was not the company that submitted the 1099 form. It was Lytton Loan Servicing. A quick check of the seller’s credit report also shows an EXISTING mortgage as delinquent, with the creditor listed as Lytton Loan Servicing, who was always represented as nothing more than a “middle man” that processed the payments on behalf of JP Morgan Chase.

The Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act of 2007 is now in effect to help sellers escape from getting smacked with 1099 income from charged-off amounts incurred in a short-sale of their home. Nevertheless, I still think cheating the IRS by vastly inflating write-offs, and playing shell games among companies (and, prior to the Act, a quick submission to the IRS of the 1099 with a failure to submit a 1099 to the seller in order to delay the onset of whistle-blowing), is an overlooked aspect of the sub-prime mortgage fraud crisis.

In addition to the FBI and the SEC, the IRS might want to do some investigating of its own.

Redfern makes good on his promise

Prior to state Dem leadership calling upon Ohio Attorney General Marc Dann to resign or be impeached, I criticized the Democrats, and mentioned Redfern by name, for being slow to break their silence.  Kevin DeWine, deputy chair of the Ohio Republican Party had already staked out a position.

This past Monday, Chris Redfern was among Ohio’s Democrat leaders that signed a letter addressed to Marc Dann expressing their displeasure and asking for his resignation or face impeachment.  Later, it was revealed that the Ohio Democrat Party had removed all mentions of Dann from its website and Redfern caused a stir in the blogosphere indicating that the party would no longer endorse Dann.  Today, the Ohio Democrat Party is holding a convention and the news has already come out that the votes are in, and the ODP has officially stripped Dann of the endorsement they gave him in 2006.

The noose is tightening, Marc Dann.

While Redfern has carried out the ultimatum made by the ODP, there is still one thing that remains that continues to stick in my craw.  Since Marc Dann has refused to resign, the state Dem leadership promised to begin impeachment proceedings in the Ohio House.  So far, the impeachment process has not yet begun.

I’m extremely disappointed.  Perhaps I’ll complain to my state representative.  Oh, by the way, I currently live in Sandusky, so that means that my state rep is . . . CHRIS REDFERN!!!!!

Ahem . . . !

In Barrett’s wake: Barrett leaves law firm; replacement search extended

The Elyria Chronicle-Telegram and the Lorain Morning Journal have reported that former state rep Matt Barrett no longer works at the law firm of Miraldi and Barrett, his father’s firm.

The Ohio House 58th District replacement search committee of the Ohio House Democratic Caucus has extended their deadline for application submissions by a week.  There were seven original applicants, but only three actually resided in the district.  The three current applicants each come from a different county in a district that includes the eastern third of Seneca County, all of Huron County, and the parts of Lorain County that are west and south of Oberlin (which is in the 56th District).  From Attica in Seneca County is Mary Fleure, whose occupation is senior caretaker.  I have not met her, and her name is not widely recognized.  From Norwalk in Huron County is a retired judge, Thomas Heydinger.  I’ve opined that his appointment would make the most sense to me.  From Amherst in Lorain County is Frank Janik, an assistant county prosecutor.  I featured Janik in a prior blog entry, as well.

Lorain newspaper: Dann can no longer be AG

The Morning Journal published an editorial stepping up their demand that Dann resign or be impeached. I really liked this passage the most:

“Ohioans cannot allow the politicians in Columbus to go weak-kneed now and let him off the hook with legalistic mumblings and excuse-making.”

It’s nice to know that the newspaper in Lorain has an opposite view on impeachment than Lorain’s state rep, Joe Koziura does. By the way, voters of the 56th District have a choice in November. They can vote for Stipe.

Pho on the stalled effort to impeach Marc Dann

Pho offers thoughtful analysis of why Dann hasn’t been impeached yet, even though state Democrat leaders promised to.  I’m not convinced of the need for further evidence against Ohio AG Marc Dann, and I think my prior post and my comments at Pho’s post provide the gist of why I think impeachment out to go forward in an expedited manner.

Cold feet re: impeachment of Dann?

Get on with it already!!!!! My blood is boiling!!!!

After all the expression of outrage by our Ohio politicians, I can’t believe there are some allowing disgraced Ohio Attorney General Marc Dann some wiggle room.

Statewide Democrat leaders promised to introduce an impeachment resolution in the Ohio House of Representatives if Marc Dann did not resign. In order to be credible they MUST follow through or else face the wrath of the voters. 2006 should teach them that the voters are capable of expressing wrath.

Keep in mind that the House of Representatives decides whether these misdeeds are impeachable, as there is no requirement to adhere to criminal statutes. There should be a FULL VOTE OF THE OHIO HOUSE to decide whether to refer the matter to the Ohio Senate. Right now, it appears that there are a few key legislators who are trying to circumvent impeachment, and denying the right of the ENTIRE House chamber from weighing in on the matter. Speaker Jon Husted designated Rep. William Batchelder to co-ordinate the impeachment actions against Dann. Batchelder is quickly losing my respect by opining that Dann’s offenses don’t meet his own standards for impeachment, signaling that the drive toward impeachment might be going nowhere. I want to see 98 state reps (Matt Barrett hasn’t been replaced yet) vote on this matter, not just Batchelder.

Speaker Husted is suggesting an independent investigation of Dann to see if something can be discovered that’s more worthy of proceeding with impeachment, implying that what we currently know is insufficient for proceeding. Oh yeah? Let 98 state reps decide the matter. Introduce the measure, and then let’s have a vote. After all, the House, alone, gets to decide what’s impeachable in this instance and what’s not impeachable. No criminal statute applies, so stop raising the bar. Stop moving the goalposts. Since what constitutes impeachment is solely a matter of discretion, and since it applies only to the current set of circumstances, it is utter nonsense to suggest that a precedent is being set that would apply to potential future impeachment cases. There is no such thing as case law on this matter. Also, there is no such thing as double jeopardy in an impeachment case like there is in a criminal court. So if the House decides right now that the misdeeds of Dann aren’t impeachable after a FULL VOTE OF THE HOUSE, that doesn’t mean that the matter can’t be revisited when the independent investigation reveals its findings at a later date. Dann can face impeachment multiple times. Let’s be clear on that. I reiterate, this is not a criminal trial, nor is this a proceeding that must mirror the proceedings of impeachments in the U.S. Congress, so PLEASE toss those notions aside. You have a blank slate in front of you. Be unfettered when you decide this matter. The next time impeachment comes before the General Assembly, the slate will be blank once more, and a decision can be rendered specific to that circumstance without encumbering the ability of starting with a blank slate once more when yet another future impeachment case comes before the General Assembly. Got it?

Oh, gosh! Can impeachment be decided by political whim? YES!!!!!!!

Ohio Republican Party Deputy Chair Kevin DeWine promised to make opinions on the removal of Dann an issue in every election race in Ohio this year. I think voters are prepared to do that very thing anyway, even without DeWine’s say-so. Unfortunately, the standard DeWine was setting for Democrats might now be applied to key Republicans as well.

Get your act together, Republicans! Dragging this thing out is not politically expedient. There is no political gain to be realized by prolonging this. Voters want Dann removed now, not later. Slowdowns in handling the impeachment matter will only reaffirm voter’s beliefs that our state legislature: 1) might be as corrupt as Dann (and they would be if they let Dann remain); 2) is hypocritical; 3) is grossly inefficient even on matters that should be expedited; and 4) defies the will of the voters of Ohio.

Do the Republicans want to impress voters? Then impress them with the speed and efficiency by which this matter reaches its conclusion and Dann is removed from office. Then the voters may feel they have a Republican-General Assembly that earns their keep rather than a Republican-led General Assembly whose ranks are filled with bungling, fickle, brain-dead sloths.

To the statewide Democrat leaders: I thought the impeachment articles would be introduced days ago by Minority Caucus Leader Joyce Beatty. What’s going on? I’m still waiting. Are you worried there’s not enough support even within the Democrat caucus to proceed? Are you worried that there are more people like Rep. Joe Koziura of the 56th District (Vote Stipe in November!) who think Dann’s actions are merely stupid, ignoring Dann’s selfishness, ignoring the damage done to the lives of Dann’s employees, ignoring the office and condo hijinks that impaired the operations of the AG’s office, ignoring the ties Gutierrez claimed to have with the mafia, ignoring the pimping of women in subordinate positions (and the misogyny behind it), ignoring a workplace environment so unethical and fraught with harassment that it would not be tolerated in any other workplace (let alone a government office, which is why it’s especially heinous in the office of an Attorney General–an office charged with policing workplace harassment), and ignoring the waning morale and confidence of the employees that remain at work in the AG office? If Koziura thinks that this mess can only be attributed to Dann’s stupidity, then he needs to think the whole thing through. The point is, you, the Democrat leaders promised. Who do you want the ax to fall on? The statewide Democrat leadership, or Democrat state reps who just don’t get it? What’s more important in the 2010 elections that will decide the reapportionment process–the jobs of Strickland and Brunner? Or the job of Rep. Koziura, who can’t even run in 2010 if he manages to get elected this year? Save your own credibility and let the stragglers fend for themselves. Remove Dann pronto, or Kevin DeWine’s promise will bludgeon you.

I can’t see how stalling this process helps ANY foot-dragging incumbent get re-elected. Impeach! Now!

Should I be worried?

LOL! RINO’s are being hunted! Should I duck for cover?

The Wall Street Journal has an op/ed piece by Pat Toomey of the Club for Growth PAC titled, “In Defense of RINO Hunting.” Michelle Malkin read it, and added her two cents.

And I’m the Buckeye RINO.

If you can’t tell from reading the right-hand sidebar, I don’t think of myself as RINO. I think of myself as Republican.

I think I’m actually more conservative than many pro-business PAC’s. I think some of those pro-business PAC’s are blind to some of their own liberal tendencies.

In Ohio, one of the pro-business PAC’s is the Ohio Chamber of Commerce. They send a questionnaire each even-numbered election year to all the state legislative candidates. I never got their endorsement in my two campaigns for state rep.

Some of the positions they advocated for would have reduced accountability and transparency, and I’m not talking about reduced accountability and transparency in government, I’m talking about reduced accountability and transparency in business. Business has a double standard . . . expecting increased governmental accountability and transparency, but letting themselves off the hook. Being conservative, I want accountability and transparency in government AND business.

Another double standard is that businesses want government to cut its spending, yet they line their own businesses up like swine at the trough eager to land government contracts. They’ll even ask questions to determine whether, as a legislator, you’d support appropriating money for such-and-such. As a conservative, I want to cut government spending, and that includes cutting outsourcing to the private sector.

Yet one more double standard is that businesses plead for deregulation, saying that it’s dragging down their costs. Nevertheless, lobbyists of certain industries push for legislation that directly benefits them, creating a playing field that is not level, thus creating a marketplace that is not truly competitive. As a conservative, I don’t want to place an unnecessarily heavy regulatory burden on business, but I wouldn’t give certain businesses special treatment that favors them over competitors in the marketplace either. I despise pay-to-play legislation, which some PAC’s have resorted to for securing an advantage for themselves, but overall, has ruined the economy of the state.

I’m not suggesting that the Club for Growth PAC is as warped in their rationale as the Ohio Chamber of Commerce PAC. I’m just pointing out that there are wolves in sheep’s clothing, so be vigilant.

The RINO moniker that I have adopted is an attempt at tongue-in-cheek humor, poking fun at the way the term “RINO” is bandied about so freely, often by those who have no business calling someone else a RINO.

So I’m not worried about Pat Toomey or Michelle Malkin. I’m not the real RINO they’re hunting for.

Sub-prime lender as tax evader

Someone I know very well sold a house as it was being foreclosed upon. The sale price of the house nearly equaled what was owed on the mortgage. The predatory mortgage lender who’d been charging sub-prime rates agreed to accept the sale price as payment-in-full for the mortgage. That was 2006.

Now it’s 2008. The seller of the home gets a notice from the IRS asking for several thousand dollars more in taxes for calendar year 2006. The seller only had W-2 income that year, so had filed form 1040-EZ. The IRS says that the seller’s income didn’t match the records on file. What the IRS had on file is a form W-2 . . . AND . . . a form 1099.

The seller never received any 1099. No 1099 ever arrived in the mail. The seller never had any knowledge of the 1099.

The 1099 was sent to the IRS from the mortgage lender. The mortgage lender is telling the IRS that they charged off HALF THE BALANCE OF THE MORTGAGE!!!!!

When creditors charge off bad debts, they are permitted to write it off on their taxes and report the amount written off as income imputed to the debtor. But, in this case, when the sale on the house closed, the mortgage lender acknowledged that the debt was paid in full, and the lender was not taking a loss.

Had the seller received a 1099 in January of 2007, the seller would have taken immediate action to dispute the information appearing on the 1099, and probably could have resolved the issue without needing to consult a lawyer or accountant. The seller is undertaking the dispute now, but is much more inconvenienced as the seller has to dig through papers to gather relevant documentation, and will most likely need to consult with both a lawyer and an accountant, costing perhaps hundreds, but it’s cheaper than paying the thousands that the IRS wants.

What would you think if half the amount of your mortgage were added to your income? Think about the tax bracket it would put you in, and then ask yourself, would you be able to cough up the taxes owed? In the seller’s case, even with the tax bill broken down into monthly installments that the IRS will permit, the 2006 tax payments would become the largest single expenditure in the seller’s monthly budget.

The IRS has notified state and local tax agencies of the income discrepancy, so guess who else will come calling with their hands out?

After looking through the seller’s documentation, I have to wonder, how widespread is this practice of creditors claiming losses that don’t exist simply to reduce their own tax burden?

And while these greedy sub-prime lenders have contributed to bursting the bubble of housing markets which is leaving the nation’s economy teetering on the edge of collapse, this particular sub-prime lender is also back-stabbing the nation by evading payment of their full share of taxes by fraudulently imputing the income to someone else. And even if the debtors pay the tax that’s been deceitfully shifted on to them, the IRS is still getting less, because the lender is probably in a much higher tax bracket than the debtors.

That whole industry sector of predatory lenders are now quaking in fear that legislation being contemplated now will alter their business practices so much that it may not be lucrative enough to keep the doors to their businesses open. My response is: You had your day in the sun. Count your blessings that you were able to get away with what you got away with. Now that it’s raining on your parade, I’m not shedding any tears.

Rev. Wright might say: Your chickens are coming home to roost.

****The sequel with more details****

McCain Veepstakes

DJW, the Buckeye RINO, offers analysis of which persons can help McCain gain electoral traction as VP candidates, and which ones won’t.

It has to be someone within the party. Lieberman won’t do.

McCain has already indicated that it won’t be a pro-choice candidate. And that’s wise.

Forget choosing Ohioans. I’ve heard Rob Portman and John Kasich mentioned as those possibly on the list. Neither will help him get elected. For both men, they are obscure on a national level. Portman could be too easily linked to Bush, and Obama has already replaced McCain’s first name, John, with a new first name, Bush. You’ll be hearing a lot about Obama’s opponent, Bush McCain, heading into the November elections. Few who served in the Bush Administration will be able to show enough distance from Bush to avoid making the marriage of the Bush name to the McCain name worse. Furthermore, it is doubtful that even naming an Ohioan will make any difference in carrying Ohio. Ohio voters are distrustful of current and past Republican leadership. They are eager for a Republican who is an ethics crusader. John McCain would do well to highlight his ethics crusade every time he makes a campaign stop here. Perhaps the only Republican Ohioan that can help pull off an election is Mary Taylor, as many see her as eager to do the right thing. But it wouldn’t be possible to make a case that Mary Taylor is ready to be a heartbeat away from being U.S. President. No Ohioans.

The only two former members of the Bush Administration that have any popularity at all that can distance themselves far enough from Bush are Christie Todd Whitman and Colin Powell. Whitman would be a choice consistent with McCain’s platform on the environment. Colin Powell is very popular. A current cabinet member that’s very popular, though she can’t distance herself from Bush, is Condoleeza Rice. From a popularity standpoint, Powell and Rice could help win as VP candidates, but if McCain is serious about a VP who isn’t pro-choice, that erases Whitman, Powell, and Rice. Rice appears at first glance to be the most conservative among the three on the abortion issue, but only Whitman has had a thorough vetting on the issue, so that comparison might not be valid. Nobody who served with Bush.

Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, for obvious reasons, cannot distance himself from Bush.

Senators and Representatives won’t work unless they have prior successful executive branch experience they can point to. There’ve already been criticisms that Americans have a poor choice for President with just legislators in the mix. The only exception I can think of that could have helped McCain is former U.S. Senator from Tennessee Fred Thompson. Thompson is an excellent communicator, Tennessee will be in play in the election, Thompson is not just popular, nationally, but is definitely popular in the South, where McCain needs to make sure his base is at fever pitch on his behalf in the fall, and Thompson also has a strong appeal to conservatives. Fred Thompson does not want the job and will not accept the job.

Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty does not have national appeal, lives in a state likely to be in the Democrat camp, anyway, and is not really viewed as conservative enough to energize the base for McCain.

South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford represents a state considered far from the mainstream, and he, himself, while acceptable to conservatives, is also perceived to be too far from mainstream America. It would have helped his chances if South Carolina had irrevocably disassociated itself from the Confederate flag many years ago, yet the flag is still flying.

Florida Governor Charlie Crist endorsed McCain before McCain won Florida. Though Crist is popular in Florida, and though he is viewed as conservative, he does not embody a McCain who has unified with the disaffected voters within the GOP. It would be helpful for McCain to choose someone who used to be on the other side of the rift. Plus, I’m going to make a bold prediction here, Florida will be in the GOP camp this November, even if the Democrats seat the full state delegation at their convention.  Crist will deliver Florida while remaining Governor, so he’s not needed as a VP.

Former HUD Secretary and Congressman Jack Kemp would be criticized for his age just as much as McCain, since he is older than McCain.

It needs to be someone prominent, someone conservative, someone from the other side of the rift, someone who can appeal to the mainstream, and someone who can energize Republican voters.

Prominent on the other side of the rift would include some former Presidential contenders from this year and prior years:

Alan Keyes–too far from the mainstream.

Steve Forbes–never energized voters

Ron Paul–without executive branch experience and not mainstream

Elizabeth Dole–might also be criticized about age, and is older than McCain

Lamar Alexander, Mitt Romney, and Mike Huckabee–these are the three that can really help McCain.

Lamar Alexander is a former governor, is younger than McCain, has associated himself with populism via the plaid shirt (thus mainstream), will solidify the South for McCain, and will appeal to conservatives, so I think voters would be energized.  Downsides aren’t readily apparent, unless he’s portrayed as a Washington insider by virtue of his service in the U.S. Senate.

Mitt Romney, who I voted for in the primary, is a former governor, is younger than McCain, couldn’t have won Massachusetts without mainstream appeal, puts some Northern blue states in play, is definitely from the opposite side of the rift from McCain (so adding him to the ticket would signify that McCain is unifying the party), is perceived to know what he’s talking about on economic issues, energizes the base (dominated caucus states, probably would have been nominated if delegates were proportionally allocated, and is the only, repeat, the only, GOP candidate this year who had at least double digit support in EVERY primary contest before dropping out, and is the 2nd place finisher in the delegate count), is a Washington outsider, and adding him to the ticket would be consistent with McCain’s position of making change and cleaning house in Washington.  Romney would help solidify the ticket in the Intermountain West.  There are two downsides.  One is that there is apparently religious prejudice against Romney in the South, yet Romney was competitive (double-digit support) in every primary contest he participated in.  The other is that, in light of the fact that McCain has recently been making campaign appearances in African-American communities, perhaps thinking he may be able to attract disaffected black voters if Clinton steals the nomination, Romney, sadly, hasn’t made prominent efforts to reach out to African-Americans.  If Obama is the nominee, Romney could marginally help attract Latinos, though  McCain, himself, has more appeal to Latinos than Romney.  Romney should probably not be VP if Hillary Clinton is the nominee.

Mike Huckabee is a former governor, is younger than McCain, is a Washington outsider, energizes his own base (which is big in the South), is a great communicator to the point that he has some mainstream appeal which he adds to with his humor, was an opponent of McCain all the way up until the nomination was clinched (so adding him to the ticket would signify McCain’s ability to unify the party).  The downsides are that many in the North and West do not think of Huckabee as really being conservative (me, included), and some are turned off by how bold he is in putting his born-again Christianity on display.  He has reached out to African-Americans and can do so again if Hillary is nominated, and he can deliver the South, including Arkansas, if Hillary Clinton is the winner, and he can put a dent in her appeal to less affluent and less educated whites.  Huckabee doesn’t really put any blue states in play, though he does prevent red states being taken away, thus a close and polarizing election would be the result.  Huckabee wouldn’t be a strong choice if Barack Obama is the Democrat nominee, but would be a great choice if Hillary Clinton is the Democrat nominee.

No matter who the Democrat nominee is and no matter who the VP is, I think there will be a distinct gender gap in November’s Presidential election.

So there you have it:  Pick Mitt Romney if Obama is the nominee.  Pick Mike Huckabee if Hillary Clinton is the nominee.  Pick Lamar Alexander if choosing the VP before the Democrats have a nominee.

I hope John McCain considers this advice.

CNN election night missing a familiar face

Amy Holmes.  I guess you could say I’m a big fan.  I really enjoy seeing her on CNN.  She is always glowing, always pleasant, always brightening the room, even when she is disagreeing with another CNN contributor.

In looking for her on the web this morning, since she was absent last night, I was struck by how similar her advice to Obama was similar to my own.  Obama’s victory speech in North Carolina last night seemed to be along that vein, as it was a clear contrast to a Rev. Wright narrative about America, as Obama shared some talking points about his love for America.

And as for last night’s results, I’d already declared that Obama had turned the page.

I assume she’ll make more appearances on CNN, as she just posted another blog entry on their site just two days ago.

Get the Dann deal done

I fail to see any headlines that articles of impeachment against Ohio Attorney General Marc Dann were introduced in the Ohio House of Representatives yesterday.  Didn’t Democrat leaders say that yesterday the gauntlet would be thrown down?  I’ll be eagerly looking to see whether it happens today.  If you’re going to deliver a credible ultimatum, then follow through with it.  Please.

Barrett’s son exploited

Perhaps I need to add a few paragraphs to an earlier post I’d written about how teens need adults to be protectors and not perps.  I really don’t like to drag family into a discussion about public figures, but former Democrat state rep Matthew Barrett’s son was used as a human shield, not for war mind you, but for deflecting criticism that belonged squarely on Barrett’s own, adult, shoulders for displaying at least one photo of a topless woman to a Norwalk High School class.  What shocked me was that Barrett’s wife and Barrett’s son were required to play along with the charade that was originally presented to law enforcement officers.

Nevertheless, I’ve already posted a blog entry that Barrett is no longer in jeopardy of having any punitive action taken against him.

This passage from this Norwalk Reflector article is what really made me wide-eyed in disbelief:

“Barrett’s son spoke to Norwalk police in the presence of his parents and said he was responsible for downloading the photos, but his father refused to let him say what Web site he had used to find the pictures.”

The Elyria Chronicle-Telegram corroborates:

“During questioning, Barrett and his wife, Wendy, sat with their son as he described downloading pornography off his father’s laptop computer and putting it on a memory stick to move to another computer in the family’s home.

“In a separate interview, Barrett’s wife said she had caught her son looking at Internet pornography in the past, but when police asked the boy what kind of Web sites he had visited to get the photos found on the memory card, Barrett refused to let his son answer.

” ‘Don’t. I don’t want him to answer,” Barrett can be heard saying during the interview. “Don’t. Don’t answer, please.’ “

The women depicted in the photos were contacted by investigators who discovered their identities via the laptop computer that police confiscated from Barrett.  The women willingly co-operated with the investigation of Barrett when they learned to their own alarm that a 13-year-old son had been made a scapegoat by his parents.  It wasn’t until after police had made contact with the women and knew their stories that Barrett hired an attorney and owned up to the deception.

Wow.  Yet, frustratingly, in our society, children are often casualties of adults’ exploits.

In Barrett’s wake: Janik wants the job

The Lorain Morning Journal reports that an assistant prosecutor in Lorain County is interested in being appointed by the Democrats to the 58th Ohio House District seat left vacant by Matthew Barrett. Thomas Janik once ran unsuccessfully in a Democrat primary for Oberlin Municipal Court judge. Janik would be willing to run in November to retain the seat against opposition from Republican former Huron County Commissioner Terry Boose.

As an assistant prosecutor, Janik’s boss is Dennis Will, who is widely respected. I’ve met Janik in person before. When he was running for election, I happened to answer the door when he knocked at the home of my former in-laws. On that occasion, Janik clearly appeared to be uncomfortable, like a shrinking violet. His name recognition isn’t all that strong in Lorain County, let alone in Huron County (where half the voters of the district live). I wonder aloud if Janik is as conservative as the voters of the 58th District. Barrett definitely played up his conservative credentials when he ran in 2004 and 2006, yet Barrett wasn’t able to win that first time around. If Janik can’t come up with key endorsements by Ohio Right-to-Life and the NRA, forget it.

Janik would have the daunting task of trying to pull off the win while starting at zero and only having until November. On the flip side, the timetable isn’t as short as one might ordinarily think, given that today would have been primary election day in any non-Presidential election year. The fact that the primary was held in early March this year contributes to the mirage that a lot of time has elapsed. The Republican, Terry Boose, though, is much more widely known and more widely respected than Barrett’s opponent in 2006, so I think the climb really is steeper for Janik.

There are two upsides for a Janik candidacy: 1) Though a minority of 58th District voters live in Lorain County, Janik can tap into a vibrant Democrat fundraising machine that exists in Lorain County that can probably raise more money than what the Democrat Party in Huron County can raise. 2) If Janik loses in November, he’d likely still have employment he could return to with the Lorain County Prosecutor’s office.

Of the names mentioned so far, I still think retired former Huron County juvenile court judge Thomas Heydinger makes the most sense. He has Huron County name recognition; by virtue of his service in the judicial branch, he’s a blank slate on the issues so that he can define himself however he wants; he doesn’t have to vacate office to accept the state rep appointment; and if he loses in November, he can return to retirement in January without having to scurry to find employment.

Originally, it was reported that Norwalk Mayor Sue Lesch, Huron County Commissioner Mike Adelman, and Huron County Auditor Roland Tkach weren’t interested in the state rep job, but apparently, they’ve been persuaded to submit their resumes and be screened by a Democrat selection committee headed by State Rep. Ron Gerberry. Why they would be willing to vacate office for a state rep job that would be much more difficult to get elected to, I don’t know, for they wouldn’t be able to resume their former duties in January if they were to lose to Terry Boose in November, which I think is likely. I’ve already postulated that Dan Metelsky is a poor fit for the 58th District.