PBD’s open letter to Marc Dann

It’s a must read.  You can read Psychobilly Democrat’s letter here.

Hold your horses!

PETA must hate people like me.  I’m not a vegetarian, let alone a veggan.  I have leather shoes, a leather softball glove, and a sheepskin leather jacket.  I’m sure the sheep and cows didn’t die of old age when their hides were tanned to be crafted into the accessories I have now.  I think I’ve mocked animals too, with my bad impersonations and bad imitations of animal noises.  I’m sure any animal watching me would be offended by my behavior (especially when I do the chicken dance).

But when PETA calls attention to the cruelties in today’s horse racing industry, I agree.  To tell you the truth, I’m appalled by horse racing.  I do think it is cruel to animals.  It might not be as cruel as cock fighting or bear baiting or bull fighting or whatever it was that Michael Vick was having those dogs do when he got in trouble and couldn’t play football anymore.  Still, I think it’s cruel.

It wouldn’t bother me one bit if horse racing were outlawed (dare I set foot in the state of Kentucky ever again?) for an additional reason.  I strongly disapprove of gambling.  If horse racing is a sport, and the horses are athletes, why don’t the horses have locker rooms with shower stalls and flush toilets?  Why don’t sports reporters ever interview the horses?  Don’t tell me that horses don’t talk, because I remember Mr. Ed reruns on TV.  So it’s not really a sport after all.  It’s just a gambling venue.  Hey, if you want to lose money, you don’t have to bet it on horses.  You can just give it to me.

[update] Forcing Dann’s hand

Ohio Attorney General Marc Dann has been issued an ultimatum to resign. State Democrats have issued a letter stating that the Democrats of the Ohio House will introduce a resolution to impeach Marc Dann.

Signatories to the letter are: Ohio Governor Ted Strickland, U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown, Ohio Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher, Ohio S.O.S. Jennifer Brunner, Ohio Treasurer Richard Cordray, Ohio Senate Minority Leader Ray Miller, Ohio House Minority Leader Joyce Beatty, and ODP Chair Chris Redfern.

Took Redfern long enough to get on board.

Rep. Joyce Beatty comes out smelling like a rose, because she tackled the thorny issues of Matt Barrett AND Marc Dann, and she’ll be a key player if Dann refuses to resign. Kudos to her from me.

[update] Hat tip to JMZ at Writes Like She Talks for informing readers that state Democrat leaders are severing party ties to Marc Dann, which is a step in the right direction.

Redfern has more respect for Marc Dann than he does for women

There are a lot of people who aren’t saying things about the Marc Dann scandal because they don’t know all of the facts.

I don’t have that hangup. I’ll go ahead and speak up about some thoughts running through my mind, and wait to see if any person disgruntled by my musings presents any firm evidence that refutes what I’m saying.

The first thing that pops into my head happens to be the headline of this article. When the chair of the Ohio Democratic Party, Chris Redfern, was asked to weigh in on this whole Marc Dann scandal, Redfern tried to offer some praise for Dann’s work as AG. The rest of the state is outraged by the working environment in the Ohio Attorney General’s office, yet Redfern won’t call for Dann to resign immediately. This communicates to me, as an observer, that Chris Redfern has more respect for Marc Dann than he has for women. This communicates to me that Redfern condones this behavior, so long as he can think up a few compliments to balance the equation. Sorry, but those compliments towards Dann do NOT balance the equation.

The second thing that comes to mind is that Marc Dann hails from Youngstown. And, in a free word association game, if someone says to me “Youngstown,” I say back, “Mafia.” I’m not saying Dann himself is mafia, but I’m not ruling it out, either, and I certainly think, of the four AG candidates in the primaries of 2006, Dann was the candidate favored by the mafia. After all, Gutierrez bragged about his ties to the mafia, but he was never milked for information on it, never so much as interrogated for what tips he could provide about the mafia, so the AG’s office is knowingly turning a blind eye to the mafia. In mafia-like fashion, Marc Dann has his own office do the investigation into the harassment charges, and then claims he’s exonerated when the findings are released. Then he names a legal firm of his own choosing to engage in the rehabilitation of the AG office, whose leading partner donated to the Dann campaign. Nice little payback: one gives campaign cash, the other rewards with income for the firm. It’s perfectly clear what’s going on. His own office investigates so that no smoking gun is brought forward to implicate Dann of an impeachable offense, and the Jim Friedman “clean up crew” will, I’m sure, pay attention to detail in setting the house in order, but as they leave no stone unturned in rehabilitating the AG’s office, they’ll also be able to scrub the place of any evidence against Marc Dann. After all, it’s outside of their scope to investigate Dann, and before any other investigation comes along, the Friedman team will make sure there’s nothing left to find. It sure would be nice if the Ohio State Bar Association would launch their own independent probe, and Dann would have a problem remaining in power if his license to practice law was suspended (**sigh** wishful thinking). And of course, Dann isn’t going to step out of power, just like the mafia would never let go of any toehold they had. All of this has a true mafia-like flavor to it.

Then there are those who are predicting that Marc Dann WILL step down, but a few months down the road, allowing for an interim AG appointment that won’t have to face election until 2010. If that’s the case, I doubt the bloggers on the left will see the appointment of Subodh Chandra to the AG’s office. I think it much more likely that Lieutenant Governor Lee Fisher will be appointed as the AG. There is a pattern to who the Ted Strickland-Sherrod Brown-Chris Redfern triumvirate handpicks as their candidates, and, short of spelling it out for you, Subodh Chandra does not fit the profile. (For more elaboration on the profiles of those who get handpicked by the triumvirate, I plan on doing a Matt Barrett followup, and the name “Dan Metelsky” just might appear in it.) Nope, the only way Chandra will be named as AG is if the newly appointed AG has to run in a special election for the seat this fall, because in that short run-up to special elections, they don’t like Lee Fisher’s chances. Notice that the triumvirate, while a Strickland might offer a scolding, is not demanding the immediate resignation of Dann. If the outrage continues over the next several months, then the triumvirate will demand the resignation of Dann, after the window for special elections has closed.  If that’s the way it goes down, that’ll be the first substantial chink in Strickland’s armor that could imperil his re-election in 2010.

And, in light of the desire to handpick Dann’s successor and trying as hard as they can to avoid any risk of a Republican taking the AG seat, the ODP hierarchy would throw women under the bus. Partisanship trumps gender. The upper echelons of Democrats will only step forward in the name of chivalry (yes, they are this medieval in their mentality) if it looks as though the political fallout over the scandal is too much to overcome. As Mark Naymik writes in the Plain Dealer:

The Democrats need to pick up four seats to win control of the 99-member chamber. But with newspapers across the state and the Republican Party calling for Dann to step down, it is unclear how effective he can be as a party surrogate.

Rep. Ted Celeste, a Columbus-area Democrat and brother of former Gov. Dick Celeste, said Friday it is too early to tell. But he planned to gauge reaction to the Dann scandal as he campaigned over the weekend.

“It is important to do some testing and see what they are feeling,” he said.

Celeste is one of a handful of Democrats raising money for House candidates in the hope of becoming House speaker if Democrats win control in November.

“The reality is that the proof will be in how the scandal unfolds,” he said. “It is hard to equate this situation with what happened in ’06, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t real issues here that have to be dealt with.”

Asked if he thinks Dann should step down, Celeste said, “For me it is too early to say.”

State Rep. Armond Budish of Beachwood, who also wants to be House speaker, said he doesn’t think the scandal will affect the battle for the House. “I think they will still be won or lost on the merits of each of the individual races,” he said.

Democratic consultant Dale Butland, who manages statewide candidate and issue campaigns, says he, too, can’t predict what impact Friday’s events will have. But he predicted it will harden the partisan divide in this year’s elections.

What does it say about Ted Celeste (among others) that he has to stick his finger in the wind in order to decide whether to stick up for working women and demand Dann’s resignation? It says that there’s a complete lack of principles among Democrat party leaders except for the principle of holding on to power which is eerily similar to the philosophy of the mafia.

Something else that gets me thinking is that Gutierrez told his subordinate that she got her job because of her female anatomy. Capri Cafaro got the state senator job left vacant by Marc Dann, despite some controversy over her residency in the district. Did anatomy have anything to do with getting the nod? Did a connection to the mafia have anything to do with getting the nod? I never thought about these questions at the time of Cafaro’s appointment, but this whole Marc Dann mess has made me look at things from a new perspective.

Another thought that springs to mind is Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, who also refuses to step down, after defending him cost Detroit a few million dollars (mostly to settle a suit, but additional dollars will be used to defend him against prosecution for perjury). That Kilpatrick stays in power is maddening. There will be civil lawsuits against the AG’s office seeking damages, I’m almost certain of it. How much money will taxpayers pay to mount a vigorous defense, only to have a large payout to the plaintiffs as the final result? Cutting Dann loose may help cut Ohioans’ losses.

Republicans were angered by improprieties of their own party leaders. Under pressure from Republican leaders, Joe Deters had to bail out of statewide office to find refuge in Hamilton County, and Bob Ney had to resign from Congress. Others, that Republican voters were dismayed who didn’t remove themselves from office, found themselves removed from office in the 2006 elections. Ohio Republicans have shown a willingness to purge the scandalous from among their ranks. I note that the left side of the blogosphere is ready to stand up for working women, but the Dem leadership is not. I’ll be interested in seeing if Dem rank-and-file voters are just as willing to purge the scandalous from among their ranks, and do the job that Dem leaders won’t do.

The 1970 Kent State incident

I wish I’d have paid more attention yesterday and noticed this sooner.  Former WoMbat, “Muley,” recently launched a blog of his own, Muley’s Cafe, and yesterday he posted a remembrance of that fateful day in May 1970 at Kent State University.

Is a courthouse historic because it’s a courthouse?

It’s natural for a community to want to preserve its heritage. Often, this is done by restoring and preserving buildings where history took place or when the architecture embodies an era of time.

There are 88 county seats in Ohio. Each one became the county seat when the county courthouse was located there. Are courthouses automatically historic because they are courthouses? After all, the entire judicial history of the county takes place in county courthouses. Vital records have often been housed there, too. Should every courthouse be preserved? What if a new courthouse is built because the old is obsolete? Should the old be kept, anyway, even if no one wishes to occupy it when everything’s moved into the new court house? What if the cost of preservation is too costly for county taxpayers, and it’s cheaper to raze the old courthouse and build an new one rather than try to bring the old one up to code?

That debate has been raging in Tiffin, Ohio, for some time now. Tiffin is the county seat of Seneca County. The old courthouse is not only inadequate, but it’s also structurally defective. Even if not torn down, it would eventually fall into ruin. The cost for making it structurally sound and renovating it to make it adequate is cost prohibitive. A small number of Tiffin residents have been crusading to save the old courthouse anyway. The Seneca County Commissioners voted to raze the old courthouse and build anew. Then elections came, and one County Commissioner was replaced with a new County Commissioner. Even with the change, the Seneca County Commissioners still voted to raze the old and build a replacement. The Tiffin residents concerned with conservation have tried raising funds to save the old courthouse, but coming up with the huge amount of money needed just isn’t in the cards. So with the money they raised, they mounted a petition drive to put the preservation of the courthouse on the countywide ballot during the past primary election. County residents sided with the Seneca County Commissioners by an overwhelming margin. The Tiffin preservationists really took a thumping. The preservationists also used their funds for legal fees, and took the matter to court.

So far, the Tiffin preservationists haven’t found anyone to rule in their favor, . . . not the commissioners, not the courts, and not the voters. Now they’re petitioning the Ohio Supreme Court (story from the Tiffin Advertiser-Tribune) in hopes of getting a ruling in their favor.

Does the historical value of a courthouse trump cost/benefit analysis? If so, does it also trump democracy itself?

_______________________________________________________

Loraine Ritchey has something to say about preservation.

And another thing.

Clinton will say anything

Dodging Bosnian sniper fire, Hillary Clinton managed to nearly split the vote with Obama in the Guam caucuses.  Oh, wait.  Hillary’s not in Bosnia right now.

Besides embellishing her past, she also pays attention to which way the wind is blowing when announcing her views on issues.  Of course, opinion polls vary over time.  Conveniently, Hillary’s opinions vary accordingly.  Opinions aren’t the same from one state to another.  Interestingly, Hillary’s opinion adapts for that, too, like suddenly becoming skeptical of NAFTA once the campaigns arrived in Ohio.  Hillary Clinton will say things people want to hear in a certain locale, knowing full well that she can’t deliver on it, because there’s no nationwide consensus, but when she doesn’t deliver, no matter.  Somebody else stood in the way, so it wasn’t her fault.

A gimmick like that caught my eye in the Associated Press report out of Guam.  You have to look at the very tail end of the article to see what I’m referencing.  The very last sentence reads:

“Hillary Clinton also has called for Guamanians to be able to vote in presidential elections.”

Say what?  Say that again!

How disingenuous.

The Constitution doesn’t allow Guam to select electors in a U.S. Presidential election unless Guam becomes a state.

Guam is not going to become a state.  Trust me on this one.

The only other way to allow Guam representation in the Electoral College is to amend the Constitution.

Fat chance.

Hillary probably doesn’t care one way or the other about whether Guam gets to choose Presidential electors.  She’s just saying it to say it, and she knows that any push she makes for it will go nowhere, but she can always shrug it off when it comes to naught.

Call it pandering. Call it a gimmick.  Whatever it is, it’s fake.

It turns out that caucus results in Guam are a microcosm of the national Democrat nomination race.  Just as the nationwide race is nearly split, Guam’s four pledged delegates are being split down the middle, two for Obama and two for Clinton (actually, 8 pledged delegates will go to the convention, four for Obama and four for Clinton, but they each get half of a vote).   On the national level, just as the superdelegates will play a huge role in deciding a nomination that the pledged delegates, alone, can’t decide, so it is with Guam, which has 5 superdelegates.  Notice that the superdelegates of Guam are able to overturn an election even if one candidate monopolized Guam’s pledged delegate count.  Sounds so very, very, very Democratic to me.  Not.

Matt Barrett out of jeopardy

The Elyria Chronicle-Telegram and the Lorain Morning Journal are both reporting that the investigation of Matt Barrett has come to an end, and no action will be taken against Barrett.  Barrett (D-Amherst) resigned as state representative of the Ohio House 58th District.

The state rep seat for the 58th District remains empty, but a search committee within the House Democrat Caucus are getting ready to start vetting possible replacements.

The Democrats want to find someone who will not only fill the vacant seat, but someone who will also run for the upcoming term in the November elections against the Republican candidate, former Huron County Commissioner Terry Boose.

Creep=Marc Dann

Everyone else is taking the fall for Marc Dann except Marc Dann. Get this Youngstown mafia-backed goon out of the Ohio Attorney General’s office NOW!

I am so sick of his excesses. So sick of his total lack of ethics. So sick of the pack of wolves he runs with. So sick of the total lack of regard for not only the state of Ohio, but his own employees, ESPECIALLY his female employees.

He’s admitted to an affair with an employee. He won’t say which employee. His scheduler, Jessica Utovich, the rumored paramour, however, has resigned without stating a reason.

What does it do to a work environment when certain people have access to the boss because they have SEX with him? Isn’t that WRONG, WRONG, WRONG?

Not only shouldn’t he be Ohio Attorney General, he shouldn’t even be in a position to ever hire anybody nor should he ever be in a position to supervise anybody. He only understands how to abuse his power and authority. He has no concept of professionalism. If you were a female, how would you feel if Dann were your co-worker? You’d either feel resentful because he was always hitting on you, or, if you weren’t his target, you’d feel resentful that other women were giving in to his sexual harassment to gain workplace privileges that you won’t get access to.

Everyone in the MSM and everyone in the blogosphere, you have free rein to call Marc Dann any disparaging name you choose. After all, he’s in no position to file a defamation suit against anyone. He’s already defamed himself.

OTHER VOICES: (note: many of the referenced sources below have multiple articles on the Marc Dann story, so I would encourage readers to not just access the articles linked below, but also access the home pages of these sources to find additional coverage that they may have)

Writes Like She Talks

De Magno Opere

Cincinnati Enquirer

Ohio Daily Blog

Crabby Fat Guy

The Plain Dealer

Buckeye State Blog

Columbus Dispatch

NaugBlog

Youngstown Vindicator

Plunderbund

Blogger Interrupted

Dayton Daily News

Glass City Jungle

Weapons of Mass Discussion

Pho’s Akron Pages

NixGuy

Michelle Malkin

Canton Repository

Ohio Republican Party

Blue Bexley

Paindealer

The Daily Bellwether

Ben Keeler @ The Point

The Boring Made Dull

Lorain Morning Journal

Toledo Blade

Steubenville Herald Star

Newark Advocate

New Philadelphia Times-Reporter

Word of Mouth

Political Science 216

The Quick and the Dead

Blog 440

State News Shot

Licking County Pro-Active Citizens

Psychobilly Democrat

Bizzyblog

Tiffin Advertiser-Tribune

Putting Rev. Wright on the spot

I don’t fear liberation theology. I’ve spent many Sundays in predominantly black churches. For a whole year before I moved out of Columbus back to northern Ohio, I attended Bethel Missionary Baptist Church on the Near East side of Columbus. For a whole year before leaving to teach English in South Korea, I attended Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Oberlin. I’ve visited a number of other predominantly black churches, too. I can assure you that black churches are definitely not all alike, though many do draw upon liberation theology when relating scripture to our day. But though a great many of them draw upon liberation theology, I would say only a very tiny percentage of the pastors teach that America invented AIDS to commit genocide against African-Americans. In fact, I’d never heard any pastor other than Wright preach that message.

And of course, Wright can preach what he wants to preach. I’m not going to urge him to be politically correct. He can decide for himself what he says. He’s protected by the First Amendment to our Constitution.

I think many pundits misunderstand liberation theology. It may be worthwhile for the news media to investigate liberation theology, because journalists, on the whole, are among the most clueless when it comes to religion.

Some pundits have taken issue with an agenda within predominantly black churches that’s very Afro-centric. These pundits try to equate this Afro-centrism with David Dukes racism, saying that if the words “black community” were taken out of the agenda and replaced with “white community,” blacks would have a problem with it.

I have a totally different interpretation of the Afro-centric agenda, a much more harmless one, from what I have absorbed while attending predominantly black churches. The Afro-centric agenda acknowledges that the black community lags behind the white community in several respects. The Afro-centric agenda serves the purpose of closing that gap. It is a pro-active approach. A self-reliant approach. A pull-themselves-up-by-the-bootstraps approach. A Booker T. Washington approach, if you will. If the Afro-centric agenda succeeds, the black community can be a beacon to other communities. Others, who aren’t black, would do well to put many of these practices to use in their own lives, too.

If liberation theology is an evil concept, then we should eliminate Kwanzaa. Kwanzaa is not religious per se. But Kwanzaa does highlight principles (Umoja=unity; Kujichagulia=self-determination; Ujima=collective work and responsibility; Ujamaa=cooperative economics; Nia=purpose; Kuumba=creativity; and Imani=faith) that lend themselves to an agenda of improvement within the black community, and there are commonalities between the celebration of Kwanzaa and liberation theology. I see no harm in embracing these principles and creating an agenda around it within the black community.

Among the works I studied in my African-American literature class at Ohio State, were three slave narratives. A quarter at Ohio State is only 10 weeks long, so the professor decides what he wishes to emphasize during that 10 weeks, as there isn’t enough time to cover everything in depth. The professor decided to emphasize the earliest African-American literature, slave narratives. As you can imagine this literature described some very inhumane conduct by slave owners. After Emancipation, a share-croppers life was still filled with horrors. Life with Jim Crow was no walk in the park either.

But my African-American literature professor put it all into perspective for the class. He said that though American history was not kind to the black community, and though racism still exists in modern America, he said that the United States of America was the greatest nation on earth. He pointed out that blacks can enjoy a better quality of life and rise to greater heights in America than anywhere else on the globe. He challenged the students this way: “If you think that there is some other country better than the United States of America, then you just haven’t traveled enough.” The professor said he loved to travel, and that he had traveled to more than 60 countries on 5 continents (I think Australia and Antarctica were the two continents he hadn’t visited). But as much as he loved to travel, he was always glad that he could call America his home, and he always looked forward to returning home.

I think, really, that’s what’s unsettling about what we’re hearing from Rev. Wright. He offers such scathing criticisms of America, but hasn’t talked about the silver lining behind the cloud. Even in the slave narratives, one is struck by the positive frame of mind the writers were in. They saw the silver lining in every cloud. Rev. Wright is now retired, and he is wealthy enough to move practically anywhere on this globe that he wants to move to. Somebody needs to put Rev. Wright on the spot. Someone needs to ask him why he lives in America.

Rev. Wright . . . why do you live in America? This isn’t a question to try to demean your religion at all, this is a question about your personal preference. After all, you have the means. You can go anywhere. You don’t seem to like our nation, based on what we’ve been hearing out of your mouth. Is there some reason you’re still here? So please tell us . . . why do you live in America?

So far, I haven’t heard any journalist put that question to him. I think his response would be newsworthy. Wouldn’t you want to hear what Rev. Wright has to say about that?

Better yet, Barack Obama could finally put the rancor over Rev. Wright behind him if he were the one that publicly asked this question. Envision a huge crowd of 30,000 gathered in an arena to hear Barack Obama give one of his electrifying speeches. Imagine him taking the stage and uttering these words:

“Rev. Wright, I’m sure you’ll hear this speech, so I have a question to ask of you. I said publicly that I suppose I really didn’t know you as well as I thought I did. I just want to know one thing. Why do you live in America? You have the means to live the rest of your life anywhere you want on this planet. I want to know why you live in America. **pause** As you all know from my tax returns, which I made public, I also have the means to live wherever I want. Let me tell you why I live in America. Let me tell you why I speak of hope when I speak of America. Let me tell you of the beauty that I see in America. . . (insert powerfully inspirational patriotic speech like only Obama can deliver here).”

Like Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, I give Obama permission to plagiarize the words I have just written. Senator Obama, if you give this speech, not only will you put Rev. Wright behind you, you’ll probably put the San Francisco remarks behind you, and most importantly, you’ll probably put Hillary Clinton behind you.

Now, all you bloggers in the Obama camp, forward this advice to Obama, because he needs to gain some traction with voters once more, and he needs to do it fast.

Reminders of our heritage

Loraine Ritchey, one of the first bloggers to join ranks with Scott Bakalar at the Lorain-centric Word of Mouth blog, enjoys digging up bits of history on a blog of her own. She has taken an active interest in the Black River Historical Society for many years now. This article is the first installment of a message Loraine wants to share about what we are losing out on in the port city called Lorain. This article is the second installment.  I’ve been working on an article concept tangential to what Loraine’s working on that I should have ready to post in a few days or so.

Romney skates on thin ice re: Obama

Today I listened to Sean Hannity’s radio program while he interviewed former GOP Massachusetts Governor and former Presidential candidate Mitt Romney.  Mitt Romney was trying to weigh in on the news of Rev. Wright vis-a-vis Barack Obama.  Romney was trying to split hairs over what was religious and what was political.  He did say that religion shouldn’t enter in to the Obama candidacy equation.  OK, I’m on board with that.  He did say that we should take Obama at his word that he does not share the views of Rev. Wright.  Good, because that’s what I say, also.  So, if we take Obama at his word, why did Mitt Romney go ahead and discuss the comments of Rev. Wright?  Also, if religion shouldn’t enter the equation, why did Romney question why Obama attended the same church for 20 years?  I think Romney was trying to tiptoe carefully through the discussion, but I think he failed.  I think he skated on thin ice and fell through.  I don’t think he managed to split the hairs.  Of course, I’m clearly not in synch with Hannity on this issue, either.

Though he had suspended his campaign before Ohio voted in its primary, I cast my vote for Romney, anyway.  Can you tell I’m a little bit disappointed in Romney for not taking the high road on this?

Jennifer Brunner: A hand in the cookie jar?

Prior to the 2004 Presidential elections, the Democrat Party lined up an army of lawyers to be elections observers in full expectation that the elections would be “stolen.” They provided 3 reasons for their expectations:

  1. There was a pervasive feeling among Democrats that the 2000 Presidential election was stolen in favor of Republican George W. Bush, to the detriment of Democrat Al Gore, in the state of Florida. Polling in 2004 indicated a tight Presidential race in Ohio, thus pundits, in advance of the election, were referring to Ohio as being the “Florida of 2004.”
  2. Republican Secretary of State Ken Blackwell was a key player in the Bush campaign in Ohio. Democrats claimed that it was a conflict of interest for the Secretary of State to oversee elections in which he was so prominently involved in the Bush campaign. Some were suggesting that elections oversight needed to be handled by a non-partisan panel of appointees, and that the Ohio Constitution should be amended accordingly.
  3. The state, and in reality, virtually all states, were struggling to comply with HAVA (Help America Vote Act–enacted by Congress in the wake of confusion over the 2000 Florida recount) legislation, which involved a vetting process of new voting machines, and there was still a debate raging over whether machines were 100% reliable and tamper proof. One of the machines that Secretary of State Ken Blackwell approved for use in Ohio’s 88 counties was a touch-screen machine manufactured by Diebold, an Ohio-based company. Diebold’s founder personally endorsed George W. Bush, which heightened suspicion about the machines.

The Republicans responded to the Democrats by lining up lawyers for their own army of observers.

On election night, Republican incumbent President George W. Bush beat Democrat challenger John Kerry by a much wider margin in Ohio than the 2000 Bush-Gore contest in Florida, even though Cuyahoga County, the biggest treasure trove of Democrat votes in the state, kept their polls open longer than all the rest of the counties by court order from a Bill Clinton-appointed federal judge. Ohio failed to be the Florida of 2004. John Kerry conceded the state.

That didn’t stop some far-left wackos from living in a state of denial about the election outcomes. Perhaps the most over-the-top critic lashing out with the most outrageous claims was Bob Fitrakis, who would become the Green Party nominee for Governor just two years later. Since the 2004 elections, Fitrakis has not ceased in decrying those elections as stolen. He still points to Diebold voting machines as the number one culprit, pointing to an experiment that demonstrated how a Diebold machine could be tampered with. What Fitrakis fails to acknowledge was that, in the experiment, the machine did show evidence of being tampered with. There were absolutely no reports of machines showing evidence of being tampered with in the wake of the 2004 elections.

Other criticisms were voter suppression, especially at polling locations that experienced long waiting lines; and improper instructions about provisional ballots, including allegations that too many voters were directed to vote provisionally that should have been able to cast a regular vote, and about disallowing too many of the provisional ballots, and even destroying some disallowed provisional ballots to cover up evidence of unethical activity regarding provisional ballots.

Meanwhile, bipartisan Boards of Election in a number of counties had identified individuals who had engaged in voter fraud. It seemed that Secretary of State Ken Blackwell made a decision he deemed politically expedient when he directed those county boards not seek prosecution of those individuals. Apparently, it was expected that the howls of voter suppression would have grown even louder had the prosecutions gone forward. The most common voting fraud charge was an individual voting in more than one location, usually by voting absentee at a permanent address, but voting in person at a temporary address.

As an Oberlin resident in 2004, I had to wait to vote in one of those very long lines. Most of those in line were Oberlin College students, who, in most elections, don’t bother to vote, but since they all turned out in 2004, the number of voting machines at the precinct weren’t exactly adequate for the huge turnout. I have to point out, though, that the Board of Elections in each county is a bi-partisan board, so the allocation of voting machines is a joint decision of both Democrats and Republicans, so, where measures were inadequate, both parties are responsible, so I reject the notion that long lines were the result of a Republican plot.

Enter Jennifer Brunner, elected 2006 as the new Secretary of State in Ohio. She has catered to the left-wing zanies charging Republicans with vote-stealing conspiracies that fail to acknowledge the bi-partisan structure of the Board of Elections in every single one of Ohio’s 88 counties.

Far from introducing bold new measures to ensure the integrity of the vote by preventing fraud perpetrated by individual voters, Brunner’s office filed an amicus brief on the side of refusing to establish voter identification by way of photo ID requirements introduced in Indiana in a suit that came before the U.S. Supreme Court. While catering to left-wing voter concerns, Brunner has failed to act on a voter concern repeatedly raised by those on the right. Such partiality is not what is expected in a Secretary of State, especially one who campaigned on impartiality by pointing to her past service as a judge, which is yet another elected position of which impartiality is expected. With such partiality in evidence as Secretary of State, one has to question whether her service as a judge was impartial or not.

Besides her power grab of Cuyahoga County, the state’s gold mine of Democrat votes, by way of replacing an entire Board of Elections officers along with the director and deputy director, prior to the March primaries in 2008, she decreed that Cuyahoga County abandon touch-screen voting on Diebold machines. Instead, all voting would be conducted on paper ballots. One can expect that the November 2008 elections in Cuyahoga County will also be conducted by using paper ballots.

For my own views on the use of a touch-screen Diebold versus the use of optical scanners, I would like to reference my own eyewitness account of automatic recounts (contests with very narrow vote margins between victor and loser) conducted on December 5, 2007 in Lorain County. Last November, my ex-wife very narrowly lost a re-election bid to the Oberlin Board of Education. Board of Education races are non-partisan affairs, but I will divulge that my ex is a Democrat. She invited me to be an observer of the recount on her behalf.

I signed a roster indicating my attendance as an observer of the recount. Observers of two other races were also present, but there were a total of six races that were subject to automatic recount. In addition to the observers for three races, there were two additional visiting observers, one was a representative of Jennifer Brunner’s office, and the other was a representative of Diebold. The presence of the Diebold representative whenever votes are tabulated is a stipulation that the Lorain County Board of Elections included in the service agreement with Diebold when the voting machines were purchased, thus Diebold is able to respond immediately to any technical concern arising from the voting machines.

In addition to the touch-screen machines, Lorain County also has optical scanners for the paper ballots used by absentee voters and provisional voters.

The Director of the Lorain County Board of Elections, Jose Candelario, a Democrat and also an expert on computer data systems (his expertise is what landed him the Director job ahead of many other applicants), took us on a tour of the facility and reviewed the safeguard procedures used in carrying out an election and in carrying out a recount.

I was amazed at the tight security in place at the office. The Board of Elections office in Lorain County is located in a building that was remodeled, that used to be a savings and loan office. Access to the computers requires a password, half of which only the Democrat employees know and half of which only the Republican employees know, so it takes two persons, one from each party, to access the computers. The Diebold machines are stored in a room that used to be the vault of the savings and loan, so the walls and the door are virtually impregnable. Access to the vault is only granted by unlocking the door using swipes of two employee identification cards, one Republican and one Democrat, thus one political party cannot gain entry without the other. Logging on to the Diebold machines themselves, also requires a Democrat and a Republican, each supplying their half of the password to gain access. We all watched as a Democrat and a Republican tested a couple of Diebold machines, to check their ability to provide an accurate vote count. First, the machine was zeroed out (kind of like calibrating a scale to read zero when nothing is being weighed on it), then votes were entered, as if a mini mock election were taking place. The final tabulations were compared with the actual entries as keyed in by the employees (they matched) and the machines were zeroed out again. Another pair of employees (one Democrat and one Republican) were accessing the paper trail of the sample precincts that would be involved in the recount. Any discrepancy between the recount and the election night results would trigger more recounting, up to a total recount of the entire electorate that were eligible to cast a ballot in the race in question. The paper trail on the Diebold machines is automatically stored on a cash-register like paper roll enclosed in a cannister already sealed with tamper-proof tape. Thus, the paper trail is secured without the aid of human hands. Before opening any of the cannisters for the manual recount, each cannister, with its security tape, was inspected by the two-person (D & R) employee team. With the cannisters before them, the recount began. We observers saw the change in the security tape that showed the cannister was being opened for the first time. The two person team scrolled through the ballots, tallying the votes as they were read from the paper trail. The counts matched exactly the vote totals of the machine-cast ballots on election night.

We also observed the handling of the paper ballots, cast by absentee and provisional voters, along with their recount. There was no representative on hand from the manufacturer of the optical scanners. These ballots were stored in envelopes that were kept in a cage. Provisional ballots that weren’t permitted to be counted were also in the cage, in their original, unsealed envelopes. Two padlocks secured the steel cage that rolled on wheels. One padlock had to be opened with the Republican key and the other padlock had to be opened with the Democrat key. Before sending the paper ballots through the optical scan machines, each sheet of paper was counted to see that it matched the total number of ballots. The votes on the paper ballots were recounted both by the optical scanners, and manually by the two-employee (D & R) team. Both recount totals matched each other and also matched the official totals that were previously certified to the Secretary of State’s office.

The Diebold observer had nothing to do but watch, as there were no problems. Apparently, the Diebold representative job is a cakewalk, as the Lorain County Board of Elections hadn’t experienced problems with the machines. In fact, Jose Candelario expressed his complete confidence in the precision and accuracy of the machines. He had established procedures that were strictly followed by the employees that he said would guarantee the integrity of the vote every time. The representative from the Secretary of State’s office made no attempt to contradict the statements of Director in this regard.

My own observation leads me to draw this conclusion: If a pair of employees, one Democrat and one Republican, were in cahoots with each other to fix the vote without leaving any incriminating evidence, it would have to be done with the optical scan ballots. For one thing, the paper ballots require much more handling by human beings, with many more steps involved, than the touch screen balloting. The cage containing the paper ballots was not as secure as the vault with the touch screen equipment. If a D & R team wished to omit ballots or stuff the ballot box or switch out real ballots for falsified ballots, it would have to be done with the paper balloting system. Cuyahoga County, which has had inexcusable problems following procedures in many past elections, where one might be the most suspicious of a D & R team of being in cahoots, not only was forced to vote on paper ballots by Jennifer Brunner, but was also required to transport those ballots to a central location for tabulation by the optical scanners. Had the votes been tallied at the precincts, elections observers have the potential to red flag any shenanigans. Having ballots transported creates one more vulnerability to a lapse of security.

The primary elections in Cuyahoga County were relatively problem free, giving a green light to use the same system in November, when Democrats and Republicans will be opposing each other. With Jennifer Brunner’s micromanagement of elections in Cuyahoga County (I reiterate, the state’s treasure trove of Democrat votes), with her partiality in question, with the Presidency in the balance, and the relative vulnerability of using paper ballots being sent to a central location (Will precinct-level tabulations be in place on time for November?), and a track record of strange goings on in prior Cuyahoga County elections, one has to wonder whether Jennifer Brunner has her hand in the cookie jar.