PBS show about Ohio’s bloggers deconstructed

Hey, Ohio blogosphere, did you get a chance to see the PBS show that was about you?  Now that the airings of the show on PBS and The Ohio Channel have concluded, you’ll have to look to online sources to view the September 26 installment of “The State of Ohio,” which features Ohio’s political blogosphere (unless you purchase a DVD or VHS of it here).

Right now, the video can be viewed on the portal page of “The State of Ohio,” but as weeks pass, you’ll have to access the 9/26/08 episode from it’s archive page.

OK.  Did you click on a link in the prior paragraph so that you could view it?  If so, we are ready to deconstruct it.

Karen Kasler, who’s hosting the show, recaps the week’s news headlines in Ohio during the first 5 minutes.  The segment about the blogosphere begins at the 5:15 mark, or five minutes fifteen seconds into the video footage.

Eric Vessels, of Plunderbund and Progress Ohio, is the guest who’s sitting next to me during the blogging segment.  Plunderbund posted a TIVO-replicated video-clip of the program.  Before getting the first on-screen look at Eric Vessels and myself, Karen Kasler makes reference to a left-wing national political blog, Huffington Post (at the 5:45 mark), then a right-wing national political blog, Townhall (at the 5:46 mark), and then segues into discussion of Ohio’s political blogs.  Eric’s first on-screen appearance occurs at the 5:56 mark.  A screenshot of Plunderbund’s front page is shown at the 5:59 mark.  My first on-screen appearance occurs at the 6:08 mark, with a screen-shot of the front page of Buckeye RINO shown at the 6:12 mark.

At 6:38, Karen Kasler segues into the discussion of the presidential campaigns’ activities in Ohio, and how Ohio’s bloggers have responded.

Because Eric spoke of communications between local and national bloggers, at 8:26, Karen Kasler guided the conversation toward the interaction and cooperation between Ohio’s blogs, noting that my blog referenced Carnival of Ohio Politics, edited that week by Jill Miller Zimon, of Writes Like She Talks.  Other editors of the Carnival of Ohio Politics include Lisa Renee, of Glass City Jungle, Ben Keeler of The Point, and Keeler Political Report, and, until recently, Scott Piepho of Pho’s Akron Pages.  If you are a blogger who would like to have the best 3 of your past week’s posts on Ohio politics included in the Carnival of Ohio Politics, dash over to the webpage and send an email.  Eric spoke about how searchable blogs are, and how easy it is to link up from many sources.  Eric’s Plunderbund post notes that some of his comments during this segment hit the cutting room floor.  Also on the cutting room floor was Karen Kasler directing a question at me that mentioned the right-wing State of Ohio Blogger Alliance.

At the 9:46 mark, Karen Kasler poses the question of “Who are you bloggers?”  Eric joked that he was tempted to play into the stereotype by wearing pajamas into the studio.  I didn’t get a chance to say who I was, as a blogger, until later in the program.  I won’t say what I’m wearing right now as I type this.

At the 10:50 mark, Karen Kasler starts asking about the influence that bloggers have on politics.  Eric and I talk about how cost-effective blogs are, as messages can be spread without cash outlays.  Blogs are able to fill a niche in cases where the MSM is silent and where campaigns lack the cash to advertise.  The diversity of opinion allows voters to learn the pros and cons of issues and candidates as they search the blogs.  If someone finds their viewpoint unrepresented in the blogosphere, Eric points out, at the 11:59 mark, that one can launch their own blog with relatively little difficulty.  Eric mentions WordPress (at the 12:16 mark) as one of the available blogging platforms, which also happens to be the platform that I use.  Eric said (at the 12:27 mark) his interest in blogging was sparked by Daily Kos.  He also mentions (starting at the 12:32 mark) Chris Baker, who’d been on hiatus more recently, but who had risen to prominence at Ohio 2nd Blog as being inspirational in Eric’s initial writings at Plunderbund.

Eric had made use of the term “citizen journalists,” so at the 13:09 mark, Karen Kasler asks for elaboration on that point.  Eric and I did not bash the MSM at this point, though I’ve been known to bash some media outlets on this blog.  We maintained a level of civility, though Eric pointed out that bias exists in the media, just as it does in blogs.

At the 16:27 mark, Karen Kasler steers the conversation towards partisanship, not just between Democrat and Republican, but of minor parties, too.  Some of my blog entries touched on the presidential candidacy of Libertarian Bob Barr (here, here, and especially here and here).  Karen Kasler asks why the blogosphere is so polarized and why alternative voices from outside the major parties aren’t more prominent.  The tug-of-war between Democrats and Republicans does generate web traffic in the blogosphere, and though we may try to steer the conversation in other directions, readership is substantially greater when inter-party bickering comes into play.  There is a silver lining for minor party and independent candidates that allows them to be part of the political discourse, through blogs, without needing tons of money for campaign advertising.  Eric advances the idea that inter-party bickering can be more entertaining, and mentions Jon Stewart of the Daily Show, at the 17:26 mark, as someone who approaches politics from that angle.  Karen Kasler, at the 17:45 mark, notes my claim that liberals think I’m too conservative (re: abortion, guns, gay marriage, small government) while conservatives think I’m too liberal (re: labor, education, environment, diversity), which is what led me to employ the RINO (Republican In Name Only) designation.

One of the major points of departure between myself and Eric is that he is fed the talking points of his party, while I’m not fed the talking points of mine.  Karen Kasler asks about that at the 19:35 mark.  Eric pointed out that he’s judicious about whether to go ahead and print the party’s talking points.  At the 20:12 mark, he pointed to a time when, Democrat Party, or not, he participated in the blogswarm criticisms of former Ohio Attorney General Marc Dann.  Printing talking points without fact-checking can lead to loss of credibility.  Eric took advantage of an opportunity to lash out, at the 21:48 mark, at Matt Hurley, of Weapons of Mass Discussion (Eric substituted Destruction for Discussion) as someone who printed talking points in the Ohio 7th Congressional District contest between Steve Austria and Sharen Neuhardt before all the facts had been checked.  Karen Kasler jumps in, at the 21:59 mark to note that Matt Hurley was not present to defend himself, stopping Eric from elaborating more.  Not all the facts were in, but, in my opinion, Neuhardt can’t just sweep the immigration issue under the rug, unaddressed, and still look like a leader who will engage in honest discourse on the issues of the day with the people she wishes to represent.  If she thinks the nation’s laws on seeking asylum need revision, then she should please spell that out for us.  The intro that I didn’t get to make at the 9:46 mark, when Karen Kasler first asked whether bloggers work in the basement while wearing underwear, was finally made at the 21:04 mark, when I describe myself as a failed politician, one of several who blog who had lost their last election.

Karen Kasler, at the 22:11 mark, noted that one right-wing blogger had declined to come on the program, citing that Ohio’s political blogosphere hadn’t yet matured to the point of possessing enough gravitas to merit a TV news segment.  Matt Naugle, of Naugblog, outs himself as the blogger referenced.

I pointed out, at the 23:06 mark, the increasing length of the blogroll at BlogNetNews: Ohio, to show that the Ohio political blogosphere is gathering strength.

If you’ve read my very first post here at Buckeye RINO, then you know that I contributed to Word of Mouth blog before launching Buckeye RINO.  I make mention of this at the 22:45 mark.  Eric responded, at the 22:56 mark, with a shout out to Scott Bakalar, who, with his wife, Michele, started a blog after becoming fed up with sewers that would back up and flood his basement after some hard rains.  Hi, Scott!

Eric Vessels, at the 23:32 mark, pointed to Plunderbund’s political muscle in getting a candidate endorsement yanked, and that candidate lost an election.

To make my final point (beginning at the 24:58 mark) about the power of blogs, I pointed to Word of Mouth (as an aside, I acknowledge that Buckeye RINO is still small pototoes in the real world).  During the summer of 2007, some contributors at Word of Mouth expressed dismay at Lorain City Schools (one of the largest school districts in Ohio), and called for the public to make their voice heard, and advocate for change.  There was a shakeup in the Board of Education elections last year, as incumbents were swept out of office.  A blogger’s (Brian Hazelett’s) rallying cry was instrumental in mobilizing hundreds of teachers, parents, students, and other community members, to show up in force at school board meetings.  In addition to Scott, Michele, and Brian, the other Word of Mouth bloggers (Kelly Boyer Sagert, “Henery Hawk,” Loraine Ritchey, Jim Smith, Paula Tobias, Dale Lieb, and Roman K.) at that time also stoked the fires that turned a passive community into an active one.  The local print news media and the Cleveland TV media trudged out to Lorain to report on the community’s rally.  It’s an example of the power of what a blog can do and foreshadows the possibility of even greater political muscle that Ohio blogs might flex in the future.

Vote YES on Issue 5 and NO on Issue 6

I think it’s crazy that casting ballots has already begun in Ohio.  I hope voters are informed about all the candidates and issues on the ballot before they vote.

I would urge voters to limit payday lending and casino gambling by voting yes on Issue 5 and no on Issue 6 (more about Issue 6 here).

Are you upset about the shark-infested waters on Wall Street that endangered the middle class?  Are you upset at the rampant greed of the fat cats that prey upon those of us that are less savvy about money?  If so, there are conniving persons just like the ones on Wall Street that are scheming of ways to plunder Ohio residents by way of payday lending and casino gambling.  Voting yes on Issue 5 and no on Issue 6 will hold these predatory forces at bay (for now . . . unfortunately, the casino interests make incessant attempts to gain entry to Ohio).

Ads for these schemers and connivers may mention what the laws allow in neighboring states.  Let me suggest to you that what happens in other states is no concern of ours, except to point out that these predatory industries are detrimental to the economies of those other states.  States that neighbor ours are not faring well economically, and the presence of these predators only make conditions worse.  Ohio should be proactive, not reactive, and make laws that are in the best interests of Ohioans instead of worrying about what may or may not go on in other states.

Both of these predatory industries are suggesting that if you vote the way I suggest, jobs will be negatively impacted.  Let me just say that there is a reason why these vultures want us to lay down and die.  They want to devour us for lunch.  Let’s not be a carcass for them to feed on.  Vote yes on Issue 5 and no on Issue 6.

Step away from the madness

The American people gave Congress an earful and let them know that they did not favor a bailout.  Wall Street is being a crybaby about it and doing what they can to induce the American people to panic so that they can get their bailout.  I think that we will indeed experience painful economic shocks even if we do have a bailout, so I don’t see the point of a bailout.  I have already urged families to prepare for the downturn that is coming while your cash still has purchasing power.

Today, I learned that the MSM, especially the medium of television, is tone deaf to the American people.  Those people who phoned Congress against the bailout?  TV journalists have no understanding of those ordinary folks.  I guess if we don’t organize a march on Washington DC with picket signs hoisted high in the air, the reporters won’t bother to figure out why we just don’t want the bailout.  The protest of the people couldn’t be caught on camera, as we sent phone calls and e-mails instead.

The TV pundits have made an assumption about us.  They have determined that we are too stupid to realize that economic pain is coming.  The MSM has chosen to mingle their voices with those of Wall Street.  Wall Street threw a tantrum, and now the MSM has joined in.  The reporters are trying to pin blame for the failure of the bailout bill on one politician or another.  Blame?  Should we blame them?  Shouldn’t we be giving them credit for doing the right thing and listening to their constituents?  Clearly, the MSM has been partial.

Wall Street is in New York City.  The MSM capital is in New York City.  I guess I can’t expect the MSM to figure out how the economic news is playing in Ohio.

Go ahead, MSM, ask me some questions about my feelings about the economy going sour as I sit here in Ohio.  What do you want to know?  Nothing?  I’ll tell you anyway.

My own financial credit crisis occurred in 2003.  I lost a good paying job.  I’ve had a trickle of income ever since.  I’ve had to make do with whatever cash I have on hand.  I have no investments.  I have no 401k.  I had to sell my house.  I had to sell my car.  I still have no house.  I still have no car.  I live a fairly spartan lifestyle, sometimes with a bit of cash carrying over from one month to the next, sometimes not.  The computer I post these blog entries on is the most expensive asset that I own, and with the quick depreciation rate among computers that are rapidly outmoded by technological advances, this computer really isn’t worth a whole lot.

But it’s 2008 now, which is 5 years after my own personal financial meltdown.  I remain among the most vulnerable of Americans as our economy worsens even further.  I’m still hanging in there, still surviving, still happy to be alive, still happy to see what each new dawn brings my way.

But I am outraged, nonetheless, by what’s going on with Wall Street chicanery.  To Wall Street, I say, though I am of modest means, I don’t try to steal from somebody to get more.  I don’t try to defraud anybody.  I am not greedy.  I don’t want your Wall Street $$$$ millions $$$$ redistributed to me by way of ushering in a socialist society to replace our capitalist society.  If I, in my spartan surroundings, can resist scheming to make a quick buck in a dishonest way, why can’t you, in your opulent lifestyle, resist such schemes?  Wall Street, you ought to be held accountable.

Now back to my observations of the mainstream media.

Today, I noticed that TV reporters appear to be well compensated.  When “financial experts” appear as guests on the cable news shows, the reporters are asking questions such as “What should I do with my 401k?  How much should I have in stocks?  How much in commodities?  How much in bonds?  What should I do with my portfolio?”  I begin to understand why the MSM doesn’t understand me or many of the Americans who live paycheck to paycheck or who live, like me, on a cash-only basis because my credit rating was ruined a very long time ago, and my low income precludes me from becoming credit-worthy again.

I think the MSM is taking the side of Wall Street and not the American people on this bailout issue because the reporters are realizing they have a lot that they could potentially lose.  Their own lifestyle could possibly resemble mine someday.  If companies large and small are cash-strapped with little access to credit, and have trouble meeting payroll, and have to cut their advertising budgets, and companies start folding, then the MSM will lose advertising revenue, their own Super Bowl ad revenue bubble will burst, and networks will have to start becoming leaner, and perhaps shedding some journalists’ jobs.  Nevertheless, even should the worst befall them, there is still life after financial crisis.  Life goes on.  And . . . as long as we don’t cave under the pressure to convert our economic system from capitalism to socialism, we remain free.

The American people DO get it.  They DO understand that an economic crisis looms.  But they will brave the storm.  America is, after all, “the land of the free, and the home of the brave.”

And, eventually, the marketplace will stabilize, and we’ll count our blessings.

How the Ohio Congressional delegation voted on today’s bailout bill

Yes

  • Boehner (R)
  • Pryce (R)
  • Hobson (R)
  • Regula (R)
  • Wilson (D)
  • Ryan (D)
  • Space (D)

No

  • Tiberi (R)
  • Turner (R)
  • LaTourette (R)
  • Chabot (R)
  • Schmidt (R)
  • Latta (R)
  • Jordan (R)
  • Kaptur (D)
  • Kucinich (D)
  • Sutton (D)

Hooray! U.S. House votes “No!”

By no means are we out of the woods when it comes to economic crisis.  I’m not cheering the fact that our economy will be rocked severely.

I am happy, though, that I still live in the U.S.A., not the U.S.S.S.A (the United Soviet Socialist States of America).

Congress must still take action, but the message is clear:  Stop the march toward nationalization of our financial sector.  Stop the march toward socialism.

We can regulate.  We can reregulate.  We can stop the fraud and the cheating.  We will be financially in dire straits, but we’ll still be free, and the market will eventually correct itself.

My favorite John Kerry quote (though referring to different circumstances when delivered at the DNC in 2004):  “The future doesn’t belong to fear.  The future belongs to freedom.”

Does Kofinis know what’s good for the country?

I see Democrat strategist Chris Kofinis bloviating on MSNBC about the prospects of passing a bailout bill.  Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi doesn’t want a floor vote on the bill until she is assured that about a hundred House Republicans will go along with the measure.  Everybody’s pacing the floor while the House Republicans are huddled in their chambers poring over 106 pages of legislation.

Chris Kofinis is saying that the the House Democrats, the White House, and the Senate don’t like this bill, but they are doing it because it’s what’s good for the country, and that House Republicans are trying to play politics with this instead of doing what’s right for the country.

I have to ask, what country do we live in?  The U.S.A.?  Or the U.S.S.S.A (The United Soviet Socialist States of America)?  This vote is pivotal.  This vote tells us whether we are a capitalist democracy, or a socialist bureaucracy.  The political risk for bailing out Wall Street is that if the people of the United States voted on the matter directly, we’d retain our capitalist economy, even though it falters from time to time.  Since Congress is willing to buck the will of the people, they are fairly confident that incumbency will protect them from blowback as they seem poised to become the elites of a socialist state.

If this is still the U.S.A., then Chris Kofinis is no patriot, and is clueless about what’s good for the country.

Eye-popping video of the Franklin Raines era

These are excerpts taken from Congressional hearings about the dealings of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae back in 2004.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_MGT_cSi7Rs

Raines characterized housing as a riskless investment asset.  Wow!  That turned out to be dead wrong, but that’s not all this YouTube video reveals.

More PBS broadcasts about Ohio political blogs

The State of Ohio,” a weekly half-hour show that airs on Ohio PBS stations, will be broadcast on Sunday morning (that’s September 28th) in several media markets.  For a little more background, see my original post about the current week’s installment with a feature about Ohio’s political blogs.

WCET-TV 48 in Cincinnati is slated to air the show at 6:30 AM.  WPTD-TV 16 in Dayton airs it at 7 AM.  WPTO-TV 14 in Oxford airs the show at 10:30 AM.  WBGU-TV 27 in Bowling Green will air the program at noon, when WVIZ-TV 25 in Cleveland is set to air the show for a second time.  WOUC-TV 44 in Cambridge and WOUB-TV 20 in Athens will air the program at 12:30 PM, early Sunday afternoon.

For cable TV markets that receive The Ohio Channel, the show will air on Monday at 10 AM and 6 PM, with a wee-hour-of-the-morning showing on Tuesday at 2 AM.

Irked by Obama

I watched the entire debate between McCain and Obama last night, and thought that both sides could see some positives in the performances of whoever their favorite candidate was.  So I would mostly leave the debate topic alone, as there were no decisive blows, and emotions stayed on an even keel.

Except for one thing.  One thing that irked me.

And since it remained on my mind, and I couldn’t sleep, I figured I’d better blog about it.

Since Obama’s early campaign appearances, he’s been talking this nonsense about him, as U.S. President, willing to meet anyone, including enemies, including Iran, face to face, to engage in diplomatic negotiations.

Last night, Obama said it again, only this time, he said that 5 prior Secretaries of State agreed with him.  I watched that special on CNN hosted by Christiane Amanpour with 5 Secretaries of State (Henry Kissinger, Warren Christopher, Madeleine Albright, James Baker, and Colin Powell).  Zero of them agreed with him.  And that’s what irked me.  That’s what made me mad.

None of those 5 Secretaries of State talked about meeting with Iranian leaders at the Presidential level without preconditions.  All 5 of them agreed with having talks with Iran, which is something McCain agrees with, too, but the highest level of talks any of them spoke about without preconditions was at the Secretary of State level.

I repeat, the Secretary of State level was the highest level recommended by any of the 5.

Obama even named Kissinger as someone who agreed with him.  McCain called him on it, clarifying that there would be talks with Iran in a McCain Administration, but not at the Presidential level without preconditions, and that Kissinger agreed with McCain.  CNN’s fact-checkers confirmed that Kissinger sided with McCain.

But after being called on it by McCain, Obama backpedaled, as if to dismiss the notion that he, Obama, was referring to talks at the Presidential level, and tried to utter some nonsense about preparation, but that just irked me.

Obama had better decide what he’s saying.  He can’t say contradictory things at once.  Either he’s talking about Presidential summits with other world leaders with no conditions, like he’s done since the beginning of the campaign, or he’s talking about diplomatic communications at the lower levels, not at the Presidential level, which means he has to say that he is retreating from the position he took at his campaign’s outset.  I’m not letting Obama have any wiggle room on this.

In international affairs, one must keep in mind that despite the long distances and large regions of the world that are involved in such discussions, “all politics are local.”  Leaders of foreign countries have to worry about their own domestic bases of power.  Often, the posture these foreign leaders assume on the world stage has everything to do with how they are viewed by the people at home, within their own countries, and not so much to do with what is accommodating to outsiders.

Keep that in mind.

If you are a President of the United States, you are a very busy person.  Though very many people want to infringe upon your time, though many people want an audience with you, you have to be very judicious with how you spend your time.  You have many very weighty responsibilities.  You have to prioritize who gets access to you and who does not.  For those who don’t get access to you, you have to allow them access to someone that you authorize to act on your behalf.  For foreign governments, you authorize the Department of State, which has many capable diplomats in its ranks working on behalf of the President and the American people.  The State Department can handle whatever diplomatic tasks you choose to delegate to them.  There are, however, certain circumstances where you may decide that something is important enough that you do not delegate a matter to the State Department because you choose to deal with it yourself, as President.

Question:  Would I, as President, want to allocate my scarce time to negotiate directly with an enemy foreign leader with no preconditions?

Answer: No.

Question: Why not?

Answer: If I set no preconditions, then I have no indication from the enemy foreign leader that negotiations will lead to anything productive.  When preconditions are met, that is a signal that negotiations might lead to a favorable outcome. Therefore, if there are no preconditions, or preconditions are not met, a summit could easily be a total waste of a President’s time.  Therefore, delegate the matter to the State Department to handle until such a time arrives that the enemy foreign leader exhibits some sign that a summit might lead to progress.  Unless an enemy foreign leader gives some signal that compromise is possible, having a summit with that leader would be trying to negotiate from a position of weakness.  The President would be seen as caving in to the obstinate foreign leader, in which case, negotiations can only go badly, as only the United States is signaling a willingness to compromise.  The President must be at least on equal footing, if not on firmer ground, in order to negotiate from a position of strength.  Furthermore (and this is where the adage “all politics are local” fits in), if an obstinate foreign leader is granted access to the President without meeting any preconditions, the comparative weakness of the President will be exploited for domestic consumption by the enemy foreign leader to consolidate power within his/her own nation, further hampering future efforts to gain any concessions at all from the foreign leader.

The enemy foreign leader will brag.  BRAG!  The enemy foreign leader will brag to the people of his/her country that the uncompromising stance they took was able to humble the United States, forcing the U.S. President to crumble, and come crawling on their knees and begging for a concession, and the foreign leader defiantly and triumphantly decreed, “No!”  Thus the enemy foreign leader becomes a hero/heroine in the eyes of his/her people that they were able to subordinate the United States to their will.

That is what John McCain means when he says that meeting with enemy foreign leaders at the PRESIDENTIAL LEVEL WITH NO PRECONDITIONS legitimizes tyrants.  John McCain, as President, will not offer himself as fodder for the propaganda machine that tyrants employ to legitimize themselves and consolidate power.

Voters’ rush to judgment

“He presented for the first time in a long time an intelligent counterargument to the Democrats.  He’s not going to change me into a Republican, but it’s refreshing to hear someone say something with that much authority and understanding.”

That quote comes from an 18-year-old Oberlin College student who had just finished listening to a speech given by former Speaker of the U. S. House of Representatives, Newt Gingrich, as reported by the Elyria Chronicle-Telegram’s Jason Hawk.

Newt Gingrich’s views have been publicized all through the MSM before, but here’s a person of voting age who didn’t suspect that Gingrich would have something “intelligent” to say.  Wouldn’t it be nice if all persons of voting age had the opportunity to hear diverse political views unfiltered by the MSM?  Most of the TV networks would never allow Gingrich to be portrayed as “intelligent” during the course of their news coverage.

But the Chronicle-Telegram also has this story reported by Cindy Liese:

Beginning next week, buses will cart hundreds of Oberlin College students to the Lorain County Board of Elections office in Sheffield Township so they can cast their ballots early.

Within 24 hours of an e-mail notice of the buses, 500 students had signed up, said Scott Wargo, college spokesman.

The college is paying for the buses, although the cost was not available Tuesday.

Ohio’s early absentee voting gets underway on September 30th, 35 days before Election Day, and the presidential candidates are trying to bank votes early.  These college students finally had an unfiltered opportunity to hear a McCain surrogate speak, and if they listen to the Presidential candidate debate tonight, they’ll be able to contrast the two candidates as words come “straight from the horse’s mouth,” but what about the other races on the ballot?  State and local elections are important, too.  Will these Oberlin College students have an opportunity to learn about the nether regions of their ballots?

There are opportunities that lie ahead that would allow these students to learn about lower-profile races.  Consider the candidate forum to be sponsored by the Coalition of Hispanic Issues and Progress (CHIP) in nearby Lorain, that the college students could see on a cable channel carried throughout Lorain County.  The Morning Journal reports that this forum won’t be held until October 15.

The free event, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., will include State Rep. Matt Lundy, D-Elyria, and his opponent Republican Dan Urban; Lorain County Commissioner and Democrat Lori Kokoski and her opponent, Republican Martin O’Donnell; Lorain County Commissioner and Democrat Ted Kalo and his opponent Republican Nick Brusky; and U.S. Rep. Betty Sutton, D-13, and her opponent Republican David Potter.

Granted, the state rep and Congressional candidates listed on the program aren’t the ones that will appear on the Oberlin ballot.  For state rep, incumbent Democrat Joe Koziura is running unopposed, and Republican Bradley Leavitt is challenging incumbent Democrat Marcy Kaptur for a seat in Congress.  The county commissioner races, though, are VERY consequential.  I hope the Oberlin College students study up on the commissioner races before going to the polls, but I don’t think that’s likely if they’re among the 500 that signed up to ride buses for early voting just next week.  Besides the CHIP candidate forum, Lorain County Community College usually hosts a candidate forum in even-numbered years, and Oberlin’s League of Women’s Voters usually hosts a candidate forum every year–but those forums are usually scheduled just a matter of days before election day, so they’ll likely occur LATER in the election cycle, NOT earlier.

I’m a former resident of Oberlin.  In fact, in 2004, when Senator John Kerry challenged incumbent George W. Bush for the U. S. Presidency, I was on the ballot as Joe Koziura’s opponent in the state rep race.  I remember going to vote on election day, in a precinct that included a lot of Oberlin College students.  The turnout was enormous.  I waited for two-and-a-half hours in line to cast my vote.  I can understand why the students would want to vote early.  Waiting that long in line could cause someone to miss some important activities on one’s schedule, even if one doesn’t have class on that day.  The students were quite sociable, so they conversed with me and others around them as we all waited.  They had turned out in huge numbers to support John Kerry, but many of them had come to study at Oberlin College from distant parts of the country.  They frankly admitted that they knew nothing about the local candidates, so they voted a straight Democrat ticket, something that the Democrat machine in Lorain used to their advantage to sweep county offices.

Among the most egregious picks of the voters was the election of Ted Kalo as county commissioner.  He’s been one of Lorain’s good old boys for years, among the privileged that pull the strings of Democrat officeholders in the decaying rust-belt city of Lorain, who was probably the most clueless of all the commissioner candidates that year (8 Democrats and 2 Republicans ran for county commissioner in 2004).  After winning office, he promptly redecorated the commissioner’s office he worked in with new flooring, furniture, and even a plasma-screen TV!  Lorain County is not so financially well off that it can afford splendor.  Kalo has trouble balancing his books as a businessman (at one point, grossly delinquent on remitting sales taxes from his business, more recently filing bankruptcy for his business), so when the county’s revenues weren’t keeping up with expenditures, he led the commissioners in voting to increase the county’s sales tax.  Unlike Barack Obama, who says he’ll only increase taxes on the rich, a hike in the county’s sales tax affects everyone, old and young, rich and poor, with no exceptions, not even for college students purchasing textbooks.  Some voters took measures into their own hands and filed petitions to put the proposed sales tax hike on the Lorain County ballot in fall of 2007.  When the votes were counted last November, the rough totals showed that 80% of county residents opposed the sales tax hike.

And here’s the reason why the county commissioner races are so consequential:  Commissioners comprise the legislative branch of the county.  They are to impose the people’s will on county government.  They have power of the purse.  However, incumbents Ted Kalo and Lori Kokoski have said that if elected, they will again attempt to hike the sales tax, despite the demonstrated will of the people.  Both incumbents hail from Lorain, a city headed toward, if not already in, economic ruin.  These two don’t understand the economy, and they evidently don’t understand their responsibility to represent the people.  Challengers Nick Brusky and Martin O’Donnell have both served on city councils in cities that have been two of the three bright spots in the Lorain County economy (much of the county is economically distressed).  They have an understanding of the economy.  They have a track record showing that they know how to prioritize when resources are scarce.  They have pledged to not hike the county sales tax.  They understand that a commissioner is supposed to represent the people of the county, and act according to the people’s will.  Electing Brusky and O’Donnell as county commissioners will help put the county on better footing, so I hope these college students are aware of this when they vote.

Of course, readers of this blog are seeing the commissioners’ races through my filter, my lens, my prism, my perspective, as they peruse this message.  But there are opportunities to see the candidates unfiltered, and I hope that voters avail themselves of those opportunities before rushing off to vote in a hurry.

Ohio political blogosphere featured on PBS show

Hey, Ohio political blogosphere, are your ears burning?  Somebody’s been talking about you behind your back.  A couple of blogs/bloggers were even singled out by name.  Ohio’s PBS stations broadcast a half-hour-long weekend show (schedules vary, so check your local PBS or Ohio Channel listings) called “The State of Ohio,” hosted by Karen Kasler.  Eric Vessels of Plunderbund and Progress Ohio participated in the taping of a 20-minute segment, along with yours truly, the Buckeye RINO.  The debate between Obama and McCain is shuffling the schedule for some of the PBS stations, so I’ll provide a later post when I can nail down the air times better.  So far, though, WOSU-TV 34 of Columbus and WPBO-TV 42 of Portsmouth are scheduled to lead off at 5:30 pm, tonight, the 26th, with WVIZ-TV 25 of Cleveland airing the show tonight at 7:30.  In the early hours of Saturday morning, WEAO-TV 49 of Akron and WNEO-TV 45 of Alliance are scheduled to air the show at 5:30 AM.

Are we capitalists or socialists?

Why do the Congressional Democrats say that they will only greenlight a $700 billion bailout bill if they’ve got the support of a significant number of Congressional Republicans?  The Democrats are in the majority in both houses, and the U.S. President is siding with them, so why the uproar over the Republican holdouts?

The reason why some Republicans are holding back is because the bailout converts our financial sector from capitalism to socialism, and they don’t believe we should be socialists.  I agree.  I don’t think we should be socialists.  I’m sure Congressional Democrats understand where these Republican holdouts are coming from.

Therefore, if the Congressional Democrats are so certain that these Republican holdouts are in error, and they think they have the correct solution, then they should act on their convictions, just as the Congressional Republican holdouts are acting on their convictions.

The ball really is in the Democrats’ court, but I guess they don’t really want the ball to be in their court.  Why do the Democrats hesitate?  Do they also feel an inner conflict?  If so, then perhaps they’ll have enough of an open mind to consider my question:  Are Americans capitalists or socialists?  What’s your answer?  If the former, then go back to the drawing board and figure out something besides bailing out with the taxpayers’ money.  If the latter, then ACT!!!

Connecticut group think

I happened to see this AP article by way of Yahoo that says Connecticut Democrat Party leaders want to exile U. S. Senator Joe Lieberman.  It made me laugh.

The G.O.P. is making no such moves against those who endorsed Obama for U.S. President at the Democrat National Convention.  The G.O.P. is more tolerant of diverse opinions.

In Ohio, the Democrats made a move to banish Marc Dann, but they did the right thing because of Dann’s ethical lapses.  No one in Connecticut is accusing Lieberman of promoting a frat house culture within his Senate office.  Apparently, Connecticut Democrats expect their politicians to be mere puppets.  If you can dance without strings, then you don’t qualify to be a Democrat in Connecticut.

One of the Democrats, Audrey Blondin, pushing for a censure resolution against Lieberman said:

“If you have someone who says they’re a Democrat, who is registered as a Democrat and is a national figure supporting a candidate who is opposed to all the ideals and beliefs and positions that we hold as Democrats, he’s diluting — in my opinion — the meaning of our party.”

Oh, no!  The Democrat Party in Connecticut could be diluted!  If left unchecked, the reliably blue state could turn red!  (I wish!)  And Lieberman would be the cause!  (Yeah, I suppose the extreme ideological intolerance by the Democrats as shown by their vilification of Lieberman wouldn’t turn anybody off.)

Go ahead, Connecticut Democrats.  Start an inquisition.  Purge your party of all infidels.  I wouldn’t want you to feel as if your party had become diluted.

Carnival of Ohio Politics #135 posted

For a round-up of the best blog entries about Ohio politics for the past week, check out the Carnival of Ohio Politics.  Jill Miller Zimon of Writes Like She Talks edited this week’s installment, Carnival #135.  Thanks, Jill!

A new “Ellis Island” could help

I’m talking about the benefits of opening the floodgates of LEGAL immigration.

Let me be very clear at the outset that I support securing our borders, including continuing with construction of the border fence.  Also, those who are in the country illegally ought not to be first in line to receive legal status.  I favor a beefed up Border Patrol and ICE.  Some businesses and the politicians that those businesses own have benefited from an underground labor market that undermines the legitimate labor market.  Those guilty of such should be prosecuted for human trafficking crimes.  I oppose new guest worker programs because we already have provisions in place for temporary work visas and because we have no effective strategy for dealing with those who overstay their temporary guest visas.  Michelle Malkin also makes a connection between illegal immigration and the high-risk-taking on Wall Street that has brought the nation to the brink of a depression, or socialistic taxpayer-financed bailout, or both.

By the way, on the topic of the bailout, I do not favor it.  I don’t want to see a socialization of our economy.  I don’t have confidence that the bailout will avert severe economic shocks.  I think that the House of Representatives passed a bailout measure quickly because all 435 Representatives are up for election at the beginning of November, and they want to delay the day of reckoning until after these incumbents have retained their seats, whereas only about one-third of the Senate is up for election in any given even-numbered year, which is why they are being more deliberative than the House.  I know that without the bailout, the nation would endure severe economic shocks, but I think the American people are rooted in their views of justice and facing the music.  Our parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents have suffered devastating times through two world wars and the Great Depression, and heroically survived to tell the tale, and so the current generation of Americans have within them the mental toughness to see beyond the current calamity, as many other Americans besides myself are opposed to continued bailouts, especially when the collective price tag reaches above a trillion dollars.  Many of us instinctively know that if the Federal government tried to swallow up whole segments of the private sector in this socialist tsunami that the Federal treasury, itself, would become insolvent, and our government would default in addition to the other economic woes, thus devaluing our currency and destroying the security of government-issued bonds.  Artificial attempts, for purely political purposes, to manage the market corrections that must take place will only prolong the time it will take for recovery to begin, as shown by the Japanese and the financial crisis that enveloped them in the mid 90’s.  I do, however, favor transparency, oversight, accountability, and unambiguous regulations to curb such scandalous financial practices in the future.

How do we recover?  With credit frozen up, with houses for sale with more being foreclosed upon, with business failures and job losses looming, how do we begin to pick up the pieces?  There are many things that the “invisible hand” of Adam Smith economics will put in motion for equilibrium to be restored, but I want to elaborate on expanding legal immigration and how it could help economic recovery.

Think of a river with levees along the riverbanks.  Think of a flood.  The levees will hold for awhile, but levees can be breached when the rivers are swollen enough.  Also, think of the fertility of river bottoms, and the ecosystem within the river.  When a natural river is artificially channeled, the ecosystem of the river is altered.  Though floods can devastate structures, they can also improve the fertility of the soil along the river bottoms.  So do we want to allow flooding from time to time to maintain the fertility of the soil and viability of the stream?  Or do we want protection from flooding devastation?  Innovations in civil engineering in recent years have allowed us to have the best of both worlds, with mechanisms that can limit the risk of devastation, yet allow for nature to run its course some of the time.

For scores of years from the foundation of our country until the very early part of the 20th century, we permitted immigrants to flood our soil, and our nation flourished.  But after a couple of decades into the 20th century, the flood of immigrants was too overwhelming, and we constructed the bulwarks to shut off the flow.  For the better part of a century now, we’ve constricted legal immigration, setting artificial ceilings on who can migrate here from where and for what purpose.  The demand to migrate here, though, has breached our flood control measures.  Therefore, we have standing pools of illegals within our population, and those waters are brackish.  Some of the illegals crossed our borders without papers.  Others came with temporary papers that have since expired.

The underground economy resulting from the presence of illegals has besieged the above-ground economy, as sweatshop work conditions violate human rights, wage levels are eroded, the tax base is eroded, and government outlays for medical care, crime-fighting, and public education have increased.

Those who want to come to the USA through the front door, especially for permanent resident visas, experience delays that can last for years.  A university student from overseas can get a visa in a matter of weeks.  Why does the vetting process for a temporary visa, for example, an F-1 visa for a university student, require much less time than does the vetting process for a permanent visa?  Many of our current population of illegals have overstayed their temporary visas, so, should we have vetted them more carefully before issuing the temporary visa?  Or should we just have better enforcement actions against those who’ve overstayed?  Or should we totally rethink the concept of temporary visas and provide conditionally permanent visas, instead?  The lengthy delays in granting the permanent visas are swelling the ranks of those who never make an attempt to come through the front door in the first place.

I think immigration reform measures should beef up INS, the Immigration and Naturalization Service, not just the Border Patrol and ICE.  A beefed-up INS can help ICE follow up with those who have overstayed their visas.  A beefed up INS can have an increased capacity for vetting those who apply for visas.  A beefed-up INS can speed up the processing time for immigrants coming through the front door.  A beefed-up INS can handle a larger workload that comes with allowing greater numbers of immigrants.

Let’s open the floodgates to legal immigration, with conditional permanent visas (a visa designed for permanent residency that has conditions which allow for revocation within the first five years).  The flood will fertilize our soil at a time of economic devastation, and within a couple of seasons, we will have a great harvest, recover from the devastation, and, if we choose, close the floodgates again.  The criteria beyond establishing that they are not criminals or terrorists?  Those applying for the permanent resident visas must be able to buy a residence with cash, and they must sign a waiver that they must not apply for government assistance (welfare, social security, medicare, medicaid, government student loans–requirement waived for individuals honorably discharged from the U.S. military) within the first five years of residence.  How they earn their living is something we can let them work out on their own so long as they aren’t living off of government assistance and so long as they are in the above-ground economy (working in the underground economy would be just cause for visa revocation and deportation).  Just the fact that they can buy a residence with cash can help our housing market recover during a credit crunch.  The swell of population in the above-ground economy will increase demands for goods and services, further stoking the economy’s recovery, plus our tax base will be expanded.

If some compassionate Hollywood types want to sponsor some immigrants by plunking down cash to get them a house, so be it, so long as the immigrants can make it through the vetting process.

So what do we do about the low demand for homes sitting vacant in Ohio, in Florida, in Michigan, in every state in the country?  Let’s turn on the supply-side spigot by allowing good people from beyond our borders to have a chance at the American dream.  The bursting of the housing bubble is what brought down the entire financial house of cards, so addressing the housing crisis at the bottom-up level can assist with the recovery.  While these new legal immigrants embark upon the American dream, our American nightmare can be speeded toward its conclusion so we can wake up to a new America.