James Williamson guest blog: Dear Santa, this is what I wish for during the 2012 election cycle . . .

Editor’s note:  James Williamson is one of my (DJW’s) younger brothers.  He is an Ohio native currently residing in Nevada.


Election season is over.  The campaigns for 2012 have not begun yet.  That means we are at a point at which the field is wide open for the next cycle and we can dream up any scenario we like.  So, in my letter to Santa this year, I’d like to ask for a few things for 2012 (because it will need to start in motion now for it to come to fruition by then).

Dear Santa,

There are so many things that I would like to ask for but I’ll try to keep the list short in hopes that I will get at least one wish.

1.    Sovereign fiscal sanity. I’d like to see it spread to the whole world but if that can’t be done then at least bring it to the US.  Nothing leads to poorer decisions than desperation, which is where the major governments of the world are headed right now.

2.    More incumbents retiring or getting defeated. While it was gratifying to see a bumper crop of new freshmen in the US Congress this year, I hope that we get even more next time.  Part of the difficulty that we have with solving our current problems with government is that the people that helped create them are the ones in charge of fixing them.  We need fresh blood and fresh thought . . . and lots of it.

3.    The death of professional lobbyists. OK, so this is probably never going to happen, but remember I called it a wish list.  One of the problems that we have today (as the Buckeye RINO has pointed out before) is that Congress no longer writes its own legislation and often doesn’t even know all the details of the legislation when they vote on it.  The actual text of most legislation is written by lobbyists or, more commonly, clients of the lobbyists.

4.    A requirement to identify who writes all text included in legislation. If we could identify who is writing the actual text of the legislation, then maybe judges could use a similar philosophy with statutory law that is used in tort law:  In case sof ambiguity, the decision will generally favor the one who did no draft of the contract (or, in this case, legislation).  Maybe that would deter corporations from getting involved in the bill writing process and our lazy representatives and senators would have a reason to do something besides take sides, bicker, and make closed-door deals when creating new legislation.

5.    A simplified tax code. I work for a retired colonel who is very intelligent and quite successful.  Once we were talking about taxes and he mentioned that when he does his taxes with an electronic filing system he will watch the tax meter and react when the number goes up or down.  It reminded me of playing pinball or gambling.  What is wrong with our tax code?  Why does it have to be so complex that even people with Ph.D.’s can’t figure out their tax liability until the IRS instructions for filing a return are published?  Corporations can afford to hire people to dedicate themselves full time to try to figure this out, but most individuals can’t, so the government strategy is to take too much and then refund back what they aren’t entitled to by law.  Would you like to pay your utility bills this way?  I read a recent article that suggests that the government can only get about 19% of GDP no matter what they do.  This is because higher taxes stifle economic growth.  So if 19% of GDP is the magic number, then why don’t we just set it there (or preferably lower) and stop all the games of cat and mouse with deductions and credits?  (OK this discussion could go on for another hundred pages so I’m going to cut it off here.)

6.    A balanced Congress. Congress always makes bad moves when one party thinks they can act with impunity in the spirit of “getting things done”.  I think the cases of Congress not doing anything are better than Congress doing something poorly.  I’m not terribly concerned about the final outcome (although, with the Tea Party Movement successes being within the Republican party, I do tend to favor them) as long as one party needs the support of the other to get legislation passed.

7.    An independent White House. Probably too much to hope for, but I really wish we could have a president that doesn’t belong to either the Democratic or Republican party.  In theory, that would keep him party-neutral and not give one party or the other the advantage in Congress by having the president on “their side”.  A third party candidate would work, but I don’t see them having any more luck getting elected than an independent.

8.    More power returned to the states. Despite what detractors say about the nation’s founders, i.e. that the founders wanted, above all, a strong federal government (their reasoning is that the Constitution created a stronger government than the Articles of Confederation that existed previously) the founders also wanted strong state governments and strong protections for individuals.  It’s about balance.  The citizenry, the municipalities, the states, and the federal government all have their respective responsibilities and limits.  One of the reasons US Senators were selected by the states before the enactment of the 17th Amendment was to maintain the balance of power between the states and the federal government.  For some reason, we have forgotten that and have trodden the 10th Amendment under foot.  Can someone remind our government that the people (not the the federal government) are sovereign?  Can the states remind the federal government why we had a revolution in the first place?  Do they remember why we rebelled against king George?  Apparently not.

Well Santa, there are probably a lot of good girls and boys with much simpler wish lists this year but why ask for toys when they just wear out, break, or get tiresome?  Why not ask for something more meaningful than mindless entertainment or pleasure?  Is that asking too much?


James Williamson

P.S.   I wouldn’t want you to think that I am an ingrate. I am thankful for for my Christmas gifts from previous years: Thankful we have our independence from Britain;  thankful we have religious freedom;  thankful we have a strong military that protects us from foreign aggressors . . .  I could continue the list but I think you can fill in the rest.

Sean Kalin Stipe guest blog: Libertarians on the verge of something big in Lorain County

Editor’s note: Sean Kalin Stipe, Lorain resident, former (maybe future?) Libertarian candidate for Lorain City Council, finds some good news for Lorain County’s Libertarians after crunching the election numbers.  In this post, Stipe suggests the point of reaching the critical mass necessary to burst upon the scene as a major political party with many election-winning candidates may be just around the corner for the Libertarian Party.


Early in the nuclear age, a test was performed on an atoll in the Pacific. Several years after the first test of a hydrogen bomb on Bikini Island in 1954, it was used for scientific study. What was being sought was the answer to the question of how soon the effects of radiation would dissipate from a virtual wasteland. A colony of monkeys were transported to the island with some limited success. The primary food source was coconuts. It was found that while the inside of the nuts were safe, there was residual radioactive material on the husks.

10 monkeys were taken away and taught how to wash the husks in the water before eating the nuts. Shortly after they were returned, twelve monkeys started washing, then fifteen, then twenty. As the numbers increased, a magical number was reached and something outstanding happened. This has been noted as “The Hundredth Monkey.” Almost instantly when the 100th monkey started washing the coconuts, nearly every one of the thousands of monkeys on the island performed the same behavior.

Our first ten “monkeys” started the Libertarian Party in 1971 in Colorado. It’s been a slow but steady process, but the party has grown in numbers. Often, when looking at election results, there is disappointment in our results. But disappointment only comes with huge expectations. If the goal is to get to the “hundredth monkey,” then we are actually quite close to achieving to goal of getting Libertarians elected on a large scale.

It might be considered short sighted to compare results from the 2006 and 2008 elections, but we are at that point where our growth can only be described as exponential. The results are not final, but Lorain County saw an increase in in people who voted Libertarian of 13 times compared to our presidential candidate of 2008. That is a growth of 1,300 percent. If we experience just the same increase, we will win the presidential election.

While the number of monkeys are few that get actively involved by asking why we wash the coconuts and how, many more are watching and learning. Many more are watching them. It’s an explosive exponential growth. We are very close to that “100th Monkey.”

“Hanging chads?” Guam vote recount

What we learned from the 2008 Senate race in Minnesota between Al Franken and Norm Coleman is that, when the results between candidates are very close, you must recount and recount and recount the votes until the Democrat wins.  If the Democrat hasn’t won yet, then it’s not yet time to stop recounting.

If there’s any scorn for Al Gore within the Democrat party, it’s because he stopped recounting too soon in 2000, and he should have called for progressives everywhere to march on the Supreme Court and burn it to the ground unless SCOTUS allowed recounting in Florida to continue until the Democrat won.

Guam, one of the 57 states of the USA (if you’re Obama, but it’s a territory of the USA if you aren’t Obama), also held its elections last Tuesday.

The following information was gleaned from Guam Pacific Daily News.

Guam Democrats are thankful to both Al Gore and Al Franken for the vote recount blueprint.  Because of Al Franken, they know that they have to keep recounting until the Democrat wins, and because of Al Gore, they know that any imperfection on any paper ballot creates ambiguity, requiring the best psychics to be assembled to channel the spirits to reveal the intent of each voter.  Luckily, Democrats have the numbers needed on the 7-member Guam Election Commission Board if, after all other attempts, gaming the system is the only other way to thwart the will of the people.

The Republican ticket for Governor and Lieutenant Governor appears to have defeated the Democrat ticket by 583 votes. That, indeed, sounds like a very small margin, but the voting population on Guam is smaller than that of any state in the USA.  In many states, automatic recounts are triggered only when the vote margin is within one percent or within less than one percent (in Ohio, it’s one-half of one percent).  In many states, recounts in races with larger vote margins must be paid for by the candidates’ campaigns or political parties.  In Guam, however, the Guam Election Commission can widen that vote margin for an automatic recount however they see fit, and, in this particular case, they’ve decided to stipulate that within a 2 percent margin the territorial government will pay for the recount.  Perhaps if they manage to overturn election night results, the Commission will be emboldened enough to call for recounts in future elections if the vote margin is within 3 percent (why stop there . . . maybe 5 percent).

The ballots will have no hanging chads, as HAVA (Help America Vote Act), passed in the wake of the Florida recount of 2000, required supposedly more reliable voting methods.  Guam uses optical scan ballots, which are the preferred ballot option for Democrats because electronic voting machines are hard-wired to rig elections in favor of Republicans.  Optical scan ballots provide more opportunities for Democrat quibbling because they are filled out by hand, and, as anyone knows, you can assert that anyone who failed to fill out such a ballot perfectly would be a voter trapped in poverty, possessing a poor education, thus unable to follow simple directions.  Anyone knows that the intention of every impoverished voter is to vote Democrat.  Only millionaires and billionaires who want tax breaks to move jobs overseas would intend to vote for Republicans.

The tabulating machines involved in the recount are programed to halt if an optical scan detects any irregularities, so that the ballot that causes the halt can be examined by humans.  There is a contingency plan if not enough ballots are irregular.

Democrat Party Treasurer Joey Duenas hinted at the pretext for continuing with recounts.  Machines, he argued, would not halt for ballots that contained votes for write-in candidates in which the bubble isn’t filled in next to the line where the candidate’s name is written.  In the past, the Guam Supreme Court has ruled that such write-in votes do not count unless the appropriate bubble is filled in.  That might not daunt Duenas, who patriotically declared,”Every vote is sacred to me.”

Perhaps if the shoe were on the other foot, with Democrats leading election night results, the votes might not have been sacred enough to call for a recount.

Press release: Incoming Republican majority in the Ohio House of Reps to seek greater transparency

Editor’s note:  The Republican Caucus of the Ohio House of Representatives issued this press release on 11/4/2010.  Republicans have been in the minority of the Ohio House for the past two years, but, as the election results show, they will form the majority in the upcoming session commencing in January.


COLUMBUS—House Republican Leader William G. Batchelder (R-Medina) today issued the following statement:

“I am pleased to announce that our caucus has asked Representative Randy Gardner (R-Bowling Green) to begin crafting the House Rules for the 129th General Assembly. Previously, Representative Gardner served in this capacity in 1994, when he successfully brought an unprecedented level of transparency to the House of Representatives.

With Ohio facing such large challenges, it is more important now than ever before that the House operate in a way that will encourage the public to be fully engaged with the work that is done here.  It is with this in mind that we are honored to have Representative Gardner provide his experience and knowledge as we move forward in designing our operational framework.”

Rep. Gardner issued the following statement:

“I am honored to have been asked by my colleagues to produce this necessary function for a successful 129th General Assembly of the Ohio House of Representatives.  Our new Rules will ensure an effective, efficient House for both sides of the aisle and will promote a thorough, diligent work ethic by lawmakers to benefit Ohioans. There is no question that we must restore a minimum two-day waiting or reading period before final votes are taken on our state budget bills. The people of Ohio and all House members must be provided time to know what’s in the bills before we vote.”

In the 128th General Assembly, House members were forced to vote on the final version of the state budget bill with approximately 2 ½ hours to read the Conference report before voting on the measure. The bill included more than 500 changes in the 3,000 page document.

Mme. Speaker Pelosi, I wonder if you would clarify something. . . ?

Beginning in the summer of last year, our Representatives in Congress began convening town hall meetings to extol the virtues of proposed health care system changes.  The reception wasn’t so good.

Also making news were groups of detractors widely known as the Tea Party.

I’m trying to remember, way back then, how you characterized the negative feedback that garnered media coverage . . .

Correct me if I’m wrong, but, didn’t you say it was mere astroturf?

I think you did.  I think you said it was nothing but astroturf.

I wonder if you would care to elaborate further on that observation in light of the most recent election results.  Do you still think it’s astroturf?

Election results match up well with Buckeye RINO endorsements

Though I said in my prior post that I still wouldn’t be happy though Republicans were projected to do well in Congressional races, I have to say, looking through election results, I’m not sad either.  Their are many reasons to smile.

The candidates I endorsed did reasonably well.

In Cuyahoga County, with the new form of government, the Republican didn’t win the county executive race.  Plus, of the 11 county council winners, only three are Republicans.  I’m not sure if that will put enough distance between the county government and the scandalous rascals who will make every attempt to infiltrate it.  On the bright side, having 3 Republicans in county office is a huge improvement over zero (and it’s been zero for a long time).

The last time I checked, the Erie County Auditor race was too close to call.  There’s still a chance it could turn out the right way, in favor of Rick Jeffrey.

Unfortunately, Jeff Krabill didn’t win the 80th District seat in the Ohio House of Representatives.  He certainly came awfully close, though, as incumbent Dennis Murray didn’t even garner 50% in his successful re-election bid.  A Libertarian candidate, though not a winner, clearly influenced the outcome of that race.  If the Libertarians didn’t have a candidate on the ballot and it were a two person race, I don’t see how Dennis Murray would have been appealing to a Libertarian.  In a two-person race, I think Krabill would definitely have been the one who captured more than 50% of the vote.  Krabill can take solace in 3 facts: 1) He retains his seat on the Sandusky school board; 2) It took BOTH a Democrat AND a Libertarian to defeat him, as the Democrat couldn’t have done it alone; and 3) as a result of the 2010 Census and other Republican election victories, there may be a redesigned district, perhaps a more favorable one, for Krabill to run in if he chooses to take another shot at state rep in 2012.

In another race contested by more than two candidates where the winner captured less than 50% of the vote, the outcome was much more to my liking.  There was a four-way race for Lorain County Commissioner, and Joe Koziura came out on the short end of the stick. 😀  Republican Tom Williams is the new county commissioner.  Starting in January, Lorain County taxpayers will finally have an advocate working on their behalf in county offices.

Skip Lewandowski didn’t win his state rep race in the 56th District, and he would have been an excellent state rep.  Rae Lynn Brady didn’t win in the 57th, either.  On the upside, Terry Boose easily won re-election in the 58th District, Rex Damschroder prevailed in the 81st District, and the GOP recaptured the Ohio House of Representatives.

In the 13th state senate district, Gayle Manning won.

Kathleen McGervey won her election to the state school board.

The Kasich/Taylor ticket uprooted Ted Strickland from the governor’s office.

David Yost won for Ohio Auditor and Josh Mandel for Ohio Treasurer.

The GOP will lead the reapportionment process for designing new legislative district boundaries based on the new 2010 Census figures.

Maureen O’Connor and Judith Lanzinger won races for the Ohio Supreme Court.

Bob Latta won re-election.  Peter Corrigan, Rich Iott, and Tom Ganley did not win, but 5 Ohio Democrat U.S. Representative incumbents (Mary Jo Kilroy, Steve Driehaus,  John Boccieri, Zack Space, and Charlie Wilson) were defeated by Republican challengers, so, in January, the Ohio delegation to the U.S. House of Representatives will include 13 Republicans and 5 Democrats.  As expected, the GOP, nationwide, picked up more than 60 House seats.

Rob Portman won the race for U.S. Senate, and the GOP made nationwide gains there, with at least a net gain of six Senate seats since the special election in Massachusetts that sent Scott Brown to Washington DC.

There you have it.  Lots to smile about this time around.

Congress predicted to be more Republican, but I’m still not happy

Election time is here.

Republican prospects for making gains in Congress appear to be in the offing.

But I’ll still be unhappy with Congress.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m energized about voting.

But I also have a melancholy feeling that won’t dissipate even with Republican control of Congress and the statehouse.

Why?  We Republicans recycle way too much of our garbage.  If I were speaking of environmental issues, you wouldn’t see a problem with that.  No, I’m talking about derelict Republican politicians who resurface in elective office when they didn’t do a good job before the Democratic tide of 2006 rolled in.  Perhaps no example illustrates this better than Jon Husted, who was Speaker of the House back in 2006, and now he’s the Republican candidate for Ohio Secretary of State.  Why is this guy still around?  Did we actually like the job he did and want to bask in those glory days again?  No.  It’s not as if I want O’Shaughnessy to win.  I don’t.  I endorsed the Libertarian, Charles Earl, in that race, but I have no expectation that he’ll come anywhere near winning this election.  I expect Earl’s percentage share of the vote will be in the very low single digits.  My conscience won’t let me offer my support to either Husted or O’Shaughnessy.

Many might say we want some new blood to take the reins of government.  But do we see any new faces?  Senator Voinovich is stepping down, so we’ll get some turnover for that seat, and I expect Rob Portman will win it handily, but is either Portman or Lee Fisher a new face?

Even if a tidal wave sweeps Republicans into power this time around, aren’t these the same guys that have been in the pipeline for about 4 years now?  Were any of them that stellar back in 2006 to say,”Hey, how about recapturing the seat you just lost?”  I think at least some of us, at least me, had been hoping the old guard would concede defeat and some newer faces would emerge to try to give the Republican Party an image makeover.

The best headlines this year were the ones where Tea Party favorites defeated the establishment in GOP primaries.  I’m not 100% on board with the Tea Party (maybe I’m 80% on board with them), but I’m very happy that they’ve become a sizable enough group to do some GOP housecleaning.  Heaven knows we’ve badly needed it.  I wish there were some astonishing Tea Party victories here in Ohio, rather than down in Kentucky, over in Delaware, way out there in Nevada, and all the way up in Alaska.  But I’ll take what I can get.

The Tea Party is really a middle-of-the-road constituency.  Many among them are not hardcore Christian conservatives.  Many are independent voters and ardent supporters of minor political parties.  The mainstream media has it all wrong.  These are not the people on the extreme conservative fringe of the political spectrum.  They are the people that live next door or down the street, or maybe even you, yourselves.

And with that false MSM portrayal of the Tea Party, the establishment has woven a narrative that the Tea Party favorites are too radical, too extreme, to represent the voters.

The word “radical” is used to describe change.  It is a change that is an abrupt departure from what was considered the norm.  I think what the establishment finds so radical about the aspirations of the Tea Party is that the establishment would be replaced by the Tea Party favorites.  There’s nothing really extreme in the ideology.  It’s all about a reluctance to relinquish power.  The crop of establishment Republicans we have before us have pretty much used ideology as just mere words to rally the masses.  They don’t really vote that way as legislators.  As legislators, they enjoy the perks of cutting deals, of being power brokers.  They are drawn to those halls of power for exactly those reasons.  They don’t really do our bidding.  That’s how we end up with a Congress we have a low opinion of.

I’d be in favor of some radical change.

With no favorable track record for the establishment to run on, since they are such hypocrites with all their conservative talk, and a focus on their track record would truly expose their hypocrisy, they have made these elections about the question marks that surround the Tea Party favorites instead of about themselves.  Radical.  Extreme.  Untested.  Inexperienced.  Unqualified.  You are being told that Tea Party candidates are radical and extreme.

In reality, the most radical and extreme thing the Tea Party hopes to do in electing candidates this year is to replace the establishment.  That’s what’s so unappealing to the establishment, is that the Tea Party’s aim is to put the incumbents out of a job, replaced by one of their own.  Otherwise, the establishment Republicans are borrowing Tea Party credos for their own propaganda about what they, themselves, stand for.  If the Tea Party is so extreme, so radical, why are the establishment Republicans echoing exactly what the Tea Party faithful are saying?  Is it just pandering for votes?  Of course it is.  They want to co-opt the Tea Party message for themselves to win enough votes to put them over the top, but those messages really don’t convey what these Republican establishment types are all about nor do they really describe how they govern.

Pure and simple, the charges of “radical” and “extreme” are a last-ditch desperate effort of the entrenched establishment to hold on to power.

What’s worse is that the establishment really thinks that they are entitled to that power.

They’ll tell you that a Christine O’Donnell in Delaware or a Joe Miller in Alaska have no rightful claim to seats in the U.S. Senate.  In O’Donnell’s case, the establishment conceded a November GOP defeat just as soon as the primary election outcome in Delaware was announced.  They took their ball and went home. They gave up.  They quit.

The most perfect illustrations of the establishment’s sense of entitlement are Charlie Crist in Florida and Lisa Murkowski in Alaska.

Former Florida Governor Crist, desperate to remain part of the national GOP establishment that he’d networked with, pulled out of a GOP primary race with Marco Rubio so that he didn’t have to make an early exit.  He’s running as an independent, instead, grasping at anything he can cling to so that he can stick around.

Lisa Murkowski had no intention of an early exit, either.  After a primary election defeat at the hands of Joe Miller, she got back in the race as a write-in candidate.  She’s that addicted to the power she wielded.  She can’t bring herself to walk away.  She is trying to claw her way back into the Senate any which way she can.

Joe Miller and Christine O’Donnell have found themselves ridiculed for episodes from their past.  Should this disqualify them from serious consideration?  Lisa Murkowski may think so, but I’ve been around the block enough to know that all those establishment politicians have episodes from their past that they hope will go unnoticed.  Christine O’Donnell, if she were placed on the scale with some sitting GOP Senator, and the blemishes from each one’s past weighed, would her demerits be any weightier than those already in the halls of power?

Lisa Murkowski, go ahead and point a finger at Joe Miller.  There are four fingers pointing back at you.

I am absolutely disgusted when a sitting politician intones that a challenger is unqualified to be a legislator.  I’m not swayed by their citations of “experience” as a reason to support them over anyone else.

The qualifications for being a Senator are the same as for being a registered voter except for a residency requirement (reside in the state you represent) and an age requirement (over 30 years old).   How could anybody that meets those requirements possibly be unqualified?  And what advantage is it to be an experienced legislator than an inexperienced one?  The more experienced you get as a legislator, the farther removed you are from the constituents you represent, and the closer the orbit around lobbyists becomes as you are exposed to their tempting propositions for a longer duration of time.

It’s okay for legislators to be amateurs.  In fact, it’s the ideal for them to be amateurs.  When amateurs write our laws, they are likely to be more fair to the ordinary people of the United States, because they feel and experience what we feel and experience.  Though it was pooh-poohed by the establishment and the MSM, I thought it was a major selling point when Christine O’Donnell said in an ad, “I’m you.”

Our Constitution has checks and balances built into it to ensure that our nation retains a government of the people, by the people, for the people.  There are the separation of powers between the branches of government (executive, judicial, legislative) to check and balance each other.  The Congress, itself, is structured with checks and balances.  It doesn’t consist of one person issuing decrees.  In the Senate, there are 100 persons and in the House there are 435, so, within each chamber, they check and balance each other, plus one chamber checks and balances the other chamber.  So, if a Tea Party favorite really does turn out to be a train wreck, the damage done is limited.

There are also checks and balances between amateurs and seasoned professional public servants.

The executive branch enforces the laws.  They administer.  A politician who aspires to the executive branch ought to demonstrate some relevant experience.  The resume of an executive branch candidate is highly relevant.  You need someone with a lot of honed skills to be effective in the executive branch, and experience can demonstrate effective skills.

Judges are also professionals.  Their chief qualifications are revealed by their resume.  They interpret the law, review it to insure a law’s fidelity to the Constitution, and deliberate over very complex matters painstakingly set forth in courtroom hearings.  They administer justice and balance the rights of the accuser with the rights of those accused when charges are lodged and suspects brought to trial.

But government decisions made only by professionals would lead us down the path of elitism which gives way to aristocracy which gives way to tyranny.

Voting is not the only check and balance amateurs have upon the professionals.  Though a judge presides over a court room, a jury of amateurs decides the outcome.  Though the executive branch carries out the law, it was intended for amateurs to make them.  Turnover was to be encouraged so that we would have some amateurs arriving with each successive election cycle, while others who’d been in Congress a long time would eventually return to private life.  That’s why elections for the U.S. House of Representatives occur every two years, to encourage such turnover to keep the Congress in touch with the people.  There ought to be no career legislators.  A career in elected political office is only fitting for the executive branch (and the judicial branch, although in the federal government, being a judge is not an elected office).

Yes, I want to show Democrats the door.  I will be voting Republican for the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives.  But I’m not elated that, in many cases, the Republicans poised to capture seats are the same ones we were disenchanted with back in 2006.