I love Carnivals from TBMD

Installment number 171 of the Carnival of Ohio Politics is up, thanks to the author of The Boring Made Dull.  As dismal as Ohio’s political trends may be, TBMD’s deft compilations of the Carnivals often make me laugh.  He warns us that for the next Carnival that he writes after this one, he might “go off the reservation.”  Well, if his Carnivals, heretofore, have been “on” the “reservation,” my sides might ache from too much laughter the next time around.  Go ahead and click the link.  You know you want to.

Two scoops of Carnival, please

For those who love the Carnival of Ohio Politics, Jill Miller Zimon, of Writes Like She Talks, has composed a double-post.  Therefore, as you peruse the contents and see that some blogs appear in two separate paragraphs, bear in mind that they aren’t duplications of the same thing, they are, instead, twice as much stuff as usual (lots of reading).

It must have been quite a chore to put all that material together, so I’ll not try to make too big a deal out of the way my post about a “released time” proposal in Willard was incorrectly characterized in the Carnival as a fusion of church and state.  But I do have to make something of a deal out of it, because the released time proposal preserves a separation of church and state, and, if pursued along the same veins revealed in my post about School Enterprise Zones, released time can be a benefit for students and parents that can be applied to any supplemental educational pursuit, and need not have any connection at all whatsoever to religion.

If you have enough hours in the week, Carnival 168

This week was my turn in the rotation, so I’ve compiled and posted installment number 168 of the Carnival of Ohio Politics.  Contributing blogs this week were Bizzy Blog, Writes Like She Talks, Roland Hansen Commentary, Just Blowing Smoke, Keeler Political Report, The Ohio Republic, Spinelli on Assignment, The Cincinnati Beacon, and The Boring Made Dull.  You’ve got 168 hours in a week, and at least one of them can be used to search through the great blogging represented at the Carnival.

Ohio Carnival 167 . . . with Washington

I did a double-take upon seeing installment 167 of the Carnival of Ohio Politics.  Lisa Renee, of Glass City Jungle, used a Washington state route marker as an illustration for the latest Carnival.  I did a double-take because I’ve actually driven on that very road.  Nevertheless, though the road sign is from Washington, the posts are all about Ohio and its politics.  Great reading.  You know the drill.  Get over there and click on those links.

Carnival CLXVI

That headline is supposed to indicate Installment 166 of the Carnival of Ohio Politics, but the author of The Boring Made Dull is whimsically turning the number system on its head.  There are a number of other whimsical anomalies contained within this newest carnival, like the Grand Canyon of slippery slopes,  political candidates with pro-crime platforms, where to place Hessians on the rating scale of mercenaries, and shaving yellow light time.  Click the links and enjoy.

Brushing up on the English language

For those of us to the right-of-center, we may have found ourselves engaged in conversations with those to the left-of-center where we thought we knew the meanings of words, but to our puzzlement, found that we must not be talking the same language.

Luckily, I happened across a blog titled “Conservative Northwest” that purports to be “The Right Side of the Left Coast” that has endeavored to cut through the confusion by offering up a more up-to-date glossary on what words REALLY mean in a post titled “The Lexicon of Liberalism.”  Conservatives should print it out and insert it as a leaflet in the dictionary so that they don’t find themselves perplexed the next time they talk to liberals.

Elected officials guest blogging at WMD

WMD is the abbreviation for Weapons of Mass Discussion, a blog among many fine blogs appearing in the blogroll sidebar under the heading of State of Ohio Blogger Alliance.

The Congressional Representative from Ohio’s 5th District, Bob Latta, shares his views on cap-and-trade policies that are supposedly designed to help the environment, but, if implemented, are sure to have negative ramifications for heavy industry in our nation.  How does it help the global environment to shove industries out of our country to some other country where they will pollute far more than they do here?  Latta hits the nail on the head when he discusses the economic forecast under such a cap-and-trade regime.  I, personally, think the United States does the world a favor by being the home of heavy industry where we have the means, the technology, and the conscience to minimize negative environmental impacts, but the cap-and-trade proposals would impose costs that will absolutely chase industries out of the USA, meaning that those industries will relocate to nations which do not have the means, the technology, nor the conscience to miminize negative environmental impacts in the manner in which we do in our own country.

Another guest column appears at WMD courtesy of Warren County Prosecutor Rachel Hutzel, who supports state legislation to use E-Verify as a tool to help employers make sure that the applicants they hire are legally permitted to work here.

It’s so nice to get news and views straight from the “horse’s mouth,” so to speak.  Kudos to WMD for making it happen.

Now Showing: Carnival #165

Ah!  The Carnival of Ohio Politics!  More bloggy goodness from all over Ohio about politics!  Installment #165 is now posted, thanks to the efforts of Jill Miller Zimon, who also authors Writes Like She Talks.  Readers, you know the drill.  Head on over to the Carnival for some great reading material.

Trains, tubular and otherwise

I’ve advocated for an upgraded transportation system to make Ohio’s urban areas more competitive.  For background reading, you can find my views, particularly on highway infrastructure, more specifically focused on how my views applied to the city of Lorain (but within a framework of principles that is broader than just Lorain, itself) housed in the archives of Word of Mouth (here’s the intro, here’s the preparation, and here’s the culmination).

We definitely love our cars, so as long as suburbs provide ample free parking that inner cities don’t, and so long as suburbs are located more conveniently to highway interchanges by wide thoroughfares while urban areas are bypassed by highways or the off-ramps from the highways link to narrow, stop-and-go, easily congested capillaries within the urban areas, the commerce of Ohio’s urban areas will continue to flounder.  Wherever highway interchanges are added in rural locations, we will see more development sprawl as exurbs are formed.

Ohio built much of its limited-access divided highway infrastructure in out-of-the-way places ostensibly to save money in land acquisition and construction costs.  But by bypassing the cities, we’ve created urban money pits, where government largesse is annually squandered on trying to bail out economically troubled inner cities.  Our bailouts never get the cities back on their feet to be self-sustaining without future subsidization.  Meanwhile, exurbs grow like weeds, carving up Ohio’s fertile farmland adjacent to interstate highways.

I’ve said before, and I’ll say it again, Ohio’s cities need transportation infrastructure upgrades so that cars can travel at 65 mph on highways within city limits just as they do on highways that traverse farmland.  I’ll also repeat this:  When planning new highway construction, you have to include the cost of the impact along with the cost of land acquisition and construction.  Putting a highway through nowhere may be cheap in terms of up-front costs, but in the longer-run, it’s expensive, as it creates brownfields in already developed areas while gobbling up our greenspace.  New highway construction ought to follow already existing arteries so that it traverses land already zoned as commercial and industrial, thereby preventing the emergence of brownfields, instead of traversing agricultural land that will have to ultimately be rezoned due to its proximity to the new highway.  Our highways must penetrate our inner cities, and the off-ramps in the inner cities must lead to wide thoroughfares where traffic moves briskly to ample and conveniently located parking.

But enough of highways.  Let’s talk about passenger rail.  I am FOR, not against, passenger rail.  But just as I have to qualify what kinds of highways I’ll support and what kinds of highways I won’t support, it’s the same when it comes to rail–there are proposals I’ll support, and those that I won’t support.  Also, just like the price tag for up-front costs for the kinds of highways I want to build can be pricey, much the same can be said for the passenger rail infrastructure that I’d support.  We need to look at the longer view, using lessons of the past to guide our planning for the future.

There are some important reasons why we drive our cars instead of taking trains.  Probably the biggest reason is that we are impatient.  Just like we enjoy broadband internet connections better than dial-up, it’s the same when it comes to cars over trains.  Speed.  Gotta have it.  Free-flowing.  Gotta have it.  Convenience.  Gotta have it.  Instant gratification.  Gotta have it.  Pampering oneself.  Gotta have it.  Patience.  No way.  Waiting.  No way.  Inconvenience.  No way.  Delaying gratification. No way.

I will not support passenger rail proposals that expect us to warp back in time to the days of slow moving trolleys and street cars.  We are too impatient for that.  Beef up Amtrak in Ohio?  Utter nonsense.  We can drive or fly to where we’re going faster.  The rail I will support is rail that can get us places faster with more convenience.  Such rail proposals have more expensive start-up costs than existing rail, but if we expect people to actually make use of the rail, it absolutely must fit in with the instant gratification paradigm.  Otherwise, forget passenger rail altogether as a huge waste of government subsidies.

John Michael Spinelli, a left-of-center writer, has a blog, Spinelli on Assignment, overflowing with information about one such high speed passenger rail proposal known as tubular rail.  He talks a little bit about the expensive price tags, but also about the absurdities of subsidizing existing slow-moving, inconvenient passenger rail that has little appeal to the modern masses.  A few entries I recommend from Spinelli’s blog include this, this, this, this, and this, but there’s more where these came from.

I like the concept of high speed tubular rail taking us from one city to another faster than we could by automobile and more conveniently than navigating through the parking, shuttle service, check-in counters, baggage service, security check-points, and waiting areas of airports.  However, I don’t think tubular rail is the logical next step for Ohio.  I’ve been to a couple of countries that have either developed high speed rail or are in the process of developing high speed rail, namely, Japan and South Korea.  When these two nations made the jump to high speed rail, they did not overlay it upon a transportation grid like Ohio’s.  Nope.  There is a missing link here that I haven’t yet seen Spinelli or anyone else explore, probably because they balk at the price tag for it.

I’m talking about subway systems.

Think of a shopping mall.  It has anchor stores.

The passenger rail services in Japan and South Korea have the equivalent of anchor stores with cities like Tokyo, Seoul, and Busan being major destinations of rail service.  Once you get to those cities by rail, then what?  Look for Hertz car rental so that you can get around the city?  Take taxi cabs around the city?  Hop on board the city bus?  Once you choose one of those options, then you are opting for gridlock on surface streets.  Most passengers that hop off the inter-city rail service hop on to the subway and bypass all the gridlock.

Ohio cities do not have subways.

So, if we build a tubular rail service that links Cleveland with Cincinnati by way of Columbus, we might get from one end to the other faster than by driving I-71, but what about before we hop on the train and after?  If we have a park-and-ride facility to drive to before we hop on the train in Cleveland, that takes care of part of the problem, but once we arrive in Cincinnati, what do we do with our car parked back in Cleveland?  How do we make our way from the train terminal to places around Cincinnati?  Hertz car rental?  Taxi?  Bus?  Once you do, you are on someone else’s timetable, not your own, and you are subject to all the gridlock one finds on city streets.  How was that more convenient than taking your own vehicle?

Subway systems have huge start up costs, since they entail lots of tunneling, which is always expensive.  I should point out the up-side of subway systems, though, beyond an escape from surface street gridlock.  The cities that have built subway systems have made their cities resistant to recession (Ohio hasn’t been able to get out of recession), as they have diversified their economies so much that even when one sector of the economy is waning, other economic sectors within the city are taking off, thus, overall, the city is stable.  The economies of Ohio’s cities aren’t well diversified, so a decline of, say, the steel industry in Youngstown means that your city’s population declines to half of what it used to be.  Subways help weather-proof your cities, as the snow can fly on the surface, but the subway can keep moving people back and forth from home to business to evening classes at the community college and back home again.  Once you reach a critical mass of convenient subway routes and frequent arrival/departure times at the multitude of subway stops, you can stop having to try to figure out the next inner-city bailout strategies to combat brownfields and other urban blights because your city will have achieved the pinnacle of what prized real estate is all about:  Location!  Location!  Location!  When people can flow freely and unfettered, without having to worry about rare, expensive parking spaces along congested urban capillaries, business can flourish where it used to be strangled.  You still need the urban highways so that semi trucks can make speedy deliveries to your business, but your employees and your customers can arrive by subway.

My own experience in riding the subway in Seoul is that it can become addictive, as it appeals so strongly to those bent on instant gratification.  In that vast city of over 10 million people, I could get anywhere in minutes by virtue of the subway.  I loved it.

What comes first, the chicken or the egg?  Well, the debate over whether subways come first or high speed rail comes first doesn’t seem to be that mystifying.  Subway systems came first.  Successful high speed rail was then anchored by cities that already had subways.

Of course, left out in the cold of any discussion about inter-city high speed rail is Ohio’s 4th largest city, Toledo.  Toledo might or might not be a high speed rail stop on a route between Cleveland and Chicago, but definitely gets left out of the picture on a Cleveland-Columbus-Cincinnati route.  Toledo doesn’t even have an interstate highway connection with Columbus.  I can think of a pathway for Toledo that might put them on a must-connect-to destination for high speed rail:  Build a subway system.  I predict that if Toledo built a subway system like Seoul, South Korea has, and other Ohio cities didn’t, Toledo would become the largest city in the state, not the 4th largest, and it would be a major stop on the high speed rail route to Chicago before anyone even scrapes the first dirt for a route between Cleveland, Columbus, and Cincinnati.

In fact, for the first few American high speed rail routes, perhaps an existing subway system should be the the sole criteria for determining which cities get to be destinations along such routes.  After all, in the beginning stages of such ventures, you want to do whatever you can to make the prototype successful so that it encourages further endeavor.  If you connect cities by high speed rail, but passengers have to rely on the availability of surface transportation once they reach their destination cities, the rail might not be perceived as a convenience, and thus the success of the prototype is jeopardized, thus dooming any future endeavors in high speed rail.

So if Ohio is looking to the future, wanting to stabilize its economy by diversifying it and wanting its cities to remain competitive rather than to continue to rust and decay, then I think passenger rail has an important role to play.  But, brace yourselves, because it requires a huge investment (but it has a huge payoff), I believe the next logical step in rail service is to devise metropolitan subway systems, and then use those to anchor the high speed rail routes.

Carnival of Ohio Politics & LeBron

There’s a new installment, number 164, now posted of the Carnival of Ohio Politics.  This one is the LeBron James edition.  Some of the blog entries submitted to this week’s Carnival had me laughing out loud.  I recommend you read them, too.

Survey says . . .

Alo Konsen, of Brain Shavings, brought attention to a survey that charts where a person is positioned along the political spectrum.  You can find and take the survey yourselves here, at The Political Compass.

Alo Konsen sent an email to members of the State of Ohio Blogger Alliance (a blogroll of which is found in my left-hand sidebar) inviting the members to take the survey themselves and share the results.

I took the survey, and my chart appears below.

surveyresultapril30th2009

This result was surprising to me, since I thought I’d be plotted much farther to the right along the x-axis. But then, if that were the case, I suppose I wouldn’t be called a RINO, would I? But, such being the case, I suppose my intro in my right-hand sidebar is quite apt (thus, so is this entry from Pho’s Akron Pages from about the time my blog was launched).

However, let me just say that I will NOT be following in the footsteps of Arlen Specter, and I have NO plans to switch parties.

New Carnival courtesy of GCJ’s Lisa Renee

The blog author of Glass City Jungle, Lisa Renee Ward, has produced another fine edition of the Carnival of Ohio Politics.  Check out installment number 163 here.  Along with links to some excellent reading material contained in Ohio’s political blogs, Lisa Renee also uses free word association to choose links to some “blast-from-the-past” musical selections.

Keeler takes a victory lap at Carnival of Ohio Politics

I have heard from several of my readers, via email, wondering when posting entries would resume here at Buckeye RINO.  I didn’t intend to be on hiatus, or at least, didn’t intend to be away for this long.  Sometimes real life gets in the way (and I’ll have more to say about that in a later blog entry).

In the meantime, in the absence of new posts, my readers are more than welcome to click on the links in the sidebar to the left.  Not sure where to start with all those links?  Well, Carnival of Ohio Politics is always a good starting point, because you’ll find a cross-section of recent blog entries about Ohio politics there.  Since the last time I wrote something here at Buckeye RINO, there have been three Carnivals, complete with links to articles about Ohio Politics.  There’s Carnival #160 edited by Jill at Writes Like She Talks.  There’s Carnival #161 edited by McKee at The Boring Made Dull.  And most recently, there’s Carnival #162 (featuring a road sign for a state route I’ve frequently driven on), edited by Ben Keeler of Keeler Political Report.  This newest Carnival is a milestone, as it’s Ben’s farewell, so I’ve referred to it as his victory lap.  I thank Ben for his service in editing Carnivals.  I appreciate his work.  Take care, and good luck, Ben.

Carnival of Ohio Politics–St. Patrick’s Day edition

I’d like to call your attention to the Carnival of Ohio Politics.  There’s a wide range of topics covered by Ohio’s political bloggers in this week’s edition, the Saint Patrick’s Day edition, which was cobbled together by yours truly, Daniel Jack Williamson.

Jill Miller Zimon, of Writes Like She Talks, is on the schedule for compiling next week’s Carnival.

May you all be bestowed with the luck of the Irish.

Carnival #158 has sprung

Lisa Renee, of Glass City Jungle is anticipating the advent of spring.  Spring hasn’t sprung yet, but installment number 158 of the Carnival of Ohio Politics has sprung, thanks to Lisa Renee’s hard work.

By the way, if you feel like you need to put a face with a name, Lisa Renee made a television appearance in Toledo on March 3rd, and she posted about it at GCJ.  Check it out.

I’m slated as the editor charged with compiling next week’s Carnival, and the submission deadline will be next Tuesday night (Saint Patrick’s Day) at 11 pm.