Friday, November 06, 2009

A Funny Thing Happened

Tuesday Night, I participated in a live blog of the election results over at Buckeye State Blog and a funny thing happened.

I had fun!

In the midst of all the conversation, BSB's Modern Esquire inquired as to the status of my promised re-launch and re-design of this blog. He deserves an answer, as does everyone else who has asked me about it.

After using BSB's Drupal platform for over a year, it didn't take me long to become dissatisfied with the restrictions of Blogger. I began contemplating switching to WordPress, which would give me much greater control over the layout and design of the blog. However, switching to WordPress would involve finding a hosting provider, installing WordPress, exporting all of this blog's content into the new format, redirecting the domain name, etc. This is a fair amount of work and quite frankly I just haven't been motivated to do it, because with all the recriminations that have gone on this year I just lost the desire to blog for a good long time.

Now, however, I hope to get all this done before the end of the month.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Watch for Early August Re-Launch

So I never really announced that I was taking a break from blogging, but with only 3 posts up since June 10th, it is abundantly obvious that I am.

As of now, I'm planning for an early August re-launch. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Obama's Approval Tumbles, D's Still Lead Portman For Senate Race

Quinnipiac University's latest poll results on the state of the political landscape here in Ohio were released this morning, and it wasn't pretty for President Obama.

Given a 62-31 approval rating just two months ago, President Obama now gets a 49-44 approval rating. What's remarkable about this to me is that both the drop in approval and rise in disapproval are exactly 13%, meaning there is no net increase or decrease in the number of Ohioans feeling ambivalent about their new President, a President who has not yet spent 6 months in the White House. My feeling is that Ohioans frustrations with the slow progress on the economic recovery are coming out in these numbers.

On the 2010 Senate front, Quinnipiac finds both Fisher and Brunner slightly leading the likely GOP candidate former Rep. Rob Portman. Fisher has a slight 3 point lead on Brunner in the Democratic primary, within the polls margin of error.

Monday, July 06, 2009

New Quinny Poll on 2010 U.S. Senate Race Tomorrow

Quinnipiac University will be out with a new poll tomorrow on Ohio's 2010 U.S. Senate race plus President Obama's approval rating in the Buckeye State. Stay tuned for details.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Strickland In Trouble?: PPP Finds Him Up Only 2 Over Kasich

H/T Political Wire, a Public Policy Poll released today shows Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland leading former Rep. John Kasich by only 2 points, 44-42. Strickland's approval rating amongst self-described Democrats is down to 62%, while his disapproval amongst self-described GOPers is now 59%. See the full poll results here.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Where Does the Deficit Come From? In Excellent Article, NYT Breaks It Down

In January 2001, as President Clinton was leaving office, the Congressional Budget Office projected that the U.S. Government would run an $800 Billion annual surplus in the years 2009-2012. Instead, the CBO now projects that the Government will run an annual deficit of $1.2 Trillion during that time frame. What accounts for this $2 Trillion dollar swing?

In an excellent article, the New York Times breaks it down. 37% of the swing, comes from the downturn in the economy itself. The current recession, plus the one earlier this decade, has reduced government tax revenue while simultaneously requiring more spending on safety net programs like unemployment.

33% of the swing, according to the NYT, can be pined on the policies of George W. Bush. Specifically, his massive tax cuts for the wealthy, creation of Medicare Part D, the wars in Iraq and Afganhistan, together with the interest payments needed on the debt he ran up with these policies during his term in office, account for 33% of swing.

President Obama's main contribution to the deficit is in his continuation of certain Bush policies: specifically, the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, not calling for the immediate repeal of the Bush tax cuts, etc. NYT figures the continuation of these Bush policies accounts for 20% of the swing.

In case you are bad at math, that means that now 90% of the swing from an $800 billion surplus to a $1.2 Trillion deficit has been accounted for, and President Obama's only contribution is to continue George W. Bush's policies. The stimulus bill, for the record, counts for a mere 7% of the swing, and President Obama's other policy proposals account for a mere 3%.

The article goes on to say that while President Obama has contributed little to this deficit, he does not yet have a credible plan for putting the budget back in balance. Then again, neither does the GOP. The article quotes the libertarian Cato Institute saying that the GOP is not credible when it comes to cutting spending.

Here's my deficit reduction plan: repeal all the Bush tax cuts. Go back to the Clinton tax plan that produced the only balanced budget since Eisenhower. Immediately end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. By immediately, I mean freaking tomorrow.

Next, immediately end all agricultural subsidies, including ethanol subsidies. These guys were supposed to have been weaned off the public teat 15 years ago. Next, start looking at some of the wasteful spending in the Pentagon. Why does the Marine Corps require two recruit training depots when the much larger Army only has one? Require all federal agencies to pass an audit of their books.

I figure this will get us halfway there, and then, once the economy comes back, it should cover the rest.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

California Becomes GOP Utopia: The Bear Flag Banana Republic!

From Slate. Not Ohio specific, of course, but damn funny:

Cuyahoga County Reform Opponents: What About Summit County?

So, the war over reforming Cuyahoga County government is heating up. On her Facebook page yesterday, Rep. Marcia Fudge posted a link to a news story over at WKYC that a county reform plan could be put forth by the end of this week. The PD has a story up about it as well, plus some commentary from Mark Naymik.

The thing I can't figure is this. Having read the plan, it seems almost a carbon copy of the charter government that exists in Summit County, our neighbor to the South. And yet, opponents of the plan, led by East Cleveland Mayor Eric Brewer have been comment-spamming the same nonsense all over every story about the reform plan on For an example, follow this link to Mark Naymik's column on the issue and read the comments.

To all these opponents of the reform plan, I just have one question. If all the doom and gloom you are predicting will come to pass, why hasn't it happened in Summit County? They have been operating under a nearly identical county government structure for 30 years! And yet, their sales tax is 1.5% lower, and I don't see any FBI agents raiding their office holder's homes down there.

Please, if you're going to criticize a reform plan that is nearly identical to Summit County's, then tell us something that has happened in Summit that you don't like. Give us examples of how Summit's government structure has caused negative issues that makes you oppose bringing their reform plan to Cuyahoga. They have a 30 year track record down there, so if all the doom and gloom you are predicting will actually happen, it would have happened in Akron already.

If you aren't willing to do that, then please, STFU, and let rational people discuss this.

Monday, June 08, 2009

JPMorgan Chase Adds 1150 Jobs in Columbus. Blogosphere: Crickets.

You wouldn't know it by reading any of Ohio's progressive blogs last week, but JPMorgan Chase, the largest private employer in metro Columbus, announced it is consolidating its customer service operations in facilities in Columbus and Westerville, creating 1,200 jobs. From the presser:
Leaders from the Ohio Governor Ted Strickland's Office and Departments of Development from Ohio and the cities of Columbus and Westerville worked with Chase to provide generous incentives to attract the new jobs to central Ohio.

"We could not be happier to announce that this important project with JPMorgan Chase will bring 1,150 jobs to Columbus as well as retain positions that are already here," Gov. Strickland said. "The company's decision to stay in Columbus and strengthen an already world-renowned presence here is a tremendous boost to our economy and very welcome news for Ohio."

Lt. Governor Lee Fisher and Columbus Mayor Michael Coleman were among a delegation of public officials that began discussing this opportunity with Chase leaders more than six months ago.

"This project was a dedicated public-private partnership among the State of Ohio, the City of Columbus, and the company at a very pivotal time for our economy," Lt. Gov. Fisher added. "We know that companies have more choices now than ever before, and JP Morgan Chase's commitment to Ohio reinforces their celebrated reputation as being one of our very best success stories."

Columbus Mayor Coleman said, "We are gratified that Chase wants to continue to make Columbus its home and grow its operations here. We will keep fighting for every job as we continue to make Columbus an economically competitive city."
Why didn't Ohio's progressive blogs trumpet this latest accomplishment by Gov. Ted Strickland and Lt. Gov Lee Fisher? I honestly have no idea. Modern of course didn't mention Chase's job creation when taking a swipe at Fisher because of NCR's move to Atlanta, but as for the rest of the 'sphere? Who knows.

UPDATE: Corrected Title to cite proper number of jobs created.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Stop the Presses: Columbus Dispatch Criticizes Bill Todd?

I almost used the blinking light icon on this story, because it's not often that the Dispatch (R-Columbus) criticizes a fellow GOPer. But criticize they did in an editorial in today's issue discussing the proposal to increase Columbus' income tax to 2.5%:
But such opposition should be honest, fact-based and well-intentioned. In the long run, no one benefits from misinformation and demagoguery.
That's why it's disappointing that Bill Todd, the 2007 Republican candidate for mayor, has chosen to criticize as scare tactics the city's plans to lay off hundreds of police officers and firefighters if the tax issue fails.
If the proposal fails, the city would have no choice but to lay off police and fire personnel. The math is simple. Nearly three-fourths of the city's general-fund budget goes for police and fire services.
Now, if the Dispatch has the stones to go after John Kasich's "misinformation and demagoguery" for not providing a plan for the spending cuts necessary to eliminate Ohio's income tax, then I'll be ready to drop the (R-Columbus) monkier that David and I bestowed upon the Dispatch in the wake of their endorsement of John McCain last year.

However, I'm not holding my breath for the Dispatch to have that much integrity.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Good Riddance, GM. Long Live the "new" GM.

Today, in an event that has been 50 years in the making, General Motors filed for bankruptcy protection

There is one feeling that is overwhelming me right now: Good Riddance. 

Good Riddance to the GM that invented the idea of planned obselecence. This was the absurd notion that a great way to make money on building cars, was to make crappy cars that fell apart in 3 years, thus forcing your customers to buy new ones. This decision haunts the Detroit Three to this day, because even as they have now caught up to Asian automakers in the quality of their cars, their perceived quality is still lower.

Good Riddance to the GM that conspired, along with the oil companies and the tire makers, to buy up and eliminate America's rail-based street car lines, in favor of busses which would sit in traffic with cars and thus drive people into their own cars. These street car lines - essentially light rail lines of the day -- existed in every major Ohio city before 1950, and would be worth hundreds of billions of dollars if they still existed today. 

Good Riddance to the GM that decided to pay its workers less now in exchange for hugely expensive pension and health care benefits in the future simply because those future obligations did not need to be listed on its balance sheet until an accounting rule change in the early 1990s. This short term gain for long term pain has put GM in the difficult position it is in now because those benefits now amount to as much as $1500 per car in expenses, expenses that its competitors need not pay and instead plow into R&D which allows them to build superior cars.

Here's hoping the new GM will be a much better car company. Here's hoping the new GM finally abandons the 1960s-era pushrod technology of its engines for the smaller more fuel-efficent engines its competitors adopted long ago. Here's hoping the new GM can build excellent small cars that not only can compete with the Honda Civics and Toyota Corollas out there, but also be profitable, too. Here's hoping the new GM will build plug in hybrids that will reduce our oil consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.

But for right now, to the old GM, I can only say, "Good riddance."

Thursday, May 28, 2009

OH-Sen: Rob Portman Admits GOP Has No Ideas on Health Care

Honestly, I give him credit for coming right out and saying what we all knew. But only a little bit. ( H/T David @ BSB )

From National Journal:
Republicans have also taken some heat nationally for not focusing on health care in their campaigns in recent years, but Portman already has been speaking on the issue frequently.

“We have to have an alternative. … I will tell you, I don’t think there is a Republican alternative at this point,” he said. He said he reached that conclusion after talking to Senate leaders and lawmakers about the GOP’s position. “There isn’t one,” he said. “There’s a task force, and I applaud them for that.”
Actually, I take that back. A task force? That's a code word for keeping the status quo in place. And the status quo isn't acceptable anymore. 

Ohio's Worst Kept Secret Now Official: Mandel in for Treasurer

Yawn. This has been public knowledge for months:

It's a very exciting time right now. I'm happy to be kicking off my State Treasurer campaign.

I am running for State Treasurer in 2010 for a number of reasons, not the least of which is to bring new energy, fresh ideas, and the next generation of leadership to state government.

To prepare for this decision, I put more than 30,000 miles on my car over the past few months, driving to every corner of our state to speak with people from all walks of life.  I heard their frustration that while our economy is hurting and families are tightening their belts, government is spending like there is no tomorrow.  They said that to change the direction of our state, we need new leaders who believe in good old-fashioned values like honesty, hard work and fiscal responsibility.

Will Bondholder Deal Keep GM From Bankruptcy?

I'm not sure that it will, but even if GM does enter bankruptcy, having this agreement in place with the bond holders would make that bankruptcy shorter and less risky:
General Motors said in a regulatory filing on Thursday that it has proposed a new deal to a committee representing many of its largest bondholders, offering an equity stake of as much as 25 percent in the restructured automaker if bondholders don’t oppose G.M.’s reorganization plan.
The filing also fills out many of the details of that plan, crafted under the eye of the Treasury Department, which would be G.M.’s majority owner once it emerged from bankruptcy protection with a 72.5 percent stake.

A committee representing about 20 percent of G.M.’s bonds said in a statement that they are supporting the new proposal.

“The ad hoc committee of G.M. bondholders supports the revised offer from GM and believes that when contrasted with the alternative – uncertain and costly bankruptcy court litigation – that it represents the best alternative for bondholders in the current difficult and dire situation,” the group said in a statement.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

GOPers In Such A Hurry To Attack Obama's SCOTUS Nominee That They Can't Be Bothered To Learn Her Name

Well, that didn't take long.

Former Arkansas Gov. and presumed 2012 GOP Presidential Candidate Mike Huckabee already has a statement out criticizing President Obama's Supreme Court nominee. There's just one problem.

President Obama's nominee is 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals Justice Sonia Sotomayor. Huckabee's statement criticizes someone named Maria Sotomayor .

So, Huck-meister, is it that you can't be bothered to learn the name of our next Supreme Court justice before cutting her off at the knees? Or, are you playing to stereotypes that all Latino women are named "Maria"?

Monday, May 25, 2009

Thoughts on "Decoration Day"

If you have ever driven west from downtown Cleveland along the shore of Lake Erie, you might have taken the West Shoreway to Clifton Boulevard to Lake Road out to Bay Village. If you did that, you would have followed a portion of U.S. Route 6. 

U.S. Route 6 is known as the Grand Army of the Republic Highway for its entire length from Massachusetts to California, obviously including the portion I described above. The Grand Army of the Republic, in turn, was a now-defunct fraternal organization for Union veterans of the Civil War. And it was this organization that began the tradition of setting aside one day in late May to remember our nation's war dead.

As it was originally conceived, "Decoration Day" was supposed to be always on May 30th, not on the last Monday in May. The full text of the GAR Order that was issued calling for the establishment of Decoration Day is available here. It calls for GAR members to decorate "with the choicest flowers of spring-time" the graves of Union soldiers who died in the Civil War. 

It was not until after World War II that the holiday became more commonly known as Memorial Day. And it was not until Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act (Public Law 90-363) that Memorial Day was moved from May 30th to the current last Monday in May. In fact, there is a movement underway by veterans' groups to return Memorial Day to its traditional May 30th observance. That link will take you to an online petition calling for passage of a bill restoring Memorial Day to May 30th, which if you click it you'll see lots of signatures from today. Which proves, I guess, that politics never takes a rest. 

On whatever day it is observed, Memorial Day is a day reserved for honoring our veterans who made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of this country and the freedom we all enjoy. Thanks for your service, vets. And I hope everyone had a nice holiday. Tomorrow, it's back to work. 

Friday, May 22, 2009

United #615 Makes Emergency Landing In Pittsburgh; Plane Was Carrying Sen. Roland Burris

United Airlines Flight 615, an Airbus A319 flying from Washington National (DCA) to Chicago O'Hare (ORD) made an emergency landing this afternoon at Pittsburgh Int'l (PIT) after the plane experienced a problem with its hydraulic system. According to , the plane was carrying Sen. Roland Burris (D-IL).

United remains the only major airline in the United States that does not have any new airplanes on order with any major airplane manufacturers.

Rust Belt Is Already Benefiting From Green Jobs

As this article makes clear. My favorite quote?

Scores of firms in the renewable energy business have recently opened in the Rust Belt states. They hope to take advantage of a population known for its industrial skills, engineering ability and work ethic.

It's hard to say how many people these firms currently employ. The government doesn't yet track green jobs and the distinction between what's "green" and what isn't often gets blurred.

One study by the University of California, Berkeley estimated that green energy companies employ at least half a million people. That number could climb to 2 to 4 million over the next 15 years if the nation got 15%-20% of its power from renewable sources.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

I Support Marilyn Brown for Ohio Secretary of State

I have not been able to pin down whether or not Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Bill Mason is going to take the plunge and run for Secretary of State. Some people say yes, some say no. It really doesn't matter to me, because Franklin County Commissioner Marilyn Brown has my support no matter what.
I have known Marilyn Brown and her husband Eric for six years, dating back to Howard Dean meetups at the now-closed Scottie MacBean's Cafe in Columbus' Clintonville neighborhood. In 2004, Eric Brown was elected to a seat on the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas. In 2006, Marilyn Brown took on the challenge of unseating the last GOPer on the Franklin County Board of Commissioners, defeating three term incumbent Dewey Stokes by 5 points. During that time, I vividly remember her husband attending campaign events with a nametag that identified himself not as "Judge Eric Brown" but as "Mr. Marilyn Brown"

 Since then, Marilyn has helped the County maintain its best possible AAA bond rating, a testament to the county's sound financial management practices. She helped oversee the construction of the new Huntington Park baseball stadium, which was on time, on budget, and built without a dime of taxpayer money. All the while, Marilyn and the rest of the Board took fire from the Dispatch (R-Columbus) for sticking to labor practice policies that were pro-labor, but that the paper conveniently forgot were enacted by her GOP predecessors. In 2008, she was elected President of the Board of Commissioners. Also in 2008, Marilyn's husband Eric was elected to become the first ever Democrat on the Franklin County Probate Court.

So, the Browns have a collective 3-for-3 track record in elections in Franklin County. Marilyn is now taking on the challenge of holding the Secretary of State seat for the Democratic Party. While it won't be easy to defeat "Slick Jonny" Husted, Marilyn will have my full support in her campaign. Go get 'em Marilyn!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

PD: Fisher, Haseley Knew of Barbash's Tax Problems

Mark Naymik of the Plain Dealer is reporting the following this morning :
Strickland's administration also delivered a negative communication last week. That's when it acknowledged that the nobody told the governor that state's top development officer, Mark Barbash, had tax troubles before his promotion in February to the Cabinet-level post.
Barbash resigned Friday after a media report revealed he owed the Internal Revenue Service more than $146,000.
Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher knew of Barbash's problem, as did the governor's chief of staff, John Haseley. Yet, neither said anything to Strickland, who found out only when Barbash told the administration he had received a foreclosure notice on his home.
The situation sends a couple of possible messages, neither of them good.
One, the governor's staff keeps him out of the loop. Or, two, the governor doesn't pay attention to his own vetting process.
So, Lee Fisher and John Haseley knew of Barbash's tax problems and yet failed to tell the Guv?

Shame on them.

Governor Strickland is in the midst of a tough budget cycle and is looking at a no-gimme re-election campaign next year. These two should know better than to make his life more difficult than it already is.

As for Mark Barbash, fear not! You may owe $146,000 to the IRS, but Akron mayoral recall instigator Warner Mendenhall has you topped! He owes $196,000. So, Mark, you may not be fit to be director of Development, but you can feel free to start a petition drive to recall your local mayor. And, you can whine about it if your mayor's supporters try to point out your tax lien as a reason not to support your recall efforts too, just like Mendenhall has.

Monday, May 18, 2009

A New Campaign Link

Hi all, please note my new campaign link over on the right. I'll have a full length post up about this later.

Friday, May 15, 2009

OH-01: Driehaus Makes List of Most Vulnerable House Incumbents

This from the Fix's first ranking of the 10 U.S. House seats most likely to switch parties in 2010:
8. Ohio's 1st district (D) (55 percent): Rep. Steve Chabot's (R) hold on this Cincinnati-area district was always tenuous due to the heavy (27 percent) black population. With President Obama's historic candidacy leading the ticket, Chabot's number came up in 2008 as state Rep.Steve Driehaus (D) knocked him off by just over 8,000 votes. Chabot is running again, believing that the high levels of black turnout will not be repeatable in 2010. He's probably right but Driehaus will also benefit from the power of incumbency; witness the $152,000 (out of $215,000 raised) that came from political action committees in the first three months of the year.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Akron Recall Is On

Yesterday Akron City Council Clerk Bob Keith certified that Warner Mendenhall's group Change Akron Now has more than enough signatures to recall Mayor Don Plusquellic. Plusquellic will now have 5 business days to resign or City Council will be required to schedule a recall election between 40 and 60 days later, meaning it would be sometime between late June and mid July.

I have an e-mail into the Ohio Democratic Party wondering how they will respond to this recall. When I hear back from them I'll post on it.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Brunner: Under No Circumstances Will I Run for SOS

In a letter to the chairs of county Democratic parties today, Jennifer Brunner unequivocally states that she will not seek re-election to the SOS position:
I want to make it clear that under no circumstances will I consider seeking re-election to the Secretary of State's position, or any other statewide or federal office, other than the open U.S. Senate seat of retiring Senator George Voinovich. I am pleased with the work that you and I have accomplished in improving elections in Ohio and the operations of the Secretary of State's office in less than three years, including protecting each Ohioan's social security number from public access and ensuring trust in Ohio's elections.

Modern & Russo's Leger De Main Re: Brunner

Leger De Main is a French phrase that means sleight of hand, an attempt at diversion. Jennifer Brunner supporters Modern Esquire and Tim Russo are hard at work practicing Leger De Main right now in an attempt to distract attention from Brunner's poor 1st Quarter fund raising totals, and the pressure she is feeling from national Democrats to improve her fundraising or leave the race.

Two national bloggers, Chris Cilliza of the Washington Post blog The Fix , and Nate Silver of have written recently that Brunner's lackluster fundraising total in Q1 means that unless her Q2 results show marked improvement, she'll feel the heat from national Democrats to leave the race. Especially since GOP front runner Rob Portman has over $3 million in the bank and a cleared primary field.

I don't know about you, but I really can't see Jennifer Brunner saying no to Rahm Emanuel if he calls her and asks her to step aside. Thus all the heat is on Brunner to at least match Fisher's Q2 fundraising totals or leave the race. The DSCC knows that Ohio is a key pickup opportunity that can serve either as a firewall against GOP gains elsewhere, or as a key piece in the puzzle of 60 senate votes. A bloody Democratic primary where the GOP candidate has a cleared field and can raise funds and define himself at will is their worst nightmare. 

From outside the vitrol that Modern and Russo have for Fisher for whatever reason, it would appear that the candidate who raised $1 million and has 20 years experience is more viable than one who raised $200,000 and has no legislative experience whatsover. So the heat is on Brunner to improve her fundraising totals or clear the field for Fisher. 

So, pay no attention to Modern & Russo's Leger De Main.

Monday, May 11, 2009

ODP Confirms: David Pepper Announcing Tomorrow

The Ohio Democratic Party has confirmed what Ohio Daily Blog speculated on earlier today: tomorrow morning Hamilton County Commissioner David Pepper will announce his candidacy for Auditor of State, flanked by Chris Redfern and Gov. Ted Strickland. Look out, Mary Taylor. From the presser:

Tuesday: David Pepper Campaign Announcement

Will be joined by Governor Ted Strickland, Chairman Chris Redfern

David Pepper, Hamilton County Commission President, will make a major announcement regarding the 2010 campaign tomorrow at Ohio Democratic Party Headquarters.

Governor Ted Strickland will speak. ODP Chairman Chris Redfern and other elected officials will attend the announcement.
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
10:30 a.m.
Ohio Democratic Party HQ
340 Fulton St., Columbus

Friday, May 08, 2009

Light Posting Notice

My apologies for not putting this up yesterday, but posting will be light today through Sunday as I'm on vacation.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Welcome Back Modern, Wither BI?

While it would appear that Modern has returned to BSB , it seems that Tim Russo's Blogger Interrupted has been offline since this morning. The Google cache version of BI doesn't show any farewell message or anything. Hmm. Interesting...

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Seriously, Does Arlen Specter WANT A Primary Opponent?

Because saying shit like this will get him one, pronto. From Political Wire:
In an interview with the New York Times Magazine, Sen. Arlen Specter (D-PA) said he hopes Norm Coleman (R) prevails in his Senate recount court fight against Al Franken (D) in Minnesota.

Said Specter: "There's still time for the Minnesota courts to do justice and declare Norm Coleman the winner."

Carrie Prejean: First a Boob Job, Now Naked Pics Too.

The controversy surrounding the Religious Right's newest poster child against gay marriage just continues to mount. First, Miss California Carrie Prejean was asked about her views on gay marriage by openly gay judge Perez Hilton. Her answer:
“I think it’s great that Americans are able to choose one or the other. We live in a land where you can choose same-sex marriage or opposite marriage,” Prejean said. “And you know what? I think in my country, in my family, I think that I believe that a marriage should be between a man and a woman. No offense to anybody out there, but that’s how I was raised.”
Prejean ended up finishing 2nd to Miss North Carolina. On his blog the next day, Hilton used a vulgarity to describe Prejean and suggested her repsonse may have cost her the crown. This was enough to make Prejean the religious right's new champion against the so-called "gay agenda."

But that's when the problems started. First of all, we found out that she had breast implants paid for by the paegent. That was the first chink in the armor. Now, we're finding out that there are nearly nude photos of her floating around on the Internet.
Hey Religious Right, once again, you've demonstrated why that old adage suggesting that he who is without sin should cast the first stone, means that you all should make yourselves a nice, steaming cup of STFU, and allow others to live their lives as they wish.

Akron Recall Heating Up

I dunno what Pho has been up to, but a story in today's Beacon Journal points to increasing evidence of the raging fire that the potential recall of Akron Mayor Don Plusquellic has become. 

Warner Mendenhall, the leader of the recall effort, has a $169,000 IRS lien for unpaid taxes against him, and in the past had a $1,500 lien for unpaid child support against him, which was satisfied in 2006. When the anti-recall Citizens for Akron decided to point that out to Akron residents in a mail piece by calling him a "tax cheat" and a "deadbeat dad" , Mendenhall took offense and filed a complaint with the OEC.

Rather than filing against Citizens for Akron with the OEC, Mendenhall would do better to explain why this recall effort is not the personal vendetta that it is rumored to be.

Friday, May 01, 2009

OH-GOV: Kasich Filing Today

According to the Chicago Tribune's political blog The Swamp, FAUX NEWS commentator John Kasich will file papers today to challenge Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland in the 2010 election.
In Ohio, Republican John Kasich, a former longtime congressman and also commentator for FOX News Channel, plans to file papers today for a bid for governor, according to a well-placed source.

Republicans wanted Kasich to run in 2006, he demurred, but has been planting the seeds for 2010 since them - in March 2008, he suggested that Ohio's income tax should be "phased out.'' He served last year as honorary chairman of "Recharge Ohio,'' a group committed to finding leaders who could "get our state back on track.'

Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland presides over a state that the Democrats were able to corral for the election of President Barack Obama last year, a state which nevertheless has undergone extreme pressure in the recession now underway even before it was a recognized recession. How Ohio plays in 2010 will speak volumes about what Ohioans make of the Democratic strategy for economic recovery.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

NPR: Souter to Retire

National Public Radio is reporting tonight that Supreme Court Justice David Souter has informed the White House this evening of his decision to retire at the end of the Supreme Court's current term. Souter, 69, has been rumored to be pining for retirement for a couple of years now. 

Though appointed by George Bush Sr., Souter has tended to vote with the court's four member liberal wing. So it's plausible that the election of President Obama and the Dems now having 60 seats in the Senate has finally prompted Souter to retire.

Early speculation is that President Obama will nominate a woman to fill Souter's seat.

4 Steps to GOP Epic Fail

Step 1: publish a post on the official blog of the Hamilton County GOP comparing a photo of cancer (and chemotherapy) stricken Sen. Arlen Specter to Dr. Evil from the Austin Powers flicks.

Step 2: When called out by the Ohio Democratic Party, replace the photo with a "censored" image

Step 3: Replace "censored" image with the photo of a frowning child

Step 4: Remove blog post due to negative publicity.

"It is just that kind of insensitivity to the plight of real people that is causing the Republican Party to lose so many of its previous followers." said ODP Online Communications Director Todd Hoffman.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Clinton CBO Chief: 98% of “Pay Gap” Is Attributable to Women’s Choices

Jump in the way back machine with me to 1997, if you will. Bill Clinton was sworn in for his second term as President. The Browns had moved to Baltimore 2 years earlier and it would be another 2 years before the “new Browns” would begin play. The Indians were right in the middle of their remarkable streak of selling out 455 consecutive home games, and would reach Game 7 of the World Series before blowing it. Dennis Kucinich was learning the lay of the land during his first term in Congress. Americans who had Internet access largely relied on slow dial-up connections. The Internet was in its infancy. The economy was booming.

1997 is the year that my collegiate career began as I set foot on the campus of Cleveland’s Case Western Reserve University. At the time, I thought I was a future engineer, and so Case, with its emphasis on study in the so-called STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) seemed a perfect fit. There was only one problem, as my 18-year-old self soon discovered: Case’s emphasis on the STEM fields meant that the campus was devoid of girls. The undergraduate student body was 65% male.

Soon, my fraternity brothers and I took to traveling to other campuses were the girls were. These other schools eschewed Case’s emphasis on STEM fields and instead specialized in the humanities and social sciences, which is why their student bodies were majority female.
I bring this up as part of this blog post in order to illustrate a point. Today is "Pay Equity Day", and the American Association of University Women is trying to use today to heighten awareness of the fact that, by their estimate, women on average, throughout the economy, earn roughly 78 cents for every dollar a man earns. To help illustrate this “pay gap”, Jill at WLST suggested on her Twitter feed Sunday night that bake sales should be held were women are charged 78 cents and men $1.00 for baked goods. In my opinion, however, the evidence suggests that almost the entire current pay gap has a lot less to do with sexism, and a lot more to do with the fact that women tend not to study STEM fields which lead to higher paying careers, then the AAUW or Jill probably thinks it does.

I’ll let this excerpt from Forbes magazine explain why:
June O'Neill, a certifiably female economist who served as director of the Congressional Budget Office under President Clinton, wrote a peer-reviewed paper for the American Economic Review (May 2003), trying to account for the pay gap. What she found was that women are much more likely over the course of their lives to cut back their hours or quit work altogether than men. That matters, because even though the BLS was comparing full-time workers, if you go part-time or take years out of the labor force, that has an effect on earnings down the line, due to loss of seniority or missed promotions.
More precisely, of women aged 25-44 with young children, more than a third were out of the labor force; of those women who did have jobs, 30% worked part-time. (The comparable numbers for men were 4% out of the labor force and 2% working part-time).
All told, women are more than twice as likely to work part-time as men and over the course of their lifetimes, work outside the home for 40% fewer years than men. That accounts for a significant chunk of the pay gap. Then there is a more subtle factor. Despite the many advances the women's movement has brought the U.S., what it hasn't done, thank heavens, is make men and women the same. The simple fact is - and there is nothing nasty or conspiratorial about it - the sexes continue to choose different avenues of study and different types of jobs.
Here's an illustrative example. The college majors with the top starting salaries, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, are: chemical engineering (almost $60,000), computer engineering, electrical engineering, industrial engineering, mechanical engineering. Men make up about 80% of engineering majors. Women predominate among liberal arts majors - whose salaries start at a little more than $30,000. Putting it all together, O¹Neill figures that these differences - in choice of work, years in the workforce, and hours of work - could account for as much as 97.5% of the differences in pay between men and women. "The unadjusted gender gap," she concludes, "can be explained to a large extent by non-discriminatory factors."
Does everyone have that? 97.5% of the pay gap can be attributed to non-discriminatory factors (a.k.a. women’s choices about their careers). Women spend less time in the workforce, more time working part-time, and freely choose lower-paying careers, and those reasons account for 97.5% of the pay gap.

Going back to that bake sale example, if you wanted to charge a price differential based only on the part of the pay gap that cannot be explained by “non-discriminatory factors,” instead of charging women 78 cents, you’d have to charge them 99.5 cents (to be precise, 99.45 cents).

In other words, a big part of the reason the pay gap exists today, is because my class at Case, and at other universities, had so few women studying STEM fields, which lead to higher paying careers in technology. In my opinion, studies like O’Neill’s indicate that almost all of the inequality has been wrung out of the system, and of course the passage of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act will help to further reduce what inequality remains. But in the future, progress on narrowing the pay gap will depend not on passing new laws or more lawsuits, but instead on women choosing careers in the higher paying STEM fields, and choosing to spend more time in the workforce.

Fortunately, On the first measure, organizations such as the Society of Women Engineers has been on the case (no pun intended) since 1950, offering scholarships and support to women in engineering fields. In terms of public policy that would further close the pay gap, we need scholarships to encourage women to study STEM fields. In order to encourage women to remain in the work force longer, the United States needs to finally, belatedly, pass a law providing for mandatory maternity leave (we're one of what, maybe 5 countries that doesn't do this now?) and provide tax credits to companies that allow their workers to telecommute and work flexible schedules. These measures will, I think, be the most effective at closing the pay gap further.

WOW!!!! PA-Sen: Arlen Specter to Switch Parties!

Wow. From the Fix:
Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter will switch his party affiliation from Republican to Democrat and announced today that he will run in 2010 as a Democrat, according to a statement he released this morning.

Specter's decision would give Democrats a 60 seat filibuster proof majority in the Senate assuming Democrat Al Franken is eventually sworn in as the next Senator from Minnesota. (Former Sen. Norm Coleman is appealing Franken's victory in the state Supreme Court.)

"I have decided to run for re-election in 2010 in the Democratic primary," said Specter in a statement. "I am ready, willing and anxious to take on all comers and have my candidacy for re-election determined in a general election."

He added: "Since my election in 1980, as part of the Reagan Big Tent, the Republican Party has moved far to the right. Last year, more than 200,000 Republicans in Pennsylvania changed their registration to become Democrats. I now find my political philosophy more in line with Democrats than Republicans."

Specter as a Democrat would also fundamentally alter the 2010 calculus in Pennsylvania as he was expected to face a difficult primary challenge next year from former Rep. Pat Toomey. The only announced Democrat in the race is former National Constitution Center head Joe Torsella although several other candidates are looking at the race.

Consumer Confidence Soars

Looks like the stimulus plan is working:
WASHINGTON - A private research group said Tuesday that consumer confidence soared in April amid hopeful signs that the economy is starting to stabilize

The Conference Board said its Consumer Confidence Index rose 12 points to 39.2, up from a revised 26.9 in March. The reading marks the highest point since November and well surpasses economists' expectations for a level of 29.5.

The Expectations Index, which measures how shoppers feel about the economy over the next six months, skyrocketed to 49.5 from 30.2 in March.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Totally Non-Political: Cavs Spoof Heineken Walk-In Fridge Ad

And I don't care, cause this is AWESOME:

Saturday, April 25, 2009

The Fix Summary of Ohio Senate Race

From the Friday Line at The Fix:
6. Ohio (R): Fundraising totals for the first three months of 2009 were a telling sign of strength in this open seat race. Former Rep. Rob Portman (R) delivered on the high expectations for his candidacy with $1.7 million raised and another $1.4 million transferred from his House account. Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher (D) also crested the $1 million raised plateau -- far outdistancing Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner (D) who brought in just $200,000. If Brunner can't find a way to stay more competitive with Fisher, she is likely to face significant pressure from state and national Democrats to abandon her candidacy. Either way, a Fisher-Portman race is the most likely one right now, and that has all the makings of a great one. (Previous ranking: 6)

Friday, April 24, 2009

NY-20: Tedisco Concedes

Now if only Norm Coleman would see the light. GOPer Jim Tedisco has conceded to Democrat Scott Murphy in the New York 20th special election :
Democrat Scott Murphy has declared victory in the 20th district congressional race after republican Jim Tedisco called him to concede Friday afternoon.

Murphy addressed the media for the first time as a congressman elect, saying he's looking forward to beginning his new job and working with President Obama, who called to congratulate him already.

Brunner Makes FiveThirtyEight's Least Impressive Fundraising Totals List

From Nate Silver at, Brunner makes his list of least impressive fundraising totals, meanwhile, Rob Portman makes the list of most impressive.

Least Impressive Fundraising Totals, Challenger Division
3. Jennifer Brunner, D-Ohio ($207,236). Brunner's totals significantly lagged those of Lieutenant Governor Lee Fisher, who brought in $1,035,673 last quarter. With Democrats having good reason to fear Rob Portman's organizational strength, Brunner will be under substantial pressure to improve her fundraising or Buckeye State Democrats may lose their appetite for a competitive primary.
Most Impressive Fundraising Totals, Challenger Division
3. Rob Portman, R-Ohio ($1,704,501). Portman was expected to be a strong fundraiser so this is not surprising, but he is increasingly looking like a mild frontrunner in the race to replace George Voinovich, even if polling has showed him slightly behind the Democratic opposition.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

AP: Majority of Americans Say Country Is on the Right Track; Obama Approval 64%

In a poll conducted for the AP from April 16-20 and released today, a majority of Americans say the country is on the "right track" for the first time in at least four years. 48% of Americans say the country is on the right track versus 44% who say its on the wrong track. 

President Obama's approval rating stands at 64% in this poll, down ten points from his pre-inaugural figure. However, the number of Americans who say that President Obama is a "strong leader" (what Toby Ziegler used to call the "real one" back on the West Wing) in the poll is a stout 76%, virtually unchanged from his 78% pre-inaugural figure. 

To read more about the poll, you can view the PDF by clicking here.

Roll Call: "Lunacy" that GOP could re-take House next year

From Roll Call via Political Wire:

Cheerleading has its place, including on a high school or college basketball court. But not when it comes to political analysis.

Over the past couple of weeks, at least three Republicans — House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (Va.), former Speaker Newt Gingrich (Ga.) and campaign consultant Tony Marsh — have raised the possibility of the GOP winning back the House of Representatives next year.

That idea is lunacy and ought to be put to rest immediately.

None of the three actually predicted that Republicans would gain the 40 seats that they need for a majority, but all three held out hope that that’s possible. It isn’t.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Prominent Free Market Capitalist Pens “A Failure of Capitalism”

(H/T Eric at Plunderbund):

One of the most prominent proponents of free-market capitalism is having second thoughts.

Judge Richard A. Posner, a federal appeals court judge who has been called the most cited legal scholar of all time, discussed his doubts and his analysis of the current financial crisis in a wide-ranging interview with the Huffington Post.

A longtime proponent of deregulation, the idea that business works best in a free market without burdensome government regulations, Posner began to change his mind when he realized the enormity of the crisis. This change of heart inspired him to write his upcoming book, “A Failure Of Capitalism.”

Congratulations Warren County!

Warren County Ohio makes an appearance on tonight's Worst Person in the World! For more on the debacle that led to this appearance, see this post from Modern.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Cheney: "We Didn't Know A Lot About Al-Qaeda" Why Not?

One more thing about Cheney's interview with Sean Hannity, if I may.

Quoting Mr. Cheney in the interview:
"We didn't know a lot about Al-Qaeda. We didn't have the body of knowledge we have today. But, uh, it was a realtively unknown group. We knew a little bit about them, but not a lot."
Why not, Mr. Cheney?
  • We're talking about the same group of folks who bombed the USS Cole and killed 17 sailors in 2000.
  • We're talking about a group that Bush counterterrorist cheif Richard Clarke (I still have his book Against All Enemies on my shelf) spefically asked for more CIA focus on.
  • We're talking about a group that had "declared war" on the United States.
  • We're talking about a group that President Clinton's intelligence team had warned the then-new Bush administration about.
So why, Mr. Cheney, did you know so little about them before 9/11?

By All Means, Cheney, Keep Running Your Yap

In a two-part interview with Fixed Noise's Sean Hannity, former VP Dick Cheney is continuing his one man effort to defend the Bush legacy, even after disgusting memos detailing torture by CIA officials have been released by the Obama administration, making that legacy all but indefensible to those who are, well, you know, human.

How do I feel about this? I say let the man keep running his yap. By all means. Everytime he does, he derails the GOP efforts to move beyond the super-unpopular Bush presidency and set a new course. What's more, it would appear that GOP strategists agree with me, at least this one quoted by Chris Cilliza of the Washington Posts' blog The Fix: 
Cheney's decision to serve as the self-appointed defender of the Bush presidency has significantly raised his profile in the first 100 days of the Obama administration and presents a real challenge for a party hoping to put forward new faces and fresh ideas. 

"He is a face of the past," said one Republican consultant who spoke on the condition he not be named. "A face of conflict and too polarizing. So, not a good face of the party."
So by all means, Cheney, keep running your yap.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Is This Really News?

No kidding, PD, are you guys just figuring this out?
State Rep. Josh Mandel, an Iraq War veteran viewed as a future star in Ohio Republican circles, is drawing close to announcing officially that he will run for state treasurer in 2010.

"I'm very seriously leaning toward running for state treasurer and will be making my final decision very soon," Mandel said in an interview Monday.
The PD must have drunk the Mandel cool aid, since it describes his 17th State House district as "a swing district that actually leans slightly Democratic." Hogwash. The Ohio 17th was gerrymandered specifically for the GOP, as is obvious once you consider that Mandel followed GOPer Jimmy Trakas in representing the district.

I'm looking forward to watching Kevin Boyce take this guy down.

PD: 25% of Fisher Haul Is Earmarked for the General

According to the PD's Mark Naymik , roughly $225,000 of the $1 million that Lee Fisher raised in the 1st quarter for his Senate campaign is funds earmarked for the general election:
About $225,000 of the roughly $1 million he received by March 31 is designated for the general election. That's because Fisher's million-dollar tally includes money from "double max" donors, those who made the maximum contribution to Fisher's primary and general campaigns at the same time. Supporters can contribute up to $2,400 to each campaign, but contributions for the general election can't be spent in the primary. Fisher also reported $24,000 in loans. 
Fisher's list of "double max" contributors include Milton Maltz, founder and former chief executive officer of Malrite Communications; lawyer Stan Chesley, who has done work for Ohio for years; and numerous Northeast Ohio business leaders and well-to-do families.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Intel's Andy Grove: Government Must Help Auto Business Just Like They Did Chip Industry

Intel's Andy Grove wrote the following column for Fortune magazine. It was posted on CNN Money today. Here's an excerpt:
Developing a domestic car-battery industry should be the focus of both corporations and the U.S. government. There is a model that may point to the way to build a new battery industry: the early days of the microprocessor. The history of the chip industry is a combination of the private sector overcoming technical challenges, with government playing a supporting role. In 1947 scientists at Bell Labs, which owed its existence to a government-granted monopoly, invented the transistor, the essential ingredient that in time led to the integrated circuit and the microprocessor. Bell Labs licensed the technology to all comers.

As a start, Energy Secretary Steven Chu should organize an industry council - like the World War II Production Board - and run it as if we were under wartime pressure. He can pull in the National Academy of Engineering and the National Science Foundation and have them recommend the technical approach. He can use the National Labs for R&D.

But the critical limitation is going to be battery production. To get an adequate supply of batteries for U.S. automobiles will require new manufacturing capacity that costs billions. Let us create a government-owned foundry organization that supplies, say, the first few million batteries, until the electric car and battery industries reach a critical size. Then let this organization license the manufacturing technology to private companies and let it go out of business.

When the government helped American chip companies, the industry did all right. It hung in as other industries left the U.S., and it still leads globally. We can do the same for transportation. We must.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Seriously Rick Perry?

From CNN:

Texas Gov. Rick Perry isn't ruling out the possibility his state may one day secede from the nation.

Speaking to an energetic and angry tea party crowd in Austin Wednesday evening, the Lone Star State governor suggested secession may happen in the future should the federal government not change its fiscal polices.

"There's a lot of different scenarios," Perry told the rally, according to the Associated Press. "We've got a great union. There's absolutely no reason to dissolve it. But if Washington continues to thumb their nose at the American people, you know, who knows what might come out of that. But Texas is a very unique place, and we're a pretty independent lot to boot."

Washington isn’t thumbing their nose at the American people, Rick. They’re doing exactly what the majority of Americans asked them to do on November 4, 2008: reverse the disastrous policies of George W. Bush and get the country back on track.

Even in the dark days following the 2004 election, I never once heard a Democratic elected official suggest their state should secede from the union. It only took the GOPers three months following Obama’s inauguration to do the same. Seriously. Put some handcuffs on this guy.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Theme Changed, Again

Okay so I switched to another blogger theme, again. Do you like it?

Teabag Rallies = EPIC FAIL

I didn't have time to attend any of the tea bag rallies around Ohio today, as I am on an assignment and after that had to worry about finishing up my taxes. But, here's a summary of coverage from other Ohio blogs:

Ohio Daily Blog

In short, today's Cleveland Tea Bag Rally looked and sounded more like a dysfunctional family reunion than a grassroots movement. Speakers screamed on the overly amplified sound system about higher taxes, abortion, guns, God being driven from schools, civil liberties being taken away (I know...I know), the price of stamps, and pretty much every other fringe idea the GOP hangs its hat on.

After an hour and 20 minutes of random ranting, one thing stood out. No one, not a single speaker or attendee, offered an original thought or idea on how to get our economy turned around after eight years of failed Bushonomics.

Listening to these folks go on and on about taking the country back was absolutely hilarious. Taking the country back? Are you kidding me? Where were you people four years ago when the rest of us were trying to stop George W. Bush from raising taxes on working families to pay for a war we didn't need to be in? Where was the outrage then? Spare me.

Buckeye State Blog

In this 2 minute Qik video (shot from my hacked iPhone, so low quality) from tonight Tea Party, you can see the following:

  • Mention of global warming get booed.
  • Shouts of communism
  • Tirades against tax increases that won't affect these people.
  • Talk of the government stealing from the poor to give to the rich. 
  • Talk about how your taxes will go towards helping illegal immigrants.

Blogger Interrupted

I’ve been doing video of right wing nutbags for a long time, but this one was the most disturbing event I’ve ever attended.  The rotting racist rabid rump of Republicanism has been reduced to a twitching crowd of paranoids.  I got harassed away by a growing mob of jackasses, some of whom are in this video.  I tried to get the police to stop them, to no avail.

The Modern Esquire

This is what 24/7 FoxNews coverage of Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, and Michelle Bachman gives you. An angry white mob who thinks the black President is Hitler, but cannot explain why. It's what happens when you have a nation-wide cable television network that presents itself as an objective "journalistic" institution calling the democratically elected President of the United States a "fascist, socialist, and communist" 24/7. Glenn Beck is on Fox News with Penn of Penn & Teller fame preaching non-violence. In fear of what he has sown, but it is too late. You cannot demogogue the President to be an inhuman monster one day worthy of being hunted like Hitler or removed in a revolution and then say you're for non-violence. Own it, Beck, you coward.


Anyone else notice the irony of rain today? Remember when wingnuts prayed to God to make it rain on Obama’s acceptance speech in Denver?

Anyone find it funny that instead it is raining on teabagging parties? Everywhere I look on TV it’s umbrella city.

Has he spoken?

Irony. Oh sweet irony!

Brunner Fundraising Numbers: Underwhelming, To Say the Least

I believe that Dave at Progress Ohio was the first to report on Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner's underwhelming first quarter fundraising numbers that were released today. Brunner raised about $200,000 in the first quarter 2009 for her Senate campaign, about one-fifth of Lee Fisher's $1 million haul, and about one-seventh of likely GOP challenger Rob Portman's $1.4 million that he actually raised instead of transferred from his congressional account.

There's lots of other stuff to blog about tonight, but let me just say that the Brunner supporters in the blogopshere have to be disappointed by this result. Fundraising is important no matter how Modern and Russo will try to spin this, and Brunner absolutely needs to make an all out push for 2Q money or this primary may be over before it begins.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Kevin Coughlin Story that Scene Killed

Courtesy of Tim at Blogger Interrupted: Sorry, I can't get Blogger to break the story and put in a "read more" link. The things you take for granted on Drupal...

Monday, April 13, 2009

Tea Parties = Astroturfing

From Wikipedia , with my emphasis added:
Astroturfing is a word in American English describing formal political, advertising, or public relations campaigns seeking to create the impression of being spontaneous "grassroots" behavior, hence the reference to the artificial grass, AstroTurf. 
The goal of such a campaign is to disguise the efforts of a political or commercial entity as an independent public reaction to some political entity—a politician, political group, product, service or event. Astroturfers attempt to orchestrate the actions of apparently diverse and geographically distributed individuals, by both overt ("outreach", "awareness", etc.) and covert (disinformation) means. Astroturfing may be undertaken by an individual pushing a personal agenda or highly organized professional groups with financial backing from large corporations, non-profits, or activist organizations. Very often the efforts are conducted by political consultants who also specialize in opposition research.
Today's revealation that Ohio's tea parties are being organzied by an organization called FreedomWorks. Who is FreedomWorks? From Firedoglake:
FreedomWorks was launched as a GOP version of MoveOn. "We believe that hard work beats daddy's money," said Dick Armey at the time. Armey seems to be a bit irony challenged -- Steve Forbes is on the FreedomWorks board. As Krugman notes, their money comes from the Koch, Scaife, Bradley, Olin and other reliable funders of right wing infrastructure including Exxon Mobil.
Everyone got that? So, from the definition of astroturfing, the goal is to disguse the efforts of a political or commercial entity (in this case, a bunch of right wing monied interests) as an independent public reaction to some political entity (in this case, President Obama). Therefore, the tea parties are nothing but astroturfing. Plain and simple.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Over/Under on Akron Recall Effot

Anyone want to take a guess on how many signatures short Warner Mendenhall's personal vendata against Akron Mayor Don Plusquellic will be after their recall petitions are submitted today? I'm setting the line at 500, and I want the over.

What's Going on In Youngstown?

File this under things that make you go "Hmmm..."

On the same day that Lisa Antonini, the chairwoman of the Mahoning County Democratic Party, announces her resignation, Capri Cafaro, announced she would not run to replace Tim Ryan if he becomes Gov. Strickland's running mate in next falls' re-election campaign. Coincidence? I think not.

What's really going on here is a shake-up in Youngstown politics. Tim Ryan's departure from the OH-17 will create an all out free for all for the seat. Someone will try to use the county party apparatus to build some momentum towards winning the nomination, but its plain that Antonini wasn't in a position to provide any influence on that score; the fact that the Senate Democratic caucus went over her head to appoint State Sen. Joe Schiavoni to fill out the term of now Congressman John Boicceri proves that. As for Capri Cafaro, I think Anthony over at ODB calls it right when he says that either Cafaro is sitting on bad internal polling numbers, or she is much more committed to improving the lot of State Senate Democrats than any of us might have anticipated when she was appointed to fill out the term of former AG Marc Dann.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Can GOP Learn from Michael Steele?

Steele's heretical pronouncements have reinforced an important point. The Republican Party has backed itself into a regional, ideological and demographic corner -- the one marked "rural, conservative, white." The party is out of step with the nation it aspires to lead, and until room is made for those with a range of viewpoints, and those with different racial and ethnic backgrounds, it is hard to imagine how the party can achieve its dream of establishing a new "big tent" majority.

That was the key paragraph from this editorial by Eugene Robinson of the Washington Post. And it exposes the folly of the GOP’s continuing to “double down” on the same policies that got them shellacked in 2006 and 2008. When will the figure it out? Not anytime soon, I figure.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Importance of Vermont Ruling Overlooked

Yesterday, Vermont became the fourth state to legalize gay marriage. Ho hum right?


Yesterday, Vermont became the first state to legalize gay marriage via legislative, rather than judicial, action. This is significant because no longer can the right wingers claim the red herring of "judidical activism" to explain away this ruling. This was a bill, approved by the legislature of Vermont, vetoed by Vermont's GOP governor who said the economy was more important, then re-passed by the required 2/3 margin to override the governor's veto and become law.

Douglas' reasons given for the veto, if true, cement his legacy as a first-order hypocrite. Why? Well, during the 2004 election the GOP argued that gay marriage was such evil that it was more important than the economy when voters were deciding between Bush and Kerry. Now, Douglas can't be bothered to sign this bill because the economy is more important? Please. 

Congrats to Vermont! 10 bucks says this ends up being a big boost to the state's economy, thus proving Gov. Douglas to be an idiot as well as a hypocrite.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

OH-15: Mary Jo Kilroy Stands Up to GOP Bullying

Fisher, Brunner Hire Campaign Staffs

As the 2010 U.S. Senate campaign plunges headlong into the summer of 2009, it is becoming increasing apparent that neither Jennifer Brunner or Lee Fisher are going to back out of this primary. Brunner and Fisher have both hired extensive, experienced campaigners for this race. Fisher has announced he has raised over $1 million in the first quarter, meanwhile, Brunner has recruited Marilyn Brown to run for Secretary of State. Both of those facts indicate to me that they are both in this race for the long haul. I do not expect to see a "Valentine's Day Massacre" this time. Hope everyone is up for a long, nasty fight.

Monday, April 06, 2009

BSB: Fisher Raised Over $1 Million

Buckeye State Blog is reporting that tomorrow , Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher will announce he's raised over $1 million for his US Senate race, and that 85% of that total is from Ohio.

EFF: Obama Administration Takes Bush Position On Warrantless Wiretapping

The Electronic Frontier Foundation, whose goals I support as you can tell from the banner at the bottom of this website, has issued a statement today saying that the Obama Administration has taken the same position as George W. Bush on warrantless wiretapping. Just a note: this is NOT change we can believe in.

San Francisco - The Obama administration formally adopted the Bush administration's position that the courts cannot judge the legality of the National Security Agency's (NSA's) warrantless wiretapping program, filing a motion to dismiss Jewel v. NSA late Friday.

In Jewel v. NSA, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is challenging the agency's dragnet surveillance of millions of ordinary Americans. The Obama Justice Department claims in its motion that litigation over the wiretapping program would require the government to disclose privileged "state secrets." These are essentially the same arguments made by the Bush administration three years ago in Hepting v. AT&T, EFF's lawsuit against one of the telecom giants complicit in the NSA spying.

"President Obama promised the American people a new era of transparency, accountability, and respect for civil liberties," said EFF Senior Staff Attorney Kevin Bankston. "But with the Obama Justice Department continuing the Bush administration's cover-up of the National Security Agency's dragnet surveillance of millions of Americans, and insisting that the much-publicized warrantless wiretapping program is still a 'secret' that cannot be reviewed by the courts, it feels like deja vu all over again."

Friday, April 03, 2009

Political Infighting Stalling Cuyahoga County Reform, There's A Shock!

The Plain Dealer has a story up today about how political infighting is stalling proposals to reform Cuyahoga County government.

Well, there’s a freaking shock.

Apparently, there are two competing proposals for county government reform, but both have the broad outlines of creating a system of government similar to the one in neighboring Summit County. That is, replacement of the county board of commissioners with a county executive elected countywide and a county council, and replacement of many elected county officials into fewer officials with more responsibility plus more appointed officers. The two competing proposals seem to have their largest difference in the number of members the county council would have. In the proposal pushed by Parma Heights Mayor Martin Zanotti, the county council would have between 7 and 9 members, whereas in a competing proposal pushed by Prosecutor Bill Mason, it would be more like 13 members.

One of the things I simply can’t understand about the situation is that apparently, the minority community is opposed to the reform, because fewer elected officials means fewer chances for minorities to get into elected office. Sorry, but first, that’s not a good enough reason to keep superfluous officials around who are paid, and their staffs paid, with taxpayer dollars that could be better spent and second, it seems to me that the best way to create more elected offices is to grow Cuyahoga County’s population, thus creating more state representative, state senate, and congressional offices to run for. Cuyahoga County’s loss of nearly 110,000 residents since the 2000 census means the loss of an entire state representative district, which also, by the way, means sharing a state senate district with another county instead of having it entirely within Cuyahoga.

County government reform is past due. Summit County’s model works. Let’s do it.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

By all means, let's keep cutting mental health funding...

Okay, I understand that tough choices have to be made in tight economic times, but when you cut the funding of those most prepared to help people cope, bad stuff happens.

Drug overdoses kill more Ohioans than car wrecks
Thursday, April 2, 2009 2:17 PM

A new killer has quietly replaced traffic crashes as the No. 1 cause of accidental death in Ohio.

Unintentional poisoning deaths - nearly all of them drug overdoses - eclipsed traffic fatalities in both 2006 and 2007, the Ohio Department of Health reported. Numbers have not been released for last year. Overdose deaths shot up 249 percent between 1999 and 2007. An average of three people now die each day in Ohio of drug overdoses.
The state agency calls it an epidemic. In addition, heroin and synthetic opiates such as OxyContin have now replaced cocaine as the second-tier "drug of choice" among those seeking rehabilitation, treatment agencies are reporting. They rank behind only alcohol.

Officials gathered at a Statehouse news conference today said they are alarmed by both trends, given the backdrop of state budget cutbacks for drug-, alcohol- and mental-health treatment programs. "We have a serious problem with opiate addiction," said Joe Trolian, executive director of the Mental Health and Recovery Services Board of Richland County.

"This is not just down-and-out people from the wrong side of town. This is high-school students that died in the family recreation room, athletes who thought they could take just one more pill, older adults who mix drugs and alcohol."
Cheri L. Walter, chief executive officer of the Ohio Association of County Behavioral Health Authorities, said that as funding evaporates, only those patients who qualify for Medicaid are certain to be served.

"Many Ohio counties have no funds left over to provide services to middle- or lower-income families who have minimal or no health-care benefits."
The Ohio Department of Alcohol and Drug Addiction Services has $38 million in state money, twice as much as when it was created 20 years ago. However, it is treating 100,000 people instead of 40,000.

The Hardest Job in the Circus... cleaning up after the elephants. From Newsweek :
It is hard to overestimate the damage that the Bush administration did to America's historic Western alliance. Former defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld's offhand dismissal of "Old Europe," as against the new states of Central Europe, set the tone. Rumsfeld later said he'd mangled his text; and in another circumstance the European allies might have accepted that. But Rumsfeld's misspeaking, if that is what it was, points to the real damage. At its root, the Europeans believe they were systematically brushed aside—even lied to. At the depth of the Iraq debacle, one senior adviser at No. 10 Downing Street exclaimed: "We've been betrayed by a bunch of incompetents in Washington." Tony Blair, Brown's predecessor and that official's admired boss, was effectively destroyed by his support of W. The same adviser is now in Britain's Washington embassy. Does anyone believe he has forgotten what prompted his outburst?
The perception of betrayal goes far wider than rigged intelligence estimates and unfounded optimism about Iraq. On issue after issue (Russia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Guantánamo, Iran, the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations), the current cadre of European leaders and officials believe the Bush White House failed to consult them; worse, it did not level with them about its real goals. And, more alarming still, it simply had no idea what it was getting into. The economic meltdown—which all Europeans see as originating in a massive failure by a corrupted U.S. system of government to sensibly regulate Wall Street—is merely, for Europe's leaders, final proof that the Washington they respected and, ultimately, trusted through the Cold War years is no more.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Congratulations John Boehner! Tonight's Worst Person in the World!

For being tonight's Worst Person in the World!

Here's (Slick) Jonny!

State Sen. Jon "Slick Jonny" Husted is expected to announce his candidacy for Secretary of State tomorrow at a 10 AM press conference at Ohio GOP headquarters tomorrow. Hilarous that this story hit the street on April Fools' Day.

What NY-20 Result Means: Status Quo Ante

Last night I participated in a live blog over at BSB of the results from the New York 20th Congressional District special election. The special election was necessitated by New York Gov. David Patterson's choice of its former representative, Kirsten Gillibrand, to fill the Senate vacancy left when Hillary Clinton became Secretary of State.

The district's PVI rating is R+3, so it is GOP leaning. And, as Nate Silver points out in this excellent post , a GOP leaning district in a Democratic leaning moment in the political cycle equals tossup. And that's exactly what we got. Democratic candidate Scott Murphy finished the evening with a 65 vote lead over the GOP's candidate, state assemblyman Jim Tedisco. Over 10,000 absentee ballots were issued in this race and so far according to an AP wire story last night over 6,000 have been received, and overseas absentee ballots will continue to be accepted until April 13th. In other words, this race will not be decided soon.

What does that mean? Well, both parties were ready and willing to spin a victory by their candidate in this race. The GOP was especially hopeful, as they had already started to pre-spin that a win by their candidate would be "evidence" that the country was "rejecting" the Obama stimulus package. Dems would have done some further tap dancing on the "grave" of the GOP.

What does the essential tie mean? It means status quo ante. Nobody gets to spin anything, and the race is an anti-climax that won't be decided for months. In other words, I should have gone to the bar last night :)

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Live Blogging NY-20

I'm participating in a live blog of the NY-20 results over at BSB.

A Great Way to Lower Health Care Costs

I just wanted to pass along this great article from the Washington Post about one Pennsylvania health care system that has found a way to lower the costs of bypass surgery by about 15 percent while improving patient outcomes. And, much to the GOP's disappointment, it has nothing to do with trial lawyers:

You could think of them as the Maytag repairmen of health care.

In an industry that makes its money by selling more -- more tests, more surgeries, more drugs -- Geisinger Health System officials gambled three years ago that they could succeed by doing less, but doing it better.

Mimicking the appliance company that advertised its products' reliability, the health system devised a 90-day warranty on elective heart surgery, promising to get it right the first time, for a flat fee. If complications arise or the patient returns to the hospital, Geisinger bears the additional cost.

The venture has paid off. Heart patients have fared measurably better, and the health system has cut its bypass surgery costs by 15 percent. Today, Geisinger has extended the program to half a dozen other procedures, and initiatives such as the counterintuitive experiment in Pennsylvania coal country are now at the heart of efforts in Washington to refashion how care is delivered across the United States.

Though not identified by name, the Geisinger model tracks closely with the policy goals of President Obama. A key target is to reduce expensive errors, duplication, and unnecessary procedures that do nothing to improve health and may actually result in worse outcomes.

Monday, March 30, 2009

EFCA Reality Check

As the lobbying battle over the Employee Free Choice Act heats up, the MSM is starting to take notice. The Plain Dealer had a feature story on it today that contains some facts that should service as kryptonite to the super misleading arguments of the GOP (emphasis mine):

The Employee Free Choice Act would allow unions to be recognized if a majority of workers sign union cards, and it would remove employers' current right to demand that workers instead hold a secret-ballot election to ratify a union.

Richard Hurd, a professor of labor studies at Cornell University, said the current secret-ballot elections allow employers to campaign against the union in the workplace but shut organizers out of that venue.

Hurd likened it to a political election in which "one candidate could present his view anytime he wants, and the people have to sit there and listen to him. The other candidate could only get his view across if he is able to track down people and talk to them on their free time."

Hurd said employees are fired in at least one of every five organizing campaigns and that companies found guilty of firing workers for union activity only have to pay them back wages, minus whatever the employees made at their new jobs. The Employee Free Choice Act would require guilty employers to pay illegally fired workers triple their lost salaries, as well as civil penalties of up to $20,000 per violation.

Even when unions win an election to organize, getting the first contract can be difficult. Hurd said only 40 percent of companies in which employees vote for unions get collective-bargaining agreements. The proposed law would give employers and workers 120 days to reach a contract before a federal arbitrator stepped in to set terms.
Everyone got that? The EFCA will not remove WORKER's rights to a secret ballot. They can still request one. The only change is that EMPLOYERS cannot demand a secret ballot if a majority of their employee have signed cards, as they can now. This is needed because employers can use the run up to an election to campaign against the union on company time, and indiscriminately fire any union sympathizers in their employ.

Lord knows the GOP will do anything to keep the status quo, under which we had corporate profits make up the largest share of GDP than at any time since the 1920's before this current recession hit. It's time for some of that GDP to go to the workers who make those corporate profits possible, and the EFCA will provide the tools needed to do so.

OH-17: How Much Of A Battle Should There Be Over a Two Year Gig?

As I said last week, if the 2010 reapportionment were performed based on 2007 census estimates, the Ohio 17th would be the 432nd seat awarded in Congress. Meaning, that unless Ohio starts gaining population at a rapid clip between now and April 1, 2010, the Ohio 17th will almost certainly be gone when the reapportionment is done, reducing Ohio to 16 congressional seats and 18 electoral votes.
Today's report on The Fix that Tim Ryan will leave the Ohio 17th behind and instead be Ted Strickland's running mate in 2010, thus becoming the front runner for the Democratic nomination in 2014 left me thinking this: how much of a battle should their really be over a two year gig?
The Ohio 17th will almost certainly be eliminated when Ohio's new congressional map takes effect in 2012. This super democratic district (Ohio's second most heavily Democratic after the Ohio 11th) was drawn combining Akron and Youngstown together for the sole purpose of making the neighboring 14th district GOP leaning enough for Steve "Mr. Sphincter" LaTourette to hang onto his seat. 
Since Ohio Democrats most likely will not be completely shut out of the process of drawing congressional districts as they were in 2001, chances are pretty good that a more rational alignment will take place. Even so, with John Boicceri, Zack Space, and Charlie Wilson, it would appear that there could be more Democratic congressmen then seats available in eastern Ohio. I'm sure that this figured in Tim Ryan's decision to bolt the House. 
Given that fact, however, how much of a battle should their really be for a seat that is all but certain to be elimnated in 2012? How many dollars should be spent in a Democratic primary for a two year gig? My answer is: not that many. And we as a party had better think rationally on this one. 2010 is going to be a tough election year, we'll have a knock-down, drag-out primary for the U.S. Senate and possibly Secretary of State. We don't need another in this safe-for-Democrats but endangered congressional district.

There's A New Sheriff In Town

The Plain Dealer is reporting that new interim Cuyahoga County sheriff Frank Bova is cleaning house by immediately banning sheriff's employees from any sort of political activity during business hours, including lunch hours.

Among the more interesting items in the article, Sheriff Bova states that former sheriff Gerald McFaul who resigned last week left behind "30 bottles of liquor" in the Sheriff's office. "It is being returned to him," Bova said. "It is his personal property."

The Fix: Ryan Will Be Strickland's Running Mate in 2010

As much chatter as I've heard about this, I still haven't believed it. Until Now.

Ryan for (Lt.) Gov: Youthful Ohio Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan (he's 35) will announce that he is running for lieutenant governor later this week, according to two sources familiar with the decision. The LG's office is being vacated by Lee Fisher who is one of several candidates running for the seat of retiring Sen. George Voinovich (R) in 2010. Ryan would presumably run as the hand-picked choice of Gov. Ted Strickland and, if the ticket is elected in 2010, would be the obvious favorite to replace the term-limited incumbent in 2014. Ryan's departure will create an open seat in the House where state Senate Minority Leader Capri Cafaro would be an early favorite.

Wow. So Tim Ryan appears poised to give up Ohio's 2nd most heavily Democratic congressional seat in order to be Ted Strickland's running mate in 2010, thus making him the leading Democratic candidate for governor in 2014.
I would just have to caution, however, that Capri Cafaro will have quite a fight on her hands for this seat. You'll have mayors and county commissioners from all four counties in this district gunning for it. One who is probably loading up his weaponry right now: State Sen. Tom Sawyer, who spent 16 years in Congress until his seat was redistricted out from under him in 2002.