Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Hurricaine Predictions

I'm not a meteorologist, but nonetheless I have predictions about what happens next.

  • Any criticism of the Bush administration for policies that arguably made the disaster worse -- cutting funds for disaster preparedness, gutting wetlands protection, parking the Louisiana National Guard in Iraq -- will be dismissed as political opportunism.
  • Meanwhile, nonopportunistic Republicans will use the disaster as justification for drilling in ANWR because of the new petroleum crunch.
  • Nonopportunistic Republicans will use the disaster as justification for lifting whatever logging restrictions have escaped the axe so far because we will need cheap lumber to rebuild.
  • Nonopportunistic Republicans will use the disaster as justification for another tax cut since anything serves as justification for a tax cut.
  • Some fundamentalist preacher somewhere will declare what God is punishing us for this time.
  • No one will question whether we should rebuild in flood-prone areas since doing so would mean that the Hurricaine Has Won.
  • President Bush will say that we should come together as a nation and make sacrifices to help rebuild, but the liberal community will anyway.

Check back to see how I did.


When the footprint of God impacts upon the land, everything else seems miniscule. My attempts at blogging last night just seemed ridiculous. Having absorbed somewhat the enormity of what happened, I'm feeling a little more ready to face the challenge.

Summit County's local Red Cross chapter has stepped up, sending 7 workers down to the disaster site with more to follow. According to their website.

The fastest way to help is by making an online contribution to the Disaster Relief Fund at You can also help by calling 1-800-HELP-NOW. The American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund enables the Red Cross to provide shelter, food, counseling and other assistance to those in need for this disaster and thousands of other disasters across the country each year.
In addition the website notes we are in a blood emergency (usually happens in the summer, with or without nature's help). Just like we did by buying new emergency equipment after 9/11, Akronites have an opportunity to step up and make a difference.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Gag Me

I've spent the day thinking of a rationale for not blogging the civil war between Summit County Council and County Executive James McCarthy. I dowanna. For reasons I will discuss anon. For the uninitiated, you can read the sorry tale here.

What we get from the BJ report is that McCarthy accused County Council of harassing his employees, so he imposed a gag rule on each of them. Now all Council information requests go through one person. Council has responded by threatening to hold up legislation important to McCarthy and McCarthy has fired back that the information requests are all about Council members steering contracts.

So why do I need my eleven-foot pole for this story?

For starters, this is largely about Democrats vs. Democrats. I have no problem calling out a D when he's acting a ass. But it distresses me nonetheless.

More to the point, I know and like a number of the individuals cited in the story; Clair Dickenson and Pete Crossland on the Council side, Yamini Adkins on the Executive side. I don't know McCarthy, but my impression has been generally favorable.

But mostly the problem is that the limited information that makes the papers is all over the place. Accusations; counter charges; no, that's lie; no, that's a lie. It's hard to write about this and feel 1) I'm bringing something new to the party and 2) it's coming from somewhere other than my butt.

So, I would rather pass. But I took up the challenge of blogging Akron so blog Akron I must. A few observations.

Nobody, least of all the citizens of Summit County, is served by the current state of affairs. On one hand, the policy creating a single portal for information emanating from the Executive seems untenable. An information request (what non-government types call a "question") generally leads to a follow up question, which leads to another, etc. The single portal policy seems doomed to bog down the legislative process. It also feels like we are on the road to the familiar sitcom situation where two characters are "not speaking" by sending messages via an intermediary. The County doesn't need the equivalent of Lucy upbraiding Ricky through Ethel.

On the other hand, holding up legislation just because is no solution. If Council genuinely needs information that is tied up in channels, that's one thing. But to hold up the people's business for the sake of a "whose is bigger" contest is unacceptable. The parties involved have a duty to the people they serve. They cannot simultaneously fulfill that duty and butt heads like Bighorn Sheep trying to impress a ewe in heat.

So for anyone involved in this sad tale who happens to find my blog, let me conclude with the one suggested solution I can bring, based on the experience provided by my day job.


Hope it works better for them than it does for my kids.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Death to BlogSpam

I had heard of this, but this is our first experience at House of Pho. Evidently the spamosphere has developed webcrawlers which find blogs that allow comments and drop "comments" that happens to contain a link to "blogs" that happen to be tied to some sort of for-profit enterprise.

I got seven -- yes seven -- of these "comment" in response to the last post. I've left up the most innocuous for instructional purposes.

And OK so partly I'm pissed because they are an asspain to delete but mostly I'm pissed because I was initially excited about seven comments.

I won't bother telling the people responsible the degree to which they suck cock in Hell since they no doubt have never actually read the blog. But I will anounce a new comment policy. If you comment anonymously, add nothing to the discussion, and pimp your "blog" or the blogfront for your business, you will be deleted and I shall curse the eyes of your children.

Carry on.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

ProChoice Absolutists Targeting Tim Ryan

How far this will go, no one knows, but the liberal blogosphere is buzzing with nastygrams directed at Representative and potential Senate candidate Tim Ryan.

The Background

Ohio Watch has links to the discussions about Tim Ryan's membership in Democrats for Life. The hook for the discussion is the recent relevation that a large cohort of girls at Canton Timken High School are pregnant. Unlike Jeff Seeman who accurately uses it to cast aspersions on abstenence-only sex education (though he hyperbolically declares it a end to the debate), a poster named Parker goes after Ryan for the mess "in his back yard."

The Argument

Ryan belongs to Democrats for Life
Democrats for life generally vote with pro-life Republicans
Many pro-life Republicans are against widely available contraception and believe in abstinence-only sex education
Abstinence-only sex ed is responsible for Timken

If you don't see a hiccup between the second and third steps of the argument, you may wandered into the wrong blog by mistake. In fact Democrats for Life's platform favors real steps to reduce abortion by supporting women financially and making contraception available. They also favor abstinence-plus over abstinence-only. Pinning Timken on Ryan is fundamentally dishonest.

The Tone

Parker, the leader of all this, speaks in the strident tones of an abortion rights absolutist. Any disagreement and you are a mouth-breathing, wife-clubbing Neanderthal. Tim Ryan is not simply someone to be disagreed with, he is an evil oppressor of women. On virtual paper it looks something like this:

Responsible Poster: Is it really fair to pin all this on Ryan? He's simply voting his conscience.


Responsible Poster 2: Well I agree with Ryan on a lot of things. On balance he seems like a good choice.


Jeff Seeman: It's not Ryan's fault. Canton isn't in his district. Blame Ralph Regula.


OK I'll give her that one. Pretty lame on Jeff's part.

I've had my say over on MyDD. Mostly I'm posting this as a hook for decrying the toxic effect abortion dogma has on Democratic politics. A discussion with that tone is guaranteed to turn off anyone not in the 25% of Americans who believe in unrestricted abortion on demand.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Friday Random Ten

Pho's Birthday Edition:

1. "This Old Porch" by Lyle Lovett
2. "Death of a Party" by Blur
3. "Breathless" by Jerry Lee Lewis
4. "When Joy Kills Sorrow" by Bela Fleck
5. "Crazy Rhythms" by The Feelies
6. "Shine" by the Meat Puppets
7. "Hideaway" by John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers
8. "Whoever" by Lewis Taylor
9. "Poor Places" by Wilco
10. "High Water (For Charley Patton)" by Bob Dylan.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

House Odds

The casino gambling report sponsored by CG Partnership has sent a couple of ripples through the blogosphere. In addition to my post, Joe at RubberBuzz chimed in with the standard "money is leaving the state now" argument. He personalizes it by discussing his recent trip to Wheeling to lose money.

In addition, Bill Callahan cited my post (thanks for the love) and generated a bit of discussion including another money-leaving-the-state take. And a reader emailed me with cites to the local business/nonlocal chain stats I had been groping for in my first gambling post.

My main objection to legalized casino gambling is more economic than moral. The only argument for casino gambling that makes economic sense is the money-already-leaving-the-state argument. But even a cursory look at the numbers from the CG study knock the feet out from under it.

Let's do a little rough math based on the numbers from the CG study. We are going to set aside the restaurant and hotel revenues because of concerns about tradeoffs. We are just looking at the "revenues" that constitute gambling losses.

I'm going to make an assumption about how much of the gambling loss money will stay in the state. To be fair, let's assume that the casinos are owned by a mix of homegrown corporations and out-of-staters. Since the percentages for local vs out-of-state business are 45 vs 15, lets be generous and split the difference. We will assume that 30% of money lost in casinos will recirculate in the state as opposed to being immediately repatriated out of state.

Recall the numbers from the study:

$2.975 billion in gambling loss revenues from Ohioans, including $925 million currently going out of state. That breaks down to:

$2.050 billion in new gambling losses
$ 925 million in recaptured gambling losses

Plus we get another billion from out-of-state suckers.

I contend that the total money that recirculates in the state from gambling losses must be more than the money that leaves the state as a result of the new gambling losses for this to make economic sense. Otherwise it's a net loss, even before you figure in tradeoffs, more problem gamblers, regional impacts and so forth.

The 70% of the recaptured money and out-of-state money that flows out of the state can be ignored since we would not see that anyway. The 30% that recirculates from recaptured and out-of-stater money is free money. For our purposes, I'm granting that we wouldn't see any of that money without legalized casino gambling.

So let's see how this all totals up.

The money that stays in the state is:
$601.5 million from new gambling losses
$277.5 million from recaptured gambling losses
$300 million from gambling losses by out-of-staters

Total = $1.178 billion recirculating

The total leaving the state due to new gambling losses is $1.4 billion -- 70% of $2 billion. That is a net loss of $222 million dollars.

Look, I'm not an economist. These are calculations done literally on the back of an envelope. Maybe I'm missing something, but when I saw the figures for revenue from new gambling losses, this started to look like an even worse bet than I thought.

One lesson I learned from watching to much poker on TV is that a good bet is one in which the odds are in your favor, not one you win. Every game of chance at a casino is a bad bet. You are playing at house odds -- the house will win a greater percentage of the time than you will. Rest assured that prospective casino owners know all the numbers, including the numbers I've crunched above.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Pat Robertson Sings the Very Very Sorry Song

Pat Robertson woke up in a fighting mood and hit his usual "I wuz misinterpreted" notes on his show this morning. After the show he apparently reviewed the tape from Monday and said, "Oops. Senior moment. I really did say we should assasinate Hugo Chavez."

So now he is sorry.

Sort of.

On his website he acknowledges that it's not nice to assasinate someone. Most of the time. He takes pains to note that trying to assasinate Hitler was God's work and reinterates his stand that Chavez is really really bad. But since he apologized for advocating extreme prejudice for Chavez, apparently he doesn't qualify. For anyone playing Who Would Jesus Whack at home, bear in mind the apparent gray area between Chavez and Hitler.

While Pat apologized (mostly) for the comment, a few other apologies were notably absent.

-He has yet to apologize to the news media in general and AP in particular for saying that they misinterpreted his remark.

-He has yet to apoligize to his glassy-eyed followers loyal viewers for, well, lying his Christian ass off this morning. Given his penchant for saying outrageous things, then denying it, such an apology would diverge sharply from Pat's usual post-gaffe arc.

-Finally he hasn't apologized to anyone for characterizing Chavez as a dictator. Hugo Chavez is the popularly elected president of his country. And not elected at gunpoint like Saddam was elected -- he is genuinely popular and won elections observed by international monitors. And it's not like Pat doesn't know what a dictator looks like -- after all, he has broken bread with Charles Taylor of Liberia and Mobutu Sese Seko of Zaire. Yet Pat insists on using the term dictator. Unapologetically.

Some Questions about a New Gambling Study

This never happens, but I am actually covering breaking news.

The BJ posted tonight a story about a new study paid for by gambling proponents. The study purports to show that $11 billion will flow into our state if we allow casino gambling. Well, maybe not flow in, so much as flow within the state to a new destination.

According to ABJ, the projected numbers are as follows:

-$2.975 billion spent (i.e., lost) by Ohio residents in casinos. That includes "most of the $925 million" currently spent in neighboring states.

-$1 billion lost in casinos by out-of-state visitors

-$8 billion in "casino-related industries" like restaurants and hotels.

To me the benefits are clear as mud. First and foremost, the fact that you are sucking an additional $2 billion out of the productive economy and into gambling losses does not strike me as a selling point. Remember that we are talking about relocating money from working people to large corporations without any economic benefit to the folks losing the money.

In addition, I have some other questions:

-Of that $8 billion, how much comes from Ohioans staying home rather than visiting neighboring states, how much is from out-of-staters and how much from new gambling activity. The first two categories are arguably revenues that the Ohio economy is currently not generating. The third, however, is pure tradeoff. If someone spends $150 in bars, restaurants and hotels on a gambling weekend in Cleveland instead of a camping trip to Mohican, the net gain for the Ohio economy is zero.

-To the extent folks in rural areas are coming into cities to gamble, what is the effect on those local economies?

-Why are the out-of-state gamblers coming here? Are they here on business, visiting family, seeing other tourist sites? If so, we again have the tradeoff problem. If they are coming only to gamble, I am skeptical. In nealry every direction there are current gaming operations between people who don't have in-state gaming (Pennsylvania, Indiana and Kentucky) and us. How do we know people are going to pass up their customary spots for a shot at gaming in Toledo?

-What, if any, tradeoffs can we expect to see between newly legal gambling losses and money currently spent on Ohio's legal games of chance -- bingo, horse races and the lottery. Hey, don't laugh about bingo and the lottery. Remember that a huge slice of the casino's pie comes from slot machines -- the bane of the same blue-haired ladies who go to bingo night. If Mrs. Tinsdale down the street blows her mad money at the slots, she won't be at St. Michaels Tuesday night.

The Beacon Journal also noted a different study showing a projected 43 percent increase in gambling addiction if the current plan becomes reality.

It vexes me no end to be on the same side as an asshole like David Zanotti. But it also pisses me off that few liberals understand how fundamentally illiberal legalized casino gambling is. Check out my previous post for a review.

Making the World Safe for the Two-Handed

Assume, for a moment, that you only have one hand. And assume that a town near you passed a resolution stating emphatically that two-handed people are the norm for that town. On the one hand you might think, "Well duh. Of course that is the norm. Of course I am different. Why does that need to be said?"

On the other, you would probably feel somewhat put upon. You know you are different, but why does anyone need to throw it in your face? Why, when you are working hard to overcome your difference, does anyone need to take pains to point out your location outside the norm?

This then is the real problem with Norton's English as Official Language resolution. Does it make Norton look silly? I think so, but I'm from Wadsworth. I recuse myself from any discussion about how to prevent Norton from looking silly.

Does the Norton resolution discriminate? Not much. Given the demographics of the place and the loopholes built into the resolution, it seems unlikely to have any real effect on any real non-English-speaking person.

The real problem is the fundamental mean-spiritedness of the thing. And occuring in Norton, a town with none of the social strains associated with assimilating a large immigrant population, mean-spiritedness is the only remaining rationale. Calling it hateful overshoots the target and is easily dismissed. The people who passed this thing don't hate Hispanics, but they do want everyone to know that they feel really good about themselves for being in the majority.

I know Joe Kernan in passing -- we no doubt sat on opposite sides of a few cases resolved by plea bargain. Joe at Rubber-Buzz sings his praises. Certainly he has acquitted himself well in this case. He is taking the right stand, with not-insignificant political risk, and is giving himself some good cover in the process. Here's hoping he takes the next step and vetos the resolution. Norton should save its meanness for the Victory Bell game.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Cindy Sheehan and the Pitfalls of Moral Authority

The Cindy Sheehan story bubbled up during my vacation, so Camp Casey was a going concern by the time I had any inkling. The news hit me via amusing juxtaposition; pro-Cindy emails from MoveOn nestled in my overflowing inbox alongside anti-Sheehan rants from Christopher Hitchens in Slate.

Once I found out what was going on I was awash in misgivings. As a former prosecutor I have developed an allergy to the notion of victim status conferring unimpeachable moral authority. While the victim of a catastrophe can inform our view of the human cost of the tragedy, it does not follow that the victim has a more compelling right to say what is to be done.

If anything, a person grieving a tragic loss is less likely to have a rational -- and therefore accurate -- view of the landscape. My answer to the infamous Michael Dukakis debate question -- what would you want if your wife was raped and murdered -- is as follows. I would want the perpetrator dead. I would want him to die in protracted, agonizing pain. I would want to hear his screams for mercy and I would want to deliver the final blow. In fact, if my wife was killed by a careless driver, my feelings would be largely the same. All of which is to say that my feelings would be irrational, and shouldn't be considered valid guides in a policy debate.

So Cindy Sheehan made me nervous. It made me nervous to see the Left embrace her. It made me more nervous to hear that her stand is basically withdraw now. It made me very very nervous to hear her loopy statement about her son dying for Isreal and her even loopier denial that she wrote it.

But mostly, it made me nervous that antiwar activists were saying, implicitly and in some cases explicitly, that her status as a victim gives her great moral weight. Because most people with her status possess diametrically opposite views.

Today's BJ has a well-reported piece about local families of KIA servicemen and their views on the war. Predictably, they support the war, with at least one busting out the ultimate koolaid-drinking take: the weapons were there and were moved. I don't fault a grieving mother for saying this -- it's an irrational attempt to make sense of her loss.

On the other hand, the compassion those folks show for Sheehan and the respectful tone of their disagreement was striking. If the people making the koolaid had shown similar compassion, I might actually have some hope.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

The Dispatch Gives Rod Parsley a Pass.

Hypothetically Speaking notes the disappointing profile of Columbus-area evangelical Rod Parsley in the Columbus Dispatch. HypoSpeak has been on Parsley – and by extension Blackwell – for the former’s unapologetically bigoted statements about Muslims. Unfortunately, the CD lets him get away with some antiMuslim Lite comments, then moves on to the apparently more compelling subject of his finances.

Here is the shoulda-been-money quote in the CD piece:

‘‘There are clerics who will espouse love and teach their people that that’s what the Quran teaches," [Parsley] said.
‘‘But unless Islam is confronted from without and reformed from within, we are going to continue to have the kinds of difficulties we’re seeing played out around the world today."

That sounds halfway to reasonable. Most Westerners have at least qualms about how Islamic theology appears to have been twisted to justify attacking innocents. Many moderate Muslims believe the time is nigh for real reformation in their faith. Isn’t that what he means by “confronted from without and reformed from within?”

Not so much. Parsley actually believes that Islam is a “false religion,” that terrorism is an inevitable outgrowth of its fundamental tenets and that the United States was created to “destroy” it, among other things.

As it happens I suffered a bout of insomnia when on vacation and caught an airing of his sermon about Islam on TBN. According to the cutaway gimmie-yer-money ads that punctuated the show, the sermon contains essentially the same information as the chapter in his book.

I wasn’t taking notes, but here is what I remember:

-He reiterates his charge that Mohammed received his revelations from demons that possessed him. I didn’t follow how Rev. Rod knows this, except that it has something to do with the Gospel According to Mark.

-He generally denigrates the Qu’ran as a sham.

-He runs though the common overreading of the Islamic command to jihad.

-He calls Islam a “cult,” saying that the reverence for Jesus in Islam is a ploy to be all-inclusive “like all cults.”

-He faults Islam for being a “works-based” religion. If you are not familiar with the grace vs. works dichotomy that fundamentalists draw, you will have to go elsewhere to bone up and I have only a bare understanding of the controversy. What you need to know for this discussion is that Rod says because Muslims need to do good works to be saved, and because they are never certain if they are saved, they can be persuaded to carry out terrorist acts that guarantee them entrance to heaven. (Rev. Rod then spends some time feeling really good about being a Christian and needing only God’s grace.)

-He summarizes with a call for Christians to evangelize Muslims because only by converting the Muslim world can we win the war on terror.

So we have moved a ways beyond calling for “reform from within.” I can only conclude that the reporter didn’t do any homework on what Rev. Rod says, or she would have challenged him on this. Understand that his attack on Islam is one of two sentinel issues he is organizing and advocating on, the other being against acceptance of gays. This is what the guy is about. And he was allowed to soft-pedal his views for public consumption.

Rev. Rod is an important player in Ohio politics; among other things a high-profile confidant of J Ken Blackwell and a leader of the Ohio Restoration Project. His views on this issue matter. He shouldn’t be allowed to clean them up for the Sunday papers.

While I Was Out

A few items to hit on from my downtime.

First, thanks to George at Brewed Fresh Daily for flagging my "Let's Crush TABOR" post. Sorry I didn't make the meetup; we stayed an extra day (though it was by no means assured that Professor Wife was going to take on two car-ride-amped urchins to let me come up anyway.) I should be there for September.

Second, I intend on doing a detailed postmortem of TABOR '05. Bottom line, victory for progressives, Blackwell bunch in retreat. More later.

Third, some guy named Scott Piepho had this Op-Ed published the in Beacon Journal about the defunding of the research agency that studies charter schools in Ohio. This is something of a Culture of Corruption® piece insofar as it is unclear why the GA would do such a thing except to give out warm fuzzies to the (politically generous) charter industry. Anyway, this Piepho guy seems to have something on the ball; I particularly like the second syllable of his last name. Check it out.

With that, I feel ready to jump back into the news cycle (aside from the absurdly cycle-busting TABOR piece that will neither release me nor complete itself.)

Friday, August 19, 2005

Friday random ten.

1. "Let Me Die in my Footsteps," by Bob Dylan
2. "Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, Pt. 2.," by The Flaming Lips
3. "Right in Time," by Lucinda Williams
4. "Sail to the Moon," by Radiohead
5. "Stage Fright," by The Band
6. "Pale Green Stars," by Everclear
7. "European Son," by The Velvet Underground
8. "Human Touch," by Elvis Costello and the Attractions
9. "Right on Through," by Son Volt
10. "Debra" by Beck

The computer managed a relative coherence in this one. I didn't even realize I had copied "European Son." That will now be deleted. Seven minutes of random notes and feedback might have been an interesting boundary push back in its day, but no one needs to hear that now. I was almost releived to hear my 3-year-old screaming -- an excuse to leave the company of my now-cacophonous computer.

Tanned, rested and ready

I'm back from my vacation and more or less done with clearing out my inbox, cleaning up the detritus of two weeks in a van, bringing the urchins back to reality and all the other standard recovery-from-vacation stuff. You might say that a thing or two happened while I was away. I have a number of blog posts half written in my noodle, but am infull-time urchin-care mode, so how much will actually see virtual print remains to be seen.

Stay tuned.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Never Mind

The TABOR folks are putting it off for a year. They have announced that they will file their petitions a day late to put their proposal on the November 2006 ballot.

Why? Good question. Here is what they say (in italics) with my snar-, um, commentary.

(Columbus, August 8, 2005) Citizens for Tax Reform today announced it will file its petitions to place a constitutional amendment to limit government spending on the November 2006 General Election ballot. The committee now intends to file its Tax Expenditure Limitation (TEL) Amendment petitions August 11, 2005, by-passing the August 10 deadline for this November’s ballot.

"After consultation with legislative leadership, Ohio Republican Party Chairman Bob Bennett and TEL supporters,

-Both of them.

the committee decided this issue deserves the widest possible exposure and debate," said Citizens for Tax Reform Honorary Chairman, Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell. "The 2006 General Election ballot gives Ohio voters that opportunity.”

-This facinates me. The Bumper Sticker party wants the widest possbile exposure and debate? The folks who were getting signatures by simply saying "hey, want to cut your taxes" want the widest possible exposure and debate? Pardon me if I look for other motivations.

"I intend to be the GOP nominee for Governor and expect this amendment to be a major element of my platform of fiscal restraint for government and job creation for the private sector," said Blackwell.

-I intend to be the GOP nominee for Governor, but that will not happen if I get my ass thoroughly and publicly kicked a year out," said Blackwell.

Ohio GOP Chairman Bob Bennett added, “I applaud Ken Blackwell’s leadership on this issue, and his decision to move the proposed amendment to the gubernatorial ballot is a service to the voters of Ohio. It gives Ohioans an opportunity to hear substantive debate on a major policy initiative before making a decision that impacts all of state government.

-One has to ask what the quid for the quo ultimately was. It will be interesting to see if J-Ken suddenly gets an infusion of ORP support. Of course, that may cramp his "I'm not one of those Culture of Corruption guys" style.

“This gesture by Secretary Blackwell will allow us to focus our resources this year on defeating the special interest amendments being pushed by pro-Democrat unions and liberal activist groups.”

-This, I think, is the rub. Political professionals warn of the difficulty of running a "yes" campaign and a "no" campaign at the same time. Especially so when both issues are about accountability and tap into dissatisfaction with the government. Both camps were worried about the alchemy of RON and TABOR -- the Republicans blinked first.

Citizens for Tax Reform will submit more than 500,000 signatures and will exceed county distribution thresholds in 69 of Ohio`s 88 counties. State law requires 322,899 valid signatures for a constitutional amendment, reaching qualifying thresholds in 44 counties."

-Signatures bought and paid for by David Brennan, we must remember.

Ultimately this is a victory for progressives and especially for the Coalition for Ohio's Future (of which I am a member -- see previous post.) Though it might have been nice to have gotten a link in the news stories on the issue.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Congratulations Ohio Netroots. Now Let's Crush TABOR.

I agree with the prevailing wisdom that Paul Hackett's strong showing in the supposedly locked-down OH-2 represents a huge moral victory for Democrats, and demonstrates the power of the netroots. Hackett ran a great campaign, but the bloggers took off with it. The view from up north was stunning -- internet fundraising, volunteer recruiting, oppo debunking, all happening in nearly real time on my computer screen.

I also agree with the cautious assessment that this campaign may not be the watershed it appears if the netroots, ODP and traditional grassroots activists cannot build on this momentum.

So now I submit the next challenge -- defeating Ken Blackwell's TABOR amendment in November. Between national news, OH-2 and the continuing coin/BWC/Noe-fundraising-gate, TABOR hasn't gotten much run outside of HypoSpeak. I submit that it is the most important issue in November. I am involved in the antiTABOR fight -- an involvement described in greater detail in a disclosure at the end of the post.

The imminent train wreck that is TABOR has been well-documented. If you need a primer on how it works, what happened when they tried it in Colorado and the various land mine buried deep within the proposal, check out the website for the Coalition for Ohio's Future -- the group opposing TABOR. I will try to address some of those issues in future posts as well. This post is about the political side of the issue.

TABOR is Blackwell's baby. J-Ken has staked a fair amount of political capital on this campaign. He is the "honorary chairman and spokesman" according to the campaign website, but it goes far far deeper than that. By all accounts and appearances, TABOR provide's both a rallying point for developing a campaign organization and a set of talking points to allow J-Ken to distance himself from the mess the R's have made of the state.

And J-Ken is the lightning rod of Ohio politics. this blog and others have noted the love national conservatives and their media machine have for him.

In addition, we are learning more about the folks underwriting the proTABOR effort. Early reports had the leading funder as Americans for Tax Reform, home of TINY GOVERNMENT avatar Grover Norquist. Then the campaign released some website to get on the mailing list, to volunteer and to get organizations you are active in signed up as coalition members. They also have info regarding donations posted now, though currently they are only accepting snail mail.

Symbolic victories are nice an all, but this is a fight we can -- and must -- actually win. Let's show Ohio and the nation that OH-2 was not a fluke.


I am a county coordinator for the Coalition for Ohio's Future. I am not paid for my efforts; I am involved for the same reason I blog on it -- because I think it is the right thing to do. While I am involved in the Coalition, the opinions expressed in my blog are, as always, mine alone, not necessarily those of the coalition or its member groups.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Spotty Posting Ahead

I'm going on vacation. Our hotel has wireless, with details not forthcoming on the website. I'll post what I can, but you will probably have to have fun without me.

Great Moments in Capitalism

I'm not a socialist. On the other hand, unlike those on the other side of the aisle, my embrace of capitalism is not without reservations. If lots of people cooking up schemes to make a buck happens to create a system more or less worth living in, I can proudly shout "that's the best we can do!!!" But excuse me if I don't jump up and down over it.

Mostly my reservations come from the fact that capitalism can produce just as many ridiculous outcomes, create just as silly a tableau and waste just as much capital, resources and human spirit as any wooly-headed Great Society program. An example caught my attention today -- the Cause-Free Rubber Bracelet.

First there were LIVESTRONG bracelets, and they were good. The more cynical among us may have been tempted to quip "Holy AIDS ribbon, is it the Nineties again?" But all in all, it was hard to argue with the concept. The first time I saw one up close was on the wrist of a dear friend who is just coming out of her stuggle with cancer. I can't be so hard-bitten as to quibble with that.

Then we started to get other colors referencing other causes. O.K., I'll try to be patient. I'm not about wearing my cause on my wrist, but O.K. for you.

Well today I was at a local sporting good store and saw . . . rubber bracelets signifying nothing. Yes, if you want to wear a colored rubber bracelet without that annoying warm glow that comes from supporting a worthy cause, head over a pick one up. If you can't stand your money going to disease research or reducing poverty or supporting the troops, but instead want your money to support the shareholders of a worthy for-profit company, the system has scrambled to fill your need.

These bracelets are entirely devoid of any social significance. They are made of synthetic rubber in other-worldly colors that eerily mimics the other-worldly colored synthetic rubber of the originals. And -- here's the best part -- at $1.49 you actually pay more than the LIVESTRONG foundation charges for bracelets that support the cause.

The guy at the checkout says we can thank Adiddas and Nike for looking out.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Oops, sorry. You can comment now.

The great thing about Blogger is that it lets a guy with minimal technical proficiency get on board and start sharing. Come to think of it, that's also a bad thing, but I digress.

Since I am of limited technical proficiency, things escape my notice until I go through the finely-printed defaults. Like only allowing Blogger members to post comments. Not my intention.

So if my readers have not been commenting because they were thwarted, I apologize and the situation is now corrected. If, as is more likely, my readers haven't commented because they do not exist, that is another matter.