Saturday, October 02, 2004

 

Over half million new voter registrations in Ohio so far

The Beacon Journal says that registration is up 303,431 - 8.5 percent - from a year ago in Ohio's 18 ``Democratic'' counties, and up 217,500 new voters - 7.3 percent, in the 57 "Republican " counties. That's a total of 520,931 so far.

 

Ohio reporters might want to keep an eye on this FBI investigation

The FBI has begun to investigate an attempt to hack the campaign computers of the Pennsylvania *th District Democratic congressional candidate Virginia "Ginny" Schrader. DailyKos is following this fairly closely.

According to the 10/1/04 Philadelphia Inquirer:
"The FBI confirmed that it is checking out whether Wednesday's alleged breach into a computer with fund-raising and polling data came from Campaign Solutions, a Virginia-based Republican political consulting firm with deep involvement in GOP races all over the country."

What's this have to do with Ohio? Campaign Solutions recently formed a new mega partnership with the Cleveland-based New Media Communications firm.

According to Campaigns & Elections's online magazine, New Media Communications produces Internet applications and Web sites the Ohio and Pennsylvania Republican Parties.

Hypothetically speaking, if they are really involved in Pennsylvania is it likely that Campaign Solutions would suddenly have moral qualms about doing it in Ohio?

 

Low paid in Ohio? Got laid off? Uh, you know that unemployment check you thought you had coming . . .

"If you work year-round, 35 hours a week but at minimum wage or close to it Ohio, alone among the states, you're not eligible for unemployment benefits."

Hard to believe? Well, Allison Grant of the Plain Dealer today has an eye opening story on this loophole in the state's unemployment system.

According to a report, authored by the National Employment Law Project, this is no "small" loophole. In fact, there were 352,302 Ohioans who ruled ineligible becuase they fell just short of the hours and wages in 2002. The report said that there were 508,117 Ohioans who were ineligible for any benefits because they worked less than 20 hours a week or averaged less than $100 a week.

A fix would apparently cost $4-6 million a year - less than one percent of the benefits typically paid.

So, who could object to this, especially since employers are already paying into the fund for these workers? Report co-author Rick McHugh was quoted as saying, "I don't see how you defend [the ineligibility] from a policy perspective."

Well, the Ohio Chamber of Commerce, will step up to that plate. "You just can't continue to make the pie bigger and compensate everything under the sun, or you're not going to have any jobs," said Andrew Doehrel, president of the OCC.

Someone send the man something by Charles Dickens.

Friday, October 01, 2004

 

Soros to speak in Akron, Columbus and Cleveland

Occasionally these cities get a speaker of this stature, but seldom do three cities score someone like George Soros. He launched an one-month campaign, apparently to many of the swing states, "to focus voter attention on the war in Iraq and take his case to the American people for changing the direction of American foreign policy."

He is scheduled to speak Oct. 7 in Columbus at the Metropolitan Club. Tickets are are $14 for club members and $22 for non members, lunch included. It's expected to be a sell out with half the tickets gone in three days.

No locations have been announced for Cleveland and Akron, but the tentative date for the former is Oct. 25 and Oct. 26 for the latter.

Soros is a financier, philathropist and philosopher. In brief, he is pretty sharp guy. Born in Budapest in 1930. He survived the Nazi occupation and fled communist Hungary in 1947 for England, where he graduated from the London School of Economics.He then settled in the United States. He is also a prolific author of numerous books and articles his recent "The Bubble of American Supremacy: The Costs of Bush's War in Iraq." His web site is here.

 

Too good

Bush's debate notes found here.

 

Air America Radio stories on Ohio

I don't have the ability to hear the Air America broadcasts very often, so I am unclear about who Greg Warner is and whether he has a regular slot on the network.

Having said that, the Air America Radio website offers three interesting NPR-length stories about three diverse areas of Ohio: Canton, Gallipolis and Upper Arlington (wealthy Columbus surburb).

They are worth a listen (.wma format).

 

Franken show to broadcast from Columbus

In what looks like his only Ohio appearance, Al Franken will broadcast from the Arena Grand Theatre in Columbus's Arena District downtown on Oct. 7.This is part of the "Al Franken Show's Swing State Tour." Franken's web site doesn't offer any ticket information, and the local station that carries the show seems (at least currently) to have a non-functioning web site.

Ticket info will be posted when its made available.

 

Powerful stuff

The Band of Sisters - a group of military wives and mothers - watched Thursday's debate together. This ad records their reaction.

 

Signs of a liar?

I'm not a psychologist, but in my several decades in the business world, especially in some sort of negotiations one bit of body language that I've learned is a big, big warning sign is rapidly blinking and shifting eyes. Excluding those folks that have a distinct ocular problem, I know that when someone can't keep their eyes still and focused they are either lying, being deceptive or going thru some sort of mental freakout.

Now, I expected Bush to give that old smarmy wink once or twice during the debate, but not a all-out 90-minute flutter-thon. See for your self with this video clip the Dems just put together called "Faces of Frustration."

 

Let the Blackwell meltdown begin

"It’s been obvious to me that there are folks hellbent on creating a chaotic situation."

That's what the entire nation is saying about Sect. of State Ken Blackwell's antics. Sadly, however, that quote is from Blackwell, himself, lashing out at his critics.

Ken is suddenly realizing that it's a very bad idea being in a state that's the focal point of the elections while fumbling the Papergate controversy and the provisional ballots. And, Ken, doesn't it sound more than a little desparate when you accuse others of creating the chaos. What is it like seeing your dream of being governor slip through your fingers, just when you thought you would end up king of the hill after the elections.

Kudos to Senators Teresa Fedor of Toledo and C.J. Prentiss of Cleveland for calling for his resignation.

And for those that missed the New York Times editorial, see here.

Thursday, September 30, 2004

 

"Nazi youth" plan to disrupt Mellencamp in Columbus

I am torn about whether to take this news tip seriously. Either some kids have been playing spy games and army too much, or some of the young RNC thugs are making some way-over-the-top plans to disrupt the John Mellencamp Rock for Change concert at the Promowest Pavilion Oct. 2.

The tip says check out this posting at Columbustownhall.com about the plans to stage actions inside and outside the event, and brags that they might get some help from Promowest security staff.

I have had a burr in my butt for some time about what the kids at Columbustownhall consider to be fun. Now it seems to be institutionalized into something called the Conservative Calvary.

This is some scary stuff. Part of me thinks this is a put on, to create a scare and a reaction. When I was a kid, I remember an old episode of Davy Crockett where Davy and his band were surrounded by superior numbers. They used some old clothes and sticks and shouted phony orders to make it look like they had a superior force. So maybe that's what this post is really about. Unfortunately, I don't think we can take that chance.

I still want some reporter to ask Bob Bennett if he embraces or disavows the thugs at Columbustownhall.

 

Blackwell - Baffle them with bullshit?

WTF? Although the media is all abuzz with the news that Sect. of State Blackwell apparently reversed himself on the 80-lb "Papergate" issue, there are still significant problems with the SOS's position.

Posted today on the SOS website is Blackwell's "clarification" (what a shameless ass) of his earlier directive the reiterated the requirement that all registration forms must be on the heavy paper. There is only one paragraph and it is (emphasis added):

"The voter registration form prescribed by the Secretary of State must be printed on white, uncoated paper of not less than 80 lb. text weight. However, any otherwise valid Ohio forms received by your Board of Elections not on 80lb. text should be processed and the newly registered voter should be sent and asked to return the legally prescribed form to be kept by your Board as a permanent record."

So, now the county boards who want to screw with the new registrants are going to send everyone who submitted a form on the wrong paper a letter saying they still have to fill out another registration form?

I am an idiot for thinking this has serious potential to utterly confuse the would-be voter about whether they are registered or not. And, since the deadline to register is just around the corner, isn't there a good chance those that receive this new letter from their board either close to or after Oct. 4 will assume that they missed the registration and not vote?

This issue about the boards needing another completed form is utter garbage. Why isn't anyone calling him out on that?

 

Somebody outta tell Blackwell . . .

. . . that the Secretary of State has ruled that Nader is off the ballot. Maybe there is a communication problem, because Nader is still showing up in places like this.

Also, why doesn't the SOS website and news releases page make any reference to the Nader issue, is rescinding of the 80-lb rule and the provisional ballot lawsuit?

 

Kerry has significant margin over Bush in Ohio, says Gallup numbers

A new Gallup poll released this morning shows Kerry now has the larger margin in Ohio. The poll, conducted Sept. 25-28, shows the Registered Voters currently prefer Kerry over Bush by a 50-46 margin.

This is a huge shift from Gallup's last Ohio matchup (Sept. 4-7) that gave Bush a 48-47 margin over Kerry among RV's

READER SPIN ALERT: In the last Gallup poll, many newspapers and editors only focused on Gallup's Likely Voter results that, I argue, are very inaccutate at this point and subject to much change. All we heard about then was the Bush had a 8 point margin over Kerry (52-44) with no mention that the RV results showed a virtual tie. Call your newspapers NOW and insist that they use the Registered Voter numbers.

Even more intriguing about this poll is that Gally has been the subject of some very tough and pointed criticism about its polling methods and weighting. MoveOn.org did a great full page add about the subject and others such as Ruy Teixeira have given the topic a thorough review. My point, here, is that given these criticisms Gallup may even be undermeasuring Kerry support.

UPDATE: This poll was done of 802 RVs, MoE = 4%

 

80-lb registration rule thrown out!

The renewed pressure by the Dems, labor and Kerry/Edwards is paying off. Finally a ground game in Ohio! (more on this later). Sect. of State Blackwell has announced that his office will not enforce his rule that all voter registration applications must be printed and received on 80-lb paper stock.

And a "better late than never" tip of the hat to some of the press corps who finally weighed in on this issues. The Dispatch, for example, found that many of the forms actually distributed by Blackwell's office were printed on the wrong weight paper.

In many ways, Blackwell had no choice but to cave in. Many, many county election boards had apparently decided to ignore his directive and register voters regardless of the paper weight.

A footnote to the dispatch story is that Franklin County, alone, has registered 90,000 new voters, a 10 percent increase of which 90 percent are probably voting for Democrats.

Hopefully this puts an end to the crazy 10-year old rule on about the 80-lb paper. Yes, that is how long the Ohio Dems sat on the sidelines on this issue. With some new confidence over this and the Nader issues, and lots of imported backbone (from groups like ACT and Kerry/Edwards), there is starting to be a sense that the Republicans have been rocked back on their heels.

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

 

Jeff Seeman speaks out

I've had a link to Jeff Seeman's campaign for Congress (16th District) for some time.

Please check out his new posting at Swing States Project.

 

Nader takes another body blow. Criminal investigation and Court appeal next?

Wow, when you hear the findings its clear that the petition situation for Nader was so bad that Ken Blackwell didn't have any choice but to rule Nader off the ballot!

Kudos to SOS hearing office Gretchen Quinn for not flinching from the obvious when she wrote her report. The Dispatch covers the story in a complete but pedestrian style that some of the staff writers are known for.

The most important development of the Nader situation, however, is that Quinn recommended that Blackwell conduct “further investigations” into the conduct of the petition circulators in question and refer the findings to the appropriate law enforcement agencies regarding “apparent violations” of Ohio election laws. So Blackwell is in a fix. Now, who is going to hold his feet to the fire.

Also, this kind of investigation is not that hard. Once again, the question has got to be asked: "Who hired JSM, Inc and the five other petition circulation companies?"

Oddly, Julie Carr Smyth and T.C. Brown of the Plain Dealer, who normally try to run investigative circles around the Dispatch, make no mention of the appearance of criminal acts and Quinn's call for further investigation. Since the criminal aspect was the big, new development (the bogus signatures, collectors, etc. was already documented) one has to wonder if they doing their own investigation. Let's hope so.

But before everyone gets excited, it appears that the SOS decision is going to be appealed to the Ohio Supreme Court. Now, I gotta think that the OSC isn't just going to toss this appeal out. Given the partisan composition and actions of the court, I think it's still too soon to count Nader out.


Tuesday, September 28, 2004

 

Dems (sorta) finally step up to the plate

UPDATE: The Ohio Democratic Party has just announced that it has suing Ken Blackwell to "protect voting rights". The ODP press release (how dumb can they be to put it in a "pop-up" format?) says the suit specifically targets Blackwell's refusal to issue these ballots to voters who find themselves at a polling place other than the one for the precinct where they live.

Well, that's one of the voting rights issues and its a hell of a lot better than nothing. But what about the other looming problems?

 

Democrats share blame for growing ballot fears

As we have noted on these pages, there is every reason to fear major efforts to tamper with the voting process in Ohio.
Again, the obvious problems are in the areas of :
- blocking the record number of new registrants
- blocking provisional voting
- absentee ballot stuffing.

Although the Ohio Democratic Party, the labor unions and the Kerry campaign, itself, have bragged about having voting protection team that numbers in the thousands of attorneys and other experts, it is increasingly looking like this is more smoke 'n' mirrors than substance.

A well-known national blog, MyDD, has also stepped up their reporting on the impending voting debacle. But the fact that people OUTSIDE the state can identify more problems and are raising more hell than those within the state speaks volumes about the state of "voter protection" in Ohio.

MyDD targets, in particular, the fact that Sect. of State Ken Blackwell has arbitrarily required that all voter registration forms be printed on 80-pound paper (this kind of paper is close to cardstock), supposedly to facilitate scanning & copying. Montgomery Co. election officials have said they are concerned that Blackwell will refuse to honor applications not on the proper papers. (MyDD readers also do a great job in suggesting ways to apply pressure and to respond (including organizing the county election boards to simply ignore Blackwell's edicts - please read the whole string of replies under the original post.)

The Ohio Democratic Party and the unions have known about this issue for months if not years. They ignored it - and now those chickens are coming home to roost. I got the sense when this "paper" issue was raised earlier this year in those circles that they were so used to unquestioningly following the rules from the SOS office that they couldn't even fathom the concept of tackling this "technical issue." So punch-drunk from years of taking beatings by the Rs that they lost the ability to swing back. As a matter of fact, the Party and the unions seemed to be the main ones propogating the "scanning" excuse for this neo-Jim Crow effort. I am not expert on the federal Voting Rights Act, but this seems to at least violate the spirit of it.

Pro-Kerry forces must gain the offensive with a comprehensive, aggressive no-rock-unturned effort to protect the vote - one that also mobilizes supporters to also speak out and take action instead of soley relying on the lawyers. Unions - you are supposed to be "organizers," aren't you?

Monday, September 27, 2004

 

Reinstate the draft?

Although I have thought this to be a bit far-fetched until now, I increasingly believe that a Bush-Cheney victory would make this much more likely. The guard is missing its recruiting goals, the situation in Iraq is worsening, and given the neo-conservative "black-is-white" outlook on the world, there is some reason to believe that the Administration would calculate that the problem in the the Middle East is that there is not enough unilateral military confrontation.

For anyone starting to feel a little uneasy about the possibilities of a draft, several blogs are tracking this issue. See, for example, BushDraft.com.

 

Daily Show, The Onion connecting for more than laughs

It's well known that satire - good satire, that is - often provides more insights than straight news. And for fans of these two outlets, the following isn't going to be surprising.

First, is the news from the Annenberg Center Public Policy Center that Jon Stewart's Daily Show views are more knowledgeable about election issues and candidates than viewers of Jay Leno and David Letterman. The report also shows that viewers of late-night comedy shows are generally more knowledgeable than non-viewers. A .pdf press release from Annenberg is here. For those that want to skip that downloading step, the (Youngstown) Business Journal has a report on it here.

The second is the growing observation that The Onion is eerily in charge of spin for the Bush-Cheney effort. Dan Chak has the scary documentation here. Also, see, for example, Josh Marshall's view that its increasingly becoming an "Onion" nation here.

Sunday, September 26, 2004

 

Dems far surpassing Repubs in Ohio voter registration

Todays's New York Times report shows Dem's have made extremely high gains in voter registration in traditionally Democratic-voting areas in Ohio and Florida. Congratulations to all!

But this is why there must me a major counter attack immediately against Loyalist Ken Blackwell's games with Provisional Ballots and the Repub's efforts to manipulate Absentee Ballots.

Further, this new registration effort will be for naught if "bullet-proof" GOTV plans aren't in place. Any planning that doesn't assume the worst-case scenarios is reckless and foolish. This is a grave situation for the Rs and they will not go down without a fight.

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