Saturday, April 30, 2005


Kerry or Bush: Who was right about Social Security

Riffiing off a post at Kos, we went back to the Dispatch's coverage of Kerry's Oct. 17 speech in Columbus to a church group to check the record. Pretty amazing:
. . . Democratic challenger Sen. John Kerry yesterday charged that if President Bush is re-elected, he plans a "January surprise" to overhaul Social Security in a way that would be a "disaster for America’s middle class."

[. . .]

Kerry based his new accusations on a New York Times Magazine article by Ron Suskind, author of the book, The Price of Loyalty: George W. Bush, the White House and the Education of Paul O’Neill. In yesterday’s article, Suskind quoted Bush as telling supporters, "I’m going to come out strong after my swearing in with fundamental tax reform, tort reform, privatizing of Social Security."

Kevin Madden, a spokesman for the Bush campaign, disputed the accuracy of the Times article, saying that Bush "has never used the word privatization. The Kerry campaign is taking offhand, third-hand, made-up quotes from Ron Suskind to scare seniors. "John Kerry’s misleading senior scare tactics is just another example of a candidate who will say anything to get elected, no matter how false his accusation or how contradictory they are with his record of repeatedly voting for higher taxes on Social Security," Madden said.
Then there were these headlines Friday:

Uh, doesn't that make the Bush campaign liars? Not that anyone is shocked, but assuming they have respect for their own reporting, shouldn't this be something some of the Ohio editors revisit?

Thursday, April 28, 2005


Jonny on the ball?

Jonny Riskind that is. Nearly a week after the story broke about Bob Ney "forgetting" to report an in-kind contribution of a luxury skybox at the MCI Center, the Dispatch's DC bureau chief finally gets around to acknowledging it even happened with this cookie cutter lede:
A few months after using an American Indian tribe’s arena luxury suite for a campaign fundraiser, Rep. Bob Ney co-sponsored a bill seeking to make it easier for tribal governments to issue tax exempt bonds.
The only thing Riskind adds to this story is that he gets Steven Weiss from the Center for Responsive Politics to criticize Ney. But before any attaboys are given to Riskind, its worth noting that you could fire a gun in any direction in DC and hit five public interest group spokespeople willing to go on the record against what Ney did.

The milk-spurter line in the story is Riskind letting Ney aid Brian Walsh get away with this:
Ney’s support for the tax-exempt bonds bill "was exactly in line with his long-standing belief that Indian tribal governments are sovereign governments who should enjoy the same rights as state and local governments."
Puhleeze . . . We tried googling "Bob Ney" and "Indian tribal governments" and, excluding stories on this current controversy, we got bupkis. Jon - do you know something about "his long-standing belief that no one else does?

Now, rumor has it that there's maybe more to this story. The folks over at The Next Hurrah ask what the number was of the skybox Ney used. If it's #204, then Ney's got some more explaining to do because that's not just the Morongo box - it's also Jack Abramoff's box - and Ney has been doing backflips on this to say that Abramoff wasn't involved in this caper.

So, Jonny, how about you call up Brian Walsh and ask him to show you what box at the MCI Center was used, and maybe ask him to bring some pictures from the fundraiser to verify the location? That's the kind of stuff they pay you for.


Paul, thanks for making your position clear

Among Ohio's reps in Congress, who bows the lowest to Tom DeLay? Yeah, our first guess was Bob Ney, too.

But hey, who would have guessed that the only Ohioan dumb enough to vote against restoring the Ethics Committee's rules, even after Dennis Hastert gave permission, would be (ta dah!):


Someone rescue "Springer on the Radio"

Maybe this is stating the obvious, but after listening to both the PM and AM (PM replays) of Jerry Springer, we think his show is in big trouble and highlights two big problems of Air America.

The first problem, one that pre-dates Springer's arrival, is that the shows producers/directors/personalities/call screeners often fail to keep the programs fresh, interesting and moving along. For the most part, the Al Franken show is a major exception to this because 1) they don't take calls, and 2) they produce short segments with guests that are knowledgable and have something different and interesting to say.

This isn't meant to be a slam on listener calls. But - and we think this is a big "but" - if you are going to do it, screen them well and make sure that have a new angle on the topic. We confess that after the third Stephanie Miller caller that says, "Hi Stephanie, this is Susan - we love you in Columbus. Your the best! Can you believe Bush is still trying to take away our Social Security?," we want to beat our car radio senseless." (Solution: Hard screen your callers. Find out what they want to say. Learn the difference between chit chat and something really interesting. And, finally, warn the callers before you put them on to get to the point. Cut them off if they are too slow or if their "great story" about Harry Reid turns out to be a snoozer. And, keep all the calls short unless the caller truly has video of a torrid Karl Rove/Jeff Gannon affair.)

Springer's problem, however, is his own. He is soooooo sloooooooow. His deliver is slow. His comments and explanations are slow - so slow listeners lose track of where he is going. Yes, we know that he is looking for a side-kick to riff off of, but the whole concept of the show seems off. If anyone should have a grasp of what "entertaining" is, it should be Springer. Instead he sounds like a bored college professor lecturing us on stuff from a book. Jerry has nothing new to say, it doesn't sound like his staff does any research or finds guests that aren't already being interview elsewhere. He's not funny. He and his staff have no creative bits.

You can't have commercially successful radio that is this bad. You especially can't have morning drive radio that puts you to sleep. Fix Springer, or return Morning Sedition. Otherwise, we're back to NPR and Howard Stern (guilty pleasure confession) in the morning.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005


Tony Perkins loves Phil Burress, too

Via Max Blumenthal, Klan pal Perkins sent out an email in mid-March about his beer-hall Christianity buddies (no link available):
I have spent the last couple of days in Ohio where I spoke to over 2,800 people at Fairfield Christian Church outside Columbus. Today I joined Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell and former Ohio Congressman Bob McEwen as we spoke to about 70 key members of the clergy. We reflected back upon America's godly heritage and the key role that pastors played in this nation. The meeting, which was hosted by Pastor Rod Parsley at World Harvest Church, was organized by Pastor Russell Johnson of Lancaster.

Many of these pastors were instrumental in working with the president of Ohio's Citizens for Community Values, Phil Burress, in passing Ohio's marriage amendment over tremendous obstacles foes of marriage placed in their way. This was the first of a series of meetings designed to enlist hundreds of members of the clergy as "Patriot Pastors" to further organize the Church in Ohio for social engagement. What I see happening across the country with pastors is unprecedented - pastors and their flocks are not going back to life as usual after the election. Christians are committed to the battle not only for the heart and souls of people but for the heart and soul of this nation.
You know, this Tony Perkins stuff would provide maybe a week's worth of questions for the Blackwell/Burress/Parsley/Johnson crowd for an idea-dry reporter. Any takers?


And, maybe a sheet in the Ohio Restoration Project's closet, too.

Hey, if they want to brag about their Klan-lover (but someone might want to tip-off Kenny.). From the NYT March 27 Archives (not free):
[ORP leader Russell] Johnson also boasts that his project is being "greatly encouraged by Tony Perkins, President of James Dobson's Family Research Council."


A white sheet in the Center for Moral Clarity's closet?

Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, is a frequent guest, ally and confidant of Rev. Rod Parsley, leader of the Center for Moral Clarity. The CMC is the unofficial Elect Ken Blackwell Committee.

Parsley is also the author of "Silent No More" in which the CMC says the flamboyant rev:
. . . shares disturbing truths about education, poverty, racism, abortion and other vital subjects. And he provides a startlingly clear vision of a more moral America – an America that once was, and can be again.
Perkins, always the fan of Parsleys, provides this endorsement of "Silent":
Rod Parsley speaks out on the major issues that threaten the future of our culture and the long-term security of our nation. Silent No More does not merely lay out the scope of the challenge, but also offers the information and action steps essential to the solution.
----The Honorable Tony Perkins
Given his Blackwell support and his desire to reveal truths about racism in America, Tony Perkins may suddenly become some undesirable baggage for Parsley. Via Atrios amd The Nation:
Four years ago, Perkins addressed the Louisiana chapter of the Council of Conservative Citizens (CCC), America's premier white supremacist organization, the successor to the White Citizens Councils, which battled integration in the South. In 1996 Perkins paid former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard David Duke $82,000 for his mailing list. At the time, Perkins was the campaign manager for a right-wing Republican candidate for the US Senate in Louisiana. The Federal Election Commission fined the campaign Perkins ran $3,000 for attempting to hide the money paid to Duke.
Exactly what part of "Moral Clarity" do Perkins and Parsley not get?


Protests being held today over GOP nuclear option

We got word today that there are several protests scheduled around Ohio today as part of a set of national Rallies to Stop the Judicial Takeover. Here's the skinny:
Anti-"Nuclear Option" Rally
Perry County Courthouse
105 Main St.
New Lexington, OH
Wednesday, April 27, 5:00 PM

Stop Judicial Takeover
Federal courthouse - 85 Marconi Blvd
85 Marconi Blvd
Columbus, OH
Wednesday, April 27, 5:00 PM

Save the Filibuster
Walkway over route 35
Buckeye St/ Oregon Dist.
Dayton, OH 45402
Wednesday, April 27, 4:45 PM

Federal Courthouse
5th Street and Main
Cincinnati, OH 45202
Wednesday, April 27, 5:00 PM

Protect the Courts
Federal Building in Akron
2 South Main Street
Akron, OH 44236
Wednesday, April 27, 5:00 PM

Campaign for Fair Judges
US Court House
801 W. Superior Ave
Cleveland, OH 44113
Wednesday, April 27, 5:00 PM

Tuesday, April 26, 2005


Santorum amateur privateer compared to Buehrer

Ban the U.S. Weather Service from competing with AccuWeather in online services? That's what Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, a.k.a. anal froth, recently proposed.

But His Frothiness is a dabbler compared to Ohio's State Rep. Steve Buehrer, one of the far right's wingnuts that for some bizarre reason - god help us to understand why - is taken seriously in Columbus.

Buehrer is the "author" of HB 188, the Orwellian-named Electronic Government Services Act. The purpose of this act is "to prohibit a government agency from providing duplicative or competing electronic commerce services with the private sector."

Yes, that's right. Why just ban government internet weather service information when you can ban ALL government internet information?

Now, admittedly, this would only apply to Ohio. But, "WTF?," says Steve, "How can my buddies earn a windfall when state agencies are giving the shit away free?"

Well, Steve, we know you don't give a damn about taxpayers, but anyone - especially a state legislator - should be able to figure out that these online services are not free. Taxpayers paid for them. Actually, they pre-paid for them, so keep your weasel hands off.

This is actually the second time old weasel face has tried to ban government internet services. His 2002 effort, didn't escape the notice of the Plain Dealer that editorialized (no longer in the PD's archives):
State Rep. Steve Buehrer, a Republican from Toledo, managed to tuck this disturbing, anti-consumer measure into the...House budget bill-a measure that was approved without a (public) hearing.
[ . . .]

That House members would go along with a proposal that reeks of contempt for the public is unconscionable....This is a textbook example of a legislator who has forgotten he works for the public, not for those who mine public information and attempt to profit from it....What anti-public measure is next? Going after libraries for lending books that currently sell in bookstores?

[. . .]

Ohioans who resent Buehrer's clumsy attempt to benefit private companies that peddle public information (to) contact him at:
We keep wondering why rightwing radicals like Bueher hate Ohioans. One explanation is that he doesn't serve the will of his constituents. In truth, Bueher serves the will of one group and one group only: the American Legislative Exchange Council.

What's ALEC? A longer explanation is here, and Ralph Neas of People For the American Way described it as "a menacing right-wing/corporate marriage of convenience -- ALEC promotes itself as a membership organization of state lawmakers. However, follow the money trail. . . you will discover how ALEC's corporate funders control the group's issue-specific task forces, wield veto power over proposed model legislation, and equip right-wing state legislators with ready-made bills to advance funders' special interests at the expense of the public interest in areas from environmental protection to health care to open government and far more."

Buehrer was named as national Legislator of the Year by ALEC in 2002. Why? Because more than any other legislator in the nation, Buehrer takes ALEC-written legislation and introduces it as if it was his own. Dismantling Civil Service and the Motor Vehicle Fuel Tax are two more examples of Buehrer willing to do the legislative lifting for out-of-staters.


Disagreement among LA Times reporters on Bush tactics

In our previous post we dismissed yesterday's LA Times story by Janet Hook, that there is a "softer" more-open-to-questioning Bush, as utter spin whose source was a self-serving White House.

Apparently, one of Hook's colleagues also disagrees with her take. Ronald Brownstein today has a story on the growing acrimony between GOP moderates in the White House describing Bush's efforts to get GOP legislators in line as "intense clashes."
Yet more turbulence within the party was the last thing most Republicans expected after they expanded their House and Senate majorities in last year's election.

The signs of insurrection have reached a point where some conservatives believe the White House must confront the dissenting voices more forcefully — especially as some Republicans' doubts about Bolton threaten the administration with its first defeat on a top-tier executive branch appointment.

"If the moderates take down Bolton … then you are really starting to get into threatening the party's ability to govern," said Jeff Bell, a veteran conservative strategist. "I think Bush has to call the moderates' bluff in some way."

[. . . ]

But on several fronts — such as restructuring Social Security, limiting federal spending and nominating the unwavering conservative Bolton for the U.N. — Bush is pushing moderates to the limits of their political and philosophical comfort levels.
Doesn't sound like Bush is "Getting Personal" to us.


LaTourette story doesn't ring true

Yesterday's LA Times had a article about Bush having personal meetings with House Republicans to build up support for his Social Security phase-out. The point of the article seemed to be that instead of being the "bad-guy" strong arming Bush, he's really been the empathetic "good-guy" Bush more willing to listen than to haranguing .

Typical of the tail that unnamed sources spin is this about NE Ohio Congressman Steve LaTourette:
In some one-on-one sessions where lawmakers expect to be lobbied, Bush remains mum. LaTourette, who has been lukewarm on the individual investment accounts, expected the issue to come up when he helicoptered with Bush to a Social Security event in Ohio.

But Bush talked about baseball instead, naming almost the entire starting lineup for the Cleveland Indians for the 1954 World Series.
Notice, first, that LaTourette himself is not mentioned as the source of this anecdote although he is quote above. Hmm . . . who else might have been on the helicopter?

As much as we'd like to believe that Bush has an easy going side, the picture of Bush that gets painted of Bush in this piece is flat out unbelievable and sounds to us like a calculated effort to soften the personal damage to Bush for an issue that he and his minions are heavily invested in. Bush and/or Rove do not back down and they take no prisoners. But they do try to control how the press portrays their efforts, and we believe this is one of those spin efforts.

Monday, April 25, 2005


Plain Dealer speculates on DeLay replacement

One of the PD's Washington reporters, Sabrina Eaton, suggests that if DeLay is out, then southwest Ohio congressman John Boehner is in as House majority leader.

Her story reinforces the point we made over a month ago - that Columbus-area congresswoman and chair of the House GOPers Deborah Pryce is probably out of contention. Eaton gets a sly dig in on Pryce by noting that the House Chair is responsible for "crafting the party's message and promoting it to voters." Recent events make it pretty clear that the messaging efforts on Social Security, Terry Schiavo and judges, however, have not exactly been the highwater mark in Pryce's career.

Pryce also has been somewhat of a disappointment in fundraising. Boehner's PAC reportedly raised $1.5 million. Eaton reports that Pryce has raised only $867,000.

Pryce is known to be negotiating for a major committee chair position as the price for stepping down as chair. Her opening position is that she was to be chair of the House Financial Services Committee, but she would have to bump out Mike Oxley, and he isn't going to let that happen without a fight. We still think she is going to settle for less. Nevertheless, she is trying to keep a poker face on:
Pryce spokesman John McClelland said she is happy in her current post and has no plans to move. "All this is speculation," McClelland said.

Sunday, April 24, 2005


Social Security town meeting sounds great

We understand that the Columbus Social Security town meeting was a success, and a reader sent the picture below of Nancy Mathis speaking before 250+ people including (l-r) Columbus Mayor Mike Coleman, Karen Cogley, Mathis, U.S. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, Marguerite Weibel, Sen. John Glenn.

We understand that Mathis, along with Cogley and Weibel, had the audience in tears at times describing how Social Security had helped them and their family members recover and survive after various tragedies had struck.

We had to laugh at this from the Dispatch story on the meeting:
Jo Ann Davidson, who cochairs the Republican National Committee, said Democrats were using scare tactics, including mislabeling Bush’s plan as a privatization of Social Security.
As Davidson knows - and Joe Hallett should know - it was the Republicans who coined the privatization label and later dropped it when their polls and focus groups showed the word "privatization" was actually hurting Bush.


We're all value voters

Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. When the Dispatch editors put designated Republican Mark Niquette and designated-Democrat Joe Hallett together on stories that are basically news pieces, the wealth of sources they have on either side tends to created a pretty good reading.

On the other hand, when the two are put together for analysis, the results seem strained and hampered by lowest-common denominator writing. Their piece today, one that offers analysis of the Blackwell's lovefest with the theocrats in Ohio and whether it can backfire, is one of those weaker pieces. We invite people to read it, but it didn't strike us as breaking any new ground.

What did bother us, however, was that Niquette's and Hallett's story is riddled with explicit and implicit references that say Value Voters = Evangelical Voters.

This strikes us as a classic case where the right has framed an issue this way and the media (and the Democrats, too) have bought into this. A fundamental point that George Lakoff makes is that everyone is a value voter: the problem is that the conservatives and theocrats are much, much better at "activating" a particular paternalistic/Dobsonian moral system within voters (instead of a "nuturing parent" moral system. The right bothers to spend little time on facts and a great deal of time working to associate certain issues and candidates with a broad and interconnected set of values. Democrats and progressives spend all their time on facts and no time of connecting to voters' moral systems.

Although the particular set of issues as espoused by Dobson, Parsley, Russell Smith, Russell Moore, etc. may generate a backlash for pols like Blackwell, conservatives are still going to have a leg up on the Democrats as long as they fail to develop an explicit and alternative value-driven vision and campaigns. We will be left with a less-of-evils choice among Betty Montgomery, Jim Petro and Blackwell instead of a real alternative.

If Niquette/Hallett want to see someone squirm, they should spend some time asking Denny White and Co. what they are doing to build support among value voters. Better yet, they should ask White, exactly what are the Democrats' values. If he can't answer in ten words*, he should quit.

* Lakoff's suggestions, which still seem as powerful as any: Stronger America, Broad Prosperity, Better Future, Effective Government, Mutual Responsibility, or, even, Opportunity, Societal Investments, Freedom, Community, Open Communications.

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