Saturday, August 06, 2005

 

A narrow choice of golf partners

We know that Taft's list of golf partners is going to get him in a heap of problems and probably force him to resign.

But put the possible illegalities aside for a moment.

We'd be willing to grant that there is nothing wrong, per se, with a governor wanting to play a few rounds of golf and even doing a little business out on the links. You know, a little consultation, a little schmoozing, a little constituency outreacy, a chance to have informal discussions, etc.

But it's an enormous commentary on the character of the GOP that Taft's partners are in virtually every case tied into big business.

Obviously, golf's very popular with nearly every demographic group, so we'd almost find it refreshing if, say, some union officials or church leaders names showed up on the scorecard.

Or, someone from the Ohio Environmental Council or a conservancy project.

Or, someone from the United Way or Red Cross.

Or even a mayor, or county commissioner or two (both parties, of course).

Or the head of a PTA, a neighborhood crime watch group or Elks club.

Or some cops and firefighters, or a member of the military reserves, or even some VFW people.

Or some folks associated with minority and women's groups.

You know, people who are a little more mainstream and with some concern for ordinary folks. Real people, not profit pimps.

But, that's not who Taft golfed with.

No, he liked the company of telecommunications lobbyists, health industry titans, energy industry big shots, insurance industry scoundrels, construction industry hacks, and transportation industry wheeler dealers.

If you're judged by the company you keep, than Taft is one of the biggest whores in the state.

Friday, August 05, 2005

 

Taft reveals some of his golf pals

We knew there was something coming down today, but we had thought it was going to be bigger.

Bob Taft today release documents that provided some details about 27 golf "outings" which is apparently only a part of the 60+ "events" that he failed to report to the Ethics Commission.

After this information was release this morning, Bill Meeks, Taft's criminal defense attorney, cryptically said that today's documents
"represent only a portion of the information I am discussing with the Ohio Ethics Commission. Non-public records, such as the governor's personal schedule and financial documents, which have been provided to the commission, have a bearing on the interpretation of the records released today."
The big news in this seems to be his golfing partners. From the Dispatch's website:
A partial list of Taft's golfing partners included Tony Alexander, president of First Energy; Tony Gorant of Akron General Medical Center; David Robinson, a Columbus attorney; and John Snow, now U.S. Treasury Secretary and former chairman of CSX.

One golfing partner, Dr. E. Christopher Ellison, chairman of the Department of Surgery at Ohio State University, wrote Taft later, "I would like to be available to assist you in any way dealing with medical issues, particularly in the area of surgery, around the state."

Taft played with [Tom] Noe, who is at the center of a scandal involving a $13 million shortfall from a coin investment at the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation, on May 13, 2001. The outing was at the Inverness Golf Club in Toledo.

Noe's attorney has confirmed that Noe golfed with Taft a couple of times but has declined to say who paid.

The list also included golf outings sponsored by Longaberger Co.

The Newark basketmaker filed an amended report July 20 with the Joint Legislative Ethics Committee showing it paid $125 for Taft's "golf fees" on Sept. 12, 2003.

According to a letter Taft released today, the outing included Longaberger lobbyist Mike Bennett; Bob Beam, the company's general counsel; and Nick Lashutka, a lobbyist and son of former Columbus Mayor Greg Lashutka.

That outing also included a lunch at the home of Longaberger Chief Executive Tami Longaberger and her husband, Todd Friz, the letter shows.
All these people Taft was golfing with are intriguing, but what caught our eyes and what Meeks may be referring to is an interesting person on the list: David Robinson.

Robinson is not just an attorney. Robinson represented the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation on investment matters. He was also retained Tom Noe after the Toledo Blade's stories about Coingate started. Robinson's dual role was clearly a conflict of interest. In addition, Robinson works for Schottenstein, Zox & Dunn, a politically-connected law firm whose employees have been heavy donors to GOP candidates and causes.

The firm was paid nearly $370,000 to evaluate private investment managers and the $215 million in losses incurred by the infamous MDL fund. Robinson was in charge of this work.

Robinson parted ways with BWC in June after it was revealed that he failed to inform BWC commissioners in 2004 of the MDL losses.

Tom Noe paid at least $12,000 to law firms during 2004 and 2005 including a $10,000 retainer to Robinson.

Robinson is somewhat a divisive character in Republican circles. Ran for a state representative seat in the Columbus area against Jim Hughes, a moderate Republican. Hughes was the endorsed candidate, but Robinson still sought the backing of GOP bigwigs like former House Speaker JoAnn Davidson, Bill Harris and Larry Householder.

So, one question is whether it is likely - depending on the timing - that when Taft and Robinson are on the links together, the subject of MDL's losses never comes up. And, as one of SZD's ace lobbyists, what else did Robison and Taft discuss?

 

Menaces to society

Great guys. Besides helping protect drug company profits, they work to defeat democracy:
The [Ohio First] attorneys include Quintin F. Lindsmith, who in 2002 was involved in trying to stop a petition drive for prescription-drug discounts; and Kurt Tunnell, a lobbyist who was chief legal counsel for former Gov. George V. Voinovich and who fought against a prescription-drug petition drive in 2003.

 

Deb Pryce is no fool

Someone has there finger in the wind:
U.S. Rep. Deborah Pryce said she has advised Ohio GOP leaders that it would be fruitless to spend millions trying to defeat the Reform Ohio Now measures. Ohioans likely won’t listen to incumbent GOP officeholders detailing the evils of the proposals — especially with the scandals currently plaguing state government — the Upper Arlington Republican said.

"I’m not sure Republicans right now have the clout to carry this off," she said.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

 

More on the ODP's work with Hackett

In a post yesterday we questioned whether the statewide leaders and staff of the Ohio Democratic Party understood Paul Hackett's campaign:
Denny White and the staff of the Ohio Democratic Party should kiss Hackett's feet. That campaign is a wakeup call to those that are still stumbling around in a funk leftover from last November. White better wake up, grow some balls and start acting like he understands Ohioans want are sick of the corruption and want a viable alternative. He if can't articulate that vision, if he can't deliver (and there is not one shred of evidence that he can), then he should should get his pathetic self out of the way.
This post set off some back-and-forth comments about the role of the ODP.

We knew that veteran activist Tim Tagaris had been around the Hackett camp for quite a while. We have faith in his instincts and analysis, and he has never struck us as one to hold back criticism when he felt it was due.

Therefore, we put the question about the ODP involvement in the Hackett effort to him, and he responded with a fairly positive review of the ODP's efforts. Glad to hear it was better than we thought:
I think the ODP was actually the first organization to put bodies on the ground. For that reason, they deserve a large amount of credit for their efforts. Their work focused mostly on field, as far as I can tell, but their effort was substantial. If I am not mistaken, they provided one organizer, who did a great job, for over a month (quite a long time in terms of when most arrived). Down the stretch when most other staff started arriving, the ODP supplied more bodies.

I don't know much about fundraising, but I think most of us know by now where the most substantial financial investments came from--the grassroots.

I also think they did use the net to some extent, but the depth of the effort is also unknown to me. I am signed up in NW Ohio so I might not have received emails they sent out. At the same time, I do know that I helped them craft an email they planned to send out for absentee ballots and GOTV. Finally, their web presence is bound to be limited just because their infrastructure online is pretty weak at the moment, but I think they gave it a go online. I also know I talked with them about ways the ODP could use the web to help, and there was serious interest, but it never happened in the end.

Tim

 

Republican-linked group sues to stop RON amendments

As we have written before, there is a progressive campaign called Reform Ohio Now that seeks the passage of three amendments to the Ohio Constitution that would 1) reduce the campaign contributions ceiling from $10,000 to $1,000 ($2,000 for statewide races), 2) stop gerrymandering and establish an independent commission to redraw legislative districts starting in 2007, 3) take control of the state's elections away from the Sec. of State (Ken Blackwell) and turn the responsibilities over to another independent commission.

Today, a new group connected to the Ohio GOP - called, ironically enough, Ohio First! - filed suit this morning with the Ohio Supreme Court in an effort to stop the amendments from appearing on the ballot in Ohio this fall.

Supporters of RON had expected to place the measure on the ballot by filing petitions with over 500,000 signatures next week.

The Ohio First! press release (no link available yet) says:
"The lawsuit alleges that the Reform Ohio Now petitions are deficient . . . because they do not include the "full text" of the language that the amendments will delete."
We aren't attorneys, but we have seen the petitions and can attest to the fact that they contain the full text of the amendment. In fact, the petitions, themselves are each 21 pages long because the entire language is included.

We suspect the key words "language that the amendments will delete". Again, we aren't experts, but we don't recall every seeing amendment petitions containing the wording that is being deleted.

Ohio First group is being headed by former Ohio Senate President Richard Finan, a Republican originally from the Cincinnati area. Finan is a GOP insider who joined the law firm of of Calfee Halter & Griswold LLP where he handles the firm's government relations and legislation group. In other words, Finan has become a behind-the-scenes Republican lobbyist and power broker.

Early this week, the GOP caucus tried to derail RON's redistricting amendment. Led by Republican state representative Kevin DeWine, a House committee tried to force a vote on a GOP-crafted amendment Monday night that Republicans hoped would stop the coalition from redrawing districts for the 2008 election. DeWine apparently realized he would fall just-short of the 2/3rds vote he needed.

There have been rumors for several days that the Republicans would still try to stop the amendments because these changes would undermine the one-party monopoly they have had for 15 years.

The issue of redistricting was also brought home by Paul Hackett's strong campaign in a district that had been heavily gerrymandered to deliver 60%-70% victories to the Republican incumbent. Without the gerrymandering of the OH-2 district, Hackett would have been a shoe-in and the GOP seems very aware of that fact.

Against the backdrop of the "Culture of Corruption" in Ohio, it's important to note that Richard Finan, while he was senate president, was co-chair of the Joint Ethics Committee of the Ohio Legislature. If your response is, "What ethics in Ohio?" your instincts are correct. The committee was a joke and Finan was a vocal opponent of stronger ethics rules.

A 1999 story by Minnesota Public Radio reveals the seemier side of Finan:
Ethics and disclosure reform is generally an unpopular topic in state capitols across the country. It's a messy and sensitive issue that lawmakers prefer to avoid. One of the most powerful state legislators in Ohio harbors a certain contempt for such laws. He's Senate President Richard Finan, a voluble, 27-year capitol veteran, and a co-chair of the ethics committee.

"Those legislators that want to be ethical are going to be ethical, " Finan declares. "Those legislators that don't want to be ethical, we could pass laws until the cows come home, and they're not going to be ethical. They're going to find way to get around whatever laws we put in shape. "

Finan adds that ethics laws have deepened partisan divisions in the legislature because lobbyists can no longer take lawmakers out to dinner. Such meetings often brought Democrats and Republicans together, he says, on the neutral turn of a lobbyist's expense account.

In Finan's view, a friendly night at the steak house meant more civility at the state house.

Finan's comments about the steak house should strike a chord with Ohioans given that Coingate maestro Tom Noe frequently wined and dined politically connected Republicans at Morton's Steak House in Columbus.

We haven't heard an official response from the RON coalition, but organizers issued the following response to the announcement of the creation of the retrograde Ohio First group:
Ohio First? Yes, we certainly are:
First in corruption
First in scandals
First in defending big money
First in young people leaving the state and
First in job loss

 

More on the Marines tragedy

Read this from the ClevelandSteamer.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

 

Plea bargains and Fridays in August . . .

. . . make an interesting combination. Good time for bad news to come out. So we hear, at least.

Hmmm . . . who else in the capital city might be working on a plea bargain? Fore!

 

Insanity, tragedy & betrayal - Ohio pays the price

The latest news and the toll of Ohioans in Iraq speaks for itself.

Roadside Bomb Kills 14 Marines in Iraq

Six Marines from Ohio-based Unit Killed

Plus (with help from the AP):
_ Army Pfc. Robert Swaney, 21, of Columbus, died when his Humvee was struck by a roadside bomb southeast of Baghdad, Iraq. He was assigned to the 3rd U.S. Armored Calvary Regiment, Thunder Squadron based at Fort Carson, Colo.

_ Marine Lance Cpl. Christopher P. Lyons, 24, of Mansfield, died when his company came under attack by small-arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades in western Iraq. He was assigned to the Marine Forces Reserve's Lima Company, 3rd Battalion, 25th Regiment.

_ Marine Cpl. Andre L. Williams, 23, of Galloway, died when his company came under attack by small-arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades in western Iraq. He was assigned to the Marine Forces Reserve's Lima Company, 3rd Battalion, 25th Regiment.

_ Army Pfc. Tim Hines, 21, of Fairfield, died in a Washington hospital of injuries from a bomb detonated while he was in a convoy traveling in Baghdad, Iraq. He was assigned to the 720th Battalion, 89th Military Police Brigade, 64th Military Police Unit.

_ Army Spc. Anthony D. Kinslow, 21, of Westerville, died when his military vehicle came under a grenade attack in Ramadi, Iraq. He was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 17th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division.

_ Army Sgt. Larry R. Kuhns Jr., 24, of Austintown, died when his military vehicle came under a grenade attack in Ramadi, Iraq. He was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 17th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division.

_ Marine Lance Cpl. Thomas O. Keeling, 23, of Strongsville, died in an explosion in Haqlaniyah, Iraq. He was assigned to the Marine Forces Reserve, 3rd Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment, 4th Marine Division.

_ Marine Lance Cpl. Devon P. Seymour, 21, of St. Louisville, died in an explosion in Haqlaniyah, Iraq. He was assigned to the Marine Forces Reserve, 3rd Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment, 4th Marine Division.

_ Marine Cpl. Brad D. Squires, 26, Middleburg Heights, died in an explosion in Haqlaniyah, Iraq. He was assigned to the Marine Forces Reserve, 3rd Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment, 4th Marine Division.

_ Army 1st Lt. Aaron Seesan, 24, of Massillon, died when a bomb struck his vehicle in Iraq. He was assigned to the 73rd Engineering Company based at Fort Lewis, Wash.

_ Army Sgt. Kurt Schamberg, 26, of Orwell, died from a roadside blast near Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad. He was assigned to 10th Mountain Division, based at Fort Drum, N.Y.

_ Marine Lance Cpl. Nick Erdy, 21, of Owensville, died from an explosion near his vehicle transport in Iraq. He was assigned to the Marine Forces Reserve's 3rd Battalion, 25th Marines, 4th Marine Division based in Columbus.

_ Marine Pfc. Christopher Dixon, 18, of Obetz, died from an explosion near his vehicle transport in Iraq. He was assigned to the Marine Forces Reserve's 3rd Battalion, 25th Marines, 4th Marine Division based in Columbus.

_ Marine Lance Cpl. Wesley G. Davids, 20, of Dublin, died from an explosion while conducting combat operations in Karabilah, Iraq. He was assigned to Marine Forces Reserve's 3rd Battalion, 25th Marines, 4th Marine Division based in Columbus.

_ Marine Staff Sgt. Kendall Ivy II, 29, of Galion, died after suffering a severe leg wound when the vehicle he was riding in struck a roadside bomb in Iraq.

_ Marine Lance Cpl. Taylor Prazynski, 20, of Fairfield, died after suffering shrapnel wounds in an explosion during combat in Iraq. He was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marine Division based at Camp Lejeune, N.C.

_ Army Pfc. Nick Messmer, 20, of Gahanna, and another soldier died in Iraq when a bomb blew up near their Humvee in Khalidiyah. He was assigned to the Army's 506th Infantry Regiment.

_ Marine Cpl. Dustin Derga, 24, of Columbus, died when he was caught in enemy small arms fire during combat near Ubaydi, Iraq. Derga was assigned to the Marine Reserve's 3rd Battalion, 25th Regiment, 4th Division in Columbus.

_ Army Sgt. Andy Eckert, 24, of Whitehouse, was killed when an explosive device went off near his convoy in Iraq. He was assigned to the 983rd Engineer Battalion, a reserve unit based in Monclova.

_ Army Spc. Kevin William Prince, 22, of Mount Gilead, was killed by a roadside bomb while on patrol in Al Haswah, Iraq.

_ Army Pfc. Gavin Colburn, 20, of Frankfort, was killed when an improvised device detonated near his convoy vehicle. He was assigned to the Army Reserve's 542nd Transportation Company from Kingsbury, Ind.

_ Marine Lance Cpl. Kevin S. Smith, 20, of Springfield, was killed in hostile action in Al Anbar Province. He was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force, based at Camp Lejeune, N.C.

_ Marine Lance Cpl. Andrew W. Nowacki, 24, of South Euclid, was killed by a roadside bomb while serving as a gunner on a Humvee that was protecting a truck convoy south of Baghdad. He was assigned to Marine Forces Reserve's 2nd Battalion, 24th Marine Regiment, 4th Marine Division, based in Erie, Pa.

_ Army Sgt. Zachary Wobler, 24, of Ottawa, died when he was shot by insurgents during a firefight in Mosul. He was assigned to the Army's 82nd Airborne Division.

_ Army Pfc. James H. Miller IV, 22, of suburban Cincinnati, died in an explosion while he was guarding a polling place in Ramadi for Iraq's elections.

_ Marine Cpl. Richard Gilbert Jr., 28, of Dayton, died when his helicopter crashed in a desert sandstorm.

_ Marine Lance Cpl. Jonathan Edward Etterling, 22, of Wheelersburg, died when his helicopter crashed in a desert sandstorm.

_ Marine Sgt. Michael Finke Jr., 28, of Wadsworth, died when his helicopter crashed in a desert sandstorm.

_ Marine Cpl. Timothy A. Knight, 22, of Brooklyn (Ohio) was killed when his helicopter crashed in a desert sandstorm.

_ Army Pfc. Josh Ramsey, 19, of Defiance, died of non-combat injuries. He was assigned to the 95th Military Police Battalion based at Mannheim, Germany.

_ Army Pfc. Harrison J. Meyer, 20, of Worthington, died when his unit was hit with small arms fire in Ramadi. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team at Camp Howze, Korea.

_ Marine Cpl. Nathan R. Anderson, 22, of Howard, died during fighting in the Al Anbar Province, Iraq. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force based at Camp Lejeune, N.C.

_ Army Sgt. Charles Joseph Webb, 22, of Hamilton, died when he was struck in the face by shrapnel from a bomb. He was assigned to the 82nd Engineering Battalion.

_ Army Staff Sgt. Omer T. Hawkins II, 31, of Cherry Fork, was killed when an improvised bomb exploded near his convoy in Ar Ramadi, Iraq. He was assigned to the 44th Engineer Battalion based at Camp Howze, Korea.

_ Army Capt. Dennis Pintor, 30, who went to high school in Elida, was killed when an explosive device detonated near his patrol vehicle. Pinton was a member of the 20th Engineer Battalion from Fort Hood, Texas

_ National Guard Sgt. Michael Barkey, 22, of Canal Fulton, was killed in a vehicle crash caused by hostile action. Barkey was a member of the 1484th Transportation Company based in Akron.

_ Army Reserve Staff Sgt. Richard L. Morgan, 38, of Maynard, was killed when he drove a Humvee over a land mine. He was a member of the 660th Transportation Company based in Cadiz.

_ Army Reserve Spc. Allen Nolan, 38, of Marietta, died after suffering severe burns in a missile attack. He was a member of the 660th Transportation Company based in Zanesville.

_ Army Staff Sgt. Elvis Bourdon, 36, of Youngstown, died during a patrol when his military vehicle came under attack by enemy forces using small-arms fire and grenades. He was assigned to Company C, 1st Battalion, 9th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division from Fort Hood, Texas.

_ Army Pfc. Jason L. Sparks, 19, of Monroeville, died when his platoon was engaged in direct fire. He was assigned to Company C, 1st Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, Camp Casey, Korea.

_ Army Reserve Pfc. Devin J. Grella, 21, of Medina, was killed when his convoy was struck by a homemade explosive device. He was a member of the 706th Transportation Company in Mansfield.

_ Army Pfc. Ryan Martin, 22, of Mount Vernon, died when a homemade bomb went off near the Humvee he was riding in. He was assigned to the 216th Engineering Battalion of the Ohio National Guard.

_ Army Lt. Charles L. Wilkins III, 38, of Columbus, died when a homemade bomb went off near the Humvee he was riding in. He was assigned to the 216th Engineering Battalion of the Ohio National Guard.

_ Marine Lance Cpl. Dustin Fitzgerald, 22, of Huber Heights, died in a noncombat-related vehicle incident. He was assigned to the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit out of Camp Lejeune, N.C.

_ Army Sgt. Daniel Michael Shepherd, 23, of Elyria, was killed when his M2 Bradley Fighting Vehicle hit a homemade bomb. He was assigned to the Army's 1st Battalion, 16th Infantry Regiment.

_ Marine Cpl. Todd J. Godwin, 21, of Zanesville, was killed when a bomb exploded near him during combat. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 8th Marines, 2nd Marine Division.

_ Army Spc. Joseph M. Garmback Jr., 24, of Cleveland, was killed along with four members of his unit during a mortar attack on Iraqi National Guard headquarters in Baghdad. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry Regiment, 1st Infantry Division, Schweinfurt, Germany.

_ Army Pfc. Samuel Bowen, 38, of Cleveland, with the 216th Engineer Battalion from Brook Park, was killed in Samarra, Iraq, when a rocket-propelled grenade exploded near his vehicle.

_Army Sgt. Charles Kiser, 37, who grew up in Amelia, was killed outside Mosul by a car bomb. Kiser was with the 330th Military Police Division, a reserve unit based in Sheboygan, Wis.

_ Army Pfc. Nicholaus E. Zimmer, 20, of Columbus, died in Kufa when his vehicle was hit by rocket propelled grenades. He had been assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 37th Armored Regiment, 1st Armored Division, Friedburg Germany.

_ Army Spc. Charles E. Odums II, 22, of Sandusky, with Headquarters and Headquarters Company of the 1st Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division at Fort Hood, Texas. He was killed in Baghdad when a bomb exploded near the patrol.

_ Army Pfc. Jesse Buryj, 21, of Canton, died of injuries he suffered while trying to stop an attack on a checkpoint.

_ Marine Lance Cpl. Michael J. Smith Jr., 21, of Wintersville, died of injuries suffered from enemy action in Al Anbar Province, Iraq. The government did not release more details on how he died.

_ Army Spc. Allen "A.J." Vandayburg, 20, of Mansfield, was killed when his 1st Infantry Division convoy was attacked by insurgents.

_ Marine Cpl. Andrew D. Brownfield, 24, of Akron. Brownfield, assigned to the Marine Wing Support Sqaudron 374, Twentynine Palms, Calif., died of injuries suffered in a mortar attack on Al Asad Air Base.

_ Army Staff Sgt. Richard P. Ramey, 27, of Canton. Ramey, assigned to the 703rd Ordnance Company, Fort Knox, Ky., was killed when insurgents attacked Army convoys with explosives in Mahmudiyah.

_ Army Staff Sgt. Roger C. Turner Jr., 37, who grew up in Pomeroy in Meigs County. A vehicle mechanic assigned to the 10th Cavalry Regiment, 4th Infantry Division, Turner died of injuries suffered in a mortar attack on his base near Balad.

_ Army Staff Sgt. Sean Landrus, 31, of Thompson Township in Geauga County. Assigned to the 1st Engineer Battalion of the 1st Infantry Division, Landrus was killed when a roadside bomb exploded as he was driving a truck near Khalidiyah.

_ Army Staff Sgt. Lester O. Kinney II, 27, of Zanesville. A paratrooper with the 2nd Battalion of the 505th Infantry, Kinney was killed when a roadside bomb exploded west of Baghdad.

_ Army Spc. Todd M. Bates, 20, of Bellaire. He was on a river patrol on the Tigris River south of Baghdad when his squad leader fell overboard. Bates dived into the water and did not surface. Bates' body later was recovered and his status changed to deceased. He was assigned to the 135th Military Police Company, Army National Guard in Brook Park.

_ Army Pfc. Kenneth C. Souslin, 21, of Mansfield. He died of non-combat related injuries at Baghdad International Airport. He was assigned to the 440th Signal Company, 22nd Signal Brigade, V Corps, Darmstadt, Germany.

_ Army National Guardsman Staff Sgt. Aaron Reese, 31, of Reynoldsburg. He died after falling from a patrol boat into the Tigris River. He was the first Ohio Guardsman to die in Iraq.

_ Army Sgt. Steven D. Conover, 21, of Wilmington. He was among 16 Americans killed in a missile attack on a helicopter near Fallujah, Iraq, as it carried troops bound for two weeks' leave.

_ Army Spc. James E. Powell II, 26, of Columbus. He was killed when his Bradley armored vehicle struck a land mine near Beiji, 30 miles north of Tikrit, Saddam Hussein's hometown.

_ James C. Wright, 27, of Delhi Township in suburban Cincinnati, with the Fourth Infantry. He was killed in an ambush near Tikrit when his vehicle was hit with rocket-propelled grenades.

_ Army Spc. Brett T. Christian of North Royalton, with the 101st Airborne Division. He was killed in Mosul when his convoy came under attack by rocket propelled grenades.

_ Army Pfc. Kevin C. Ott, 27, of Orient, with the 18th Field Artillery Regiment. The bodies of Ott and another soldier were found 20 miles northwest of Baghdad three days after they failed to respond to a radio check.

_ Army Pfc. Gavin L. Neighbor, 20, of Somerset, with the 82nd Airborne Division. He was off work from guard duty in Baghdad and had been resting on a bus when a rocket propelled grenade round was fired from a nearby house.

_ Army Pfc. Branden F. Oberleitner, 20, of Worthington, with the 101st Airborne Division. He was killed in Fallujah, Iraq, after his unit was fired upon by a rifle-propelled grenade.

_ Army Lt. Col. Dominic R. Baragona, 42, of Niles, with 19th Maintenance Battalion. He was killed in a multi-vehicle traffic accident near Safwan, Iraq.

_ Army Chief Warrant Officer Brian K. Van Dusen, of Columbus, with the 571st Air Medical Company. During the rescue of a wounded Iraqi child, his Black Hawk medical helicopter snagged a power wire during takeoff and flipped over into the Tigris River. The child was in another helicopter.

_ Army Pfc. Marlin Rockhold, 23, of Hamilton, with the 3rd Infantry Division. He was shot by a sniper while directing traffic at a bridge in Baghdad.

_ Marine Pfc. Christian Daniel Gurtner, 19, of Ohio City, with the 3rd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion. He was killed when his gun accidentally went off.

_ Army Pvt. Brandon Sloan, 19, of Bedford Heights, with the 507th Maintenance Company. He was killed after Iraqi forces ambushed a supply convoy near Nasiriyah. Originally listed as missing until eight bodies were found in the rescue of an American POW.

_ Army Master Sgt. Robert J. Dowdy, 38, of Cleveland, with the 507th Maintenance Company. He was killed in the same ambush as Sloan.

 

"It's a whole new ballgame"

From AMERICAblog:
"No district is safe"
by Joe in DC - 8/03/2005 10:48:00 AM

That's the message to the Republicans after Paul Hackett's surprisingly strong finish in Ohio last night. The messenger is DCCC Chair Rahm Emanuel according to NBC's First Read:
Democratic House campaign committee chair Rahm Emanuel tells First Read that although the Iraq combat veteran was uniquely qualified to talk about the war, his message was primarily about the economy and education. Clearly, though, "the war is not what it was six months ago, or 12 months ago" in terms of being an automatic advantage for Republicans, Emanuel says. Based on Hackett's tally in a district that gave Bush 64% in 2004, he declares, "no district is safe."
That's what we want to hear. It's a whole new ballgame.

 

Paul Hackett - Ohio Democrat of the Year

Back on July 11 we had a post saying that Paul Hackett is THE perfect candidate. The only question we had back then was how good his campaign would be.

The impressive showing that Hackett & Co. put on answers that question. A unique combination of contrarian vision, ballsy gusto, internet savvy and trust in the public was apparent. Further, the ability of the campaign to scale up its operations as more and more people got involved in the very end would have crashed most other campaigns. Sure, there were some problems, but the fact is that the Hackett campaign defied the legion of doubters in both parties.

4,000 votes - that's a goddam miracle. Denny White and the staff of the Ohio Democratic Party should kiss Hackett's feet. That campaign is a wakeup call to those that are still stumbling around in a funk leftover from last November. White better wake up, grow some balls and start acting like he understands Ohioans want are sick of the corruption and want a viable alternative. He if can't articulate that vision, if he can't deliver (and there is not one shred of evidence that he can), then he should should get his pathetic self out of the way.

And make no mistake - the battle for OH-2 ain't over by a long shot. Denny - even the Enquirer gets it. Do you?
Yet this victory offers little respite for the new congresswoman. Tuesday's win only allows her to finish Portman's term. She will have to defend the seat in 2006. And given the Democrats' strong showing Tuesday, she should expect a formidable challenge to begin immediately.
[UPDATE:] Tim Tagaris at the Swing State Project has more on this theme here:
The Republican Party is on notice. For that matter, the Democratic Party establishment is on notice; get with the program or we will leave you behind. We have a country to take back.

 

Dispatch leaves a few things out of Hackett story

Same by-line, same story but different spin after Dispatch editors hack up what the Guardian ran with.

First, the Dispatch's version:
CINCINNATI — A former Ohio lawmaker maintained a GOP lock on a conservative House district yesterday, narrowly defeating an Iraq war veteran who mounted the strongest showing by a Democrat in decades.

With 100 percent of precincts reporting unofficial returns in the special election, Republican Jean Schmidt had 57,974 votes, or 52 percent, to 54,401 votes, or 48 percent, for Marine reservist Paul Hackett in the sevencounty southern Ohio district.

Schmidt is the first woman elected from the 2nd District, succeeding Republican Rob Portman, who served 12 years before becoming President Bush’s U.S. trade representative.

"We began this race way back in late march, and no one had thought we’d be the focus of the national media or be the so-called first test of the Republican Party and the Bush mandate. Well, ladies and gentleman, we passed that test," Schmidt said.
Now, the Guardian's version (Dispatch's deleted portions in bold):
CINCINNATI (AP) - A Republican former state lawmaker has claimed a seat in Congress by narrowly defeating an Iraq war veteran who drew national attention to the race with his military service and a series of harsh attacks on President Bush.

But Democrats said they, too, had reason to celebrate - pointing to the close race as a sign of promise heading into next year's midterm elections.

With all precincts reporting, Jean Schmidt had 52 percent, or 57,974 votes, compared with Democrat Paul Hackett's 48 percent, or 54,401 votes. Schmidt's margin of victory amounted to about 3,500 votes out of more than 112,000 cast.

Democrats had viewed the race as a bellwether for 2006, saying even a strong showing by Hackett in such a heavily GOP district would give them a lift.

"There's no safe Republican district. You can run, but you cannot hide,'' said Rep. Rahm Emmanuel of Illinois, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

[. . .]

"We began this race way back in late March, and no one had thought we'd be the focus of the national media or be the so-called first test of the Republican Party and the Bush mandate. Well, ladies and gentleman, we passed that test,'' Schmidt said.

Hackett, 43, a lawyer and Marine reservist who recently completed a seven-month tour, was vying to become the first combat veteran of the Iraq war to serve in Congress.

"This was a success. We should all be proud,'' Hackett told cheering supporters. "The voters of the 2nd District won because we gave them a choice.''

He drew attention to the race with his flame-throwing assaults on Bush, namely for the president's July 2003 "bring 'em on'' comment about Iraqi insurgents. Hackett called it the "most incredibly stupid comment'' he ever heard a president make, saying it "cheered on the enemy.''
We checked the print version of the Dispatch. The story leads off the second "Local" section, so they had plenty of room to run the whole thing. Some evening editor should be getting called into Ben Marrison's office to explain this.

 

And now a view from the other side

Michael Meckler, a favorite of the Dispatch op-ed page, runs the Red-State.com blog that covers GOP news about Ohio. We usually don't read him much because he is factually wrong about as often as he is right.

But we had to check out his analysis about yesterday's vote since he had offered a detailed analysis of why he predicted a landslide for Schmidt. He is eating crow today:
Well, I made a right mess of trying to predict the outcome of yesterday's special election in the 2nd Congressional District. Yes, Jean Schmidt won, but the organizational effort of Paul Hackett was impressive. Schmidt's victory, by 4,000 votes, was ensured by a strong showing in her home base of Clermont County, but most of the other details from the election results defied conventional wisdom.

Turnout was much higher than expected, at nearly 115,000 votes or more than 25 percent. This was nearly twice what I had anticipated. And those additional voters were predominantly Democrats and former John Kerry supporters, many of whom skipped the primary. They were clearly energized by Paul Hackett's campaign and by the perception that the race was winnable.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

 

Unofficial OH-2 results

Clermont Co. BOE just posted their results for 100% precints:
Early Voting Election Day Provisional Total Percentage
JEAN SCHMIDT 1158 16162 0 17320 58.09%
PAUL HACKETT 750 11689 0 12439 41.72%
Write In Votes 3 56 0 59 0.20%
Total Votes Cast 1911 27907 0 29818 100.00%

According to our math (subject to some error cause we are tired from the campaigning) that would make the final results

Schmidt 59095 (51.8%)
Hackett 55,091 (48.2%)

Again, remember the words of Charlie Cook:
"If Schmidt's victory margin is in double digits, this tells us that there is not much of an anti-GOP wind in Ohio right now.

 

Back from the field . . . Hackett results 10:45 PM

[ UPDATED 10:45]
Damn - what a nail biter, but it's already a defeat to the GOP:

WTF? no updates at WCPO-TV, Bd. of Election orthe Enquirer since 9:59 PM

With 662 precincts of 753 reporting
JEAN SCHMIDT 49,681 50%
PAUL HACKETT 48,811 50%

Adding to the mystery is that all of the counties have reported except for Clermont County where 91 precincts are still unreported.

The sounds of "recount" are starting to echo thru the verdant hills of Southern Ohio.

Just remember these words from the veteran observer Charlie Cook:
"If Schmidt's victory margin is in double digits, this tells us that there is not much of an anti-GOP wind in Ohio right now.

"If the margin is say six to nine points for Schmidt, then there is a wind, but certainly no hurricane.

"A Schmidt win of less than five points should be a very serious warning sign for Ohio Republicans that something is very, very wrong, while a Hackett victory would be a devastating blow to the Ohio GOP."

 

Kevin DeWine backs off RON challenge

Apparently rational thinking won out over bluster: Slime-o-the-day winner Kevin DeWine has dropped his efforts to introduce a counter constitional amendment that would have delayed the Reform Ohio Now redistricting amendment until 2011. From the Dispatch:
After preparing to rush a lastminute constitutional amendment through the legislature to delay the potential nonpartisan redrawing of legislative districts, House GOP leaders pulled the idea yesterday.

[. . .]

The proposal by House Republicans to delay redistricting until 2011 would need a threefifths vote in each chamber to reach the ballot. But about seven hours before a scheduled committee vote last night, House Speaker Jon A. Husted canceled the meeting.

Rep. Kevin DeWine, a Fairborn Republican and sponsor of the amendment, said after pondering the issue during the weekend and talking to attorneys, House GOP leaders decided it could wait a year.

"Doing it next year, we can actually fix many of the other problems that are becoming more and more obvious as we spend time getting through what they’re proposing," he said.

DeWine said leaders never counted heads to determine if the issue had the 60 votes needed to pass the House, where Republicans hold 60 seats.

Never counted heads? Bullshit. RON backers called DeWine's bluff and guess who blinked first? He knew he never had the votes.

Monday, August 01, 2005

 

28 Fences

Fence: fens. Noun - a person who deals in stolen goods.

State Senator Marc Dann has compiled a list of 28 fences still working with Tom Noe who refuse to give back the money stolen from BWC. They are:

 

More on LaTourette, CAFTA and arm twisting

A couple of days ago we had a post on Steve LaTourette, his sudden conversion to a CAFTA supporter and the decisive vote he cast for the trade agreement.

The Dispatch reported this version of his conversion:
LaTourette said he decided to vote for the trade accord, despite doubts about its effects on union workers and small manufacturers, after receiving a phone call from the head of a cabinet-making company in his northeastern Ohio district.
But, prompted by comments from a reader, we have been wondering what really went on here.

Doing some more checking, we came across a story in the Washington Times that is a little more believable, and sheds some light on the "cabinet-making company" (not that the company, itself, was big mystery):
The late holdouts acknowledged intense pressure from the White House and Republican leaders, but did not point to any particular payoffs.

"You feel a certain amount of pressure when the president calls you and asks you to give him a hand. But nobody threatened my highway projects, nobody gave me a bridge," said Rep. Steven C. LaTourette, Ohio Republican and one of the last members to vote for CAFTA.

Mr. LaTourette, who talked to the president Wednesday night, said he was ultimately swayed by a call from Ohio manufacturer KraftMaid Cabinetry in favor of CAFTA, and the sense that Democrats were more interested in beating Mr. Bush than debating free trade.
Now, one might think that LaTourette was in some way doing his job and just looking out for a small Ohio-based business. Indeed, KraftMaid is located in Middlefield, "in the heart of Amish country" as the company likes to remind everyone and maybe they do have some Amish employees.

But KraftMaid is not just some cutesy small manufacturer. The company brags that "is one of the world’s largest cabinetry manufacturers and the leading producer of built-to-order cabinetry for the home. Indeed, it recently opened a $106 million facility in Utah and completed a $25 million expansion to its Ohio facilities.

More importantly, KraftMaid is part of the Masco conglomerate. Masco says it is
one of the world’s largest manufacturers of brand-name consumer products for the home and family. Masco is also a leading provider of services that include the sale and installation of insulation and other building products such as cabinetry, fireplaces, gutters, bath accessories, garage doors, shelving and windows.
According to it's website, it employs about 62,000. Its has annual sales of over $12 billion and a market cap of $15 billion.

So why is Masco so gungho about CAFTA? We're not entirely sure, but comments the company makes in its SEC 10-K annual report suggest that Masco and KraftMaid are in a very competitive industry. At the same time, it's European sales are off.

It doesn't take too much imagination to realize that Masco/KraftMaid probably needs to eliminate tariffs to make raw materials (like the plywood for the cabinets) and manufactured goods (like hardware) cheaper, and they need to be able to export their cabinets to Central America to expand their markets.

Further, Masco has a number of international manufacturing facilities. As our commentator noted, CAFTA may allow KraftMaid to expand, but it probably won't be in the U.S.

And it seems that Masco has the clout to get the White House to do some arm twisting. Although the company makes some small donations to local Michigan (where the company's HQ is located) Dems like Carl Levin, Masco employees have given about $170,000 to various Republican committees and candidates. Most startling was a $100,000 given to the RNC/Repub National State Elections Committee by Masco chairman and CEO Richard Manoogian. Manoogian is also a member of the JP Morgan Chase and Ford Motor Co. boards of directors.

Forget that Amish country stuff - when guys like Manoogian start whining, the White House will gladly act the thug.

 

The horror and the hero

No death of a soldier should go unnotice or unread. Each has a family in agony and each has a unique history of how they ended up in places like Iraq or Afghanistan. But sometimes we detect some not-so-subtle differences in how these stories are reported on.

The Columbus Dispatch has opposed the war in Iraq from early on, so it's odd (war weariness?) that it was the Plain Dealer writers and editors who understood the real peg to this story:
A Columbus area soldier who died Friday in Iraq had told relatives that he feared he would not make it home alive and was questioning the purpose of the U.S. military presence.

Army Pfc. Robert Swaney, 21, was killed Friday after the Humvee in which he was riding was struck by a roadside bomb, said his aunt, Angie Denes, of West Jefferson.

Swaney left for Iraq in March, "positive and upbeat," but recent phone calls, letters and e- mails to his aunt conveyed a much more critical view of the U.S. mission.

"He was questioning why we were there because he had just lost two guys in his unit a couple of weeks before, and the Iraqi people were clapping, cheering and dancing, and it hurt him," Denes said. "He felt like the mission we went over to do - we were starting to lose it."

She also said he was distraught after his first confirmed kill of an Iraqi insurgent.

"He knew it had to be done," she said. "But it just didn't sit well with him."

Swaney was born in Madison County and graduated in 2003 from Marion Franklin High School in Columbus, where he played football.

Shortly after graduation, he moved in with Denes and her family.

"We thought of him as a son. He was just like one of the kids," she said. "He was such a beautiful soul and spirit."

He hoped to be a nurse after he got out of the service.

Denes said that last October, Swaney married a woman he had met at his grandfather's funeral.

Swaney's father, Michael Swaney, who lives in North Carolina, said he and his son were not close when Robert was growing up because of divorce and distance. But they revived their relationship four years ago.

He said his son was scheduled to come home on leave next month.

"Well, you feel a little cheated - that there was so much more," Michael Swaney said. "But I'm really proud of him, though, he's a hero."
We keep think of the words of Dennis Hopper's character (who paraphrased T.S. Eliot) in Apocalyse Now:
"This is the way the f***ing world ends. Look at this f***in' shit we're in, man. Not with a bang, but with a whimper, and with a whimper, I'm f***ing splitting, Jack."

Sunday, July 31, 2005

 

Slime-o-the-day: Fritz Wenzel

Via Atrios, the ex-Blade political writer was apparently advising Jean Schmidt's campaign while still working at the paper.

Editor & Publisher runs with the story in it's Monday online edition, but the leg work seems to have been done by the Toledo City Paper, and the Lucas County Dems who have had a web page dedicated to Wenzel's dubious reporting for some time.

Wenzel, himself, has had a smarmy blog that is fun to dig thru (play with the url). To give you a sense of what kind of weasel he was, check out this wheedling:
Also not fading is former GOP chairman Bernadette Noe. She was honored last night for her service to the party, then held up a copy of yesterday's Toledo Free Press, reminding those present to check out her new column (Great picture, Bernie!). But that's not all. A new television talk show and radio program are in the works. Talk about multi-tasking.
Hopefully Bernie's multi-tasking in the future will consist of doing laundry and license plates.

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