Saturday, September 30, 2006


Who is lying now?

Pollyanna's campaign flubs it.
Pryce spokesman: "[Kilroy's t]aking credit for that (ranking) is baseless. She’s lying."

Dispatch reporter: "A 2002 report ranking counties included data from Commissioner Mary Jo Kilroy’s first year, study leaders confirmed."
My, where does she learn that stuff?


Embarassing failures

We intend to spend most of the day trying to get our game face on by sucking down martinis and depriving our bodies of oxygen in our homemade Gonzalez Gazebo™ (look for the g-man 10 deep and across the middle tonight).

However, for those of you interested in preserving you brain cells and/or spleens, we recommend a column from earlier this week by WaPo business writer Steven Pearlstein who comments on two reports that show the drop in competitiveness in the U.S. and the ascension of such noted "socialist" countries as Denmark, Finland and Sweden.:
These reports speak to the embarrassing failure of a decade of Republican rule in improving U.S. competitiveness. Business taxes, as a percentage of anything you want to measure, are at their lowest level in decades. The Bush White House has subjected new regulations to rigorous cost-benefit analysis. Several reforms make it less attractive for shareholders, workers and consumers to file frivolous lawsuits, but not necessarily for businesses. And in case you hadn't noticed, businesses have already made tremendous strides in shifting health-care and pension costs to workers.

In fact, an alternative reading of the new reports suggests that the business community needs to do some serious thinking about competitiveness and economic policy.

. . .

Let's take the legal system, a negative in both reports. It ought to be obvious to anyone who has followed the asbestos debacle or the medical malpractice issue that litigation has become an inefficient way to police the behavior of companies, executives and service professionals. But the only realistic alternative is regulation by government, which the business community opposes. You can't have it both ways.

. . .

This isn't an economic argument so much as a political one. A totalitarian state such as China may be able to duck these kinds of trade-offs, and there is no doubt Chinese exporters are more competitive as a result. But that is not realistic for an advanced democracy whose citizens prefer to use some wealth, or forgo some economic efficiency, in exchange for safer products and workplaces and more responsive corporate governance.

. . .

Indeed, a reasonable inference from the World Economic Forum rankings is that the best way to compete is to adopt the Nordic model of high taxes, a generous social safety net and lightly regulated labor markets. Scandinavian government spending accounts for more than half the economy, as opposed to a third in the United States. But the reason the Nordic countries score higher in the WEF study is that their governments run surpluses instead of deficits, cave in to special interests less often, operate efficiently and spend their money wisely.

. . .

The business community's fantasy is that the United States would soar to the top of the rankings if only we had Ireland's tax regime, China's environmental controls, Singapore's legal system and Chile's social-safety net. Each policy is part of a complex social and economic model that includes features that Americans, and American business, would find unacceptable. These are package deals, not individual offerings at a dim sum lunch.

This is a crucial moment for the business lobby. Its close allies in the Republican Party may soon lose their exclusive grip on Washington's policy levers. Business leaders can stick with a reflexive anti-government, anti-tax, anti-regulation agenda that has hit a brick wall lately. Or they can move toward the bipartisan center, where they might actually strike a deal or two that could make their companies, and the country, more competitive.
Read the whole thing.


Dork kudos

Chris Greidner deserves credit for having the mental strength to wade thru all of The Fix's crapola and document even more of WaPo's Team Deliverence's billous blunders.

He also solves the mystery of why the Ramble postings were taken down for much of the day yesterday.

Friday, September 29, 2006


Sour Note

Journamalism, The Note [sorry - douchebag coma] The Fix style:
If voters' snappishness is unmistakable, its impact remains far from clear. Take Laurie Pitcock. She lives in Ney's district and said she is dismayed by Republican inaction on environmental issues and other matters. Even so, she said, "I am still proud to be a Republican."

Her reaction was a commonplace one in these nine districts - people expressed disgust with the Republican leadership in Washington but not necessarily toward the Republicans representing them.
Where did Cillizza go to get this "commonplace reaction"? Well unless you have a good memory for names and read his piece from earlier in the week, you wouldn't know that he found Pitcock at Laura Bush's fundraiser for Joy Padgett:
While waiting for the First Lady to arrive, we talked to a number of folks who had paid between $100 and $1,000 to attend the event. We wanted to find out whether the scandals surrounding Ney and Ohio Gov. Bob Taft (R), who will leave office at the end of his current term, will have any impact on their vote.

. . .

Laurie Pitcock, anoither Granville resident, said the constant barrage of negative news about politicians and the increasing levels of partisanship have left her increasingly disillusioned about the two parties. "I'd love to get beyond party lines and get things done," said Pitcock. She added that on some issues - like the environment - she aligns with Democrats, but on the issues most crucial to her the Republican party still better represents her view.

She was not alone. Several other attendees said that no matter how unhappy they might be with Ney, Taft or Republicans in general the alternative is not palatable.
So, somehow, Cillizza on "Day 9" of his big bad trip into wilderness runs across the same person as on "Day 7"? And, he fails to 1) find a someone (the majority of voters in OH-18) who are not thrilled about Padgett or the GOP, and 2) fails to disclose that the person he features in a recycled interview is a partisan donor?

Come to think of it, how idiotic is it of Cillizza (or the editors that approved it) to be asking attendees at a Padgett fundraiser if Ney-gate is going to change their vote?

We hear that the message went something like this:
T- on my nth cup of B Evns jo and JVH has had us going around in 000s 4 hrs to find way out of f'ng mall btwn whlng and StSh*tsvl Tnks for tip re LB holding cheek-stuffer 4 Padgett. BLR frm ScSrv 2 b ther + has r tkts 4 skns Sic f ths plc srry 4 2-fer stry bt wll txt by 1800-CC
Whadda tool.


Thieves and honest journalism

The Enquirer's editors are wrong. Very wrong, with a severe case of head-up-their-candidate's-assitis. And the folks at the OH-02 blog are correct for hammering the Enquirer on this.

By comparison, we have been reminded by a reader that the editors of the Dispatch decided to take the high road on PR high-jinxs. This from Ben Marrison in 2003 and this policy has not crippled the paper:
For the second time in a month, we have discovered that a guest writer plagiarized part of an opinion piece published in The Dispatch.

. . .

Finally, after meeting with Glenn Sheller, our editorial page editor, the president of the Buckeye Institute, Samuel R. Staley, admitted that the research and text were prepared by a public-relations firm in Alexandria, Va., and sent to people who would use the information in such columns.

. . .

I share this with you not to air dirty laundry but to demonstrate our commitment to honest journalism and to emphasize how sacred we hold the public's trust.

Some apparently do not realize that when we allow a guest columnist on our Forum page, we are trusting that the writing belongs to the person whose name appears atop the column. The reader, unless told otherwise, believes that the words and thoughts are those of the author.

. . .

We hope to prevent this from happening again. We will send reminders to those who write for us that their submissions must be their own work, unless they provide credit to the originating source.

Because we cannot cross-reference every submission, we likely won't know when someone misrepresents his or her work.

But in this Internet age, breaches of trust almost certainly will be exposed. And when they come to our attention, we'll expose them.

We hope the word thieves will get the message.
Honesty. Plagiarism. Fraud. Theft. Strong, but accurate words. We have our disagreements with the Dispatch at times, but they deserve credit for understanding the need to take steps to preserve the semblence of integrity and to avoid being led around by the nose by the GOP. Such is the difference between desiring to be professional and resigning yourself to hackerdom.


GOP: No edge on terrorism among Ohioans

The third-part of Univ. of Cincinnati's Ohio Poll:
When asked which party will do a better job protecting the country from future terrorist attacks, likely voters in Ohio are divided: 42 percent say the Republican Party, 42 percent say the Democratic Party and an additional 11 percent say the parties will handle protecting the country equally.
These results pretty much reflect the recent Rasmussen Poll. The point is that candidates should remain on the attack. Despite having the bully-pulpit, the GOP has no ideas and apparently no ability to convince a majority that they should be given another chance.

Thursday, September 28, 2006


Ohioans unhappy on Iraq

The lastest in this weeks string of U.C.'s Ohio Polls shows Ohio independents are oppose Administration:
“Do you think the U.S. made the right decision or the wrong decision in using military force against Iraq?”
Right decision 47%
Wrong decision 50%

Right Wrong
Democrat 19% 79%
Independent 38% 55%
Republican 73% 24%

“And, how well would you say the U.S. military effort in Iraq is going… very well, fairly well, not too well or not at all well?”

Very well 11%
Fairly well 37%
Not too well 26%
Not at all well 24%

Democrat 5% 20% 33% 40%
Independent 6% 37% 20% 28%
Republican 18% 52% 20% 9%

“Regardless of what you think about the original decision to use military force in Iraq, do you now believe that the United States will definitely succeed, probably succeed, probably fail, or definitely fail in establishing a stable democratic government in Iraq?”

Definitely succeed 13%
Probably succeed 41%
Probably fail 32%
Definitely fail 13%

Def. Prob. Prob. Def.
Succeed Succeed Fail Fail
Democrat 5% 26% 45% 22%
Independent 6% 37% 45% 11%
Republican 20% 55% 18% 4%

“Do you think the United States should keep military troops in Iraq until the situation has stabilized, or do you think the United States should bring its troops home as soon as possible?”

Until the situation has stabilized 61%
Bring troops home as soon as possible 38%

Until Bring Home
Stabilized ASAP
Democrat 39% 59%
Independent 71% 22%
Republican 80% 20%

“Do you think the United States . . . should set a timetable for when troops will be withdrawn from Iraq or should not set a timetable for when troops will be withdrawn from Iraq?”

Should set a timetable 50%
Should not set a timetable 49%

Should Not
Democrat 69% 31%
Independent 53% 44%
Republican 32% 68%


The little engine that can't

Joe Tellup of Oxford, a carpenter who assists in the party's Ohio turnout campaign, said it's tough finding other volunteers to call or knock on doors on behalf of the Republican Party. "Regrettably, we're getting a lot of undecideds and 'Nos,' '' Tellup said.

Republicans' sagging morale puts even more pressure on Owens, because off-year elections often produce lower turnout. "Some of our people have done things that have our people down and discouraged,'' Owens said of the scandals. "I keep telling the state party, 'This isn't the same train that was running two years ago.' ''

. . .

George Lang is a trustee of the Butler County township of West Chester, where no Democrats hold office. He says dismay over the Iraq war is likely to depress turnout. "Republicans are going to take some hits, state-wide and nationwide,'' Lang said. "This war in Iraq? Core Republicans are not where the president is. More and more are of the opinion that we should get out.''

. . .

"It's just a different atmosphere,'' [Butler Co. GOP Exec. Dir. Scott Owens] said in an interview. "The enthusiasm isn't there. In 2004, we had 950 volunteers'' to help spur voter turnout. "They just believed in George W. Bush. This year, we have maybe 150, tops. I'll ask people if they can make phone calls or go door-to-door and they'll say, 'Um, let me check my schedule.' ''

Perhaps, however, the real kicker is the admission about the state of the OH-1 campaign:
Mehlman, now chairman of the Republican National Committee, is counting on Owens's organization to save Republican Senator Mike DeWine and House incumbent Steve Chabot, both of whom trail in their re-election bid.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006


Wages still lag health care increases

Several bloggers and news organizations have already written about this, but in most cases we think they missed the long term point. We have some responsibility with developing health care policy, so you'll have to take our word that this is the kind of data that keeps planners, actuaries, and union leaders awake at night.

health care wage inflation comparison Kaiser Family Foundation

This is "good" news in the sense that a deckhand might have tried to cheer the rest of the Titanic's crew by proclaiming that the leak has slowed.

The bottom line is this: Each year that health care inflation is greater than wage inflation, the likelihood of a major collapse of the health care system increases, i.e., a major pension plan goes belly up. The last time wage increases beat out health care was during a sustained period in the Clinton administration.

There is also credible research that suggests that sectors of the health care industry appear to be very pre-emptive, that is they successfully anticipate shifts in political climate and effectively have that power to "restrain" themselves rather than submit to regulation. Perhaps that is what is going on now, but even a 1% or 2% differential between health and wage inflation will continue the death spiral.

Update: Sorry, we forgot to provide a link to the report and give credit to the good folks at the Kaiser Family Foundation.


Holey moley

We have a family member who is a former county GOP honcho and donor. Now in her 80s, she signs up for one of those Part D prescription plans her party told her would be so hunky-dory. A week ago she goes to Walgreens to pick up her prescriptions and falls into the donut-hole. The pharmacist hands her a bill for just under $600. Not a good idea to do to someone with a weak heart – and a big mouth.

Seems she is now organizing her champaign-haired friends to vote for her local Dems slate.

And this is happening across the country.


OH-15: Single biggest victory for Dems?

If Kilroy, a Franklin County Commissioner, wins this race, it would be the biggest individual victory for the House Democrats on election night, because Pryce, as the chairman of the House Republicans, is the No. 4 member of the leadership team. The Democrats see this district in Central Ohio as an opportunity to make a huge splash, as and Americans United for Change, which opposes Bush's plan to revamp Social Security with private accounts, have been among the groups attacking Pryce in ads.

. . .

And over the last few months, she's tried to reassure voters of her centrist views, by voting for and bragging about her support of embryonic stem cell research and raising the minimum wage, which most of the House Republican leadership opposed. Of course, on almost all the big issues, starting with the Iraq War, Pryce has supported Bush, and that's what Kilroy is hoping can sink the seven-term incumbent.
On OH-1:
This is also a much more difficult year for Republicans, and Cranley has had six more years to establish himself as a city councilman in Cincinnati.

So Chabot, like other Republicans in tight races, is changing the subject from Iraq.
On OH-18:
The challenge for her will be to not allow Space to define [Padgett] as being close to the Bobs. Space, a lawyer, will be trying hard, as ad an he started running last week calls Padgett "Bob Taft and Bob Ney's handpicked candidate."
Voters aren't happy about the economy, Iraq or President Bush here either. Even Neil Clark, a veteran G.O.P. lobbyist and former top Republican state senate official, says "The state is poised to have a very bad day for Republicans."


Education, jobs, Iraq, and character driving voters - Ohio Poll

The folks behind the Univ. of Cincinnati's Ohio Poll are taking a little bit of a different tack this year and are supplementing their candidate surveys with polling on what's causing likely voters to line up behind certain candidates.

The poll results released today seem to confirm what other polls have shown - but in a different sort of way. For example, most pollsters have lumped the topic of "corruption" with other issues like jobs/economy, health care, war on terror, Iraq, etc.

Instead, the Ohio Pollsters treated "character" as a separate topic, presented to responders as one of four options (character, issues, political party and experience) as possible responses to the question, "What will make the single biggest difference in how you vote for" govenor or senator?

"Character" seems to us to be one of those words that is awfully maleable. We'd love to know more what the U.C.'s thoughts were on this. Values? Corruption? Good dresser?

The bottom line is that the U.C.'s methodology drives them to the somewhat bizarre conclusion that "no single issue dominates the political landscape this year." We don't believe that even these pollsters buy that education, jobs or the war won't be decisive factors.

Regardless here are some of the results:
“What will make the biggest difference in how you vote for governor?”
(Likely Voters Overall)

Issues (Total) 63%
Education 14%
Economy/jobs (including minimum wage) 13%
Taxes 12%
Need for “Change” 2%
Health (including Medicare/Medicaid) 2%
War in Iraq 2%
Other issue** 11 %

Candidate character 18%
Candidate political party 10%
Candidate experience 6%
Don’t know 2%

“What will make the biggest difference in how you vote for U.S. Senator?”
(Likely Voters Overall)

Issues (Total) 53%
Economy/jobs (including minimum wage) 10%
War in Iraq 9%
War on terrorism/homeland security 4%
Taxes 4%
Education 3%
Health (including Medicare) 2%
Immigration 2%
Other issue** 13%

Candidate character 15%
Candidate experience 14%
Candidate political party 14%
Don’t know 4%

Update: And just as we posted this, we caught the new CNN poll:
Terrorism and the Iraq war will play very important roles in the votes of a large majority of Americans when they go to the polls for the November midterm election, a new CNN poll shows.

On terrorism, 49 percent of the 1,009 respondents to the survey conducted by Opinion Research Corp. said it would be extremely important in deciding their congressional choices in November. Thirty-three percent said terrorism was very important, and 14 percent said it was moderately important.

On Iraq, the numbers were statistically identical to the terrorism results, with 46 percent saying the issue was extremely important, 36 percent very important and 14 percent moderately important.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006


Play it again, Sammy




Rasmussen (sub. req'd):
The battle for control of the U.S. Senate remains very close. Rasmussen Reports now rates 49 seats as Republican or Leans Republican while 48 seats are rated as Democrat or Leans Democrat. There are now just three states in the Toss-Up category – Tennessee, New Jersey, and Missouri.

Sunday, September 24, 2006


$35,000 $75,000

It turns out that Ney’s good fortune may not have been pure chance. According to Ney’s guilty plea in federal court last week, the congressman got a helping hand at the casino tables from a foreign businessman who gave him thousands of dollars in free gambling chips.

. . .

According to the Justice Department, Ney and his aides went gambling with “the foreign businessman,” who took them to the Les Ambassadeurs, a swank, members-only casino located in London's West End. Prosecutors say this businessman purchased Ney a membership and provided him and his two aides with thousands of dollars in casino chips. It was during this trip that Ney claimed to have won $34,000 on two hands of cards. The plea agreement, however, makes no mention of a winning spree, saying that Ney by the end of the night had "received" roughly £47,000 (about $75,000).


Best line of the day (so far)

If Blackwell were correct, Ohio should be in clover, not crabgrass.


Ben gets pissed

We need leadership in the governor’s office that will pressure legislative leaders to concentrate on what is truly important and stop spending precious time pandering to special interests or taking actions that press voters’ buttons.

Like cutting taxes. It’s hard to imagine that cutting taxes again will lead us to prosperity. The Republican-controlled legislature has done that five times in the past decade, yet Ohio has lagged the nation in job growth for 126 months in a row.

. . .

We need to get our priorities straight and stop setting political land mines that can be used in future elections.


Dispatch: Strickland, Brown, Sykes, Cordray, Brunner lead

Short version of this: Sweepsville and Apportionment Board! Only GOP leader is Betty.
Strickland +19
Brown +5
Brunner +8
Sykes +12
Cordray +11
Dann -8
Voter Joyce Detunno explained it this way:
"I’m sick of the Republican Party. What a bunch of crooks," remarked the 65-year-old North Sider, who said she has voted mostly for GOP candidates in recent elections. "When the Democrats were in power it was bad, but nothing like the Republicans have done. …

"(Gov. Bob) Taft’s been caught. I don’t know why the people didn’t force him to step down. Now we’ve got (U.S. Rep. Bob) Ney. They should send him to prison and take away his retirement. We’re putting these people in office … and they’re doing everything except what the people want them to do."

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