Thursday, December 31, 2009

Will Congressman John Boccieri Back Insurance Companies Over People?

In 2006 Congressman John Boccieri, then a State Senator, came to Medina County to ask local Democrats for their support. He assured several of them that he supported health care reform. Based in part on those assurances, many of Medina County's Democrats took the time to canvass for him, to campaign with him, and to sponsor house parties for him. Many others gave him campaign contributions. This effort paid off with Congressman Boccieri not only winning the 16TH Congressional District, but also winning Medina County.

Many of these same Democrats were deeply disappointed when he voted against the House's version of health care. Not only did he vote against the House's health care bill, but he voted for the Stupak amendment which imposed restrictions on the use of subsidies contained in the bill to purchase health insurance policies which provided abortion services. (His vote against the health care reform bill, but for the Stupak amendment was actually more conservative than the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. The Conference backed the health care reform bill once the Stupak amendment was included.)

Recently Congressman John Boccieri met with a group of local Medina County Democrats to discuss his health care vote. His explanation of why he had voted against the health care was interesting.

Initially, when people called his office right after the vote to complain about his vote, his staff told them that Congressman Boccieri was concerned about the cost of the health care bill. When he met with the Medina County Democrats, his explanation was different.

During the meeting, he didn't mention cost, but talked about how the House bill would affect a particular company in Stark County. He claimed that the House bill could cost 600 jobs in Stark County, although he didn't really explain how that would happen. He also regurgitated a favorite GOP talking point about how the mandates in the bill could lead to people being fined without seeming to understand that the bill has to contain mandates to get enough uninsured Americans to buy insurance to make sure that premiums stay relatively low.

When asked what the bill would have to contain to get his support when it came out of a House-Senate conference committee for a final vote, he wouldn't answer. When asked why Medina County Democrats should continue to trust him, he didn't have an answer. He repeatedly told us how he was sacrificing time with his family to meet with us on a Sunday afternoon, even though he had chosen the date and the time. In short, he was defensive, evasive, and condescending.

Here's a news flash for Congressman Boccieri: you can side with the insurance companies on this bill, or you can side with the people, but you can't do both. You can either vote to stop insurance companies from denying people with pre-existing conditions health insurance or you can vote to allow them to continue such discrimination. You can either vote for a bill that removes caps from medical insurance coverage, or you can vote to continue to allow caps and the accompanying medical bankruptcies. You can either vote to help expand health insurance coverage to 31 million more Americans, or you can vote for the status quo. What you can't do is vote for the status quo and then tell us that we should continue to support you anyway. It's time for Congressman Boccieri to choose between people or insurance companies.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Medical Insurance Competition in Ohio

Health Care for America Now, (HCAN), published a report showing the state of health insurance competition in America. Basically, to cut to the chase, it sucks, and Ohio is no different.

According to the report, 58% of the health insurance market in Ohio is controlled by two companies. These companies are Wellpoint, which is run by Anthem Blue Cross/Blue Shield and Medical Mutual.

The report notes that from 2000 to 2007:

1. The cost of health insurance premiums for Ohio working families has gone up 76%;

2. The average annual combined premium for employers and employees went from $6596 to $11636;

3.Employers saw their portion of annual premiums go up by 75% while employees saw their share increase by 80%; but

4. The median earnings of Ohio workers increased by 9%, from $25017 to $27255.

(You can read the full report here.)

One of the favorite talking points for Republicans is that somehow Obama's plan for a public option for health insurance will "destroy" the marketplace. Well, guess what, in a lot of states, including Ohio, there is not much of a marketplace left to destroy.

Maybe what we need is some good, old-fashioned, Teddy Roosevelt-style, trust busting. Maybe its time, in fact, past time, to unleash the Justice Department's anti-trust division on some health insurance providers.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Brent Larkin is a Law School Graduate and a Political Idiot!

Brent Larkin had a column in Sunday's Plain Dealer berating Governor Ted Strickland for not proposing a tax increase to meet Ohio's budget woes. He also said that Strickland was the worse governor for Cleveland since he has been covering politics.

What's interesting about his rant againt Strickland is the fact that he totally ignores the fact that the Ohio General Assembly has to vote to raise taxes. Under Ohio's Constitution, the Governor doesn't have the power to impose taxes by executive fiat. They have to be passed by the Ohio General Assembly.

At the present time the Ohio General Assembly has one house controlled by the Democrats and the other by the Republicans. There is absolutely no indication that the Republicans who control the State Senate will vote for any sort of tax increase, including the proposals advanced by Larkin. Larkin thinks that Ohio should raise its sales tax by one cent and forego the last year of the five year reduction in the state's income tax passed by, yep, you guessed it, the Republicans in 2005.

Now, of course, Larkin doesn't even mention the fact that the Republicans in the State Senate would have to sign off on any tax increases. Nor does he mention the fact that it was the Republicans who got us in this mess in the first place. No, according to Larkin, all Strickland has to do is just ask the General Assembly to raise taxes and they will just jump to it.

Well, here's a news flash for Larkin, Bill Harris isn't going to support any increase in taxes. The Republicans in the State Senate aren't going to support any increase in taxes. How do I know this? Because if they won't support gambling to help raise revenue, they sure as hell won't support increasing taxes.

Strickland knows this, and he is unwilling to give the Republicans a campaign issue just to make people like Brent Larkin happy. You know, people who use to head editorial boards that endorsed Republicans like Bob Taft and Republicans running for the General Assembly.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Where Was The Library Board in 2005?

I walked into the main branch of the Medina Public Library to check out some material. After the very polite woman who was manning the check out counter took care of my materials, she gave me a spiel about how I should contact Governor Strickland and members of the Ohio General Assembly to voice my concern about budget cutbacks. She also gave me a piece of paper that had the phone numbers of Governor Strickland, State Senate Majority Leader Bill Harris, and two State Representatives who I had never heard of and who don't represent Medina County.

This got me to thinking about whether, back in 2005 when the General Assembly enacted a 21% across the board income tax cut, the Medina Library Board protested that action? Did it pass a resolution calling on Taft and the General Assembly not to make those cuts? Did they go on record opposing the cuts? Or did they just assume that those cuts would never impact them?

Right now the State doesn't have the revenue to do what it has done in the past for libraries or anyone else, for that matter. The 21% tax cut, phased in over five years, is costing Ohio about two billion dollars a year in lost tax revenue. We were told, of course, that those tax cuts would bring thousands of jobs into Ohio, which, of course, have yet to materialize. We weren't told, though, that it would end up crippling Ohio's state government.

So, here is my question, what was the library board's position in 2005? If they weren't concerned then, why should I, as a patron, be concerned now?

Both Medina County Dem Representatives Support Energy Bill

Both U.S. Representatives who represent Medina County voted for the recently passed energy bill. Betty Sutton, OH-13, and John Boccieri, OH-16, joined all but two Ohio Democrats in voting for the bill. The two Democrats that didn't were Dennis Kucinich and Charlie Wilson. The bill now goes to the Senate, where its fate is uncertain.

Connie Schultz Advocates for Changes to Copyright Law

There is a column up on the PD website by Connie Schultz in which she argues that the United States copyright law should be changed to protect newspapers. The idea, which she credits to a lawyer from the same law firm that represents the PD and a economics professor from Arkansas, involves prohibiting sites that aggregate news articles from profiting from the aggregation.

The theory is that sites like Newser and The Daily Beast, which link to articles on newspaper sites, are profiting from the aggregation without sharing the revenue with the linked to newspaper sites. Schultz argues that they are basically ripping off the newspapers which produced the original article.

The two men she quotes are proposing some sort of revenue sharing arrangement and a prohibition on aggregation sites linking to stories during the first 24 hours a story is up and running.

Another possibility would be to treat newspaper articles like recorded music. If a radio station plays a record, they have to pay the owner of the rights to the record a fee. They also have to keep records of what they play and when they play it. It is not a perfect system, but it prevents radio stations from making money off the efforts of others.

The problem, of course, is what to do about links to newspaper articles in sites, such as this one, that doesn't generate revenue. If we put a link in one of our posts should we have to pay? On the one hand we are benefiting from the work of others, such as Ms. Schultz, but on the other hand we are not making any money from her work.

In any event, it is a good article and brings up a lot of interesting points. You can go to and read the whole article.

Friday, June 26, 2009

More BS From John Kasich

There is a Cleveland Plain Dealer article on John Kasich appearing before the Cleveland City Club. According to the article, Kasich wants to eliminate the state's estate tax, phase out the state's income tax, and this will, of course, lead to a fiscal rebirth for Ohio. Oh yes, and the state's budget problems are all Ted Strickland's fault.

Nowhere of course, does he mention the ill advised income tax cut that the Republicans put through in 2005. You know, the one that cut the state income tax by 21%, causing at least a two billion a year drop in revenues. No, Blowhard John just ignores that fact and blames Strickland for the fiscal mess the state government is in.

Expect more of this type of bs from Blowhard John over the next 17 months until the election. Hopefully, after he is defeated, it will cease, but don't count on it.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Beacon Journal's Michael Douglas Shows Why Editorial Writers Aren't Politicians

On Father's Day, June 21, the Akron Beacon Journal ran a column by Michael Douglas, who is in charge of the editorial board, blasting Governor Ted Strickland for advocating slot machines at racetracks to raise much needed revenue. Apparently Douglas believes that Strickland should advocate tax increases. Perhaps Douglas is in need of a history lesson, one that Ohio Democrats haven't forgotten.

In 1982, Dick Celeste became Ohio's Governor. Following his election, the Democrats had control of the General Assembly and all the executive offices in the state. They also had the obligation to govern the state during a severe recession.

The Democrats bit the bullet and raised the state income tax. Celeste managed to get re-elected in 1986, and the Democrats held on to the House of Representatives, but in 1984, they lost control of the Ohio Senate. The Republicans used the campaign theme of the supposed 90% tax increase that Celeste had gotten through the General Assembly. It worked, and the Republicans haven't lost control of the State Senate since that election.

Douglas apparently believes that all Strickland has to do is come out for higher taxes and the Republicans in the Senate will just roll over and help raise taxes. There is absolutely no evidence that Bill Harris, and the rest of the Republican leadership in the Senate, will go along with that idea.

What is more likely to happen is that Strickland would come out for a tax increase, the Republicans would block it in the Senate, and the Democrats would lose both the Governor's race and control of the House in 2010. Such a result is way too high a price to pay to make editorial writers happy.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Is It Just Me, Or Do Southerners Who Come from Confederate States Tick You Off with Claims of Being More Pro-American?

The picture in this entry is of Rusty DePass, a South Carolina Republican GOP activist, who recently made some news by claiming that Michelle Obama's ancestors were gorillas, and then trying to claim that Michelle actually started that joke with a supposed comment about evolution. The Michelle comment, while obviously racist, is not what has drawn my attention. What has drawn my attention is another stupid comment this bigot made about New York City and the events of 9-11-2001.

Apparently, in the 2008 Republican primary, this guy was supporting Rudy Giuliani. In comments made once when introducing Rudy to some South Carolina Republicans, DePass stated that most of the time South Carolina Republicans didn't care what New Yorkers thought, but that the events of 9-11 had "made them Americans again."

Think about that line for a second. Here is a Republican coming from the state that led the secession movement in the South, starting with John Calhoun. The state that started the Civil War to defend slavery. The state that gave the nation the racist Strom Thurmond. And he has the gall to imply that New Yorkers aren't "real Americans?"

I am so tired of this kind of crap from Southerners. Just because you like to brag about how pro-American you are doesn't change the fact that many Southerners are still pissed off about losing the Civil War. Are still pissed off about the 1964 Civil Rights Act, and are really pissed off that an African-American is President.

Here's some suggestions for such Southerners: 1. Stop putting Confederate flag bumper stickers on your cars and trucks; 2. Stop whining about how you are entitled to celebrate the culture of White America, and that flying the Confederate flag is "not about the hate, but about the heritage." Stop implying that Americans who don't agree with you are somehow less American than you are.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Medina County Foreclosure Rates Continue to Climb

Judge James L. Kimbler reports that home foreclosures continued to climb during the first quarter of 2009 as compared to the first quarter of 2008. In the first quarter of 2008, there were 131 foreclosure cases assigned to Judge Kimbler's docket. In the first quarter of 2009, that number climbed to 149. 

Although January of 2009 saw fewer foreclosure cases assigned to Judge Kimbler's docket than January of 2008, the other two months of the first quarter both saw more foreclosure cases assigned. In January of 2008, the number of foreclosures assigned to Judge Kimbler's docket was 44, while in January of 2009, the number of such cases was 43. In February and March of 2008, the numbers were 39 and 48 respectively while in 2009 the numbers for the same month were 45 and 61. 

Friday, April 24, 2009

Throughts on "Tea Party" in Medina Public Square by a Dem Attendee

The following is a letter to the editor of Medina County Common Sense. Medina County Common Sense is an online newspaper that can be read at

After witnessing the results of decades of tax cuts for the rich and stagnant wages for most employees as well as the crippling growth of government and private debt, we can say: Been there and done that.

Between 1979 and 2003 according to the Congressional Research Service, the income from wealth for the top 1% (interest, dividends, rent and capital gains) has risen from 37.8% of the pie to 57.5%. Today, it is clearly even higher. If that is not the definition of greed what is?

Wealth is being redistributed upwards in America, especially as the government with an employer-biased National Labor Relations Board undercut the ability of American workers to bargain collectively. We live in a society that rewards wealth and punishes work. A society created by the GOP and corporate Democrats.

When GOP officials talk of a free market economy they are talking about a government of, by and for the rich. They love the phrase "free market" because it conjures up pictures of the inevitable flow of the tides as the moon tugs on us. The fact is that a "free market" economy is an economy run by the financial sector for its ends: to create asset bubbles and dept dependency.

With each passing year Americans have and less ownership of their homes in the "loanership" society they are creating. For the first time they now own less than half their homes. In other words, the banks and the financial class now own more and more of our homes. Of course, personal debt is also at a record high.

The FIRE (Financial, Insurance, Real Estate) sector does not create real jobs in a real economy. Their jobs are strictly at the gaming tables of Credit Default Swaps and derivatives based on other dervatives based on other derivatives. (These three level gambling games actually exist! See A Demon of Our Design by Richard Bookstaber for the details.)

Successful economies are not Cuba's nor the recent American debacle. They are mixed economies where business and government each play an important - and necessary - role. I am a progressive who believe in market forces. I am also a progressive who sees hugely efficient, well-run economicl safety nets like Social Security and Medicare.

Unfortunately, the brand of extremism on display at the TEA rally has little concern for those safety nets, although I did see one sign:"Some help, yes, entitlements, No." While I would love to have had a discussion with the sign-holder about which programs to abolish, which people we should allow to suffer and die, I have learned a lesson. Most of these nice, well-meaning people are clueless as to what their slogans actually mean in practice.

Why do you think that their leaders almost never mention specific safety net programs? Could it be because they would be exposed as un-Christian, un-patriotic Americans? When these people are asked John Oliver (British correspondent for the Daily Show) type follow up questions they become agitated and frequently angry to the point of becoming violent. Clearly, many of the people at the rally were anxious about our economic times. Sadly, almost pathetically, they didn't recognize their own party's hand in all this.

This was not a meeting to assign accountablity for decades of failed GOP-plutocratic propaganda parading as policy. It was time to lambast an administration which has still not reached 100 days.

Incidentally, there are plenty of reasons to lacerate President Obama for continuing Bush's TARP program as Paul Krugman, James Galbraith and Michael Hudson and lots of other great Ph.D. economists do. But to scream at this administration for lowering taxes on nearly everyone in the crowd and trying to stimulate the economy seemed surrealistic.

But sadly, the rally was real. The puppet-masters in America's board rooms had summoned them to their grassroots-fabrication knowing of their inchoate anxieties about nearly everything - and they had come.

About the market speakers called "free." God did not make the capital gains tax 15% which is less than the Social Security and Medicare taxes on the first dollars every American earns. The capital gains tax and the lowering of the top marginal rates from 91% to the 30s did not occur because of planetary forces. It occured because the rich, the contributor class, made it happen with their minions in Congress - including plenty of corporate Dems. Their Gollumesque cries of "My precious, my precious, it's all mine" simply don't mesh with "We the people in order to form a more perfect society do hereby...." They just don't get it that we are our brother's keeper, that what happens to the least of us should matter to all of us philosophy and policies.

Do they not hear the gospel messages on Sunday? They don't even have a clue of how to answer this simple question: How is it that we are the only industrial society on earth not to have national health care. Perhaps because they haven't suffered from a lack of health care (I assume) the problem simply doesn't exist. They live in the bubble of Medina and the rest of the world is just so remote - and frequently - distasteful.

Incidentally, I did see a sign about "Government Greed" at the rally but none about the private greed mentioned over 200 times in the Bible. Nothing about a hedge funds manager earning $3.7 billion in a year and paying a lower tax rate, for most of it, than those who clean our bedpans.

It was odd that a crowd that clearly believes in personal responsibilty and working hard (I assume) helps a political party who policies punish work and reward wealth. Of course they try to sell the myth that if you tax the rich they will stop creating jobs. Did you know that the rich are a fragile group? That when we increase their taxes from 35 to 39% they become so disheartened and disconsolate they shut down their business. If they can't keep most of their money they simply see no reason to go on. If they make another $30 million and only keep $17, there is clearly no incentive to continue.
Remember, however, that the poor are very different than the rich: they need to be prodded to work. If we keep the minimum wage low, their hunger and physical needs will help "motivate" them to work.

Of course, rally speakers I heard said nothing about torture, aggressive wars, military waste, Social Security - especially private accounts, national health care, unemployment insurance, skyrocketing tuition costs for state schools. the budget problems of all local governments, the repeal of Glass-Steagall or the killing of the financial cops on Wall Street and Washington, what happened over the last eight years to cause this collapsel. And I heard nothing about the class warfare waged agains the middle class for decades. In fact, I don't believe I heard about anything good that taxes produce.

Nothing about the roads that got them there, the Park where they held the rally, the police protection, the education that some of them received.I never heard President Franklin Delano Roosevelt mentioned. The other Democratic president who had to save the "banksters" from their wretched self-dealing. A "socialist" who clearly saved capitalism and put our economy on a sound track for over 50 years until his reforms were unraveled by the money changers. Remember that FDR was the other Democratic president they called a fascist and socialist.

It would have been wonderful to hear someone recite part of FDR's first inaugural:
"The money changers have fled their high seat in the temple of our civilization. We may now restore that temple to the ancient truths. The measure of our restoration lies in the extent to which we appy social values more noble than mere monetary profit."

Unfortunately, as one observer wrote, the money changers returned to Washington the following day on March 5, 1933. And so it was on January 21, 2009. And clearly it is up to Democrats to pressure our president to reject the advice of the Rubins, Geithners and Summers. They and the GOP Federal Reserve (See James Galbraith's research on how the Fed manipulates interest rates for GOP candidates) should be some of the last people we listen to. Saving THEIR economic system is not the same as saving a just economic system. The system (banks) they are putting on life support is one that has literally robbed American families of the fruits of their labors. It is time for an economy (and, of course, tax policy) that actually works to keep capitalism vibrant and not to preserve the privileges of the few.

Parenthetical: One well-intentioned minister talked of our Christian founders like Thomas Jefferson. They also had a Jefferson banner attached to the Gazebo. I guess he never heard of Jefferson's redacted bible. Redacted as in taking out all the miracles and leaving in the social message.

There were good and serious people at the rally who believe in self-reliance and that is a good thing. The problem is that these same people do not believe in self-reliance when bad things happen to them. They are more than happy that Social Security disability exists. Self-reliance is great when you are healthy because you can, with hard work, acquire money. But when the trials of Job come, you wish to live in a more compassionate society than the one the rally-holders envision. One with national health care.Some of the beliefs of the rally holders and GOP apologists in the media like Charlie Gibson are simply wrong.

Recently, the Plain Dealer ran an op-ed piece that said: "When taxes rise, revenues fall." Many apparently believe, despite Congressional Budget Office (CBO) evidence to the contrary, that less means more.. The "evidence" that cutting taxes actually increases them has a thin underpinning. When capital gains taxes were cut, revenue did go up for a while. Over time, of course, revenue drops. That why the non-partisan CBO indicates significant capital gains tax losses from permanently cutting the tax rate on them.

Why do you think that capital gains taxes did increase after a tax cut - at least for a short period? The CBO and others have pointed out the obvious: people rushed to realize their capital gains when they had the break. Capital gains only occur when you decide to take them. The timing is in your hands when to sell your stocks or other appreciated asset. It was simply a matter of timing and that over time, the Treasury would lose money.

Incidentally, I do believe taxes can be so high that people struggle to evade them with tax shelters etc. That is not the case when you are making small changes in the 30 percent area and not returning the top rates to the 90+%.

The Greed Party has only one issue left: taxes. After doing their best to destroy capitalism and our standing in the world no one listens to them about much of anything else. Their problem though is this syllogism they make: 1) The rich pay almost all the taxes 2) We must lower taxes

Conclusion: The only possible conclusion is that the TEA party was all about lowering taxes on the rich. That is a fair plutocratic proposition but it is rejected by many of the rich as well as the vast majority of the population. Of course, the vast bulk of the people at the TEA party (I attended and took copious notes) had no clue that they were working against not just the economic interests of consumer and industrial capitalism but against their own narrow economic self interests.

That in a society where over 70% of GDP is consumer spending that consumers (the middle class) must have enough to spend. They had merely been summoned by the economic elites to do their work, just as they do in their companies: for no or substandard wages.

At the end of the rally state representative William Batchelder III spoke. Clearly, the organizer and thinker behind the rally spoke last. The one with personal connections to Newt and other aspiring Republicans on the national stage. The chair person of the Ohio 1976 and 1980 Ohio Steering Committee for Ronald Reagan. As he spoke you recognized that he was facile, glib, skillful. I would guess he had 30 IQ points on the other speakers and 50 on the median score in the audience.

He made the point that the rally was not partisan and made a perfunctory attack on George W. Bush for not vetoing some spending bills.His most memorable line was: " “The answer to our economic problems will come from the private sector.”

First, I thought of George Washington's "doctors" applying more leeches to him on his deathbed. Clearly, the Ohio representative believed that we did not allow the banksters enough freedom to loot and pillage. Then I though of a more apt analogy for our sinking economy: the Exon Valdes.

There was the best and brightest of the Medina Republican Party standing on the bridge of the Valdes with Captain Joseph Hazelwood (George W. Bush) yelling: "Maintain course. Full speed ahead. Things are fine"Things are not fine and until the GOP explains the mistakes they had a hand in they will have zero credibility with the American voter.


A Democratic rally attendee

Monday, February 23, 2009

Reader Submission: How to Respond to GOP Attacks on FDR

As everyone has noticed, the GOP is mounting an ongoing offensive against FDR. Amity Schlaes in the Wall Street Journal and a host of others hell-bent on revising history are using false data about GDP and employment growth in order to claim that FDR not only failed to ameliorate the effects of the Great Depression but in fact either caused it or made it worse.

Their purpose is two-fold. First and foremost, they want to undermine support for President Obama's various initiatives to repair the damage done to our economy under Republican rule in the hope that they can keep the economy weak enough to hasten the GOP's return to power in 2010. And, second, they want to undermine FDR's legacy of having created a strong social safety net in the hope that they can head off any effort by Democrats to strengthen that safety net by new programs like national health insurance.

Because these GOPer's seem to have a lot of time on their hands since their trouncing last fall, because an idle mind is the devil's workshop, and because this very idleness may therefore be one of the causes of these attacks, it seems to me that an additional way to defend FDR and the truth about his record (apart from the excellent defenses already being mounted by DeLong and Krugman) is to create some new work for the GOP. What I am suggesting, of course, is that we open a new front in this rhetorical war they have started by forcing the Republicans to begin expending serious energy on defending a hero of their own.

You guessed it—I am talking about an effort on the part of the progressive blogosphere to remind Americans of the manifold deficiencies of Ronald Reagan. As I envision it, our effort would take the form of an essay contest sponsored by one of the progressive blogs, with the essayists being tasked with writing short, factual, and footnoted essays (with links to primary source material counting for bonus points) debunking the myth of Ronald Reagan as some sort of above-average president. The winning essays could then be used as the basis for special instructional units on the Reagan presidency to be used by our nation's high school teachers.

If one of the national blogs decides to sponsor this contest, I wish to stake my claim to the subject of Reagan's sorry record in combating terrorism. I will start by discussing Osama bin Laden, who cited Reagan's failure to have responded to the terrorist bombing of the 241 American servicemen in Lebanon in 1983 as having led him to believe that America had grown soft. I will then discuss Reagan's having traded TOW missiles for American hostages in the mid-80's, which led, of course, to the taking of additional hostages by the terrorists with whom he was trading. And I will finish with a discussion of Libya’s having bombed Pan Am 103 out of the sky over Scotland during the final month of Reagan's presidency (it happened on December 21, 1988 and was a grisly sort of going-away present to Reagan).

Please let me know when the contest begins.


Tuesday, February 03, 2009

MCDAC Paper Goes Digital

The Medina County Democratic Action Committee has decided to put its newspaper, Common Sense, online. The website can be seen at Our plan is to recruit citizen journalists who can cover local government in Medina County as well as other Medina County events. We are also looking for writers who want to submit opinion columns to us. Let us know what you think. Please send comments to

Way to go, Joe!

Republican Brunswick City Ward 3 Councilman Joe Delsanter has proposed that two of the three Brunswick City Council-at-Large be eliminated. His rationale is that this would save about $22,000 to $24.000 per year. This, of course, is a mere drop in the bucket for a city that has been operating with a deficit since 2001.

This proposal would involve amending the charter of the city of Brunswick. If this proposal were to come to fruition, it would necessitate a charter amendment on the ballot. The deadline set by the Secretary of State for the upcoming May 5th election is February 19th. This would give council sixteen days to complete this action in order to effectuate change this year.

Currently, the city of Brunswick has four ward councilmen and three at-large councilmen. The At-Large Council members represent the entire city, not just a ward. They provide a sort of checks and balance system within the council.

Some cities of similar size, i.e. Westerville, Oh, have a city council comprised of seven at-large members. A council of all at-large members ( perhaps five?) would be a more logical alternative than to eliminate two of the three at-large positions and keep the ward council members. The people of Brunswick would continue to be fully represented. Presently, if your ward councilman is not responsive, you still have the at-large council members. Of course, this would also necessitate a charter amendment.

Is Republican Mr. Delsanter’s stance a knee-jerk reaction to the city’s budget problems? Why hasn’t council done more cost cutting in the past? Is this a myopic glance at the overall budget deficit picture?

Or is his proposal an attempt to eliminate some people who just aren’t “on the same page” as Republican Mr. Delsanter? His proposed change would make life a lot easier for a city council that seems to be constantly embroiled in battles. Is he afraid of the outcome of the 2009 election? It appears that there is more to this proposal than he wants us to believe.

Monday, February 02, 2009

"Dems Suck"-Insightful Political Comment from a Republican

This morning a person who is apparently a Republican from the Columbus area left a comment on our post about the Ohio House Republicans wanting to cut taxes on rich people. His insightful comment was "Dems suck." Now, you have to realize that this passes for learned political commentary among Republicans. They believe that calling names is the same as actually making arguments. They believe that insulting your political opponents is the same as actually advancing policies that help America.

This attitude is why they have, since 2006, lost control of the Ohio Governor's office, a U.S. Senator from Ohio, the Ohio House of Representatives, and four congressional seats. Not to mention, of course, the Ohio Attorney General's office, the Ohio Treasurer's office, and the Ohio Secretary of State's office.

So, to our GOP commentator, keep bringing that good old Republican attitude to Ohio. It works for us.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Why Did Greenspan Allow Stock and Real Estate Bubbles?

A money manager, Bill Fleckenstein, co-authored a book titled Greenspan's Bubbles: The Age of Ignorance at the Federal Reserve. (You can read a review here.) In the book, he makes a pretty convincing that Alan Greenspan contributed to the stock bubble of the 1990s and the real estate bubble of this decade by not taking appropriate actions. Actions like raising the interest rate in the 1990s; raising the amount that a stock purchaser had to deposit with a stock broker when buying on margin; and by allowing the creation of novel mortgage instruments.

They point out that the United States had gone from the stock market crash of 1929 to 1979 without a speculative bubble. Then, from 1980 to the present time, there have been three bubbles. One in real estate in the late 1980s that caused the collapse of the savings and loan industry, and the two mentioned above. All of which happened on Greenspan's watch.

The authors argue that a lot of the problems were caused by Greenspan's arrogance in thinking that he knew more than most people, by his belief that he was "the smartest guy in the room." There could be other reasons, however. Could it be that Greenspan was pursuing policies that he thought would benefit the presidents who appointed him?

While George H.W. Bush lost his re-election in 1992, both Bill Clinton and George W. Bush won re-election. In both administrations, however, toward the end of their second terms, financial clouds loomed on the horizon, although obviously much worse in Bush's case than in Clinton's.

In any event, no matter what his motivations, Fleckenstein and his co-author make a compelling case that far from being a good thing, Greenspan's time at the Federal Reserve had very bad consequences for most Americans.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Kasich, House Republicans Want to "Recharge Ohio" by Cutting Taxes on Rich People

Here is an interesting quote from a Cleveland Plain Dealer article:

Proposals to offer cuts to the state's estate tax as well as capital gains tax are being hashed out behind the scenes by Republican state lawmakers, House Minority Leader Bill Batchelder, a Medina Republican, acknowledged this week. 

Ohio is now in a situation where there is a huge shortfall in the state's revenues at a time when ordinary Ohioans are needing more and more government assistance. A large reason for the state's budgetary problems was the reckless tax cuts that the Republicans passed in 2005. Those tax cuts were targeted toward the rich. Now, with Ohio facing a multi-billion dollar shortfall, Republicans want even more tax cuts for the wealthy. 

The Republican rationale for the tax cuts is that supposedly rich people are fleeing the state. Well here are some questions for the House Republicans:

1. How many rich people are fleeing the state because of the state's estate and capital gains taxes as opposed to fleeing the state for other reasons? 

2. How many of those that are "fleeing the state" will stay if these tax cuts are passed" 

3. What is the effect on the state's revenues if this proposal passes? 

4. How will the Republicans make up any revenue loss? 

How much do you want to bet that the House Republicans won't be able to provide answers to those questions?

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Medina County Vote Total Up in 2008 from 2004

The official count of the ballots cast in Medina County for the 2008 general election shows that 90,652 voters voted, which represented a turnout of 70.76%. In 2004, the number of voters in the general election in Medina County was 86,016, which represented 72.73% of registered voters.

In the 2004 general election, Bush received 48,196 votes and Kerry received 36,272 votes. In the 2008 general election, McCain received 48,189 and Obama received 40,924. Those figures would seem to indicate that nearly all of Medina County's growth in voters were Obama supporters.

Sutton Votes to Send Ledbetter Bill to President Obama

WASHINGTON , D.C. – On January 27, 2009, Congresswoman Betty Sutton (D-OH) voted in favor of S. 181 the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009. This legislation reverses the May 2007 Supreme Court decision in Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber, which made it substantially more difficult for Americans to pursue pay discrimination claims. Congresswoman Sutton was an original co-sponsor of H.R. 11, the underlying House legislation. With Congresswoman Sutton’s strong support, S.181 passed the House by a margin of 250 to 177. The bill now goes to the desk of President Barack Obama, who has indicated he will sign it into law. Congresswoman Sutton released the following statement:


 “Today is a wonderful day for women and all workers across America . But while we celebrate the passage of this critical legislation, it is disheartening that in this day and age, workers still face pay discrimination. It has been nearly 45 years since the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and yet pay discrimination still exists. By passing this legislation we are ensuring that workers will be able to take action against companies that discriminate against them.


While this legislation is in honor of Lilly Ledbetter and her brave fight for equal pay, it is also dedicated to all the workers across our country who have been the victims of pay discrimination. With every discriminatory paycheck, workers receive less than they deserve, hurting their families and robbing their pensions.


When the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act is signed into law, it will overturn the unjust Supreme Court decision in Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber. The Court held that Lilly Ledbetter would have had to have filed a complaint within 180 days of when her employer began years of discrimination against her - even though there was no way that she could have known that she was being discriminated against.  This decision placed an unfair burden on workers, essentially protecting companies that discriminated against them.


With this law, a statute of limitations will no longer prevent workers from taking action against discriminatory employers. I am proud to support this important legislation for our country and I look forward to our President, Barack Obama, signing it into law.”


Click here to watch Congresswoman Sutton’s floor statement from when this legislation originally passed the House


Background Information:


Lilly Ledbetter worked for nearly 20 years at a Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company. She sued the company after learning that she was paid less then her male counterparts at the facility, despite having more experience than several of them. A jury found that her employer had unlawfully discriminated against her on the basis of sex.
However, the 
Supreme Court ruled that Ledbetter had waited too long to sue for pay discrimination, despite the fact that she filed a charge with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission as soon as she received an anonymous note alerting her to pay discrimination.  
While Ledbetter filed her charge within 180 days of receiving discriminatory pay, the court ruled that since Ledbetter did not raise a claim within 180 days of the employer’s 
decision to discriminate against her, she could not receive any relief.  Under this Supreme Court decision, employees in Ledbetter’s position would be forced to live with discriminatory paychecks for the rest of their careers.

The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act clarifies that every paycheck or other compensation resulting from an earlier discriminatory pay decision constitutes a violation of the 
Civil Rights Act. As long as workers file their charges within 180 days of a discriminatory paycheck, their charges would be considered timely. This was the law prior to the Supreme Court’s May 2007 decision.


Medina City has Millions in Bank, Why Isn't It Building New Courthouse?

Here's an interesting story that appeared in the Medina County Gazette. According to this story, the City of Medina is carrying a balance of 34.1 million dollars, while the county is apparently losing revenue and threatening layoffs. So, given the fact that the City has a lot of money, and given the fact that the City insisted that the County build a new courthouse in downtown Medina, why isn't the City ponying up more money? 

When the County Commissioners were considering moving the Domestic Relations and Juvenile Courts away from the square, there was an anguished outcry from downtown business interests. "You can't do that", they cried. "That will hurt our square." (For those of you who don't know downtown Medina it does have a very nice central park surrounded by a business district dominated by buildings done in an 1890s style. It is quite charming.)

So, the Board of County Commissioners re-examined their plans and decided to expand the present county courthouse. Of course, this meant that the already cramped parking situation had also to be addressed. The solution to the parking problem was to build a new parking garage. So, instead of building a new courthouse at a location where there would be enough room for parking, or instead of buying an existing structure on the square, (and there were such structures available), the County Commissioners are planning on building a new addition to the present courthouse, building a new parking deck, all at considerable expense and all while they are talking about laying off county employees. 

Now, to be fair, the City of Medina, as well as the County Library, agreed to help pay for the cost of the parking deck, but, given the fact that it was downtown merchants who wanted the county courts to stay downtown, and given the fact that the City of Medina is apparently flush with cash, shouldn't the City had been asked to do more? 

Maybe one reason why the City wasn't asked to do more is that both the City Mayor and  the City Council President, as well as all three the County Commissioners are Republicans. So maybe the Commissioners weren't in the mood to do some tough negotiating with the City. Negotiating by telling the City to either pony up more money for the courthouse expansion, or the County was going to build a new courthouse at a location outside of Medina City limits. A location in the surrounding townships, and not only would there be a possibility of a loss of business revenue, but the City would also lose income tax revenue. 

None of that was done, however, and while the City brags about its 34.1 million dollar balance, county employees worry about losing their jobs.

Republican Tax Cuts Force Strickland Administration to Seek Concessions from State Workers

On January 17, 2009, the Cleveland Plain Dealer ran an article about the Strickland Administration seeking concessions from state workers that are represented by unions. The article detailed that the Administration was seeking a 5% pay cut, a 35 hour work week, and non-paid holidays. The article points out that the unions want to see what happens with the Federal stimulus package before committing to this proposal. What is significant, though, is that they aren't rejecting it out of hand.

We have two thoughts about this proposal, which, for the record, we don't like, but understand that it may need to be done. The first thought is that only an Administration with ties to labor unions could make this proposal and have any chance of it being accepted by state employee unions.

The reason why is that a Republican administration, say like the Bob Taft Administration, would have no credibility with state workers. It would be seen by the unions as an attempt to use the state's budget problems as a way to hurt unions. Since the Strickland Administration has credibility with unions as being supportive of their aims, this idea won't be seen as having a hidden agenda.

Our second thought is that this is another example of Republican tax breaks helping the rich while screwing workers. Time and time again Republicans pass tax breaks because they will supposedly help grow the economy. Jonathon Chiat
refers to this as "The Big Con" in one of his books. Why is it a big con? Because there is no evidence that cutting taxes grows the economy. There is, however, plenty of evidence that cutting taxes leads to government deficits and cutting government programs.

So, in Ohio, in 2005, the Republican General Assembly and Governor Bob "I don't have a clue" Taft team up to pass a 20% tax cut spread over several years. This leads to huge shortfalls in the state's revenues, just in time for the Bush Depression, or, to be fair, perhaps, the Bush Great Recession, when demand for government programs increases substantially.

The bottom line: Like the state unions we see the necessity for what the Strickland Administration is doing, but we don't have to like it.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Medina County's Republican Commissioners Talk Layoffs, Raise Sewer Rates, and Want to Build a New Courthouse

In the last few weeks, the Medina County Board of Commissioners, which has three Republicans and no Democrats, has announced that it is considering laying off county workers, raised sewer rates for Medina County residents using the county-run sewer system, and still wants to build a new courthouse. All four judges in the present county courthouse, who presumably would benefit by building this new courthouse, signed a letter urging the Commissioners to delay the construction because of the bad economy. Yet, the County Commissioners persist in going ahead with the construction.

Now, to be fair, one of the County Commissioners, Pat Geissman, has come out against building the new courthouse, at least at this time. She had a very good column in the Medina County Gazette spelling out her position. Interestingly, the other two Republican Commissioners, Steve Hambley and Sharon Ray, personally paid for an ad that told Gazette readers that they supported the new courthouse construction, but, unlike Geissman's column, didn't really give any reasons for their position other than to make statements with no analysis of why the statements were factually accurate.

Complicating the situation for the Commissioners is that a Republican Judge, John Lohn, has ordered the Board to fund his court at a certain level. If Lohn is successful in this effort, it could lead to other county officials seeking court orders to fund mandated services. All in all, it is a very interesting time in Medina County.

Monday, January 26, 2009

PD's Choice of NCB Economist to be on Panel seems Strange

Is it just us, or does seem strange to other people? The Cleveland Plain Dealer has a panel of economists from the area who it uses to forecast how things are going to go economically in the region. The PD ran an article on Sunday using this panel. One of the panel members is the chief economist from National City Bank, you know, the bank that just got sold to a Pittsburgh bank because it lost millions of dollars on bad loans. The bank that couldn't get Federal TARP funds. The bank whose demise may cost literally thousands of Ohioans their jobs. 

Now this guy may be a very good economist, and may make good predictions, but using someone from a bank that just had to be sold because of bad decisions strikes us as strange. Of course, this is nothing new for the media. 

You can look at any Sunday talking-heads show and see people who were wrong about the Iraq War, wrong about the effects of Bush's reckless tax cuts regarding federal deficits, and wrong about the economy chatting it up like nothing ever happen. Meanwhile, people who were right about these issues aren't represented on such shows nearly as often. 

The media has developed cozy relationships with so-called "experts" and uses them regardless of whether they are right or wrong. While such a practice is great for the "experts", and probably produces great friendships between the media representatives and the "experts", it doesn't do a thing for the media's credibility. 

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Barack Obama Lays It on the Line for the GOP

According to this article that appeared in the New York Post, when President Barack Obama met with Republicans, he was very candid with them. Among the highlights: He told them that they can't just listen to Rush Limbaugh if they want to work with the Democrats in Congress and the new Administration; he reminded them that he won'; and he told them that he would "trump" them with his victory if they opposed his policies.

Here are some quotes from the article linked to above:

"You can't just listen to Rush Limbaugh and get things done," he told top GOP leaders, whom he had invited to the White House to discuss his nearly $1 trillion stimulus package.

In an exchange with Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.) about the proposal, the president shot back: "I won," according to aides briefed on the meeting.
"I will trump you on that."

Not that Obama was gloating. He was just explaining that he aims to get his way on stimulus package and all other legislation, sources said, noting his unrivaled one-party control of both congressional chambers.

Here's a difference between Obama and Bush. At heart, Bush was inherently not self-confident, so he had to bluster and bully to make up for his lack of self-confidence. At heart, Barack Obama is extremely self-confident, so he doesn't feel any need to bluster and bully. Therefore, he can deliver messages such as those quoted above without coming off as being mean or rude. It is, all in all, a very important character trait.

Examples of Republican Incompetence at Three Levels of Government

Examples of Republican incompetence at the national level: the Iraq War based on false premises, response to Hurricane Katrina, federal deficits, and lack of oversight of the banking industry.

Example of Republican incompetence at the state level: cutting income tax rates by 21% over four years jeopardizing the state's finances.

Examples of Republican incompetence at the local level in Medina County : building a new courthouse while threatening the laying off county employees resulting in a Republican judge issuing a court order against an all Republican Board of County Commissioners.

Bushies Not Coping Well With GOP Defeat

From complaining about the tone of Obama's inaugural address to complaining about the stimulus bill not including their ideas, Bushies seem to be having trouble with one overriding fact: The Republicans lost and Democrats won. Get ready for Republicans' attempts to discredit Obama's win and insist that their policies haven't been repudiated by the American people. 

Here's how one Republican put it during the early part of this decade, before Bubble-Boy had screwed up the Iraq War, the response to Hurricane Katrina, and the American economy: "Elections have consequences." Well, he was right and one of those consequences is that the winners get to set the agenda for their term. 

Having lost control of two of the three branches of government, the Republicans are in for a rough ride. Probably the best thing they can hope for is that the economy doesn't improve and Democrats suffer electoral defeats in the 2010 and 2012 elections. If the economy does improve, however, they are in for a long period in the wilderness. 

Of course, their own incompetence brought this on their fate. Americans want government to be competent and Republicans have always insisted that they are much more competent than Democrats. Well, that myth, like so many others, was destroyed by Bush and his merry wrecking crew. 

Maybe if they had put some distance between themselves and BB during BB's tenure in office, they wouldn't have been routed in two consecutive national elections. But they didn't and they were. As mentioned above, in America, elections do have consequences.  

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Greater Medina Chamber of Commerce Sponsors Candidate Training

This appears on the website of the Greater Medina Chamber of Commerce:


The Greater Medina Chamber of Commerce will host an Information Session for anyone in the County who would like more information about running for public office, whether as a candidate or to support or work on an election campaign. The one-hour meeting will be held on Wednesday, January 28, starting at 8:00 a.m. at the Medina Community Recreation Center.

In announcing the program, Greater Medina Chamber of Commerce President Debra Lynn-Schmitz pointed out that this is a non-partisan program. “Attendees do not have identify themselves or what position they are considering,” said Lynn-Schmitz. “We simply want to provide an opportunity to learn more for anyone who might be interested in public service, regardless of their political affiliation or the office in which they are interested.”

Medina County Commissioner Sharon Ray will be on hand for a brief presentation explaining what a potential candidate should consider. Ray will also be available for a Question and Answer session at the end of the meeting.

Editor's Note: Even though the listed speakers are Republicans, we think that local Dems running for office in 2009 should attend this event. You can register online by going here.)

Brown Calls for Stimulus Funds to be Allocated by Unemployment & Foreclosure Rates

January 16, 2009

WASHINGTON, D.C.—U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) today called on his colleagues to allocate economic recovery funds to states based on unemployment and foreclosure rates. In a letter to Senate leadership, Brown called for relief funds to be targeted to states like Ohio that have been disproportionately suffering from the economic downturn.

“Just as the recession has disproportionately affected certain industries, so too have certain states felt this downturn more acutely than others,” wrote Brown in a letter to Senator Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY). “In Ohio, this is evidenced by above-average unemployment and home foreclosure rates, swelling jobless rolls, increased reliance on the food stamp program, and a number of other economic indicators.  Unfortunately, these problems are not limited to our state.”  

Ohio is among the states hardest hit by the current recession. Since 2000, the state has lost more than 200,000 manufacturing jobs. The state’s unemployment rate of 7.3 percent is the tenth highest in the nation. Ohio’s foreclosure rate is the tenth highest in the nation, and significant water and sewer infrastructure needs—including $11.6 billion in documented clean water needs and $6.3 billion in unmet sewage upgrade costs.

In December, Brown sent a letter to President-elect Barack Obama advocating for specific priorities to be included in the final bill. The letter also was sent to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA).

In the letter today, Brown outlined how stimulus funds could be most effectively allocated to alleviate the economic downturn.  The letter was also signed by Senator George V. Voinovich (R-OH).

“Factors like unemployment and foreclosure rates should be given great weight as stimulus funding is determined,” the letter continued. “The effects of the economic crisis have been uneven across the country.  To be effective, our nation’s economic stimulus strategy should reflect this reality.”

New Republican Group Formed in Medina County

There is a new Republican group active in Medina County.  It is called Recharge Medina County. Its website can be viewed here. There are two things that are interesting about this group. 

The first is that it doesn't use the word "Republican" in its title. We wonder if that is because the word Republican has become toxic, even here in reliably red Medina County. 

The second is that since the Republicans have all three county commissioner seats, control the mayor's office of all three cities in Medina County, and have a majority of elected officials at the local and county level, what exactly are they recharging? Their own party? Medina County? 

To recharge something implies that it is dead, like recharging a battery. If there is no life in Medina County government, then maybe the solution isn't to re-elect more Republican, maybe the solution is to elect a real difference, IE, Democrats. Just a thought.