Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 362

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Many thanks for the kind words about my writing in the latest beach walk (#24). I plan another beach walk to go up Sunday night (Eastern US).

The last handbell choir rehearsal of the season was earlier this week. After playing for a service this weekend, we break until August.

Our last ushering assignment of the season at the Playhouse was also this week. Murder For Two is a unique, enjoyable who-dunnit play with two actors: one playing the detective and the other all the suspects. Definitely not serious, it is very musical and a bit of Vaudeville. The actors were great, but it simply wasn’t my style.

As technology changes, devices also change or even replaced. The Museum of Endangered Sounds is an online place attempting to store replaced sounds. It’s a fun place to visit, so I’ll put the link in the Interesting Reads list.

My Cincinnati Reds were the first baseball team to lose 20 games this season. I wonder which will happen first: The last team to lose 20 or the Reds to win 20. The race is on!

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To reinforce a statement I made last week about Trump-Clinton-Obama, keep in mind that President Trump needs a villain in his messaging – a boogie man. As long as they continue to fill that role, he will continue to campaign against Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

Ohio had a primary election earlier this week. It’s sad that so few voters turn out for non-presidential year elections … and Ohio had primary races for governor and senator!

2016 was a presidential election year. In my county, 56,372 people voted in the primary – but 100,859 voted in the November general election. Meanwhile, 25,100 voted in this week’s primary.

My county is so Republican that Bozo the Clown could win an election if he was designed Republican on the ballot. However, I found this interesting: of the 139,110 registered voters, 8.3% are Democrats, 33.72% Republican, and 57.93% are Nonpartisan. On the other hand, in this county, are number of registered Nonpartisans must vote Republican – which also means that are NINOs – Nonpartisan in Name Only.

FYI: Individual states determine voter registration rolls. For primaries, Ohioans register as Democratic, Republican, Green, or Nonpartisan on Election Day. Nonpartisans can’t participate in party primaries, therefore receive ballots with containing on Issues for voting. (My ballot only had two issues on it, and no people.)

Advice for Democrats – Before the fall election, Leader Pelosi (D-CA) should announce that if the Dems gain control of the House in 2018, she will not seek or accept the Speaker’s chair.

Cheers to Saturday Night Live for last week’s outstanding skit that included many of the characters in President Trump’s news circle. For those that missed it, click here.

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To lead you into this week’s dose of satirical headlines, The Onion provides tips for treating bed bug infestation.

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
Amazon fires warehouse worker who took unauthorized breath
Construction crew arguing over who gets to use the fun tools
Kroger recalls 35,000 pounds of ground beef that may contain CEO
50,000 chicken breasts recalled after leaving factory without getting a little kiss goodbye
One-adventurous salmon can’t believe she ended up moving back to birthplace, having a bunch of kids

Interesting Reads
A perspective about infrastructure
Bulls, DNA, and beef
Baghdad: the new Partytown
Picasso, creativity, and genius
Why analog still exists despite digital
(Interactive) Museum of Endangered Sounds
(Photos) Awesome images of a stormy sky

To send you into the weekend, enjoy this classic by Cat Stevens. In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

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On the No Labels

January 2011 marks the start of the 112th Congress that has a political climate ripe for a third party. Consider the Republicans with their insurgent Tea Party arm and the Republican moderates they aim to oust if these RINOs don’t fall in line. The Democrats aren’t much different. Unless the Democratic moderates, some known as Blue Dogs, vote with the liberals, the party’s left has similar distain for their party’s moderates.

While some see the results of the recent Lame Duck session as hope for compromise, others see this as an opportunity for increased divisions. Will the Tea Party’s no compromise methodology lead to attacks of GOP Senators Brown (MA), Snowe (ME), Collins (ME), and Lugar (IN)? Will the GOP climate lead to more independents as Murkowski (AK)? Will these mavericks be able to survive?

Some Democrats openly wonder if these GOP moderates will bolt for the Democrats. After all, liberals will gladly welcome the disenfranchised as long as the newcomers vote their way.

The past 50 years has brought a shift in the political spectrum as a common overlap no longer exists between the two parties, thus leaving two distinct parties with distinct ideologies and distinct interests – thus leaving a chasm filled with moderate independents, many of whom who consider themselves as socially liberal but fiscally conservative.

In response, groups as No Labels attempt to fill the void – perhaps as a resistance to the pull from the extremely – even perhaps as a nostalgic effort for those of us who yearn for common ground days gone by. Yet respected columnist (and two-party purist) George Will tempered my hope by referring to No Labels as a political fantasyland filled with gaseous rhetoric. Although Mr. Will firmly believes that time brings a new equilibrium, today’s independent moderates feel disenfranchised by both parties.

I continue to maintain America is a politically centered country – perhaps even center right, thus the importance of political overlap. Groups as No Labels are interesting, but chances of them taking hold are slim because of their lack of exposure. The movement needs an infusion of defections from profile Republicans and Democrats, but that would require guts – Guts to leave the political and financial backing of a political party – Guts to abandon committee chairs – Guts to help fund a new movement – Guts to give up power– Guts to go against the flow.

Since I don’t believe the guts exist, perhaps I must wait for the new equilibrium while continuing to vote against a candidate rather than for one.

Interesting Reads: David Broder, William Galston, and John Avalon

On O’Donnell is Right

I’ve been tough on Christine O’Donnell in the past, but she is right. Yep – you correctly read this. Christine O’Donnell is right. Voters across America are angry and have the right to be. Voters are angry with the entire flock on Capitol Hill and the way they go about business. Here’s a quote from her recent debate.

When I go to Washington, my allegiance will be to the voters of Delaware, not any special interests. My whole campaign has been about returning the political process back to the people of Delaware, and to me that’s a great thing.

With that setting, I pose three questions to Christine O’Donnell.

  • Have you received campaign donations outside of Delaware?
  • Have you received campaign donations from any groups promoting Republican candidates?
  • Have you received campaign donations from the special interest conglomerate known as the Republican party?

Since the answer is most likely yes to all three questions, is Christine O’Donnell a different clown in the same circus or the same clown in a different circus?

On the Widening Divide

History clearly shows that divisions and differences have dominated Washington politics for long than any of us have been alive, so what is going on in Washington is nothing new – but that does not mean it is right.

Political parties, whom themselves are dominated by special interest dollars, have a strong degree of control over the dutifully elected officials. The 2010 primary season for all 435 representatives and a third of the senators will soon be in full swing. Let’s say three candidates are vying for a parties nomination. Watch closely to see if a particular candidate is party-endorsed over the others. That fact says more than we think (and could be a post in itself).

I am sure you have seen TV ads from special interest groups hawking a particular position, but have you ever read a political party’s fund-raising letter? All are for the sake of raising dollars for gaining power, political parties and their special interest cast the opposition as villains while casting fear about America’s demise.

For self-serving purposes, politicians and special interest groups spew twisted half-truths and party rhetoric aimed at benefiting themselves, their party, and the special interests they represent to anyone interested in listening. It is sad that many voters fall prey because of their selective hearing and lack of information.

Listen to the continual beating drum as talk show hosts relentless attack the opposition as if they were satanic powers of evil. Unfortunately, these talking heads appeal to the uninformed that seemingly have an inability to think for themselves.

Although it is not limited to the current health insurance debate, lawmaker behavior serves as an example of adults disguised as middle school students threatening their peers as if club membership is at stake. Then again, others may describe current legislative behavior as a toddler screaming and kicking to get their way, which is probably a favorite lollipop.

Not all that long ago, the Republican and Democratic parties found common ground because overlap existed within the political spectra – yet today that common ground is either absent or minuscule. Today climate is about a party getting what it can when it is in control.

Not only do people who have sold their personal soul for personal gain dominate today’s political climate, these lost souls armed with self-imposed blinders and poor listening skills seem incapable and unwilling to find a solution outside of the political comfort zone.

As for we in the pragmatic center who want to do what is best for the country, we simply watch the continual battle of serving self-interests over America’s interests – Unquestionably, not an example of political grace.

Governance has turned into a sporting event with sides cheer their side and booing the other. No, maybe it is more like an event at the Roman Coliseum as sides watch the warriors against the lions as the hunt for the red meat, then leave with a smug sense of pride.

Instead of focusing on re-election, we need elected officials who are willing to make tough decisions to do what is right. Then again, if they did what was right they probably wouldn’t get re-elected. Maybe we (Americans) are simply getting what we deserve.

On Responsibility

Since President Obama’s inaugural speech centered on a “new era of responsibility”, it’s time to get to the point.

To President Obama: As Rev. Watkins said at the National Prayer Service, (and I paraphrase): The ethical center is our bedrock of hope, yet situations will draw you away from your ethical center.  So it’s your responsibility to lead us so we may follow by your example.

To Banks: As our economic foundation, you made some lousy choices, and the country pays. We paid to stabilize the foundation and get credit flowing again. Yet, it seems credit is still tight and your industry is still struggling. Let’s return to the old days when banks gave loans to people and people rob banks; not the opposite. 

If you didn’t read Thomas Friedman’s Time for (Self) Shock Therapy this week about banks, this is a good one.

Responsibility carries burdens and responsibilities for one’s own action. Did you hear that Congress?

To Republicans: You proudly thump your chest as champions for fiscal restraint, yet you grossly failed to accept fiscal responsibility from 2001-2006. To the GOP I say, since you didn’t practice what you preach, use caution when blaming the other party and throwing roadblocks.

To Democrats: You are the Capitol Hill majority and occupy the White House, but can you listen? Can you govern to the will of the people? Can you serve the people over your own special interests? Can you find common ground with the GOP in order to give us bipartisan solutions? You’re actions will be watched and you will be held responsible.

To Voters: Congress has a very low approval rating, yet we support the majority seeking re-election. Given this “they’re bad, but not mine” attitude, is Congress really the problem? Are we getting exactly what we deserve? Yes voters, we too have to accept the responsibility of our actions too.

Government and Personal Responsibility

A recent news report served as the type of gentle reminder all of us need throughout our lives. When asked what they seek from the next president, the restaurant owner replied, “Return to personal responsibility.” Well said!

Throughout our daily encounters, we continually face many decisions with many choices. Our life gives us that; but, it also gives us the rest of the story -the responsibility associated with that choice. Our choice of personal transportation comes with a known gas mileage. A banker’s decision to grant loans to less qualified candidates comes with a risk of default. Our choice of friends influences our philosophies and outlooks. Our choice of debt versus savings affects our personal financial security.

With Election Day upon us, I hope citizens exercise their right to vote, accept the responsibility of their choice, and select candidates who will ethically govern with a sense of responsibility for the people over the wants of their party and/or special interests.

As evident with new voter registration and long voting lines, the public interest in this election has been unbelievable. One can only dream that interest in elections would carryover to all local, state, and off-year congressional elections. Unfortunately, many overvalue the role of the president and undervalue the role of our representatives, our state officials, and our local office holders.

The Complex Ohio Vote

Though another election, Ohio is one of the battleground states. Although we appreciate the impact, consider this downside: We’ve been seeing campaign ads seemly forever.

Current polls have Senator Obama ahead ranging from 2 to 6%. For those not familiar with our state, here’s some information about us because Ohio is a diverse state. What is popular in one region of the state may not resonate elsewhere.

No Republican has ever won without Ohio. Yet, of Ohio’s 88 counties, Senator Obama only won 5 or 6 during the Ohio primary – all urban!

The three metro Cs create a line through the state: Cincinnati-Columbus-Cleveland. These three cities are very different from one another. Cleveland was the more industrial and the most established. Columbus is our capital and home to our largest university, yet has experienced the most growth. Many in Cleveland have eastern European roots while Cincinnati is blended with German Catholics and southern U.S. heritage. Cleveland has always been considered as Democratic, while Cincinnati as Republican. (Senator McCain will probably get around 60% of the Cincinnati-area vote.)

A Republican Cleveland Mayor (George Voinovich) served as a two-term governor and is one of our current senators. In 2004, President Bush’s campaign visits to southwestern Ohio always gathered big, enthusiastic crowds while serving as a fertile ground for campaign dollars. The Cincinnati area is the home of Republican leader John Boehner.

Smaller cities as Dayton, Akron, Canton, Toledo, and Youngstown are witnessing a shrinking industrial base. Ohio’s unemployment rate is over 7%.

Wright-Patterson AFB gives the military a large presence in Dayton.

Eastern Ohio is home to sulfur-containing coal, thus the potential impact of clean-coal technology. Because our proximity to coal, coal-burning power plants are scattered along the Ohio River.

The upper half of Ohio’s western side is our agricultural land containing many small towns representing Middle American values of strong family, hard work, and local pride. Politically, this area resembles Indiana.

Appalachian counties, south of the C-C-C line, culturally and politically resemble eastern Kentucky and West Virginia. I grew up in this traditional-Republican area (but I also have many life experiences throughout the state) and this region is its own. To learn more about this area and its importance in this election, here are two informative articles: Appalachia  &  Portsmouth.

So goes Ohio, so goes the nation.