Sunday, March 16, 2008

Obama's Pastor Creates Tough Spot for Frontrunner

Barack Obama's longtime Chicago pastor, the "Rev." Jeremiah Wright, has come under intense media scrutiny for comments about whites in America and claiming that his primarily black congregation should support Obama over Hillary Clinton because Hillary has never been called the n-word. Right.

Obama has attempted to distance himself considerably from Wright and he posted a halfhearted defense of Wright while condemning specific comments that have been posted across the Internet.

Then in an interview with Fox News, Obama again tried to distance himself from Wright yet again but that supposed distance does not jive well with Obama's history of supporting Wright's church and having Wright serve on a spiritual advisory board for Obama's Presidential campaign. This 2007 New York Times piece details how close Obama and Wright really are--including the nice little tidbit that Obama had tape recordings of Wright's sermons on cassette tape and brought them to Harvard Law School with him.

Given Obama's political past, it's not surprising Obama would be closely aligned with someone as radical as Jeremiah Wright. When it suited his political fancy, Obama also rallied against white Americans for the sake of rallying black voters in his State Senate district.

And even media outlets that are generally friendly toward Obama's candidacy, such as The Atlantic, are worried about how Obama and his campaign team have handled this issue. In his Fox News interview and in his written response, Obama claims that Wright's bigotry and radical views are news to him. Really? As he readily admits, Obama has been a regular member of the Trinity Church since 1991 or 92. And at no time in all those years attending Trinity Church, this bigoted pastor never once railed against whites, conservatives, Republicans, Israel, Jews, or any other group in his line of fire? The Atlantic points out the obvious answer, that just isn't credible at all.

It's not credible because certain evidence points to the idea that Obama did in fact know of Jeremiah Wright's racist views and bigoted past. Wright was, after all, de-invited from Obama's official 2007 Presidential campaign kickoff event. Now the question is why. There is a sense that Obama is not being completely honest as he tries to spin his way out of the thicket but Obama's less than candid response could become a story in itself.

Labels: , ,

Saturday, March 08, 2008

The Perks of Government Health Care...

A 19-year-old British man opted not to have surgery when he was alerted by hospital staff of a nasty smell caused by a dead rodent in the building. Despite deep assurances from the government doctors that the rotting rodent did not pose any medical risk, he thought it would be best not to go ahead with the medical procedure.

And although Reuters treats this little pertinent factoid as perfectly ordinary, the young British man had already waited 11 months for the surgery!

Cheers for government bureaucracy, 11 month waiting periods, and dead rodents in hospitals!

Labels: , ,

Amtrak High Speed Rail Coming to Ohio?

Ohio Governor Ted Strickland has requested that Amtrak, the nation's only passenger rail system, study the possibility of connecting Cleveland, Columbus, and Cincinnati by a passenger high speed rail line with other various stops along the way.

An Amtrak spokesman said that Strickland would have to wait 12-18 months for the high speed rail study to be completed because at least 5 other states have requested similar reports from Amtrak.

I think this plan is a good investment in the infrastructure of Ohio and a solid alternative for travelers in Ohio looking to avoid higher gas prices. Amtrak, however, should not be in charge of the passenger rail line. Even if the Ohio rail line found a way to become profitable, Amtrak would surely find a way to squander a good business opportunity. For decades now (since about 1971), Amtrak has talked about becoming self-sufficient and at least breaking even on the balance sheet. But as of yet, that has never happened. All told, the federal government has provided billions in subsidies over the years. For FY 2008 alone, Amtrak executives asked for $1.68 billion from Congress, without any strings attached for enhanced performance or to ensure efficient use of the public funds.

And despite manipulation of the numbers by Amtrak's press office, total ridership has been done on Amtrak trains for the past three years running. Even the only almost-profitable train line in America, the Northeast corridor, has seen ridership steadily decreasing.

The moral of the story here should be quite clear for Strickland and Ohio. Keep Amtrak out of the picture. High speed rail is the transportation of the future and it can connect Ohio cities in a way that cars simply cannot. But handing over the rail lines to a dying railroad bureaucracy is not the answer. Cooperation and participation of the private sector is crucial for any such plan to work effectively. A lack of private sector interest and political willpower doomed high speed rail plans in both Florida and California to failure.

Everyone has to be on board for high speed rail to be an Ohio success. If a private carrier is brought in and given the rights (for a price) to develop a line and bring in trains, Ohioans will have an alternative mode of transportation that will likely be more efficient and cost-effect than Amtrak could ever hope to be.

Labels: , ,

Friday, March 07, 2008

Six Months Makes All The Difference for Brunner

Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner committed the ultimate flip-flop in just six months' time. The flip-flop in question? Her decision to completely scrap electronic voting machines in certain Ohio counties and use optical scanning equipment. The Associated Press is reporting that they obtained a letter dated June 13, 2007 that was sent to Congress. In that letter, Brunner claimed that states, including Ohio, were just becoming comfortable with the 2002 Help America Vote Act (HAVA), and that Congress (at that time) should not change how voters use electronic voting machines. Brunner said she had no comment at the moment but was preparing a response for later today.

And what about the paper ballot shortages in Cleveland and elsewhere around the state that led the Obama campaign to take court action to keep certain precincts open? That problem exposed the real problem of paper ballots and a stronger turnout than expected can send County Election Boards scrambling to find extra ballots for voters.

And apparently many Ohio voters who used the electronic voting machines this past Tuesday in Ohio's primary election are largely in disagreement with Brunner's June 2007 opinion. Brunner demanded that Ohio counties that were still using the electronic equipment for the primary make paper ballots available to voters. And in those counties, voters were not very concerned with conspiracy theories of hackers changing their votes. Ultimately, a very small percentage of voters in those Ohio counties that used the electronic voting machines requested paper ballots. It appears Ohio voters are comfortable with electronic voting, despite Brunner's absurd conspiracy theories. This reaction to electronic voting seems to contradict the assertion in Brunner's December 2007 report on electronic voting in Ohio that the possible problems with the voting machines in question caused a lack of trust and confidence in Ohio's electoral process. Based on the primary this past Tuesday, that assertion is not only unfounded but is a prime example of partisan hyperbole and a fabricated claim used to bolster Brunner's pre-determined to scrap electronic voting in Ohio altogether.

Labels: , ,

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Over 1,100 Ohio Signatures Collected for Casino Initiative

At the polls around Ohio Tuesday, a petition was circulated for the Casino initiative. The petition was able to collect more than 1,100 signatures.

The casino plan calls for building a $600 million casino in Clinton County, Ohio along Interstate-71, not too far from Cincinnati. The web site claims the large casino would employ 5,000 Ohioans and generate around $200 million in state tax revenue. The revenue would then be divided among Ohio's 88 counties on a per capita basis.

And it appears this initiative has a large majority of Ohio voters on its side. According to a recent statewide poll conducted by the reputable firm SurveyUSA, a whopping 68% of Ohioans approve of legalized casino gambling in Ohio.

The proponents of the plan claim its different from past casino initiatives in that it calls for only one casino at a single location. While obviously true, it is not clear how that is an advantage to this specific plan. On their web site, the organizers claim the location in Clinton County would be close to all the major population centers in Ohio. That's simply not true. Northeastern Ohioans, such as myself, are actually closer to the casinos in Michigan and Ontario by driving time than we are to this proposed site in Clinton County.

Casinos scattered throughout Ohio would ensure maximum tax revenue and large volume of visitors. Clevelanders will not travel down to Clinton County when they can go to Detroit or Windsor and save an hour driving. I think any plan for legalization of casinos in Ohio should include at least 3 locations. One casino each for the metro areas of Cleveland, Columbus, and Cincinnati. Nonetheless, any amount of casino gambling in Ohio is a definite step in the right direction.

Another thing is that they were only able to collect 1,100 signatures throughout the state on Tuesday? Millions of Ohioans voted, the most in any primary before, and they were only able to secure 1,100 signatures? That seems kinda...pathetic. Their web site says they need to collect 402,275 from all 88 counties in Ohio. I hope their very close to that number of this initiative will likely never make the ballot in November.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Michelle Obama Delivers Another Gaffe

My God, when will the Obama campaign finally realize that they need to stuff Michelle Obama's mouth with a sock. Apparently at a campaign stop, she described us (the America n people) as downright mean. She also described us as a nation of nation of cynics, sloths, and complacents." Now that's certainly going to bring us together!

Hillary's last stand in Texas and Ohio last night not withstanding, it still appears that Obama will win the Democratic nomination. With the amount of miscues committed by Michelle Obama already in this campaign, she's gearing up to be a bigger liability than Teresa Heinz Kerry was to John Kerry!

Labels: , , ,

Obama Observer Sitting in on Rezko Trial

Well, for someone who didn't do anything wrong ever and is the most ethical politician in the history of the world, it's interesting to see Barack Obama send a campaign staffer to the jury selection of the Rezko trial. Keeping tabs on his old real estate buddy, I suppose.

Also worth noting that the Obama observer in question didn't what to reveal her affiliation.

Labels: , ,

Monday, March 03, 2008

A Closer Look at Obama's Record in Illinois

This article, by a journalist named Todd Spivak who worked in Barack Obama's State Senate district when he was an unknown entity, has shed some valuable light on the man who is on the verge of becoming the Democratic Presidential contender.

The picture he paints is very underwhelming, especially when contrasted with the media darling Obama has become today. Obama worked his way up the chain of command not through hard work and community activism, like his recent television campaign commercials would have you believe but through hiring a Harvard Law buddy to comb over Illinois election laws and find loopholes to ensure he was the only candidate on the ballot and all the other Democrats (including the longtime incumbent) were kicked off the ballot.

The story also shows an incredible lack of leadership on Obama's part. He refused to get involved in community redevelopment and eminent domain abuse by the city of Chicago within his own district.

Crime, quality of life? Obama usually silent.

Obama's main objective appeared to be a constant rise in position and prestige. He ran for U.S. Congress against incumbent Congressman Bobby Rush but was portrayed as an Ivy League elitist who was out of touch with rank and file South Side Chicagoans.

And all the bills and passed legislation that Obama constantly rattles off as proof that he is experienced at passing laws and working across the aisle? They were bills originally authored by various other members of the Illinois State Senate. Obama's name was attached to the legislation by Illinois Senate President Emil Jones, Jr. Obama's role in actually crafting the legislation and negotiating the eventual passage is cast in an uncertain light here.

Emil Jones is responsible for Barack Obama's rapid rise in national politics. Much more so than Obama is responsible for it himself.

And Obama's squeaky-clean image is tainted by his endorsement of Chicago Alderman Dorothy Tillman who once brandished a gun and was involved in serious corruption allegations months before Obama's endorsement came.

The bottom line here is evident. Obama wasn't the courageous community activist who rejected a lucrative career on Wall Street. He was an ambitious, well-educated young man who was intent on advancing into national politics. Leadership, clean government, etc. all came second to ambition.

That's not to demonize Obama. McCain and Hillary are both guilty of that same offense to some extent. But the problem here is that the mainstream media is allowing Obama to cast his own image of himself. When he says he will clear out the Washington lobbyists and power brokers, no one challenges him. No one, most especially Tim Russert or Brian Williams, are willing to do the research and visit Chicago's South Side.

They appear unwilling to accept the fact that the Obama hype isn't what it's all cracked up to be.

Labels: , ,

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Michelle Obama is Out of Touch And a Hypocrite

In a campaign stop in Zanesville, Ohio over the weekend, Michelle Obama urged young people not to go into corporate America. As Byron York of National Review outlines, Muskingum County (Zanesville) had a 2004 median household income of $37,192. Only about 12% have a bachelor's degree and nearly a fifth of the county population doesn't even have a high school diploma.

What is Michelle Obama's solution for these economically disadvantaged citizens? Forego high-paying corporate jobs! Forget a bachelor's degree in business and a MBA, get a degree in social work and work for around the same amount of money you make now!

The other obvious problem here are the charges of blatant hypocrisy by Michele Obama. Beside the multi-million dollar estate the Obama's bought in 2005 with the help of their crony Tony Rezko (see below), Mrs. Obama worked as vice president for community and external affairs at the University of Chicago hospitals until May 2007. In that capacity, she made $316,962 a year. Too bad all of us can't be a spouse of a U.S. Senator and land cake jobs that pay over $300,000 per year!

And what about Michelle Obama's involvement in corporate America? Back in May 2007, she took a lot of heat for being on the corporate board of a major food supplier to Wal-Mart, a firm called TreeHouse Foods.

So, it's obvious that Michelle Obama doesn't hesitate to become involved with corporate America and lucrative corporate board gigs when they stand to benefit her financially. But now she has the audacity to come to Zanesville, Ohio and tell a struggling population they should reject the profitable opportunities of corporate America and take jobs that offer a salary that doesn't make ends meet.

Labels: ,