I just got around to watching the first gubenatorial debate between Democrat Ted Strickland and Republican Ken Blackwell. It was a very low key event with few barbs thrown by either candidate. What was surprising though, was Blackwell's seeming resignation that this debate was not going to be a success for him. He knew he was in unfriendly territory in the Mahoning Valley. However, his demeanor appeared defeatist and his answers were ill prepared. His biggest blunder was trying to muddle his way through a question about what he would do to help the Mahoning Valley. His canned answer repeated his platform of low taxes and limited government. Strickland came off better, mentioning his involvement with the Columbiana Port Authority and the Youngstown Business Incubator. This was an obvious question given the venue and the current economic conditions in the Valley. Blackwell's lack of preparation made it clear that the Democrat dominated corner of Northeast Ohio will be ignored if he is elected.
Ted Strickland wasn't exactly on fire but he did come across as sincere and honest. He didn't promise pie-in-the-sky ideas that are impossible but he did promise to work hard and for the people. He thinks leasing the turnpike is a bad idea, favors raising the minimum wage, and does not want to raise taxes.
Strickland's message on education hits the target. He understands how badly the education system in Ohio needs to be upgraded in order to attract new industry. He also pledged to fix the unconstitutional method the state uses to fund public schools. This is important to every tax payer in Ohio.
The best thing Strickland has going for him is that he isn't a member of the corrupt Taft administration. He has no ties to Republican contributor Tom Noe and wasn't anywhere near Coingate when it exploded. Blackwell was a member of the administration and is tarnished by the Governor's actions by association. He also led the Ohio Republican effort to re-elect Goerge Bush in 2004 but garnered criticism because he was the Secretary of State at the time. If that election had ended the way the one in 2000 had, he would have been our Kathleen Harris, minus the appalling make up.
The Republicans have held the Governorship for 16 years. In that time manufacturing jobs have fled the state, taxes have been raised and tens of millions of dollars have been lost to corruption. If nothing else, it's hard to believe that the Democrats could do worse. This year the Republicans are running strong on staying the course, but it's clear that Ohio needs new leadership.
Ted Strickland should be the next Governor of Ohio.
In a move that surprised no long-time Cleveland Browns fan, Head Coach Romeo Crennel and Offensive Coordinator Maurice Carthon continued to seek advice on offensive play calling from Tyco Toys, Inc. Magic 8-Ball toy Sunday afternoon.
The tough contest against the Cincinnati Bengals provided ample opportunity for the Browns' coaching staff to quiz the 8-Ball on tough decisions. Specifically, two third down situations tested the plastic toy to the limits of it's knowledge about American football. On a critical 2nd quarter 3rd and 8 play the ball was asked if the Browns should use a running play. It answered with an emphatic "Signs Point to Yes". Offensive Coordinator Carthon sent in a play to give running back Reuben Droughns the ball and shook his head in disbelief when the effort came up short. With only 13 minutes left in the 3rd quarter and seeking to make up for it's earlier mistake, the Magic 8-Ball somehow used it's mystic abilities to force quarterback Charlie Fry to call a time out during a seemingly no-brainer 3rd and 1 situation. After players and coaches consulted the 8-Ball for a decision they came back on to the field and attempted a long pass, again with disappointing results.
"The 8-Ball does very well in practice," said Carthon. "It just doesn't handle the stress of a real game very well. When it said "Outlook Good" if we passed in that 3rd and short situation, I had complete faith in it. I'm just sorry it made the wrong call."
When asked if taking cues from a cheap novelty gift made good sense on the playing field, Head Coach Crennel shrugged his shoulders and said, "How else would you make complicated decisions? You have to trust your staff and I trust the 8-Ball".
In other news from the game, Bengals Wide Receiver Chad Johnson celebrated his love of the Wesley Snipes/ Sylvester Stallone action movie Demolition Man by sporting a gold mohawk.
Click this link and read the alternative history piece by Jonathan Alter in Newsweek. It's a nice little piece on the way things could have been if Bush would have really thought things through in his response to the attacks of 9/11. I don't agree that everything he says could have happened but the majority was certainly possible.
It is wholly appropriate to spend a moment today contemplating what we lost five years ago and remember those who fell in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania. What happened to cause them to be taken was a terrible and despicable act of cowardice that was met with resolve and bravery. As usual, Mike Luckovich managed to capture the feeling perfectly in the cartoon above.
I hope our leaders in Washington are paying attention as we commemorate the attacks on New York and Washington this year. They need to understand that we are not satisfied with their reaction to the events of that day or the subsequent foreign policy that has been enacted.
As I watched Vice President Cheney on Meet the Press this morning I was quickly numbed by his rhetoric. It was clear that he was tired of explaining himself and was simply giving the interview to arrogantly inform us that the Bush administration was correct and had made no mistakes. Tim Russert performed professionally, as he always does, but it was clear by the first commercial break that he was not going to get a discussion with real answers from the Vice President. Mr. Cheney dutifully informed us in rehearsed answers that the world was better off without Saddam Hussein in power, that the 300 billion dollars spent in Iraq thus far would not have made us any safer if it had been spent at home and that the Supreme Court had erred when it said Guantanamo detainees could not be held indefinitely without trial.
Mr. Cheney disagrees with polls showing the majority of Americans think the Bush administrations handling of Iraq is incorrect. This goes to the heart of the matter. Mr. Cheney and President Bush just don't understand the discontent in this country because they are so sure they are correct in the way they handle everything. I saw Rush Limbaugh on the CBS vening News Thursday prattling on about patriotism and how we should rally behind the administration as we fight Islamic extremists. The problem with the administration's attitude and those of cheerleaders like Limbaugh, is that they refuse to listen to any criticism whatsoever of the decisions being made in Washington. I'm only one man but this is what infuriates me:
The War in Iraq- Yes, Saddam Hussein is a very bad person who should not be allowed to govern a Dairy Queen, much less a country. However, the world is full of terrible dictators. Kim Jong Il of North Korea is unstable, has nuclear warheads and decent missile technology. He also starves his own people because he governs badly. Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe is slowly deconstructing that country as he jails his opposition and makes it harder for families to feed themselves by siezing land from white farmers. We cannot remove all of the dictators from power and install democratic regimes in every country which threatens us. We cannot even stop the inevitable rise of sectarian violence in Iraq, the one country where we have attempted this.
The War in Afghanistan- It is clear now, with the 20/20 hindsight history allows us, that we never commited fully to the war in Afghanistan in order to save our forces for Iraq. After five years we still hear about the Taliban forming an insurgency, al-Qaeda hiding in the mountains near the Pakistan border and the limited power of the Karzai government. As soon as it was clear that al-Qaeda was being sheltered, funded and aided by the ruling Taliban government in Afghanistan, the gloves should have come off. The country should have been inundated with the armed forces of the United States. The Taliban should have been wiped out and al-Qaeda should have been contained and confronted. It was a terrible mistake to operate as a small force and rely on armed militias in the country to remove the Taliban.
The Economy- We have spent more than 300 billion dollars on the war in Iraq and every dime has been borrowed, much of it from unfriendly nations like China. The Bush administration can tout good economic numbers all it likes but the middle class knows better. Milk is nearly $3.00 a gallon. Gasoline is nearly $3.00 a gallon. Diesel fuel, home heating oil and natural gas all cost more every year. These are staples that every home needs. Congress won't pass a minimum wage increase but they are more than happy to give tax breaks to those in upper income strata. Unemployment figures continue a steady decline but no one seems to know if that is because of real job growth or because people have exhausted their benefits and are no longer counted. I know this; it's getting more difficult to stay within the budget of our home and save money. I also know that this is the case in the majority of homes because the national savings rate is now less than zero. Think about that. As a country we all spend more than we earn every month. See the chart below from the U.S Bureau of Economic Analysis.
Jobs- If General Motors, Ford and Delphi are closing plants and letting workers take buyouts to reduce their payrolls, something is very wrong with the job market. These are good manufacturing jobs that are being eliminated forever. Other companies have all but shifted their entire operations overseas where labor is cheap. Strictly speaking as an American who doesn't want to see his neighbor out of work and ignoring Thomas Friedman's The World is Flat argument, I am appalled at the government for allowing this to happen. How can our lawmakers in Congress allow companies to treat our workers so badly and enjoy access to the American market place? Where is their sense of responsibility? Why don't we treat the American market like the valuable commodity it is? If companies want to sell here, they should have to invest here. It's not a difficult concept. Either invest in manufacturing plants here and employ Americans to manufacture a certain percentage of goods or you won't be allowed to import goods here. I'll pay the extra twenty bucks for a DVD player if it keeps a guy in Indiana working.
The elections this November will tell the tale. The choice is not a good one. After all, we know the Republicans have lots of bad ideas and the Democrats are gun shy about saying anything, lest they look soft on security. However, the Democrats will listen to you and try to work for you. It would be criminally negligent to sit at home and act like your voice does not matter. Those soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan are your neighbor's kids. That guy you see puttering around in the yard all day instead of working used to have a job somewhere. It's time to get motivated and throw the bums out.
It's been five years since things started sliding but if everyone takes it upon themselves to turn off the TV for one hour, read a newspaper and really open your eyes as to what's going on, we can effect a little regime change of our own and let the new office holders know we are holding them accountable for their actions.
This is the story that won't end, the crisis without cause and the embarrassment of the Mahoning Valley. That's right folks, the MV Hitmen think they may have a place to call home. Jim Terry says the team will play out of the Thunderdome in Brookfield Ohio. Is Brookfield even in the Mahoning Valley?
Since my escape from that peculiar little burg just over seven years ago, I haven't paid much attention to what happens there. After all, nothing much happened during the 25 years I lived there so I figured that same nothingness would continue. How wrong was I? Apparently someone built a giant quonset hut on Bedford Rd. to play softball in. Okay, I can see that. If nothing else, Brookfield worships sports. After all, the high school football team were the AA champs back in 1978 and they aren't letting anyone forget it.
So the turf has finally been collected from the Thunderplex in Vienna and Jim Terry is on the Moohead internet radio show. Listen to these interviews and think about whether you want someone who rants like this representing the Mahoning Valley. During the interview, Dave Anderson, the owner of the Thunderplex, calls in and Jim Terry argues with him. It spirals down into Jim Terry challenging his former business partner to a boxing match. If this grandstanding loon ever fields a team it's going to be the most embarrassing thing the Mahoning Valley has ever seen.
Valley drivers on Boardman's Rt 224 and Howland's Rt 46 have reputations as the worst in the state of Ohio. Well, today I saw proof of that theory. Between 11:00 am and 1:00 pm the family and I saw three accidents on Rt 46 leading into the Eastwood Mall. Traffic was backed up (see photo) and cops got wet as people inched their way toward Trumbull County's shopping Mecca.
Folks, when the roads are slick on a holiday weekend and the traffic is inching along, maybe you should just slow down, resist that urge to dart through the intersection on the yellow light and think about your insurance deductible. No sale is worth looking like an idiot in front of the two thousand other people you just made sit in traffic for 45 minutes.
I haven't posted in a while so tonight you get a few updates. First, something fun. Click here to see the ghost in the car commercial. People claim they see a ghost in this car commercial. Kind of like the skull in the ice cube from the old liquor ad. Personally, I think people are seeing things but check it out for yourself.