Cleveland Bishop Finds a Way to Become MORE Unpopular

Cleveland's Catholic Bishop Richard Lennon is not exactly the most popular person among Catholics I know. Many have dubbed him things like "Richard the Closer," a reference to the heavy-handed way he managed the closing of dozens of local parishes, ignoring the recommendations of taskforces he convened and refusing to share his reasoning with people. About a dozen of those parishes appealed to the Vatican and won their cases; they reopened last year.

One of those was St. Peter, a vibrant parish whose church is located at E. 17th and Superior. When the church was closed, hundreds of worshippers and their priest Robert Marrone rented a space and continued to worship together as the Community of St. Peter.

Bishop Lennon wasn't happy. Incredibly, he was quoted in the Plain Dealer as saying that if they worshipped in a place not approved by him, "their salvation is at stake."

Apparently, Bishop Lennon thinks he speaks for God.

Now there's this:

http://www.cleveland.com/metro/index.ssf/2013/03/bishop_richard_lennon_e...

"Bishop Richard Lennon excommunicates the Rev. Robert Marrone"

Lennon said in the statement that Marrone violated terms of a leave of absence he had received from the diocese and that he refused to abandon a worship space he and his followers had set up outside the authority of the diocese.

"Father Marrone's recent actions have been in direct defiance of the church's teachings and authority," Lennon said.

The diocese is saying Marrone "excommunicated himself" by his actions, the convoluted way the church likes to pass the buck in these cases.

How Many Ways Do Republicans Hate Democracy?

It seems like every day we hear a new story about some egregious assault on voters rights by some un-American, democracy-hating Republican. If U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia can arrogantly smirk — flying in the face of widespread evidence in our latest presidential election — that African-Americans currently have some sort of special "racial entitlement" to vote, then why should we expect more respect for democracy from the collection of dimwits and extremists who infest the GOP caucus in our legislature.

One of the only things that has kept workers in evenly divided Ohio from the same wretched fate that befell those in ALEC puppet Scott Walker's Wisconsin is the power of ballot referendum repeal.

When our governor Taxin' John Kasich and the legislature obediently did the bidding of ALEC and the Koch Brothers and slammed SB 5 into law so fast people barely had time to react, citizens mobilized, gathered more than twice the signatures needed to send it to the ballot, and repealed it by a 60% margin. Soon after that, when HB 194, a voter suppression omnibus bill, was headed in the same direction, the legislature quickly repealed it to save the GOP from another humiliating loss.

So naturally now, the Republican-dominated legislature is working to steal the power from the people to respond to its arrogant overreach. It's come up with SB 47, which will severely restrict the right of citizens to go to the ballot. And not just referenda. The bill will also make it much more difficult for citizens to initiate constitutional amendments — just time to block the repeal of the "Defense of Marriage" amendment!

We got the following email from an activist down in southwest Ohio, who writes,

Efficiency of the private sector may have led to senior’s death

The private sector: it’s so glorious. It’s so efficient. It’s quick and nimble. In the private sector there are no ridiculous policies or “red tape.”

Uhmm… maybe not.

At a senior care facility in California a resident recently collapsed in the dining area. There was facility staff present, but instead of rushing in to try to save the resident, the staff dialed 911 and watched, because that’s what corporate policy dictated. Ironically, the person who called 911 is a nurse. The Huffington Post reports…

”A nurse’s refusal to give CPR to a dying 87-year-old woman at a California independent living home despite desperate pleas from a 911 dispatcher has prompted outrage and spawned a criminal investigation.”

It continues…

”The executive director of Glenwood Gardens, Jeffrey Toomer, defended the nurse in a written statement, saying she followed the facility’s policy.

“”In the event of a health emergency at this independent living community, our practice is to immediately call emergency medical personnel for assistance and to wait with the individual needing attention until such personnel arrives,”” Toomer said. “”That is the protocol we followed.””

And finally there is this…

”I understand if your boss is telling you, you can’t do it,” the dispatcher said. “But … as a human being … you know, is there anybody that’s willing to help this lady and not let her die?”

“Not at this time,” the nurse answered”

Creepy.

The Right will talk endlessly about the glories of the private sector. It’s why we have to sell so many of our public services to them. But in reality, that is such a lie. The private sector is nothing but institutions run by people. They are no more immune from ridiculous policies and “red tape” than any other institutions.

The complete story can be found here:

The guy who never wanted to be president gives interview about how he wished he was president

Ugh. At times, it’s so depressing to put up with the Right’s in-ability to keep a consistent message. A couple of days ago the Romney’s gave their first interview since Mitt lost the presidential election. During the interview Mitt Romney stated…

”It kills me not to be there, not to be in the White House doing what needs to be done,”

If you’ll recall, this is a guy who’s son said just a few weeks ago that Mitt wanted to be president less than anyone he knew.

Really. Which is it? I guess it can be whatever they want it to be, because no one will ever hold them accountable.

The full story about Mitt’s interview can be found here:

http://www.npr.org/blogs/itsallpolitics/2013/03/03/173361614/in-first-po...

News Flash! Kasich "Support" for Cleveland Schools Plan Fake

Well, well, well. The chickens are coming home to roost.

Last year, the so-called "Cleveland Plan" for the Cleveland Public Schools was unveiled and shoved down peoples' throats as the greatest thing since sliced bread to browbeat them into passing a huge levy (15 mils). Dutifully, they did.

In the course of the campaign, voters were told "It's so bipartisan — we even have the support of Governor Kasich!"

But it was obvious to me, and should have been obvious to everyone, that that so-called support was false. It's easy to support something that requires nothing of you, that is paid for entirely by someone else — Cleveland's poorest homeowners — and that accomplishes by the backdoor something you want to get done — beating up on teachers and proposing "solutions" that have less to do with education than weakening the teachers' union. Yes, of course, the teachers went along with it because they had no choice. Had they failed to do so, they would have been subjected to a campaign of demonization, led by the Plain Dealer.

What wasn't mentioned much was that the new levy, as large as it is, doesn't fund the wonderful new stuff the Cleveland Plan proposes. It fills the hole left by the state funding Kasich stripped from the Cleveland schools in his last budget. Kasich was most likely laughing up his sleeve at how he tricked Cleveland voters into giving themselves a tax increase to pay for his cuts.

The only way Kasich could have genuinely "supported" the plan was by restoring that funding. Cleveland voters did their part, most probably thinking they were providing funding the new initiatives the plan proposed. But Kasich offered nothing — no skin in the game, just words, And Kasich's new budget proposes not a single extra penny for the Cleveland Public Schools, meaning the cuts are permanent.

Ha ha — fooled you, suckers.

If You Don't Subscribe to the Borowitz Report, You Should!

I'm sure many of you do. Here's a sample for those that don't:

http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/borowitzreport/2013/03/pentagon-cuts-could-hamper-ability-to-invade-countries-for-no-reason.html?mbid=nl_Borowitz%20(87)

WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)—The spending cuts mandated by the sequester may hamper the United States’s ability to invade countries for absolutely no reason, a Pentagon spokesman warned today.

The Pentagon made this gloomy assessment amid widespread fears that the nation’s ability to wage totally optional wars based on bogus pretexts may be in peril.

There's more. Go check it out. Funnier than The Onion.

Sherrod Brown along with Conservative David Vitter vow to bring forth legislation to end “too big to fail”

Well, while we were all being distracted by the inane antics of Bob Woodward, and the very sad sequester “talks,” there was some very good news to report. Sherrod Brown took to the floor of the Senate to announce that he will bring forth legislation to end “too big to fail.” He was joined by David Vitter, a conservative from Louisiana. RawStory reports Brown as saying…

”Today, our economy is being threatened by multi-trillion dollar financial institutions,”

”Wall Street megabanks that are so large that, should they fail, they would take the rest of the economy with them. Instead of failure, however, taxpayers are likely to be asked to cover their losses, to bail them out as we did five years ago.”

“This is a disastrous outcome because it transfers wealth from the rest of the economy into these megabanks and it suspends the rules of capitalism, perpetuating the moral hazard that comes from saving risk-takers from the consequences of their behavior,”

Vitter added…

”I don’t know if we quite define the political spectrum of the United States Senate, but we come pretty darned close,”

“And yet, we absolutely agree about this threat.”

Awesome.

It’s good to hear there are at least a couple of people in Congress who really understand what’s threatening our country and are trying to do something about it.

The complete article from RawStory can be found here:
http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/02/28/progressive-democrat-and-conservat...

Bob Woodward’s State of Denial

HA. Bob Woodward’s situation just gets more ridiculous, and with it, he becomes more of a joke. Last night he went on Sean Hannity’s show to try to plead that he’s really not that crazy. But seriously, when you’ve been someone of Bob Woodward’s stature and you have to go on Sean Hannity to absolve yourself: you’ve failed. I mean, really think about that. What’s his next act? To pull out an empty chair and claim that it’s shouting angry tirades at him. I think we have a future act for the next Republican Convention.

So anyway, Bob Woodward, continued his assertion that the sequester was all Obama’s doing. But such an assertion would seem to absolve the Republicans for their absolutely awful behavior during that time. Even to my non political friends, it was pretty obvious, the Republicans had one goal, and that was to stick it to Obama. The Republicans obviously wanted to find a terrible “solution” to the country’s financial “problems” and find it, they did. Seriously, what was Obama supposed to do when the answer to everything was “no.” In addition, Bob Woodward, continued his assertion that the email he received from Gene Sperling had a “threatening” tone to it. As I listened to him, I kind of wondered if he sees domestic house cats as vicious animals.

The video of Woodward’s interview is posted below. But honestly, it’s not really worth watching. It offers no new or relevant information. It's just a showcase of two pathetic people. One of them trolls for any information they can use to incite their audience and the other is desperately trying to regain their dignity.

A Radical, Transformative Choice for Pope!

I found this article thanks to a link posted by Congressman Tim Ryan of Youngstown on Facebook.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/the-best-choice-for-pope-a-nun/20...

Washington Post columnist EJ Dionne thinks the Catholic Church could ameliorate many of its problems by electing a woman pope, although he admits this is a pipe dream.

He says,

I hardly expect the cardinals to follow my advice on this. But I hope that they at least consider electing the kind of man who has the characteristics of my ideal female pontiff. The church needs a leader who has worked closely with the poor and the outcast, who understands that battling over doctrine is less important for the church’s future than modeling Christian behavior — and who sees that the proper Christian attitude toward the modern world is not fear but hope.

The needs of the poor and outcast have been concerned of Congressman Ryan, but that apparently doesn't sit well with at least one commenter on this thread, who said,

This is comedy gold. The person who since being elected to office has done everything opposite of his Catholic teachings, is giving advice on who should be pope. You always make me laugh Timmy.

If what Ryan has advocated for is the "opposite of Catholic teachings," it's probably contemporary Catholic teachings that need to be revised.

Dionne writes,

Last summer my 18-year-old daughter, Julia, worked at a Catholic-supported program for the homeless in Silver Spring. Like many women her age, Julia has a long list of problems with the church, but she loved the program and deeply admired everyone who worked there.

She came home one night and said: “Why doesn’t the church talk more about this work and less about the stuff it usually talks about?”

Which Ohio Congressmen Despise Women?

Today the House of Representatives finally passed the inclusive version of the Violence Against Women Act, a formerly noncontroversial measure that had come up for renewal. In their ongoing efforts to make even the most routine matters a source of huge conflict and an opportunity to try to stymie Democrats and paralyze the presidency, Republicans were insisting that they would only renew the measure if certain groups — such as Native-Americans, immigrants, and LGBT people — were excluded. Apparently in their little straight white male world, some people are less worthy of protection than others.

So who in Ohio voted against the measure in the end? The Hall of Shame includes five ghastly misogynists, all Republicans, naturally. (Of course, three of our four Democrats are women anyway).

They are:

Steve Chabot
Bill Johnson
Jim Jordan (of course)
Bob "Who?" Latta
Brad Wenstrop

These people are mean-spirited individuals, who put ideology before the needs of actual people. I hope if you live in their districts you will let them know that you don't approve of that.

Ohio GOP Trying to Intimidate School Districts Into Submission?

After promising that his new school funding plan was going to help raise up poor school districts, our governor, Taxin' John Kasich, revealed an actual plan that did the opposite: it increased funding to many wealthy districts, while leaving most poor districts with nothing additional. That means a cut, since school districts got cut in the last budget. So keeping funding at the same level means locking in the cut.

Many school districts expressed disappointment, understandably. They're tired of being told they should "do more with less." Many are at the point where they can only do LESS with less, while having all kinds of increased demands for accountability and performance heaped on them. They're being told to meet these demands without adequate tools. It's like telling you to build a house with scissors and thumbtacks.

One of the districts expressing disappointment was the Franklin Schools in very Republican Warren County. It's one of the poorer districts in this wealthy county, and it came up empty-handed in the new funding distribution. One really couldn't expect the superintendent to be jumping for joy.

It seemed odd then that the county prosecutor David Fornshell announced he was opening an investigation — since dropped — into a letter the superintendent sent out to the community expressing that disappointment in perhaps too personal terms, urging that Kasich and those who support him in this matter not be reelected.

But was Fornshell acting on orders from above? This Dayton Daily News story suggests he might have been.

http://www.daytondailynews.com/news/news/local/prosecutor-contacted-by-g...

The Warren County prosecutor received calls and emails from Ohio Republican Party staffers on the day he opened an investigation into the actions of the Franklin Schools superintendent, according to records obtained by the Middletown Journal.

Bob Woodward should be fired

Bob Woodward is a prime example of what a joke “journalism” has become. In case you haven’t been following, Woodward, has been running around declaring that the Obama Administration “moved the goal posts” in asking for revenues to be part of ending sequestration. Officials within the administration have apparently been trying to correct, Woodward, on his false assertion, but it’s been to no avail. Woodward, in showing what a degenerate he’s become refused to accept any additional facts and just continued his lie. To make things worse, he then furthered things by making an ominous claim that the White House “threatened” him. In the following video he does his best to make it sound like he received a vicious email from a top administration official who was trying to silence him. But in actually reading the email he received nothing could be further from the truth. After the video is a copy of the email he received and also his response to this “threatening official.” The communication seems to be pretty cordial. I’ll even save you a little time by giving you the sentence that contains the horrible “threat” that Bob Woodward, received…

” I know you may not believe this, but as a friend, I think you will regret staking out that claim.”

Bob Woodward is trash. In world that increasingly wants people to be measured on merit, he fails miserably. Do yourself a favor, do the world a favor, and call the Washington Post and ask that Bob Woodward be fired. The number is 202-334-6000. Or you can email the executive editor, Martin Baron, at martin.baron@washpost.com. I’ve called them and from what I’ve heard others have too.

From Politico: http://www.politico.com/story/2013/02/exclusive-the-woodward-sperling-em...

This Month's Most Hilarious Email

I need to share more of the emails I'm getting from the conservative newsletters I'm on. They're a hoot. And none more so that one I received recently about the special election to fill the seat in Illinois's 2nd district vacated when Jesse Jackson Jr. resigned.

If you've been following the race, you know that in Tuesday's primary, Robin Kelly ran away with the Democratic race due in part to the fact that her "F" rating from the NRA, compared to her two top opponents' "A" ratings, became an asset in the wake of the Newtown shootings and the dramatic increase in shootings in Chicago recently.

As with Joyce Beatty last year in Oh-03, Kelly can start packing now, even with the general election not until April 9. Il-02 takes in a swath of Chicago's south side where I grew up and where my sister still lives. It's about as Democratic as Ohio's 11th district, where I now live, represented by Marcia Fudge. President Obama won Il-02 by 90%. John Kerry got almost 85% of the vote in 2004.

Sixteen Democrats, sniffing opportunity, were on the ballot, splitting just under 60,000 votes in an off-year special election primary with a blizzard going on; Kelly got about half of those.

On the GOP side, only five candidates stepped up, sensing futility. They split about 3,500 votes. Impressive turnout, guys!

That sets the stage for this email, which arrived courtesy of my friends at GOPUSA. It comes from Lenny McAllister, one of the five Republicans in the race.

Dear Conservative Patriot [contraction in terms],

"Chicago-style politics" isn't a myth; it's alive and well in a district that's seen its last 3 members of Congress fall from grace in the most public and humiliating ways.[None of this crap you're about to cite has anything to do with "Chicago-style politics"]

Conservative Columnist George Will Agrees With — Sherrod Brown???

You know the adage about a stopped clock being right twice a day? Well, George Will, the dean of conservative newspaper columnists, recently ran a column that starts like this:

With his chronically gravelly voice and relentlessly liberal agenda, Sherrod Brown seems to have stepped out of “Les Miserables,” hoarse from singing revolutionary anthems at the barricades. Today, Ohio's senior senator has a project worthy of Victor Hugo - and of conservatives' support. He wants to break up the biggest banks.

Despite the hilarious characterization of our senator, this column is well worth a read. Your jaw will drop.

http://readersupportednews.org/opinion2/279-82/15945-focus-time-to-break...

It's called "Time to Break Up the Big Bands," and no, there isn't some trick or twist at the end.

Will points out,

Today, the 5,500 community banks have 12 percent of the banking industry's assets. The 12 banks with $250 billion to $2.3 trillion in assets total 69 percent. The 20 largest banks' assets total 84.5 percent of the nation's gross domestic product.

Such banks have become bigger, relative to the economy, since the financial crisis began, and they are not the only economic entities to do so. Last year, the Economist reported that in the past 15 years the combined assets of the 50 largest U.S. companies had risen from around 70 percent of GDP to around 130 percent.

He then says,

But this just means that the pernicious practice of socializing losses while keeping profits private is not quarantined in the financial sector.

and

Government nurtured these behemoths by weaving an improvident safety net and by practicing crony capitalism.

Yes, we progressives say that a lot. But this is one of the nation's most prominent CONSERVATIVE commentators.

Will says,

More GOP Intransgience

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/02/25/ron-johnson-john-boehner_n_2762...

"Ron Johnson: John Boehner Would Lose Speakership If He Caves On Taxes To Avert Sequester"

In other words, collapse the economy, destroy the government, paralyze Obama's presidency ... or else. Somebody tell me why these people aren't being charged with treason yet. They love to babble about Obama trying to overthrow democracy with not a shred of evidence and no reason except "OMG HE'S BLACK." But when you see threats like this, you have to wonder who it is that really hates America.

Of course, Ron Johnson is a Senator (from Wisconsin) so he does not speak for the House and has little influence there. He's probably been hanging out in a D.C. bar having drinks with his teabagger buddies from the House, listening to them grouse that even though their policies are supported by only a minute fraction of Americans, they aren't getting their way 100%.

Also, this is the same Ron Johnson who, incredibly, got elected AFTER it was revealed that he defended the interests of pedophile protectors over the welfare of children who had been violated.

Johnson went to the Wisconsin legislature in 2009 to testify against the proposed Child Victims Sexual Abuse Act, saying "“I think it's a valid question to ask if the employer of the perpetrator should also be severely damaged, possibly destroyed, in a legitimate desire for justice."

As one blogger put it, "Well… actually that’s not a valid question! It’s an incredibly stupid question! If the Green Bay Diocese knew that a pedophile priest was in their organization and instead of calling the police, reassigned him to another parish, of course they should be sued!"

More Than 75 Republicans Sign Onto Gay Marriage Case. But ...

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/26/us/politics/prominent-republicans-sign...

Dozens of prominent Republicans have signed a legal brief arguing that gay people have a constitutional right to marry, a position that amounts to a direct challenge to Speaker John A. Boehner and reflects the civil war in the party since the November election. The document will be submitted this week to the Supreme Court in support of a suit seeking to strike down Proposition 8, a California ballot initiative barring same-sex marriage, and all similar bans.

You know there's a catch, right? Pay attention to the words "civil war in the party." The catch is that these are mostly FORMER Republican officials and officeholders — the kind that the extremist Republican Party of today has mostly pushed into retirement.

For instance, there's Deb Pryce, formerly the congresswoman from Ohio's former 15th district (Columbus). Pryce was defeated in 2008 by Democrat Mary Jo Kilroy who, alas, was defeated by Slimy Banking Lobbyist Steve Stivers in 2010. Guess what Kilroy is doing now? She's CEO of FreedomOhio, the group working to bring marriage equality to Ohio! Today's GOP has little room for people like Pryce:

Ms. Pryce said Monday: “Like a lot of the country, my views have evolved on this from the first day I set foot in Congress. I think it’s just the right thing, and I think it’s on solid legal footing, too.”

Pryce's statement highlights the increasing challenges the GOP has on this issue (and many others). As Pryce says, "a lot of the country" has evolved on this issue, and polls indicate that that evolution is picking up steam, especially since they show that the younger the demographic, the less they see what the big deal is about gay people getting married.

I Love the Smell of Co-option in the Morning

This morning I got an email titled "Historic Partnership for Ohio."

Well, that sounded exciting. And it was coming from Equality Ohio, so I knew it wasn't about a bunch of teabagging groups with the word "liberty" in their names coming together to defend their guns!

I then read this interesting message:

Today, Equality Ohio, the Human Rights Campaign and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force announce a powerful statewide coalition to win full equality in Ohio.

Why? Because we know these simple truths:
Ohioans must be free to live without fear of discrimination at home, at work and in our communities
Ohio students must be free to go to school without the threat of harassment or violence
Ohio couples, including same-sex couples, must have the freedom to marry the person they love
Can we do this? Yes. But not without your help. Sign our petition and share it.

This LGBT coalition brings together the best strategic thinkers from across the country. And we are uniting the best tactical teams available anywhere.

We will not act prematurely.
We will not be distracted.
We are relentless.
We won't stop until full equality is won.

This is Our Equality. Our Ohio.

Hmmmm. If you have been following what we've written in the last year about FreedomOhio and the drive to put marriage equality on the ballot, you know that the big LGBT organizations have been dragging their feet.

The movement in Ohio was started by a handful of grassroots organizers who have been building a movement of other grassroots organizers. At many points along the way, they have been discouraged by the big boys, some of whom have cautioned them that now is not the time.

Stop Taxin' John From Taking Credit for This!

You know how our governor, Taxin' John Kasich, love to take credit for reviving the economy and creating lots and lots of jobs? Never mind that the Official Party Line of the GOP is "government doesn't create jobs."

As we all know, Taxin' John opposed the auto industry bailout and former congresswoman Betty Sutton's Cash for Clunkers legislation, which together may have saved as many as several hundred thousand jobs in Ohio, a state heavily dependent on the auto industry. Without those jobs, there would be nothing for our governor to boast about.

Maybe he'd like to peruse this morning's newsletter from Senator Sherrod Brown, who actually can legitimately take credit for helping to protect Ohio jobs. Normally, I don't post such communiques in their entirety. But this one is significant in light of Taxin' John's egregiously erroneous claims for himself and his as-yet-unfunctioning JobsOhio scam.

450 Jobs Returning to Cleveland’s Engine Plant

Ford Motor Company announced last week that it will invest nearly $200 million and add 450 new reshored jobs at its Cleveland Engine Plant which produces the 2.0-liter EcoBoost. U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown praised the nearly $200 million investment, which will officially move production of the 2.0-liter EcoBoost engine for North American vehicles from Valencia, Spain to Cleveland, Ohio.

“The demand for the EcoBoost is a testament to the strength of Northeast Ohio manufacturing and our auto supply chain,” said Sen. Brown. “Ford’s expansion not only boosts jobs and the economy in our state, but proves that you should always bet on the American worker.”

Marriage Equality Probably Can't Be Stopped in Ohio. Sorry, Bigots

Today's Columbus Dispatch has a story headlined "Same-sex marriage likely to be on ballot."

http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/local/2013/02/23/same-sex-marria...

It starts "It’s all but certain that Ohioans will vote this fall on a constitutional amendment seeking to overturn the 2004 state ban on same-sex marriage."

This isn't news to those of us who have watched the grassroots movement now dubbed FreedomOhio snowball since its formation a little over a year ago. Some of the big players in the LGBT movement have tried to put the brakes on it, prioritizing states where they feel it's more of a "sure thing" to pass. But the movement in Ohio has just kept growing.

When even the Columbus Dispatch acknowledges that it's likely to succeed in getting on the ballot, well then, it most likely will.

Ian James, one of the people who launched the campaign in Ohio last January, told the Dispatch, "We will qualify (for the ballot) in over 50 counties. We will have the signatures to file by July 3. ... We would do this no matter when it appears on the ballot.” (The group can decide whether it wants to submit the signatures for this year or wait until next year; signatures are good indefinitely as long as the voter doesn't move, die or otherwise become ineligible to vote).

Can it pass? We'll see. The landscape is changing rapidly on this issue.

Of course, this was predictable:

Phil Burress, head of Citizens for Community Values and the architect of the same-sex marriage ban, said he’s ready for a fight.

“We are building our campaign and contacts in all 88 counties and in churches all across Ohio,” he said.

“We realize the man from the Obama campaign[Greg Schultz, OFA's Ohio director] has joined their team, but this is not election for president. This is about marriage.”

Where Are the Women in Congress?

I attended a very interesting presentation today at Case Western Reserve University by Karen Beckwith a political science professor at the university. Her topic: The Widening Party Gap in Electing Women to Congress

I probably don't need to tell you which side of the gap each party is on.

Dr. Beckwith opened by offering figures to show what is going on. She said that until 1990, both the major parties elected about the same percentage of women — a very dismal, nearly invisible one. But as the percentage of women in Congress started to slowly creep upward to where it is today — 20% of the Senate, 17.7% of the House — they started to diverge. She provided figures that showed that while Democrats continue to make steady, if slow, gains, Republican women as a percentage of their delegation have decreased, falling from a high of just over 10% back into the single digits. Women comprise more than 20% of their delegation. Of the 20 women U.S.Senators, 16 are Democrats. 58 of the 77 women in the House are Democrats.

Many of us know the numbers well. I was most interested in hearing Beckwith's explanation — or conjecture — as to why the gap exists. Some of the obstacles to women running — they often wait until their families have grown, as Nancy Pelosi did; they may not have the same network of potential donors that men do — shouldn't have a party bias. Beckwith suggested that the fact that the gender gap in voters — with women voting more Democratic — might be one explanation, although she added that there is no proof that voters will necessarily favor a candidate of the same gender.

She offered up another theory that I found really intriguing. She said that people tend to perceive women candidates as more liberal than men. She added that if Republicans thought strategically, it could give them an edge if they ran women in swing districts or districts that lean only slightly Republican, whether the candidate really IS more moderate or not.

NIna Turner in Shaker Heights Tonight

DSC_0293

State Senator Nina Turner spoke to a full house tonight at the Stephanie Tubbs Jones Community Center in Shaker Heights.

The centerpiece of her presentation was her Voter Protection Act, which would eliminate barriers that make voting more difficult for some voters than for others. It includes makes registering more accessible, guaranteeing a certain number of early voting hours, increasing the number of early voting centers in larger counties, making universal mailing of absentee ballot applications permanent, and clarifying provisional voting regulations.

House minority leader Armond Budish was in the house so Turner called him up front to join her in talking about the governor's budget, which she called "troubling" and he called "not good." They talked about the short shrift it gives to schools and local governments and how, while he brags that it didn't cut anything, it fails to restore the hurtful cuts he made in the last budget.

DSC_0316 23-54-45

They also talked about redistricting. Budish said, "Nothing is more important than redistricting in my opinion." They discussed the potential methods of accomplishing this, either legislatively or possibly through the commission meeting to revise the state constitution.

Chipping Away at the Housing Crisis

DSC_0131

Last March, Democratic Congresswoman Marcia Fudge (Oh-11) and Republican Congressman Steve LaTourette held a press conference out in Slavic Village to announce legislation they planned to introduce. It proposed to issue bonds to pay for the demolition of abandoned housing that was beyond repair in order to help shore up the values of the surrounding occupied homes and improve the communities.

LaTourette has retired from Congress, and the bill, which would have incurred no cost and required no new money, never got anywhere. Fudge says now that's because it was a low priority in Washington during an election year in which everybody was busy back home campaigning (We need to do something about that too, but that's a different story!)

Fudge has not given up on the idea, however. And today she held a press conference with two new colleagues from the Cleveland area: Republican David Joyce, who replaced LaTourette in Oh-14, and Marcy Kaptur of Toledo, whose district was infamously drawn all the way to Cleveland.

MarciaFudgeMarcyKapturDavidJoyce*008

*Fudge, Kaptur & Joyce*

The trio, along with Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson, Zack Reed, councilman of ward2 where the event was held, Rich Cochran of the Western Reserve Land Conservancy, and Williams Whitney of the CuyahogaCounty Landbank, spoke about the bill which they're calling the Restore Our Neighborhoods Act of 2013, how it works, and what it would do.

Who Are Ohio's Environmental Friends in Congress?

Today the League of Conservation Voters released its 2012 Environmental Scorecard, ranking legislators in D.C. on a variety of environment-related issues.

The scores of Ohio's senators and representatives probably will not surprise you.

Starting at the top, Ohio's two senators have wildly divergent scores. Sherrod Brown scores 93%, while Portman comes in at a weak 21%. But that's not as bad as some of his Republican colleagues in the House, many of who probably either don't believe there ARE any issues with the environment and that climate change is all nonsense, or they think Jesus is coming back soon so it doesn't matter (No, seriously — there are those on the far right who feel this way, including President Reagan's Secretary of the Interior James Watt.)

Look at some of these scores to see who is the enemy of protecting our Earth for future generations:

Steve Chabot: 14%
Jim Jordan & Pat Tiberi: 11%
Alleged "moderate" Steve LaTourette and Jean Schmidt (both now out of Congress): 9%
Bob Latta, Mike Turner, Steve Stivers, Jim Renacci, Bobb Gibbs & Bill Johnson: 6%

The worst of the worst of the worst: John Boehner, whose score somehow managed to be -1%.

On the other end of the spectrum, Tim Ryan, Marcia Fudge, Marcy Kaptur and Tim Ryan all score 80% or better. Ryan has a lifetime score of 90%, Marcia Fudge has a lifetime score of 93%. Betty Sutton's is 91%. Alas, she was defeated in November by Jim Renacci whose lifetime score is 6%.

Boehner's lifetime score is 2%. Hey Boehnhead, didn't anyone tell you that wrecking the environment could have a negative impact on all those golf courses you spend so much time on?

You can check out the scorecard for yourself here: http://scorecard.lcv.org/

Will Our 2014 Ticket Be in Warren County April 19?

Our 2014 statewide candidate slate may come together quicker than we think. It's all fine and well to mull over the names of dream candidates or fantasize about contested primaries. But the reality is A. lots of "ideal" candidates won't run for personal reasons that won't allow them to commit the time & energy to non-stop crisscrossing of the state and B. all of the candidates need time to build statewide name recognition, the more time the better.

Deep in the heart of blood-red southwest Ohio is bloody, bloody Warren County (home of the infamous 2004 election-night "homeland security" alert that locked down the board of elections there). The place is crawling with Republicans. You may find one splattered on your windshield if you're ever driving through.

It's also home to an intrepid and determined little band of Democrats, the Warren County Democratic Party. Like many county parties, they're having an annual fundraising dinner. But they're not just bringing some local Democratic county officeholder (do they have one?) to speak. They have snagged one of the most likely candidates in every statewide race next year as a guest speaker:

2013DinnerPostcard

If you are in southwest Ohio and you want to get a sneak preview of what our 2014 ticket could very well very look like, you don't want to miss this event. Your $75 will go to a good cause: turning over rocks and ferreting out hidden potential Democratic voters in this neck of the woods. And yes, they DO exist.

RSVP here: https://wcdp.webconnex.com/spring2013

Looking for a New Governor

While we wait with not-too-bated breath for video or a transcript of Governor Kasich's State of the State speech in Lima tonight, I've been perusing another speech delivered today in Cleveland: county executive Ed FitzGerald's annual State of the County address.

As pretty much every political observer knows, FitzGerald is openly exploring a run for governor. He's been traveling around the state, making high profile appearances at various Democratic gatherings. He says he'll make a decision by March.

How would he be compared to Kasich? Well, his speech is organized and coherent, for a start. It's full of clear descriptions of how he has worked in cooperation with various groups, including unions, to make county government more efficient, with the Justice System Reform Task Force to upgrade people's trust in the justice system here, and with the county's 59 municipal entities to end costly poaching of businesses across city lines.

He talks about fiscal responsibility, employee performance reviews, and making county government oversight permanent by amending the charter to make the position of inspector general permanent — something the much-vaunted charter did not do, because of course it was never really intended to prevent corruption. Ed did that on his own.

He also talks about Pre-K, college scholarships, prisoner re-entry programs and service consolidations.

What he does not talk about is "philosophy" or a rigid ideology of any kind. He doesn't bluster or call out opponents. He talks about working with diverse interest groups to find solutions to problems. We haven't seen that in the governor's office sine Ted Strickland packed up and went home. And it's what we need.

You can read Ed's speech here:

http://executive.cuyahogacounty.us/en-US/021913-State-of-County.aspx

There's also a PowerPoint presentation.

I assure you it's a lot more uplifting and positive and a lot less stomach-churning than whatever Kasich said this evening.

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