What's shakin' and bakin' in the state whose elegant traditional abbreviation "O." was changed by the U.S. Postal Service to the quizzical or comprehending (depending on your intonation) "OH," but the USPS will still deliver your mail if you use "O." they just don't like it:
Casino Ballot Issue Petition Rejected - So reports Eric at Plunderbund; it was the summary language, not the signatures, that AG Dann found deficient.
Ohio Among 3Q Foreclosure Leaders - A report out yesterday puts Ohio fifth in third quarter foreclosures and Cleveland seventh among cities (1 out of every 57 households filed during the quarter). Ohio has five other cities in the top 30: Akron (11th), Dayton (17th), Toledo (20th), Columbus (23rd), Cincinnati (30th).
Big Data Company Chooses Ohio - The "global leader in enterprise data warehousing and analytic solutions," Teradata Corporation, which spun off recently from NCR, has chosen Ohio as the site for its "business growth and expansion plans."
Sandusky Lawyer Considers Ohio Senate Run - Daniel McGookey (D-Sandusky) is considering a run for the 2nd District seat of term-limited State Sen. Randy Gardner (R-Bowling Green). State Rep. Mark Wagoner (R-Ottawa Hills) is running on the GOP side.
Brunner Imposes Oversight on Putnam County BOE - Unbelievable. The Board of Elections used borrowed machines because their own had been damaged in the big flood, but they didn't report problems they were having using the machines on election day to the Secretary of State - they just told voters to come back later. A court ordered the polls held open until 9:30 p.m. Putnam County must get its act together to hold the Congressional special election on December 11th.
Akron City Council President Tried to Board Plane with Loaded Pistol - Read about it on newsman Eric Mansfield's personal blog, then the AP story. The blog is better, isn't it? Definitely more interesting.
UPDATED: Clout of Ohio GOP on Capitol Hill Waning - An interesting piece at CQ Politics, noting that the decline "mirrors the national change in partisan fortunes and the challenges faced by moderates within an increasingly conservative Republican caucus," as "it is getting tougher for Republicans to hold swing districts, and less attractive to try." Having House Leader John Boehner (R-West Chester) helps the Ohio GOP delegation retain some of its clout, however.
GOP and Ohio Christian Alliance Raise Fuss Over Dann Email - They are calling for a public apology for an interoffice email uncovered in an open records request, in which AG Marc Dann (D) kidded close aide Leo Jennings about negative comments on a newspaper web site by saying "Jesus had it better on good friday." They compare the private email to public racist comments that have brought down comedians and talk show hosts. Give me a break. Are these guys grasping at straws, or what?
Ohio Prison Population Tops 50,000 - Mostly due to nonviolent offenders, particularly for drug violations. The Lorain Correctional Institution is at 263% of capacity. There has got to be a better way.
More from the new Quinnipiac Poll:
1) Bush approval is at 29%-67%, lowest ever in Ohio for this pollster. However, voters disagree 61%-33% with the idea that no Republican can be elected President in 2008 because of Bush's low approval and the war in Iraq. (If you turn that around and focus on a third of the electorate saying NO Republican can be elected, that actually seems like a very bad number for the GOP.)
2) Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) leads big on the Democratic side and former mayor Rudy Giuliani (R-NY) leads big on the GOP side, and the two are statistically tied in a head-to-head matchup:
42% Clinton (D)
17% Obama (D)
14% Edwards (D)
4% Kucinich (D)
3% Biden (D)
1% Richardson (D)
-% Dodd (D)
-% Gravel (D)
(Clinton has slipped five points in the last month and Obama has slipped two points, while Edwards has gained three.)
27% Giuliani (R)
14% McCain (R)
13% Thompson (R)
11% Romney (R)
7% Huckabee (R)
2% Paul (R)
1% Tancredo (R)
1% Hunter (R)
(McCain has gained four points in the last month, Romney has gained three, and Huckabee has gained two. Giuliani has lost two points and Thompson has lost four.)
44% Clinton (D)
43% Giuliani (R)
(Clinton led Giuliani the last two months by at least six points, but was tied with him the three months before that.)
I noted yesterday that the Obama campaign is making a big push to overtake Clinton in the wake of her recent missteps and his strong speech last weekend in Iowa. This is not a good poll for Obama, however, and is much better for Edwards. Obama is tied with Giuliani in a head-to-head match-up (41% to 41%) after leading him last month (44% to 38%). Edwards, on the other hand, leads Giuliani this month (46% to 40%) and led him last month (46% to 38%).
The Dispatch reports on a Quinnipiac poll of Ohioans that finds they don't want Gov. Ted Strickland (D) to run for Vice President by a 2-to-1 margin. What's more suprising isthat about half say he is not qualified (49% to 29%). More than two-thirds say his presence on the ballot wouldn’t make them any more likely to vote Democratic, although 17% of independents say it would (9% of independents say otherwise).
I am highly skeptical of polling on how voters say they will react to something that hasn't happened yet. Those attitudes are very subject to change over the long haul. Take this one with a big grain of salt.
The once indomitable campaign of Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) slipped a bit when she performed poorly in a debate on October 30th, and then again when it was revealed that questions were planted at an Iowa campaign event. Then Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) seemed to rise to the occasion by soaring to oratorical heights at the pivotal Jefferson Jackson Dinner in Iowa on November 10th. It seems that if anyone is going to challenge Clinton at any time, Obama is the guy and now is the time.
I had a brief e-chat with Eric of Plunderbund about it this afternoon. He commented that Obama is "making waves" and pointed out that it was a bonus that Obama got to go last at the Iowa event.
Then, after our chat, I received my SECOND email from the Obama camp since the Iowa speech, titled "The Fierce Urgency of Now," this time over the signature of Michelle Obama herself. Both emails highlighted the speech and urged me to help raise $850,000 online this week. I went and watched an excerpted version of the speech here, and yes, indeed, it was very good. ("When I am this party's nominee, my opponent will not be able to say that I voted for the war in Iraq, or that I gave George Bush the benefit of the doubt on Iran, or that I support Bush/Cheney policies on not talking to leaders that we don't like ...") Will we all look back on that speech as the turning point?
It looks like the Obama campaign is going all out to seize the moment. Mike Dorning of the Tribune Washington Bureau has just posted an item on The Swamp that reprints a memo sent by Obama campaign manager David Plouffe to reporters today, laying out the strategic situation. Plouffe argues that Obama is gaining at Clinton's expense, not only in Iowa but in other early states like Nevada and South Carolina:
The decisive factor for the majority of voters in the 2008 primary season will be determining which candidate can really deliver change they can believe in. Barack Obama believes that to bring about fundamental change three things have to be accomplished. First, the next President must have the ability to unify the country, bringing Republicans and Independents together with Democrats to solve the nation’s most pressing problems. Obama has a track record and approach suited to this challenge while Senator Clinton is likely to unite the GOP against her candidacy as well as her Presidency. And Senator Edwards does not show an inclination toward unity, suggesting compromise is a dirty word.
Former senator Fred Thompson (R-TN) gained an important endorsement from the National Right to Life Committee today, but political prognosticator Chris Cillizza spells out on The Fix how the polls show him fading and unlikely to recover:
The most recent data comes from New Hampshire where two surveys were released over the weekend. The first ... put Thompson in sixth (yes, SIXTH) place with just three percent of the vote. [In the second] Thompson again took sixth place with just five percent support. ...
Thompson's shrinking support is apparent in other early states as well. The last three polls taken in Iowa put Thompson in fourth, fifth and fourth place, respectively, and his high water mark in any of those surveys is 11 percent. In Florida, too, Thompson appears to be fading. ...
It's clear the initial fervor and excitement over the TV-star-turned politician has worn off and voters have not flocked to Thompson as many people expected.
The problem for Thompson is that there isn't an obvious way to turn this narrative around. He is not a flashy campaigner and his fundamental message -- competent conservatism -- isn't the sort of thing that builds a grassroots movement. ...
Thompson has 51 days to turn things around before the Iowa caucuses, not a promising scenario given his lackluster performance to date.
Newsweek reports that one of the captives released by Gen. Pervez Musharraf in a prisoner exchange shortly after declaring emergency rule was:
Mullah Obaidullah Akhund—the highest-ranking Taliban official ever captured by the Pakistanis. As one of Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar's closest confidants and his defense minister until the post 9-11 invasion of Afghanistan, Obaidullah was No. 3 in the group's hierarchy and a member of its ruling 10-man shura (council).
Obaidullah was among more than two dozen prisoners swapped for the 211 survivors of 250 Pakistani soldiers who surrendered to a warloard in Waziristan after their convoy was ambushed.
A blogger at PakistanPolitics.net accuses Musharraf of deliberately releasing Obaidullah in order to fuel the insurgency and prolong the justification for emergency powers. Whether the act was intentional or not, it sets a very dangerous precedent, as the Taliban and militant warlords now know that prisoners are the means for getting what they want. And it is certainly infuriating to lawyers, human rights activists, and political activists who are getting thrown into jail while a high-value Taliban prisoner goes free.
We have ourselves another GOP Congressional primary
challenger contestant who calls himself the true conservative in the race.
State Sen. Steve Stivers (R-Upper Arlington) is the GOP establishment candidate to replace retiring Rep. Deborah Pryce (R-Upper Arlington), but OSU economics professor and portfolio advisor Robert Wagner (R-Columbus) is jumping into the race because he is "tired of politicians who dodge tough issues and avoid conservative stances." Among the planks in his political platform:
* Social security should be privatized.
* Income tax should be replaced with a national sales tax.
* The Iraq War was necessary and a good thing for America.
* Al Gore is wrong about global warming.
Will Republican primary voters heed the clarion call of conservative principles? They did in the GOP primary for Ohio Treasurer last year, choosing under-qualified right-to-lifer Sandra O'Brien (R-Ashtabula) over pro-life incumbent Jeanette Bradley (R). However, a primary challenge to Sen. Mike DeWine (R-Cedarville) from fiscal conservative Bill Pierce (R) failed badly.
Wagner has no apparent big money backing now, but he seems like a perfect candidate for Club for Growth support -- Wagner says he decided to run because of the "entitlement tsunami coming down the road." Will they jump into this primary like they did in the 5th Congressional District special on behalf of State Sen. Steve Buehrer (R-Delta)?
Repeat candidate Mary Jo Kilroy (D-Columbus) will take on the GOP primary winner.
NOTE: I just had to add this terrific chart from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, comparing the relative spending increases of the bills signed and vetoed today:
Today the president approved a $40 billion spending increase for the military but vetoed a $10 billion spending increase for education and health. Bush had sought to decrease the education and health budget in prior years but signed spending increases passed by the GOP-controlled Congress anyway. Now that the Democrats are in charge, the veto pen is out.
The $10 billion increase is modest compared to the $606 billion size of the overall bill, but Bush is accusing Democrats of "acting like a teenager with a new credit card." However, this bill passed by an even larger biparisan margin than the vetoed SCHIP bills. The final vote was 274-141, only four votes shy of overriding a veto. The SCHIP bill was about two dozen votes short.
According to the Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, Democrats will seek a handful of moderate Republicans to turn the tide. There is some basis for optimism because three different versions of the bill received floor votes, and if you add all the people voting yes on one or more versions it exceeds the required 2/3 margin. If that effort fails, some spending will likely be removed from the bill to win over enough extra votes.
The invaluable Ohio Health Policy Review reports today on the 2007 Ohio Health Issues Poll, complete results available here [pdf]. The percentage of Ohioans living below the federal poverty guidelines (FPG) continues to creep up, from 14% in 2005 to 16% in 2007. The percentage between 100% and 200% of the FPG is also up (from 21% in 2005 to 23% in 2007).
The poll also finds that the percentage of those living under the FPG who lack health insurance increased sharply from 26% in 2006 to 39% in 2007, after having dropped down from 33% in 2005. (This is a very frustrating result because those individuals are eligible for Medicaid.) As of this year 16% of those at 100% to 200% of the FPG lack health insurance, and only 7% of those above 200%, figures that have not changed since 2005. (These ranges include the target population for the expanded SCHIP program to provide health insurance to children.)
Only 12% of people living below the FPG reported their health status as excellent or very good and 45% reported it as fair or poor, worse than last year. In the 100% to 200% of FPG range, half the respondents reported excellent or very good health, and above 200% it is 64%.
Demographic and geographic distribution of poverty in Ohio is also covered in the poll. In general, Ohioans most likely to be living below the FPG are female, African American (although the percentage of African Americans under the FPG has dropped somewhat), under age 29, in a household with children, in an urban county, and/or in the southeastern part of the state.
Yikes. You know that money market you use, where you can count on the share price never going below $1.00? If it did, you'd probably pull out your money quick, and so would a lot of other people. After all, that's sort of the point of the thing -- lower
interest earnings than other investment funds, but no real risk of losing anything.
The Wall Street Journal reports that some money market funds are holding structured investment vehicles (SIVs) based on pooled subprime mortgages, and now they are scrambling to prop up those investments to avoid the risk of seeing their asset values "break the buck":
Just a few months ago most SIVs had been viewed as a high-quality holding. Now a number of fund companies are scrambling to find ways to shore up their funds and reassure investors. ...
According to a person familiar with the matter, some fund companies are approaching SEC regulators to float plans on how to handle troubled SIV-issued paper in their money-market funds. In some cases, regulators are offering oral consent on such plans, given the need for rapid handling of the investments in light of recent downgrades, this person says. ...
The only time a money-market fund previously "broke the buck" was in 1994, after a fund had losses in investments tied to interest-rate movements. The current turmoil suggests that "2007 is beginning to rival 1994's derivative crisis as the most dangerous event" in money funds' history, says this month's Money Fund Intelligence, an industry newsletter.
I pulled together some of my posts and thinking about Pakistan into an essay for Huffington Post, which has now been promoted to 'Featured Blog Post' status.
The crisis in Pakistan has the potential to overshadow Iraq and Iran in the big scheme of threats to global security. The Bush strategy of clinging to Gen. Pervez Musharraf's authoritarian regime is in increasing peril as his suspension of the constitution and repression of judges, media, and political opponents continues. Once again, we face a foreign policy nightmare with few good options, but in this case it seems clear at the very least that Musharraf's power grab must not be tolerated. If we care about our own ideals of democracy and liberty, not to mention our own security in view of the increasing risk of a cataclysmic overthrow of Bush's protege in a nation that has WMDs, we should all be calling on our government to pressure Musharraf to undo his abuse of power.
Former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich knits together the housing crisis and credit crunch with the falling dollar and rising personal bankruptcies in an entry on his personal blog that looks beyond the current business cycle (and a likely recession) to forecast a broader consequence -- the end of free spending by the American consumer:
For years now, America's middle class has lived beyond its paycheck. Middle-class lifestyles have flourished even though median wages have barely budged.
The reason is we’ve been able to borrow so much so easily. With housing prices rising, home equity loans have financed renovations and home improvements. With credit cards raining down like manna from heaven, we’ve bought plasma TVs, new appliances, vacations. With dollars artificially high because foreigners have held them even as the nation sank deeper into debt, we could summon cheap goods and services from the rest of the world.
There is a new Ohio poll from Quinnipiac University on attitudes toward illegal immigrants. It reveals overwhelming opposition to providing them government benefits like government-paid health care (86% to 11%), driver's licenses (84% to 11%), and free schooling (61% to %35), and strong support for draconian enforcement measures like building a big fence on the border (60% to 34%) and issuing a national ID card (61% to 32%). These are the aspects of the poll highlighted in initial media coverage.
However, the poll importantly reflects a lack of support for deporting illegal immigrants who are already settled in the country. By a 55% to 38% margin, Ohioans think that illegal immigrants who have lived and worked in the United States for at least two years should be given a chance to keep their jobs and eventually apply for legal status. Also, although Ohioans overwhelmingly think that illegal immigrants do more to hurt rather then help the country (73% to 18%), a majority concedes that illegal immigrants mostly take jobs that nobody wants rather than taking jobs away from Americans who need them (53% to 34%).
Incidentally, the poll confirms the popularity of Gov. Ted Strickland (D), whose job performance is favored by 61% of Ohioans, including 51% of Republicans. The 61% score represents a generally upward trend (he was at 45% in February). Approval of the performance of the General Assembly is at 41%, also representing an upward trend (they were at 38% in March).
So says Your Professor at Political Science 216. He reasons that the Ohio GOP hates contested primaries, a sentiment only heightened by the ugly dogfight just concluded in the 5th Ohio Congressional District, so therefore the Republican powers-that-be will pressure former State Rep. Jim Trakas (R-Independence) to bow out of the 24th Ohio Senate District race where he faces State Rep. Tom Patton (R-Strongsville) and take on Rep. Dennis Kucinich instead.
I can't see Trakas winning that race, so I have a hard time imagining that he will in fact jump in, but stranger things have happened.
This is extraordinary. In a widespread show of respect and support for the disbanded Pakistani judiciary, which has resisted Pervez Musharraf and largely refused to take a new oath of office as a condition of being reinstated, Pakistani citizens are depositing mounds of flowers at their homes:
A commenter called me a "media pawn" over my comments about the situation in Pakistan, arguing that the entire drama is a charade co-managed by Musharraf and Benazir Bhutto. Let me make clear that I am well aware that Bhutto is a problematic alternative to Musharraf, as her two terms as Prime Minister were marred by corruption. However, although Bhutto attempted to work with Musharraf on the U.S.-brokered deal hold election and share power, I don't see any basis to conclude that the events of the past ten days are part of some nefarious plan. I imagine that Bhutto may have tried to communicate with Musharraf through back channels during this time, I would expect nothing less -- but this notion that the "emergency" is stage-managed is ridiculous. I'm also not at all convinced that if free elections were held, Bhutto and her party would win. I know that she thinks so, but her cooperation with Musharraf is extremely unpopular in Pakistan and may have irredeemably damaged her standing.
What's happening on Veteran's Day in the state whose constitution requires a ballot referendum every 20 years on whether to hold a new constitutional convention (next up, 2012):
Plain Dealer Presidential Poll - PD-sponsored Mason-Dixon poll shows only 45% of Ohioans say they would consider voting for Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY), much lower than other major Democratic candidates. Reactions on DailyKos (Democrats "have work to do"), on the MCDAC Blog (questioning polling sample) and Redhorse at Psychobilly Democrat (pointing out that Obama fares well in the poll).
Blade Profiles Latta - The whole legacy thing. Now let's see a nice profile of Weirauch, please.
Strickland is the New Glenn - Nice piece in the Dayton Daily News about how former senator John Glenn (D) can now get some rest because popular Gov. Ted Strickland (D) is the new go-to guy for campaigning pols.
This brief report in the Pakistani newspaper Daily Times says so much, on so many levels (emphasis added):
The government has amended the Army Act of 1952 and President General Pervez Musharraf is likely to issue an ordinance allowing military courts to prosecute terrorists and any civilians suspected of terrorist or subversive activity on Friday, reported Geo News.
It would also allow intelligence agencies to apprehend any person suspected of terrorism, the channel added. ...
Qayyum said the new ordinance was necessary and inevitable for protecting the sovereignty of the country, adding that it would be similar to the United States’ Patriot Act.
Black has been adopted as the color of resistance to the dictator Pervez Musharraf.
Black is the color of the suits worn by Pakistani lawyers, who have courageously taken to the streets in protest and boycotted court proceedings conducted by replacement judges.
Patriotic Pakistanis are being urged to wear black armbands, wristbands, headbands, or fly a black flag. At student protests at the University of Lahore, all in attendance wear black armbands:
In the latest news, Benazir Bhutto has been released from house arrest and intends to lead a motorcade from Lahore to Rawalpindi on Tuesday.
Prof. Juan Cole has an excellent essay at Salon.com, explaining Bush's stake in Musharraf's continued rule and why the imposition of martial law changes nothing. A good backgrounder.
Well, the timing is certainly odd -- both day of the week and stage of the primary season -- but Gov. Ted Strickland officially endorsed Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) today:
“It’s no wonder that he is so popular across Ohio because he’s restored integrity and accountability to state government,” Clinton said. “I look forward to working with him, to seeking his advice and counsel as I move forward in this campaign.”
[B]illed by Clinton as a “major endorsement,” [this] will fuel speculation that ... Clinton could ask Strickland to be her running mate [in which Strickland again said he has no interest].
“If I am fortunate enough to be the nominee, I will then turn my focus on picking a running mate,” Clinton said. “But first thing’s first, and what is so important to me about the governor’s endorsement is that I think his credibility and his record of service and his very significant victory in Ohio in the last election sends a very positive message about my campaign.”
Clinton's campaign hit its first bump in the road recently when she performed poorly in the last debate. However, it's hard to see how this particular endorsement would be much of a cure for that ailment. Strickland is not well known outside Ohio, and Ohio doesn't hold its primary until March.
Nobody who heard Strickland's glowing introduction of Clinton at this year's Democratic State Dinner, or her glowing response, can pretend to be too surprised at this endorsement. The two have supported each other in the past. Still, Strickland had been holding his cards close to his vest. I wonder if this means that the other Democratic statewide officeholders are now free to make endorsements, and who they may select?
h/t Buckeye2010 at BSB.
UPDATE: Alright, so I'm a little slow. But like they say in Bree, I can see through a brick wall in time.
It's not whether Strickland is popular or well known outside Ohio (where today's Ohio Poll has him at 69% approval - wow!) that matters to Clinton, it's what state he governs. This endorsement is all about Hillary's electability.
Clinton is taking Strickland to Iowa for tomorrow night's Jefferson-Jackson Dinner. (Hence the timing.) That's the dinner where Kerry started his comeback in 2004. Clinton is showcasing Strickland there in order to buttress her electability, where Obama and Edwards are most likely to challenge her. "See?," she is saying, "I can win Ohio, so I can win the nation. I've got Ted."
Howard Wilkinson reports in the Cincinnati Enquirer that former congressman and Bush administration official Rob Portman is planning to run for either the governor's office in 2010 (facing likely primary opposition from former congressman John Kasich and/or former senator Mike DeWine) or the U.S. Senate, in 2010 if Voinovich retires or 2012 if he does not. Worth a read.
From the article:
[Portman has] started his own political action committee to raise money to finance his political trips around the state and help Ohio GOP candidates in the 2008 election cycle.
In recent weeks, Portman has spoken to GOP groups in Akron, Findlay and Cleveland and has another speech scheduled next week in Dayton. He was scheduled to talk to a group of young Republicans gathering in Blue Ash Thursday night.
I'd say he's pretty much running already.
Are you hankering for impeachment proceedings against Vice President Dick Cheney (R-Undisclosed Location)? An American Research Group poll in July found that a majority of Americans (54%) want the U.S. House of Representatives to commence impeachment proceedings against Cheney. (As compared to only 45% who want them against President Bush.) That's a lot of people.
Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Cleveland) has introduced the impeachment resolution, but to proceed the House Judiciary Committee must pass it along to the floor for a vote. Seven Democrats on the committee are in favor of the resolution, but Rep. Betty Sutton (D-Copley Township) is not one of them.
If impeachment is your thing, contact Sutton by calling (202) 225-3401 or going to her website.
As for me, I don't think it is a good idea. Let's keep our eye on the ball: winning the White House and increasing our majorities in Congress. The Democratic leadership in Congress needs to rally voters by resisting the White House on policy, but going the impeachment route risks a major backlash. A majority of people like the idea of impeaching Cheney in the abstract, but if impeachment hearings become a protracted reality and dominate the news I expect that the public would quickly tire of the whole thing. Removing Cheney would be an accomplishment, but a negative one, not as helpful as positive accomplishments like getting a compromise SCHIP bill passed or forcing the White House to accept a timetable to begin getting out of Iraq. Let's work on those things.
Still, 54% of Americans is a lot. If you are one of them and you want to push the process along, you know what to do. For that matter, if you oppose impeachment proceedings, call and say that.
Strickland, Dann, and Zurz Vow Lender Crackdown: Ohio mortgage lenders having refused to sign Gov. Ted Strickland's proposed compact on aiding troubled mortgage borrowers, the Governor, Attorney General, and Commerce Director held a press conference yesterday to announce that they are lowering the boom. Marc Dann is issuing subpoenas to investigate civil rights, antitrust, and consumer law violations and Kimberly Zurz is seeking regulatory rule changes to help borrowers. Chief Justice Thomas Moyer called attention to a pilot program to impose mediation in foreclosure proceedings in Ohio's three largest counties. Callahan has more.
Brown Co-Sponsors Bus Safety Bill: Responding to the tragic crash in Atlanta that killed five members of the Bluffton University baseball team last year, Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Avon) has teamed up with Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchinson (R-TX) to introduce legislation that would require charter and passenger buses to require safety equipment like seat belts and ejection-resistant windows, and driver training. Unfortunately, it won't affect school buses. That business of no seat belts on buses has always bothered me. We've all gotten used to buckling up in the car, I've always wondered why you don't even have the option of buckling up as a bus passenger.
Bush Approval Still Tanking: How low can he go? Almost a quarter of Americans (23%) think he is the worst president ever, while only 34% approve of his performance.
Ohio GOP Puts Women By The Door: In a crass act of tokenism, Republican leadership in the Ohio House of Representatives have installed women in two leadership positions (Rep. Michelle Schneider (R-Maderia) as Majority Whip, Rep. Shannon Jones (R-Springboro) as Assistant Majority Whip), disguising the fact that there are only 5 female GOP members altogether. Let's see, that means that only 9.4% of Republican state representatives are women, but 40.0% of those women occupy 33.3% of GOP leadership positions. Jill is dumbfounded.
Religious Coaltion Fights Negative Campaigning: The group "We Believe Ohio" is calling for a "sleaze-free zone" in political campaigns. Sign their online petition here.
Dream Big, Win Big: A write-in candidate beat both regular candidates on the ballot to become mayor of Columbus Grove, Ohio -- 402 write-in votes vs. a total of 209 votes for the other guys. It took two days to count and verify all the write-in ballots and declare the winner. I love it.
Pakistan will not have its Tiananmen Square moment, not today. Showing all the tenacity and brute force that it has failed to display in combating the Pakistani Taliban (who have declared an Islamic Emirate in the northern tribal territories), the government of dictator Pervez Musharraf arrested 5,000 Pakistan People's Party members and prevented Bhutto from leaving her home:
Dozens of police, some in riot gear, were deployed at Bhutto's residence by barbed wire and steel and concrete barriers. Other security personnel patrolled on motorcycles, horseback and in armored vehicles. At least 12 Bhutto supporters were arrested, including a woman who showed up with flowers.
In the second clash in Rawalpindi, about two dozen supporters burst out of an alley, shouting, "Long Live Bhutto!" Police, some on horseback, others banging their shields, chased them away. Other supporters set a tire and garbage on fire. Police fired tear gas shells from an armored personnel carrier, and the protesters pelted the police with stones.
In this important bit of video, opposition leader Imran Khan, in hiding as he flees arrest, explains that the Pakistani dictator Pervez Musharraf is not really fighting terrorism but preserving his own unpopular totalitarian rule, and makes an apt comparison between U.S. support for Musharraf and our ill-fated support for the unpopular Shah of Iran before he was overthrown by religious extremists:
The announcement today by Musharraf that parliamentary elections would be held by February 15th, a month later than the scheduled date, accomplished several purposes at once. It gave the Bush administration cover to delay cutting off aid, and indeed the White House promptly took the bait ("the White House press secretary, Dana M. Perino, welcomed [Musharraf's comments], saying it was important for the Pakistani people to hear the 'clarification' about the election date"). It created favorable headlines around the world (AP: Pakistan Election Expected by February"). And it deflected attention from his brutal action to clamp down on the Pakistan People's Party to try to stop Benazir Bhutto's "long march" from Lahore to Rawalpindi tomorrow (as many as 500 key PPP personnel have been arrested).