Thursday, November 30, 2006

Dennis speaks a few uncomfortable truths

Here's a great interview with Dennis Kucinich about health care for US citizens -- courtesy of Truth Dig and Joshua Scheer. The following really struck me as something all of us have to keep focused on. We can't let the elected officials get away with cheating us of universal health care. I agree with Dennis -- it is simply not humane to continue to make health care a capitalistic commodity, with exclusive clinic's for the wealthy and bankruptcy for the middle class working citizen who doesn't have access to affordable health care.

"I’ve got one more thing to say about it, if I may, and that is—I went to the Democratic platform committee in 2000 with Lila Garrett, Tom Hayden [and Gloria Allred] where I offered a presentation that the Democratic Party take a strong stand on universal healthcare. My proposal, unfortunately, was rejected. I brought the same proposal embodied in the Conyers/Kucinich bill to the Democratic platform committee in 2004. Once again, the plan was rejected. Both times the plan was rejected because of the unfortunate influence of corporate interests upon the Democratic Party hierarchy. And so it is urgent that the American people are aware that our political system has frustrated the emergence of healthcare for all because of the tremendous influence which the insurance companies and the drug companies have on our political process. It doesn’t mean that this influence is fatal, but people need to know that it exists. "

We've got to be ready to bombard that platform committee with outraged pressure to take a stand on health care. It is outrageous that the Democrats have been caving to the pharmaceutical and insurance industries.

Cartoon via the Grey Panthers. I'm sure I'll be signing up for that organization before I shuffle off this mortal coil.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Yes, we have no religion

Sam Harris has a new post up on his Huffington Post blog. It is actually an excerpt from an email debate that you can read here. The leading question in the debate is "why are atheists angry?" I posted a comment there:

Why are atheists angry? Maybe because so many religionists really believe we are the spawn of satan and are doomed to burn in hell. I was lucky enough to be born into a godless family, but growing up I had to contend with kids who picked on me because I had no religion and with neighbors who shunned me and wouldn't let me play with their kids because I didn't go to church. The worst ones were those who would invite me over for an over-nighter on Saturday night so that they could hustle me off to their church before taking me home. (I soon learned to avoid Saturday night stay-overs!) I'm 55 years old and I still remember and resent all the prejudicial behavior from my early years.

That's just one very personal reason to be angry. There are plenty more. I really prefer people who keep their religious beliefs to themselves. Frankly, I don't want to know the particulars about anybody's faith-based delusions. I like to think the people I deal with every day are rational beings. When religion pops up, rationality goes out the window.

I am planning to review Sam Harris' new book, Letter to a Christian Nation, but haven't had the time. I expect to get to it over winter break -- just in time for the holiday season!

But in the meantime if you need a good dose of skepticism, I do recommend God Is For Suckers -- they keep tabs on all the religious threats and absurdities.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Out of Iraq

Somebody, please -- get the US forces out of Iraq. The major media have decided to call it a civil war today. Civil war is never civil. It's a bloody disaster whatever you call it.

Bush apears to be delusional with his insistance the violence in Iraq is spurred by Al Qaeda . He's starting to feel the pressure. A federal judge says he does not have the right to designate who is a terrorist because his executive order is too vague. We need a whole lot of people stepping up all at once, surrounding the mad emperor and telling him NO. You can't torture, you can't spy, you can't wage war whenever you choose.

Monday, November 27, 2006

My Autum Almanac

Here's a sing a long to go with some images of autumn from Kenmore:

Lovely weather here in Akron over the four days off from work and stress. I did some clean up in my yard. Here's my compost box, all loaded up for the winter, yet room for the weekly coffee grounds and vegetable matter. I set up a plastic bucket off my kitchen where I can toss the compostable items, then carry it out to the compost box a couple of times per week. This box is at least ten years old and was made by Rubbermaid. Very sturdy. I doubt stir it or do anything other than toss stuff in it. Every spring I get a wheelbarrow full of good stuff to mix in with my plantings.

The garden goddess here is not for worship, but to add a little interest to the wooden fence. I like the contrast of weathering clay against the wood, with the feathery annual forming living tresses. This plant has made it through a number of frosty nights already.

I found a hyacinth bulb in a pot from last spring. I'd never stuck it in the ground. It was left loose in its plastic pot and now it is pushing up and forming leaves. So I brought it inside and put it in a nice clay pot to bloom before January, I'm betting.

Here's a glimpse of the blimp seemingly tangled in the maple tree's bare branches.

While I spent the day in the yard, the geese gathered on Summit Lake. They haven't left for the winter in several years. A sign of global warming?

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Sherrod Brown Is a Player!

From the Loraine Chronicle:

AVON — U.S. Senator-elect Sherrod Brown will continue to work on the issues that matter most to him — health care, trade and education.
Brown was recently assigned to four Senate committees: Agriculture, Banking, Veterans and Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, better known as HELP.
“I get to work on everything I campaigned on,” he said.

This is great news! Sherrod is given the opportunity to make a real difference in the areas that matter most to Ohioans.

On CBS Face the Nation this morning, Sherrod appeared with two other new senators -- Democrat Claire McCaskill and Republican Bob Corker. First topic of discussion -- Iraq. Too much leaning on the Baker Committee's upcoming report by McCaskill and Corker, instead of saying what needs to be done. Everybody's afraid to stick their necks out -- except for Sherrod who stated what he'd said all campaign long -- make immediate plans for a phased pull out to be completed within one and a half to two years, and at the same time work to negotiate settlements among the warring factions and the surrounding countries.

Corker turned into a most agreeable Republican, going along with the spirit of bipartisanship, by announcing his support of an increase in minimum wages, support for exposing the earmark process for funding, and for changes in the way drug prices are obtained for Medicare recipients.

In Washington, the new power grid would appear to favor those who can work across the aisle. Joining with the executive branch is the sure kiss of death for the next two years.

According to yesterday's Washington Post, Lobbyists in key industries are making plans to prepare for business under the next congress. Barbara Boxer replacing James Inhofe as chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee is huge! Inhofe is the senator who thinks global warming is a big hoax.

Looks like the Dems are ready to get down to business and the business leaders are realizing that it is time to to be grateful for all the extra loot they made in the past few years, because it is now time to pay the piper. We must educate the young to prepare them to face severe environmental problems, and somehow provide a decent end of life quality for those who are retired.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

The Akron Beacon Journal Ignores Local Theatre

On Day 2 of Buy Nothing Day -- Buy Nothing the Akron Beacon Journal tries to sell you:

In today's ABJ, we have the annual "Black Friday" feel-good-about-shopping story by the retail reporter, Kerry Clawson. Kerry was demoted from the theatre beat to beating the drums for over-consumption in the Akron area. Damn, that has to hurt: removed from writing about one of the most elevating things human beings can do -- creating theatre -- to writing about ant-heap behaviors of the gluttonous. Meanwhile, the theatre beat was compressed into a one-reporter-covers-all-the-arts format.

For a sad visual of what the ABJ's reporting has become, look at this page. Note the empty places in the (Arts &) Entertainment section as opposed to the full box of sports writers. George Thomas is gone and along with him any local perspectives of movies and the film industry. Now we get canned UPI syndicated reviews. "Names in the News" is listed as one of the entertainment columnists! They won't even give us a name for the person assigned to compile snippets of Hollywood gossip from the wire services! (And by the way, Jane Snow's name should no longer be listed under the Living Section columnists. She too has vanished from the ABJ's pages.)

Elaine Guregian was supposed to be elevated to "Culture Beat" reporter, adding theatre to her usual music and dance coverage. Well I defy anyone to find theatre coverage online at the Beacon any more. There is no "theater" added to Guregian's title underneath her phone, and looking at a list of all of her columns, I can see only three related to theatre over the past two months: Spamalot on tour in Cleveland, My Fair Lady at the Cleveland Playhouse and a national tour Man of La Mancha at EJ Thomas of LaMancha. What do all three of these have in common? Yes, they are big splashy musicals, but more importantly -- none of these productions were created in Akron by Akron theatre people. I'm not blaming Guregian -- she has had an enormous amount of work heaped upon her and we will put the blame squarely upon her superiors as to what stories she is allowed to cover. So far, its looking very much like corporate theatre uber alles.

I miss the weekly Theatre Notes column that Kerry Clawson provided for us theatre workers and consumers. The word "theater" or more properly "theatre," is not even granted its own listing on the Entertainment page. And what of the local theatres trying gamely to fill their seats so they can afford to keep producing theatre for our community? How are they managing to succeed with no local coverage? The only way to change things is to keep yammering at them via emails, letters to the editor and so on. Go here to make some noise.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Buy Nothing

Hoping you are enjoying a day full of healthy activities that don't involve driving to a mall or any of those ugly big box stores full of imported Chinese goods.

For a well-written tribute to this day, go here.

I'm spending some time converting from the old Blogger layout template to the new drop and drag. So if you see some changes here, that's why.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Thanksgiving Day

Here's a non-religious message in celebration of the day. Eat vegetarian, live a sustainable lifestyle and try to keep peace with each other.

Giving thanks to Ray Davies and all other muses!

Sing along with this:

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Don't forget to Buy Nothing

Buy Nothing Day is Nov 24th and 25th this year. Two great days for not shopping! In honor of that, check out this adbuster promo:

From the Buy Nothing web site:

"Every November, for 24 hours, we remember that no one was born to shop. If you’ve never taken part in Buy Nothing Day, or if you’ve taken part in the past but haven’t really committed to doing it again, consider this: 2006 will go down as the year in which mainstream dialogue about global warming finally reached its critical mass. What better way to bring the Year of Global Warming to a close than to point in the direction of real alternatives to the unbridled consumption that has created this quagmire?"

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Acme Responds

I received the following email today:

Good Morning _________:

Thanks for your recent comments
We have passed them on to our buying staff
We appreciate your business
Thanks for shopping at Acme FreshMarket Stores


I had asked why Acme uses brown plastic bags instead of the blue recycle bags that can be used to collect glass, plastic and aluminum recyclables for disposal in Akron's new blue recycle bins.

I also suggested that Acme make a push for re-usable cloth bags and if they won't change to blue bags, consider putting out collection bins for customers to return the plastic ones for recycling.

Rick's response didn't sound very excited by my ideas. He does appreciate my business, so maybe I have to shop elsewhere until Acme wakes up. However, such a tactic will be useless unless I continue to keep the pressure on. And that means asking readers to email Acme to request blue bags and returnable bag options.

Meanwhile, a reader posted a comment steering me to Bring Your Own Bags, a web site with accompanying blog site that contains a heap of information about how important it is for humans to stop using plastic bags.

Here are some statistics snagged from Bring Your Own Bag:
  • 100 million plastic bags a week go to landfill.
  • Plastic bags can take between 15 and 1000 years to break down in the environment.
  • Each year, an estimated 500 billion - 1 trillion plastic bags are consumed worldwide. That translates to over one million per minute.
  • North America goes through 110 billion plastic shopping bags annually.
  • Plastic bags don’t biodegrade, they photodegrade—breaking down into smaller and smaller toxic bits contaminating soil and waterways polluting our soil, rivers, lakes and oceans.
  • Production of plastic bags requires vast amounts of oil.
  • Hundreds of thousands of sea turtles, whales and other marine mammals die every year from eating discarded plastic bags mistaken for food.
Pity the poor ocean dwellers, not only are they beset by rising temperatures from global warming and acidification from human production of carbon dioxide, they also choke on tons of plastic infesting every body of water on the planet. You can read about the vortex of plastic choking the oceans here.

So everybody -- please Bring Your Own Bags and limit your use of plastics to those that can be recycled. Individually, it seems like such a small action, but collectively it can have enormous positive effects upon this planet.

Monday, November 20, 2006

The rise of the slime

No not James Carville who tried and didn't succeed in sliming Howard Dean.

I am referencing an article, The Darkening Sea by Elizabeth Kolbert in the 11/20 The New Yorker. It is a report about ocean acidification brought about by the absorption of human created CO2 into the oceans. Scientists have only recently begun to study the effects of carbon dioxide on ocean water and the ecosystems within it. Turns out that the carbon dioxide begins a string of chemical reactions that result in the ocean water becoming more acid which turns out to be a real killer for calcium-producing critters -- those that live in shells or reefs.

The predictions are dire. It just isn't global warming leading to rising waters -- it is also what is happening to the water itself. What seems likely is that the long food chains from planketon on up through the fish, whales and dophins will be severely disrupted.

Says Thomas Lovejoy "It is going to send all kinds of ripples through marine ecosystems, because of the importantce o f calcium carbonate for so many organisms in the oceans, including those at the base of the food chain....It's a systemic will see shifts in favor of invertebrates, or the reign of jellyfish."

Ulf Riebesell, who works at the Leibniz Institute of Marine Sciences In Kiel had this to say:

"The risk is that at the end we will have the rise of slime."

The Royal Society of London (the Brits are so much more on top of environmental issues than we are) issued a report summed up here:
  • carbon dioxide from the atmosphere dissolves in the ocean, and makes it acid.
  • This is inevitable with high carbon dioxide, no fancy models are involved.
  • The oceans are already 30% more acid that before fossil fuel burning started
  • Acidification will kill corals, and probably make many other species (like squid) extinct
  • The overall effects are unknown - there has been no period like this in the last 2 Million years
And you can check out some ocean charts with predictions for acidification over the next 100 years here.

In The New Yorker article, one scientist (Ken Caldeira) states that there is no point of stabalization in the process of eliminating carbon dioxide emissions. The target has to be zero emissions. "If you're talking about mugging litle old ladies, you don't say, "what's our target for the rate of mugging little old ladies? You say, 'Mugging little old ladies is bad, and we're going to try to eliminate it. You recognize you might not be a hundred percent successful, but your goal is to eliminate the mugging of little old ladies. And I think we need to eventually come around to looking at carbon dioxide emissions the same way."

Sounds pretty bad and how the heck are we going to stop the human race from firing up the furnace, the auto, the factories producing the latest in fashionable clothing and home furnishings and so on? Ken Caldeira turns out to be some what of an optimist! In this interview he lists some possible alternative energy sources, including harvesting energy from the jet stream (high altitude wind power) as well as putting solar photovoltaics either out in space or on the moon.

But while waiting for science and technology to move forward on those alternative energy sources, the only rational thing to do is to cut down on carbon emissions as much as possible.

So go here and figure out how much carbon YOU are emitting. Then go here to find out how to offset what you emit.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Shopping with bags in Akron

Recycling, in order to be effective, has to become an everyday routine. Take shopping, for example. When I remember to return my shopping bags to my vehicle, they are there to be used whenever I stop for groceries or books or any other items I might buy.

When I forget my cloth bags, I lose a nickel per bag off my groceries at The Mustard Seed. I have to make the choice between paper or plastic. I usually take paper, as I've got a huge stock of the ubiquitous blue plastic shopping bags. I use them to recycle my aluminum and plastics in the city's new blue recycle bins.

But when I shop at Acme, I have to take paper as they do not use blue bags. This bothers me, so I looked up Acme online and found an online complaint form. I encourage all who shop in Akron to use the same form and lodge a similar request. Let's see if we can make a small dent in shopping bag excess.

I read an article a few years back in The New Yorker about a group that has as its hobby the risky business of ridding trees of plastic bags. The darn things blow in the wind and lodge themselves in trees all over NYC. This small group of folks couldn't stand looking at them anymore and began removing them. Direct Action at its finest.

So being mindful of plastic bags is something we all can do to help the environment and make Akron a better place to live. Here's what I emailed Acme. I will let my readers know if I get any response.

Dear Acme Corp,

I generally prefer grocery shopping at your stores over the other chains except for one major problem. Your plastic shopping bags are brown instead of blue. Why do you not promote recycling by using blue plastic shopping bags for your customers' convenience?

My overall favorite grocery store is The Mustard Seed in Montrose. Not only do they provide blue plastic bags, they also give a discount of 5 cents per shopping bag to those customers who bring their own bags rather than use store bags.

I have noticed that Acme stores now have more organic and whole food products available and that makes me happy. I want to support my local stores over the big chains. I burn up less carbon by shopping at my local Acme than by driving out to Montrose.

Please consider changing to blue bags and promoting the use of re-usable shopping bags. You could even sell cloth bags with a beautiful Acme logo design on them. If you won't give up the brown plastic bags, at least provide a recycle box for customers. Those bags are not accepted in the Akron trash recycle program.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Media Watching: Conflict Sells

Although I haven't been able to post much this past week, I did keep up on reading and watching the news. The major political story focused on Nancy Pelosi's choice for majority leader pretty much ignoring the caucuses in the senate and within the Republican party.

The media continues to prove that it has no liberal bias. Its ownership is definitely conservative, but the reporters, editors, news directors and programmers are not really interested in taking a side. What they are interested in is presenting a conflict. There can be no drama without conflict, hence no entertainment value in stories that show cooperation and progress.

What I wanted to read this week instead of the conflict involving Murtha vs Hoyer was something informational about party organization. What does a "whip" actually do? How does the majority leader differ from the minority leader? And what about the dynamics of the newly elected house from both perspectives? I didn't find anything on the roles themselves but I did find this article from the SF Chronicle that tells us more about the makeup of the Democratic side of the House.

According to the article there are three major groups of Democrats:

The fiscally conservative Blue Dogs with a membership of 44

The moderate New Democrats grown to 62 members

The Progressives with the largest bloc of representatives at 71 and who will be heading some very important committees.

The story gives us some context from which to view the ensuing congressional season. Three factions give us opportunity for lots of conflict. How will Nancy Pelosi do in her efforts to bring unity to the party to pass legislation that will be opposed by the hapless idiot now occupying the White House?

It appears that post election there will be plenty of opportunites for thoughtful news reporting. The problem will be sifting through the media bias for sensationalism to find out what is really going on.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Investigate first, impeach later

The Dems are smart to step out of the gate saying impeachment is not on the table. What is unspoken is "not yet." I am hearing other more soothing words like "oversight" and "transparency."

There are hundreds of video clips of various members of the Bush administration lying about Iraq. There are heaps of contracts given out to various "friends" of the Bush regime which need to be looked at along with how the money has been spent and to what purpose in Iraq.

I'm looking forward to seeing the evidence revealed and the rats called up to testify and squeal on each other.

Joe Wilson talked about this and more on today's Ed Schultz show. You can listen to it here.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Time out for real life

Facing some major deadlines at work this week, so the Village Green will be resting for a few days. Look for more by the weekend at which time I promise the yard signs and links to campaigns will be replaced with more up to date matters.

Meanwhile, be sure to check out Lefty Blogs updates and Pho's Akron Pages for all the latest in local and state politics.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Akron Beacon Journal Continues to Bash Brown

Catching up on the local opinions this morning, I found this in Friday's online ABJ, a tribute to their boy Mike DeWine, bemoaning his loss because President Bush has promised to work in a bipartisan manner. They insist that Brown is not the fellow to do that. Mike DeWine, the man who supported Bush's policies 96% of the time, would supposedly have been the best choice to reach across the aisle to the Democrats.

"Practically everyone agrees that the country's most difficult challenges require intelligent compromise. Just the moment for a smart lawmaker like Mike DeWine?"

How smart is Mike DeWine? Not smart enough to understand the needs and frustrations of his own constiuents, apparently. Certainly he did not plan or implement an intelligent campaign.

Trying to salvage their anti-Brown stance, the ABJ editorial makes sure to mention that all the major Ohio papers (excepting The Toledo Blade) endorsed DeWine, and then reveals the major reason they continue to bash Brown. It is Brown's stand against trade agreements:

Put another way, the middle class covers more than those workers hurt by ``job-killing'' trade agreements. The Brown words can be stirring. The reality is, the likes of the North American Free Trade Agreement are not the leading factor in Ohio losing manufacturing jobs. Not by a long shot. Technology is the prime culprit, industries becoming more productive, generating more goods with fewer workers, the country becoming more prosperous overall.

This writer is living in a dream world where capitalism rules over common decency and workers have no hope. Everybody knows that the reason manufacturing jobs have declined is because we encourage our citizens to buy products produced by workers in China, India and other countries. These foreign workers produce goods cheaply and under conditions that no US citizen would suffer. But since we don't see the suffering, it's ok.

Sherrod Brown is opposed to UNFAIR trade agreements. What is fair about competing with countries that don't have health insurance for their workers, who pay them miniscule wages, make them work under unsafe conditions, and who outlaw all union organizing?

Saturday, November 11, 2006

No Iraq War

On Veteran's Day, I think of the waste of young life that has happened thanks to George W Bush and his handlers. I reflect also on the violence and massive loss of life and home to the people living in Iraq.

The post title today represents the home-made sticker I've had on my truck's rear window since before "Mr I'm the Decider" marched us all off to war. While a majority of Americans went along with that move, some of us protested from the beginning, including US Reps Sherrod Brown and Dennis Kucinich among the few and the brave.

Four years later, having suffered too many losses of young men and women, and many more injured in horrific ways, and with daily news of no progress amid mounting chaos, the majority stood up and said NO to staying the course. Simplistic is all we ever got from this mistake of a president and his manipulators. With Democratic control of house and senate, can we get away from the either/or of Stay the Course
vs. Cut and Run?

How about -- Clean Up the Mess as a new phrase to deal with our simple-minded president? Iraq is in terrible condition. US presence makes it worse. Who among the planet's citizens can make a difference in Iraq? We need negotiators in there with promises of real help to build up the infrastructure -- that must be agreed upon by the Sunnis, the Shiites and the Kurds. This isn't going to be easy and in the end, the three groups might decide to blow each other up until nothing's left -- the old reach-rock-bottom syndrome taken to the extreme.

How will the Dems be able to steer our country in this direction of negotiation rather than that of military occupation? The generals are re-examining their strategies now that Rumsfeld is going out to pasture. In an article in today's Washington Post, Marine Gen. Peter Pace (chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff) says

"Winning, to me, is simply having each of the nations that we're trying to help have a secure environment inside of which their government and people can function."

The article point out that this is a departure from the current administration's definition of "winning" which is building a democracy in Iraq. You can bomb a civilization to bits, but you can't make it drink from the democracy well if it doesn't want to.

Now Bush dregs up another of his dad's old cronies with ties to the Iran-Contra scandal, Robert Gates. It is indicative of Bush Jr's inability to look forward to find new people with intelligence and creative minds who might provide a way out of the Bush Mess we are in now.

I've read some comments here and there across the internet implying that one way the Dems can apply brakes to the war machine is to withhold funding for the war effort. I can't remember where I found the remarks, so I did a Google search and found most references were on right wing publications (here) and here leading up to the election.

If that is the tactic conservatives fear the most, then the Dems might well go for it. I've also been reading that congressional approval of warrantless wiretapping is dead in the water -- hooray! The brakes are being applied. Let us hope we are not too late to end the war and focus on solving problems not creating more.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Tilting With Windmills

I received two very nice emails in the past two days. One from the county Sherrod Brown volunteer coordinator, thanking us all for our work over the past few months, a road that lead from parades to events to phoning and canvassing.

My first event was Sherrod and Harry Reid at the Cleveland Science Center in front of a giant windmill. I had just been reading a book about global warming and climate change (The Weathermakers by Tim Flannery) and was interested in finding out if this politician had any good ideas what to about sustainability and renewable sources of clean energy. It was early summer and the gas prices were sky high. At this time, I only knew him as my congress-person and I certainly wasn't thinking about actively campaigning for him when I drove up to Cleveland. On the drive home, I started to think about actively supporting him in his seemingly quixotic effort to unseat Mike DeWine.

I really liked the look of that windmill. NEOhio is pretty darn windy, especially along the coast of Lake Erie and on down over the glacier-formed cliff and highlands of Summit County. Sherrod said at that event that he wanted to become a Senator and work toward Ohio becoming the Silicon valley of alternative energy sources.

Fast forward to his election night speech.

Sherrod Brown renewed that pledge along with several others very worth mentioning here.

Fix The No Child Left Behind Act and make (college) tuition affordable for middle class families

Promote embryonic stem cell research

Raise the minimum wage

Affordable health care for all Americans

Against job-killing trade agreements that betray our values and destroy our communities

End the War in Iraq

He's got an ambitious To Do list. It is a list that I can support and will be watching to see if there are enough politicians who also are starting to get it. We want them to work with us and for us, instead of using us to enhance their own personal wealth.

Check out the entire speech -- it rings true to me.


...the new Beta version of Blogger.

Meanwhile congratulations to the Democrats and to everybody I have met while working on the Shrrod Brown campaign. What a fun ride it has been. Imust admit that at first I didn't think it possible for a progressive candidate to win a state race in Ohio. Thank you Sherrod for proving me wrong!

It is incredibly heartening to hear people say they based their vote on ending the war in Iraq. Maybe the lessons of Viet Nam finally woke my generation up once more. There is no good reason to stay the course when the course leads only to more violence and horror. I hope Iraqis get inspired to work things out among themselves and that US forces make way for a more UN sort of approach.

More thoughts on the election results at the end of the day.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Election Night at the Village Green

The turnout at my precinct in Kenmore pleased Steve, the school levy coordinator for this ward. It was approaching 600 by the time I left at 5:20. A big turnout will be good for the Democrats and good for the levy.

Standing outside in the cold rain for 3 two hour shifts was not so bad! I learned a lot about my fellow citizens in this ward. Steve shared some insights and history of Kenmore.

Now that I'm home and looking at what I need to have ready for work tomorrow, I've already decided to pass on all the election parties. I did want to go to Sherrod's in Cleveland, but duty is calling loud and winning over the need to celebrate. There will be more parties in the future. I will continue to blog about Kenmore and investigate how the political process works at the grassroots level.

Happy Election Night to All (Democrats!)

Kenmore, the 2nd tier place to vote

Just finished shift #2 of Poll Greeting. It went by much more quickly than the first shift. I attribute this to wearing more layers of clothing and waterproof boots. At left, you can see the entrance to the Kenmore polling place.

Yes, the rain keeps falling but not in sheets. The voters weren't exactly streaming in, but came steadily like the on-going drizzle. I haven't handed out any literature. People have stopped to chat and said they will be so glad when this particular election is over. Too much negativity by phone, by mail box, by radio and television commercials. The last thing the voters want is another piece of campaign literature. I figure it could only be useful if somebody asked me for information about a judge or an issue. But so far, everybody is looking self-sufficient and knowledgable about the candidates.

My favorite part of this job is the opportunity to people-watch. Most Kenmorites look as sad and gloomy as today's weather, decked out in run-down shoes and working folk clothing. The Democrats wave at me as they drive in to park. The Republicans avoid eye contact. A couple of Independents have stopped to chat.

I cannot bring myself to talk about the school levy. I stuck an Issue 6 sign in the ground near my post, but my sense is that most people do not want to hear about the levy. One woman did say she couldn't understand why people refuse to vote to fund the schools. In Kenmore, it has got to be an economic issue more than anything else. People are poor here -- that is my main observation from poll greeting in Kenmore. Senior citizens leave the Center clutching oranges, part of their senior lunch. Not great big juicy navel oranges either, but rather small, thin-skinned and greenish looking. Nevertheless, the oranges are going home and not being tossed into the trash.

When I started the day at Democrat Headquarters in Akron, I asked for Kenmore. They said it was a second tier assignment. I didn't ask why, but I intend to find out. It is definitely second or maybe even last tier in terms of attention given to it by the city.

One woman had voted earlier in Medina and said that the polls were hopping, long lines and lots of enthusiasm. I didn't ask which part of Medina. My inside sources tell me that voting is going strong in Granger Township and that people in line have very serious looks on their faces. What that means will be made clearer after 7 PM tonight.

Election Day in Kenmore

All poll greeters must stand outside the two flags at the polling place. I'm greeting voters at the Kenmore Community Center. It's a cold dismal not to mention rainy morning. I thought I had dressed with enough layers, but by 9 AM I was feeling the cold bite into my bones.

Greeting is a job I can handle well. I put on my cheery face and reach out with my positive vocal tones and brighten the lives of all the Democrats showing up to vote today. Greeters don't have to say anything other than "Please consider the Democrats when you vote today." Most people told me they were voting straight Democratic. One man responded that he was voting for two Democrats, one of which was Tom Sawyer. I had grabbed a Tom Sawyer for state school board sign at headquarters early this morning. It was laminated and thus would withstand the weather all day long. This turned out to be an excellent tactic. A number of voters either said they were voting for Tom or wanted to know what he was running for as they would like to vote for him.

It really is no surprise that people are voting straight Democratic. Akron is a Democratic stronghold with many union families. At my polling place (at right) this morning, I had to wait for a polling booth, it was that busy. In this county, we are using new optical scan equipment. This involves filling in ovals with black pens, just like the old standardized tests that we all took in college. Unlike the Diebold machines, these do have a paper trail and can be counted by hand should the memory cards in the scanners break down.

By the time I arrived at the community center, the crowds were thinning. For two hours, I paced and greeted in the rain. I'm home to warm up and put on a few extra layers of clothing! More later.

Monday, November 06, 2006

An Ohio Election Eve

At left, a few final flowers from the garden before the killing frost hit. Some cheery color for this election night eve! I'm not down at headquarters making phone calls, but I wore my Sherrod Brown button everywhere I went and talked to voters as I ran a long list of errands. At the pharmacy where I stopped for a flu shot, a senior citizen told me that she is voting for the school levy, but is worried that too many are opposed.

Driving out through enemy territory (Bath) I was pleased to see more Sherrod Brown signs than Mike DeWine signs. The Republicans make up for quantity with maximum square footage, however. Those enormous Blackwell/Raga mini-billboards are scary-looking. Who wants egos the size of those signs running our state government? Hopefully, not the marjority of Ohioans this election cycle.

At the Beacon Online, only one news story was given the comments feature. The story was about an elderly Republican woman from the falls who has worked at the polls for decades. The usual suspects took over the comment section. Since The Centrist departed the boards, the personal vehemence has decreased while the silliness goes on in several forms. Some people need to reinvigorate their material. People grow weary of the fellow who inserts Charlie Fry's name into every current event topic. Then there's the wit who -- no matter the subject -- exhorts us to do it for the children:

"as school levies go, less is apparently more."

And less is THANKFULLY more.

My god the children! Think of the children. Let me tug that one last heart string and remind yuo to think of the children!!!


This person has used this joke so many times that s/he doesn't even care if the topic matches the joke. In this case -- talking about a school levy -- yes, one should be thinking about the children. If adults don't think about how the current generation of children should be educated then who will?

Time to get some other work done so I will be free to help the Summit Progressive Democrats in Akron tomorrow. I signed up for three shifts as a poll greeter. I'm thinking that means waving signs and having stuff available to hand out. I will be coming home to blog about my experiences between shifts. See you at the polls!

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Two Akron Issues

Two Akron Issues

The city council wants voters to approve giving them four year terms of service as opposed to the current two years. The plus would be that council persons would have more time to govern without having to raise money to be elected. The minus would be -- if it turns out voting for such&such was a mistake, we're stuck with him/her for four years.

Until we have real election reform that does away with anybody donating to candidates, we would be best served to keep the terms at two years. The local Dems have a stranglehold on the council. Not a good idea to make these jobs even more cushy for them. I will vote NO to the increase from two to four years.

The other Akron city issue is to change the job classification of the council's clerk from that of Civil Service to that of unclassified employment appointed by the council. There's got to be some kind of political intrigue going on about this issue. On the face of it, I think it is probably better to let it be a civil service job acquired by merit rather than favoritism. I'm voting NO on this issue.

If anyone has information that would make me change my mind on these two issues, I'd be open to hearing it.

US out of Iraq now!

Two stories in the news Saturday morning that caught my attention

From Editor and Publisher:

For two years, American sergeants, captains and majors training the Iraqis have told their bosses that Iraqi troops have no sense of national identity, are only in it for the money, don't show up for duty and cannot sustain themselves.

And from ABC Daily News:

Cheney said that even with pollsters predicting that Democrats would likely make gains in both houses of Congress Tuesday, voter sentiment would not influence Bush's Iraq policy.

"It may not be popular with the public — it doesn't matter in the sense that we have to continue the mission and do what we think is right. And that's exactly what we're doing,"

The brilliant Bush regime strategy for Iraq is to continue doing things wrong. I once had a button that said "US out of___________now!" For the past four years, Iraq filled in that blank. Bush wants to keep it there until after he leaves office.

Cheney says it doesn't matter how the public votes this coming Tuesday. I'm counting on this election to make a difference. Two thirds of the American people are opposed to this madness. Hope to see you all at the polls next Tuesday.

Time out for an evening with Donovan

Obama Barack was in Cleveland last night for a rally with Sherrod Brown, but I already had tickets to see someone very special to me, the one and only Donovan, kicking off a US tour in Ohio. With only three days left until election day, I needed time off for stress-relief. So I put on my best concert attire, topped off by a Sherrod Brown button and was ready for an evening of beautiful music.

My best Dono-pal and I travelled south to Mansfield, home of the beautiful and historic Renaissance Theatre, an intimate jewel box of a performance space. We had second row center orchestra seats. The small pit area in front of us was partitioned off, with special seating for less than two dozen people. Donovan's entrance was so entirely casual, I almost missed it! He was dressed in the similar attire to when we last saw him in Kent at the folk festival -- loose black shirt and pants -- a dramatic background to highlight his magnificent guitar Kelly.

The first few songs were accompanied by a percussionist on conga drums and an acoustic bass fiddle player -- they were both outstanding musicians. They left the stage as Donovan crossed to a small black platform, about a foot and a half high. My friend and I had been speculating as to the purpose of this platform. Was April Vetch going to make a guest appearance on it -- playing her fiddle and clogging at the same time? Well it turned out that Donovan used it to sit in semi-lotus position to sing his most intimate of songs. The Troubadour sang some of his most precious beginning songs: Try for the Sun, Josie, Ballad of Geraldine, The Little Tin Soldier, Sunny Goodge Street, Donna Donna, The Alamo, Sunny Goodge Street, Sand and Foam. Other precious songs were tucked into the set including Isle of Islay, Young Girl Blues, Lalena, and of course Catch the Wind. He sang a song I'd never heard -- in fact, he said it had never been recorded but was one that he wrote with Kelly when he first got the guitar. It was called "Promise."

At the interval, we chatted with a gentleman sitting next to us, who lived in this central Ohio region. He spoke -- with that distinct Ohio twang -- of going to concerts all his life, but never seeing Donovan before. He said that the concert was not at all what he had expected -- that it was like having "Donovan in your living room." That description immediately took hold in my imagination and for the rest of the concert I imagined I was at home with the lava lamp bouncing and glowing, the incense burning, and Donovan there sitting cross-legged on the floor sharing his amazing songs, gently chatting about their origins, and urging me to sing a long!

There were many sing-a-longs last night. It took the crowd awhile to warm up, but eventually they were in fine form. Happiness Runs was quite spectacular, as the gentlemen took their "la la la la" part very seriously, while the ladies happily chirped "happiness runs happiness runs" in counterpoint.

The concert began shortly after 8 PM with no opening act. There was a 20 minute intermission and then another long set with an encore with the show wrapping up at five until 11. What a long evening -- it went by as if we were all in a dream together oblivious of time. The music flowed and the communal warmth drew us all together. The Universal Soldier meant more now than it ever did to all of us in that theatre (which was located directly across from Republican headquarters) -- the song was accompanied by that special silence that comes with utter attentiveness, and ended with great affirmative applause and cheers from the audience.

Donovan heads to Buffalo next, then travels up and down the eastern seaboard throughout the month of November. More concert information here. Enjoy Donovan in your living room soon!

Friday, November 03, 2006

Summit County Issues

My self-assigned homework is taking awhile to finish. Good thing I didn't give myself a deadline other than next Tuesday, November 7th.

Taking a look at the county-wide issues, I see that I'm going to vote to increase my taxes to support Metro Parks, while maintaining the current tax level in support of the Akron Zoo. I'm a sucker for public spaces and taking care of animals.

So that's a Yes on Issue 18
And a Yes on Issue 20

Issue 21 is a proposed charter amendment "to facilitate the fair and effective administration of elections by establishing deadlines for County Council to apportion the County into Council legislative districts." I'm shocked! They don't have deadlines in place already? What can they be thinking?

Issue 22 provides for the election of a nine member non-partisan Charter Review Commission, commending with the November 2007 election." I had some homework help on this one. Vote NO, because it is poorly written and will end up in a law suit if passed. It was also proposed by the county Republicans which makes it a bit suspect in this election. Essentially, it is ammendment to elect nine people who meet to review proposed charter ammendments. It leaves me scratching my head and wondering what is charter government and why do we have it? More homework, sigh. Meanwhile, I'll go with my inside sources and Vote NO on issue 22.

Issue 23 will "prohibit any person who is related to an elected County official, unclassified County employee, Country employee at a level of Director, or Country employee whose County salary exceeds $80,000 per year to be eligible for country employment." This is the "nepotism" issue that is in response to the hiring of Chrissie Congrove as Animal Shelter Director by James McCarthy, County Executive. Chrissie is the daughter of country councilman Dan Congrove.

I find it interesting that there is a monetary limit to this law. If you make less than 80K, then it is ok to hire your relatives. What if the relative is perfectly capable and in fact, is someone who would do a great deal of good? Is it fair to automatically deny employment to someone because they are related to someone? I'm not sure about this law at all and so I make no recommendation.

Tomorrow, I hope to find out who my county council representative is and whether I should vote for them to stay in office. There are also two city of Akron issues that I need to consider, as well as all the local candidates who want to represent me and who want to be judges.