Wednesday, December 26, 2007
The response from this corner was silence. Not because I do not care about global warming, polar bears, keeping the buckeye tree in Ohio, or the diversity of life in Little Darby Creek.
The reason is that I do not know who to trust for accurate science. The issue of global warming is so highly politicized, even within the scientific community, that I don’t know for a fact that the trend is irreversible, or to what extent human activity is involved. During the UN conference, 100 British and Canadian scientists protested the assumptions used in the UN report. We all want to do the right thing, and that should include continued support for renewable energy and practical measures that will help clean the air and water and protect animal habitat. Beyond that, however, how much is within our control? The answers to these questions have major policy implications for every nation.
I really don’t know what they are, but I do know that we need answers from scientists who are looking for the truth, and journalists who are able to report their findings objectively.
The truth may be inconvenient, but the lack of it is dangerous; either because we neglect to prepare for a catastrophe, or because we waste valuable resources following Chicken Little prophecies of the sky falling.
I’d like to have truth on my side – if I can find it.
The Ohio Republic is nothing more than a blog, for now -- but I am interested in working with other Ohioans to get a movement started.
Sunday, December 23, 2007
The snow lies deep upon the ground,
And winter’s brightness all around
Decks bravely out the forest sere,
With jewels of the brave old year.
The coasting crowd upon the hill
With some new spirit seems to thrill;
And all the temple bells achime
Ring out the glee of Christmas time.
In happy homes the brown oak-bough
Vies with the red-gemmed holly now;
And here and there, like pearls, there show
The berries of the mistletoe.
A sprig upon the chandelier
Says to the maidens, “Come not here!”
Even the pauper of the earth
Some kindly gift has cheered to mirth!
Within his chamber, dim and cold,
There sits a grasping miser old.
He has no thought save one of gain,--
To grind and gather and grasp and drain.
A peal of bells, a merry shout
Assail his ear: he gazes out
Upon a world to him all gray,
And snarls, “Why, this is Christmas Day!”
No, man of ice, -- for shame, for shame!
For “Christmas Day” is no mere name.
No, not for you this ringing cheer,
This festal season of the year.
And not for you the chime of bells
From holy temple rolls and swells.
In day and deed he has no part—
Who holds not Christmas in his heart!
Paul Laurence Dunbar (1872-1906) was an African-Ohioan poet and editor who lived in Dayton. He wrote both in standard English and in dialect. This poem was reproduced, courtesy of the Paul Laurence Dunbar Digital Collection at the Wright State University Library.
Saturday, December 22, 2007
Friday, December 21, 2007
It is good to see an Ohio Governor stand up to the Feds! Unfortunately, this is not likely to be the last time he will be called on to do so.
The Ohio Republic stands with the Lakota in their struggle – and they know it will be a struggle – for self-determination. At the same time, we recognize the implications for other tribes and other States, including our own. We will all need to use reason, to find a fair balance between the rights of the native, and those that have built up for the rest of us.
The cause of the Lakota is the cause of us all.
* Note: Since this was initially posted, the story has appeared in mainstream U.S. media, including USA Today. Here is a link to news sources that have carried the story.
** As reported in Vermont Commons: I was unable to find the original source.
This is not to say that we did not have some flaws in 2004, but to charge, as J. Arthur Loose did in Vermont Commons, that Ohio’s election procedures resembled those of a “banana republic” are also off-base. First, let me grant that we had our problems. We had an unusually partisan Secretary of State in J. Kenneth Blackwell. While he appears to have served the position well in his first term (1999-2003), he had pent-up ambition for the Governor’s office going back to 1990; which motivated him to seek political alliances through his support for the President’s re-election in 2004. Mr. Fitrakis also notes several anomalies (which I cannot explain away) between the usually accurate Ohio Poll and the voting results for statewide issues in the 2005 election.
I will not defend Mr. Blackwell’s conduct as Secretary of State in either election, but will note that, prior to 2004, there were few complaints about Ohio’s election process. In fact, in 2000, Ohio was generally compared favorably to Florida, even though most counties in both states were using punch-card ballots at the time. Our procedures, while not perfect, were usually effective in protecting the vote from fraud. For example, there was no stage in the elections process, from signing the poll book, to loading the computers at the Board of Elections and the Secretary of State’s office, that was not attended to and approved by at least one Republican and one Democrat, each with a veto power over the other.
What changed was the introduction of advanced electronic voting devices, which were approved in haste to meet Federal deadlines under the Help America Vote Act of 2002. The deadlines did not permit States to adequately test the accuracy and ballot security of the devices being promoted. The combination of short deadlines, Federal funding, and new technology created a perfect breeding ground for corruption.
Our current Secretary of State, Jennifer Brunner, has proposed a series of reforms for consideration by the General Assembly, some of which appear to follow a list of 50 reforms proposed by Mr. Fitrakis. While I question the value of some of the proposals relative to their cost, I generally support both sets of reforms. However, neither mentioned one that, in light of Mr. Blackwell’s tenure, should be raised to the top of the list. Ohio law needs to be amended to extend to the Secretary of State and her employees the “Little Hatch Act” (Section 124.57 of the Ohio Revised Code), which prohibits partisan political activity by the classified (civil service) State employees. An exception should, of course, be made for her own re-election campaign, since it will (and should) be a referendum on her handling of the elections process.
It is telling that in today’s report, “none of her students thought that [the immigrants] were going about it in the right way.” They learned the right lesson. The real problem is that American politics is polarized between those who would have law without compassion, and those who would have compassion without law. We have to have both. Without law, we have no order; but without compassion, we have no soul.
My opinion on immigration reform
Saturday, December 15, 2007
However, when an Ohioan other than myself writes a published letter to the editor of the Columbus Dispatch under the title “Empires are always dying from within” –well, that made me sit up and take notice.
What aroused Elizabeth Richter’s ire was Jonah Goldberg’s assertion that “empire” is a necessity if we are to achieve "globalism, military success, capitalism and liberty." She cited John Quincy Adams in an 1821 speech as expressing his opposition to what we now call “nation-building” in these terms: "We do not go abroad in search of monsters to destroy." Instead, Ms. Richter noted, we are to create such a free and prosperous nation that the rest of the world will try to imitate us.
President Adams also told Congress that if we did try to destroy the monsters of our world that we would become a "dictatress" of the world, and this would damage our liberty.
Ms. Richter then observes with considerable irony the resemblance between the neoconservative philosophy and those of Leon Trotsky and Machiavelli, especially the beliefs that lying is necessary for the state to survive and that the ends justify the means if those in power are virtuous.
She then concludes, “All tyranny is based upon an insistence of those in power to create utopia on Earth. This position is directly opposed to the non-utopian Christian worldview of our Founders, who believed in a messy and widely shared division of power inherent in our Republic.”
Friday, December 14, 2007
The real problem with immigration lies with the Americans who do not respect their own laws, by insisting on putting illegal immigrants on the same footing as others for purposes of acquiring benefits from the state.
We have to face the fact that we have made serious mistakes; but we have to correct the problem. Therefore, from now on, we must build effective border security that deports illegal aliens within hours of their entry into this country. I don’t know how to do this, but I suspect that it isn’t rocket science. Build physical barriers, increase air surveillance, establish strict enforcement protocols. Those who have been here less than two years should be summarily deported. For the others, we should grant temporary visas – but only once – to let them stay here and enable us to keep track of them. At the end of the visa, they can do one of three things: go on the citizenship track, justify an extension of their visa according to law, or go home. Employers who value these people should have no problem with assisting their employees in pursuing one of the first two options.
We should permit their children to be educated, and to receive a minimum standard of health care. It is not the children’s fault they came here illegally. To help illegal immigrants much more would move us from compassion to stupidity.
Please note that I am referring only to illegal immigrants. Legal immigrants were cleared to come here, are working or living with their families, and are taxpayers. They should be entitled to the same human and civil (but not political) rights as anyone else.
Ohio has a history of diversity in immigration, which obviously is not going to change. This diversity has enriched us culturally and strengthened us in our native capacity to innovate. We remain bound together by respect for our laws and by the English language. Now, let’s clean up the mess the Feds have made, and move forward.
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
The Ohio Republic and Gov. Strickland on the same page? At least on this issue we are. Like the Governor, I just pray to God that we don't let these opportunities pass us by, either; like too many others we have passed up in the last 25 years.
"'It’s the spirit of our time,' said Strickland, a Democrat who led his party’s resurgence last year in a political swing state controlled for more than a decade by Republicans. 'We cannot, and I just pray to God that we don’t, let these opportunities pass us by... The status quo does not result in things staying the way they are,' he said. 'The status quo results in things getting increasingly worse in comparison to the rest of the world."
* As posted by the Canton Repository.
Written by Gaelan Brown, it suggests seven options, six of which will work in Ohio (we’re too flat to make hydroelectric power work). The six are: building community and residential-scale electric generation, biomass (burning renewable fuels such as timber* and, for us, corn), biogas (converting municipal sewage and agricultural, uh, waste into a methane-generating electrical power system, wind power (which is beginning to take hold in Ohio), development and promotion of electric vehicles, and solar power for water heating (a long-established technology). Read the details – Mr. Brown explains his points not only reasonably, but also with wit.
With our tradition of invention (and noting that Northeastern Ohio is heavily populated with descendants of New Englanders), we should be able to build on these ideas to achieve energy independence.
* Recent developments in genetic engineering suggest that trees can be genetically engineered to burn more efficiently as fuel; but at the moment there are still a few kinks to be worked out.
Monday, December 10, 2007
Since one of the purposes of this blog is to promote Ohio culture, let me throw out this question for the Christmas season: What dishes come to your mind as being distinctively Ohio cuisine? Let us know in your comments to this post.
Saturday, December 8, 2007
Well, hello... we have $100 per barrel oil, past peak. Automobiles, trucks, and buses are the largest single source of greenhouse gases, and right now, within the state, there are no other options.
One of the principles that I would like to see in the Ohio Republic is that of natural sustainability. I'm not talking about tree-hugging "environmentalism" -- I am talking about working our way toward renewable resources, clean air, and responsible land use. Rail and public transit systems can run on electricity, which can be generated from many clean and renewable sources (and on the short term, by coal, which we still have in abundance -- but will need to develop technologies to burn more cleanly).
As Mr. Ervin writes:
"As we look for options to ease pain at the pump, we find few or no choices.
"Federal passenger-rail legislation that would remedy this is long in coming but again faces delay from a threatened presidential veto and glacial movement by Congress. We need action, and we need it now. Otherwise, how can we possibly begin to address issues such as energy conservation, air quality and land use?"
Ohio is compact and has eight metro areas. We are ideally situated to build a public transportation infrastructure that can be a model for North America -- but only when we have freed ourselves and our tax dollars of the Feds' misplaced priorities.
Thursday, December 6, 2007
I have published Sen. Sherrod Brown's disappointing boilerplate response as a comment, and will also publish Sen. George Voinovich's when it is received.
First, if you would like to write for this blog, I invite you to e-mail submissions to me. After we have gone over several contributions and established a level of trust, I shall permit you to contribute directly. In the near future, I shall issue a draft statement of principles that will give you a clearer idea of what I have in mind.
Second, if you would like to get in on the ground floor of a movement for Ohio secession, please e-mail me to indicate your interest. Include in that e-mail your postal address, county, preferred phone number. This information will remain confidential, and will not be used for any other purpose without your express written consent.
In accordance with Robert's Rules, when I have received e-mail notifications from at least 20 people from at least 5 different counties, I shall draft by-laws and a platform to be voted on at a convention (probably all day on a Saturday) at the most convenient possible location.
If you are an Ohio resident, I hope you will seriously consider and respond to these invitations.
If you are not an Ohio resident, let me thank you for reading this blog -- you are always welcome to read and comment. I hope that some of the ideas presented here will be helpful to you.
Tuesday, December 4, 2007
I am writing to you today to express my opposition to H.R. 1955 (The Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Act) in its present form, particularly in its provisions relating to “violent radicalizaton,” and the creation of the National Commission on the Prevention of Violent Radicalization and Ideologically Based Violence.
The Act defines violent radicalization as “the process of adopting or promoting an extremist belief system for the purpose of facilitating ideologically based violence to advance political, religious, or social change.”
I note that two provisions of the Act are intended to protect the Constitutional rights of American citizens in their exercise of free speech (Sections 899B(8) and 899F(c)). However, history has shown that such rights can be trampled upon when the Congress or the nation is fearful of a terrorist attack – a fear that can easily be whipped up by less scrupulous politicians and media in support of a political end. I have no doubt that the sponsors of H.R. 1955 intend for the Commission to act in an ethical fashion – but I feel it is unwise to write an Act that assumes that they will do so. Given the opportunity, and especially if the auditing mechanism envisioned in 899F(c) is slow, unpublicized, or otherwise ineffective, it is safer to expect that the Commission will abuse its power.
The First Amendment can be effectively invalidated without passing any legislation directly attacking its provisions, as was proven during the investigations of the House Un-American Activities Committee and the Senate Internal Security Committee under the chairmanship of Senator Joseph McCarthy, between 1950 and 1954.
Let me remind you of the impact of those investigations, in a few words quoted from
http://www.answers.com/topic/mccarthyism (the site also gives original sources for its statements):
“The number imprisoned is in the hundreds, and some ten or twelve thousand lost their jobs. In many cases, simply being subpoenaed by HUAC [the House Un-American Activities Committee] or one of the other committees was sufficient cause to be fired. Many of those who were imprisoned, lost their jobs or were questioned by committees did in fact have a past or present connection of some kind with the Communist Party. But for the vast majority, both the potential for them to do harm to the nation and the nature of their communist affiliation were tenuous.”
By defining violent radicalization as the “the process of adopting or promoting an extremist belief system for the purpose of facilitating ideologically based violence to advance political, religious, or social change,” the Act is criminalizing an opinion, rather than a behavior.
I hold a political opinion that many people find distasteful, and I have repeatedly stated my opposition to the use of any violence whatsoever. But if someone takes my philosophy and forms a violent movement in its support, where does that leave me? In all likelihood, according to the language of this act, I have committed “violent radicalization.” If this Act were in effect in the early 1960s, Dr. Martin Luther King could have been held responsible for the actions of the Black Panthers.
I am totally in favor of erecting defenses against violence for any reason. I agree that we need to understand the potential for terrorist actions within the United States. Anyone who commits a violent act should be vigorously prosecuted and severely punished according to law; but we must confine the legal process to dealing with the action, not the philosophy that is allegedly behind it. As President Harry Truman wrote in his unsuccessful veto of the McCarran Internal Security Act of 1950, “In a free country, we punish men for the crimes they commit, but never for the opinions they have.”
Finally, I appeal to you to consider these words from Edward R. Murrow, in a final comment on McCarthyism:
“We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty. We must remember always that accusation is not proof and that conviction depends upon evidence and due process of law. We will not walk in fear, one of another. We will not be driven by fear into an age of unreason, if we dig deep in our history and our doctrine, and remember that we are not descended from fearful men.”
If you cannot oppose H.R. 1955, I urge you to at least support amendments that will better protect the Constitutional rights of dissent.