Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The Hamilton County Democratic Forum

I attended last night's Hamilton County Democratic Forum to get a sense of how Hamilton County is feeling about both the presidential race and the primary race for the 2nd congressional district. I also collected signatures to place Christopher Dole on the November ballot for the Commissioner's race. I think standing outside made me catch a cold, so I hope Chris knows I'm pulling for him!

The begining of the event was a debate between County Commissioner David Pepper, who was representing the Clinton campaign, and City Councilman David Crowley, who represented Barack Obama. The battle of the Davids was a friendly one. Overall David Pepper seemed much more familiar with the positions of his candidate than did David Crowley. Crowley may have been less prepared because of his recent switch to Obama after John Edwards dropped out of the race last month though.

David Pepper outlined some of the major points of Clinton's candidacy: a 90 moratorium on forclosures, an increase in fuel economy standards on American autos, a 50 billion dollars fund to create green collar jobs. He also made some strong points about Clinton's electability; citing that recent polls show her doing better against McCain than Obama. He also drew a large applause from a line asking the audience if they really want the Republican attack machine selecting our candidate for us based on their hatred for HRC.

David Crowley outlined the way in which Obama was able to reach across party lines in the Illinois State Senate as well as the U.S. Senate. Crowley also contrasted Clinton's healthcare plan with Obama's stating the Clinton would force people to pay for insurance; much in the same way states force motorists to buy auto insurance. Crowley also told the audience ab0ut how Obama will remove combat troops from Iraq within 16 months of taking office. Crowley also said that experience doesn't necessarily equate to leadership.

Following the faux presidential debate was a debate between Steve Black and Vic Wulsin, the two candidates for congress in the 2nd congressional district. Mr. Black and Dr. Wulsin spent most of the debate leveling charges against each other; Steve Black referring to an investigation into work Dr. Wulsin did with the Hiemlich Institute, and Wulsin acusing Steve Black of owning millions of dollars in oil company and Halliburton stock. Each of them seemed to feel the same way about the issues, but each claimed that they were the only candidate who can beat incumbent Jean Schmidt in November.

The crowd seemed to be an even split between Dr. Wulsin and Mr. Black, but Hillary Clinton's campaign seemed to out do Barack Obama's as far as visibility is concerned. If one thing came out of this Democratic debate it is this, despite our divisions over candidates this is an energized party in and energized year.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Will the Democrats' split decision help Democrats in November?

The pundits and media are speculating about what exactly will determine who will be the Democratic nominee as it becomes increasingly likely that neither Senator Obama or Senator Clinton will have enough delegates amassed. With the Republicans already having a de facto nominee with John McCain, many worry that the GOP will be able to campaign vigorously while the Democrats do not have a candidate to respond.

The long Democratic campaign for president, however, may actually be helping the Democratic Party. It has forced Democrats to compete for votes in states that have been ignored in the past 2 election cycles. Before Super Tuesday, Sen. Obama held a rally in Idaho. When was the last time a Democratic candidate for president even visited the state of Idaho? The Democrats have basically conceded the giant L shape that cuts through the map of the United States comprised of the Great Plains and Southeast for the past 20 years, while taking support on the West Coast and in the Northeast for granted. The battle for the White House has been fought in the trenches of the midwest.

This split decision primary has forced the two remaining Democratic candidates to compete for every single delegate in every single state and terrirtory. This battle for delegates has forced Democrats to campaign in states that they have written off for years. With the candidates campaigning in these states, and Howard Dean creating a "50 state strategy" for the Democratic Party, many states that are considered in the "red state" column may be in play for Democrats.

I'm not saying that we should count on Idaho or Utah to vote Democrat in November, but I do think that many of the voters in these states apreciate the candidates actually stopping by to spread thier message. It certainly says something for a candidate like Barack Obama when he can turnout nearly 20,000 people in a small conservative state like Idaho to hear him speak.

With primaries scheduled through June, the Democrats may have to battle it out until the end of Spring before we know who will be going to the convention with a majority of pledged delegates. All of these primary dates also include small numbers of states; therefore the candidates can focus exclusively on these contests. Following the big make or break primary for Senator Clinton on March 4th in Ohio, Texas, Vermont and Rhode Island comes states that have been more difficult for Democrats in the past. Sens. Obama and Clinton will likely be campaigning for the support of voters from Mississippi, North Carolina, Kentucky, Indiana, South Dakota, and Nebraska.

This long campaign through unfamiliar terroitory may ultimately help build support for the eventual Democratic nominee. It will at least do something that has not happened for several election cycles; give every voter in every state a voice when it comes to who will be the next president.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Roxanne, You're Gonna Have to Walk the Streets for Money

Facing a major budget shortfall, Cincinnati City Council recently passed a resolution to place red light cameras around major intersections in the city. There was no public safety outcry from the community; this idea was proposed by Councilwoman Roxanne Qualls for the sole purpose of increasing city revenue. These cameras will not only see to it that more motorists recieve tickets for running red lights, but they border on a violation of personal privacy. This Orwellian law enforcement tool will take a picture of the motorist's licence plate number, and use their address based on vehicle registration to send a ticket.

A coalition of groups in Hamilton County have began to gather signatures to place this issue on the November ballot. This coalition is similar to the one created last year to oppose the jail tax; so far it includes the NAACP, the Southwest Ohio Green Party, and COAST. I urge everyone to take time to sign their petitions so that this issue will appear on the November ballot. Then we can all tell City Council that they need to find a less intrusive was to raise money.

Thank you Everyone and Thank You Cincinnati Beacon

I just want to take a little space to thank everyone who has choosen to check out this blog over the past week and a half. We have had a great introduction so far, and I promise Ron will begin contributing as soon as he can! I also would like to thank The Cincinnati Beacon for their review and link to this new blog. Please keep reading, and I promise I will keep posting!!!

Obama Republicans

There seems to be a gowing phenomenon of disaffected Republicans joining the Obama camp. There are two types of Obama Republicans that are emerging in the wake of the inevidable nomination of John McCain.

The first group of Obama Republicans are the right-wing talk show crowd who can't stomach McCain's legislative resume. These are people who want to send the GOP out into the wilderness for 2-4 years so that it can do some soul searching. These people seem to be taking on Obama as their "lesser of evils" candidate. These people hate John McCain, but they despise the Clintons. I think they can even bring themselves to find something inspiring about Obama, despite the fact that he is slightly to the left of Hillary Clinton.

The second group of Obama Republicans are the people of the party who feel disenfranchised by GOP policy for the past 15 years. These are the "post-partisan" group, who aren't looking for ideological discipline, but rather pragmatic solutions to our problems. What these people see in Obama is what many Democrats see, a fresh face with new ideas.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Who's united, and who's divided?

I keep hearing pundits on the major news networks talk about how the Democrats are "bitterly divided" this election season. Well, one thing is for certain; Democrats ARE divided over who they want to be the nominee. But are they really divided as a party? I don't think so. I haven't heard many Democrats making claims about not voting, or voting for the Repbulicans if their respective candidate looses the nomination. I live in a house that is divided; my wife is leaning towards supporting Hillary Clinton in the upcoming primary and I am leaning towards Barack Obama. We aren't really having any raging battles with each other, we pretty much agree what the issues of importance are in the upcoming election. She just happens to prefer Senator Clinton carrying the Democratic Party message, while I prefer Senator Obama.

The Democratic race is about who, not what. The GOP race, however, is definately much more divided. Though Senator McCain is the presumptive nominee at this point, there are many influential party members who are saying that they would never support him as the Republican candidate. This is mostly a fight over rigid ideology. Senator McCain is disliked by conservatives such as Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, and James Dobbson because he does not draconianly adhere to Republican principals. I personally believe that the GOP primary voters have been wise to select McCain for that very reason; he appeals to moderates, independents, and some Democrats. The far right of the Republican Party, however, feels that McCain's major pieces of legislation reach too far to the middle.

There are not major Democratic supporters making drastic claims about Sens. Obama and Clinton. Democratic primary voters seem to be telling us that they like both the candidates, whereas the Republican are lamenting about the guy that they have voted for.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Hamilton County Commisioner's race

As many of you may or may not know, the local Hamilton County Democratic and Republican Parties decided to make the voters' choice for them when it comes to many county wide races this fall. The deal struck between the two parties has allowed Democratic Hamilton County Commissioner Todd Portune to run unopposed, while Republican Greg Hartman will run unopposed for the seat being vacated by Pat DeWine. In addition to Democrat Todd Portune being allowed to run without opposition, Democratic County Coroner Odell Owens will run unopposed. Since the Republicans have let these two off the hook, the Democrats have agreed to let Country Prosecutor Joe Deters have another four years, as well as agreeing not to run judges in 10 of 12 contests this fall.

I think all us can agree that this is a bad deal for voters, regardless of which party we support, what our particular ideology is when it comes to politics, or even if we support all of these candidates. The justice system is broken in Hamilton County, yet the Democrats are going to let the same Republicans who have been screwing it up for the past 10 years continue to do so. The reason that I think the Democrats made this concession to Republicans is because of fear of a candidate rising out of the ranks of the strong anti-tax movement who opposed the sales tax increase that Commissioners Portune and Pepper created last year. It was defeated by a ballot initiative in the fall. Tim Burke, Hamilton County Democratic Party Chairman, made this deal to ensure that the Democratic Party continues to hold a majority in the County's most powerful governing body.

There are a few things we can all do, however, to change the way things are being done. First, there is a man by the name of Chris Dole who plans on running as in independent for Hamilton County Commissioner. He needs to collect 3,000 signatures of registered voters in Hamilton County by 4pm March 3rd in order to appear on the November Ballot. If he succeeds in collecting enough valid signatures, he will be running against Greg Hartmann. You can sign one of his petitions to help him get on the ballot.

Another thing that we can all do is run for precinct executive in the Republican or Democratic Primary. This opportunity, unfortunately, will not be available to any of you who are not already running until 2010. Many precincts don't have anyone serving, and all you have to do is either gather 5 signatures to appear on the ballot, or file a declaration of candidacy to run as a write-in candidate. If you are running unopposed (as nearly all precinct executives do) all you have to do is vote for yourself to win election. As a precinct executive you are responsible for selecting party leadership. I know I will be doing my part to change how the Democratic Party functions this year, I hope everyone reading this will also want to get involved to make their party of choice more respectful of the voters as well.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Super Tuesday review

Well, once again the media's pundits have bequeathed their opinion about what would happen durring the primaries on us, and once again they were pretty much full of shit.

First, the Democratic Party Bullshit:
CNN had all of these fancy pie charts and bar graphs to show the audience that Barack Obama does well with blacks and white men, and Hillary Clinton does well with latinos and women. What I saw was Hillary Clinton winning large urban states and Obama winning the south, the plains, and the midwest. They are also saying that the Democratic Party is a party that is divided; I think that this is pretty ridiculous as well. I haven't heard a lot of Democrats who are saying that they will not vote for the party's eventual nominee if their choice looses. I think that the soul searching is definately on the side of the GOP, and that the Democrats are united, even if they are not united behind a specific candidate.

and the Republican Party Bullshit:
If anyone deserves to be pissed off about how they have been treated by the media it is Mike Huckabee. Governor Huckabee has been treated like he belongs at the back of the pack pretty much since he anounced his candidacy. Even after his suprise victory in Iowa the media was discussing how Iowa definately wasn't going to propel Mike Huckabee to the nomination. I do not believe that Mike Huckabee will be the Republican nominee, but he has certainly showing more relevance than Mitt Romney. So far Romney has only won in states that he has lived in and states where there are lots of Mormons. While Romney has become the darling of right-wing talk radio as the "conservative" alternative to frontrunner John McCain, Mike Huckabee has certainly shown that many social conservatives believe in his message. I am not pretentious (or important by media standards) enough to write anyone's obituary, but I would have to say that if Huckabee was the millionaire in this race, then it would be considered a toss up between himself and McCain. This is a GOP more divided than it has ever been in my lifetime.

BTW, if you believe Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh's bullshit about Romney being some kind of conservative alternative to John McCain watch this. Notice how he talks about how he was an independent durring the Reagan Era (pretty much the equivilent of saying you were an atheist in the time of Christ to a Cristian), he fully supports Roe v. Wade, and that he will do MORE for gay rights than Senator Kennedy:

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Welcome to Fear and Blogging in Cincinnati

I would like to welcome readers to Fear and Blogging in Cincinnati. This blog is going to serve to report and editorialize on politics in Cincinnati, the state of Ohio, and in the United States. The two authors of this blog will be myself, and Ron Turner. Ron and I will be giving our own independent perspective on the issues, and the candidates that affect all of us in the southwest Ohio/tristate region.

Ron and I decided to put this blog together to make a forum in which we can express our political views as a conservative and a liberal in a respectful manner. This is not going to be a blog about talking points, but rather the real substance of the issues that affect us all. Of course there will be room for humor and a little jabbing, but I want to empahsize rationality. I also hope that our readers who choose to comment on our posts will use the same discretion.

I will let Ron do his own intro, but I would like to introduce myself and explain my views to those of you who may be reading this, but do not know me. My name is Nathan Wissman, and I am a student who is gearing up to graduate this spring from the University of Cincinnati. I will be earning a bachelor's degree in the field of political science. I am a contributing member of the Hamilton County Democratic Party, as well as a member of the Democratic National Committee. I am also an elected precinct executive within the Hamilton County Democratic Party. I am a civil libertarian and a dues paying member of the American Civil Liberties Union. My economic views are mixed as I believe in a capitalist system with a strong welfare state safety net. I am a secular humanist with an agnostic religious view.

I look forward to spirited posts and debates in this blog, and I also look forward to finding common ground with those who share different political views from myself. I feel very fortunate to be able to embark upon this project with Ron, and I hope that we can both enjoy blogging together, and I hope that our readers will enjoy our blogging as well.