Friday, February 28, 2003
Selected Not Elected for Ohio
The wife let me know that the Ohio Senate has just introduced a new resolution, SJR 7
. The bill calls for a vote this November as to whether Ohio Supreme Court Justices should continue to be elected by direct popular vote; or where the Governor would appoint, and after two years of service would face a public vote as to whether he/she could retain the seat for ten more years. If the Justice wished to go an additional ten years, he/she would again have to face a Yes/No vote by the public.
The bill is being introduced by Republicans. Democrats, a significant minority outside of Northern Ohio appear opposed to the bill. Ohio voters rejected referendum on a Constitutional amendment to replace the direct election of appellate judges and Supreme Court justices with appointments made by the governor by nearly 2 to 1 in 1987. I would say this bill will probably face a similar outcome, except that the Supreme Court elections have gotten very ugly in the last few years as special interest groups on both sides have really made it a battleground. People have expressed disgust, but I still don't think they want to give up the ability to have a direct say.
I haven't been able to locate the text of SJR 7, the wife's job has a subscription that informs of important legislative bills, but no text yet.
Public Comment Time on the Convention Center
Well, the "public hearings" for the proposed convention center are finally scheduled.
A meeting to publicly present the report has been scheduled for Tuesday at the Cleveland Public Library's Louis Stokes Wing. The city also plans to hold two hearings to solicit opinions - one on March 12 at the Middleburg Heights Community Center and one at Cleveland Browns Stadium the same week.
An actual time for the meetings would be nice.
The article says that Mayor Campbell will be receiving a report from the business groups about the sites including expected costs for each. County Commissioners are already positioning themselves to get sweetheart deals for their sections by intimating that the groups already have decided which location to push (likely), though the spokesperson for Cleveland Tomorrow denies it. They say they will have a public comments section factored into their recommendation when they submit it in April. Keep pushing it back boys.
Thursday, February 27, 2003
Blogging May Be Light
Over the weekend. The family is taking a weekend trip to the 'Burgh to see some friends.
More Jennifer Garner in Leather
(That's going to get me some creepy Google hits)
Jennifer Garner will star in a "Daredevil" spinoff "Elektra" movie
Stare in a Mirror
That's what Dr. Bala Ambati says to Palestinians
Why are groups employing suicide bombing deserving of sympathy or intervention? Why are Palestinians more worthy than Kurds, Iraqi Shi'ites, Tibetans or southern Sudanese? Won't the political success of suicide-bombing inspire others?
The inhuman brutality of Muslim to fellow Muslim--800,000 Pakistanis killed by Pakistan in 8 months in 1971, 20,000 Syrians killed in a week by Syria in 1982, 1.5 million Afghans killed by the Taliban in 5 years, 200,000 Iraqis killed by Saddam in 1988, 5,000 Palestinians killed by Jordan in one month in 1970, 300,000 Palestinians ethnically cleansed by Kuwait in 1991--dwarfs anything done by Israel where 3,000 Palestinians were killed in eight years of intifada or the U.S. Those blaming Israel and America forget this, revealing their indignation as hollow.
Suicide bombing is not due to occupation, for then Kurds would be blasting pizza parlors in Baghdad, Lebanese would be blowing up buses in Damascus, Western Saharans would be blowing up resorts in Rabat, Tibetans would be leveling discos in Beijing and Palestinians would have practiced it for the first 29 years of occupation and on their Jordanian and Kuwaiti tormentors. Suicide bombing is due to brainwashing in media, madrassahs and mosques by "clerics" and "leaders" drunk with lust for power and happy to barter blood.
We must stop being seduced by Palestinians claiming monopolies on suffering or occupation. Many have grievances, yet only Islamic fundamentalists glorify and practice suicide-bombing on a mass scale. While every community has terrorists, only Islamic fundamentalists have global reach and aspirations of conquest, oil money, esteem of multitudes and men with fantasies of celestial virgins.
I noted that CASA had released a new study on alcohol consumption
to correct their old one. I doubted the new one also, seems with good reason
Now CASA has some new data. Actually, they're old data, but CASA has fiddled with them so they fit its prejudices better. In this week's Journal of the American Medical Association, CASA's researchers declare that in 1999 "individuals aged 12 to 20 years consumed 19.7%...of all the alcohol consumed in the United States." They got this number by combining a past-month drinking rate from the Youth Risk Behavior Survey with data on drinking frequency and quantity from the National Household Survey on Drug Abuse.
Why combine data from two surveys that used different samples and methods? Because it was the only way to get a figure close to CASA's original claim of 25 percent, which was based on a misreading of data from the household survey.
But CASA's desperate attempt to vindicate itself has prompted new criticism. Yesterday an official at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told The New York Times CASA had "inappropriately" applied data from the CDC's Youth Risk Behavior Survey, which covers high school students, to 12-to-20-year-olds in the household survey.
More important, CASA's estimate for the share of alcohol consumed by Americans under the age of 21 seems wildly implausible when applied to sales data. If 12-to-20-year-olds really do consume one in five drinks, and the overall drinking rate for this group is 50 percent (the figure CASA uses), that means each underage drinker—i.e., every other teenager—is putting away about 100 drinks a month, more than three every day. The Distilled Spirits Council calls this result "simply absurd," and it's hard to disagree.
The article does a nice job of breaking down the definition of "excessive" drinking used by CASA.
Yet Another Hat Into the Convention Ring
Everybody wants to get into the act
. The Galleria was built about 15 years ago, as this glass and steel mall downtown. Part of the revitalization. Occupancy is now below 50%. Now the owners are suggesting it serve as the front for the new convention center, claiming it can be built cheaper at this spot.
The new owners of the Galleria at Erieview have proposed turning their ailing mall into the gateway for a convention center that would stretch across three blocks, and they say it could be built for $150 million less than competing plans.
Galleria owners Werner Minshall and James Breen, along with architect Richard Fleischman, say their plan would boost the eastern edge of downtown. It would also be economical because the Galleria provides space for meeting rooms, while the land around it can be easily cleared.
The plan calls for a 780,000-square-foot center east of the Galleria, between East 12th and East 14th streets and between Lakeside and St. Clair avenues. Parking lots now occupy much of that land.
A pedestrian bridge spanning East 12th Street would link the Galleria's second floor to the main exhibit hall. The building would require closing East 13th Street.
The second floor of the Galleria would be turned into meeting rooms, while shops and restaurants would remain on the first floor.
Fleischman's design features a 240,000-square-foot exhibition hall, but the building could be expanded as far as East 17th Street. Adding 100,000 square feet of exhibit space would cost about $20 million, said Breen, principal of Breen & Fox, a Cleveland real estate brokerage firm.
This is one of my problems with every one of the plans. They are blatantly self-serving. Each plan submitted is to bail out failing property, with such insane expectations that you don't know what to believe.
The Plain Dealer editorial board gives the new plan an enthusiastic -- maybe
All of those questions must be considered as this convention center discussion continues and finally - very soon, we trust - moves into the public arena. But given the fact that no location already on the table comes free of baggage, it's important to give this latest idea a full vetting. And if other plausible plans are out there, they must be heard, too.
Making decisions in the sunshine may not be tidy or efficient. But with substantial public resources potentially riding on the outcome, there is simply no alternative to being deliberate, working in the open and welcoming all good ideas.
The PD while enthusiastically supporting a new Convention Center, and the taxes it will entail, still refuses to endorse a particular plan. I can't decide if they are cowed by the fear offending any of the developers and power brokers of the area; or is it simply self-interest not to support the wrong horse. Either way, it's pathetic.
You know, if you have this kind of damage, I think insurance coverage is the least of your concerns
State Farm Insurance Co., the nation's largest auto insurer, is mailing notices to its 40 million policyholders informing them they are not covered against nuclear blasts and radiation damage.
State Farm joined a host of companies in excluding nuclear-related auto claims amid heightened fear over terrorism.
Sad Day in the Neighborhood
Damn. Mister Rogers is dead.
Wednesday, February 26, 2003
Sorry to keep pointing out stuff in the WSJ, but Belgian indignation and the WSJ decision to add an editorial, are just too funny. The Minister of Defense of Belgium, Andre Flahaut, sent an indignant letter to the WSJ
about the article I mentioned a couple weeks ago
I have read The Wall Street Journal's recent article concerning the armies of Europe, and in particular the Belgian armed forces ("Growing Soft: How the Armies Of Europe Let Their Guard Down -- Guaranteed Jobs for Soldiers Leave Little Room to Buy Equipment or Even Train -- Battle of the Belgian Bands," page one, Feb. 13). Beyond the fact that the article's assertions insult my country and the men and women with a military and humanitarian vocation, I am surprised that a newspaper of this quality is prostituting itself to this level.
Your unfair treatment of a long-term ally of the United States is sufficient to suffocate the most fervent defender of the freedom of the press. Deriding the concept of objectivity with such violence must alarm any citizen (American, European and Belgian).
The ease and vulgarity of your assertions suggest the intention to harm and bear witness to a lack of professionalism. Even if I can understand that the present political context makes you lose the sense for analysis and fair criticism, the deviations you give way to are inexcusable. Is it reasonable, for example, to consider that the prototype of a Belgian soldier is a 24-year-old corporal who is a hairdresser by profession? [Editor's Note: The hairdresser in question is identified in the article as 47 years old, with 24 years of service in the Belgian Army.] I respect any person and profession, as I do respect all the employees, civil and military, of the department I am responsible for.
The Minister offers his own facts. The WSJ has it's own response
Normally, we'd let the story and Mr. Flahaut's reply speak for themselves. But the vehemence and substance of the minister's response are revealing enough that the letter deserves greater attention.
Mr. Shishkin's news story was, we understand, the product of nearly a year of investigative reporting. He received little cooperation from the Belgian Ministry of Defense, which declined to make Mr. Flahaut available for an interview for the story he now derides. Mr. Shishkin is a reporter who works separately from the writers of these columns, but we'd point out that the paper is standing by his facts.
Interestingly enough, the Shishkin article also provoked responses from Belgian citizens and military personnel. One Army captain, who understandably declined to be identified by name, said of Mr. Shishkin's description of the state of the Belgian military: "It's not nearly as bad in the Belgian Army as you describe. It's far worse!"
The point here is broader than the Belgians. As NATO Secretary-General George Robertson is fond of pointing out, the alliance's European members as a group spend only two-thirds as much as the U.S. on defense, and for their money get only 10% of America's military capability. The discrepancy arises largely from Europe's under-investment in the equipment and technology that make today's modern armies effective.
These columns have long urged European countries to upgrade their defense capabilities and close that gap. So we were hardly surprised to see Mr. Shishkin's story report that the Belgian Army spends more than 60% of its budget on personnel. Personnel are crucial to any fighting force, naturally. But an ill-equipped army isn't much more than a glorified civil service. The high percentage of European budgets that goes toward personnel is a reflection of how little is spent on equipment and materiel.
Mr. Flahaut's furious reply highlights how uncomfortable this truth is for Belgium's power elite. It also reinforces our argument -- and Lord Robertson's -- that European militaries are not organized to field an effective fighting force. Instead they are seen by governments as jobs programs, props for ceremonial occasions and -- when absolutely necessary -- a source of "peacekeepers" after the fighting has stopped.
I decided to skip the snide comments they had about appeasing Saddam.
There was one part of Flahaut's letter that caught my attention. Said without any apparent irony.
Yes, the primary mission of our armed forces is to maintain the peace and to help the civilian population (Belgian or foreign), without being belligerent or being convinced of having been elected by a higher authority to keep watch over the world order. [Emphasis added.]
No, not the Belgian Military. That belief is reserved for the Belgian Court
A very interesting WSJ article (subscription req'd) on Google's domination in search engines and how people desperately try to scale the ranks
. It talks about "Google bombing" and how Google has continually tweaked its code to weed out such things and companies that try to beat the system "optimizers" to get a particular site high in the rankings
The skirmish is part of an arms race between big search engines such as Google and a cottage industry of search-engine "optimizers" -- companies that help merchants climb to the top of search results.
Google's site has become the prime battleground because of its unprecedented power over the Web. Barely four years old, Google has grown largely by word of mouth to become the place where most people start to look for something on the Internet. Three-quarters of all online searches use Google or sites that use Google's search results, according to WebSideStory Inc., a San Diego-based Web analytics company. "Googling" has become a synonym for searching online. In a recent New Yorker cartoon, a man in a bar says, "I can't explain it -- it's just a funny feeling that I'm being Googled."
Of course the optimizers hate it, and one is even suing.
Some optimizers and Web sites claim that Google is unfairly punishing them. Last fall, an Oklahoma Web company, SearchKing Inc., saw its ranking plunge on Google after it began selling online advertising that tried to capitalize on Google's formula for ranking sites. In effect, SearchKing was offering its clients a chance to boost their own Google rankings by buying ads on more-popular sites. SearchKing filed suit against the search company in federal court in Oklahoma, claiming that Google "purposefully devalued" SearchKing and its customers, damaging its reputation and hurting its advertising sales.
Google won't comment on the case. In court filings, the company said SearchKing "engaged in behavior that would lower the quality of Google search results" and alter the company's ranking system.
Google has been stepping up its enforcement since 2001. It warned Webmasters that using trickery could get their sites kicked out of the Google index and it provided a list of forbidden activities, including hiding text and "link schemes," such as the link farms. Google also warned against "cloaking" -- showing a search engine a page that's designed to score well while giving visitors a different, more attractive page -- or creating multiple Web addresses that take visitors to a single site.
To stay one step ahead of the Web sites, Google frequently tweaks its search algorithm -- the formula it uses to rank sites. It also relies heavily on the search-engine optimizers themselves to report egregious examples of trickery.
While Google approves of optimizers that help a site improve its content or design, it recently revised its Webmaster guidelines to warn against firms that, among other things, promise to guarantee a top Google ranking.
As evidence of the dangers of running afoul of Google, optimizers point to Oklahoma City-based SearchKing, an online directory for hundreds of small, specialty Web sites. SearchKing also sells advertising links designed both to deliver traffic to an advertiser and boost its rankings in Google and other search results.
Bob Massa, SearchKing's chief executive, last August launched the PR Ad Network as a way to capitalize on Google's page-ranking system, known as PageRank. PageRank rates Web sites on a scale of one to 10 based on their popularity, and the rankings can be viewed by Web users if they install special Google software. PR Ad Network sells ads that are priced according to a site's PageRank, with higher-ranked sites commanding higher prices. When a site buys an advertising link on a highly ranked site, the ad buyer could see its ratings improve because of the greater weight Google gives to that link.
Shortly after publicizing the ad network, Mr. Massa discovered that his site suddenly dropped in Google's rankings. What's more, sites that participated in the separate SearchKing directory also had their Google rankings lowered. He filed a lawsuit in Oklahoma City federal court, claiming Google was punishing him for trying to profit from the company's page-ranking system.
A Google spokesman won't comment on the case. In its court filings, Google said it demoted pages on the SearchKing site because of SearchKing's attempts to manipulate search results. The company has asked for the suit to be dismissed, arguing that the PageRank represents its opinion of the value of a Web site and as such is protected by the First Amendment.
Unfortunately, the court filings are only on the PACER system, and I don't feel like paying to look at the filings.
I guess it just strikes me as odd that optimizers like Search King feel that they are owed a business based on Google. Google dominates because it is good and people have found it trustworthy and accurate. However a company like Search King wants to characterize their business, it is one that seeks to deceive the algorithm for the benefit of Search King's clients.
You can't make this s**t up
Now here comes Hooters Air, which will begin flying Boeing Co. 737s between Atlanta and Myrtle Beach, S.C., on March 6 after buying a small North Carolina charter company. New York service will soon follow. Each plane will have three flight attendants to meet Federal Aviation Administration regulations, and two "Hooters girls" to do whatever Hooters girls do -- serve chicken wings, I guess.
According to the press release
(no permalink) the ticket price is $129 each way. Flights can be booked here
Tuesday, February 25, 2003
Here We Go Again
With the claims of how much alcohol is consumed by those under the legal age limit
The study said underage drinkers accounted for nearly 20 percent of U.S. alcohol consumption in 1999, or $22.5 billion worth of beer, wine and liquor.
Adults defined as heavy drinkers -- those who consume more than two drinks a day -- accounted for 30 percent of alcohol consumed in 1999, spending $34.4 billion, it said.
This study, once again came from the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University. The same people who last year released the statistically impossible result claiming that minors accounted for 25% of the acohol sales
It is interesting to compare the Reuters wire story with the AP one. The AP story treats the claims a little more skeptically and identifies the NCASA as "an advocacy group led by Joseph Califano Jr., a former U.S. secretary of health, education and welfare who has been an outspoken critic of alcohol marketers." The AP also references the federal government's Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration figure of 11.4%. Reuters doesn't mention that and only references last year's error only in the context of a spur to get the numbers right this time.
Califano said the center took pains with its analysis after a mistake in a similar study a year ago forced the authors to withdraw their claim that teen-agers accounted for 25 percent of the U.S. alcohol market. The error prompted several media to issue corrections and triggered an outpouring of criticism from the liquor industry.
I am very distrustful of the whole thing. Press releases
and the JAMA editorial
hardly have me convinced. Especially when I see what Califano wants.
Califano called on the industry to fund an independent foundation that would coordinate research and a public information campaign to combat alcohol abuse.
Hmph. I wonder who he thinks should head this foundation?
Brain Drain, so to speak
I suppose it was inevitable that people assume I hate the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
That isn't entirely true. I just think the editorial board is boring, short-sighted, reflexively pro-tax, public works, and believes the only way things will happen in the city is if it is planned by the government. I find their two sports columnists
dull, bland and predictable. My main problem with the PD is disappointment. It knows it is the only paper in town, and doesn't make much of an effort.
On Sunday, the PD launched it's new series "Brain Drain
," which is really just a sub-series on its ongoing "Quiet Crisis
, check this out from November 2001
(and try not to laugh).
People here like to disparage Pittsburgh, but while its downtown grows and prospers, Cleveland's stagnates.
For the most part, the "new economy" is a stranger here. This region ranks so far behind other large metro areas in high-tech jobs and businesses that it's pitiful. While other regions invest in the future, this one stagnates. Cooperation in Cleveland is often a dirty word - especially when it involves two of the nation's premier medical institutions.
In an era in which many state governments are pouring billions into the future - investing heavily in research, high education and job creation - Greater Cleveland is in the unenviable position of being located in Ohio. This state's disinvestment in the future is wrecking the future. Instead of spending billions for tomorrow, Ohio slashes funding for local governments, libraries, research, high education, technology and social services.
In a quick nutshell, that is how the PD sees the way to save the city and region. Government money must be spent to increase education, government, and human services. How then to reconcile the "brain drain," where they concede that the area has plenty of intelligent people, attracts smart people for schooling, but can't keep them. The problem, is the lack of jobs and opportunities .
Like Pittsburgh, Cleveland government cannot seem to grasp that maybe they should try less involvement with business. Less tax abatements, planned projects, and money from the government for businesses. Maybe they should try to simply allow the business to have a freer hand -- less regulations, controls, and interference. Just try to allow growth, rather than manage and control it. Of course, how, then do they get to show "bold leadership?"
Monday, February 24, 2003
Justice Department Priorities
Aren't there just a few other things thatshould be higher on their list of activities
Operators of Web sites selling drug paraphernalia were among the 55 individuals and businesses indicted Monday in a nationwide investigation known as "Operation Pipe Dreams." The defendants are charged with conspiracy to sell, and offering to sell, various types of drug paraphernalia, a federal offense carrying a maximum jail sentence of three years and a maximum fine of $250,000.
"With the advent of the Internet, the illegal drug paraphernalia industry has exploded," Attorney General John Ashcroft said at a Washington press conference announcing the indictments. "The drug paraphernalia business is now accessible in anyone's home with a computer and Internet access. And in homes across America we know that children and young adults are the fastest growing Internet users."
Ashcroft added, "The illegal drug paraphernalia industry has invaded the homes of families across the country without their knowledge. This illegal billion-dollar industry will no longer be ignored by law enforcement. Today, (the government) has taken decisive steps to dismantle the illegal drug paraphernalia industry by attacking their physical, financial and Internet infrastructures." [Emphasis added]
WTF? That is moronic logic. What isn't available on the internet? Legal or not?
Seriously, this seems like a poor use of resources; and given the continual high alerts we are being warned of, law enforcement should be working on something else.
I have great respect and admiration for Sandy Koufax. As both a baseball player and a man. I can understand his being upset and offended by the blind gossip item on the NY Post, Page Six indirectly questioning his sexual preference. I even understand, given his historic private nature, the step of refusing to involve himself with any part of the parent company of the NY Post -- News Corporation.
What has been absurd has been the scolding that has gone on by the sportswriters. Since the story broke I have heard the guys on Pardon the Interruption (Kornheiser and Wilbon), Around the Horn (Bob Ryan, Jay Mariotti, Woody Paige, etc), and on the radio Feinstein have all just lined up to blame and hold Rupert Murdoch and the News Corp. responsible for the gossip item that came out December 19. I think it has reached its nadir with this column by Keith Olbermann
Most of us have learned to simply accept the fact that Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. exists in the world, just as we've come to accept that there are terrorists among us, as well as people who scam grandmothers out of their savings.
And then every once in a while the News Corp. will do something so rapacious, so pathetic, that one has to stand up and say no more, to call for legal and moral measures to stop it, even if all gestures prove futile.
The latest, final line crossed? In December, News Corp.'s scandal sheet, the New York Post, reported in its Page Six gossip column that an unnamed baseball Hall of Famer had been blackmailed into cooperating with a best-selling biography about him -- blackmailed under threat that the unnamed woman writer would otherwise claim the Hall of Famer was gay. At the time, the blind item got almost no attention.
It is the New York Post, of course, that published another piece of homophobic baseball gossip last spring that led the New York Mets' Mike Piazza to feel he had to publicly announce he was not gay. Besides the Post, the News Corp. also owns Fox Television, Fox News Channel, and other companies that produce products structurally similar to "news."
So if you agree to hold the entire corporation responsible for the actions of a section of a paper owned by News Corp., I suppose Olbermann feels real guilty about working for ABC Radio
, which is owned by Disney.
Hey, I liked the Keith Olbermann-Dan Patrick team on ESPN in early 90s as much as anyone. Olbermann has since become an annoying, pretentious, arrogant scold.
Note that even the supposed "apology" tries to blame the scandal on a competitor at the Daily News. That's typical. I worked for News Corp. -- for its Fox network and one of its cable sewers, Fox Sports Net, for three years. They were swine. Many companies are swine. But the Koufax episode is something extraordinary. This is the triangulation of swine -- three bullies beating up one kid called decency.
Early in 2001, as a show of good faith with the company, I signed a contract with the News Corp.'s publishers, HarperCollins, to write a sports book. Its production was tabled after the terrorist attacks. Now I will not write the book. I'm sending the money back. My reasons are ethical and practical.
Though the advance was only five figures, I think the News Corp. can use the dough. It might let Rupert Murdoch and his employees buy their souls back.
Gonna give back any of the money you earned during those three years at Fox Sports where you mailed it in. There's a reason Olbermann has gone from having been part of the best sports anchor team, to hosting a lousy news show on MSNBC, to taking the money at Fox Sports for a few years, to being a sporadic columnist/scold and host of an ABC radio show that I never heard of. He has a history of scorched earth policy by the time he leaves
, that he only partly admits
. It took him 5 years to admit his own errors at ESPN (coincidentally, a few months before the ABC radio gig went on the air); he's still got a few years before he'll be willing to admit any fault at Fox Sports Net.
Convention Center Catch-up
Some old, some new on the Cleveland Convention Center saga.
The old. I missed these stories about the secrecy around choosing where to build the new convention center. This is a straight story on the lack of public input
Business leaders plan to ask the public about the best spot for a new Cleveland convention center before making a final recommendation to the mayor.
But with that recommendation only a few weeks away, it's still not certain when or where those public meetings will be or how they will be organized.
"There will probably be one or two sessions, probably downtown," said Joe Roman, head of Cleveland Tomorrow, a leading business group. "I have no idea on dates."
Then there is a rather good column on how the lack of public input
(or at least the appearance of concern for public input) and no one really willing to put themselves on the line to sell it, will help defeat the convention center:
All the chatter surrounding a new convention center is moot. There will be no new convention center built anytime soon.
Cleveland Tomorrow and the Greater Cleveland Growth Association nevertheless continue meeting in secret to select one of four proposed sites for a recommendation to Mayor Jane Campbell.
But it really doesn't matter, because there's no responsible person leading the charge to build one. And when all is said and done, the resulting finger-pointing is likely to expose a rift between Campbell and the city's business leaders.
Tension already exists between the two camps. But peering more deeply into my crystal ball, I see open hostility emerging between City Hall and business leaders as each side blames the other for failing to do more to sell the convention center to a uninterested citizenry.
Both sides will be right, because neither has done enough to convince the public of the need to spend $500 million on another glass-and-chrome bauble downtown.
There's a practical reason for their silence. They know that a convention center is a hard sell, because Joe Sixpack won't like the idea of taxing himself to build a bauble - and with good reason.
Convention center proponents in Milwaukee, Pittsburgh and Louisville, Ky., oversold the benefits of building or upgrading convention centers, and then had a hard time explaining the paucity of benefits, according to a Sunday story by Plain Dealer reporter Becky Gaylord.
The politically prudent thing for Cleveland's political leaders is to avoid making the same pie-in-the-sky arguments for building a center here. Why should they risk their political capital on an idea that could be unpopular with voters? But they're going to have to run some risks if they want the center built.
I don't know a solitary business, civic or political leader who is aggressively lobbying average citizens in support of a new convention center. All I've heard about are clubby conversations among self-interested parties.
That's all any of us have heard.
That is why they are trying so hard to wrap the new tax to pay for the convention center with another tax giving money to the rest of the city and the suburbs in Cuyahoga County. The problem is, even the suburbs are distrustful of the whole thing.
Oh, they want the tax money, but with all the new taxes for schools, libraries and social services on the ballot in May and probably in November, no one really wants to stick their neck out too far.
Part of the reason cited for pushing for the bonds to pay for the Convention center now, is the low interest rates. No one, however, seemed to consider the fact that all these other levies would be on the ballot.
Kucinich, Kucinich, Kucinich
Minor league Congressman, and Democratic Presidential candidate wannabe Dennis Kucinich is getting an education on what happens when you try to run for President -- you can't run on one issue. Kucinich, essentially, is trying to run as the antiwar candidate. It's what started getting him national attention; it's what led people to whisper to him that he should run for President; and it was hoped that he could use it to avoid discussing much else.
Unfortunately, it isn't going quite as well as he hoped. He performed a remarkable
"evolution" or "expansion" on the abortion issue. Going from getting around a 90% rating from the National Right to Life, and seeming principled and true to his Catholic beliefs; to another pandering politician trying to have it both ways
But just how far the Cleveland congressman plans to stray from his longtime anti-abortion record remains unclear. In an extensive interview on the subject, Kucinich refused to say how he would vote on various anti-abortion measures that he has supported in the past.
"I'm not going to comment on any vote that I may cast in the future," Kucinich said, adding that he would "take the same thoughtful approach" as he did in the last Congress.
Kucinich acknowledged that despite comments he made repeatedly last week suggesting he had never favored criminalizing abortion, he has in fact voted for bills in recent years that would impose criminal penalties in connection with abortion.
He has voted for bills that would make it a federal crime to try to circumvent state parental-consent laws by transporting minors across state lines for abortions. And he has voted for bills that would impose prison sentences of up to two years on doctors who perform certain late-term abortions known as "partial-birth abortions."
"That's a good point," he said when reminded of his votes on transporting minors across state lines. "It may be that in the scope of dozens of votes on this issue, the nuances were not totally appreciated."
Pressed to clarify whether he would vote differently in the future on transporting minors, Kucinich said he could answer only generally. "To the extent that bills would be brought to the floor that would criminalize abortion, I would tend to vote against them," he said.
Kucinich declined to say if he would change his vote if the same measure comes up again. He also declined to say how he would vote on the procedure called partial-birth abortion. Until last year, Kucinich had supported banning the procedure, even voting to override a veto by former President Clinton, who objected that the proposed ban did not make an exception for the health of the mother.
Kucinich also declined to say how he would vote on another bill likely to come up this year that would make it a crime to kill or harm a fetus during an attack on a pregnant woman. Abortion-rights groups see that bill, which Kucinich supported in 2001, as a back-door attempt to undermine Roe vs. Wade, the landmark 1973 ruling that established a constitutional right to abortion.
Asked if he would predict how he would vote on any of the abortion-related measures likely to come before Congress this year, he said only: "You can safely predict that I will not participate in any effort to overturn the protections provided in Roe vs. Wade."
Kucinich paused when asked if he always supported Roe vs. Wade. Then he said: "My voting record would probably reflect that I haven't, but I'm also saying that I have evolved on this issue."
You can almost see him squirming in his seat as he tries to say these things.
Of course, he has now become pundit fodder as he makes the rounds in discussions
and appearances on the weekend pundit-fests.
(BTW, compare the Plain Dealer report on Kucinich's appearances versus the much more detailed discussion on Punditwatch. Advantage, Punditwatch.) He ended up facing more heat than he expected and could not keep the interview on the issue of war in Iraq.
The Plain Dealer has a section now devoted to Kucinich's campaign
Sunday, February 23, 2003
Quick Thought on the Grammys
After watching the first couple openings with Dustin Hoffman, let me just say, Dustin, babe, put on your glasses if you're going to read from the teleprompter. You're not fooling anybody. There's no shame in wearing spectacles, just in being one.