Friday, January 30, 2009

OMG -- How This All Started

Many thanks to YouTube and my pal Tom Petner at TVSpy.com for a most welcome reminder of how what you are reading, watching and listening to now all started with the clunk of computers we would laugh at now -- and horrible waits to read scrappy text.

For old geezers such as myself this throwback to San Francisco's KRON-TV report on LBW (Life Before Web) is a knee-slapping walk down memory lane; if you are under 35, however, this slice of history may very well remind you of the silver set griping they went to school when it snowed a foot -- by walking barefoot, uphills both ways...



We've been spending the better part of the past month here at AkronNewsNow.com getting ready for our next digital media rollout...a streamed version of an Akron-centered all-news radio station but without the radio. WAKRNewsNow is a hybrid of sorts, featuring updated newscasts every hour from the Akron Radio Center via 1590 WAKR, a mix of community-centered interviews from WAKR's Ray Horner Morning Show, entertainment features from our staff including ANN Editor Ryan Haidet's Reality Check, WQMX air personality George McFly's Nashville Minute, WONE air personality Sandra Miller's Daily Buzz and plenty more.

It'll also be a prime source for live coverage of local events and stories, giving our reporters the opportunity to do longer versions of more complicated issues that don't quite fit into a six-minute newscast. It will also allow us to bring you more of the coverage you'd like to hear, such as replays of Governor Strickland's recent State of the State address or even live coverage of Mayor Plusquellic's upcoming State of the City address next month.

The idea for the all-news radio without the radio originated with our Senior VP Nick Anthony and boosted up a notch by our owner and GM Thom Mandel in recognition of the wide variety of content we produce both on-air and online. The media mantra lately has been to downplay the platform we use -- whether it be paper, transmitter or Ethernet -- and look to make our content more accessible regardless of how you get there. It's why AkronNewsNow.com recently extended ourselves to Facebook and our increasing use and consideration of Twitter as another way to provide you with the news and information you need.

We've also updated our mobile version of AkronNewsNow.com as well (calling it ANN Mobi in house but don't necessarily look for that online) to be more user-friendly to Blackberry, Palm, MotoQ, iPhone and other mobile devices. It is more of a headache since there's no set absolute standard -- phone manufacturers often tweak their specific products for improvements, which impacts what you read on the mini-screen -- but it clearly is a demand we need to meet to stay in touch with you when all you may have handy is a cellphone.

The technology changes are challenging but also inspiring; after all, we're end users too. More on WAKRNewsNow in the next few weeks...

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Snow Scenes From An Italian Backyard

OK already, so it IS pretty...but the middle of my back thinks the video camera should have been pointed at the driveway, where a normal 20 minute job took 90 this morning thanks to ice chunks below and a snow thrower purchased during a kinder, gentler time.

video

I'll be among the first to admit to being unprepared for a foot of new snow, on top of the seven to eight we still had lounging around over the past couple weeks. Nature Girl and I had been discussing the potential of purchasing a new snow blower fPor her mother in Saginaw, who declined the offer.

She likes paying her neighbor pal to clear the way. After this morning, I would've liked that as well.

The Sears model works fine when snowfall is three to four inches, taking a nice wide bite and making quick work of the driveway and sidewalks. This is a different story, with so much snow each pass takes just three to four inch swipes. No fun this morning doing it the old-fashioned way, either -- especially less than a month after surgery (don't tell the doctor) putting the flabby abs to work.

ADDED: thanks to David Barnhardt of the Akron Zoo for the photos of the residents...here's a slideshow:

video

At least the clock is ticking down on heading to Arizona for the new-look Cactus League Indians February 28th...

Friday, January 23, 2009

Who REALLY Owns News?

If you haven't had a chance to check out this pretty cool video site -- do so. Daily I.Q. surfs and posts a ton of easy to embed political videos perfect for quick syndication on blogs...very easy to use and fun to check out videos from a pretty impressive listing.

It also allows me to address a comment posted on AkronNewsNow coverage this week of the stripper suit story -- you know, where the Akron guy is suing the strip club because two years ago a boot flew off a pole dancer's foot and socked him in the nose?

Our story comes from the Associated Press, which grabbed it from the Akron Beacon Journal, who certainly came across it by looking over the list of lawsuit filings with the Summit County Clerk of Courts. In a comment posted on the story, Akdog1245 took me to task:

"Ed Esposito, or whoever is in charge of this site, should be ashamed. You make money by stealing from other news organizations. While it may not be word-for-word, it is thought-for-thought. And yes, you cite the correct sites, but it is still wrong. What you do is taking traffic away from legitimate news sites that actually break the news. So what does that do? It takes traffic away from those sites and, as a result, money. So when the money goes away, the reporters go away. When the reporters go away, so does your thievery source. Then are what are you going to do when there is no one to steal from? You make me sick."

See a doctor, but thanks for at least spelling my name right. I'm guessing that means you had a couple layers of editor to help out.

Steal the story? We picked up the story from the AP, which we pay just as the Beacon Journal and many other news organizations do for the privilege of using their content because we are part of a cooperative. Unfortunately, Akdog1245 apparently missed that lesson about the way wire services work during their stint in the business.

Also missing the point: aggregating such as AkronNewsNow, DrudgeReport, Yahoo, Google, Breitbart, ad nausea doesn't take traffic away; it helps drive more traffic to sites with more extensive reporting. That, Akdog1245, is why newspapers, TV operations, radio stations and bloggers around the world work hard to get their stories recognized and posted by said aggregating. It is one reason why the Akron Beacon Journal now features links to non-ABJ content on their home page: they get it.

The community Akdog1245 refers to -- that of reporters and editors holding tight onto their stories -- is so 1987. Enter the web. Your life hasn't changed, but the entire world around you is spinning cartwheels around you.

The broader definition of community that doesn't just place deciding what's news in a few select editorial offices anymore. The market decides what is news, and today's journalism organizations are learning that the first real consideration to be made isn't who has it first anymore. Finally, democracy in action: the readers, listeners and viewers have more power than ever because there are more choices than ever before on what they read, listen to or watch.

The issue isn't reporters and editors losing control over the news; we never really had control of the news, just control over when we ran the presses, turned on the transmitter or flicked on the camera. The issue for journalism today is how the sales portion of the equation fares in an environment where news consumers have more choices than ever before, and the lifting of these artificial media-platform handcuffs based on the false premise that news managers can somehow stop the spread of communications freedom.

There are more choices than ever for news; it isn't the blogging community, or community-based networks, suffering today. They already run lean, on the Thomas Paine model that one voice and one pen have just as much power as the biggest network or printing press. It is the traditional media, resisting change and a new landscape that may mean lower profit margins, crying the blues the loudest.

The media business cannot continue the way it's been working because that world doesn't exist anymore. The people -- the market -- now have the power to direct what they want, and our challenge is to figure out how to meet that need. The winner who figures it all out (probably not me) will make a bloody fortune, thanks to the vacuum left by companies who forgot the first rule of business success: give the people what they want.

For my colleagues in the media industry: it really is about quality, and finding ways to tell good stories that are meaningful, useful and entertaining. Tell the story first and more outlets than ever before will help you spread the word, especially if they (as AkronNewsNow works hard to do) makes it a point to be honest with the audience and appropriately source the material.

You would rather carp about the past than prepare for the opportunity for the future?

Fine. Leaves more room for the rest of us excited to be part of what's to come.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

R U Inspired?

Like most, I was glued to coverage today of President Barack Obama and the Inauguration of the 44th President of the United States. Unlike some of my more conservative colleagues, I don't quibble with the pomp, circumstance nor cost of the event; the peaceful transfer of power more than anything else marks the true greatness of America, not the shrill partisan sniping from both sides we've tolerated as political discourse the past generation.

Today was a day worthy of closing down the nation's business; every school, every business, and every corner of America should have been watching and listening. It would have been worth declaring this a national holiday, not just because of the history but because it is our unique democracy that still stands desirable to so many across the globe.

These past few weeks have been full of comparing what Mr. Obama would say to what Mr. Roosevelt, or Mr. Kennedy, or Mr. Reagan, or Mr. Lincoln would call for. Syndicated radio host Glenn Beck even went so far as to deliver FDR's 1933 speech sans the "greatest fear is fear itself" opening, and it was extraordinary just how current the conditions were then as they are now.

Did Mr. Obama strike the same kind of chord? Reading the transcript (courtesy Washington Post) below offers another chance to revisit the speech, this time minus the applause and emotion of the moment. Was this comparable to John F. Kennedy's "...ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country..." or even the Peggy Noonan-penned "...thousand points of light..." George H.W. Bush hoped would illuminate the compassion of a more moderate Republican approach?

Mr. Obama today delivered an excellent summation of where we are, but perhaps because of the past two years spent running for President many of these themes almost sound routine at this point. A former boss of mine (then an incumbent Governor) told me the soaring rhetoric of an inaugural address is one of two most important speeches a successful candidate will ever give.

It marks the tone of the vision; it helps set the standard template for what hope eventually translates into: actions and substance.

That second most important speech? For Mr. Obama it will be his first State of the Union, where putting meat on the bones will be his true first test as President-leader.

My fellow citizens: I stand here today humbled by the task before us, grateful for the trust you have bestowed, mindful of the sacrifices borne by our ancestors.

I thank President Bush for his service to our nation as well as the generosity and cooperation he has shown throughout this transition.

Forty-four Americans have now taken the presidential oath.

The words have been spoken during rising tides of prosperity and the still waters of peace. Yet, every so often the oath is taken amidst gathering clouds and raging storms. At these moments, America has carried on not simply because of the skill or vision of those in high office, but because We the People have remained faithful to the ideals of our forbearers, and true to our founding documents.

So it has been. So it must be with this generation of Americans.

That we are in the midst of crisis is now well understood. Our nation is at war against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred. Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age.

Homes have been lost, jobs shed, businesses shuttered. Our health care is too costly, our schools fail too many, and each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet.

These are the indicators of crisis, subject to data and statistics. Less measurable, but no less profound, is a sapping of confidence across our land; a nagging fear that America's decline is inevitable, that the next generation must lower its sights.

Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real, they are serious and they are many. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this America: They will be met.

On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord.

On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn-out dogmas that for far too long have strangled our politics.

We remain a young nation, but in the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things. The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness.

In reaffirming the greatness of our nation, we understand that greatness is never a given. It must be earned. Our journey has never been one of shortcuts or settling for less.

It has not been the path for the faint-hearted, for those who prefer leisure over work, or seek only the pleasures of riches and fame.

Rather, it has been the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things -- some celebrated, but more often men and women obscure in their labor -- who have carried us up the long, rugged path towards prosperity and freedom.

For us, they packed up their few worldly possessions and traveled across oceans in search of a new life. For us, they toiled in sweatshops and settled the West, endured the lash of the whip and plowed the hard earth.

For us, they fought and died in places Concord and Gettysburg; Normandy and Khe Sahn.
Time and again these men and women struggled and sacrificed and worked till their hands were raw so that we might live a better life. They saw America as bigger than the sum of our individual ambitions; greater than all the differences of birth or wealth or faction.

This is the journey we continue today. We remain the most prosperous, powerful nation on Earth. Our workers are no less productive than when this crisis began. Our minds are no less inventive, our goods and services no less needed than they were last week or last month or last year. Our capacity remains undiminished. But our time of standing pat, of protecting narrow interests and putting off unpleasant decisions -- that time has surely passed.

Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America.

For everywhere we look, there is work to be done.

The state of our economy calls for action: bold and swift. And we will act not only to create new jobs but to lay a new foundation for growth.

We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together.

We will restore science to its rightful place and wield technology's wonders to raise health care's quality and lower its costs.

We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories. And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age.
All this we can do. All this we will do.

Now, there are some who question the scale of our ambitions, who suggest that our system cannot tolerate too many big plans. Their memories are short, for they have forgotten what this country has already done, what free men and women can achieve when imagination is joined to common purpose and necessity to courage.

What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them, that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long, no longer apply.

The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works, whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified.

Where the answer is yes, we intend to move forward. Where the answer is no, programs will end.

And those of us who manage the public's knowledge will be held to account, to spend wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day, because only then can we restore the vital trust between a people and their government.

Nor is the question before us whether the market is a force for good or ill. Its power to generate wealth and expand freedom is unmatched.

But this crisis has reminded us that without a watchful eye, the market can spin out of control.
The nation cannot prosper long when it favors only the prosperous.

The success of our economy has always depended not just on the size of our gross domestic product, but on the reach of our prosperity; on the ability to extend opportunity to every willing heart -- not out of charity, but because it is the surest route to our common good.

As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals.

Our founding fathers faced with perils that we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations.

Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience's sake.

And so, to all other peoples and governments who are watching today, from the grandest capitals to the small village where my father was born: know that America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity, and we are ready to lead once more.

Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with the sturdy alliances and enduring convictions.

They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. Instead, they knew that our power grows through its prudent use. Our security emanates from the justness of our cause; the force of our example; the tempering qualities of humility and restraint.

We are the keepers of this legacy, guided by these principles once more, we can meet those new threats that demand even greater effort, even greater cooperation and understanding between nations. We'll begin to responsibly leave Iraq to its people and forge a hard- earned peace in Afghanistan.

With old friends and former foes, we'll work tirelessly to lessen the nuclear threat and roll back the specter of a warming planet.

We will not apologize for our way of life nor will we waver in its defense.

And for those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror and slaughtering innocents, we say to you now that, "Our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken. You cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you."

For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness.

We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus, and nonbelievers. We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this Earth.

And because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace.

To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect.

To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict or blame their society's ills on the West, know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy.

To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history, but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.

To the people of poor nations, we pledge to work alongside you to make your farms flourish and let clean waters flow; to nourish starved bodies and feed hungry minds.

And to those nations like ours that enjoy relative plenty, we say we can no longer afford indifference to the suffering outside our borders, nor can we consume the world's resources without regard to effect. For the world has changed, and we must change with it.

As we consider the road that unfolds before us, we remember with humble gratitude those brave Americans who, at this very hour, patrol far-off deserts and distant mountains. They have something to tell us, just as the fallen heroes who lie in Arlington whisper through the ages.

We honor them not only because they are guardians of our liberty, but because they embody the spirit of service: a willingness to find meaning in something greater than themselves.

And yet, at this moment, a moment that will define a generation, it is precisely
this spirit that must inhabit us all.

For as much as government can do and must do, it is ultimately the faith and determination of the American people upon which this nation relies.

It is the kindness to take in a stranger when the levees break; the selflessness of workers who would rather cut their hours than see a friend lose their job which sees us through our darkest hours.

It is the firefighter's courage to storm a stairway filled with smoke, but also a parent's willingness to nurture a child, that finally decides our fate.

Our challenges may be new, the instruments with which we meet them may be new, but those values upon which our success depends, honesty and hard work, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism -- these things are old.

These things are true. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history.

What is demanded then is a return to these truths. What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility -- a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character than giving our all to a difficult task.

This is the price and the promise of citizenship.

This is the source of our confidence: the knowledge that God calls on us to shape an uncertain destiny.

This is the meaning of our liberty and our creed, why men and women and children of every race and every faith can join in celebration across this magnificent mall. And why a man whose father less than 60 years ago might not have been served at a local restaurant can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath.

So let us mark this day in remembrance of who we are and how far we have traveled.

In the year of America's birth, in the coldest of months, a small band of patriots huddled by nine campfires on the shores of an icy river.

The capital was abandoned. The enemy was advancing. The snow was stained with blood.
At a moment when the outcome of our revolution was most in doubt, the father of our nation ordered these words be read to the people:

"Let it be told to the future world that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive, that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet it."

America, in the face of our common dangers, in this winter of our hardship, let us remember these timeless words; with hope and virtue, let us brave once more the icy currents, and endure what storms may come; let it be said by our children's children that when we were tested we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God's grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations.

Thank you. God bless you. And God bless the United States of America.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Thoughts On An Icy Day

God love Matt Drudge for his wonderful use of the web to highlight political irony. Example: this afternoon's flashback to a piece in 2005 over the high cost of a Presidential Inauguration during a time of war and economic uncertainty. Back then the Bush Bashers were apoplectic over the thought of $50 million being spent on a party celebrating the first 50+ percentage point win by any presidential candidate in nearly a generation; after all, it was W. Now that it's O, what's the guessing on who contrasts live in Baghdad on January 20th with live in DC for the party?

- - -

Outgoing U.S. Senator George Voinovich's office sends out word that Treasury Secretary-in-waiting Tim Geithner faces big problems with Ohio's senior senator thanks to his tax problems.

“It's a very bad thing for the guy that's running Treasury to be out there saying, 'I made a mistake. I forgot about it,'" Sen. George V. Voinovich, R-Ohio, tells the Associated Press. "The American public thinks that there's some people ... especially a lot of these guys on Wall Street, that have had it made in the shade."

I'm sure Geithner is very scared.

What is amazing is that none of this came up when Geithner was selected to run the New York Federal Reserve, perhaps the second most powerful gig in the Fed beyond only chairman Ben Bernanke. He owed more than $42 grand for almost eight years and nobody picked up this might be a problem? This also from a guy getting grand marks from the goofs in Congress for his handling of the bailout -- the same bailout they voted for that they now rail over because they have absolutely no idea of how the money's been spent, shy of funding big banks buying other banks. More of a taxpayer-funded venture capital fund rather than for recovery, and now Frank and Dodd and Obama want banks to fork over more money for loans to people who can't prove they can pay it back. No wonder we live in an age of Pax Americana, where even the best and brightest can't seem to figure out how to pay their own bills much less manage other people's money responsibly. Where else does a guy who fesses up to missing tax payments big enough for entire families to live on for a year get a job overseeing the IRS?

- - -

The GOP games are underway with former Congressman and Washington insider Rob Portman (OMB Director, Trade Ambassador) barely leaving a split-second undisturbed from the plaudits heading George Voinovich's way to say he's running for Senator; now State Senator Kevin Coughlin is tossing his hat into the 2010 Governor's race despite the bruising battle last year over control of the Summit County Republican Party. Coughlin may have his work cut out for him; John Kasich, former Columbus area Congressman and darling of the conservative Reagan wing, is also staking out similar territory and likely to have a much better chance of squeezing big dollars out of weary Republicans for a race against incumbent Ted Strickland. That said, it's a good political move for Coughlin to come out early for statewide office. The strategy is tried and true and right out of former GOP Chair Bob Bennett's playbook; remember when Blackwell, Montgomery and Petro were all running for the same office but then backed down over a period? With just one statewide executive office in GOP hands (Auditor Mary Taylor) there will be plenty of room to play musical political chairs and see if there's a seat for Coughlin when the music stops before filing time for the spring 2010 primary. In the meantime, he draws interest from around the state, uses the soapbox to raise money, and sees just how much political blood flows from the deep cut left over from his battle with Alex.

- - -

Mayor Plusquellic's State of the City is set for next month and it will be interesting to see what's rolling around in the halls of South High as TNBT (the next big thing) to be proposed during this annual speech. One year it was Don Robart being a liar (that didn't play out very well) and last year it was selling (later leasing) the sewer system to fund a scholarship program. This may very well be a great platform for the Mayor to revisit 2008 and challenge his Save Our Sewer opponents, back home by now from the special place in hell Plusquellic sent them when Issue 8 lost. This would be a great time to task them and others to come up with other ways to fund what most thought was a flawed but worth-further-work idea; even the most critical 8 haters admitted they liked the idea of coming up with a way to provide scholarships. Does the UA, and KSU, and College of Wooster, and Malone, and Walsh, and Mount Union, and Case-CSU-Tri-C-YSU finally get a role in this as well as part of a regional solution? Maybe something for the well-meaning regionalists to get behind?

Monday, January 12, 2009

Retirement, By George

No, not George W. -- although I think the President is exiting stage right with much more class than the pathological hatred that seems to follow him. Giving advance notice (two years worth) is longtime Ohio political fixture George Voinovich.

Let the games begin!

The positioning has already started with names ranging from Ryan and Strickland and Fisher, oh my! on the Democratic side to a host of Republicans led by former OMB Director and Congressman Rob Portman.

While I like Voinovich for being independent and admire him for being unafraid to wear his heart on his sleeve, some critics bring up an interesting point: shouldn't George V. and the rest of the political class of Ohio bear some responsibility for the horrible shape the once-mighty engine of the state finds itself?

Voinovich, perhaps unlike any other statewide political figure, spans two generations of true governing at every level of the public's business. He's been a state rep; a county commissioner; a county auditor; Mayor of Cleveland; Lieutenant Governor and Governor, and U.S. Senator. He's been one of the few public officials in the nation to serve not only as President of the National League of Cities (1985) but also to chair the National Governor's Association (1997-98) as well as head the GOP Governor's Association and the Midwest Governor's Association. Here's a guy who not only saw history made...he was the one making it.

So what are we left to ponder as this independent thinker from Cleveland who admits to eating freshwater drum out of Lake Erie (he soaks them in milk forever and claims they taste just like walleye) hangs up his right to prowl the halls of power? Cleveland today isn't the Cleveland he left for Mike White, Jane Campbell and Frank Jackson; it is one of America's poorest cities and by most accounts remains a poster child for major municipalities that just can't seem to make it work. Ohio isn't the Ohio he left for Bob Taft and Ted Strickland; gone is the billion-dollar rainy day fund and in place we find one of America's most vigorous economies sputtering to the status usually reserved for Mississippi and Alabama. Hell, Alabama even has a more vital auto industry. Alabama. Say it out loud for extra effort.

With all that seniority and experience is Ohio awash in a flood of federal dollars similar to what Hurricane Byrd dumped on West Virginia over the past twenty years? With a state ranked eighth in population (and falling) has every federal dollar been diverted the old-fashioned way to pave over enough of the state or fix dilapidated bridges? Those yahoos in Cleveland and ODOT can't even seem to get the Innerbelt, the most precious of northeast Ohio road arteries, worked out. Bob Byrd would've had the money allocated at this point, work underway, prevailing wages paid and the grateful populace begging to name something after him. Here in northeast Ohio, Senator Voinovich has a lakefront park nobody uses except for a couple weeks in the summer named after him.

We -- and he -- really missed the boat. What happened to the political brains that built the nation into a juggernaut after the Civil War, and helped steer American in the 1900's into the waters of world domination?

This isn't all V's fault; he did leave the state in better shape, and without the condition of Cleveland after his tenure at least posing the hope of getting better we never would have seen the development that has occurred in this city by the lake now seemingly bereft of hope.

George says he wants to spend all of his time and energy over the next two years doing the job as U.S. Senator; perhaps its time for the people of Ohio to look favorably over a replacement that will do the job as a collector for Ohio's interests. While decent men and women such as George V. can help make politics more decent maybe what we really need is a Ted Stevens, a Robert C. Byrd, a Lyndon Johnson/Sam Rayburn, a Robert Taft (the former Senator, not the one taken down for accepting a couple steaks and free golf) or a Trent Lott.

If landlocked states get Naval bases then Ohio needs Naval bases; Alabama, Florida and Texas stand as the home of NASA...and if the space agency survives the Obama vision then Ohio needs to be more than just a Glenn Lewis afterthought. West Virginia now has a huge chunk of the FBI and, if memory serves, stands as the major repository of IRS computing in the nation. Are we such chopped liver we can't get a piece of this?

Someone who doesn't just rail about the bacon but someone who brings it home -- in a dump truck. Time for a return to time-honored tradition and performance: Ohio needs Senator Pork.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

The Update

Sure, we're supposed to update blogs at least once a week, maybe more. Here's why I've been such a slacker:

Emergency surgery to remove a gall bladder with some minor complications; Nature Girl's car losing "Ice Dancing" competition with an SUV during one of the recent ice storms; brother-in-law dealing with fatal health issues, trip to Michigan; father with some eye surgery (just one, thanks) and that's just since the last post.

I even have a photo of the offending organ before removal. Taken in the gut, so to speak, by the laprascopic camera, but Nature Girl was horrified at the thought even though there's no way to trace it back to her. Send those cards and letters of thanks to me and I'll be glad to pass them along to her. Someone has to be a conscience of good taste, right?

Overall, I can say my mind is now at peace knowing I met my health care deductible for the entire year by January 2nd. As a prize, I've been awarded the "stay at home, watch TV and surf the web" posting on the couch. Some observations flavored by pain-killers:

If your neighbor's kids were throwing hundreds of rocks at your house all the time and the cops did nothing, what would you do? Would you eventually toss them back? Would you take those kids to the woodshed on your own? If the kids with little rocks live in the Gaza Strip and you live in Israel with bigger rocks, what then? Seems to me answers across the hedge hold sway with the troubles across the ocean. Shouldn't any talk of peace start with a promise to put the rocks down -- even the small ones?

Still on the Middle East: anyone else think Hamas is like organized crime in owning the tunnels from Egypt to Gaza? Smugglers use to get goods and guns, charging tolls and getting their "vig"? It's enough to make even a Soprano green with envy. Imagine owning the highway, getting a piece of every shipment AND operating as the Toll Authority. Just why the hell do all those people still live in such deplorable conditions?

In Washington, the city quivers...as do the commentators who can't wait for the coming. On New Year's Eve I heard a commentary from NPR's Daniel Schorr equating Barack Obama to the Greek god who would swoop in and fix everything. Dan begs for cosmic help; "it's the only answer we have in this age of anxiety." As if the entire pull yourself up from the muck American spirit has been destroyed by the dumping of our net worth (or maybe just Dan's) the past three months.

Understand that it was our own grand American impatience to have it all without paying for it that finally caught up to October and November, 2008; time to pay the piper not for working hard to build wealth, own a home and put the kids through college but instead not working at all but expecting loopholes pushed by lenders, politicians and special interests to front load the American dream payoff without a penny of sweat equity.

Where's the next Ronald Reagan to point to American perseverance as the answer to working out of our problems? Where's the next FDR to note the only fear we have is fear itself, and maybe in today's age the only greed we should fear is our own? Are there no Teddy Roosevelts? As Obama tries to lash together fast action even his own Democrats seem uneasy, and you could almost feel the resentment with O's promise that earmarks wouldn't be tolerated. Now is the time for bold action, decisive leadership and to hell with tradition.

Schorr's was the last commentary I heard before my gall bladder screamed to be pulled from my body. Maybe the bladder has ears.