Ohio Guv Race: Weighing the Character Flaws and Measuring the Policy Gulf

October 30th, 2014

The Ohio governor's race seems to have turned on a character flaw of the Democratic candidate, Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald. The major news media have given wide and detailed coverage to the story that FitzGerald had been driving on an expired or temporary driver's license over a period of ten years. Out of seven major newspapers' endorsements, six have gone to the Republican and current governor, John Kasich. The most FitzGerald could muster was a "none of the above" from The Toledo Blade, which dinged him for a "casual approach to the law that would not befit a potential governor." Fitzgerald admits to the character flaws of procrastination and carelessness in this matter, and apologizes for taking "the focus off of the crucial issues Ohio is facing." But this story should not be the last word in the governor's race. Kasich has also shown some troubling character flaws. And, more importantly, there is a great policy gulf between the two candidates that, given the governor's agenda-setting and veto powers, would have a great affect on the people of Ohio.

The major news media have also reported several stories that show the character flaws of Kasich -- though not so widely nor in such detail, and not in the heat of an election campaign. Let's take the story of Kasich's "idiot cop." The facts of this story are backed by a police dashcam video and a video of Kasich's lecture to the Ohio EPA.

In 2008, Kasich, traveling on a freeway, cruises right by a state trooper on the berm with rooftop lights flashing (dashcam video 00:18). Contrary to law, he does not get over a lane nor slow down for the parked public safety vehicle displaying lights. Traveling right behind Kasich, a policeman witnesses the traffic violation and pulls Kasich over (00:38). Kasich says that he didn't see the parked police car (1:25). After returning with the ticket, the policeman explains to Kasich that he will have to appear in court or get an arrest warrant (8:55). Kasich again says that he didn't see the parked police car, and the policeman explains that, yes, the state trooper was there on the right-hand side of the road. In response to something Kasich says, the policeman consoles him saying, "It happens to everybody on occasion, sir, OK, you're just gonna have to watch out." (10:15) Kasich asks if there is any way to just pay the fine. The policeman says no, and explains that by Ohio law, a court appearance is mandatory for this type of violation. Throughout this traffic stop, the policeman was the picture of a respectful, professional public servant.

Three years later, now-Governor Kasich, calls in the whole Ohio EPA for a talk. Kasich lectures them on customer service, as he had (falsely) blamed the EPA for delaying the permit for a gas-fueled power plant. As an example of poor customer service, he holds up the respectful policeman that had given him a ticket three years ago. "Have you ever been stopped by a policeman who was an idiot?" Kasich asks. But the crowd does not answer. "I had this idiot pull me over on 315," he continues. In Kasich's story, there was no parked emergency vehicle, because "The last thing I would ever do would be to pass an emergency ... are you kidding me?" And he faults the policeman for informing Kasich that he would have to appear in court or get an arrest warrant. Kasich says, "He's an IDIOT!"  And continues, "You just can't act that way, and what people resent are people who are in the government who don't treat the client with respect.

So, the story of Kasich's "idiot cop," seems to point out some character flaws of the governor. First, the fact that he denies seeing the emergency vehicle with flashing lights, I think points to either tunnel vision while driving or self delusion. Secondly, the fact that he still brings up this story with emotion three years later, I think shows that he carries a long grudge. Thirdly, the fact that he damns a perfectly respectful policeman, with the epithet "idiot," I think shows meanness, arrogance and maybe a lack of respect for working persons or public servants -- or maybe just for those who have authority over him. And to hold that policeman up as an example of lack of respect, shows that Kasich doesn't know the meaning of the word.

Now, let's look past the character flaws and measure the policy gulf between the two candidates by looking at some of the issues:

  • Energy and Climate Change: Kasich and the Republican-controlled legislature have put Ohio's clean energy and energy efficiency standards on hold. FitzGerald supports those standards and would promote clean energy business and research.
  • Tax Burden: Kasich and the Republican-controlled legislature have shifted the tax burden off of the rich and on to working persons, and look to do more of the same. FitzGerald would reverse this shift, including reinstating the homestead exemption for middle class seniors.
  • Workers Rights: Kasich tried to bust public servants unions with his SB5 law, and is staying mum about plans for a "right to shirk" bill. FitzGerald will veto any "right to shirk" bill.
  • Privatization: Kasich has diverted public school money to poorly-performing, crony-run, profit-taking schools. He has diverted the state's liquor agency money stream to his privatized, opaque, poorly-performingself-serving state economic development agency. Kasich has also privatized the prison food service, resulting in maggots in prison food. FitzGerald is known for efficient government, and his county economic development agency operates in the open.
  • Education: Kasich and the Republican legislature have cut local public school funding, and lavished funds on poorly-regulated for-profit charter schools. FitzGerald would focus on creating quality public schools, bring in teachers to shape education policy, and stop teaching to the test. Also, FitzGerald has made college affordability a major plank of his campaign.
  • Race to the Bottom: Kasich has given large corporations incentives to move from one place in Ohio to another. FitzGerald forged a county-wide agreement to ban jobs poaching, where one town lures a business from another.
  • Abortion Rights: Kasich has signed into law 11 provisions that interfere with women's reproductive health care. These include forcing a doctor to perform medically unnecessary tests, diverting cash support for needy mothers to bogus crisis pregnancy centers, putting a gag order on rape crisis counselors and defunding Planned Parenthood. Those are 11 provisions that FitzGerald would not have signed. FitzGerald's running mate, Sharen Neuhardt, has served on the board of trustees for Planned Parenthood of Miami Valley.
  • Marriage Equality: FitzGerald is strongly for it; Kasich against it.

Please, be sure to vote on Tuesday, November 4th.


Kasich gets a ticket -- dashcam video

Kasich lectures Ohio EPA.


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Emerson and Cosmic Inflation

September 22nd, 2014

The Visible Universe
In his essay "Circles," Ralph Waldo Emerson writes:
St. Augustine described the nature of God as a circle whose centre was everywhere, and its circumference nowhere.

The center of town is toward Public Square. The center of the Earth is always down. The center of our solar system moves from east to west every waking day. The center of our galaxy is toward its black hole in Sagittarius. But, the center of our universe is ... everywhere!

The scientific method runs from observing the physical world, to making a theory that describes and predicts its behavior, to testing the prediction. The best theory accounts for the most behavior in the simplest terms. Albert Einstein brought forth the theory of general relativity, and defined it with ten mathematical equations. But, he found that he could simplify to one equation with the assumption that, in the long view, the universe is the same everywhere -- without much variation, without direction, without a single center. That assumption is called the cosmological principal.

Heat Map of the CMB
Further observation has borne out the cosmological principal. Looking up in any direction, we find the same types of galaxies, which are bunched into galactic clusters, which are strung into superclusters. As we look further out, we look further back in time. To the Sun we look back eight minutes -- the time it takes light to travel from there to Earth. To the center of our galaxy, we look back 26,000 years; to the next nearest major galaxy (Andromeda), 2.3 million years; to the nearest large galactic cluster (Virgo), 52 million years; to the next nearest large supercluster (Centaurus) 140 million years. And to the furthest point we can see, we look back 13.7 billion years -- just 380,000 years after the Hot Big Bang. That furthest point is at the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB). We find the CMB in every direction up. And its heat map is without much variation -- in fact, it is 99.999% uniform. From any other galaxy in the universe, an observer that looked up would see virtually the same picture that we do.

Timeline of the Universe
What lies beyond and back in time before the CMB we cannot directly see, because the universe was then opaque. But the CMB, by its very presence, and the intensities of energy over its frequency spectrum, fulfills predictions of the Big Bang Theory -- the current standard model of the universe. So we know that there was a Hot Big Bang -- when the universe was extremely hot, dense, and rapidly expanding. And by its highly-uniform heat map, the tiny temperature variations across the heat map, and the imprint of gravity waves in the heat map's variations, the CMB fulfills predictions of Cosmic Inflation Theory. So, though we await confirmation of the gravity waves finding, which was just announced this year, it is now likely that our universe's region of space inflated -- stretched from sub-atomic size to macro size in a split instant. As inflation ended, much of its expansion energy may have changed into particles, changing the universe from extremely cold and empty with accelerating expansion to extremely hot and dense with decelerating expansion, and feeding into the Hot Big Bang.

Cosmic Inflation popping-out universes
What lies beyond and back in time before the onset of cosmic inflation? We don't know, but by most variants of Cosmic Inflation Theory, cosmic inflation goes on forever, screamingly stretching space. And if cosmic inflation has fed into one hot big bang and popped-out one universe, then it would also pop-out many, or infinitely, more such universes. So Cosmic Inflation Theory, which has many correct (and no known incorrect) predictions, also predicts parallel universes! And the march of science goes on: As one wonder is described, proven and woven into the tapestry of human knowledge, another arises -- it too wanting description and proof. Emerson writes:
Our life is an apprenticeship to the truth, that around every circle another can be drawn; that there is no end in nature, but every end is a beginning; that there is always another dawn risen on mid-noon, and under every deep a lower deep opens.



Big Bang: Some take "Big Bang" to mean the Hot Big Bang, some the onset of Cosmic Inflation, and some Time 0 -- the very beginning of everything. The Hot Big Bang has heat and rapid expansion. The onset of Cosmic Inflation is cold, but has screamingly rapid expansion. But Time 0 is unknown. Rather than a big bang, it may be a wee whisper.

Universe: Brian Greene writes: "There was a time when "universe" meant "all there is. ... Sometimes "universe" still connotes absolutely everything. Sometimes it refers only to those parts of everything that someone such as you or I could, in principle have access to. Sometimes it's applied to separate realms, ones that are partly or fully, temporarily or permanently, inaccessible to us; in this sense, the word relegates our universe to membership in a large, perhaps infinitely large, collection."


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Wildflower Islands

July 23rd, 2014

A bee curls around a clover flower.
Three years ago, I wrote about my plan to keep a yard of wildflowers by mowing just once a year, in early spring. But, after a glorious first year, the yard came to fill with much tall grass and few wildflowers. This year, I have a new plan. While mowing, when I come across a nice patch of wildflowers, I mow around it. If at the next mowing the patch still shows bloom or promise, I keep it. During the last mowing, as I came up on a patch of clover and ground ivy, I weighed whether it had bloom enough worth saving. Then I saw a bee working the flowers there, and chose to mow around that patch. In this way, I hope to keep a mowed lawn with wildflower islands, enjoyed by both human and bee.

A Bee Movie -- Bees on the Wildflower Islands

Wildflower Islands

Ground Ivy, Clover, Yellow Wood Sorrel

Bumble Bee on Ground Ivy

Orange Hawkweed


Daisy Fleabane


Queen Anne's Lace


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Independence Day Acrostic

July 4th, 2014

Out of many Equals, one more perfect union.

Out of many Peoples, one nation conceived in liberty.
Out of many Labors, one shared prosperity.
Out of many Urgencies, one fear, of fear itself.
Out of many Rights, one government of, by and for the people to secure them.
Out of many Individuals, one we the people.
Out of many Beauties, one brotherhood from sea to shining sea.
Out of many Unknowns, one first obligation to the truth.
Out of many Strivings, one equal protection of the laws.

Out of many United Nations, one world with freedom of speech, of worship, from want and from fear.
Out of many Needs, one purpose to promote the general welfare.
Out of many Undertakings, one purpose to secure the blessings of liberty to our posterity.
Out of many Movements, one long arc of the moral universe bending toward justice.


Note: An acrostic is a line-by-line piece of writing where the first letter, or other certain letter, in each line forms a message when read from the top - down. In the above piece, read down through the first (boldfaced) letters after "Out of many " to see the message.


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Payback: A Model Bill for ALEC

May 6th, 2014

The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is a shadow legislature that has given us many lousy laws. Populated by corporate agents and Republican office-holders, ALEC passes "model bills," which its lawmaker members take to their statehouses and push into law. In 2011, news journals dragged ALEC into the light, and later pinned it as the source of the "shoot first" law that helped the killer walk in the Trayvon Martin case. With the bad press, ALEC began losing membership, and disbanded its gun proliferation and voter suppression committee. But, ALEC still drives its evident core mission to shackle democracy, and to unleash big money and mega-corporations, with such laws as those:
Today, ALEC fights against clean energy with its current package of model bills:

For all the lousy model bills-come-law that ALEC has given us, and for those it still seeks to give us, let's give a really good model bill to ALEC. Our model bill does not need a shadow legislature. Like many of its kind, it was written and passed by a real legislature during the "Progressive Era" of the early 20th century. Our model bill does not need the input of corporate agents. It serves only the public interest, and recognizes the profit-taking corporation as a special and powerful corrupting influence on government. In fact, our model bill bans corporations and their agents, outside of narrowly defined and well-lit lobbying channels, from any try at swaying public policy. Under its terms, corporate agents voting in a shadow legislature would face prison time, and the corporation that sent them could face dissolution. From the Wisconsin law book of 1919 -- here is a model bill for ALEC:

No corporation doing business in this state shall pay or contribute, or offer consent or agree to pay or contribute, directly or indirectly, any money, property, free service of its officers or employees or thing of value to any political party, organization, committee or individual for any political purpose whatsoever, or for the purpose of influencing legislation of any kind, or to promote or defeat the candidacy of any person for nomination, appointment or election to any political office.

Penalty: Any officer, employe, agent or attorney or other representative of any corporation, acting for and in behalf of such corporation, who shall violate [this act] shall be punished upon conviction by a fine of not less than one hundred nor more than five thousand dollars, or by imprisonment in the state prison for a period of not less than one nor more than five years, or by both ... and if the corporation shall be subject to a penalty then by forfeiture in double the amount of any fine so imposed ... and if a domestic corporation, it may be dissolved, ... and if a foreign or nonresident corporation, its right to do business in this state may be declared forfeited.


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