As Election Day draws near, the rumors and lies about what is and isn’t allowed at a polling place begin to swirls. In addition to the usual anti-immigrant rhetoric (yes, you can take a translator into the voting booth if you need one) and the hate-all-criminals mantra (ex-felons are allowed to vote, as not all states discriminate) there’s a new twist this year thanks to the financial crisis (people in the midst of a foreclosure are allowed to vote).
As you've likely heard by now, former Secretary of State (and longtime Republican) Colin Powell announced on Meet the Press yesterday that he would be voting for Barack Obama for president. Powell made a strong and persuasive argument as to why Obama could be an “exceptional” president, praising his “intellectual vigor” as well the inclusive nature of his campaign and overall vision for America.
This morning the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a verdict by the 6th District Court of Appeals in Cincinnati that would have thrown a monkeywrench into newly-registered voters in the state having their ballots count in the presidential race. The Republican Party had sued to force Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner — who has made a name for herself by advocating for fairer and better elections in the state, cleaning up after her infamous predecessor, Ken Blackwell — to basically put on hold any new voter's ballot until discrepancies in their registration information were cleaned up. Brunner claims that those discrepancies are mainly minor clerical errors, while GOP officials claim they're part of a massive voter fraud effort by the Democrats.
Everyone’s talking about “Joe the Plumber” today, a.k.a. Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher, a Toledo area worker and single father mentioned several times during Wednesday night’s presidential debate.
Republican presidential nominee John McCain
This week’s issue of CityBeat profiles three of the candidates in the hotly contested race for Ohio’s 1st Congressional District seat. Not surprisingly, two of the candidates are claiming that the other misrepresented or distorted his views.
The campaign of Republican incumbent Steve Chabot took umbrage at a paraphrased statement from his Democratic challenger, Steve Driehaus, that pertained to housing issues. It read, “Worse, Chabot hasn’t proposed any legislation that would help the wave of foreclosures and resulting blight that has swept the West Side over the past few years.”
Katie Fox, Chabot’s spokeswoman, noted the congressman addressed the foreclosure and mortgage crisis by passing a bill in December in a compromise with U.S. Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) that gave bankruptcy judges the discretion to modify the value of a mortgage to the true market price and to adjust the interest rate. It applied only to debtors who file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy and lack the income to pay their expenses, according to The Hill newspaper.
The Driehaus campaign responded by pointing out the statement referred to Chabot’s entire 14-year period in office, and specifically stated that the mortgage crisis was causing blight on Cincinnati’s West Side for years before Chabot acted.
Meanwhile, Driehaus also is criticizing TV commercials that Chabot and the national Republican Party are airing that allege Driehaus hasn’t taken a stance on the $850 billion Wall Street bailout plan approved recently by Congress. Chabot opposed the plan.
Driehaus says he’s made it clear he would’ve reluctantly voted for the plan had he been in Congress. “We had to do something, but I think it’s ridiculous that pork spending was put into this bill,” he said. “It would be irresponsible for Congress to allow the financial markets to fail.”
Further, Driehaus criticizes local republicans for waging a whisper campaign alleging that he doesn’t support Barack Obama, the Democratic Party’s presidential nominee. Some West Side residents perceive Obama as too liberal for their tastes. Driehaus has appeared at events with Obama, and his Web site features a photograph of him with the Illinois senator.
Not everyone’s convinced of Driehaus’ sincerity, though. Democrat Eric Wilson, an outspoken Obama supporter who’s running for the seat as an independent write-in candidate, said, “I know the political games. You go to the West Side of town and don’t mention Obama’s name at appearances.”
— Kevin Osborne
It what might be the least surprising election endorsement since The Enquirer backed every area Republican Congressional incumbent last Sunday, CityBeat today officially endorsed Sen. Barack Obama for president. Despite lacking any suspense, believe me when I say the decision to recommend Obama was undertaken seriously and is offered enthusiastically.
I'm honored to be have written the endorsement editorial on behalf of the paper, just as I will be proud and honored to cast my vote for Obama on Nov. 4 (if not before).
The New York Times published a series of stories today dealing with the issue of race in the presidential election.
In one of the pieces, entitled “In Generation Seen as Colorblind, Black Is Yet a Factor,” a Times reporter interviewed students at the University of Kentucky and the University of Cincinnati, several of whom said they have heard other students voice reservations — or worse — about Sen. Barack Obama based solely on the color of his skin.
Anthony Galarza, a 29-year-old UC grad student, said he has heard off-color jokes about a possible Obama presidency, including that the White House would become more “ghetto” with “barbeques on the front lawn.”
“I would think on a college campus we would be a little bit more liberal,” Galarza told the reporter. “To hear it so openly talked about, it’s disturbing — it really is. I don’t think anyone who is colorblind would make a comment like that.”
So the question remains: How much of an impact will race have on the election?
The U.S. stock exchanges have opened strongly this morning, following gains in Asia and Europe earlier today. The Bush Administration's ever-evolving bail-out plans are, as they say in the bidness world, fluid.
Barack Obama has opened a 10-point national lead on John McCain, according to The Washington Post. Some pundits think the race is even more lopsided in Obama's favor but that the mainstream media — either to gin up excitement over a "close" race or to not look like they're "liberal" and "in the tank" for Obama — are portraying the race as closer than it really is. We all know Obama is going to win, which will make these final few weeks of a long, negative campaign almost unbearable.
Speaking of unbearable, how about those Bengals?
I've been getting good feedback (as always) to our annual publication of the Project Censored report on stories the mainstream media missed in the past year. It's a good reminder that Americans aren't as informed as we should be, particularly on international issues, and another reason to be concerned as the the nation's major newspapers continue to struggle with economic pressure.
Enjoy your Monday and the beautiful fall weather.
Barack Obama will speak at the Pavilion in Ault Park at 3 p.m. today. Gates to the lawn west of the Pavilion will open at 1:00. No umbrellas or folding chairs will be permitted. They'd prefer you don't bring bags so the search at the gates will go smoother. Don't know about signs or blankets.
Limited on-street parking is available in and around Ault Park, though the residential streets there are winding and narrow. Off-site parking has been arranged at Lunken Airport behind the terminal building with shuttle buses running continuously beginning at noon and ending at 5 p.m.
See the Hamilton County Democratic Party's web site for more info and maps of both Ault Park and Lunken Airport.
Look for photos from the event to be posted at citybeat.com later today or tomorrow morning.
Did you watch much of the presidential debate last night? I watched the first 15-20 minutes, fast-forwarded through the rest and saw the closing remarks. John McCain didn't press enough on his issues, and Barack Obama is basically playing defense and trying not to mess up.
As I say in my editorial in today's CityBeat, the race is over. Obama is going to be our next president, yet we have to endure another month of this crummy campaign. McCain isn't pressing Obama on the critical issues, instead focusing his campaign on personal attacks, and Obama is just fending him off until the clock runs out Nov. 4.
I don't feel particularly reassured today. What about you?