by Nick Swartsell
Posted In: News
at 10:13 AM | Permalink
I-75 north ramp from uptown to take five more years; Ohio Board of Ed ends 5 of 8 rule; Hillary goes unnoticed in Ohio Chipotle
Hello all. What’s up? Let’s dive right into the news today.If you live uptown and frequently need to hop on I-75 north, I have some bad news for you. It’s going to be another, oh, five years before the already years-old ODOT project to revamp I-75 makes it easier to access the highway from uptown. Let’s ruminate on that length of time for a minute. It’s an entire high school career plus a year of college. Or the amount of time it takes the average person to put 65,000 miles on a car. Or for some folks, multiple long-term relationships. The hang-up comes from a proposed connector bridge that will allow for easier access from I-74 to the area around Cincinnati State College. That construction is in the same area as the planned new northbound ramp, meaning the latter will have to be put off until 2020. That leaves uptown residents wanting to head north with the option of two complicated workarounds that probably add at least a few minutes to commute times. Happy driving y’all. • In more positive news, it sounds like the city’s July 14 parade for the MLB All-Star Game is going to be something else. Usually, these kinds of things are limited to a few pickup trucks full of ball players on the way to field from their hotels, but Cincinnati Reds COO Phil Castellini says this year will be different. Floats, music and other festivities inspired by our annual opening day parade will fill the mile-long parade route, which goes from the Westin Hotel downtown past Fountain Square to Great American Ballpark. The All-Star Game is a big deal for any city to land — estimated economic impact for the city is somewhere in the $60 million range.• Over-the-Rhine business course MORTAR will graduate its first class of entrepreneurs today. Locals William Thomas, Derrick Braziel and Allen Woods founded the group last year with a focus on increasing socio-economic diversity in the city’s startup culture. When you picture a startup entrepreneur, you might immediately think of a young white middle class male, which would be understandable since that demographic makes up a large percentage of entrepreneurs, especially in hot new markets like tech. MORTAR’s mission is to go beyond that, founders say, and to extend the opportunity to start a business to anyone in the city with a good idea. Tonight at Elementz, on the corner of Race and Central Parkway, the first class will take their ideas public during a series of presentations lasting from 6-9 pm. First year participants include Black Owned Outerwear founder Cam Means and soap maker Evie Cotton. • I knew y'all were smart. Cincinnati is among the most literate cities in the country according to a study by Central Connecticut State University President Dr. Jack Miller. Miller measured literacy in America’s 77 biggest cities by studying bookstores, libraries, newspaper circulation, education level and Internet usage to come up with his ranking. Cincinnati ranked 12th, just above Raleigh, N.C. and just below Portland, Ore. We are far and away the best Ohio city on the list — runner up Columbus ranked just 21st. Minneapolis took the top spot this year after a four-year run in the top spot for Washington, D.C., which finished second this time around.• The Ohio Board of Education voted yesterday to end the state’s stipulation that school districts have at least five of eight specialty positions in each of their schools. Those positions included librarians, music teachers and physical education teachers. The rule change has been hotly debated among educators and officials. Opponents say it will mean that students in many low-income schools will no longer be guaranteed arts, music and other important humanities education. Boosters of the rule change say it allows local school districts more autonomy with how they spend their budgets. • Is Gov. John Kasich’s budget proposal dead? Looks like its prospects are grim, especially when it comes to the tax boosts the governor suggested to make up for his proposed $5.7 billion in income tax cuts. The GOPers in the Ohio General Assembly love the cuts, but hate the offsets, which include a sales tax hike. State lawmakers are expected to tweak Kasich’s budget to cut about $1 billion in income taxes while forgoing the sales tax hikes and some other big measures in the budget. Kasich’s plan has taken fire from both the left and the right. Progressives point out that shifting the tax burden from income toward sales taxes puts a higher proportional burden on the state’s low-income workers and that cuts to taxes on businesses and the tax bills of the state’s top earners is a regressive move that favors the wealthy. Conservatives, on the other hand, say the sales tax hike would encumber businesses and slow the economy. Both the state House and Senate will have to vote to approve a final budget agreement. • Big news here: While Hillary Clinton was driving around in her Scooby Doo campaign van yesterday, she passed through Ohio and stopped for some Chipotle. Surprisingly, this news story says, no one in the Maumee, Ohio, Chipotle recognized her, probably because they were too focused on their double barbacoa double cheese double sour cream burritos. Dude, when I’m eating a burrito, the wailing ghost of James Brown could come in spitting fire and singing "Poppa’s Got a Brand New Bag" and I probably wouldn’t take much note, but then the wailing ghost of James Brown isn’t running for president in 2016 (unfortunately).• Finally, new revelations have surfaced in the shooting death of Walter Scott, North Charleston, South Carolina man, by police officer Michael Slager April 5. North Charleston police have released audio recordings taken immediately after the incident in which Slager tells his wife he shot Scott while the man was running from him and then later laughs about the adrenaline rush to a supervisor. Scott was black, Slager white. The incident is the latest racially charged police shooting to capture the nation’s attention in the wake of the shooting of Michael Brown by a white police officer in Ferguson, Mo., last summer.
by Nick Swartsell
Posted In: News
at 10:01 AM | Permalink
NCAA tournament is Ohio against the world; VA head McDonald: speed up services to homeless veterans; NKY Rep. wants to cut fed funding for transit projects
Hey all, it’s news time on this glorious, if rainy, Friday. Let’s go.It truly is Ohio against the world right now, at least when it comes to March Madness (which, if you’re anything like some of my friends, truly is your entire existence at this moment in time). The University of Cincinnati beat Purdue in a heart-stopper last night, Xavier bested Ole Miss and OSU beat Virginia Commonwealth University. Additionally, the Dayton Flyers pulled one out Wednesday against Boise State to make it into the tournament. They’ll be facing Providence College tonight. That’s great, but big challenges loom ahead: specifically, 8th-seed UC will have to face 1st-seed UK tomorrow. That’s going to be a tough game for the Bearcats. But let’s see what happens, right? While we’re talking basketball, here’s an interesting look at which local programs are making money for their universities, and which are break-even propositions. UC, for instance, spends as much on its basketball program as its team brings in, while Xavier turns a handy profit — the Musketeers’ hoops squad brings in more than $6 million a year. • Veterans Affairs Secretary and former P&G CEO Bob McDonald wants Cincinnati, along with other cities, to speed up the process of identifying and helping homeless veterans. McDonald visited local service agencies helping veterans yesterday and said he was impressed with the work those groups are doing, as well as the progress the city has made on veteran homelessness. But he also called for quicker turnaround when it comes to getting homeless veterans into housing, saying that the longer it takes to find them and get them on the right track, the less likely they will be to receive and utilize that aid at all. Mayor John Cranley, who joined McDonald on his tours of service agencies yesterday, is engaged in a national program to help vets, called the Mayor’s Challenge to End Veteran Homelessness. That initiative looks to end veteran homelessness across the country by the end of this year. • The Cincinnati Zoo recently made a national list of top places to travel if you want to see cool animals. Family Fun magazine publishes its annual rankings on the best places to travel in a number of specific categories, and Cincinnati’s Zoo ranked number eight in the animal attractions category. It ranked just below Disney’s Animal Kingdom, which is pretty impressive. It’s one more accolade for the zoo, which is widely recognized as one of the best in the nation. • U.S. Rep. Thomas Massie, who represents Northern Kentucky, has a GREAT idea for fixing the nation’s highway funding dilemma: strip funding for all other transit projects from the National Highway Trust Fund. Massie says the federal government’s grants for streetcars and other alternate forms of transit cost billions that could go toward building and repairing highways and bridges. Hm. Right. Except each of those projects keeps cars off the road, lessens America’s dependence on oil, may create economic development in the communities they’re built in and provide ways to work and recreation for the millions of Americans who don’t own cars. Which, as of yesterday, includes me. It’s also worth noting that only a small percentage of the Highway Trust Fund goes to transit projects, so cutting that funding would be a drop in the bucket. An alternative measure would be to increase the nation’s gas tax, which hasn’t been raised since grunge rock was cool the first time (that’s 1993).
• Former (and perhaps future) Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum was once again in the Greater Cincinnati area Thursday, fueling more speculation about his ambitions for the GOP presidential nomination. The former Pennsylvania senator stopped by a fundraiser in Montgomery hosted by the Northeast Hamilton County Republican Club. He avoided saying crazy stuff about religion (at least on the record) but did have some eyebrow-raising thoughts on the economy. Santorum is known to be a hardcore conservative when it comes to social issues, but there are signs he’s tacking moderate on the economy, a combination last tried by former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee when he sought the GOP nomination in 2008. Santorum talked about how Republicans could capture the hearts and minds of America’s workers, backing policies that step away from the hardcore trickle down theories (tax cuts for the wealthy, decreased regulations) most recently advanced by the GOP. He revealed his presidential platform, should he run, would include supporting a small minimum wage increase — something few other Republicans seem willing to touch. He also committed something close to sacrilege for conservatives, saying the party needed to move on from Ronald Regan’s economic legacy and message. Santorum’s continued courting of the buckeye state (he was here visiting folks in Butler County a couple weeks ago for a religious freedom conference) comes ahead of his party’s national convention in Cleveland next year and is further evidence that the presidential race may be tightly focused on Ohio.• While we’re talking presidential hopefuls, let’s cross the spectrum for a minute and talk about Democrats, specifically their frontrunner for the presidential nomination, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. She’s been dominating the field on the Dem side, even though she hasn’t officially announced her candidacy. But that could be changing, according to a new poll from news organization Reuters. That poll shows Clinton’s support among Democrats has dipped by 15 points since mid-February, and that now about 45 percent of those identifying with the party say they’re sure they’ll vote for her. That’s still a bigger margin than any other potential candidate, of which there are very few, but the drop is alarming. Some of the dip may be explained by the recent high-profile flap over Clinton’s e-mail usage while secretary of state. After the New York Times reported earlier this month that Clinton used a personal account to conduct State Department business, she has been on the defensive explaining that move. Clinton has turned over tens of thousands of work related e-mails sent from her personal account, but also had other e-mails she claims were personal deleted. That’s led some to suggest she may be hiding information. Clinton’s use of a personal e-mail account appears to have fallen within State Department rules, which were changed after her tenure to require the Secretary of State to use a government account for accountability purposes. And I’m out. Tweet me (@nswartsell), e-mail me (email@example.com) or comment below. What do you think? Do you hold out any hope for UC against UK? Do you think we should raise the gas tax? Should I buy a car or wait for regional transit in Cincinnati to become so stellar I won’t need one? (I'm not holding my breath on any of these).
by Nick Swartsell
Posted In: News
at 11:19 AM | Permalink
Shocker: Boehner says redistricting reform not necessary; Gannett reaches out, gets spurned; Cleveland cop who shot 12-year-old was deemed "unfit" at last police job
Hello all, hope you’re doing well this morning. I’m having a bit of trouble getting started today, maybe due to CityBeat’s Bourbon and Bacon event last night. The party at Newport’s New Riff Distillery (which is amazing, by the way) featured nearly unlimited amounts of bacon-infused items. Bacon is one of my favorite things. I’m also a big fan of whiskey, which was also available in seemingly endless quantities. I’m still recovering. Anyway, news time. Usually, we think of the staunch conservatives in our state House of Representatives, bless their souls, as lovers of the smallest government possible. So it’s surprising that GOP state lawmakers have been working on a bill to pick cities’ pockets by reverting tax receipts usually going to municipalities to the state government. That bill got a little less pernicious yesterday, when a revised version passed the Ohio Senate. Mayor John Cranley touts the bill as a better deal for Cincinnati than it could have been. The proposal, which amends and allegedly simplifies Ohio’s tax rules for cities and other local governments, would cut the amount of money municipalities receive from businesses doing work in their jurisdictions. Many agree the current system is incredibly complex and makes it difficult for businesses to operate in multiple municipalities. But opponents of the original bill proposed by GOP lawmakers say the cuts to municipal tax receipts were too deep and, taken with other recent cuts to tax receipts, could hamper cities’ abilities to provide services. Cincinnati could have lost as much as $3 million a year from those cuts. The compromised bill minimizes some of those losses by keeping the municipal tax on items a company ships to places where it doesn’t have a storefront. • A slightly fictionalized Hamilton County Christmas play in one act:Hamilton County Sheriff Jim Neil:Hey guys, can I get a Harley? Maybe two Harleys? I want them for Christmas. They get better gas mileage than cars and the city taught us how to ride them.Hamilton County Commissioner Chris Monzel: I don’t know. Ask Greg Hartmann.Sheriff Neil: He wrote me a letter. He said I have to wait.Hartmann: Jim, I can’t believe you’re asking for this right now. You know money is tight and we can’t afford two Harleys. We’ve gotta tighten our belts, you know. Have you thought about a nice used Suzuki? Or maybe some bicycles? Red Bike is big right now.Sheriff Neil: But everyone else is asking for cool wheels, too.Monzel: We’ll just have to wait and see what Santa brings. We already gave you those cars you asked for. • Surprise, surprise: House Speaker John Boehner, who is camped out in his safely Republican district just north of Cincinnati, doesn’t want any changes to the way Ohio draws its congressional districts. He says that having one party dominate the process isn’t a problem because both parties have done so over the years and that everyone working on rule changes for redistricting should see what shakes out in Arizona. The Supreme Court is currently hearing challenges to that state’s constitutional amendment cutting the state legislature out of redistricting in favor of an independent panel, a similar arrangement to some proposals for reforming Ohio’s redistricting process. But let’s not be hasty about working to change the process that has created Ohio’s ridiculously gerrymandered districts, Boehner says."For 40 years the Democrat Party had the pencil in their hands, and for the last 20 years we've had the pencil," Boehner told The Enquirer yesterday. "When you've got the pencil in your hand, you're going to use it to the best of your advantage." • CityBeat contributor Ben Kaufman, who writes our "On Second Thought" column and "Curmudgeon Notes," tipped me off to this great exchange. Apparently, Enquirer parent company Gannett is reaching out to veteran journalists seeking help recruiting “leaders for the newsroom of tomorrow,” whatever that means. Gannett has been sugar-coating layoffs with this newsroom of tomorrow thing for a while and has even gone so far as to make reporters reapply for their jobs in a Hunger Games-esque battle for employment. A recruiter got a less than favorable response from three-decade veteran journalist Rick Arthur, who has been an editor at major newspapers and magazines. Arthur responds to the missive, which is, after all, not recruiting him but simply asking for help in recruiting others, with the following:“I would never refer anyone to Gannett, an organization that has such disdain for copy editors and that treats its employees so shabbily, and whose executives, publishers and editors willfully deny that there are problems while creating — for the second time in a decade — the laughably Orwellian 'Newsroom of the Future.'All the best, Rick”Ouch.• Finally, there’s continued anger around the nation over unarmed people, especially people of color, dying at the hands of police. Two brief developments: A grand jury in New York yesterday declined to indict Officer Daniel Pantaleo for his role in the death of Eric Garner, who Pantaleo put in a chokehold. Pantaleo died moments after the confrontation in an ambulance and can be heard on a video of the incident telling officers repeatedly he couldn’t breathe. The grand jury decision has sparked protests in New York City.In Cleveland, there are new revelations in the death of 12-year-old Tamir Rice, who police shot on a playground. The officer involved in that shooting, Timothy Loehman, was asked to leave another police force in the small town of Independence, Ohio, in 2012 after being deemed unfit to serve there. Loehman reportedly had an emotional breakdown on a shooting range and was “uncommunicative and weepy” during the incident, reports on his dismissal say. The report also calls his performance with a weapon “dismal.”
by Nick Swartsell
Posted In: News
at 10:05 AM | Permalink
Hand Up funding draws criticism; Greenpeace trial rescheduled; will Ferguson influence elections?
Hey all! We’re hustling this week to put together our election issue, which will be just overrun with everything you need to know before Nov. 4 or, heck, right now if you’re doing the early voting thing. In light of that, I’m going to hit you with a brief, just-the-facts version of morning news.• Some folks in the city, including advocates for the poor, are upset with the way Mayor John Cranley’s new job training program, called the “Hand Up” initiative, will be funded. That initiative is getting some of its funding from federal grants originally slated for other established programs in the city. Cranley says those programs aren’t the best use of the federal funds, and that his program will help up to 4,000 Cincinnatians reach self-sufficiency. Others, however, challenge that assertion.• Seven Greenpeace activists were scheduled to stand trial today for hanging a banner protesting P&G’s use of palm oil from the company’s headquarters in March. But that trial has been postponed until Jan. 20. Another activist who was also facing charges died Oct. 6. A ninth took a plea deal Sept. 8 and is awaiting sentencing. The remaining activists could face more than nine years in prison on felony burglary and vandalism charges.• Yet another development deal may be happening soon on Central Parkway in Over-the-Rhine. Have you ever driven down Central Parkway near Liberty Street and wondered what the building that says Warner Brothers on the front was all about? Developer Urban Sites is considering turning the 40,000-square-foot historic building, which was used by the film company as a vault, into offices or apartments. • Democrat Senate candidate and Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes is still running neck and neck with Sen. Mitch McConnell in one of the country’s most-watched races. Recent polls put the two dead even, and, in a sign that folks who follow such things think she still has a chance, Grimes was endorsed by two of Kentucky’s major newspapers over the weekend. Both the Louisville Courier-Journal and the Lexington Herald-Leader have backed Grimes. McConnell’s challenger made a last-minute swoop through Covington over the weekend, showing up to hang out with a few dozen supporters at the MainStrasse Village Dog PawRade. • Let’s zoom out to the bigger picture on the Senate. This AP story explores how weak Republican governors in some states could hurt the party’s chances of taking back the Senate, which it desperately, desperately wants to do so it can keep President Obama from doing really communistic type things like making sure people have health care and stuff. • Finally, while we’re talking about elections, could the national attention focused on civil unrest Ferguson, Mo., spur greater black turnout in this midterm election? I normally don’t pay too much mind to the Daily Beast, but this article is thought-provoking.
0 Comments · Wednesday, November 6, 2013
The Ohio Supreme Court on Oct. 31
expedited the 1851 Center for Constitutional Law’s challenge against the
federally funded Medicaid expansion, which Republican Gov. John Kasich pushed through the Controlling Board, a seven-member legislative panel, despite resistance from the Ohio legislature.
by Jac Kern
Jac's roundup of pop culture news and Internet findings
The Walking Dead is getting pretty crazy this season, and so is its after-show, Talking Dead. Sunday night’s guests
included Jack Osbourne, TWD Executive Producer Gale Anne Hurd and a very entertaining, probably
inebriated Marilyn Manson. His long-winded, unfocused comments were punctuated
with references including Hitler, “scissoring” and the character Carol’s likeness to Jamie Lee
Curtis (“Activia!"). Poor Osbourne could barely get a word in as Manson constantly interrupted.
He’d often cut off Hurd as she made interesting point from, you know, the
perspective of someone who helped create the show, to blab on about is own
confusing theories. It was watchable for all the wrong reasons and host Chris
Hardwick wasn’t having any of this shit.
The Entourage movie is
officially happening, for real this time.
One of television’s magic tricks (cut to Gob: “ILLUSIONS!”) is its ability to make locations around Hollywood look like places in cities
across the world. Alas, It’s Always Sunny
in Philadelphia is not actually filmed in Pennsylvania and Pawnee City Hall
seen in Parks and Recreation is
actually Pasadena City Hall. A.V. Club traveled around L.A. to track down memorable exterior TV locations from shows
set outside of California including Dunder-Mifflin (The Office), American Horror
Story’s original “Murder House,” the New
Girl apartment and other spots from popular shows.
Angeles plays itself (and the settings of The Office,
Parks And Recreation, It’s Always
Not every girl wants a stupid, one-sided public marriage proposal, as seen in
of a woman who thought she was on The Today Show to promote her nonprofit organization but
was actually there to get proposed to by her lame, misguided boyfriend.
The Daily Show began as a news satire show but, over the years, Jon Stewart & Co.
have exposed some actual Washington dumb-fuckery, inspiring real political
change. Case in point: TDS’ Aasif Mandvi interviewed North Carolina GOP precinct chair Don Yelton
about the state’s voter I.D. laws and Yelton responded in a shocking and
perhaps the most racist way possible. Yelton was forced to step
down from his position the next day.
It bears repeating that this was not a fake/satirical/scripted bit.
Yelton really admitted voter ID laws are in place to restrict Democrats. He actually
said he doesn’t understand why black people can say “nigger” but he can’t. And he backed all of this with the fact that he has a black friend. Jesus, take the wheel!
Yelton didn’t even have an “oh shit” moment the next day — he continues
to stand by his comments. His party, however, does not and asked Yelton to step
down less than 24 hours after the interview aired.
Can we make this Wes Anderson horror film (via Saturday Night Live) a real thing,
Emile Hirsch will portray comedic legend John Belushi in a new biopic.
Sesame Street is decidedly directed toward little kids, teaching them how to
count and share and interact with gigantic talking animals. But, like Yo Gabba
Gabba!, the show is nice enough to tip the hat at adults in the audience. I loved their take on True Blood and Sons of Anarchy, and now the Muppets have put their stamp on Homeland.
Of course, I am rarely around small children so I actually just watch puppet spoofs of TV shows for sheer pleasure.
0 Comments · Wednesday, September 25, 2013
I have seen Boehner’s political rise —
from courtside seats in the early days — and I am amazed but not
surprised by it because it’s easy to be “impressive” and to be passed up
the ranks and into many branches of American politics; it’s a trait
politicians share with student/athletes in higher education.
1 Comment · Wednesday, March 27, 2013
I’d pay to see a lineup of all
the children and grandchildren of right-wingers — especially those
directly responsible for legally shoving their definitions of “family”
down all our throats — all come out publicly in a public square. I bet there are a shit-ton of ’em.
by Ben L. Kaufman
Media musings from Cincinnati and beyond
Be suspicious of statistics that suggest a reporter
doesn’t understand, doesn’t care or knowingly isn’t telling us
everything the numbers do. For instance, we have tens of thousands of
firearm deaths every year in our country. Uncritical reporting suggests
these are homicides that buybacks or proposed federal gun controls could
prevent or reduce. Nope. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
said there were 31,672 firearm deaths recorded in 2010, the last year
for which complete statistics are posted. Of those, 19,392 or 61 percent
were suicides, not homicides. The remaining 39 percent included accidents, fatal encounters with police, etc.
• Critical thinking was in short supply at the Senate
Judiciary Hearing where gun control foes testified. It’s sort of like
using a faux quote by Hitler to prove gun registration leads to
confiscation, which leads to socialism or worse. Gayle Trotter of the
Independent Women’s Forum told senators that “guns make women safer” and
a ban on assault-style weapons with high-capacity magazines would
To illustrate her case, Trotter cited 18-year-old Sarah
McKinley’s successful defense against an armed intruder near Blanchard,
Okla. Police there told CityBeat that she killed him with a
12-gauge pump shotgun, a classic hunting weapon owned by millions of
Americans. That was a good choice for McKinley but an unfortunate
example for Trotter; no one is suggesting that shotguns be included in
proposed gun controls.
Then, as if to prove that fewer Americans are hunting or
serving in the military and know what they’re talking about (also see
below), MSNBC mistakenly said she used a rifle. ABC News was no smarter:
It had her reenact the shooting with a double-barreled shotgun.
McKinley’s single-barrel pump shotgun was taken as
evidence in the homicide, probably to be returned when her claim of
self-defense is affirmed. Meanwhile, Guns Save Lives, a nonprofit, sent
her a similar, replacement shotgun.
Not only does Oklahoma allow lethal force for self-defense
inside a person’s home, but McKinley asked the 911 operator what she
could do to protect herself and her child. The dead intruder’s companion
reportedly told police the intruders were after prescription
painkillers that they assumed McKinley’s husband left when he died a
week earlier from cancer.
• A secret shooter? After Obama’s comments to the New
Republic about having fired a gun, the White House released a photo of
the president on the Camp David retreat skeet range. Wearing protective
glasses and ear protection, he’s firing a shotgun at the 4-5/16 inch
flying clay discs (pigeons) last August. "Yes, in fact, up at Camp David, we do skeet shooting all the time," Obama told the New Republic. "Not the girls, but oftentimes guests of mine go up there." However, the AP story accompanying the skeet shooting photo in Sunday’s Enquirer
mistakenly says he’s firing a rifle. I’m not sure whether Obama used an
over-and-under shotgun, but it certainly didn’t look like a rifle. That
inexplicable clanger escaped AP and Enquirer editing despite our
unprecedented national debate over certain types of firearms. NRA
pooh-poohed Obama’s comments and photo, saying it changes nothing in NRA
opposition to greater gun control.
• John Kerry drew scorn in 2004 after he was photographed
with Ted Strickland and others with just-shot geese in an eastern Ohio
cornfield. Possibly recalling that ill-conceived effort to bond with
hunters, Obama didn’t release his skeet shooting photo before the
election last year. Kerry’s goose hunting was ridiculed as a dumb photo
op, especially because Kerry borrowed the farmer’s hunting outfit and
double-barreled shotgun for the day. Whether Kerry bagged any additional
rural voters was unclear; Bush won Ohio.
• I began contributing to the new National Catholic Reporter in the mid-’60s when I started covering religion at the Minneapolis Star. I freelanced for NCR when I had that same assignment at the Enquirer. A privately owned, independent weekly based in Kansas City, Mo., NCR was a voice of Roman Catholics who embraced the spirit as well as the documents of the Second Vatican Council.
Traditional churchmen had little reason to love NCR.
It was a pain in the ass and collection basket. It reported the flight
of clergy and nuns, often into marriage. Jason Berry pioneered reporting
of priestly child abuse. Penny Lernoux covered Latin American death
squads and links between murderous reactionaries and the church. Murders
of nuns, priests and bishops who embraced liberation theology and the
church’s “preferential option for the poor” received extensive, probing
The bishop of Kansas City and a former diocesan editor,
Robert W. Finn, recently joined predecessors’ fruitless condemnations of
NCR’s journalism. In a letter to the diocese praising official
church media, Finn was “sorry to say, my attention has been drawn once
again to the National Catholic Reporter. … In the last months I
have been deluged with emails and other correspondence from Catholics
concerned about the editorial stances of the Reporter: officially
condemning Church teaching on the ordination of women, insistent
undermining of Church teaching on artificial contraception and sexual
morality in general, lionizing dissident theologies while rejecting
established Magisterial (official) teaching, and a litany of other
“My predecessor bishops have taken different approaches to
the challenge. Bishop Charles Helmsing in October of 1968 issued a
condemnation of the National Catholic Reporter and asked the publishers to remove the name ‘Catholic’ from their title — to no avail. From my perspective, NCR’s positions against authentic Church teaching and leadership have not changed trajectory in the intervening decades.
“When early in my tenure I requested that the paper submit their bona fides
as a Catholic media outlet in accord with the expectations of Church
law, they declined to participate indicating that they considered
themselves an ‘independent newspaper which commented on “things
Catholic.” ’ At other times, correspondence has seemed to reach a dead
“In light of the number of recent expressions of concern, I
have a responsibility as the local bishop to instruct the Faithful
about the problematic nature of this media source which bears the name
‘Catholic.’ While I remain open to substantive and respectful discussion
with the legitimate representatives of NCR, I find that my ability to
influence the National Catholic Reporter toward fidelity to the
Church seems limited to the supernatural level. For this we pray: St.
Francis DeSales (patron of journalists), intercede for us.”
• Rarely have I seen such a neat dismissal of creationism
and defense of evolution as the following by 19th century skeptic Robert
Ingersoll. It’s quoted in a review of The Great Agnostic, a biography of Ingersoll, in the neo-conservative Weekly Standard:
“I would rather belong to that race that commenced a
skull-less vertebrate and produced Shakespeare, a race that has before
it an infinite future, with an angel of progress leaning from the far
horizon, beckoning men forward, upward, and onward forever — I had
rather belong to such a race … than to have sprung from a perfect pair
upon which the Lord has lost money every moment from that day to this.”
• The Weekly Standard also published “A teacher’s
Plea: The GOP shouldn’t write off educators.” Eloquent Colleen Hyland
speaks beyond partisanship for her vocation and colleagues in her Jan.
21 essay. Among other things, she hopes to shake Republican/conservative
ideologues out of their animus toward public school teachers and their
unions. Among her points: Hhateful generalizations about teachers and
their desire for a living wage also degrades women.
• I didn’t know Kevin Ash and I’m not a rider but I read his motorcycle reviews in London’s Daily Telegraph
for years. Details of his death in South Africa are unclear, but he
died during the media show testing the new BMW R1200GS motorcycle. His
informed, passionate writing was a delight for itself, even if I never
thought to get on a two-wheeler again. When I was what the Brits’ call a
“motoring correspondent,” my interest was cars, whether with three or
four wheels. There were a lot of us writing about cars and motor
racing/rallying in Europe and Britain in the 1960s; postwar Europeans
were getting into cars for the first time in most families’ lives. We
were read whether it was the test drive of an exquisite new Zagato OSCA
coupe (built by the original Maserati brothers) or a boring Opel
sedan. But getting killed during a test ride? Since most of us had some
inkling of what we were doing astride a motorcycle or behind the wheel,
that would have been very bad luck.
• Time Magazine’s world.time.com website posted this howler. The original Time story purported to look at Oxford and Cambridge roles in Britain’s social mobility. Appended to the online story, Time’s correction has a lawyerly tone. Here it is at length and verbatim:
“This article has been changed. An earlier version stated
that Oxford University accepted ‘only one black Caribbean student’ in
2009, when in fact the university accepted one British black Caribbean
undergraduate who declared his or her ethnicity when applying to
“The article has also been amended to reflect the context
for comments made by British Prime Minister David Cameron on the number
of black students at Oxford. It has also been changed to reflect the
fact that in 2009 Oxford ‘held’ rather than ‘targeted’ 21 percent of its
outreach events at private schools, and that it draws the majority of
its non-private students from public schools with above average levels
of attainment, rather than ‘elite public schools.’
“An amendment was made to indicate that Office for Fair
Access director Les Ebdon has not imposed but intends to negotiate
targets with universities. It has been corrected to indicate that every
university-educated Prime Minister save Gordon Brown has attended Oxford
or Cambridge since 1937, rather than throughout history. The proportion
of Oxbridge graduates in David Cameron’s cabinet has been updated —
following the Prime Minister’s September reshuffle, the percentage rose
from almost 40 percent to two-thirds. Percentages on leading Oxbridge
graduates have been updated to reflect the latest figures.
“The article erred in stating that private school students
have ‘dominated’ Oxbridge for ‘centuries.’ In the 1970s, according to
Cambridge, admissions of state school students ranged from 62 percent to
68 percent, sinking down to around 50 percent in the 1980s. The article
has been amended to clarify that although only a small percentage of
British students are privately educated, they make up one-third of the
students with the requisite qualifications to apply to Oxbridge.
“The article erred in stating that Oxford and Cambridge
‘missed government admission targets’ for students from lower
socioeconomic backgrounds. Rather, the universities scored below
‘benchmarks’ for admission of students from lower socioeconomic
backgrounds which are calculated by the Higher Education Statistics
Agency, a non-governmental body. The article was amended to clarify the
point that Cambridge continues to run Sutton Trust summer schools.
“The article mistakenly suggested that the current U.K.
government had launched an ‘initiative to reform Oxbridge.’ There was no
official initiative, but rather a marked push by the government to
encourage change. The article referred to Cambridge and Oxford’s efforts
‘in the past two years’ to seek out underprivileged students. In fact,
their commitment is far more long-standing — programs to reach out to
underprivileged students have been operating at the two universities
since at least the mid-1990s.
“The article erred in suggesting that Cambridge had
protested state school targets, and in stating that it had ‘agreed to’
ambitious targets, rather than setting the targets themselves that were
then approved by the Office of Fair Access. The article has been amended
to clarify that there is debate over whether the ‘school effect’,
whereby state school students outperform private school students at
university, applies to those at the highest levels of achievement, from
which Oxford and Cambridge recruit.
“The article has been changed to correct the misstatement
that a lack of strong candidates from poor backgrounds is not the
concern of Oxford and Cambridge. The article has amended the phrase
‘Oxford and Cambridge’s myopic focus on cherry-picking the most
academically accomplished,’ to more fairly reflect the universities’
• Until I read the Time correction above, I’d
forgotten one in which I was involved. A young reporter covered a
Saturday national church meeting in suburban Cincinnati at which
denominational leaders argued how to respond to homosexuals in the pews
and pulpits. This was when such a discussion was courageous, regardless
of the views expressed. I edited the story. It was a good, taut story
and it ran in a Sunday Enquirer. All hell broke loose. The
reporter attributed exactly the opposite views to each person quoted.
Instead of a forthright correction, I recall running a new, corrected
story plus the apology.