Ohio's ugly Senate race has national repercussions
1 Comment · Wednesday, October 31, 2012
The world will be watching Ohio this week, waiting
largely to see which presidential candidate’s weeks of time and millions
of dollars spent wooing Buckeye State voters will pay off. But slightly down the ballot is another race nearly as
important: for one of Ohio’s U.S. Senate seats.
1 Comment · Wednesday, October 31, 2012
Remove Democrat and Republican for a
second. Assume there are two candidates outside of partisan labels.
Candidate A is the current sitting senator. He has a clear record and
policies to run on. Candidate B is the challenger. He has little record
and policies, and he’s been caught being dishonest time and time again —
to the extent that one major newspaper gave him an award for lying so
5 Comments · Wednesday, October 24, 2012
We at CityBeat take election endorsements seriously, and
you should too! Our writers spent considerable time researching 2012’s
candidates and issues and what each means to the future of Cincinnati
and America. (We also figured out what the Hamilton County coroner does
besides chopping up bodies...) This is the first half of our
endorsements — the entire collection will be available in our Election
Issue Oct. 31. Read ’em and weep, voter suppressionists!
by German Lopez
Candidates detail Social Security plans
Democratic incumbent Sherrod Brown and Republican challenger Josh Mandel met once again Thursday night for a debate to see who is more qualified for Ohio’s U.S. Senate seat. The candidates were a bit less feisty in their final debate, but the substance behind their words was fairly similar to the past two debates.Mandel spent a bit less time attacking Brown for “Washington speak,” and Brown spent a bit less time attacking Mandel for dishonesty. However, Mandel did spend a bit more time attacking Brown for being a “career politician,” and both candidates criticized each other for voting along party lines.For the most part, the debate treaded ground covered in the first debate and second debate. CityBeat covered those face-offs in-depth here: first debate and second debate.Some new details did emerge when Brown and Mandel discussed Social Security. Mandel clarified he would raise the eligibility age for Social Security and Medicare for those around his age — 35 — and younger. To justify the raise, he said life expectancy has grown since those laws were first put into place. He also claimed, “If we maintain the status quo, which is the way of Washington, there will be no Medicare or Social Security.”Brown responded by saying he wouldn’t raise the eligibility age or reduce benefits, but he would increase the payroll tax cap. In the case of Mandel’s proposal, there is some important context missing. While it’s true life expectancy has increased in the U.S., it has not increased at the same level for everyone. A 2008 study by the Congressional Budget Office found life expectancy is lagging for low-income individuals, while it’s steadily rising for the wealthiest Americans. A 2006 study published in the International Journal of Epidemiology had similar findings. These studies show increases in the average life expectancy may not be reflective of what’s actually happening within the poor and even middle class. In other words, raising the eligibility age to match the rise in life expectancy could disproportionately hurt the lower classes.There are also some holes in gauging the eligibility age for entitlement programs with a rise in the average life expectancy. Social Security was enacted in 1935. Between the law passing and 2007, the U.S. child mortality rate dropped about 3.3 percent per year for children between the ages of one and four, according to a study from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. This large drop in child mortality rate could be exaggerating gains in life expectancy, which is an average that takes into account the age of deceased children.Mandel’s implication that raising the eligibility age is the only way to keep Social Security solvent is also misleading. Currently, the payroll tax is set up so it only taxes the first $110,100 of everyone’s income. A Congressional Research Service study from 2010 found eliminating the cap would keep the Social Security Trust Funds solvent for the next 75 years. The downside is this would raise taxes for anyone making more than $110,100. Still, the fact eliminating the cap would extend the trust funds’ solvency shows there are other options, and it shows Brown’s idea of increasing the cap has some fiscal merit.However, Mandel would not be able to take Brown’s approach because it would mean raising taxes, which Mandel vowed to not do under any circumstance when he signed lobbyist Grover Norquist’s anti-tax pledge.For the final debate, Mandel and Brown followed similar paths as before and even recited some of the exact same lines. At this point, the candidates have painted clear contrasts. With three debates and a year of campaigning behind them, it’s now clear Brown is mostly the liberal, Democratic choice and Mandel is mostly the conservative, Republican choice.
by German Lopez
In-person early voting is underway in Ohio. Find your nearest polling booth here.
The last debate for Ohio’s U.S. Senate seat took place last
night. The debate between Democratic incumbent Sherrod Brown and
Republican challenger Josh Mandel mostly covered old ground, but the
candidates did draw contrasting details on keeping Social Security
solvent. Mandel favored raising the eligibility age on younger generations, while Brown favored
raising the payroll tax cap. Currently, Brown leads
Mandel in aggregate polling by 5.2 points.
Mitt Romney was in town yesterday. In his speech, he
criticized the president’s policies and campaign rhetoric and touted
support for small businesses. The Cincinnati visit was the first stop of
a two-day tour of Ohio, which is the most important swing state in the
presidential race. But senior Republican officials are apparently
worried Romney has leveled off in the state, which could cost Romney the
Electoral College and election. President Barack Obama is
expected to visit Cincinnati on Halloween. In aggregate polling, Obama
is ahead in Ohio by 2.1 points, and Romney is up nationally by 0.9
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Ohio says the
use of seclusion rooms in Ohio schools should be phased out
by 2016. The Ohio Department of Education and Ohio Board of Education
are currently taking feedback on a new policy draft that says schools
can only use seclusion rooms in cases of “immediate threat of physical
harm,” but the policy only affects traditional public schools, not
charter schools, private schools or educational service centers.
Seclusion rooms are intended to restrain children who become violent,
but recent investigations found the rooms are used to punish children or
as a convenience for staff. Currently, Ohio has no state laws
overseeing seclusion rooms, and the Department of Education and Board of
Education provide little guidance and oversight regarding seclusion
The Metropolitan Sewer District of Greater Cincinnati and a
City Council task force have a plan to make Cincinnati’s water
infrastructure a little greener.
A study found Cincinnati hospitals are good with heart
patients but not-so-good with knee surgery. The names of the hospitals
that were looked at were not revealed in the study, however.
An economist at PNC Financial Services Group says 10,000 jobs will be added in Cincinnati in 2013.
Cincinnati-based Procter & Gamble has new details
about its effort to reduce costs and make operations more productive.
The company announced a “productivity council” that will look at “the
next round of productivity improvements.” The company also said it will
reach 4,200 out of 5,700 job cuts by the end of October as part of a $10
billion restructuring program announced in February.
The world just got a little sadder. Chemicals in couches could be making people fatter.On the bright side, we now know how to properly butcher and eat a triceratops.
by German Lopez
In-person early voting is underway in Ohio. Find your nearest polling booth here.
The final debate for Ohio’s U.S. Senate seat is tonight.
Democratic incumbent Sherrod Brown and Republican challenger Josh Mandel
will meet in Cincinnati to continue a feisty exchange of ideas and
sometimes insults. In the last debate, the candidates drew sharp
contrasts on policy, which CityBeat covered in-depth here. The
final debate will be tonight at 7 p.m. on all Ohio NBC news stations,
including WLWT.com. In aggregate polling, Brown is currently up 5.2
points against Mandel.
Want to see what a biased headline from a local newspaper looks like? Here you go, from Business Courier:
Romney win would boost economy, economist says. Strangely enough, the article says re-electing President Barack Obama could also lift the economy, which makes the misleading headline even worse. Unfortunately for the newspaper, Obama is currently leading by 2.1 points in
Ohio against Mitt Romney, and the state will play a pivotal role in the
election. Romney is leading by 0.6 points nationally.
A group is trying to convince Cincinnatians to vote no on Issue 4. The initiative, which is on 2012’s ballot, would extend
City Council terms from two to four years. Supporters of Issue 4 say it
lets City Council focus more on passing laws and less on campaigning,
but opponents say it makes it more difficult to hold City Council
accountable.Ohio Supreme Court Justice Robert Cupp is distancing
himself from a TV ad put out by the Ohio Republican Party that depicts his Democratic opponent, William O’Neill, as sympathetic to rapists.
Liberal blog Plunderbund called the ad “tone deaf,” referencing recent
instances of Republican senatorial candidates turning rape into a
legitimate issue. The Republican Senate candidate for Indiana, Richard
Mourdock, recently said during a debate, “I think that even when life
begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God
intended to happen.” Previously, the Republican Senate candidate for
Missouri, Todd Akin, told reporters when discussing pregnancy caused by
rape, “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to
shut that whole thing down.”
CityBeat looked at some of the benefits and
downsides of green water infrastructure yesterday. Basically, it’s going
to produce more jobs and economic growth, but it’s going to require
long-term commitment and education. Later today, CityBeat will be talking to some city officials of how that green infrastructure can be adopted in Cincinnati.
Hamilton County’s budget is tight, and that means no wage
hike for county workers anytime soon, according to Hamilton County
Commission President Greg Hartmann.
Gov. John Kasich is taking his time in filling an open
Board of Education seat. Rob Nichols, Kasich’s spokesperson, says, “We
just want to get the right person.” But state law requires the seat be
filled within 30 days, and the seat has been vacant for a month.
An Ohio judge said provisional ballots cast in the wrong precinct and polling location must still be counted.Cincinnati-based Procter & Gamble beat Wall Street
expectations, easing concerns from skeptical
investors.Huntington National Bank is relaunching its credit card
business in a move that will produce 250 new jobs, and Greater
Cincinnati is expected to land some of those jobs.
Ohio is getting a little love from Airbus. The aerospace
company will be getting more of its parts from Ohio manufacturers.
Cincinnati-based GE Aviation is already Airbus’ biggest U.S. supplier.
A new health care report found health providers often
cover up mistakes in fear of retaliation. The report also found health
care has been slow at embracing the “culture of safety.” Apparently, strict parents raise conservative kids.
by German Lopez
In-person early voting is underway in Ohio. Find your nearest polling booth here.
Ohio’s unemployment rate dropped to 7.0 percent in
September despite employers cutting 12,800 jobs. The rate is much
lower than September's national unemployment rate of 7.8 percent.
Ohio actually lost jobs in manufacturing, construction, education,
health services, government and other sectors, with some gains in
professional and business services, information services and trade,
transportation and utilities. The new rate is a big improvement from the
8.6 percent unemployment rate in September 2011. This is the last state
unemployment rate Ohioans will see before the Nov. 6 election.
The second debate for Ohio's U.S. Senate seat took place last night. As
usual, Democratic incumbent Sherrod Brown and Republican challenger Josh
Mandel held back no punches. Each candidate mostly focused on attacking
his opponent’s integrity and record, but the men also discussed a
multitude of issues — the economy, China, Obamacare, foreign policy, gay
rights and more. Check out CityBeat’s in-depth coverage of the debate and the policy proposals espoused by the candidates here.
The final presidential debate between President Barack
Obama and Mitt Romney will take place next Monday. The debate will cover foreign
policy. Presumably, the debate will focus a lot on Iran, but Foreign Policy
has an article focusing on five bigger threats to U.S. national
security. Although the debate could be important for substance,
political scientists say debates typically have little-to-no electoral
impact. In aggregate polling, Obama is up 2.4 points in Ohio
and Romney is up one point nationally. Ohio is considered a must-win for Romney, and it could play the role of 2000's Florida.
To make the debate more fun, CityBeat will host a party at MOTR Pub in Over-the-Rhine Monday. Come join the CityBeat
team to watch the debate and live tweet. Councilman Chris Seelbach will
also show up and talk for a bit. If you can’t show up, feel free to
tweet about the debate at home with the hashtag #cbdebate. For more
information, check out the event’s Facebook page.
Ohio Senate Democrats are demanding an investigation into a
voter fraud group. The Democrats say True the Vote (TTV), a
conservative group, is unnecessarily intimidating voters. TTV claims
it’s just fighting voter impersonation fraud, but the reality is that
kind of voter fraud doesn’t seem to exist. A study from the Government
Accountability Office found zero cases of voter impersonation fraud in
the past 10 years. Another study from News21 found 10 cases since 2000,
or less than one case a year.
Meanwhile, a local group is trying to encourage Muslim voters to get educated and vote.
The Cincinnati Police Department is trying to improve
relations with the LGBT community. As part of that effort, the city
hosted a LGBT public safety forum and named the first LGBT liaison
A federal appeals court struck down the federal Defense of
Marriage Act (DOMA), which forbids the recognition of same-sex marriage
at a federal level. The ruling was praised by Ian James, spokesperson
for FreedomOhio, in a statement: “The federal DOMA forbids allowing
governmental recognition of civil marriage. The demise of the federal
DOMA will not resolve Ohio’s ban on marriage equality. For this reason,
we will soldier on, collect our petition signatures and win the right
for committed and loving couples to be married so they can better care
for and protect their families. That is ultimately why marriage matters
and we look to have this issue on the ballot as soon as November 2013.”
With a week left, the United Way of Greater Cincinnati
fundraising campaign has only met 70 percent of its goal. The campaign
acknowledges it’s been a tough year, but campaign chairman David Joyce
says he has been “heartened” by support.
The University of Cincinnati is committing to giving
Cintrifuse $5 million initially and $5 million at a later point.
Cintrifuse is a “startup accelerator,” meaning a company devoted to
helping startup businesses get started.
Ohio health officials urge caution as they monitor a meningitis outbreak.
Ohio’s heating assistance program for low-income
households is starting on Nov. 1. Qualifying for the program is
dependent on income and the size of the household. For example,
one-person households making $5,585 or less in the past three months or
$22,340 or less in the past 12 months are eligible, while four-person
households must be making $11,525 or less in the past three months or
$46,100 or less in the past 12 months. For more information, check out
the press release.
Kentucky is pitching into development at the Purple People
Bridge. The state is boosting a $100 million hotel and entertainment
project on the bridge with a $650,000 grant.
The Boy Scouts’ “perversion files” were released, and some of the sexual molestation cases involve Cincinnati.Science finally has a breakthrough to care about. Scientists invented a strip that ensures pizza and coffee won't burn a person's mouth.
by German Lopez
U.S. Senate candidates engage in second round of attacks
For a full hour Thursday night, Democratic incumbent Sherrod Brown and
Republican challenger Josh Mandel continued their feisty fight for Ohio’s U.S.
Senate seat. For the most part, the debate centered on the candidates’
records and personal attacks, with policy specifics spewing out in between.
Apparently, the barrage of attacks is not what the
candidates had in mind before the debate started. Throughout the debate, both
candidates asked for substance, not attacks. At one point, Brown said, “I
appreciate this clash of ideas. That’s what this debate should be about.” At another
point, Mandel said, “We need less attacking, and we need more policy ideas to
put people back to work.”
These comments came well into the debate. By that time, Mandel
had criticized Brown for “Washington speak” so many times that an
exasperated Brown quipped, “I don’t get this. Every answer is about Washington
Brown also launched his own attacks, which focused on
Mandel’s dishonesty on the campaign trail, which previously earned Mandel a “Pants
on Fire” crown from Cleveland’s The Plain
Dealer, and Mandel, who is also Ohio’s treasurer, missing state treasurer
meetings to run for political office.
But Ohioans have seen enough of the attacks in the hundreds
of campaign ads that have bombarded the state in the past year. Voters probably
want to hear more about how each candidate will affect them, and the candidates
gave enough details to get some idea of where each of them will go.
On economic issues, Brown established the key difference
between the two candidates’ economic policies: Mandel, like most of his
Republican colleagues, believes in the trickle-down theory. The economic theory
says when the rich grow, they can create jobs by hiring more employees and
expanding businesses. In other words, proponents of the theory believe the
success of the rich “trickles down” to the middle class and poor through more
job opportunities. Belief in this theory is also why most Republicans call the
wealthy “job creators.” Under the trickle-down theory, the wealthy are
deregulated and get tax cuts so it’s easier for them to create jobs.
On the other hand, Brown says he supports a middle-out
approach, which focuses on policies that target the middle class. That is how
sustainable employment and growth are attained, according to Brown. Under the
middle-out approach, tax cuts and spending policies target the middle class,
and the wealthy own a higher tax burden to support government programs.
Some economists, like left-leaning Nobel laureate Paul
Krugman, say the trickle-down theory should have been put to rest with the
financial crisis of 2008. After all, deregulation is now credited with being
the primary cause of 2008’s economic crisis. In that context, more deregulation
seems like a bad idea.
Still, Brown’s contrast to Mandel holds true. Brown has
repeatedly called for higher taxes on the rich. In the debate, he touted his
support for the auto bailout and once again mocked Mandel’s promise to not
raise any taxes. These are policies that do end up benefiting the middle class
more than the wealthy. The auto bailout in particular has been credited with
saving thousands of middle-class jobs.
On the other side, Mandel told debate watchers to go to
his website and then offered some quick talking points: simplify the tax code,
end Wall Street bailouts and use Ohio’s natural gas and oil resources “in a
responsible way.” How Mandel wants to simplify the tax code is the issue. On
his website, Mandel says he supports “a flatter, fairer income tax with only
one or two brackets, eliminating almost all of the credits, exemptions and
loopholes.” A study by five leading economists suggests a flat tax model would
greatly benefit the wealthy and actually hurt the well-being of the middle class
and poor. That matches with the trickle-down economic theory.
Another suggestion on Mandel’s website says, “Help job creators. Reduce
capital gains and corporate taxes, and allow for a small business income
deduction.” The small business portion would help some in the middle class, but
an analysis from The Washington Post
found 80 percent of capital gains incomes benefit 5 percent of Americans and
half of all capital gains have gone to the top 0.1 percent of Americans. So a
capital gains tax cut would, again, match the trickle-down economic theory.
What all this means is on economic issues the choice of
candidates depends mostly on what economic theory a voter believes. Brown
believes in focusing economic policies that target the middle class, while
Mandel mostly supports policies that generally support what he calls “job
creators” — or the wealthy.
On partisanship, both sides once again threw out
different ideas. Although he was asked for three ideas, Brown only gave one:
fix the filibuster. The filibuster is a U.S. Senate procedure that allows 41
out of 100 senators to indefinitely halt any laws. The only way to break the
filibuster is by having a supermajority of 60 senators — a rarity in American
politics. Brown said if this rule was removed, a lot more could get done in
Mandel had different ideas for stopping partisan gridlock
in Washington, D.C. He touted his support for No Budget, No Pay, which would require
members of Congress to pass a budget in order to get paid. He also expressed
his support for term limits, saying lifelong politicians only add to the partisanship
in Congress. Then, in a strange twist, Mandel’s last suggestion was to stop
bailouts, which has nothing to do with partisanship or gridlock in Congress.
Then came Obamacare. Brown said he was “proud” of his
vote and continued supporting the law, citing the millions of Americans it will
insure. Meanwhile, Mandel responded to the Obamacare question by saying, “The
federal government takeover of health care is not the answer.”
The fact of the matter is Obamacare is not a “government
takeover of health care.” Far from it. The plan doesn’t even have a public
option that would allow Americans to buy into a public, nonprofit insurance
pool — an idea that actually has majority support in the U.S. Instead,
Obamacare is a series of complicated reforms to the health insurance industry.
There are way too many reforms to list, but the most basic
effect of Obamacare is that more people will be insured. That’s right, in the
supposed “government takeover of health care,” insurance companies actually gain
more customers. That’s the whole point of the individual mandate and the many
subsidies in Obamacare that try to make insurance affordable for all Americans.
Mandel made another misleading claim when he said Obamacare
“stole” from Medicare, with the implication that the cuts hurt seniors
utilizing the program. It is true Obamacare cuts Medicare spending, but the
cuts target waste and payments to hospitals and insurers. It does not directly
The one area with little disagreement also happened to be
the one area with the most misleading: China. It’s not a new trend
for politicians to attack China. The Asian country has become the scapegoat for
all economic problems in the U.S. But in this election cycle, politicians have
brandished a new line to attack China: currency manipulation. This, as Ohioans
have likely heard dozens of times, is why jobs are leaving Ohio and why the amount of
manufacturing jobs has dropped in the U.S. In fact, if politicians are taken
at their word, it’s probably the entire reason the U.S. economy is in a bad
In the Brown-Mandel debate, Brown repeatedly pointed to
his currency manipulation bill, which he claims would put an end to Chinese
currency manipulation. Mandel also made references to getting tough on China’s
One problem: China is no longer manipulating its currency.
There is no doubt China greatly massaged its currency in the past to gain an
unfair advantage, but those days are over, says Joseph Gagnon, an economist
focused on trade and currency manipulation. Gagnon argues the problem with
currency manipulation is no longer a problem with China; it’s a problem with
Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Switzerland and Saudi Arabia.
If the U.S. wants to crack down on currency manipulation, those countries
should be the targets, not China, he argues.
In other words, if currency manipulation is a problem,
Mandel was right when he said that countries other than China need to be targeted. To Brown’s credit, his currency manipulation bill targets any country engaging in currency manipulation, not just China. The problem
seems to be the misleading campaign rhetoric, not proposed policy.
The debate went on to cover many more issues. Just like
the first debate, Brown typically took the liberal position and Mandel
typically took the conservative position on social issues like gay rights and
abortion. Both touted vague support for small businesses. Each candidate
claimed to support military bases in Ohio, although Mandel specified he wants
bases in Europe closed down to save money. As far as debates go, the contrast
could not be any clearer, and the candidates disagreed on nearly every issue.
The final debate between the two U.S. Senate candidates
will take place in Cincinnati on Oct. 25.
by German Lopez
In-person early voting is underway in Ohio. Find your nearest polling booth here.
In case you missed it, CityBeat is hosting a party
for the final presidential debate at MOTR Pub in Over-the-Rhine. There
will be live tweeting, and Councilman Chris Seelbach will be on-hand to discuss this year's key issues. Even if you can’t come, make sure to live tweet during the
presidential debate using the hashtag #cbdebate. More info can be found
at the event’s Facebook page.
A new study found redistricting makes
government even more partisan. The Fair Vote study says redistricting
divides government into clear partisan boundaries by eliminating
competitive districts. In Ohio, redistricting is handled by elected
officials, and they typically use the process for political advantage by
redrawing district boundaries to ensure the right demographics for
re-election. Issue 2 attempts to combat this problem. If voters approve
Issue 2, redistricting will be taken out of the hands of elected
officials and placed into the hands of an independent citizens
commission. The Republican-controlled process redrew the First
Congressional District, which includes Cincinnati, by adding Warren
County to the district. Since Warren County typically votes Republican,
this gives an advantage to Republicans in the First Congressional
District. CityBeat previously covered the redistricting reform effort here.
Democratic incumbent Sherrod Brown and Republican
challenger Josh Mandel will face off in another debate for Ohio’s seat
in the U.S. Senate today. The two candidates met Monday in a feisty
exchange in which the men argued over their records and policies. Brown and
Mandel will face off at 8 p.m. The debate will be streamed live on
10TV.com and Dispatch.com. Currently, the race is heavily in Brown’s
favor; he is up 5.2 points in aggregate polling.
Cincinnati is moving forward with its bike sharing
program. A new study found the program will attract 105,000 trips in its
first year, and it will eventually expand to 305,000 trips a year. With
the data in hand, Michael Moore, director of the Department of
Transportation and Engineering, justified the program to The Business Courier:
“We want Cincinnatians to be able to incorporate cycling into their
daily routine, and a bike share program will help with that. Bike share
helps introduce citizens to active transportation, it reduces the number
of short auto trips in the urban core, and it promotes sustainable
Cincinnati’s school-based health centers are showing promise. Two more are scheduled to open next year.Echoing earlier comments by Ohio Secretary of State Jon
Husted, Ohio Senate Republicans are now talking about using the lame
duck session to take up a bill that would set standard early voting
hours and tighten voting requirements. Republicans are promising broad
consensus, but Democrats worry the move could be another Republican ploy
at voter suppression. Republicans defend the law by saying it would
combat voter fraud, but in-person voter fraud isn’t a real issue. A recent study
by the Government Accountability Office found zero examples of in-person
voter fraud in the last 10 years. Another investigation by News21 had
similar results. Republicans have also justified making voting tougher
and shorter by citing racial politics and costs.
A Hamilton County judge’s directive is causing trouble. Judge Tracie Hunter sent out a directive to
hire a second court administrator because she believes the current
county administrator is only working for the other juvenile judge. The
county government is trying to figure out if Hunter has the authority to hire a new
This year’s school report card data held up a long-term
trend: Public schools did better than charter schools. In Ohio, the
average charter school meets slightly more than 30 percent of the
state’s indicators, while the average traditional public school meets 78
percent of the state’s indicators, according to findings from the
education policy fellow at left-leaning Innovation Ohio. The data for
all Ohio schools can be found here.
Some in the fracking industry are already feeling a bit of
a bust. The gas drilling business is seeing demand rapidly drop, and
that means $1 billion lost in profits. CityBeat wrote in-depth about the potential fracking bust here.
Ohio student loan debt is piling up. A report by Project
on Student Debt says Ohio has the seventh-highest student loan debt in
the nation with an average of $28,683 in 2011. That number is a 3.5
percent increase from 2010.
What if Abraham Lincoln ran for president today?
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind could soon be reality. Scientists are developing a drug that removes bad memories during sleep.
by Ben L. Kaufman
Media musings on Cincinnati and beyond
• Look at the rare collection of Enquirer photos at the National Underground Freedom Center. They’ve been reprinted and for many, reprinted copies of original pages are nearby. The show is part of the much larger Fotofocus at many venues. Unfortunately, the Enquirer chose the Freedom Center which charges $12 admission; many Fotofocus displays are in admission-free venues such as the YWCA or UC’s Gallery on Sycamore. I think the oldest photo is from 1948, a one-legged veteran leading a parade to commemorate the end of WWI 30 years earlier. Many are by photographers with whom I worked and whose images I displayed large on local pages during weekends when I edited. Some are recent, by photographers I admire but know only from their images in the paper. To its credit, the Enquirer exhibit includes unpublished photos of which the photographers are justly proud. First among them is Gary Landers’ image of a homicide victim illuminated by an officer’s flashlight behind Landers’ home. Missing are two images that remind me of what photojournalism is about. One is Gerry Wolters’ stunning — and in its time, controversial Pulitzer contender — of a dead African-American lying in a pool of his blood on the Avondale street where he’d been shot by a bailbondsman. Standing over him is the dead man’s young son. Some readers said our photo would ruin the child’s life. No, I told callers, if anything would it was his father’s killing. The other missing photo was one that wasn’t published by the paper: Glenn Hartong’s firefighter carrying a toddler from a burning house. I’m told that editors flinched because they didn’t know if the child survived. So what? That faux humanity illustrates Enquirer execs’ fear of readers tossing their cookies into the Cheerios. Such touchy-feely screening sanitizes what can be a nasty, brutish and short life and lifestyle in our region. Life Magazine published Hartong’s photo across two pages and someone posted it in the Enquirer newsroom coffee alley. It doesn’t get better than that. In the Good Old Days, before self-inflicted sensitivity, the Enquirer had a unapologetic double standard for violent images. If the victim were local, the photo might be spiked to avoid upsetting readers. An example was the half-excavated body of a recognizable young construction worker suffocated in a trench cave-in. Distant victims — executions, genocide or bodies in floods/earthquakes — were likelier to be displayed. And even before the Good Old Days, Ed Reinke’s iconic photo of a line of shrouded bodies from the 1977 Beverly Hills supper club fire gave a sense of magnitude to the disaster that our best reporting couldn’t. It’s the first photo in the exhibit, preceded by a warning that some images could be troubling. They should be. I don’t know if Reinke’s photo would be used today. • Ohio’s Sherrod Brown is among the Democratic senators targeted by out-of-state billionaire GOP donors. He’s an unapologetic liberal and the Progressive monthly made Brown’s re-election battle its latest cover story. A point I’d missed elsewhere is the unusual state FOP endorsement for a Democrat but Brown stood with officers against Republican legislation stripping them of most of their bargaining rights. The Progressive story includes a Mason-area jeweler whose health insurer refused to pay for an advanced cancer treatment. Husband and wife say Reps. Jean Schmidt and John Boehner brushed off their pleas to intervene with the insurer. A Brown staffer — who said she didn’t care what party the Republican couple belongs to — spent the weekend successfully persuading the insurer to cover the potentially life-saving $100,000 procedure. More recently, reporters on Diane Rehm’s public radio show estimated SuperPACs are spending $20 million to defeat Brown and suggested it might not suffice. As a DailyBeast.com columnist notes, polls show Republican Josh Mandel probably won’t even carry his home Jewish community in Cleveland.• That same Progressive names 26 billionaires and their known donations to Republican and other rightwing causes in this election year. No Cincinnati-area men or women made the list but it’s reasonable to infer that some of the men listed donated secretly to Super PACs opposing Ohio’s Sherrod Brown’s re-election (see above). • As one of that dying breed — an Enquirer subscriber who prefers print — my morning paper is missing a lot. Customer service provided a free online copy and promised to deliver the missing paper paper the next day. Next day? Another customer service rep said only replacement Sunday Enquirers are delivered the same day. Message? Don’t stiff advertisers. • The ad on the top half of the back page of the Oct. 11 Enquirer Local section invited everyone to a Romney-Ryan “victory event” on Oct. 13 at Lebanon’s Golden Lamb. The bold, black ad headline on the bottom half of the page was “The #1 dishwasher is also a best value.” • Want to know more about Sarah Jones, the former Ben-Gal and school teacher who admitted to sex with a 17-year-old student? Among others, London’s Daily Mail has enough to satisfy anyone who doesn’t need to see a sex tape. • Don’t piss off Turks. That’s a lesson lots of people have learned to their pain over the generations. No one will be surprised if Turkish forces invade Syria to end Syrian shelling of Turkish civilians. Turkish troops have gone into Iraq to deal with threatening rebellious Turkish Kurds seeking sanctuary there. Turkey is a NATO member and NATO says it will defend Turkey if required. A couple English-language websites can complement the snippets about this aspect of Syria’s civil war: aljazeera.com from the Gulf and hurriyetdailynews.com from Turkey. • The New York Times stepped back from the slippery slope of allowing subjects of news stories to say what news is fit to print. It allowed some sources to review and possibly change their quotes before reporters used them. In July, Times reporter Jeremy Peters blew the whistle on the Times and other major news media. The alternative to quote approval often was the threat of no interview. Initially, the Times defended the practice. No longer. Jimromenesko.com reported the change. Times executive editor Jill Abramson told Romenesko that quote approval “puts so much control over the content of journalism in the wrong place . . . We need a tighter policy.”Romenesko quoted a recent Times memorandum that said “demands for after-the-fact quote approval by sources and their press aides have gone too far . . . The practice risks giving readers a mistaken impression that we are ceding too much control over a story to our sources. In its most extreme form, it invites meddling by press aides and others that goes far beyond the traditional negotiations between reporter and source over the terms of an interview . . . So starting now, we want to draw a clear line on this. Citing Times policy, reporters should say no if a source demands, as a condition of an interview, that quotes be submitted afterward to the source or a press aide to review, approve or edit.”Good. Here’s my question: What happens when a beat reporter can’t get an important interview after citing Times policy? Access is everything. Few people who want media attention will turn away the Times, but editors can get weird when reporters can’t get a desired interview. • Daily papers own and are members of the Associated Press. In their rush to be first, AP reporters used social media to get out the news and scooped member papers whose editors hadn’t seen the stories yet. That went over badly in today’s breathlessly competitive world. AP promises it won’t use social media until after breaking news is sent to members and non-member subscribers. • It’s time for the news media to abandon “reverse discrimination” when the purported victim is white and English-speaking. It’s an issue again because the U.S. Supreme Court is reconsidering university racial admission criteria. A young woman claims the University of Texas rejected her because she is white. Discrimination is discrimination; someone is favored and someone is rejected. I won’t anticipate the court’s decision but the ethical issue is whether the community’s or the individual’s compelling interests are paramount when discrimination becomes policy and practice. Moreover, demographic trends could make “reverse discrimination” obvious nonsense if Anglos become a minority among newly-hyphenated and darker-skinned Americans and immigrants from Latin America, Africa and Asia. • We’ve seen three debates, two presidential, one veepish. The third was Tuesday or last night if you’re reading this on Wednesday. I missed it; I was fishing in Canada. Other journalists will tell you what you heard really means. I’ll catch up when I get home. At least the Biden-Ryan contest was lively and the moderator asked smart, sharp questions and kept the politicians under control. • The vice president and challenger had disturbingly weird expressions when they listened. Biden’s smile recalled a colleague’s remark after waterskiing with me: “I saw Ben smile and he wasn’t baring his teeth.” Worse, Biden’s expression could appear to be a smirk. Ryan’s intensity reminded me of a predator wondering about its next meal. Neither appearance had anything to do with the substance of the debate but it’s how we tend to judge people we don’t know. My question: Is this really how we choose the man one heartbeat away from leadership of The Free World (whatever the hell that means)?• Viewers — and these performances are TV events — worry me. Too many tell reporters and pollsters that their votes can be influenced by how the candidates came across in the debates. The president and vice president do not belong to debating societies. This isn’t Britain’s House of Commons. The ability to “win” a televised encounter has little or nothing to do with the job for which the men are contesting. Winners won’t debate until and unless they seek office again. • News media would be in doldrums if there weren’t stories to write before and after each debate. They burn space and time when little else is happening - if you discount the economy, pestilence, war, famine, etc. • Stories I didn’t read beyond the headlines. One’s from HuffingtonPost.com: "Lindsay Lohan Reveals Her Pick For President"The other is from the Thedailybeast.com:"LINDSAY LOHAN PICKS MITT! & OTHER TOXIC ENDORSEMENTS"