Candidates of Character: The Christian takedown of Ohio?

(Also posted at

I was fortunate to hear the great Chris Hedges on Morning Sedition this morning during my morning drive.  Hedges, you will recall, authored the excellent examination of war and journalism called War is a Force That Gives Us Meaning.  He has recently turned his attention to the politics of the Christian right in this country (see his excellent May piece in Harpers').  Today he let loose something we all need to look at.

 J. Kenneth Blackwell, the blatantly machiavellian Ohio Secretary of State and vote suppressor extraordinaire in the 2004 elections is running for Gov to replace the term limited and oh-so-popular incumbent Bob Taft (literally a man of conviction-of misdemeanors).  Hedges notes that Blackwell is essentially promising the Dobson crowd that he'll become chief theocrat of the state with their help, and the evidence is subtly hidden on his own Secretary of State web site under the banner ``Ohio Center for Civic Character.'' At first read this sounds like something reasonable and admirable, written in secular terms that resonate with the American character (responsibility, freedom, individuality) while remaining consistent with the kinds of Christian values TPMCafe readers might associate with say Jimmy Carter.

The benign seeming bullet points carry the whiff of theocratic totalitarianism.  We should all take note as Hedges said, and work to take down Blackwell himself.  

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CA election paranoia redux

Last week I wrote post about my paranoia on the CA elections owing to the lack of paper trails on voting machines until January. I am most happy that I have been proven wrong, and the victory of Kaine in VA suggests further we are maybe moving into an era where we can begin to trust the integrity of the vote again.

My post got little attention, probably deservedly so in retrospect given the spectacular rejection of Ah-nold.

However, I hope sincerely that we remain vigilant and push for a national paper trail.

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Wallowing in CA election paranoia

OK, I welcome encouragement here.  My depressing scenario is this:

Despite Arnold's tanking numbers and the increasing odds the electorate will vote down his initiatives on Tuesday, there remains the fact that large numbers of CA voters are in counties with electronic machines.  The law requiring a paper trail goes into effect in January.  Since the numbers on his iniatives are relatively close, and since they used a scandal which apparently was valid to drive Kevin Shelley (D) from the secretary of state office, there is no one to protect against electronic vote theft.  Arnold ``passes'' his initiatives, the flip from the Field poll is passed off as low turnout by all but Arnold partisans, he gains momentum, and we are stuck with his power grab and next year four more years of der Gropenfuhrer.  

Please tell me I am wrong.

Oh, and for an added treat, Donna Frye loses the SD mayoral election in a close vote also attributed to low turnout by Frye supporters.  

My two bits on Hackett vs. Brown

I lived in Ohio for 10 years, and you could paraphrase one of the light bulb jokes as follows: ``How many ohioans does it take to change a light bulb?''
``None--they never change.''

Sherrod Brown is an admirable politician and a true progressive who has won statewide office in Ohio before, but in a rather minor position.  Paul Hackett, by proving that he could capture nearly 50% of the vote in one of the most conservative districts in Ohio looks like the better bet for statewide office in Ohio in my view.  

More below the fold.

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