Presidential Slogans: 2008, the year of the fully marketed president

I’ve had a lot on my mind today (fourth post)- and one of them is the difference between the McCain “Country First” slogan and the Obama “Yes we can.”

Couldn’t be a bigger difference for an example of old school, top-down marketing and new-school bottom up.

You could just about swap “My way” for McCain and “Have it your way” for Obama.

Maybe Obama should change his to “People first” to counter McCain’s “Country first”- but, reacting to McCain is the last thing he needs to do from the drivers seat.

Of course, McCain could change his slogan to “Corporations first” and be right on his money.

If anyone was afraid of the comparison of Obama’s affect on the masses- with comparisons to other charismatic leaders who didn’t turn out to be so benevolent, the whole “Country First” has me almost ready to slap on jack boots and throw one arm up while clutching my belt buckle.

Our Constitution was first and foremost about people first. I never feared John McCain before- but, I’m starting to wonder now.

Choices: are we the sum of our experience?

The main reason I take the time to write and maintain this blog (besides venting) is so that when it comes time for someone to choose to vote for me or against me- my thoughts are here for them to examine in my own words. In fact, I believe it should be a requirement for anyone who wants to run for office to spend at least a year blogging before being allowed to file to run.

So, when John McCain picked his running mate, to the shock of many, you would expect her to be fully vetted. Picking a VP is a very important choice, since should you die in office, this is the person who will step in and take your place. Sarah Palin doesn’t cut it in my book. I found this on Andrew Sullivan’s blog (thanks John) and although it looks like it’s a quote from somewhere else- I think he constructed it- since he doesn’t give attribution. It’s dead on the money in my book:

I’ve voted a straight Republican ticket every year of my life since 1975, when I first came of voting age, but I was stunned and horrified by McCain’s choice of Palin. I simply cannot even consider voting for McCain after this choice, which speaks loudly of his own selfishness and fundamental frivolousness.

So I was shocked when I turned to the conservative blogs looking for others who shared my dismay and found a celebration going on. They really honestly believe that Palin’s “inexperience” and Obama’s “inexperience” are equivalent. I have had no luck at all in the past 24 hours trying to explain that Obama is quite obviously an impressive man (with whom I disagree on almost every major issue) with extraordinary qualities of organization, discipline and leadership. I see nothing in Palin’s record to suggest that she has any such qualities.

He is a man who has spent his adult life thinking serious thoughts about serious issues and having serious conversations about them with other serious, well-informed people; while Palin quite as clearly has done none of those things. He was the president of the Harvard Law Review; she was the point guard on her high school basketball team.

He has surrounded himself in his campaign with world-class people (with whom, again, I disagree on almost every issue); and though I am doubtless an elitist and snob for saying so, I doubt that she has even met a half-dozen world-class people in her lifetime.

While Obama might do a hundred things as President that I believe are bad for the country, I am confident that he would surround himself with experienced, informed, competent advisors and that he would make no world-destroying blunders. I cannot say the same about Palin and, in view of what this choice reveals about McCain’s character and judgment, I cannot say the same of him either.

The Palin pick says much more about McCain than it does about Palin (all it says about her is that she didn’t have the good sense to turn it down). What it says about McCain is that he is more interested in politics than policy, more interested in campaigning than governing, tactical when he should be strategic, and reckless when he should be considered.

The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan.

If we had these candidate sites to reference, instead of having to depend on the media to “deliver” their filtered perspectives of candidates- or worse, depend on the :30 tv spot and all its mudslinging soundbite glory, we might have a better (certainly more cost effective) system of elections.

For right now though, the idea of Sarah Palin as VP scares me for the reasons above. In our short 232 year history as a country, we’ve only had one accidental President- Gerald Ford, who was iminently more qualified than Sarah Palin. I don’t care how much of an outsider, maverick, defender of the commoner she’s being painted, the fundamental issue is does the sum of her experience qualify her to be President.

To me, clearly the answer is no. I consider it my civic duty to work against this travesty of a ticket. Please, join me in making sure that our country doesn’t sink to electing PTA members/point gaurds to our highest office. If Palin had a brain, she would reconsider, withdraw and put in a few more years as governor- and then maybe, she could be considered seriously for the position.

Right now, she’s an untested, unknown and the sum of her experience evident.

Your thoughts?

Historic South Park scores with Walk Score – the walkability index

Although I wouldn’t call a closed Sherwin Williams store a “hardware store”- South park scores 71 of 100 on the walkability score. With more than a few of my neighbors walking to work Downtown, to UD, to MVH- it is possible to live in South Park without a car. If and when, Kroger builds their new grocery, we may be one step further away from being considered a ghetto (the current Kroger is still a reminder of our perceived stature).

Take a look at and see how your neighborhood ranks.

Walk Score: 71 out of 100 — Very Walkable

Walk Score – Helping homebuyers, renters, and real estate agents find houses and apartments in great neighborhoods..

As gas prices continue to rise, walkscores could be a competitive advantage in home valuation.

The site isn’t particularly web 2.0, with no sharing/embedding settings- which would be great for Realtors to add to listings. Some of the provided links for South Park mystify me:

Dayton Gym Club isn’t a park. It’s not even a Gym- but it scores for both. Closest park is Burns Jackson next to 35 behind Emerson Academy. Nearest gym- probably Drakes.

I’ve never heard of Craig library- it’s in MVH apparently. I’d consider the Downtown public library the closest library. Morningside Books isn’t exactly a bookstore- it’s by appointment, and all Civil War, all the time.

The best part of Walkscore- is it identifies Halal International Grocery as our grocer- instead of Kroger.

Even if you don’t care about walkability- it may help some of you learn more about what’s around you.

I am not a lawyer referral service

Every time someone thinks they have an opportunity to sue the city of Dayton, they call me (sometimes well before it is appropriate to call).

In the hope that they look on my site before looking for my phone number (yes, it’s in the phone book, no, this doesn’t mean you should call me) here is my download on lawyers: most of them suck.

When I was arrested for my public protest about secret meetings of the Dayton City Commission– I had called the police chief the day before, I had planned for someone to bail me out if needed, but, I hadn’t done the most important thing: find a laywer in advance.

Would have been hard in this town- most lawyers don’t like constitutional law, they prefer chasing ambulances, messy divorces or contract law.

I called Anne Whiteman who was at the time the local chapter president of the ACLU to ask for recommendations- she suggested Ovington and Greger. When I called them, they seemed really happy (lawyers aren’t allowed to call and solicit business directly). They said they had been watching the news that night and thought what a great case (they were married at the time). After I came in to meet them, with TV cameras in tow on that Friday morning (I was arrested on a Wednesday morning) they seemed a bit distant.

BTW: The ACLU office in Cleveland wouldn’t ever return my calls or provide any assistance. However, I heard they later used my case as a citation for protecting the Klu Klux Klan in Cincinnati- which sucks eggs.

Monday morning I got a letter blowing me off as their potential client in the mail (after the case settled I faxed them a copy of that letter with a copy of the check- with a big “oops” on the letter). Scratch lawyers 1 and 2.

[note: Ovington is now a judge, Greger’s last public case I saw was defending a WSU professor who was e-mailing a cop from work thinking he was talking to a 14 year old girl, thankfully, he lost the case- although I’m not a big fan of these entrapment cases].

Next up was an attorney out of Cincinnati. He was a nice guy, had gone back to school to become a lawyer at 40- and had won a case against the City of Cincinnati for ripping of the citizens on their water- while giving discounts to companies). He gave a law student a task of researching the case (apparently this is quite common among Constitutional law rights type lawyers- they have students do all their bitch work- pay them peanuts- and bill big for doing nothing) and he wrote the basis of what would become my brief in the criminal case. However, I had 2 suits- the criminal charges which I had to beat- and the civil case which depended on winning the criminal. He didn’t do criminal.

Had to find a criminal lawyer. Asked Chuck Lowe (yes, the father of Rob and Chad Lowe) for a recommendation. Enter, Dana Cole who then worked for Chuck. Dana worked the hardest of all the attorneys I ended up paying, and got paid the least (yes, he based his brief on the student research, but, he still had to do prep for 2 days of depositions and be on his game for at least 8 hours in court- more on this shortly).

Dana is now a law professor at the University of Akron- so he’s not available now either. The city attorney, John Scaccia, who made an idiot of himself in court, first with his 50 page “briefs” (the limit was 30) and secondly- with his pompous manner in court (at one point the judge had to ask him to face the judge and address him- not the gallery or the TV cameras- at another, as he’s fumbling with his papers- he turned to the stenographer and asked to borrow a stapler) is available- but I wouldn’t recommend him unless I really didn’t like you.

Dana used to teach at the Jerry Spence ranch/lawyer summer school out West. Spence was known for his maverick winning ways. Dana was a smooth operator in court, checking off his wins on his neatly outlined questioning cues from his legal yellow pad. When he had then Mayor Mike Turner on the stand- his questions about how Turner claimed to “fear for his life and the safety of the people in the room” with this “masked terrorist” in the room- and then the rolling of the video tape of him snickering on the dais- and watching Turner twist and squirm on the stand made the entire case worth it.

It was after this performance that I was given 10 minutes to decide if I’d drop the right to sue in the civil case in exchange for the city dropping charges. I agreed in three. Scaccia took an hour, earning the wrath of Judge Dan Gehres and wouldn’t agree to let me go without me pleading guilty to one of their 4 bullshit fourth degree misdemeanor charges.

This was where the Cincinnati attorney showed he was lacking a spine and any faith in this case. Time to get another attorney for the civil case.

However, I would have had a lot of time to find one, thanks to Dan Gehres sitting on the case for almost 9 months, running out the time table I had to file the civil case. This is where I lost all respect for Dan Gehres and refuse to vote for him. After all that time- all his judgement was an added 2 lines to the end of Dana’s brief. He took nine months to write 2 sentences and decide the case. Unfortunately, this kind of bullshit happens all the time, and voters have no clue as to why or why not they should vote for a judge. Voting for judges is the ultimate perversion of our “democratic system” but, that too, is a rant for another day.

Enter Jeff Silverstein, who still doesn’t have a website. If it wasn’t for his assistant, Leisel, I wouldn’t have had a lawyer. He took the civil case, which involved writing a brief. Apparently, Jeff didn’t feel up to it without help- so we retained yet another lawyer (I’ve lost count) to help out.

We bring in Richard Saphire, the grand legal mind of the UD law school (click the link- unfortunately, back when this case was going, we didn’t have Google). Professors don’t typically take on cases or practice law, they hire on as consultants, make their students do the heavy lifting, then charge outrageously, which is exactly what Richard did. He worked the least, got paid the most. Jan Konya was the student who did the hard work. I have no idea on how to find her now. I don’t think I met her during the course of the case.

Jeff Silverstein, armed with a brief from Saphire, had to manage more than actual lawyer. There was only one other appearance in court, in the brand new courtroom at the UD law school. It was standing room only for an appeal of the city’s continued fight. Each side got 15 minutes, Dana was again doing the arguing against Scaccia. We won, with Saphire sitting next to me and not saying anything.

In retrospect, Jeff made a huge mistake in putting a dollar figure on the civil case, asking for a million dollars, when no figure was needed. It was a PR gaff, that had I known more about how this all worked I would have chosen not to attach any number at all.

In the end, the check came to me and Jeff Silverstein. It was a settlement for $100,000. Most of it went to the lawyers. I spent 2.5 years stuck in a legal case. I lost all my corporate work in Dayton and ended up labeled a gadfly, nutjob and who knows what else. It hurt my business and those who worked for me. Turner got off with a teflon coating- nothing stuck to him, even though he was the driving force in the city’s case according to all of my sources.

I won 5 times in court, but ultimately lost in the court of public opinion. No one in Dayton cared that the City Commission was meeting illegally. No one cared that they were discussing the end of citizens being able to speak at commission meetings. No one cared that this was one of the reasons their city was slipping into the shithole. No one cared except me.

The lawyers all got paid. This is why, no matter what you think you may win in a lawsuit, I can truly say is that you are kidding yourself, the only guaranteed winner is the lawyer- you are secondary, as are our rights and our laws in this game we call law.

So, if you need a lawyer to sue the city, don’t call me- call someone who cares- just good luck with this cast of characters. One day, I’ll tell you more about “electing judges”- but that’s not something that will help me sleep in on Sunday morning.

For the record- unless you’ve slept in my house, I’ve slept in your house, or you work with me, please, never call between 10pm and 9am.

Denver UniGov! [or, why do I continue to beat a dead horse]

Dayton could be a big meaningful city once again. Very easily. Columbus, Indianapolis, Louisville have all seen the light- and Denver too.

In Dayton, we can’t even cooperate on a 911 consolidation. If there was ever a natural disaster- we’d still have several different dispatch centers- all having to try to communicate with each other, as well as the people in the field.

We voted to pay a higher sales tax to fund RTA too- but, instead of a robust modern transport system, we’ve got buses that run into people pushing cars– and are cutting routes, even as ridership grows. Our first attempt at light rail is getting railroaded because of cost estimates even as the need to wean our selves from foreign oil and the auto addiction become painfully obvious.

By comparison- Denver, a city that’s been growing- despite missing the one key element for life that we’ve got in abundance (water)- has UniGov, a Light Rail System- and the same problems with education that we have:

Colorado Taxpayers actually voted to pay a higher sales tax to build a light rail system that will span the region. It’s a point of pride as you can hear in this song Tom Clark wrote when part of the system — called T-rex — was completed.

CLARK: Hooray, T-rex you’re finally finished. How’d we ever build something so big? On budget and ahead of the schedule. Let’s tell the folks at Boston’s Big Dig.

If Denver’s economy is the futuristic success story Tom Clark would have you believe, it’s because of two things: A highly educated workforce, due mostly to outsiders coming to work in the high-tech industries that dot Denver’s landscape and, says former mayor Federico Pena, a regional mentality.

Dozens of cities across hundreds of miles all consider themselves part of the same community.

PENA: We probably have more metropolitan-wide districts of one kind or another than any other part of the United States.

For instance, unlike, say, New York, there’s one regional transit authority spanning numerous municipalities and governed by one body.

There’s similar regional cooperation in everything from sewage to the arts — and, of course, it helps that the whole region falls within the borders of just one state.

But there’s another big reason to work together, says Steve McMillan, business editor of the Denver Post.

STEVE MCMILLAN: There are no major cities for hundreds and hundreds of miles. Right here along the front range, we are an economy unto ourselves. Denver stands alone.

Perhaps the most futuristic things about Colorado are its problems. There’s not a lot of water around here, and ever more consumers, thanks to a rapidly growing population.

And there’s a real worry about the state’s crumbling education system.

Colorado’s libertarian streak led to the passage of a law that makes raising money for local education difficult.

And everyone I spoke with — including Colorado’s biggest cheerleaders — said if the state doesn’t start educating its own children and growing its own talent pool, its economy will suffer.

Marketplace: Denver’s ambitions are a mile high.

Sure, John McCain announced his running mate in Dayton- but, there will be some idiots that will say- no, he announced in Fairborn. Same idiots wanted to call it the Fairborn Peace Accords (technically, since WPAFB is a city unto itself- it should have been the WPAFB Peace accords).

At some point, we have to come together (and I certainly don’t just mean Washington Township and Centerville) if we hope to be significant. There are great things happening in this city- but, because of our pettiness, we can’t seem to get the big picture.

How can we be a part of a global economy with a Mayor that says (and I hope this quote from the front page of the DDN on Aug 29 is a misquote) after the Obama acceptance speech “The messages of hope and that American can change from the way it has been was demandingly given.”

How long can we be a laughing stock?

How long can we continue to act like a bunch of small gangs when the rest of the world is fighting with armys?

In November of 09, we should be voting for a Mayor of all of Dayton- not just the city of. It’s time.

Throwing good money after good.

The State of Ohio offered GM $56 million dollars to keep Moraine General Assembly (the truck plant) open. Luckily, even as stupid as the GM leadership is, they turned the State down. 2,400 GM workers and thousands of others who support the plant will lose their jobs. Yes, it sucks.

But, why invest in yesterday?

$56 million could open up a plant building scooters in the USA- two wheels and a small motor of gas sipping, OPEC flipping off, commuting fun. That’s right- scooters. If just 10% of the population of the US traded in their SUV’s for scooters for the ride to and from work- just a few days a week, we’d be able to turn off the spigot of oil dependence. Higher MPG fleet standards for cars won’t do it. Scooters will. They’ll also take up less parking spaces, do less damage to roads and bridges, and at least the people on scooters won’t be driving and texting (hopefully).

And since the plant is so big, and scooters aren’t that hard to make- the rest of it can start making light rail train cars which could also help in the fight against our dependence on fossil fuels.

If Ohio wants to lead, grow jobs, and start seeing economic and population growth, we need to be looking forward with our investments instead of backward. We need to back companies that do see the writing on the wall, instead of ignoring it for years, and we need to say goodbye to GM, which for years, has done little to integrate itself into our local economy other than bleed it to death slowly with one plant closing after another.

Barack Obama pledged to cut our dependence on foreign oil in a decade. This is the first step to how we do it.

President Sarah Palin?

John McCain is old. Being president is tough. If he is to fall over, he’s picked a real experienced backstop to have her finger on the button: Sarah Palin, Governor of Alaska.

All I can say, is Joe Biden just got an easy debate schedule.

John McCain’s central and best argument in this campaign is that Barack Obama simply lacks the experience to be President of the United States. And now John McCain, who is a cancer survivor who turns 72 years old today, is picking a vice presidential nominee who has been governor of a small state for less than two years and prior to that was mayor of a town with roughly one-thirtieth of the citizens that Barack Obama represented when he was a state senator in Illinois.

Whatever you think of Barack Obama’s qualifications to be Vice Presidential, Palin is manifestly less qualified

Talking Points Memo.

I respect John McCain for a lot of things, but, considering he could have picked a high-powered woman from business like E-bay’s Meg Whitman or the former CEO of HP, Carly Fiorina, I have to wonder- what’s he been smoking? Sarah admits she’s smoked pot and inhaled. Lordy, how times have changed!

And, most significantly- McCain is speaking in Dayton Ohio today to make the announcement- at the Nutter Center. McCain picks one of Forbes 10 fastest dying cities to make the death of his campaign official and lightning quick. Do they get do-overs on vice presidential picks?

If Education pays?

More thoughts from yesterdays WSU Regional Summit:

Considering you can’t teach at WSU without a PhD. I find it refreshing that the person they put in charge of all higher education for the State of Ohio doesn’t have a PhD- and when I said that- you could hear the snickers in the crowd. But, I like Eric Fingerhut (full disclosure- I used to eat lunch in HS with his little sister Lisa) and think he’s on the right track.

Ohio is reclaiming its heritage as a center of innovation, Board of Regents Chancellor Eric D. Fingerhut said Wednesday, Aug. 27, at Wright State University’s second annual summit on the region’s future.

“As we reclaim our leadership in higher education, we will be the engines of growth that build the next great Ohio century,” he said in presenting the University System of Ohio’s Master Plan to about 160 state and regional leaders.

Fingerhut: Education fuels Ohio’s future.

However, to me it seems we need the education chancellor to go from Pre-K to Post Grad. For one, it’s a lot cheaper to teach toddlers to read, than to try to teach advanced math and languages to kids who can’t. Every dollar invested in pre-k is worth a whole lot more over the course of a complete education. Eric agreed with me on that point, but, Ohio still can’t comply with the Ohio Supreme Court mandate to fix our inequitable school funding system.

So- later, it gave me great pleasure to ask former Lt. Governor and Head “Economic Development Officer” of the State, Bruce Johnson– why is it that “economic development” plans almost always offer property tax breaks which hurt school budgets. In typical Republican double-speak he started talking about how they only cut taxes on the “Improved value” so it’s really not cutting- just maintaining, and that companies are supposed to make “payments in lieu of taxes” to school systems.

Well, two gotcha’s there Mr. Econ Development (yet failed econ 101):

  • If the business brings new jobs, residents- and hopefully – school age children to town (as all good “economic development” projects should) the schools get increased enrollment and costs with no increase in revenue. This is called an unfunded mandate.
  • The Mercer County Combined schools person that came up to me afterward and told me the second part: it used to be that the “payments in lieu of taxes” weren’t counted toward their income- so money wasn’t deducted from State aid. Which gave the schools/State a win-win. Now, they deduct the payments. Yeah, Republican doublespeak hard at work.

If, as Bruce Johnson says- “education pays” – why aren’t we offering $56 million to the schools instead of to bail GM out for being idiots? Wouldn’t those dollars invested in kids- give us the bigger better workforce of tomorrow, instead of investing in a company run by highly paid idiots? (I’m going to write something else about this later – so more to come).

If we’d been spending money on our schools, if we’d provided subsidized day care for the lowest wage earners to help make sure those kids aren’t stuck in the cycle of poverty, or if we actually changed our school year to longer, year round (because we’re not producing farmers anymore- kids don’t need to work the farm in the summer time like they used to)- we may actually work our way out of the hole we’ve dug ourselves into.

Or not.

Barack’s having a Dayton House Party tonight!

Watch Barack Obama accept the democratic nomination on the big screen tonight at a community block party tonight. The party starts in the gymnasium parking lot at 8pm and then moves inside for the watch party at 9pm.

It will be at Dayton’s newest building:

Thurgood Marshall High School 4447 Hoover Ave Dayton 45417

(off Gettysburg Ave. Rsvp to Nancy Kerr @ 937.360.8521

Maybe John McCain will stop by to visit, before his big announcement tomorrow at the Nutter Center, just to get some pointers.

Time to rebrand the initiative: “Social Capital” to replace “Creative Class”

While I was in one of the breakout sessions at the Wright State Regional Summit today, it finally struck me as to why I really don’t like Richard Florida’s “Creative Class” buzz-phrase: it’s elitest. I hear the word class- and it’s one step to caste, you know the things they use in India where some people rate lower than cows.

Replace the term “Creative Class” with the concept of building “social capital” and it’s not longer exclusive but inclusive. Everyone can be part of our communities social capital- only certain people can be “creative class.” And like it or not- it takes all of us together to make this thing work.

You can’t be a captain of industry if you don’t have workers, nor can you expect everyone to be creative. Someone still has to cut the grass, take out the trash and ask “do you want fries with that.”

Off the top of my head- the keys to a vibrant growing economy:

  • A community of learners
  • Tolerance
  • Leadership
  • Responsive government
  • A bias toward action
  • Equal opportunity
  • Open and honest communications
  • Shared vision
  • Access to capital (both social and monetary)

There are others- but, the words “Creative Class” doesn’t say any of the above. It says “have’s and have not’s” to me. I want us all to share in the rewards of working together. Sounds socialistic- but, the reality is starting to become clear- when the gap between the rich and poor gets too big- we all suffer.