If you want change- first thing is we have to close the store where you buy a Congressman

Remember when John McCain used to be associated with campaign finance reform instead of “Joe the plumber”? Well, if we want change, it’s not through term limits, but by placing restrictions that limit political donations to people in their districts.

I always knew we had the best politicians money could buy, but this report should make it crystal clear:

Even though Congressional approval ratings are at rock bottom, incumbents are enjoying their usual advantage. A massive cash advantage. According to a study from the nonprofit campaign watchdog maplight.org, over the past three years House members have raised more than $700 million dollars for their reelection campaigns. More than 70 percent ($500 million) of it from people who can’t even vote for them. From Washington, Marketplace’s Steve Henn reports.

Steve Henn: The typical congressman raises almost 80 percent of his campaign money from people who live outside his district, according to Dan Newman at Maplight.

Dan Newman: Politicians will tell you that they represent you–but if the money that fuels their campaign comes overwhelmingly from elsewhere, that raises real democratic questions about who is really running the show.

James Thurber is a campaign finance expert at American University. He’s been tracking political giving for years.

James Thurber: If members follow the money, in terms of talking to people or even voting a particular way, that really undermines what the constituents want in their district.

Members who represent low-income districts say they have to raise money from outsiders to survive. And no one’s surprised that powerful members who sit on key committees raise money this way.

Thurber: Money goes to people who have power.

But Thurber was surprised so much outside money flowed to even junior lawmakers. In fact, just 13 House members raised more than half their cash from their own constituents.

Marketplace: Outsiders pay most to House campaigns.

Does this bother you as much as it bothers me? Read the whole story to hear about the congressman who gets 99% of his money from outside his district, and thinks it’s rude to ask his constituents for money, when his pockets have already been stuffed.

Is the Turner Effect about to “Get DC”?

More than a few sources have told me that the Turner Effect has laid off many staffers and is about to close its doors. After the “Get Midwest” debacle, apparently clients weren’t that interested in associating themselves with an agency that grossly overcharges.

The Turner Effect is headed by OH-3 Congressman Mike Turner’s wife, Lori and it has served as a way to slip the Congressman funds outside of the campaign finance rules. The most obvious example: being hired by the Home Depot PAC to do promotions packages to be handed to members of Congress.

The other news seems to be that Mike Turner is about to do a Jon Husted (or follow in the footsteps of his beloved predecessor Tony Hall) and is moving to DC. The grapevine said that his kids are now living in DC with their grandmother- just waiting for Lori to close things up in Dayton.

An absentee congressman? Please note, this is all still unconfirmed, but I’m sure by posting this a few other sources will let me know the rest of the details.

Does Turner have an “oh shit, I lost” backup job waiting in DC? Or, has some lobbyist promised him a big job- or is he slotted for something else? We should know more in a week after the election for sure.

Keep tuned.

Sinclair’s new megalomania mission

Montgomery County voters have subsidized Sinclair Community College, over and over. Now, we’re subsidizing campuses in Warren county- and soon- Preble County.

Sinclair Community College will move forward with plans for a Preble County campus, following a decision from its executive committee.

Campus officials said the executive committee voted to pass a resolution Monday to accept an invitation from a nonprofit organization in Preble County to open a satellite campus attached to the Preble County YMCA.

Sinclair to proceed with Preble County campus – Dayton Business Journal:.

I have no problems with Sinclair growing- I just want other communities to share in the burden. Just charging more in tuition isn’t enough. Everyone pays for Sinclair in Montgomery County- yet, not all of us use it. Time for equality.

US attacks Syria: Story on page 9?

On September 11th 2001, the US was attacked. It took balls and a lot of hatred to do it. It wasn’t an attack by a nation, but of a small group of extremists- and it was the rationale for the US to invade 2 countries, spend billions of dollars, and try to impose “regime change” because, well- because we think we have that right.

Diplomacy be damned.

Now, a little over a week before we decide between a Statesman and a Shooter- we have the old guy, attacking yet another soverign nation- and it only makes page 9 of the Dayton Daily Newsless:

The deadly U.S. raid into Syria may complicate efforts to win approval for a new U.S.-Iraqi security deal by drawing attention to a fact many Iraqis detest — that they can’t control everything American forces might do.

Syrian officials say U.S. troops and helicopters launched the raid Sunday inside Syrian territory close to the Iraqi border, killing eight people.

The U.S. command in Baghdad would not comment, but a U.S. military official said American special forces targeted the network that smuggles fighters and weapons into Iraq. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the raid was classified.

Analysis: Raid into Syria complicates Iraq’s ties.

This is a paper that’s “informing” people who have the keys to the next election. Page fricking 9.

What’s worse, this raid was the kind we should have been doing all along, instead of trying to control countries (remember, we were attacked by a small group of extremists). But, because we went big first, instead of tactical, now, this tactical use of force just looks like a preamble to something bigger.

Had we had a smarter leader in 2001, our doctrine for dealing with terrorism might have been much more efficient- attacking the attackers, instead of entire countries. Had our economy not imploded, maybe we would be paying more attention to this incursion, yet somehow I doubt it.

Either way- this doesn’t belong on page 9 of any “news” paper.

And, we don’t have to be in Iraq and Afghanistan as occupation forces to take the fight to the terrorists. Something to think about if you still think “winning in Iraq” makes any difference at all.

Undecided voter = idiots.

At this point, I’m tired of polls. I’m tired of discussions about; race, issues, merits, experience, redistribution of wealth, health care plans, the war, the economy, who is more like George Bush and if any of this matters.

Our system is set-up to really screw-up:

  • The popular vote doesn’t count- so if your state is close to “balanced” you become a swing state which means you can’t escape this stupidity.
  • We spend way too much money on sound-bites, and not near enough time and effort on debates. The first 3 “debates” (2 presidential one VP) were absolute dreck- if we had 3 of the number 3- we’d all be able to learn a lot more. [hint: flag pin questions don’t cut it]
  • Media- that get a good amount of all that political cash- likes the vote to be close- so more money is spent with them. Of course, since they “report” the polls- they help fan the flames. Polls should be illegal. Keep it all private until the election.
  • Hot-button issues like: guns, god, gay marriage, abortion etc. aren’t decided by the president, so why bother arguing about them?
  • All politicians tell us they are going to cut taxes. None do. So why do we talk about it like it means anything? Time for truth in campaigning laws- where we can actually sue them for flip-flopping or lying.
  • We’re supposed to be a nation that separates church and state- so why do we care so much about a candidates religion?
  • Last I checked, there is no “presidential training program”- so debate about “qualifications” is yet another bit of BS. It’s sort of like trying to compare who removes an appendix better- you can only have it done once, so you can’t do a double-blind.
  • As long as we let people buy politicians and allow “lobbyists” to do their thing- a lot of people will be disenfranchised- it’s time to eliminate all campaign “donations” over $100 per candidate. Set up a realtime system that’s free to use- which will only allow each individual to only give $100 per candidate, and a fund a max of 10 candidates per election cycle- and take the obscene money out of the system.
  • Lastly- we won’t have smart people in office, until we have smart people voting for them. If you are still undecided today- maybe you shouldn’t be voting. Let’s have a civics and literacy test before you can vote. Maybe it’s even time to require a HS diploma to vote, since we can’t seem to get more than a 75% graduation rate in this all powerful country.

So, if in 8 days I have to read another headline from the London papers asking how so many people in our country can be so stupid- like we saw 4 years ago, you won’t say I didn’t warn you.

And, btw- if you’re reading this, you are smart enough to vote. Congrats.

If you wouldn’t say it after the election, you shouldn’t say it before one.

At some point America should put the smackdown on political speech. It’s starting to get dangerous. In our do and say anything to get elected environment, hiding under the protection of “free speech” and counting on the slowness of the courts and regulatory authorities to act, we’re undermining the power of those who do get elected.

I’m not railing against Palin alone on this one- we saw this kind of opportunistic cannibalism in the democratic primary. The New York Times has this story about Palin’s attacks on our probable president:

Underscoring the McCain campaign’s aggressive attacks on Senator Barack Obama’s character, Gov. Sarah Palin accused the Illinois senator today of “putting ambition above country” at several private fund-raising events in Ohio.

In making her remarks, Ms. Palin cited a disputed report in The Washington Times today that said Mr. Obama, on a trip to Iraq with other members of the Senate, had encouraged an Iraqi official to delay an agreement that would extend the presence of American troops in Iraq. Mr. Obama’s campaign denied that claim, as did other attendees on the trip.

Ms. Palin portrayed the events in a darker light. “We learned this morning that Iraqi officials are saying Senator Obama tried to make a secret deal with the Iraqi government,” she said at a fund-raiser outside Cincinnati, although the article in The Washington Times does not make that specific claim.

“Obama apparently tried to undermine our government’s official efforts to reduce troops in Iraq,” Ms. Palin said. “If this is true, again, it is a stunning example of putting ambition above country.”

She repeated the attack line at a fund-raiser later in the afternoon in Cleveland, where the accusation was met with rumblings in the audience. “He tried to influence negotiations with Iraqi leaders in a way that would set back America’s cause there while advancing his campaign here,” she said. At both events, she described the allegations as “stunning.”

With Donors, Palin Keeps Up Attacks on Obama – The Caucus Blog – NYTimes.com.

Of course, it also doesn’t help when Joe Biden opens his mouth and inserts his foot with his statement that foreign leaders should test Obama in the first six months either.

Other nations wouldn’t stand for this kind of behavior, and neither should we. If Obama was president,  and Governor Palin started with this crap it would border on treason.

The rule of thumb should be, if you would think twice about saying it after they’re elected, you shouldn’t say it in the campaign. We need leadership that is interested in building this country- not undermining it.

Time to end Time Warners monopoly.

In case Time Warner forgot, it got to string all that cable up without having to compensate anyone else for the use of existing poles or buying right-of-way. In exchange, they provide a “franchise fee” to local communities and deliver “Public access” programming.

It sounds as if this is the way Time Warner is going to pass off their payoff of WDTN- yet, there are those of us who are civic minded who only pay for public access and to avoid mounting an exterior antenna to pick up the local broadcast stations. The Home Shopping network isn’t really a bonus. In fact, there are stations that want to be carried on cable networks for free- just because they are looking for ad reach. At some point, Time Warner should be offering a free level with just these channels and the public access. It doesn’t cost $10 a month to maintain a cable into the house- but, it would have if they had to pay for their access to the public poles and right-of-ways.

If they are going to get this increase, they should have to provide the same public access channels to phone companies providing television programming and to satellite providers- as well as fund public streaming over IP of DATV.

Time Warner Cable customers who take basic cable or expanded basic cable service will see rate increases of 10 to 12 percent beginning in November, according to the company.

Customers who take bundled packages of more than one service — various combinations of digital cable, phone, high-speed data or high-definition television — won’t see the price increases because their rates are guaranteed for one to two years, said Pamela McDonald, regional spokeswoman for Time Warner Cable.

Basic cable service offers 24 channels. Expanded basic — also known as standard — service adds about 50 channels, including ESPN, ESPN2, CNN, Fox Sports Network Ohio, Nickelodeon, Discovery Channel, Bravo and USA Network.

The rate increases will affect fewer than half of Tme Warner’s approximately 300,000 customers in the Dayton region, McDonald said Tuesday, Oct. 21. She declined to be more specific, saying that Time Warner does not want to reveal precise figures to competitors.

Subscribers who take basic cable service are currently paying between $10 and $11 per month and will see an increase of about $1 starting in November, McDonald said.

Time Warner needs the rate increases in order to cover costs of programming, operation and customer service, McDonald said.

Some Time Warner Cable customers getting rate increases.

I got rid of everything except the basic service 2 years ago and haven’t looked back. Netflix provides movies (and I’m probably moving to Blockbuster because of Netflix adding a $1 surcharge for BluRay’s starting next month) and most of what I watch is available over broadcast with my TiVo. But, with things tightening up- I’ll be dammned if I pay a buck extra for an NBC less basic package.

Antennas are starting to look real good. Just remember, next February, you’ll need a converter box for all non-digital tvs and a different antenna as the stations switch to digital broadcast. Boxes run about $40 and a government rebate check will be available for the same amount.

The economic impact of our elections, and maybe we need to move them.

This year we’re seeing record amounts spent on elections. Some have projected upwards of $5 billion. Even if you live in a state that isn’t in play for the Presidential election, you are still watching record numbers of commercials for house seats and local elections.

Media companies are required to sell space and time at “political rates” which are supposed to be the lowest available rates. However, when everyone wants time, the rates go up. This means businesses that want to advertise, in the critical fourth quarter, where many retailers can do up-to 80% of their business, can’t afford media time, or the cost of media has gone up considerably.

With the economy in a slump, maybe the first thing we should consider is taking the constant barrage of :30 second mudslings off the air, and bundle them into a one hour show each night- so that the real business of America can continue. Or, move elections to the March- so that the media buys are in the first quarter, where they only have to compete with Valentines day and other Hallmark holidays.

So much for just the “liberal media”- Colin Powell endorses Obama

If you only watch one YouTube video endorsement of a candidate this season, this is the one to watch. In a measured, reasoned and well thought out series of answers, Colin Powell puts the smackdown on the direction of John McCain and the Republican party.

He flat out says that Sarah Palin isn’t fit to be president, and brushes aside any question of Obama’s ability to lead the country at war.

His dismissal of the Bill Ayers “controversy” and his questioning of why people even care if Barack Obama is a Muslim as opposed to is he, or isn’t he, shows why Powell is considered a master statesman.

Powell also says he doesn’t think that this country could stand two more Republican appointments to the Supreme Court.

For all that want to claim that Obama is the darling of the “liberal media” – this endorsement should be a clear indication that Obama is more than just a slick speaker, but a man of substance, or as Powell put it- a transformational leader.