It Ain't Ovah

I'll admit it: I stayed up 'till 1am last night to catch the final returns in Indiana. The possibility of Obama winning after Hillary gave her victory speech was just too tasty. Of course, she squeeked it out, and all I got was less sleep. So even though every political pundit in America is calling the Democratic nomination race over, Hillary's still not giving up. Sorta like I called it three months ago:

"Their supporters are beginning to truly hate each other . . . neither candidate is going to give up before the convention. Obama will enter ahead in the delegate count and Hillary will press for the Michigan and Florida delegations to be seated to push her over the top. Friends, it’s not even begun to be brutal. The convention will be a melee. After the convention the party will be divided, many will be apathetic, and McCain will benefit."

The problem now is that unless she gets out of this thing before next week, it's going to get even more brutal [if that's possible] within the party. Two of the next three states [West Virginia and Kentucky] will back Clinton overwhelmingly and it still won't change the inevitable outcome. So the only reason to stay in this thing is to further embarrass her opponent, harming him in the general election in November. So even though she said last night [in a most bizarre speech] that she'll support the eventual nominee, she more closely resembles the school yard bully continually thrusting her victim's hand into his own face while innocently asking, "Why do you keep hitting yourself? Why do you keep hitting yourself?"

This is where the DNC has gotta step in and say enough is enough. The only reason they haven't demanded her withdrawal yet is because of the Clinton name. I'd predict that, after this election, the mystique is officially dead. Like it or not, there's a new Democratic day on the horizon.

And the Clinton's won't be in sight.

Let's Get Real

The Clintons made $109million since the year 2000. Good for them. The biggest amount came from Bill's public speaking that netted over $50million. One of the ways Hillary's campaign spun it was to say they would've made much more if Bill had done so many free speeches over the years. They also note that almost 10% went to charitable contributions.

Look, there's more here than meets the eye, but that's fine. There are a few controversial investment figures that would be in this year's tax returns that haven't been filed yet. Also the charitable contributions were predominantly made to their own charitable trust which could [conceivably] be used someday to help them back.

But still, I have no qualms about this. It's America. They should be able to make as much they can without having to apologize. Ya's gotsta get paid.

My criticism here concerns the spin being offered with the releasing of these tax returns. Specifically, that of Clinton adviser Leon Panetta, who offered the following explanation of the Clintons' rags-to-riches endeavor:

"In many ways, it is becoming the American story. A lot of people who have devoted their lives to public service, who lived hand-to-mouth during months of public service, are suddenly able, after public life, to find some rewards."

Seriously, Leon, let's calm down for a second and dissect this monstrosity of a quote. First, I'm not quite sure I'd ever describe the Clintons as "the American story." It's not like we have the second-coming of Andrew Carnegie on our hands here. The most significant part of their income was directly connected to the controversies they experienced in the White House, specifically the Lewinski ordeal. I'm not sure many Americans would want that as a part of their story. If the trade-off for $100million was becoming the butt of a national joke, I think I'd pass.

Second, I'm not sure the Clintons were ever really living hand-to-mouth. To describe a couple holding degrees from Georgetown, Oxford, Wellesley, and Yale with a phrase reserved from lower class and homeless people is rather reckless. I'm not saying the Clintons always raked it in, but they were in no danger of being swallowed up by the streets.

Third and finally, the implication that "a lot of" public servants have been able to follow the Clintons' route and reap financial benefits is just untrue. This is a path for a select few who are able to ascend to America's highest political realms. The social worker who spends 30+ years doing their job cannot dream of being as fortunate as the Clintons. The reality is, a life of public service will often leave a person with much less financially than if they had pursued a comparable private sector job.

Again, let me make clear my position. I'm glad the Clintons have been able to strike it rich, especially considering the constant scrutiny they're under; at least it affords them a comfortable/secure lifestyle. But I'm not going to try to take their new-found wealth and make them look even more admirable or generous than they really are.

I guess in the end, it is what it is.

Don't Hate The Game

This week I have to prepare four different sermons. I like a good challenge, and Easter is the Super Bowl of the Christian calendar, so I feel I'm up to the task. As an orator, I respect people who are able to stand in front of crowds and be articulate and brilliant. While flipping through channels I'll occasionally linger on people giving speeches, even if I don't particularly like them. There's something about crafting words to persuade the masses that fascinates me.

That said, I was in shock yesterday when I discovered that Barack Obama's speech on race was written all by himself. In case you don't know, no one at that level writes their own speeches. He took a huge gamble on the biggest speech of his political life and he won.

Whether or not you like the man's politics, take ten minutes and watch the speech. It was amazing.

I'm still not sure, in the wake of his brutal conflict with Hillary, that he'll be able to take out McCain. Regardless, it's going to be a lot of fun to watch.

Pastor Problems

Barack Obama has been backpedaling this week because of his relationship with the pastor of his church in Chicago. If you haven't heard yet, the mainstream medium picked up on Jeremiah Wright's more controversial sermon statements, including the US deserving 9/11 and proclaiming, "God Damn America." His campaign handled the controversy head-on with a media blitz, in some way diffusing the situation. Obama claimed that he heard of most of these statements for the first time this week. He then asked Pastor Wright to resign from one of his advisory committees.

I'm not sure of the legs this story, whether or not it will last beyond the Democratic Convention, but it does raise some interesting thoughts in my mind:

  1. The "Obama is Muslim" rumor should go the way of the albatross with this controversy. But I'm not sure if that's necessarily better for him. I doubt you would ever hear the rhetoric of Pastor Wright from an American Muslim [not including, of course, Farrakhan's Nation of Islam]. Therefore, Obama attackers have much more ammunition to work with the rogue Christian angle now and won't emphasize his middle name as much as before.
  2. Obama better not be lying when he claims never to have heard [in person] any of Wright's outrageous statements. I guarantee every major media outlet is researching his family's church attendance and cross-referencing with these sermons. I'm not convinced this was the best defense Obama could've come up with in this instance. But it's now his Alamo and he better be prepared for the consequences that would come if he indeed was in church when Pastor Wright went off. As is, he's fine, but if they prove he was there, it would cost him the Presidency.
  3. Despite good old Gerraldine Ferraro's "he's lucky he's black" statement earlier in the week, the Wright incident demonstrates how much more difficult it is for a black man/woman to ascend to America's highest electable position. Just belonging to a black church can be problematic for the candidate. The black pulpit in America is a very unique rallying point that, in most instances, goes beyond the gospel message to social/political issues facing the community. For almost one hundred years, it was the only voice the African American community had and, therefore, wasn't limited to Biblical exhortation. As all American churches have become more media savvy, recording services in audio and video form, the voice of the black pulpit is now accessible to those beyond its community. Many in white America, who have no exposure to the nuances of the rhetoric that originates from the black pulpit, find it frightening. I predict that when any future black presidential candidates emerge, the media will immediately reference iTunes to listen to the person's pastor.
  4. This incident does make me wonder to what extent the thoughts of a pastor are supposed to represent his congregants. Those critical of Obama for attending Pastor Wright's church, because of Wright's opinions, should first ask themselves if they're 100% behind the statements made by their own pastors. As a preacher, I'm not sure I want my church to think exactly like I do about every social/political anyway. When I preach, I try to clearly delineate between Scriptural mandate and my opinions, i.e., not everything I say from the pulpit is the Word of God. At Echo, our most important doctrinal issues are articulated in writing [all of which, by the way, are based on the Scriptures]. Anything I say authoritatively from the pulpit should fit within those parameters. And if they don't, it's just my opinion. And people are free to disagree with my opinions. Just ask my wife [har, har].
  5. Summing the last two points up, people of faith should really use this incident as an opportunity to examine what your church/pastor really believes. You might be surprised.*

There's much more I could say about the black church in America, but it wasn't necessarily the point of this post. I would assume that the same brand of controversial statements made by Pastor Wright have been made in pulpits all over the United States, by both black and white pastors. I wonder if this will lead to some sort of political inquisition where politicians are critiqued for their religious connections. For instance, John McCain has allied himself with Rod Parsley and John Hagee, evangelical leaders who have some interesting theological positions as well.

Because the church in America is so fractured, ranging from conservative evangelical to liberal mainline congregations [even Scientology is considered a church!], these kinds of stories will become more and more prevalent in the years to come.

*Personal note: I should add that I am not THE pastor, but ONE OF THE pastors at Echo. We believe the Biblical model is for a plurality of elders that lead the local church. Therefore, if I say something authoritative from the pulpit, then WE say it. And if I personally say something wrong, I'm in submission to the other leaders to keep me in line.

I Love This Election

I've admitted my love of politics here before. As of late, I've been absolutely fascinated with Hillary verses Obama, so much so that I've added The Washington Post and The New York Times to my regular reading. So with no certain prejudice, I have to link to the following article just because it could be the best title I've read during this entire campaign:


Yes, that Sinbad.

This election is awesome.

Speaking Of Cars . . .

I really don't want to talk about the mistake the governor of New York made, but one thing must be noted. On tonight's Daily Show they showed the prices said escort service charged to "rent a friend" for a day. It ranged anywhere from $10,000 to $30,000.


You could buy a car for that. Or a lot of other stuff. Or give the money to charity.

And you think gas prices are high.

Don't make me close the comments on this one . . .

The House of Politics

Not that anyone cares, a few notes about yesterday's election:

  1. How about Ohio once again screwing up an election? The Secretary of State predicts the biggest primary turn-out ever and we don't have enough ballots? I'm sorta glad this happened in a Democratic administration because of all the grief they gave Ohio S.O.S. Ken Blackwell a few years ago when he oversaw a cluster. I think it shows that both parties have the potential to screw up royally.
  2. With all the technology in the world, we're back to using Scantron ballots. But they give you a ballpoint pen to color in a large square. I think I'll bring a Sharpie into the booth this November.
  3. Not surprised Clinton won in Ohio, but I thought Obama would win Texas. There's now no doubt that this thing is going to the convention and it'll get brutal. Sidenote: I stayed up to watch all the speeches last night and I definitely thought Hillary bested Barack last night. If she gets better at her speeches, can Obama use the "just words" accusation on her?
  4. So McCain cozied up to Bush today for an endorsement. This guy is either totally crazy or absolutely brilliant [it reminded me of a scene from the movie Clear and Present Danger. Anyone?]. Again, if the Dems can't win the White House under these circumstances, I say, "Bring back the Whigs!"
  5. I can't believe Brett Favre dropped out of the race. Maybe he'll come back again and run third party.
  6. Finally, I have to point out the biggest surprise from yesterday. Before we voted I told Kelly, "there's no way the school levy passes." But by the slimmest of margins, it actually was approved! I think SWIND correctly analyzed this event by crediting the high Democratic turnout to the success, but it makes you wonder if there's anyway they'll ever be able to pass another one.

Even though it seems insane, I'm going to hold to my prediction that the contentious Democratic selection process will give McCain the presidency by default. And if he can do it with George W. actively campaigning for him, then he is a genius.

Primary Colors

Obama or Hillary? Apparently that's the only question being asked of us. I guess since we live in a predominantly Democratic district, McCain and Huckabee aren't interested in our votes. I guess it could be that the Republican nomination is already decided but, still, the Dems are working overtime on us.*

We had two different groups knock on the door in the last three days to shill for their presidential candidate [a group of canvassers were from Lexington, Kentucky].** We have numerous mailers and door hangers that went straight to the trash. A few month ago, both Kelly and I received phone calls from candidates as well.

I'm ready for this to be over with.

Oh, but this is only the primary. Even more fun for the general election this fall.

I've been thinking lately how passionate people are for their candidate. They'll spend money and personal time to work . Sure I respect them for getting involved in our country's political process, but I wonder what our world would be like if people were as involved in the social causes they want their candidates to solve.

Sorry, just a smidge of skepticism here on election eve.

*If you do vote the Democratic ballot tomorrow, you should know that it won't just be Hillary and Obama listed. You still have your choice of all the Dems who were at one point major candidates. So if you want to stick it to the party, you can always vote New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson.

**I love how these people knocking on my door want to know who I'm voting for. Like I'm going to tell them. I use my clergy status as an excuse, but I still wouldn't tell them. Thanks for asking, though.

I'm Calling It

Today, February 17th, I'm going to be bold and make a prediction. Of course, there will always be the chance I'm wrong but I have this new feeling in my gut: John McCain will be the next president of the United States.

About sixteen months ago I called it for Obama. While the polls were crying out for Hillary, I thought Barak would still be able to pull it off by now and take it home. I've been saying for months now that if Obama could simply win the nomination he'd be the next President, but I'm sensing something different now. Two reasons:

First, McCain as the Republican nomination changes things. While conservatives don't like him, they'll tolerate him. Moderates will gravitate to him as well. Despite a certain awkwardness he possesses, people respect his national service and experience. I'm not sure if his being from the western United States [Arizona] will help in November, but it certainly won't hurt. If the Republicans had picked any other candidate, they would have lost this election. McCain was the only guy they had that could help keep the White House and they picked him.

But the major reason I'm now predicting a McCain presidency is that the Democrats are eating each other alive and there will not be enough time to reconcile the party. I've seen dirty politics before, but nothing like the scale we're witnessing between Hillary and Obama. Their supporters are beginning to truly hate each other. And it doesn't help that the topics of race and gender are inescapable [ironically for the party supposed to lead the fight for those issues of equality] and nothing good can come from them. Neither candidate is going to give up before the convention. Obama will enter ahead in the delegate count and Hillary will press for the Michigan and Florida delegations to be seated to push her over the top. Friends, it's not even begun to be brutal. The convention will be a melee. After the convention the party will be divided, many will be apathetic, and McCain will benefit.

And McCain will be president.

Again, if the Republicans had nominated anyone else, the Dems would've been fine. And if Obama had been able to secure the nomination before Super Tuesday he could've made a push. But I'm no longer convinced that Obama will be able to muster the campaign he needs to win in the fall if he gets the nomination. As it is, there is still plenty of racism and ignorance out there in middle American [I forgot this but have been reminded by the numerous people trying to convince me that Barak is a Muslim]. Obama has a huge uphill fight, even if he wins the nomination. I just can't see him proving his case in such a short amount of time.

And Hillary is polarizing in her own party, let alone on a national level. I can't believe the Democratic party, after being handed the keys by George W., are going to lose the White House. It's amazing.

So sorry about changing my prediction, but unforseen circumstances drove me there.

This is crazy.

I should reiterate, as I did recently in response to someone's question about my political leanings, that I really have no horse in this race. I will, most likely, vote third party again this year as neither party best expresses my beliefs. That said, all of this is still extremely fascinating and I'm somewhat addicted. I'm reminded of the Seinfeld quote about Kramer, "He is a loathesome, offensive brute, and yet I cannot look away."

Choose Wisely

Ohioans who complained that their presidential primary votes would be unnecessary were sorely mistaken.* Ohio could very well determine the Democratic nominee this year, so I'd say things will certainly get more interesting around here in the next couple of weeks. Hillary Clinton stopped by the Skyline Chili in Oakley this morning** and Barak Obama's wife is currently giving a speech over at Music Hall.*** A couple of notes concerning the forthcoming March 4th Ohio primary:

  1. Ohio has an open primary, meaning that you don't have to be registered to any one party in order to vote for their candidates. That means Republicans accepting that John McCain is already their party's candidate could try to chose his opponent. I'm not sure it will be a huge factor, but I do think this will be one time some Republicans vote the Democratic ticket.
  2. Cincinnati mayor Mark Mallory, a super delegate, is stuck between a rock and a hard place. In the next week or so he's going to have to endorse Hillary or Obama and there's more at stake then he realizes. With the city's high percentage of African American voters, it would probably help him locally to back the Senator from Illinois. But I have this feeling that, as many major city mayors have already done, he's going to come out for Hillary. With both Cleveland and Columbus likely to help out Obama in Ohio, Cincinnati will be a big battleground. Mallory's endorsement could have some significance on the outcome, not only of this election, but his desired re-election in next year's mayoral race.

Regardless, I think both candidates will swing through Cincinnati again. If so, I might try to see them. I haven't seen a President [or a potential President] since Ronald Reagan's visit to Cincinnati in the early 1980's.

*I found it humorous that people in Ohio wanted their vote to "mean something," like they have been forgotten or have been marginalized. Ohio has been front and center during the past two Presidential elections and will, most likely, be right back there again this fall. 

**This Skyline is significant as it is one of the few in Cincinnati that serves Coke products, therefore making it one of my favorites. 

***Some comments from this Enquirer blog post accuse Hillary of bad taste for stopping by a chili parlor in a Catholic town on a Friday during Lent. I'm not a Hillary backer, but that's a pretty weak accusation.

Quick Political Observation

I was under the weather today, and didn't feel like writing when I have a lot on my mind. Watching the results tonight, it played out just like I suspected it would last week. McCain took New Hampshire and Hillary edged out Obama on the Democratic side. The thing to note is that Hillary is already being called the Comeback Kid [a'la Bill Clinton] and she didn't comeback from anything. New Hampshire was Hillary's to lose and she did what she was supposed to do- finish first. What changed the perspective was the polling in the past two days that showed Obama had a huge lead in NH. The media annointed him the clear victor and was predicting a walk to the nomination. Clinton's camp was gripping earlier today, possibly faced with packing in, and now feels inspired by this victory. Obviously the polling was way off here.

So if it were not for the bad polling, this would still be somewhat of a loss for Clinton. Obama finished a close second, which still should be disturbing to Hillary's camp. But they'll spin this as new momentum, and the media will let her have it.

I ask: did the media create a [false] Obama frenzy that will eventually hurt his candidacy? Quite possibly.

Gettin' Political

I loves me some politicin'. So let me objective breakdown last night's Iowa Caucus. What did we learn? Pretty much nothing.

Pundits like to spin the results into something more than they are but the Caucus rules are confusing, especially on the Democratic side; so the result isn't an accurate measurement of how things will go. Nor can you look towards New Hampshire primary as a litmus test. Sure, NH has picked its share of Presidents, but in the last twelve years they also picked Paul Tsongas, Pat Buchanan and John McCain. Bill Clinton was dead in the water after New Hampshire in 1992 and still was a two termer. If you really want to see where the rubber meets the road, wait till South Carolina.

I will say that things looked the best last night for Huckabee. One pundit noted that the reason Huckabee was heads and shoulders above the rest is that he knew how to tell a joke; all other Republican candidates seem to come across as rather robotic. Huckabee has a Reagan-esque style not found in either of the Bush presidents. He's becoming a bigger character as things move forward. And you can attribute it all to a few classic remarks in a debate. Well, that and those Chuck Norris commercials.

Things looked the worst for Giuliani, who finished dead last. Remember when he was the sure-fire Republican nomination? Now he's MIA. Giuliani barely campaigned in Iowa but coming in behind Ron Paul, finishing dead last, certainly didn't help his street cred. McCain will win in New Hampshire, but I think Huckabee takes the south and wins the Republican nomination.

The Democratic side is still too close to call. Hillary took it on the chin yesterday but she will win in New Hampshire. The margin of victory will be critical. If Obama keeps it close, then he has a real chance to get the nomination. The same goes with Edwards. He'll take South Carolina for sure, so it'll probably come down to the Super Tuesday showdown between the three of them. It's critical for Hillary, however, to win in NH, and if possible, to win big. If she loses there next week, she's a goner.

I'm still holding firm that the Democrats win the White House with anyone but Hillary. She's still too polarizing. As likable as Huckabee is, I'm not sure he can take Obama. Maybe Edwards.

When you don't really care who wins, this can be really fun. You should try it sometime.

Let's Get Political

Observation I can't escape in this maddening election season: The Clinton campaign keeps killing Obama for his lack of experience.

Hillary was elected to the Senate in 2000, while Barack was elected in 2004. So the huge level of experience Clinton owns  over him is four years. FOUR YEARS! Seriously, how much do you think that extra four years in the Senate helps someone? If it was decades more, it would be an apt argument, but four years is not impressive enough to tout.

To bolster her case, Hillary stated, "Voters will judge whether living in a foreign country at the age of 10 prepares one to face the big, complex international challenges the next president will face." 

That's fair. But what do you have to offer?

"'I think we need a president with more experience than that,'" said Clinton, who has repeatedly touted her own experience as first lady . . .

Experience as first lady?!?! So now being first lady qualifies as foreign policy experience? Flying around the world on the taxpayer dime to place wreaths and collect presents given to the US by foreign dignitaries makes you skilled in international issues? Is Laura Bush, who has been first lady nearly as long as Clinton was, now qualified to be a Senator as well?

Let's be honest: these party nominations never have anything to do with experience. Reagan was a frickin' actor and helped end the Cold War. Those scoring at home, that's ZERO foreign policy experience yielding HUGE international successes.

In the end it's all about likability and, unfortunately for her, the more Hillary talks the less likable she is. But since she's losing ground she's forced to talk and it's going to get worse. I predict, however, that things will come full circle when Edwards or Obama becomes the front-runner. Each have open flanks that can be exploited.

And with the chaos on the Republican side, this will most definitely be an election to remember.

p.s. I never knew that Obama's middle name was Hussein. Probably not the most marketable thing about him, eh? 

This Just Got Interesting

Everyone who thinks the Hillary/Rudy match-up is inevitable should slow down a bit. With Hillary dropping ideas like free cash for babies and the Religious Right ready to go third-party on us all, there's plenty of room for the unexpected. This could end up being one of the most interesting Presidential campaigns since 1912. Just thought everyone should be familiar with that election.

Now That It's Over

Still wrapping up from Tuesday's election, I just wanted to touch on a few of the referendums that Ohioans voted on. I withheld comment before the vote, trying not to give "endorsements" but feel a little more liberated to speak after the fact. First, I think this election showed that voters were truly informed on what they were voting on. For instance, locally there was an issue up for a new jail in Hamilton County. One problem: nowhere in the language on the ballot was the word prison/jail used. It was rather ambiguous and merely referred to the sales tax increase being allocated for "law enforcement needs." Pretty shady. Voters, however, saw through that and voted it down. Same thing for the gambling initiative in the state of the Ohio. I don't think people are necessarily against gambling but the terms of the issue and the manipulation of the voters was extremely deceptive. Again, people saw it for what it was.

And the biggest proof was Ohio Issues 4 & 5, both concerning public smoking. Big tobacco companies were behind Issue 4, a constitutional amendment called "Smoke Less Ohio" while the total smoking ban [Issue 5]was a referendum backed by "Smoke Free Ohio." If Issue 4 passed, it would've trumped Issue 5. Voters knew the difference, defeating 4 and passing 5.

But even though voters were informed what they were voting on, I'm not sure if they really examined the ramifications of them. Let's take the smoking ban, for instance. The majority of the state thinks it's good for no smoking in public places and restaurants. It's understandable; I have some family members who get physically ill when around smoke, so you want them to be safe. This wide sweeping law makes smoking illegal practically everywhere, including bars. Again, it's no big deal for most of the state . . . except here in Cincinnati.

If you're in Columbus and there's no smoking, then there's a level playing field. I highly doubt that people will move from a city because of such a ban. And they're not going to drive to Pennsylvania or Indiana to hit a bar across the border just so they can get a drink a puff on a cancer stick at the same time. The same is true in Cleveland and Akron. But here in Cincinnati, patrons can easily cross the borders to two states where they can have their cake and eat it too. So of all the major cities in the state, Cincinnati takes the groin shot with this one.

Similar to the gambling issue, it's not that a smoking ban was a bad idea, but the way the referendum was worded wasn't the best to get the job done. But apparently we've now discovered the today's most despised minority: smokers.

In a similar vein, our state also passed a new minimum wage law; another "good idea, poor implementation practice." Notice that in all the craziness of political ads, there was little mention of this initiative. It's something that a lot of people can get behind without motivation- helping out the people who need the most help. Seems simple. What voters didn't realize is that this new law will prove more costly than a sales tax increase.

Who eventually pays for the increase? The consumer. The wage increases will be added on to everything you purchase. And as the lowest wage earners increase, everyone else on the scale will increase as well. And tacked on to this was a continual cost of living increase in the minimum wage, so that $6.85 isn't the stopping point. So as we all get "pushed up" through the pay scale for doing the same amount of work. And this, friends, is how we get inflation.

And the thing no one talked about is that now all state employers must keep detailed records of all employees for up to three years after they stop working for you. And, according to this new law, you have to provide that documentation to practically anyone who asks. This was a stunt by the unions to get their hands on information formerly out of their reach. So more paperwork, more expenses. Who pays for that? We do.

Again, it's not that a minimum wage raise wasn't a good thing but it needed to be done properly. It should be done, but more incrementally and with fewer strings attached. Now we're stuck with something that could hurt that state's economy even before the new state administration takes office. Hunker down, fellow Ohioans, it could get sticky.

While everyone viewed this results of this past Tuesday as a message sent that it's time for sweeping change, voters probably didn't realize that their most important decisions weren't even for a particular candidate.

Vote The Rock

I was almost disenfranchised this afternoon. As I had today with Kaelyn, I was following some of the news coming out about today's election. Local congressmen Steve Chabot was refused a ballot because his valid driver's license had a different address on it than he was registered at. He promptly went home claiming, "that's the law" and got a bill with his name on it to prove it.

First voting observation: is there anyone in Cheviot who doesn't know Steve Chabot? Isn't the point of requiring ID to make sure that the person is who they say they are? This is just a blatant example of how voting scandals have made the system a mockery. Also, this is an example of poll workers on a power trip.

Once I heard this I called Kelly and reminded her to get a bill when she got home, as we were voting this afternoon together; my driver's license still has our Maineville address on it. I began to think how stupid this was a looked it up on the internet to see this law for myself. Apparently Chabot was wrongfully turned away. I found Ohio State revised code 3505.18 which states, "Voters must bring identification to the polls in order to verify identity. Identification may include a current and valid photo identification." The state of Ohio website also states, "You may also use your Ohio driver's license or Ohio photo I.D. -- even if it shows a previous address."

I was ready to go.

I memorized the number of the law and went with Kelly to the polling place. Of course, they ask to see my ID and I show them my license. I show them. And this is how it breaks down:

"Is this your current address?"

"No ma'am, it isn't."

"You're going to need another piece of information if you want to vote."

"Ma'am, Ohio Revised Code 3505.18 states that . . ."

Pollster rolls her eyes and cuts me off

"We've been hearing this all day."

"Ma'am, you've heard it because it's the law."

I'm getting warmed up. I'm ready to be disenfranchised. Wonder what it will feel like.

At this, my wife pulls out an electric bill and hands it to the lady. She remembered to pack it with her like I asked and had no desire to see me argue the finer issues of the Ohio Revised Code with a senior citizen. So my disenfranchisement was avoided because Kelly felt we had better things to do with our time. I was ready to call the police and report a crime. But my wife reminded me that we're in a part of town where the police have better things to do. Fine. Where are Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton when you need them?

Second voting observation: the ballots in Hamilton County are ridiculous. It's a scan-tron type sheet the size of a legal document. When the poll worker assists you in feeding the sheet into the electronic scanner they can totally see who you voted for. So in order to solve the problems stemming from the past couple of Presidential elections, the best they can come up with is a worse version of standardized tests I took twenty years ago in elementary school. Isn't that special?

Democracy in action: it's like killing your own dinner.

None Of The Above

We're at six days and counting until we can collectively move on with our lives. First and foremost, I do hope you plan on voting next week. I don't care who you vote for, but the representative democracy system is a pretty good one [although I'd like to try a little anarchy sometime] so we should support it.

That being said, this has been one of the most painful election seasons I can ever remember. I've never seen so many accusations levied back and forth. It's not enough that I have to watch it back-to-back during every commercial break [including the cable channels] but that we're bombarded over the phone and direct mail. I need to attend someone's election celebration to get my hands on free boos so I can self-medicate from the last few months of craziness.

While I'll spout some political observations here from time to time, I'm leery of coming out and supporting certain candidates/parties/issues because it's not my thing. You might disagree, but I think it's a good idea for clergy to remove themselves from political endorsements. Each party has its own agenda, none is above reproach, and I'm not sure we would ever hear, "I'm Jesus Christ, the risen Savior of the World and I approve this message;" So allow me to sit back, relax, and throw out a thought about this midterm election.

Obviously, the issue looming large over this election is the Iraqi war. The Dems are piling on the GOP this fall, saying they led the country into another Vietnam. The authorization for the war was granted in Congressional Joint Resolution 114, which passed the House 296-133, and the Senate 77-23. Believe it or not, this vote was taken over four years ago, in October of 2002.

Do you remember what life was like then? They were excavating Ground Zero. The nation still longed for revenge. The President continually urged us to "get on with our normal lives." So we invaded Iraq and won the war very quickly. But the peace still has not been established and the US military death toll now approaches 3,000. Americans have forgotten the sick feelings surrounding 9/11 and turned on this war, wanting it over and done for.

But the reality is that, regardless of who we elect this week, it will not hasten the American withdrawal from Iraq. Even if the Democrats take both House and Senate [I predict they will get only the House], it won't change the current state of the war. We're there for a little longer no matter what happens next Tuesday. So the fact that both parties are exploiting the war and surrounding issues in order to sway voters is ridiculous.

It was popular to want to attack Iraq four years ago and now it's popular to bash us for going there in the first place. Just like the Republicans used pro-war commercials in '04 and kept the White House, the Democrats are rolling at the war for their cause and will see success in '06.

But here's the deal: check the links above for the votes on Resolution 114 and you'll discover that quite a few Democrats crossed the aisle to support the measure to invade Iraq. Regardless of how much these congressmen disagreed with the conflict, they felt it was a better move to side with patriotism and give the go ahead for war. If more of them had stuck to their guns and help party lines, the entire political landscape would be different today.

My take: if John Kerry had voted against the Iraqi War, he wouldn't be making dumb comments this week in California; rather, he'd be saying ludicrous comments from the Oval Office. If Kerry votes "no" on 114, he wins the Presidency in '04. His "yes" vote neutered his criticism of Bush and he didn't have the issue cornered. And if the Dems had stuck together, held their ground and voted "no," as well, they would have nailed down both Houses of Congress this year. That resolution could've changed political history. Instead, the Democrats left the GOP with some life, opening up the opportunity to keep some power in Congress and form a good run for the White House in 2008.

I think history will show that Iraq wasn't the best decision, but at the time there weren't many other options. Unfortunately politics muddles the issues and doesn't allow us to objectively look at the situation. The best intentions for our country will never be realized as long as we're stuck in a two party political system. That's just politics.

I know this sounds unlikely, but I think the events of this decade will lead to the establishment of a legitimate third party in American politics. It hasn't happened in over 100 years of American history, so it might seem unlikely, but it could be time. Ours and the next generation has been given too many choices for too long to be content with only two parties. And as people are more educated than ever before, and that the internet makes it possible for people to become celebrities overnight, the time is ripe for it to finally happen. Somewhere, someone will emerge to cast the vision that neither party is hitting. Maybe it's time for Monty Brewster to step up.

But one thing I know for sure: next Wednesday morning we'll wake up and go about our days and the world won't be different, regardless of who was elected this week. But Jesus will still be King.

I Speak The Truth

Newspaper endorsements are dumb. I don't care to elaborate, but the Enquirer is looking ridiculous with the arbitrary nature of their picks. Do people actually decide on who they'll vote for because their newspaper thinks they should? In case you were confused about my election prediction from the other day, the man I believe will win the Presidency in 2008 is Barack Obama. Despite the odd resemblance of his name to one Osama Bin Laden, I think he's golden.

Tim pointed me to this article written by Charles Krauthammer [which I ironically read a few minutes early] saying the Obama should run but claimed "he will not win. The reason is 9/11. The country will simply not elect a novice in wartime."

I think he's dead wrong. Like Colin Powell, it's his if he wants it. You have to examine the full picture.

There's no way in Hades that the Republicans keep the White House. Bush was gifted a second term when the Dems ran a boring Kerry at him; if they even had a decent candidate, it would've been theirs [likewise, if the GOP had ran anyone but Dole against Clinton in '96, they would've ousted him]. People will be ready to switch the Presidency to the other party, so if Obama can run the primaries, he's golden. Since it looks like Hillary will be his main opponent, things look even better. And Barack's religious background will play well enough among the many in the valued conservative Christians demographic that they'll give him their vote.

These are different times. Image is everything and there's such a deficiency of articulate public speakers that Obama is the logical choice.

So does he want it?