Friday, January 12, 2007

Becoming Clearer

I'm still not up to speed on the school funding issue, but it is looking more and more as if it is going to be moving to front pages around the state soon enough. In the meantime, other things are becoming clearer since yesterday:

1) I get it now with the Farm Bureau editorial. I still applaud the tone, but what is most notable is something that wasn't mentioned: A new megadairy is being installed on some of the most environmentally sensitive land in Ohio. Note to OFBF: I'll see your GRACE and raise you Vreba-Hoff if we're talking about outsiders coming into Ohio.

2) Apparently I was wrong, even the swinging middle opposes the escalation.

3) Apparently I was right, I don't belong at these protest thingies. If you show up in a suit instead of something radical, you're apparently sending the wrong message about progressives. For what it's worth, Eric Vessels has been one of the most supportive people since I've entered the 'sphere, and I'm glad that he's got a high-profile gig with ProgressOhio.

4) Speaking of blogosphere support, thank you to Jill and Lisa Renee. If an individual reads this blog, I assume that they probably know who these women are and why it is so encouraging to me that they took the time to leave comments. If you don't know who they are, you need to go read their blogs now.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Identity Crisis

This is my first real post in a week. To a certain extent it's just been a very busy week out in the non-blog world for me, and I'm not up-to-date on even the issues in today's post. Mainly, though, I've just been conflicted about what, if anything, to say about stuff.

It started with this Brian Eastman thing. At the end my attempts to be simultaneously fair and accurate left me with a big headache, and I punted.

Of course, Mr. Eastman's story is just one of thousands in the Great Transition. At a much higher level, Gov. Strickland ended up buying some extra time to name a cabinet, filling only about a third of the positions with permanent directors. In my real-world job, I get to hear interesting rumors about some of these outgoing and incoming agency heads. But, of course, I outed myself as part of a New Year's Resolution, partially to squash the temptation to repeat that type of info.

That stuff, at least, I know something about. I got involved in a lively discussion about school-funding reform at Buckeye State Blog. For the most part I stuck to high level abstract principles: The time to address structural inequities in the funding of Ohio Schools as mandated by the Supreme Court is far overdue. Because of a long-standing failure to address the issue, a flawed proposal on the table is better than waiting for a perfect proposal. If the issue is to be put on the ballot as a Constitutional Amendment, however, forcing a statewide up-down vote on a flawed proposal could be more of a setback than waiting. Keeping an amendment proposal secret until it is finalized increases the risk of a fatally flawed proposal getting on to the ballot.

In the context of this discussion, however, it became painfully obvious to me that I knew practically nothing about earlier attempts to bring about reform, I had no background knowledge of the major players involved, and that my knowledge of the actual ruling in the DeRolph case (the case that led the Ohio Supreme Court to declare the present funding system unconstitutional) was extremely shallow. In other words, I would have no right to sit at the adults' table when the discussion moved beyond sweepingly general terms. That sense of ignorance kept me from posting here on the topic. If you're interested in the topic, you can do what I plan to do as soon as I have time, and go to WLST, where Jill has been busy tracking the most current news and pulling together relevant background info from the web.

If you read the discussion on BSB, you'll find a comment I made where I praise the No Child Left Behind Act. That came after my post here saying that I thought trying to persuade Clear Channel to keep Progressive Talk on 1230 wasn't really an idea I could get behind. I didn't post on the topic of public officials with PhDs from non-accredited institutions, because I have completed all of the coursework for a PhD in psychology at one of the most highly ranked programs in the world. I would never, ever consider sending a dissertation off to a diploma mill to get a doctoral degree. I don't know all of the facts in the case that has recently come up. I don't want to know. Then I got the latest issue of Our Ohio. When Blue Bexley was in its very early days of existence, I posted a point-by-point rebuttal of an editorial on energy policy in the Farm Bureau's magazine by John C. (Jack) Fisher. That editorial really ticked me off. In this issue, he has an editorial that is intended to defend "factory farms." Although it is short on specifics, I'm pretty sure that I would disagree on many points with Mr. Fisher regarding this issue. As far as the editorial goes, however, it keeps a reasonable tone, stays in-bounds, encourages readers to inform themselves on the issue, and scores a few points by framing the issue as a local one. So I'm not nearly as inspired to shout about it. I actually find myself looking for the common ground. If you'd like to read the other side, the group he is most concerned about has a website here.

And finally, I got an email inviting me to protest W's plan to increase troops sent to Iraq. I usually avoid taking on national issues, but local protests make the issue a local one. So now I have to express my ambivalence. I think increasing the number of troops is the wrong strategy, or at best, too little too late. I don't think it will change the outcome, and I think it will delay, not speed up, whatever conclusion this conflict comes to. However, I don't agree that the mid-terms were a mandate for troop withdrawal. I think that W's people are right if they think that showing a willingness to admit mistakes and make meaningful strategic changes is enough to mollify the middle. It gives people (okay, me) a reason to hope that he will look for a politically defensible cover to remove troops once some symbolic objective is achieved in Baghdad. So as I said before about school funding, there comes a time when flawed action might be better than inaction.

That's only one of the reasons I won't be out holding a sign today. When it comes to protesting, I believe in something like the Powell Doctrine: Have an achievable objective and apply overwhelming force. Bumper Stickers, Yard Signs, Web Campaigns, these are things that can start small and grow to a critical mass. Much tougher to do with a time-delimited rally, even if it makes a wider initial impression.

So even though I can sum up my positions as 1) Yay for a Democratic Administration, 2) Make all Public Schools Great, 3) Protect the Environment 4) Protect Free Speech and 5) End the Damn War, something's wrong with my pom-poms this week. We will return to your regularly scheduled programming as soon as possible.

Bexley Rally Today

In my inbox today, an anti-escalation rally is being planned for this evening in Bexley. Click Here to join in.