Thursday, August 09, 2007

Holy Cow, I Was Wrong

Sunday's New York Times Magazine has a meditation by political scientist Michael Ignatieff about how a smart guy like himself managed to be so misguided in his support for the March 2003 invasion of Iraq. It's attracted a lot of comment. Entitled "Getting Iraq Wrong," long stretches of it deal less with Iraq per se than with the various ways by which intelligent people can still make bad policy choices.

A lot of professors, pundits and policy makers were ensnared by the intellectual traps he describes, many of them having to do with ideology and emotionalism. Others who opposed the war fell into similar traps, just in a different part of the political spectrum.

The people who truly showed good judgment on Iraq predicted the consequences that actually ensued but also rightly evaluated the motives that led to the action. They did not necessarily possess more knowledge than the rest of us. They labored, as everyone did, with the same faulty intelligence and lack of knowledge of Iraq’s fissured sectarian history. What they didn’t do was take wishes for reality. They didn’t suppose, as President Bush did, that because they believed in the integrity of their own motives everyone else in the region would believe in it, too. They didn’t suppose that a free state could arise on the foundations of 35 years of police terror. They didn’t suppose that America had the power to shape political outcomes in a faraway country of which most Americans knew little. They didn’t believe that because America defended human rights and freedom in Bosnia and Kosovo it had to be doing so in Iraq. They avoided all these mistakes.
Full article
In many respects, I'd include myself among those whom Ignatieff identifies as having displayed "good judgment." But there's an important difference. A lot of the people who showed good judgment actually spoke out, demonstrated, emailed their elected officials and wrote letters to the editor. Aside from grousing to a few colleagues and close friends, I didn't do a damn thing. I just let it happen.

It's not that I think my efforts would have made any difference. But not even to have tried -- that's some kind of sin.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Getting Away With Torture


At left is a two-year old dog named China. Take a look at her neck. That isn't a collar. It's the wound left behind after a chain was surgically removed.

At right is Otis Clark of Somerville, Ohio. He kept China chained--which was perfectly legal since Ohio has no law forbidding or even restricting the practice. He did it for so long and paid so little attention that the chain actually became embedded in her neck. More than an inch deep.

Eventually someone rescued China and took her to Butler County's Animal Friends Humane Society. Clark claimed to have become aware of China's condition but lacked the money to take her to a veterinarian. China had emergency surgery. When the chain was removed, the stench was so powerful that several volunteers had to leave the room.

Clark, of course, was cited for animal cruelty. WLWT-TV of Cincinnati took it for granted that China would need a new home and gave out the humane society's phone number.

Wrong answer. Clark pleaded no contest, was convicted of animal cruelty, and was placed on probation. He nonetheless petitioned to get China back. Amazingly, Judge Robert H. Lyons granted Clark's request. Maybe he bought the contention of Clark's attorney: "I understand that they’re upset about it, but I think my guy loves his dog. That’s what he told me, ‘I love that dog.’”

Clark has a weird idea of what it means to love.

Judge Lyons did impose a list of conditions. And boy, are they ever strict! See for yourself:
1. The dog is licensed.

2. The dog is not to be tied.

3. The dog is to be vet checked every 90 days and results given to Mr Clark's probation officer. If the dog is not being properly cared for, it would constitute a probation violation. The first vet check is to be done on or about November 2, 2007. Failure to do the required vet checks would be a probation violation.

4. Mr Clark will be subject to random home visits be the probation department. If the probation officer finds that the dog is not being properly cared for it would constitute a probation violation.

5. Mr Clark is to make full restitution to the Humane Society, the payments are to be made in accordance with the payment agreement established through the probation department. Failure to make the agreed payments will constitute a probation violation.

6. Mr Clark is to read the book on dog care given to him by the court.

The dog is to be returned to defendant Otis Clark once the dog is licensed. If Mr Clark does not comply with the orders of the court or the terms of community control the dog will be forfeited and Mr Clark will face the possibility of 180 days of incarceration.
Apparently in Judge Lyons' book, just because you torture a dog doesn't mean you can't be a responsible pet owner.

Needless to say, Judge Lyons has refused to comment on his decision.

The Butler County prosecutor said that he would refer the case to the appellate division in hopes of having the decision overturned. Animal activists are, of course, outraged, and plan a rally outside the Butler County court house. It's scheduled for August 16 from noon to 2 p.m.

PETA has requested a letter writing campaign in which people "politely" ask Judge Lyons to reverse his decision. Don't hold your breath.

But you don't have to be an animal activist to be outraged. Being an ordinary human being should suffice.


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Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Unchaining Dogs and Why It Matters


Eleven states have laws that forbid or restrict the tethering of dogs. Ohio does not. In fact, so far as I am aware, only North Royalton has even a city ordinance that addresses the issue.

A number of Ohio cities do have ordinances that condemn breeds such as pit bulls as being inherently dangerous. They aren't. I volunteer at an animal shelter. We have a couple of pit bulls up for adoption, and they are as gentle as any other dogs if treated humanely.

Ironically, the practice of chaining or tethering dogs creates some of the same dangers that ordinances against pit bulls are intended to address. That's why Ohio legislators should introduce and pass a law that restricts or bans the practice.

Here's a FAQ, taken from the Humane Society of the United States web site.
1. What is meant by "chaining" or "tethering" dogs?

These terms refer to the practice of fastening a dog to a stationary object or stake, usually in the owner's backyard, as a means of keeping the animal under control. These terms do not refer to the periods when an animal is walked on a leash.

2. Is there a problem with continuous chaining or tethering?

Yes, the practice is both inhumane and a threat to the safety of the confined dog, other animals, and humans.

3. Why is tethering dogs inhumane?

Dogs are naturally social beings who thrive on interaction with human beings and other animals. A dog kept chained in one spot for hours, days, months, or even years suffers immense psychological damage. An otherwise friendly and docile dog, when kept continuously chained, becomes neurotic, unhappy, anxious, and often aggressive.

In many cases, the necks of chained dogs become raw and covered with sores, the result of improperly fitted collars and the dogs' constant yanking and straining to escape confinement. Dogs have even been found with collars embedded in their necks, the result of years of neglect at the end of a chain. In one case, a veterinarian had to euthanize a dog whose collar, an electrical cord, was so embedded in the animal's neck that it was difficult to see the plug.

4. Who says tethering dogs is inhumane?

In addition to The Humane Society of the United States and numerous animal experts, the U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) issued a statement in the July 2, 1996, Federal Register against tethering:

"Our experience in enforcing the Animal Welfare Act has led us to conclude that continuous confinement of dogs by a tether is inhumane. A tether significantly restricts a dog's movement. A tether can also become tangled around or hooked on the dog's shelter structure or other objects, further restricting the dog's movement and potentially causing injury."

5. How does tethering or chaining dogs pose a danger to humans?

Dogs tethered for long periods can become highly aggressive. Dogs feel naturally protective of their territory; when confronted with a perceived threat, they respond according to their fight-or-flight instinct. A chained dog, unable to take flight, often feels forced to fight, attacking any unfamiliar animal or person who unwittingly wanders into his or her territory.

Numerous attacks on people by tethered dogs have been documented. For example, a study published in the September 15, 2000, issue of the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association reported that 17% of dogs involved in fatal attacks on humans between 1979 and 1998 were restrained on their owners' property at the time of the attack. Tragically, the victims of such attacks are often children who are unaware of the chained dog's presence until it is too late. Furthermore, a tethered dog who finally does get loose from his chains may remain aggressive, and is likely to chase and attack unsuspecting passersby and pets.

6. Why is tethering dangerous to dogs?

In addition to the psychological damage wrought by continuous chaining, dogs forced to live on a chain make easy targets for other animals, humans, and biting insects. A chained animal may suffer harassment and teasing from insensitive humans, stinging bites from insects, and, in the worst cases, attacks by other animals. Chained dogs are also easy targets for thieves looking to steal animals for sale to research institutions or to be used as training fodder for organized animal fights. Finally, dogs' tethers can become entangled with other objects, which can choke or strangle the dogs to death.

7. Are these dogs dangerous to other animals?

In some instances, yes. Any other animal that comes into their area of confinement is in jeopardy. Cats, rabbits, smaller dogs, and others may enter the area when the tethered dog is asleep and then be fiercely attacked when the dog awakens.

8. Are tethered dogs otherwise treated well?

Rarely does a chained or tethered dog receive sufficient care. Tethered dogs suffer from sporadic feedings, overturned water bowls, inadequate veterinary care, and extreme temperatures. During snow storms, these dogs often have no access to shelter. During periods of extreme heat, they may not receive adequate water or protection from the sun. What's more, because their often neurotic behavior makes them difficult to approach, chained dogs are rarely given even minimal affection. Tethered dogs may become "part of the scenery" and can be easily ignored by their owners.

9. Are the areas in which tethered dogs are confined usually comfortable?

No, because the dogs have to eat, sleep, urinate, and defecate in a single confined area. Owners who chains their dogs are also less likely to clean the area. Although there may have once been grass in an area of confinement, it is usually so beaten down by the dog's pacing that the ground consists of nothing but dirt or mud.

10. But how else can people confine dogs?

The HSUS recommends that all dogs be kept indoors at night, taken on regular walks, and otherwise provided with adequate attention, food, water, and veterinary care. If an animal must be housed outside at certain times, he should be placed in a suitable pen with adequate square footage and shelter from the elements.

11. Should chaining or tethering ever be allowed?

To become well-adjusted companion animals, dogs should interact regularly with people and other animals, and should receive regular exercise. It is an owner's responsibility to properly restrain her dog, just as it is the owner's responsibility to provide adequate attention and socialization. Placing an animal on a restraint to get fresh air can be acceptable if it is done for a short period. However, keeping an animal tethered for long periods is never acceptable.

12. If a dog is chained or tethered for a period of time, can it be done humanely?

Animals who must be kept on a tether should be secured in such a way that the tether cannot become entangled with other objects. Collars used to attach an animal should be comfortable and properly fitted; choke chains should never be used. Restraints should allow the animal to move about and lie down comfortably. Animals should never be tethered during natural disasters such as floods, fires, tornadoes, hurricanes, or blizzards.

13. What about attaching a dog's leash to a "pulley run"?

Attaching a dog's leash to a long line—such as a clothesline or a manufactured device known as a pulley run—and letting the animal have a larger area in which to explore is preferable to tethering the dog to a stationary object. However, many of the same problems associated with tethering still apply, including attacks on or by other animals, lack of socialization, and safety.

14. What can be done to correct the problem of tethering dogs?

At least 25 communities have passed laws that regulate the practice of tethering animals. Maumelle, Arkansas; Tucson, Arizona; and New Hanover, North Carolina, are a few communities that prohibit the chaining or tethering of dogs as a means of continuous confinement. Many other communities allow tethering only under certain conditions; Jefferson County, Kentucky, for example, prohibits dogs from being tethered for more than eight hours in any 24-hour period.

15. Why should a community outlaw the continuous chaining or tethering of dogs?

Animal control and humane agencies receive countless calls every day from citizens concerned about animals in these cruel situations. Animal control officers, paid at taxpayer expense, spend many hours trying to educate pet owners about the dangers and cruelty involved in this practice.

A chained animal is caught in a vicious cycle; frustrated by long periods of boredom and social isolation, he becomes a neurotic shell of his former self—further deterring human interaction and kindness. In the end, the helpless dog can only suffer the frustration of watching the world go by in isolation—a cruel fate for what is by nature a highly social animal. Any city, county, or state that bans this practice is a safer, more humane community.
To its credit, the Ohio General Assembly does have four bills pending that deal with cruelty to animals; e.g., cock fighting and dog fighting. That's a start. But the practice of tethering dogs is a lot more common. It too urgently needs to be addressed.

For more on this issue, visit Dogs Deserve Better.

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Angelo


This is Angelo, a four-year old golden chow mix. Since last November I've been a volunteer at Citizens for Human Action, an animal shelter near my home. Angelo's been there almost as long as I have. His first evaluation is dated December 31, 2006.

Angelo rates a mention here because of the reason his owner had to surrender him. The owner's an Army reservist called to duty in Iraq, and he had no other option. I imagine he remembers Angelo and misses him. I also imagine he thinks that by now someone has adopted Angelo and given him a good home. Sadly, that isn't the case.

I've spent time with Angelo and he's a perfectly nice dog who gets along with most other dogs, though personally I think he would do best in a home where's he's the only dog. He weighs 40-50 pounds, which is not that tough to handle: a little too much for a little kid, but fine for one twelve years or older.

Angelo's been at the shelter for nearly eight months, and I've found that for many animals, this becomes a problem in itself, because prospective owners simply assume that if a dog's gone unadopted for so long, there must be a problem.

Well, in Angelo's case, the only problem is that his old master is in uniform, thousands of miles away, and his new master has yet to show up.

If you're interested in adopting Angelo, contact Citizens for Human Action. It's located just south of Westerville, Ohio.

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Monday, August 06, 2007

Bible-Thumping Buckeye Bullies Disrupt Worship

I'd be curious to know if State Sen. Tim Schaffer, whose 31st District includes Granville, has any opinion about this. I'm all the more curious because Schaffer hails from Lancaster, which is pretty much dominated by Pastor Russell Johnson, founder of the Fundamentalist Ohio Restoration Project that backed Ken Blackwell so fervently -- and unsuccessfully -- in 2006.

Two central Ohio churches recently had their worship services disrupted by members of a group calling themselves "Minutemen United," as I discovered when I opened this morning's email and found the following:

I invite you to keep the First Baptist Church of Granville and their pastor,the Rev. Dr. Kathy Hurt, in your prayers. First Baptist is a welcoming and affirming congregation [that is to say, a congregation that accepts gays, lesbians, etc. into full membership and participation] and is in partnership with the United Church of Christ as a member of the Alliance of Baptists. The church has been picketed because of an art exhibit and a week ago their worship service was disrupted. Kathy wrote last week to her church: "The protests by a group called Minutemen United, which began in conjunction with our hosting of the art exhibit 'Love Makes a Family,' are continuing in an especially unsettling way: individuals from the group have been coming to our Sunday worship services. Their intent seems not to be to join us in worship, for they do not participate in any fashion (and in fact some make a point of avoiding interaction with us), but rather to discover ways to challenge, even intimidate us.

Two Sundays ago, two members of the Minutemen group attended worship and simply observed. Last Sunday, six members of the group came to the worship service. During our time of joys and concerns, one of the group members, who identified himself as their pastor, came to the microphone and shared not a personal joy or concern, but some of their judgmental message. When it seemed that he intended to "kidnap" the service and move into a criticism of our welcoming and affirming perspective, I took the microphone away from him, at which point the entire group of Minutemen stalked out of the service."

Many of us have been subject of protests because of positions we or our churches have taken but seldom have our worship services been disrupted. We do want to welcome all people to worship, affirming that wherever you are on life's journey you are welcome here, but we do not want and can not allow the sacred time of worship and praise to be disturbed by persons who disagree with our welcoming of all of God's children. I understand this group has also recently targeted King Avenue United Methodist Church.

If this sounds like a case of persecution for righteousness' sake, you must have it backward. Visit the Minutemen United web site, which is one long lament about how persecuted they are. For instance, this event took place in Coshocton County.

Our Dear Friend Pastor Bill Dunfee and the men of his congregation had an attempt made on their lives' as they shared the Gospel at a local strip club. The Sheriff to whom they are speaking to as the explosion occurs told the press that it was a "fire-cracker", and that it was merely a Hatfield (stripclub) and McCoy (Christians) thing. The voice heard in the [YouTube] video saying "you guys go...go..." is the voice of the sheriff. Pretty intense firecracker, Huh? [To me it sounded like a cherry bomb going off in a dumpster -- some "attempt on their lives".]

Fifteen minutes before the explosion several peaceful Christians were leaning against the dumpster in which the explosion occurred....thank God for their lives.

The Coshocton County Sheriff's department will not protect the rights of Christians.

Is it just me... or does this not seem to be an act of terror?

It's just you.

Then there's the shock and outrage expressed on behalf of two members of Operation Rescue / Save America (and their child) who disrupted a recent U.S. Senate session in which -- horrors! -- a Hindu cleric was invited to the give the invocation. The disruption was severe enough that the they were removed from the chamber and arrested.

HOW THE MIGHTY HAVE FALLEN! Have our elected officials forgotten so quickly the God of our Pilgrim Forefathers, the God of our Founding Fathers, and the God who has blessed America and made her the mightiest nation in the world? Has Jesus, who made this nation free, been prostrated to the same level as every other religion?

The events that took place in the Senate chambers yesterday [July 12] would indicate that the answer is, “YES!” Well then, what happens when United States senators fail to stand for truth, and bow their knee to the false god of political correctness? Simple Christian moms and dads, grandmas and grandpas, sons and daughters, must stand up for Jesus! . . .

As the Hindu clergyman began his prayer to his false god, Ante rose up. Bible in hand and held high, he proclaimed, “Lord Jesus, forgive us Father for allowing the prayer of the wicked which is an abomination in Your sight.” The gavel was sounded by Senator Casey who commanded, “The Sergeant at arms will restore order in the Senate. The Sergeant at arms will restore order in the chamber.”. . .

The falsehood of Hinduism was eloquently challenged yesterday by those who know the truth that sets people free - Jesus. We pray that their lives will inspire many to do the same and call our nation to repentance and to return to the God of our fathers. May the hallowed halls and chambers of the Congress of the United States of America never again entertain the false religions of this age.

And while you're at the Minutemen United web site, check out the cool Minutemen United gear available for purchase.

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A New Campaign Season

Well, it's already that time again: a new campaign season. So far the media has focused almost entirely on the presidential horse race, where the field is about as wide open as I can recall since 1976. As I've said repeatedly on this blog, I have no particular expertise in politics. I'm just an average American voter, trying to get a better read on how to execute my civic responsibility. For that reason I've dusted off this blog, moribund since last November.

But I'll probably post only occasionally until we get the preliminaries out of the way: the front runners really establish themselves, they settle on a clear campaign message (right now they seem to be trying out various approaches to see what gets traction), and the process becomes less the province of the true political junkies, talk radio, and the cable news networks, who find gab fests about the political maneuvering far cheaper and easier than the reporting of actual news.

God, how I miss Walter Cronkite and the days when the news divisions were "loss leaders" designed, from a corporate standpoint, to elevate the prestige of the networks and not to make a profit.

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Sunday, August 05, 2007

Running Out the Clock

Cross-posted from Blog Them Out of the Stone Age

The current New Republic has an article by Andrew J. Bacevich entitled "Army of One: The Overhyping of David Petraeus." (Hat tip to Ethan Rafuse) It sounds like a swipe at Petraeus; it's really about how the de facto U.S. strategy -- propounded by Petraeus but accepted by all "but the doughty warriors at the American Enterprise Institute" -- has become one of "buying time for Iraqis to reconcile." But, he notes, the Washington clock is running out faster than the Iraqi clock. The pace of Iraqi reconciliation is running at about the same rate as that of my extended family, while the pace in Washington, governed chiefly by the 2008 election campaign but also by a sense that the Bush administration has blown it beyond redemption, is running a lot faster. An excerpt:

The most fundamental question that should be asked about the strategy is: Exactly how much time does Petraeus need to buy? The answer: a lot. With his frequent references to "the Washington clock" and "the Baghdad clock," Petraeus himself has recognized that "buying time" is by no means a simple proposition. The problem with the two clocks -- one driven by domestic politics and the other connected to events in Iraq itself -- is that they are wildly out of synch. As Petraeus himself has acknowledged, "The Washington clock is ticking faster than the Baghdad clock." Indeed, the steady erosion of popular and congressional support for the war, lately even among Republicans, suggests that time on the Washington clock has all but expired.

To correct this situation, Petraeus speaks of "trying to speed up the Baghdad clock a bit to produce some progress on the ground that can, perhaps ... put a little more time on the Washington clock." Yet Petraeus himself must recognize that this qualifies at best as a long shot. He knows that any counterinsurgency is by definition a protracted project. Success requires not weeks or months of exertions but years. As he told the BBC in a recent interview, "The average counterinsurgency is somewhere around a nine- or a ten-year endeavor." For his strategy to succeed, putting "a little more time" on the Washington clock won't come close to doing the trick. Indeed, unless the Petraeus strategy gains the firm and enthusiastic support of President Bush's successor, it doesn't stand a chance of working. Yet, unless John McCain's campaign pulls off a remarkable turnaround -- an unlikely event -- the president who takes office in January 2009 won't have campaigned on a strategy of "buying time" to prolong the Iraq war.

Furthermore, Washington's typically narcissistic preoccupation with the political clock has diverted attention from the fact that the U.S. military's Baghdad clock is also quickly running down. Apart from the doughty warriors at the American Enterprise Institute, most informed observers understand that, with the ongoing surge, America's land forces have shot their wad. The current commitment of 160,000 troops to Iraq is unsustainable beyond early next year, absent draconian measures like extending yet again the combat tours of soldiers who have already seen their deployments go from twelve to 15 months in duration. If the wizards who concocted President Bush's Long War had decided back in 2002 or 2003 to increase the Army's size, options for maintaining a large force in Iraq might exist. But Petraeus will find little consolation in such might-have-beens. "Buying time" in Baghdad requires the ability to sustain a very robust U.S. troop presence for years to come, and that's simply not in the cards.

Then there is the question of whether the actions of coalition forces, now engaged in the so-called "surge," are actually conducive to putting time back on the clock. Right now, it appears the opposite is true: Instead of putting more time on the Washington clock, the surge is actually causing it to run down more quickly.

Full article

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Saturday, November 04, 2006

Smokeless vs Smoke Screen: Issues 4 and 5

A colleague of mine circulated the following email. In the nature of the case, I can't imagine he would object to my sharing it:

Dear Ohio friends and acquaintances,

I'm writing about two smoking-related measures on the Ohio ballot, and to request that you vote No on Issue 4 and Yes on Issue 5. Issue 5 would benefit public health immensely. Issue 4 is a sham written by Big Tobacco's lobbyists.

This set of issues has particular meaning for our family, which as many of you may know has waged multiple battles against cancer, as well as a direct importance for me because of my asthma. I suspect many of you may have similar direct stake in the issue, but since it's been clouded in deliberate confusion some clarification may be in order.

Here is the difference:

The worthy measure is Issue 5, sponsored by the American Cancer Society, American Heart Association, American Lung Association, and a coalition of health groups called "Smoke Free Ohio," including the Association of Ohio Health Commissioners. This measure would eliminate smoking in indoor public working environments, thereby ensuring the safety of people who work in the hospitality industry while protecting the right of non-smokers to be free from secondhand smoke.

This would be a giant leap forward for the public health of this state, and help to eliminate some of the more than 400,000 needless premature deaths from smoking-related causes (mainly cancer) that occur every year in this country. As you may know, even "non-smoking" sections in restaurants are pervaded with second-hand smoke, affecting children and other innocents.

The sham measure is Issue 4, put forward by the Ohio Licensed Beverage Association, RJReynolds Tobacco and other pro-smoking corporate donors under a PAC entitled "Smoke Less Ohio," a spin name for special interests who desire more smoking in Ohio. Issue 4 would create a constitutional amendment that would ban smoking in a few places while exempting bars, bowling alleys and bingo halls, requiring smoking sections in all restaurants, and repealing all current municipalities' legislation restricting smoking, barring any further local choice in the matter.

Right now Ohioans are informed enough to prefer Issue 5 over Issue 4, in polls. However, *both* measures look likely to pass, and if that occurs, Issue 4 will trump Issue 5, since it is a constitutional amendment. In one fell swoop it will simultaneously override all local ordinances, like the excellent one in Columbus, therefore *increasing* smoking in Ohio. This of course is exactly what Big Tobacco wants -- and why it has poured huge sums into television advertising, outspending Smoke Free Ohio by a 5-1 ratio.

Please tell your friends and family No on 4! Yes on 5! Word of mouth is critical to letting Ohioans know that almost all public health, scientific, and medical experts support Issue 5 and oppose Issue 4.

I'm probably whistling into the wind here, but I thought I ought not let this moment pass without saying something. I'm hoping this message -- or some more eloquent one that you write on your own -- gets forwarded around Ohio. Would you be willing to forward this on to all your friends and family in Ohio? If they in turn forward it, then, well, I'll try not to get my hopes up, but...

More information can be found at SmokeFreeOhio .

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Televangelist Rod Parsley Under IRS Investigation

Today's Washington Post, in a lengthy story about the decline of "values" issues in Ohio politics, reports that Rod Parsley -- a Columbus area televangelist; pastor of World Harvest Church; and founder of Reformation Ohio, a political advocacy group known for its less than subtle support for Ken Blackwell -- is under investigation by the IRS:
Parsley, who faces an Internal Revenue Service investigation prompted by a complaint by a group of ideologically moderate ministers who allege he has crossed a line barring political advocacy from the pulpit, has not endorsed Blackwell. But he is quick to add: "I'm sure Ohioans will recall which candidates have stood with them in the past."
But the bulk of the story focuses on matters like this:

So far, it seems that the efforts of Parsley and other evangelical leaders are being overshadowed by this state's recent record of job losses and the resultant economic concern. The unemployment rate in Ohio is 5.7 percent -- a full point above the national figure. Meanwhile, the Ohio Poll found that 82 percent of Ohioans believe that the economy is in poor or fair shape, and two-thirds say things are getting worse.

Full article

Monday, October 09, 2006

Even Among Evangelicals, Candidates' Religion Matters Less Than Supposed

The October 8 Columbus Dispatch reports the surprising results of two polls it jointly conducted with the Ray C. Bliss Institute of Applied Politics:

The surveys of more than 2,200 people show that Ohioans are deeply conflicted over several flash points: candidates talking publicly about their religious beliefs, public officials’ closeness to religious leaders, clergy members talking politics from the pulpit, and whether matters such as poverty and health care are just as much religious issues as abortion and same-sex marriage.

The twin polls also reveal sharp disagreements between the public and clergy members over the proper roles of religion and politics.

One of the more striking findings of the surveys was the differences between the clergy members and their flocks, especially among conservative Christians, defined here as white Protestants who consider themselves evangelical or born-again. For example:

• 83 percent of those pastors say they plan to vote for Republican J. Kenneth Blackwell for governor, while just 44 percent of white Protestant evangelical voters are backing Blackwell, now secretary of state.

• 42 percent of the pastors have been involved in some type of political activity in the past year, more than 2½ times the rate of their parishioners. (Some of that difference might be explained by the fact that most pastors are better educated and thus more likely to play an active role in the political process, Green said.)

• 53 percent of the pastors say they encourage their members to vote one way or the other, double the rate of parishioners who say their pastors provide such guidance.

The wide disconnect between pulpit and pew has not turned up in other studies, [John] Green [of the Bliss Institute] said.

"We tend to think of these religious communities as very monolithic. We presume the flock is following in lock step.

"There’s no question that the ministers have influence on their followers, but not as much as we may have thought," he said.

Full story