“ISIS”, Mental Illness, and Lancaster

For those that live in Lancaster or people interested in the odder things in life, you might be interested in knowing that a man was arrested Saturday after threatening to blow up the local Walgreens. Apparently, after the cashier refused to buy him a drink, he flipped out, started ranting about how he was part of ISIS, and how was going to blow the place up. Knowing this area and by a quick look at the guy, the man was probably a victim of drug abuse, completely tanked, or suffering from an untreated mental illness. Of course, most people are not taking it seriously and are calling into attention the need for mental healthcare, but you know how the internet works. It’s full of crazy people. It’s unfortunate that a clear example of severe mental illness is being used by an uneducated fringe to beat the drums of jingoism. As expected, I went through the comments myself so you don’t have to. “Enjoy”

isis 10

isis 1

isis 2 isis 3 isis 4 isis 5 isis 6 isis 7 isis 8 isis 9 isis 11 isis 12 isis 13 isis 14 isis 15 isis 16 isis 17

It’s nice to know that I live with a bunch of violent sociopaths.

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Northern Racism

New article over at The Resist Daily on racism in Northern states using Ohio as an example. I recently became one of the managing editors there, so expect more soon. Here is an excerpt:

Lancaster has produced domestic terrorists. Case and point is Lancaster resident Larry Wayne Harris, who was convicted in 1998 for violating Section 175, Title 18 of the United States Code, which prohibits the possession of a biological agent for use as a weapon. Harris, a member of the National Alliance and the Aryan Nation, claimed to have military grade anthrax and, according to the FBI, had made threats to release it in a New York subway station. After discovering that he mistakenly obtained vaccine grade anthrax, he was only charged with probation violations. This all occurred after his 1995 arrest when he attempted to obtain samples of bubonic plague. Because of a tip off from the laboratory he attempted to obtain them from, he never received it. He was only convicted of wire fraud (he created a false laboratory and misrepresented his credentials in going about obtaining Bubonic Plague). Judge Joseph Kinneary only placed Harris on probation for 18 months, ordered him to complete 200 hours of community service, and a fine of $50. Needless to say, this is a slap on the wrist, but what more could you expect from a highly conservative part of Ohio?

Cronyism at OCU?

Ohio Christian University (formerly known as Circleville Bible College) is a place that is strangely close to my heart. After all, the Church of Christ in Christian Union (CCCU) is the denomination of my childhood. I remember going to summer events for children and having the time of my life. Though I am of a different ideological persuasion now, I still respect the clergy and parishioners of the CCCU and their commitment, to borrow a phrase from their own lexicon, “to living a life of holiness”. However, the increasing fundamentalism that is being promoted by the university represents a significant challenge to the credibility of the school. As said before, the university’s government department is now the host of a radio show that presents Islamophobia, global warming denial, young earth creationism*, and so on as necessary aspects of a biblical worldview.

Dave Garrison, the head of the government department and host of the radio show, also advocates a platform of fiscal conservatism. In fact, he has his own fiscal plan for the United States. President Mark Smith regularly appears on the news to back Republican candidates and he played a pivotal role in backing Mitt Romney in Ohio.

One would think that since the school is an ultra-evangelical university and that fiscal conservatism is the official ideology of the government department, OCU would listen their own advise and not be receiving public money of any kind. However, just last week, an investigation by Carol Biliczky of the Akron Beacon Journal has revealed that OCU actually receives hundreds of thousands of dollars directly from the state of Ohio in the form of post-secondary subsidies for highschool students.  Furthermore, they received a federal grant for 2.5 million. How are they able to secure this money? Biliczky says:

Mark Smith with Ohio Supreme Court Justice Sharon Kennedy

“C. Todd Jones, the paid lobbyist for Ohio Christian University and about 50 other private colleges in Ohio, not only sits on the school board with Smith [the president of     OCU] but chairs the committee that is deciding the gifted guidelines. He has actively     lobbied the legislature and governor’s office on PSEO law that would benefit the colleges at the same time he is running board meetings on the topic.”

So in summary, the same university that backs republican candidates and claims that Obamacare is “worse than slavery”, accepts millions of dollars of public money. Talk about a sense of “entitlement”. As my more libertarian friends would say, this is just plain old cronyism.

*OCU is listed by the young earth creationist organization Answers in Genesis as a “Creation College”, colleges that promote creation “science”. This short list of schools includes Bob Jones University, the infamous university that did not allow black students until 1971, was officially opposed to inter-racial dating until 2000 and did not apologize for blatant racism until 2008.  For OCU to be compared to BJU ought to be an embarrassment for anyone part of the CCCU.

Notes on African-American History in Lancaster, Ohio

Back in middle school, I volunteered with the Fairfield County Historical Society. They were working on a project on African-American history in the area. They gave us all (the volunteers) a series of handouts that put some light on the role the black community has played in Lancaster. The other day, I came across them. Below are some things that caught my eye. If you want further references, please e-mail me.

  • Starting in 1924, blacks could only swim at Miller pool on Saturday nights.
  • During the 1950’s and early 1960’s Mary Burnham, associated with the YMCA, was instrumental in providing activities for black youth by permitting them to use Y facilities when it was available.
  • Before desegregation, South Elementary School had split sessions. White students would go to class in the morning and black students would use the same facilities in the afternoon.
  • To protest the Civil Rights movement, the Ku Klux Klan held a wedding at Rising Park, on top of Mount Pleasant.
  • At least nine Lancasterians were present at Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” Speech
  • Sometime between 1924 and 1929, with the help of Father Mario, the Catholic Church helped bring the NAACP to Lancaster and held a panel discussion at the Elk lodge.
  • A NAACP chapter wasn’t started in Fairfield County until 1965 with the help of Grant Groggin. Groggin, after removing burnt crosses from the top of Mount Pleasant, was threatened by the Ku Klux Klan. Groggin was also monitored by the FBI via wiretaps.
  • Many blacks left Lancaster after returning from the war in Vietnam, finding nothing to return to.

Progress in Ohio Despite the Government Shut Down

Originally published at http://www.peaceissexy.net/progress-in-ohio-despite-the-government-shut-down/

Ohio has long been one of the political battle ground states. Every election cycle, the Buckeye State turns into a scene of ideological trench warfare. On the Republican side, the party is dominated Rockefeller Republicans  (Republicans which have (1) center-right views of economics but reject the far-right, (2) are typically culturally moderate to left-wing, (3) and are middle class to upper-class.)  who control the capitol of the Buckeye State, Columbus. The Columbus Dispatch, one of the biggest newspapers in Ohio, is largely controlled by the Republican Party but it’s also one of the most pro-homosexual rights newspapers in the entire mid-west of the United States. In fact Ohio’s Rob Portman, a Republican Senator, is one of the main advocates for gay rights in Ohio. Though these Republicans largely have no fear of the homosexual community, Rockefeller Republicans are very well known for protecting middle class interests. Their attempts at voter registration reforms and using underhanded methods during campaigns are fairly well known. The infamous anti-union Senate Bill 5 is perhaps the “crowning achievement” of their efforts since their victory for the governorship.

On top of this, the federal government shutdown and the resurgence of the Tea Party movement has Ohio political climate up in a storm. Regardless, a major victory for the working-class is seemingly right around the corner in Ohio. The current topic of debate is not Obamacare or even the shutdown, it’s Medicaid expansion and even the hardline Rockefellers are favoring it. According to the non-partisan Health Policy Institute of Ohio, this initiative would add roughly 25,000 jobs to both the public and private sector, save the state of Ohio 1.8-1.9 billion dollars by 2022, and cover 300,000 more Ohioans, including demographics that fell through the cracks in the past. Given these figures, it is clearly a win-win. Ohio can actually save money and cover more people with health insurance.

Ohio study

As noted before the Republicans in Ohio are hardline Rockefellers, but there is considerable cooperation for passing this bill so far and there remains no major opposition besides a few fringe Tea Party groups. In fact, Governor John Kasich fully supports the effort to expand it and many other Republicans are following suit. Of course there is more ground to cover, but it’s more than possible to cross. Kasich’s anti-union Senate Bill 5 in Ohio several years ago was a tough battle between Ohio’s Democrats and Republicans and he gave no ground and refused to compromise. One can only hope that he will put the same kind of effort behind the upcoming debate over Medicaid expansion.

Only last week, with the state director for Working America (the segment of the AFL-CIO that represents un-unionized workers), I met with the Republican representative of my district and discussed the issue. We delivered petitions and tried to sway the representative to support the bill. The legislative staff was more than happy to see us and we found much common ground on the debate. Peace, even during the federal government shutdown, is more than possible in Ohio.

Ohio cracks down on grassroots organizing, causing an unlikely coalition

Originally published http://wagingnonviolence.org/2013/12/ohio-cracks-grassroots-organizing-causing-unlikely-coalition/

 

Grassroots organizing is under attack in Ohio. The state’s Republican majority recently enacted measures under Ohio Senate Bill 193 that make it virtually impossible for third parties to function. The measure takes full effect at the end of January 2014.

In 2014, a new barrier for new party-formation petitions will be created; a requirement to have at least .5 percent of the total vote from the state’s last gubernatorial election, which amounts to about 27,000 votes. By the end of the year, all new party-formation petitions must have at least 1 percent of the electorate, and signatures must include at least 500 registered voters from eight of Ohio’s 16 congressional districts. All office holders and volunteers for a minor political party (e.g. petitioners, county officials and campaign organizers) must also have voted in that same party’s primary within the last two years; this deals a strong blow to organizations like the Green Party and the Libertarian Party, which have active cross-membership with other political parties. Due to deadline changes, minor parties may not even have a 2014 primary. Minor parties must create a body of three to five members to nominate candidates, and the secretary of state must approve of them. Each of the parties must receive at least 3 percent of the statewide vote in order to stay on the ballot. The law ensures that many thousands of people will become less able to express themselves politically in Ohio.

Third parties affected by the new rules are claiming that they’re being unfairly targeted because Ohio is often highly contested in national elections. The biggest small party in the state is the Libertarian Party, which regularly steals only a tiny portion of Republican votes — but that tiny portion can make a difference. One percent can sway an election in a battleground state.

Each of the main minor parties has released a statement.

The Green Party:

The Ohio Green Party has been a legally recognized political party since 2008, has shown increasing voter support in both elections and party registrations, has two sitting elected Green officials in Ohio, and is currently running five candidates for local offices across the state. This unprecedented outlawing of fully functional and legally compliant political parties shows the legislature’s increasing distaste for democracy and democratic institutions.

The Libertarian Party:

The bottom line is that the John Kasich Re-election Protection Act would disenfranchise every Ohio voter by taking away their right to vote for a candidate for governor other than a) John Kasich, a governor who has miserably failed the state of Ohio and betrayed millions of fiscal conservatives who expected him to follow Ohio law and oppose Obamacare, or b) the nominee of the other big-government party who is promising to double down on most of Kasich’s failing policies.

The Constitution Party:

Senate Bill 193 for 2013, proposed in mid-September by Cincinnati Republican State Senator Bill Seitz, is one piece of scary legislation making any other Halloween monster seem tame by comparison. This is a bill designed to permanently eliminate all political parties except Republican and Democrat from existence beginning in 2014.

Both the Green Party and the Constitution Party have joined the Libertarian Party in bringing the bill into court. The Green Party was officially added to the case on December 4, after the ACLU’s motion to intervene on the behalf of the organization was granted by Federal District Court Judge Michael Watson. This alliance between libertarians, leftists and socially conservative constitutionalists could prove formidable in the fight for grassroots movements to have a voice in the electoral system.