Ohio River Life
Thursday, April 30, 2009
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Running for the exits
Although Sen. Arlen Specter’s Tuesday announcement that he is defecting to the Democratic side seemed motivated by his own political survival, the jump symbolizes the Republican Party’s decision to circle its remaining wagons around the lunatic fringe.
Rush Limbaugh, who, like it or not, has become the most audible spokesperson for the new radicalized Republican party, makes news with foolish statements nearly every day. After all, attracting attention is what he does best. Yesterday Limbaugh accused Barack Obama of starting the swine flu outbreak; now he wants to send John McCain and family to the Democrats as well. The plan, so it seems, is to purify the party by further alienating moderates.
Unless Limbaugh is positioning himself for a Pat Paulsen-style comic run for the presidency in 2012, the only other national Republican Party leader left is Sarah Palin, who, along with Limbaugh, has done little else but shrink the party. It remains to be seen how much more damage these Republican “leaders” can do before the 2012 election cycle.
As if eight years of the Bush administration weren’t enough, the current Republican strategy is to do everything possible to bring the country to its knees. For his part, Limbaugh flirts with treason on a daily basis. Palin, on the other hand, struggles to be taken seriously by anyone outside the guns-and-Bible crowd. Fox News, the official television voice of the Republican Party, is reduced to performing crazy stunts to prove that torture can be fun.
As such, the current Republican political strategy is not to help the country, but to bring it down, and when destruction is the only idea you have, you’ve got a serious problem. Talk about a train wreck. If things keep going the way they are, the time may be right for the emergence of a viable third party in American politics.
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Roll over Jim Kenney
Not much of interest seems to be happening in the world right now. The big story is the swine flu, but what can one say about that? Hope it doesn’t come here.
It’s somewhat interesting to watch the village of Wellsville attempt to grab ownership of the Jim Kenney Center and marina from the Fraternal Order of Police. The story is that the Ohio Department of Natural Resources is offering the village $1 million to fix up the marina, but only if the village owns the property.
I suppose it is possible that the state has $1 million of extra money lying around for a small-town marina, but not without an ulterior motive—not in this economic climate. In Wellsville there is usually a subtext, and the real story usually is kept hidden. This looks like one of those cases.
Even the rumor of $1 million draws a lot of flies.
Friday, April 24, 2009
William Savage, Methodist
The Ohio Patriot
Torture is fun!
Ever wonder what happens when Fox journalists finally get tired of reading the script? It usually doesn’t get out live on the air, but it did this time. Shepherd Smith has always been good for a few minor YouTube gaffs, but it will be interesting to see how this idealogical slip plays with boss Rupert Murdoch.
As if to assure viewers that Fox hasn’t gone all moral and ethical, Shawn Hannity has offered to undergo the torture technique known as "waterboarding"--one of Dick Cheney's personal favorites. I assume the stunt is at least partially designed to show Mr. Murdoch that unlike Shep Smith, Shawn's heart is still in the right place.
Thursday, April 23, 2009
Local events starting tonight
Tonight from 5:30 – 7: 30 p.m. the Ohio Valley Regional Arts Council is sponsoring a reception for the 2009 Student Art Show at Kent State E.L.'s Mary Patterson Gallery (2nd floor Mary Patterson Building). There will be food and other refreshments.
OVRAC receptions are informal “art parties.” In the past I’ve had people ask me if there is some sort of “dress code” for these events. My answer is always, “You must be joking.” I can assure that OVRAC gatherings are not formal affairs. The way I see it, the art is a reason for people to get together, so I hope you’ll consider dropping by for a while.
Also at Kent State East Liverpool this weekend is the fourth annual Environmental Justice Conference. There are activities and presentations planned all day Saturday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The focus of activities is in the downstairs “Slack Shak” area of the KSU-EL Main Building. If an all-day affair isn’t what you’re into, feel free to stop in for a while. Something interesting will be going on.
As if that’s not enough, the Ohio Valley Technology Council is sponsoring part two of its workshop on shooting and editing digital video starting at 1 p.m. Saturday at Coffee Fusion and Tea in downtown ELO.
As with part one, Review’s Mike McElwain and David Grimes will lead the discussion. All I can say is that the first session was great. If you’re interested in digital video, don’t miss part two. Come on down even if all you want is to win valuable prizes!
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Listen to the teacher
If even half the stuff I hear about Beaver Local is true, the school district is in turmoil, and someone needs to step in and provide appropriate leadership before the situation worsens.
But perhaps my old classmate and BLHS English teacher Leslie Gabbert already has.
According to The Review, Gabbert said, “A school system is not just about business, it’s not just about dollars and cents. … It’s about doing the best job we can do to help our students build a better future. Simply running kids through the system the cheapest way possible is not the kind of job we want to do in this district.”
Everyone in our area needs to hear that message loud and clear. I have nothing to add.
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Saturday, April 18, 2009
Stopped at a Calcutta red light last night, I noticed a jacked-up, shiny pickup truck with two very large flags flying prominently above it speeding up behind me. On the left was a U.S. flag; on the right was a confederate flag.
When the light turned green, the flag-flying truck sped around me. I guess I expected to see a garden-variety country boy from Rogers or Negley who had come to town hoping to impress shallow suburban girls. In fact, the driver was a thin, young teenage male with a bald head, who glared at me with a well-rehearsed, feigned anger before zooming off.
He pulled into Sheetz, where he joined other youths who seemed to be gathering there. If I’d had my camera, I would have followed this young skinhead into the Sheetz lot and asked him to pose for pictures.
Most people my age do not show their racism so blatantly, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t racists. In fact, most working-class whites will vociferously protest that they are not racists, even as they espouse the doctrines of racial hatred. Most prefer to think of themselves as true patriots who love their country—a country that more than ever is threatened by homosexuals, immigrants, and old standards like African-Americans and Jews.
Like the Ku Klux Klan, whose leaders understood the advantage of cloaking their true mission with religion and patriotism, many modern American whites have embraced the same obscuring tactics. But the rhetoric is all too familiar. The message is the same: White people are on the run in America, and we must act to take back our country from the foreigners before it's too late.
For many of these “patriots,” the election of an African-American president is a significant call to arms. It is time for the white man’s last stand. People like Rush Limbaugh and mass media networks like Fox are far too clever to cast their messages in overt racist terms, so they construct covert paradigms that rely on political conservatism, patriotism, and, of course, religion. Sure, it's all very complex, but it's not hard to connect the dots and see the picture they make.
As well, I've noticed over the past few decades a strange "southernification" of the north. For example, when I was a kid, people around here were northerners. We did not identify with the South at all. Now everyone seems to take pride in being a "redneck," which is no longer seen as a derogatory term. Instead, being a redneck is a source of pride.
Have you ever wondered why the vast majority of televangelists are southerners? Why has southern country music become so popular in the north? How about the popularity of southern NASCAR racing in the north? Ever wonder why so many urban northerners need to have shiny pickup trucks? Truck commercials on TV feature tough-sounding southern voices and images of rugged rural southern men. To be a "real man" you must be "country" and, of course, southern.
Yes, the Mason-Dixon Line has been creeping north for quite a while.
I know a guy who at every opportunity announces that he “hates niggers.” Though he is a Yankee, he speaks with a southern accent, drives an extremely loud pickup truck (always shiny and clean), and owns several guns. On a regular basis he claims he will shoot anybody who bothers his truck, which symbolizes everything he stands for. He especially wants to shoot “niggers.”
Incredibly, however, he vehemently claims that he is not a racist. He’s just a patriotic American determined to protect what’s his. He starts a lot of sentences with: “I’m not a racist, but . . . .”
To be honest, I worry much more about him than I do the kid driving around Calcutta with the flags and the shaved head. This guy doesn’t fly a confederate flag or shave his head. He looks just like you and me, and everybody likes him. The trouble is, I know lots of guys like him, and so do you.
Friday, April 17, 2009
Fun-Fun-Fun in 1961
Digital Archive Project
Thursday, April 16, 2009
I don’t have enough time this morning to develop a full written response to yesterday’s gathering of Republicans in Lisbon, but I will get the ball rolling with a few comments.
As the newspaper pointed out, the whole “tea party” idea was inspired by nationally syndicated right-wing talk show hosts, who have all admitted at one point or another that they are nothing more than “entertainers.” Their fans showed up yesterday in Lisbon to show their support for their heroes.
According to the newspaper, the content of the speeches was standard fare. The Republicans continue to reel over their loss of the White House and the wholesale rejection of their principles by the American electorate.
The job now is to obscure the fact that their last president, George W. Bush, led the most successful attack on the Constitution in memory, left the nation’s economy in shambles, and dragged the nation into failed, meaningless wars.
With virtually no credibility left, Republicans are desperate to deflect. They feel they must regroup and rely on what they do best, which is: wrap themselves up in the flag, blame someone else for their own failures, and let us know how much they love Jesus and guns.
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
Actor-turned-musician Billy-Bob Thornton can’t figure out why Canadian audiences booed his band (The Boxmasters) off the stage, prompting the cancellation of the band’s segment of a Canadian tour with headliners Willie Nelson and Ray Price.
Acting like a fool and insulting audiences during a Canadian radio interview might have something to do with it.
After seeing video of the interview, I’ve pretty much concluded that any respect I ever had for the actor-turned-musician is gone. If Thornton imagines that he can make it as a musician, he’s more confused than anyone thought.
Aside from the simple fact that The Boxmasters aren’t very good, his arrogance as a musician is nowhere near earned. Playing drums for a band no one has heard of—a band that plays hehind has-beens like Ray Price—might be a good start, but nothing more.
As much as Billy-Bob might want to be a rock star, he isn’t. At best, he is a minor actor and former director. His Slingblade was an interesting film for its time, but he hasn’t done anything noteworthy since. He’s been in a couple of good Coen Brothers movies, but it was the Coens, not Thornton, that made them good.
After watching Billy-Bob in this video, I don’t think I’ll bother watching him again. The host of the show should have gone to commercial and thrown him out of his studio.
Where was this church?
Monday, April 13, 2009
You can run but you can't hide
by M. Stewart
There are a couple of interesting stories in the local newspapers this morning. First, the Morning Journal tells us about a proposed hospital franchise fee that would cost both the Salem and East Liverpool hospitals over $1 million per year. The tax is part of Gov. Strickland’s 2010-2011 budget proposal.
Taxing hospitals is a ridiculous idea, especially when we expect them to provide free medical care to the poor. Our emergency rooms already have become free clinics, and as the story points out, the new tax will force employers and workers to pay still more for health care.
Those of you who believe that being a good right-wing Republican means that you must oppose health care reform need to understand that you’re already subsidizing the poor and always have been. Now the state wants to tax the hospitals to make a bad situation worse.
Other than merely grabbing for money anywhere he sees it, I don’t understand the governor’s approach on this issue. Let’s hope we hear more in the way of rationale for this move.
Another newspaper story discusses the problem of “sexting”—that is, using one’s cell phone to send and receive sexually explicit pictures and text. As you have no doubt heard, the problem is that kids are doing it. The ones who get caught represent the tip of the proverbial iceberg.
According to the story, one local case involved a video of two boys having sex with one another then showing it to younger kids on the school bus. No ages were mentioned, but it almost doesn’t matter. Parents need to understand that these devices are not mere telephones; they are miniature multimedia production units, and kids definitely know how to use them.
As convenient as the modern cell phone might be, it has rapidly become an essential tool for criminal and immoral behavior. For reasons that go far beyond either of these concerns, I so wish cell phones had never been invented. They have done more to eliminate personal privacy than George W. Bush ever did.
I also know that once a genie is out of bottle, you can’t put it back in. So never again can we be out of range. The cops and the government will always know exactly where we are. If we don’t answer our phones or return messages, we have no excuse. If someone can’t reach us by phone, they text us. You can run, but you cannot hide.
I want a cell phone that has no voice mail, that does not send or receive text, that has no type of camera on board, that doesn’t play music or television shows or porn, that doesn’t give me up-to-date news and information, that isn’t an alarm clock, that doesn’t surf the Internet, that can’t be used as a locator device.
But somehow I have a feeling the world is not moving in that direction.
Sunday, April 12, 2009
Friday, April 10, 2009
115 years ago
Wednesday, April 08, 2009
Outside my window
I suppose it’s that time in America when we’re not supposed to be surprised by one of our neighbors becoming a mass murderer.
Last weekend’s murder of Pittsburgh police officers by a young right-wing conspiracy nut slides right in behind the recent cop killings in California and the mass murder in Binghamton, NY. The Vietnamese immigrant responsible for killing all those innocent people in Binghamton reportedly announced “America sucks” before he went over the edge.
Well, maybe it does, but I'll go out on a limb and suggest that it's probably better than Vietnam.
And let’s not forget the recent upsurge in guys who lose their job, kill their whole family, and then kill themselves. There was another one yesterday. An Alabama man shot his wife, teenage daughter, and two members of his wife's family before taking his own life. I’m told it had something to do with a divorce.
I know when I got a divorce, there were times when I wanted to die. I hear that's fairly normal. I can’t say I ever wanted to kill my kids, though. That's going to far.
By now, the mass murder at Virginia Tech has faded into the annals of crimes past. Did anyone even hear about the young Chinese student who got her head cut off by another Chinese student in a coffee shop just off campus a few months ago? I think I mentioned it on ORL once before. Beheadings always get my attention.
I don’t know whether statistics will show that violent crime is on the upswing again, but my daily scan of the national news tells me that it must be. Perhaps it’s the bad economy that’s setting people off. Maybe it’s too many guns. (I know, guns don’t kill people . . . .) Then again, maybe the Dark One has unleashed an army of demons on our God-blessed America and the first sparks of Armageddon are showing themselves. Maybe America does suck.
It could even be that murder is simply a normal part of human social existence, that human beings need to kill once in a while just to let off some steam. Murder relieves stress. Killing the innocent relieves more stress.
What I can’t figure out is why more people don’t pull out guns and start blasting in Wal-Mart. It seems like the perfect place to do it: lots of innocent people; superior symbolic value; cameras everywhere, so the world will get to watch it on the news for a couple of days until the next mass murderer grabs the glory.
My friends, I have a better idea. If the world is too much, and today happens to be your day to bite it, don’t take it out on the rest of us. Come down to Liverpool and jump off a bridge.
Right now, the JR is out of the question due to bridge painting, so you’ll have to use the Newell Bridge, which, by the way, has always been the span of choice for the distraught.
When I was a kid, my uncle tried to commit suicide by jumping off the Newell Bridge, but someone saw him, jumped in the water and saved him. It was a miracle! This was in the middle of winter with icebergs floating downstream. Point is, there is no guarantee.
Even so, if you hang around long enough before you jump, cops from both sides of the river and the newspapers will be there. There will be great excitement in the community. Of course, if you don’t like the idea of drowning, you can always blow your head off with a shotgun first. (Make the good folks at Dawson’s earn their money.) Either way, it will be a great spectacle, and you won’t have to hurt anyone else. The focus will be on you.
So, if you’ve lost your job or your house, or if the wife and kids are literally driving you crazy, stop and take three deep breaths. Put that gun down and show the world you really have some balls. Come downtown and take the big leap all by yourself.
For the rest of us, it looks like our little wintery blast is on its way out and spring is coming back. Outside my window I see the Newell Bridge and the great Ohio River. I see that the trees are sending out their leaves. This will be a good day. I can feel it.
Sunday, April 05, 2009
Friday, April 03, 2009
ELO baseball field at Westgate
At the Mary Pat Gallery
St. Clair Township resident Randy Schneider examines an abstract sculpture at the Kent State East Liverpool Mary Patterson Art Gallery. The Ohio Valley Regional Arts Council hosted a reception Thursday night for artists participating in the 2009 Community Art Show. Click to enlarge. (Kara Lockhart-Milan.)
For more photos, click to Eastern Flash.
Thursday, April 02, 2009
Columbiana County Courthouse
Community Art Show opens tonight
The Ohio Valley Regional Arts Council will host a reception for local artists this evening (Thursday) from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Mary Patterson Art Gallery. Awards will be given for first, second and third place in both two- and three-dimensional art, as well as best-of-show.
As OVRAC chair, I can assure you that this year's Community Art Show offers an excellent variety of work by Tri-State artists from Salem, East Liverpool, Steubenville, Salineville, and Beaver. I urge everyone to stop by this evening to view the show and share some wine, food, and good conversation.
The gallery is located on the second floor of Kent State East Liverpool's Mary Patterson Building downtown (across from The Review building and next to the Carnegie Library).
I hope to see you there!
Wednesday, April 01, 2009
More from Beaver Local
by M. Stewart
I read The Review’s follow-up story about the pending Beaver Local teacher layoffs this morning. The plot appears to be thickening.
First of all, any time a superintendent puts out a press release defending her actions and then refuses to field questions from reporters, you know she is in lock-down control mode.
In Sandra DiBacco’s prepared statement, she indicates that a "[r]eduction of force is not a simple task. Every measure is taken to ensure the integrity of the academic programs."
Such a statement forces the reader to ask, “If you can get rid of one-fifth of your teaching staff and retain the integrity of your academic programs, then why were all those unnecessary teachers hired in the first place?”
Another theme of the prepared statement is that the decision to inform the teachers in the hallway and the media center in front of students was a “collaborative” decision reached by DiBacco, high-school principal Joe Gotchall, and BLEA president Cristy Zimmerman.
I’m not sure how to take that one. Clearly DiBacco is trying to deflect some of the responsibility for the debacle, but if this truly was the deliberate plan of three school district leaders, then the district may be in more trouble than anyone thought.
The newspaper tells us that one of the teachers was so “physically distraught” that he or she had to go home. According to my own sources, news of the layoffs had spread throughout the district by word of mouth within hours, largely by parents who heard it from their children. This situation got out of control very quickly.
The proposed layoffs come as a result of the Beaver Local district’s “fiscal caution” status. It remains to be seen how the board of education will respond to the superintendent’s recommendations.