Happy New Year

It’s been awhile since I updated, and this is a bit out of date at this point, but who cares. Here’s my latest op-ed from The Ohio State Sentinel. It’s from New Year’s day.

Happy New Year, Indeed
This New Year’s Day, celebrate more than 2006

In the Gregorian calendar, January 1st marks the first day of the New Year. Print publications, news stations, and every VH1 TV show take this time to reflect on the best and worst of the previous year, and each work to predict the outcome of the coming year. Friends and family gather New Year’s Eve to drink and be merry in celebration of another year together. Times Square in New York City is flooded with people ready to watch the ball drop. The clock strikes midnight, and it’s fireworks galore. Yes, the New Year is an exciting spectacle.

While most people’s bellies are filled with good food and good drinks, their minds are filled with optimism for the year to come. This is usually because that no matter how good or bad the last year was, each person essentially has the power to make things even better for the coming year. While the day itself is meaningless, New Year’s Day serves as a symbol of each person’s ability to take control of their life.

This is why nearly every New Year’s partygoer is accompanied by not only a silly hat but more importantly, a resolution or two. The New Year’s resolution is a goal set by each individual that they hope to attain in the forthcoming year. Whether the goal is to quit smoking, lose weight, or spend more time with family, the principle found within each resolution is the ambition of self-improvement.

What is usually regarded as an insignificant celebration, New Year’s Day is actually one of the most important holidays, because it marks the day that many people decide to make significant changes in their lives. This is typically why there are such large spikes in gym memberships during the month of January.

This “take charge” attitude is what makes New Year’s Day so exciting for so many people. While each individual’s goals may differ in substance, they are united in purpose. It is the true testament of the human spirit, because nearly every resolution begins with the words, “I will” and not “Someone else will”

New Year’s Day is a time to celebrate ability and choice. Any notions of fate, luck, or karma are irrelevant to the resolution, because the life force behind each pledge is the self. Only you can lose your weight. Only you can stop purchasing cigarettes. It is in each of these personal conquests where individuals harness the power within.

It is understood that if a New Year’s resolution is kept, the individual’s life will change for the better. But the true benefit in holding true to one’s resolution is not the clean lungs or chiseled abs. It is the sense of personal accomplishment. It is the gratification one receives from setting a goal and attaining it on his/her own. It is this celebration of the self that makes New Year’s Day so empowering.

This New Year’s Day, while you are out on the town with friends and family, take advantage of this wonderful holiday, because it is not just the celebration of 2006. New Year’s Day is a celebration of life.

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Bob Taft’s Scandal: A Blessing in Disguise

By now, you all have heard the news about Ohio’s scandal plagued Governor, Bob Taft. Yesterday, Taft issued an apology to the citizens of Ohio after being charged with four misdemeanors for failing to report 52 gifts worth about $5,800, including 47 golf outings.

In Taft’s apology, he said, “I accept total responsibility for my mistake, and I’m sorry… Words are not adequate to express the remorse that I feel personally for the embarrassment that I have caused to my administration and to this great state. … I hope you will understand that my mistake, though serious, was not a purposeful one and hope and pray that you will accept my heartfelt apology and allow me the opportunity to restore your trust.”

These ethics charges, while serious, aren’t nearly as bad as one may think. $5,800 is small pickens compared to the broad scope of the debacle of Taft’s gubernatorial stretch. What I’d rather see is a public apology for turning Ohio into a laughing stock around the United States. Taft has overseen one of the largest economic downfalls in recent history, and he has done little to nothing in terms of encouraging a healthy free market to make Ohio prosperous once again. Instead, we were plagued with Taft’s wishy-washy stances and poor decision making.

In almost a culmination that exemplified Taft’s tenure, he pleaded “no contest” to the charges. Instead of admitting guilt, he took the low road and gave yet another half-baked answer when faced with a problem. Such was the nature of Taft’s tenure. No answers; just temporary band-aids. Taft has mark of the typical do-nothing politician. Taft sat back and let the state rot all so he didn’t have to offer any ideas or solutions to the problems facing Ohio, most of which, he could have prevented. He figured he could coast through until 2006 where he could leave office and get a job as part of a future Republican administration at the federal level. Thanks to this charade, it seems as though we have been spared.

Taft announced that he would not resign, still delusional enough to think that his political career is not over. As he continues his last term, it is now clear that he is adamant on staying in his fantasy world where he can still do as he pleases without repercussions.

Veritas Forum had this to say:

Ohio governor Bob Taft ought to resign. He says he won’t, but Republican leaders should lean on him to quit. Basically, he accepted a bunch of gifts he wasn’t supposed to. I’ve heard of worse problems also, but to be honest, I don’t follow Ohio’s internal politics that closely. He insists that he didn’t know the rules, but I find that hard to believe. I was given a large set of ethics guidelines when I started work this summer, and most of it dealt with gifts. Now, if they’re going to make a measly summer intern in a fish pathology lab look at that, you can bet that a state governor should have known. And even if he’s innocent (morally, we know he’s legally guilty), he ought to take one for the team and resign before hurting the state party more.

I think Veritas Forum displays the common sentiments you’ll find from folks on both sides of the aisle. Democrats realize that this whole experience has made their attempt to recapture Ohio that much easier, and Republicans know that every day that Taft is still in office will mean that their chances are less likely to remain in power in Ohio.

While the ethics charges raised against Taft speak volumes of his character, it is important to remember that this is just a means to a better end. Taft’s disregard for individual rights and Ohio’s economy is what is really unethical about his tenure as governor. And even though these specific nondisclosures are somewhat unrelated, it can give all of us a sigh of relief that once 2006 rolls around, Bob Taft will just be a thing of the past for Ohioans. Resignation papers please, Mr. Taft.

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Rick Santorum: Statist of the Month

Self proclaimed “pro-freedom” group, Bureaucrash has named Pennsylvania Senator, Rick Santorum its “Statist of the Month.”

Santorum, who has been battling a bad case of foot-in-mouth disease lately, just seems to keep making things worse for himself. Known for comparing gay marriage to terrorism, Rick Santorum is the true polar opposite of former Republican icon, Barry Goldwater.

Santorum, who is now on tour promoting his new book (you’ll love this), It Takes a Family: Conservatism and the Common Good, was recently on NPR to discuss his book and the values found within.

BuzzMachine offers notable “lowlights,” but this one is by far the craziest:

This whole idea of personal autonomy — I don’t think that most conservatives hold that point of view. Some do. And they have this idea that people should be left alone to do what they want to do, that government should keep taxes down, keep regulation down, that we shouldn’t get involved in the bedroom, that we shouldn’t be involved in cultural issues, people should do whatever they want. Well, that is not how traditional conservatives view the world. And I think that most conservatives understand that we can’t go it alone, that there is no such society that I’m aware of where we’ve had radical individualism and it has succeeded as a culture.

If you read the rest of BuzzMachine’s post, he points out something that is becoming more and more apparent. Our political spectrum is turning circular, and while you have your standard Republicans and Democrats on the right and left, at the bottom you’ll find your Ted Kennedy’s and your Rick Santorum’s; common good mongerers who have zero respect for individual rights and represent the statist fringe of our political spectrum. This is where you’ll find your censorship and eminent domain advocates. These are the polticians who seek to bring about the end of America as it was meant to be. At this point, I think the best strategy for the Democratic Party is to donate money to this guy’s campaigns, because he is making Republicans look like bafoons.

So congratulations Rick Santorum! You are Statist of the Month!

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Roid Raging

From The Open End:

It has been over a week since Rafael Palmeiro was outed for weezing the juice, and baseball fans around the country are still getting over what was obvious all along. Yet, more importantly than the demise of Palmeiro’s integrity is the fallout from this steroid fiasco.

Bud Selig has announced that baseball’s testing standards should become tougher. Congress is anxious to score some political points again, and it aims to possibly try Palmeiro for perjury. And now, nutrition companies are going to be held under the microscope as well.

Like Palmeiro, minor leaguer, Kevin Reinking is claiming that he didn’t knowingly take steroids. According to both men, the steroids found in their bodies were there because of nutritional supplements they had been taking that contained traces of banned substances. Natuarally, this shifts blame from the players to the supplements, and the war drums are already playing the tune of every concerned mother’s favorite song, “It’s Time to Ban Something.”

This would not be the first time nutrition products have come under attack. The prohibition movement have been quite active over the last year.

Last year, a ban on ephedra was passed into law until just recently, when the ban on ephedra was overturned due to the fact that it was found that taking ephedra was not in fact, the equivalent of taking a suicide pill (thus disproving many claims by legislators).

Last month, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger had to answer to the charges that he had a conflict of interest when he refused to sign a ridiculous bill that would have banned various protein powders and vitamins. Since California State Sen. Jackie Speier could not win the battle on ideological grounds, she instead attacked Schwarzenegger’s character.

Also, last month, the European Union moved to ban over 350 nutritional supplements and 75% of vitamins on the market. On top of that, legislation was slated to extend to proteins, enzymes, essential fatty acids, and various other health-related substances. The move was said to be one of the restrictive measures ever taken against the health and nutrition industry.

It is amazing how hysterical our society has become when dealing with these controversial steroid issues. People know little about the negative and positive impacts of steroids, and nearly every time they are discussed, the negatives are exagerated and the positives are labeled as cheating.

Now, it is true that Rafael Palmeiro broke league policy and he should be dealt with accordingly, but the conception of taking steroids as cheating is just plain false. The main reason people are down on steroids the most is because it can cause you to be bigger than others and perform and a greater level. Arguments based on the assumption that steroids are detrimental to one’s health are phoney arguments, or else the same people would be stumping to ban alcohol, cheeseburgers, breast implants, and Clay Aiken CDs. If getting bigger and better is intrinsically evil, then the United States should follow the examples of the European Union and Jackie Speier, and they should ban anything that can lead to these ends.

It is no secret. Athletes take supplements to build strength and enhance their performance. If they are in a competition that restricts a certain product, then either the athlete shouldn’t participate or they shouldn’t take the product. The answer is an individual choice; not a matter of law. We already have laws on the books banning steroids. Do we really want to take further steps into this prohibitionist trend? Will we ban creatine or proteins and restrict muscle growth? Will we will go after ephedra again and restrict people’s choice to lose weight? Or why don’t we just get rid of gyms altogether?

Sound absurd? I couldn’t agree more.

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The Hines Ward Situation

NFL preseason football is underway, and the excitement for the coming season is too much for me to bare. After an amazing 15-1 season last year, the Pittsburgh Steelers are poised yet again, to make another run for the playoffs.

Typically, as each preseason day passes, my optimism on the team’s chances grows larger and larger. This year is a different story though.

Two seasons ago, the Steelers broke company policy by renegotiating the contract of then-quarterback Tommy Maddox, who at the time was comeback player of the year. As soon as that happened, Steelers wide receiver, Hines Ward spoke up about his shabby $1.6 million/year salary (way below market value for a two-time Pro-Bowler). The Steelers, operating with little cap room, asked Hines to wait for a year, and he would get his contract. Hines was displeased, but he figured that the Steelers front office would be true to their word.

Well, now’s the time for the Pittsburgh Steelers to stay true to their word, and here we are, one week into camp, and no signs of Hines Ward. Ward contacted the Steelers and openly told them that he wanted to be paid based on how good he is, which means a “Top 5” salary. After the Steelers made Ward an offer that he deemed insufficient,Ward made a counter-offer, and the Steelers rejected it.

Now Ward is holding out. He’s missed a full week of camp, and tension is rising. The Steelers director of football operations, Kevin Colbert, has drawn the line in the sand, and has publicly stated that as long as Ward no-shows camp, he will not get a new contract. Yet, Ward has said that he will not show until he gets a new deal. Egos are colliding and both sides are losing.

To be honest, Ward has right on his side. He is the perfect Pittsburgh Steeler. At a position that is usually played by some of the game’s wimpiest players, Hines Ward shows no fear knocking down a 300 pound defensive linemen so his running back can gain an extra yard or two. Ward’s play on the field has earned him the billing as the “best all-around wide receiver in the game.” Hines hits and gets hit, and he does it all with that trademark grin everytime. It is for this reason that in a traditionally stingy town where the fans and the Steelers front office know what we do when players whine about more money than their worth (later dude), that fans are willing to break tradition. Steelers fans know that Hines deserves the money, and this holdout only makes fans displeased with the organization.

The other problem the holdout creates is hostility on the team. Nearly every player has openly come out in support of Hines, and if he does not get the contract he wants and the players think he deserves, you will have a lot of guys packing their bags for new teams next year. Who wants to play for a team that doesn’t compensate unmatchable effort and success?

As we sit and wait for this nightmare to end, it is clear that someone needs to bend, and I think it is the job of the Steelers to bend first. Hines should be making the big bucks he deserves. He’ll be happy. The team will be happy. The fans will be happy. It’s a simple exchange of value for value.

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Columbus Announces Assault Weapon Plans

From The Open End:

The Columbus assault weapon ban has passed, and now citizens have until mid-November to register their guns. The city has now announced the proper way for law-abiding citizens to register their weapons. No word yet on whether criminals will abide by the same rule. The city recognizes the fact that many citizens do not know if they even own an assault weapon or what an assault weapon really is. I know that my guns haven’t killed anyone yet, so I figured I was in the clear.

Just to be on the safe side, let’s take a look at the new standards. Since “assault weapon” is a made-up phrase, it was the job of the city to create a definition for the new lingo. A clear and concise 827 word definition has been made available for inquiring minds concerned about whether their gun’s thumbhole is safe under the Second Amendment’s standards or really a lethal cop killing machine.

Now we know all laws aren’t perfect, but the city wants this law to be as close to perfection as possible. Since there are no real, objective standards for what should be legal and what shouldn’t, we must rely on what looks legal. Here, the city demonstrates that while certain things may have no real affect on the actual firing of the gun, laws must be put into place to make sure that anything that looks cool or could be conceived as cool will be off our streets.

So, anyone seeking to have their firearm confiscated in the not-so-distant future is “free” to do so by filling out this registration form.

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The World’s Largest Privatization Attempt Ever

From The Open End

In what is regarded as the world’s largest privatization attempt ever, Japanese Prime Minister, Junichiro Koizumi, is putting the wheels into motion as he attempts to privatize the Japanese postal-banking service known as the Japan Post.

The move has thrown Japan into one of the largest political battles it’s seen in recent years. In fact, just recently lower house lawmaker, Yoji Nagoaka, was so torn on whether to vote for or against privatization that he committed suicide (!) just to relieve himself of the pressure.

Discussions regarding Japan Post’s privatization have been going on for years, but now it is very likely that what was once a pipe dream, will now become a reality. The actual move will be done with four bills splitting Japan Post into four different business parts dealing savings, insurance, mail deliveries and post offices.

Prime Minister Koizumi has been adamant on the passage of the bills for many reasons. According to Times Online, “The flow of Japan Post cash into government bonds has underpinned years of wasteful spending, to the profit of construction businesses with good political connections. Jobs in the postal system often go to political loyalists and some are almost deemed hereditary.”

Koizumi also believes that private companies should be managing the parts of Japan Post instead of bureaucrats. It is said that other countries around the world will be monitoring the success of the privatization to gauge whether or not the same thing should be done in their respective countries.

As it stands now, it seems that things are beginning to stabilize a bit in Japan and bill passage is expected by August 13. If this happens they will join the ranks of Canada, England, New Zealand, Australia, and Sweden as countries who have successfully privatized the postal service.

The only question is, why hasn’t the United States done the same?

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Public Broadcasting Gets Its (Our) Money Back!

News from The Open End:
After the House Appropriations Committee decided to cut the public broadcasting budget by 46%, the phone calls began. Soon public broadcasting listeners were calling congressional offices in outrage screaming “I want my, I want my, I want my NPR!”

In the feel good story of the year, it seems Congress is losing its spine once again and caving to the whimsical demands of the potential voters.

Two points of interest in this article:


(Public Broadcasting Service President Pat Mitchell) offered sharp comments about Kenneth Y. Tomlinson, chairman of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, for his efforts to demonstrate that there was a liberal bias in such shows as PBS’ “Now with Bill Moyers.” Mitchell said she found Tomlinson’s actions “very troubling.”

At this point, if you think that it is “very troubling” for someone to point out something as obvious as the horrible balance of views on display on public radio, you are absolutely bonkers. Public radio could make Ralph Nader blush.


“We have a lot of steps to go, but this is very encouraging,” said Ken Stern, executive vice president of National Public Radio.

You’ve got to love the humor in any agency that leeches off the public treasury trying to pass themselves off as a real business. Mr. Ken Stern, who plays an executive vice president in fantasy land makes his living by begging and pillaging. He never had to make sacrifices to get his public entity where it is today. Instead he made each and every taxpayer make sacrifices to keep him afloat. Don’t be fooled. Look at the man’s words: “We have a lot of steps to go…” Oh yeah, Mr. executive vice president Ken Stern sounds like he has a lot of hard work to do. Perhaps we should let him be.

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