Posts by: Denis Smith


The story is told that after Lyndon Johnson attended his first meetings early in the new administration of John F. Kennedy, he was in awe of the talent and abundant Ivy League pedigrees of those seated around the table. When he told his mentor, Speaker of the House Sam Rayburn, about how impressed he was with the JFK team, the Speaker replied.

“I’d feel a lot better if some of them had run for sheriff just once,” the wily Texas sage observed.

In looking at Donald Trump’s cabinet, clearly none of the cast of billionaires and CEOs […]

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In late December, the website 3rd Rail Politics published a piece, The Curious Case of William Phillis, about the former Ohio Assistant Superintendent of Public Instruction and long-time Executive Director of the Ohio Coalition for Equity and Adequacy of School Funding. As part of the title for the article, curious is an interesting – and ambiguous – word choice.

According to one dictionary, curious is defined as having aspects of the strange or novel. It also means inquisitive or having interest in others’ concerns.

There is nothing strange about Bill Phillis. But throughout his professional career, he has […]

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In December, we were treated to two very interesting but seemingly unconnected events. One happening created large headlines and continued a nearly two-year long controversy. The other generated a few stories but was otherwise unnoticed on evening news programs.

Upon closer examination, the two events are very much related, and when you examine them together, they provide us a lesson to apply in the current political upheaval in this country.

But wait: the warning signal these two disparate stories generate is more important than what might be visible on the surface.

The first event was the waves made by Michigan Attorney […]

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In the space of two days, we lost two well-known heroes from the Greatest Generation, men who represented the adjoining states of Ohio and West Virginia in the U.S. Congress. One, John Glenn, a Marine fighter pilot and United States Senator from the Buckeye State, died on December 8 at the age of 95. The other, Dr. Ken Hechler, an Army colonel, professor, military historian and nine-term congressman who represented West Virginia, the Mountain State, died on December 10 at the age of 102. Both also served together in Congress for two years, with Hechler leaving the House to […]

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“Mr. Franklin, what kind of government have you given us?” a woman asked the eminent Founding Father at the end of the Constitutional Convention in 1787. “A Republic, madam,” Franklin quickly answered. “If you can keep it.”

Today, in the 240th year of our independence, our status as an independent Republic is now open to question as a result of revelations by the CIA pointing to interference in our election by a hostile foreign power.

According to the intelligence community, there is little doubt that our electoral process was compromised by Russian intelligence agencies. In a revealing article in […]

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Fake. The very sound of the word can unnerve us. And we’re getting more accustomed to finding out the sheer enormity of countless fakes out there.

Well, perhaps not quite totally accustomed. A lot of us might have been fooled recently by something or other that was fake – while others might still not realize that they’ve been conned. A recent New York Times story, in fact, detailed how quickly one fake story traveled the day after the election, literally at warp speed.

The words fake and fast are inextricably linked in today’s world.

In the past few decades, […]

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On Election Day, she won.* But then, she lost.*

No, even though Hillary Clinton received the most votes, she won’t become the first female President of the United States. It* happened to us yet again.

In the good old USA, by necessity we have to use the term popular vote rather than a simpler term: vote.

For the fifth time since the end of the Federalist Era, the person who won the popular vote lost the election. In the commentary offered by the punditocracy since election night, several media sages have pointed out that this country is the only place […]

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“You’re nothing but a damn crook!” the man barked at me as I was standing a few feet from him in the parking lot. “Excuse me?” I replied, and he repeated his statement, this time a little more forcefully.

Ouch. As I saw his contorted face and realized the depth of his anger, I braced for a punch coming my way. Thankfully, it did not happen.

After recovering from the shock of this sudden verbal assault and taking a deep breath, I offered this reply. “You don’t know me and you don’t even know my name. Why do you say […]

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by Denis Smith

For longtime readers of the Columbus Dispatch who have endured years of little or no coverage of charter school misdeeds, it’s still a shock to see story after story in the last few months detailing the abject failure and travesty that is the notorious Ohio online charter school, the Electronic Classroom of Tomorrow. The Sunday, October 30 edition was, yet again, a case in point.

In a page one, above-the-fold story, Dispatch readers were informed that many otherwise disengaged ECOT students are beyond the “chronic truant” definition found in state law. The scope of the truancy […]

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by Denis Smith

On October 7, the Columbus Dispatch, in collaboration with the League of Women Voters of Metropolitan Columbus, published a Voter Information Bulletin for Franklin County residents. As you might expect, the guide is crammed with an abundance of useful information about candidates for federal, state, and local offices.

In one case, however, it seems that what is not found in the guide might prove to be more interesting than what is contained within 12 pages of small type for presidential, congressional, state, and county posts.

The section that lists candidates for State Board of Education in the […]

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by Denis Smith

George Santayana, help us remind forgetful Americans that if we can’t remember the past, we’re doomed yet again to repeat it.

In the midst of all of the WikiLeaks buzz, it’s apparent we’ve forgotten our past history, and the amnesia Americans are suffering from needs an intervention to help clear our national memory. While so much has occurred in our country in the past four decades, here is a reminder that there are two constants in the present that seem alive and well from part of our sometimes inglorious past: election years and Republican win-at-all-costs tactics.

Let’s […]

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