Another Reason the GOP Is the Party of Old White Guys

The Republican Party has an interesting dilemma. Large swaths of voters — younger voters, black voters, Hispanic voters, single women voters — won’t give them the time of day. And yet, on the surface, the GOP does a better job of recruiting candidates from such diverse demographics than the Democrats are currently doing.

The operative phrase is “on the surface.” Looking at the GOP presidential field, we see a token woman and African-American. But as usual, these candidates are fringey and underqualified, seemingly recruited mainly to put a diverse face on the field when lined up on a debate stage. There are two declared Hispanic candidates but both Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz are of Cuban descent, a group that represents only 3.5 percent of all the Hispanics in the U.S.

On the youthful end, they smoke the Democrats, especially with the elderly Bernie Sanders in the field. He’ll be 75 when November 2016 rolls around. Hillary is 67 and will be 69 then. And in Ohio, the national Democratic establishment has already anointed 73-year-old Ted Strickland as its endorsed U.S. Senate candidate, in a seeming attempt to push 30-year-old P.G. Sittenfeld out of the race.

But of the six already declared GOP presidential candidates, Rubio and Cruz, are in their 40s; Rand Paul is just past 50. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, widely considered by Very Serious People to be a frontrunner, is also still in his 40s.

So why do younger voters flee from the GOP? Um … maybe it’s their positions on issues and their attitudes, which diverge from those of most younger voters.

For instance, take 26-year-old Joseph Gergley, who topped a five-candidate primary field in what was technically a nonpartisan race for governor of Gahanna, a town of 33,000 just outside Columbus. He’ll be in a runoff with city council president Tom Kneeland in November, who will hopefully smoke his ass but you can never be sure. Gahanna is very high income and very white.

If The Supreme Court OKs National Marriage Equality, Doom! DOOM!

Marriage equality is winning. That’s the long and short of it. Whether or not the Supreme Court decision in the case of Obergefell vs Hodges, due this month, ends up legalizing it across the country, it is coming and no, Ted Cruz is not going to be successful in getting that constitutional amendment banning it that he wants so badly for some reason. (Pandering? Ted? Nah!)

This, of course, has totally unglued the usual self-appointed guardians of what they like to think of as “Christian” values. And you know when that list is made, second-time presidential candidate Rick Santorum will be somewhere near the top. When it comes to being an unpleasantly narrow-minded judge of other people’s morality, he can always be counted on.

On a conference call last week, Santorum told undoubtedly enthralled admirers, “If the Court rules on that, that is in fact that law of the land, but just like on a lot of other things that I don’t agree with the Court on what they do, that doesn’t mean we won’t fight and try to push back both as the Congress should and as the president should as a co-equal branch of the government. We would certainly make sure that we are protecting children and that we are creating an optimal atmosphere for every child, as I said, that have their birthright, which is to be raised by their mother and father.”

Listen here if you can stomach it:

Meanwhile, crazy chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court Roy Moore — he of the Constitution-violating Ten Commandments display — said of the Supreme Court’s Obergefell decision, “They’re toying with something that’s like dynamite and will destroy our country. What the Supreme Court is about to do, if they do it, is not redefine marriage but destroy the institution of marriage.”

Josh Mandel Endorsed Marco Rubio, But Is that Going to Help Either of Them?

We’ve heard a lot of gushing media hype about Florida Senator Marco Rubio’s presidential bid — how he’s youthful, fresh, has a compelling rag-to-riches back story and is sure to appeal to Hispanic voters (never mind that he’s Cuban and most Hispanic voters are Mexican-American — which is not the same thing, believe it or not).

Of course, those who have seen and heard him known he’s a trainwreck like all the other GOP candidates — awkward, confusing and prone to switching positions, sometimes in the same sentence, to try to appeal to all factions of the weird coalition that is today’s GOP while not saying anything too damaging for a general election.

Last month, he had an anchor thrown to his campaign. He was endorsed by none other than Ohio’s not-so-beloved state treasurer Josh “The Empty Suit” Mandel. There could not be a clearer message that Rubio must be a pretty terrible presidential candidate. In fact, these two callow, clumsy officeholders sort of seem like two peas in a pod.

But this endorsement could be causing some, um, trouble for Mandel. As the media gets all excited about the possibility of Taxin’ John Kasich announcing his own presidential bid — hey, they haven’t lived with him for six and a half year and watched him wreck Ohio — Mandel’s Rubio endorsement is apparently striking some Ohio Republican leaders as straying off the reservation.

ORP chair Matt Borges didn’t just condemn the endorsement, the Plain Dealer reported. He also put down Mandel.

"The smart political move would be to wait and see if [Kasich] decides to get in," said Borges said. "I don't think that not having the support of a bit player is going to impact that decision one way or the other."

“Bit player,” eh? The guy they thought could take out Sherrod Brown in 2012? LOL.

Ohio Charter Schools Are a Joke & Should Be Abolished

The Washington Post this weekend added some unwelcome attention to that already received by Ohio’s failed, wasteful charter school system.

The widely read education column by Valerie Strauss was headlined “Troubled Ohio Charter Schools Have Become a Joke — Literally.”

Alas, this isn’t an especially funny joke, given how it is costing tens of thousands of kids their educations and their futures and costing Ohio taxpayers ultimately billions of dollars flushed down the toilet, or into the pockets of vulture operators of these schools like David Brennan (White Hat schools) and William Lager (ECOT schools). Pretty much the same thing if you ask me.

Strauss recounts this passage from a Plain Dealer story in March:

“Ohio, the charter school world is making fun of you.

Ohio’s $1 billion charter school system was the butt of jokes at a conference for reporters on school choice in Denver late last week, as well as the target of sharp criticism of charter school failures across the state.”

That these schools are still being promoted in Ohio as the answer to ANY educational issue is a flat-out sin, particularly since it seems like virtually every week we’re reading another story about the mismanagement of yet another Ohio charter school and the disappearance of funds which nobody seems to know anything abut about. Those are OUR funds — and they were taken away from children in traditional public schools, which are overwhelmingly doing a better job of educating their students.

Is Kasich Too Cranky to Be President?

There are ten announced Republican candidates for president. Six more announcements are expected within the next few weeks.

And yet, they’re hurting for an actual qualified candidate, and one whose record and pronouncements don’t terrify sane voters. And the media is hurting for someone — anyone! — they can depict as appealing to voters and with the potential to be competitive with likely Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

One of the people they’ve been circling is Taxin’ John Kasich. And he can seem like an attractive candidate — until you know something about him. And since his national name recognition is in the single digits, for him to have a shot, voters need to find out something about him — unfortunately for him.

And some reporters and pundits are starting to notice that he’s not all that pleasant a guy. NBC’s Perry Bacon Jr is the latest.

“He could be a top contender for the GOP nomination,” writes Bacon. “But first, he might want to get people to stop calling him a jerk.”

That’s tough if you ARE a jerk.

“Republicans both privately and publicly say that Kasich's style is grating, and they are skeptical of whether it can be effective in a long presidential campaign,” says Bacon. “In private settings and sometimes even in public ones, Kasich is known to be brusque, confrontational and dismissive of others' views, even fellow conservatives.”

Well, yes. Virtually any Ohioan who has had to deal with our arrogant, self-absorbed, self-righteous governor has mentioned that.

Bacon quotes conservative journalist Fred Barnes as saying Kasich could be the party’s nominee if he stops being a jerk. That’s like saying “if he stops being a male” or “if he stops being five-foot-ten” (or however tall he is). It’s baked in. It’s who he is.

More Evidence That Red States Are Lazy Welfare Leeches

Something I always find fascinating is the concept of donor and “taker” states when it comes to who gets more (or less) back of the tax dollars they send to the federal government. Figures have been kicking around for years showing that Republican states are the ones most likely to be sponging off federal the government

Now we have some additional figures that confirm it: the conservative states that squawk the most about government dependency, cutting federal spending and shrinking the role of government (and often about seceding from the U.S.) are MAJOR “takers” — in words they’d recognize, lazy welfare leeches.

The site WalletHub ranked states by how much they depended on federal money to shore up their state budgets and it was Republican-leaning states who collected the most welfare. The site calculated how much each state got back per dollar it pays in federal income taxes, the percent of state spending that comes from the federal government and the number of federal employees per capita.

The MOST dependent state is actually a swing state: New Mexico. It gets $2.19 back for every dollar it pays in federal income taxes. Mississippi is #2, Kentucky is #3, Alabama is #4 Montana is #5, West Virginia is #6, Arizona is #7, Louisiana is #8, South Dakota is #9 and Maine is #41.

Except for Maine, those would all be considered safely Republican states.

The least dependent on federal dollars? New Jersey is #1, Delaware is #2, Illinois is #3, Minnesota is #4, Kansas is #5, California is #6, Connecticut is #7, Massachusetts is #8, Nebraska is #9, and Ohio is #10, Except for the Republican states of Kansas and Nebraska and the swing state of Ohio, it’s a parade of Democratic strongholds.

Hillary Clinton: Hitting All the Right Notes

Anyone who knows me knows I have been less than enthusiastic about Hillary Clinton’s candidacy. But I sure did a double take when she launched her campaign with a full-on attack on Citizens United and the way money has polluted elections. And she has kept up the attack. The corruption of elections in my #1 issue because, in my opinion, it’s the gateway to everything else.

“We need a Supreme Court who cares more about the right to vote of a person than the right to buy an election of a corporation," she has said, and most Americans of every ideological stripe agrees with her.

Now she’s followed that up with still more good stuff. She went right to the heart of the beast — aka Texas — last Thursday, where she spoke at the historically black Texas Sothern University about the right to vote — a right Republicans have made it all too clear they don’t want “those people” to have.

She came out in favor a couple of ideas that give Republicans the vapors but where they’ve been tried, they’ve helped increase voter turnout: automatic registration of all 18-year-olds unless they specifically opt out and a guaranteed minimum of 20 days of early voting including evening and weekend hours. Ohioans will remember how hard our attorney general Mike DeWine fought against the latter!

Of course, increased turnout is the LAST thing Republicans want. As most of us well know, one of the big advantages Republicans have in off-year elections is that Democrats, while more numerous, don’t show up at the polls. That has given the country a cadre of the most awful, rich-favoring, anti-average person governors we’ve seen in ages, with Taxin’ John Kasich at the head of the list (a crowded head, I might add).

That’s why Republicans have to convince Americans that these ideas to make voting easier are very VERY radical.

What will THIS Mean for the John Kasich Fan Club Newsletter?

The Columbus Dispatch has been sold by the Wolfe family after a century of single-family ownership that was famously right-wing and Republican. It was purchased by a large national company, the New Media Investment Group, that owns more than 100 dailies cost-to-coast.

Anyone who has followed their adulatory and reality-challenged coverage of Taxin' John Kasich knows why many of us have dubbed the paper the "Disgrace." You'd have to look long and hard to find it putting Kasich's feet to the fire about his lavish promises and claims that don't line up with reality. Giant front-page headlines about swollen state budgets? Only if a Democrat did it.

How low could this paper sink? It endorsed josh Mandel for treasurer — twice.

(To its credit, it could not bring itself to endorse Mandel for the U.S. Senate in 2012).

What is this likely to mean? Chances are, with such a large portfolio, the company will favor less biased political coverage, since they don't have a long historical loyalty to the Ohio Republican Party like the Wolfe family did, and probably less — and less informed and — local political coverage in general.

I wouldn't be surprised if the new owners go for lighter, more "digestible" coverage of cultural, celebrity and sports-related "news" — lots of so-called clickbait with a focus on a splashy web presence. It's the way media is going. And it's too bad, but it is what it is.

Still, this sale is definitely a loss for Ohio Republicans. They have lost their most faithful lapdog in the state.

GOP Congressmen Demand the Pope Stay Out of Politics When He Doesn't Agree With the Republican Platform

Anyone remember back in 2004 when there was an outbreak of right-wing Catholic bishops declaring that the church should deny communion to any politician or candidate who supported the right of women to have an abortion even if they were not Catholic?

A lot of the attention centered on the pro-choice and Catholic John Kerry. Some church leaders went as far as to say that voters should ONLY consider two issues when choosing to vote for a candidate: abortion and gay marriage. (Funny how those go hand in hand).

All the rest — living wages, worker rights, hunger, homelessness, war and peace — was just small stuff, irrelevant. In many churches, priests echoed this sentiment from the pulpit telling parishioners that nothing matters but abortion and gays, gays and abortion. I know people who were so offended they walked out of church.

That year Cardinal Ratzinger, one of Pope John Paul II’s most powerful henchmen, and soon to be Pope himself, wrote to the U.S. bishops about this, trying to put his thumb on the scale of the American presidential election all the way from the Vatican. It was a pretty dramatic example of a church meddling inappropriately in politics, and Republicans cheered it — loudly. In fact, non-Catholic evangelical groups targeted Catholic churches to pass out flyers urging them to think only about abortion and gays.

Ratzinger, of course, became Pope Benedict the following year and reigned until his 2013 resignation. Surprisingly, his successor Pope Francis has taken a very different take. He is preaching some ideas that don’t line up with the Republican party platform. He’s talking about things like income inequality, the corruption of greed, climate change and care for the earth.

You Own the Duggars, Ohio GOP. Are You Ashamed Yet?

You’ve probably been reading about the dark secret that has come tumbling out in the last few days about the scary, sanctimonious Duggar family, they of the 19 children and the reality TV grift.

It’s an ugly story, made even uglier by the family’s refusal to take the personal responsibility those on the right are always preaching for those unlike themselves. They acted like their young teen son Josh groping his kid sisters — one only four years old — was no big deal. He just made a “mistake” and got a talking-to and it’s all OK because God forgives him. Funny how these types declare themselves absolved of sin but continue to point fingers at those who don’t share their religious proclivities.

There are so many pathologies here it’s hard to sort through them, starting with this family’s warped attitude toward sex and its belittling of women as people of no importance except to serve men.

And you know who owns that whole ugly package? Ohio Republicans, that’s who. In particular former state rep. Lynn Wachtmann and current state rep. Christina Hagan.

Back in 2013, these two co-sponsored a version of the so-called “Heartbeat Bill,” which has reared its nasty head so often I’m losing count. And at their splashy press conference announcing the bill, they had as their special guests — the Duggar family.

The clear message they were sending is that all their anti-abortion crap was never about protecting the dear little precious “unborn.” It’s about putting women in their place — the same place as Michelle Duggar with her 19 kids. It’s about turning them into baby factories or diminishing their agency so that they are powerless to the point of being dismissed as collateral damage to the family’s need to protect their golden son and their pious face they maintained for the public for money.

John Kasich is Very, Very Sensitive to Injustice in the Black Community. And Other Stuff.

Following Taxin’ Josh Kasich’s delusions presidential campaign (heck yes, he is running) is just too much fun.

Yesterday he was on ABC News’ This Week, interviewed by host Jon Karl. You can read the transcript here or even watch if you have the stomach for it.

Is he running? You bet he is, unless he's stopped!

"We're getting closer [to announcing]," he told Karl. "We have metrics set internally. I am very pleased with what we have seen over the course of the last month. Within a period of time, I will make a decision and if we meet our metrics, I'm going to move forward. I have to tell you that I'm increasingly optimistic about all of this."

Apparently, he’s been having more conversations with God, or maybe with the Koch brothers, same thing to a Republican.

Meanwhile the interview with Karl gave Kasich a chance to do what he does best: exude pretty words unbacked by any real action and put his foot in his mouth with his blockheaded insensitivity.

For instance, he took credit for the fact that there was no violence in Cleveland previous day after the verdict of “not guilty” came down against the cop who had fired multiple shots at an unarmed black couple. That’s because he’s “very very sensitive” to the issues around black mistrust of police and because he created a task force on the issue a few months ago.

Stop laughing now.

“When there are large numbers of people who do not think the system works for them and in some ways works against them we have to respond to it,” said Taxin’ John. “And so in Cleveland across the state of Ohio we've been very aggressive in terms of saying we hear you, we understand it, there are going to be a series of additional recommendations that's going to respond to the fact that community understands police and police needs to understand community.”

First GOP Debate to Be in Cleveland — and Kasich May be on the Outside Looking In

Anyone who’s been following the GOP presidential nomination race knows that the clown car is filling up so fast they’re going to have to call in the clown bus soon.

There are six officially declared candidates: Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, Carly Fiorina, Ben Carson and Mike Huckabee. There are candidates who are definitely running but are being coy or are trying to skirt campaign finance rules: Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, Chris Christie and our own dearly not-beloved governor, Taxin’ John Kasich. Bobby Jindal, Rick Santorum, Rick Perry and Donald Trump (!!!) are making noises about running and there are probably another 6-8 eying the wide-open race wistfully.

There are so many candidates that there has been handwringing on the GOP side about how they’re going to conduct primary debates without having candidates give one word answers to questions. Now it appears that party officials, along with debate hosts Fox “News” and Facebook, are coming up with some guidelines for the first debate in August — in Cleveland (good lord, how did we get so lucky?!)

Only announced candidates can participate in the debate taking place at Quicken Loans Arena, which makes sense, although it might crimp Jeb Bush’s style, as he remains unannounced so his unlimited money PAC can run his shadow campaign (why we should laugh at the pseudo-scandal of donations to the Clinton Foundation — Jebya is REALLY skirting ethics here).

The debate will be limited to ten candidates. If there are not ten announced candidates — or if there are more than ten — the other slots will be filled by the candidates who place in the top ten as determined by an average of the five most recent national polls recognized by Fox “News.”

Still More Pretty Words & Contradictory Action from Taxin' John Kasich

It just isn’t hard to find examples of Taxin’ John Kasich exhaling warm ‘n’ fuzzy words, intended to sound like he’s caring and compassionate, but they’re completely at odds with his actions and policy proposals. In fact, I’ll bet we could find a new one every day.

Here’s yet another case in point: infant mortality.

It’s hard to take a stand in favor of high infant mortality rates such as those found in certain poor areas of Ohio. A study about two years ago found that in some Cleveland neighborhoods, infant mortality rates exceeded those of third-world countries like Rwanda and Haiti. That ought to be something politicians at every point on the ideological spectrum agree needs to be addressed.

And Kasich did.

"Ohio has one of the worst infant mortality rates in the nation and that is simply unacceptable," Kasich said late last year. "Initiatives like today's summit and our efforts to reduce drug addiction are good first steps, but we must work together to focus support and resources to those mothers and babies most at-risk."

Yes, pretty words. But what is Kasich doing?

According to Lisa Wurm of the ACLU of Ohio in an editorial in the Cincinnati Enquirer, not a lot. She pointed out that while Kasich pushed to expand Medicaid — including medical care for pregnant women — in 2013, his current budget, now under consideration in the legislature, cuts it.

“Ohio House Bill 64 would decrease the amount of money a family can make and still enroll in Medicaid,” she writes. “For example, income for a family of three would now be capped at $27,724 a year. Pregnant women, one of the groups who stand to benefit most by having access to regular medical care, are put at serious risk by this plan.”

Kasich Is on the Campaign Trail, Trying to Play the Suckers Like He Played Ohioans

PrideSource, a Michigan LGBT publication, has the good (?) news for LGBT people following the 2016 Republican presidential campaign. Taxin’ John Kasich hates you less than the other candidates, or at least he pretends to. Admittedly, that’s not a very high bar to clear, with virulent homophobes like Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee and Ben Carson in the field.

But Ohioans will recognize his remarks as classic Kasich: be as vague as possible and try to sound all warm and fuzzy with words of pseudo-compassion that have nothing to do with your actual record.

According to PrideSource, speaking to an audience in L.A., “Republican John Kasich, who is pondering a 2016 presidential run [he’s done pondering; he’s running until forced to stop], said Friday he's a man of faith who is reading a book on prayer but doesn't plan to dwell on social issues in a potential White House campaign.”

We in Ohio know what this means: it means he wants to avoid scrutiny by saying a lot of nothing, something he’s expert at, and hiding behind his sanctimonious religiosity. Unions? Never heard of them until …. Oh lookie, here’s SB 5. Women’s rights? Not thinking about that — until he signs them away in the dead of a Sunday evening. When Kasich says that he’s not thinking about something right now — look out!

The publication continued, “Kasich responded that ‘faith has always been an underpinning of our country,’ but he planned to stress the need for economic growth and values shared widely by Americans, such as personal responsibility, teamwork and the importance of family.”

U.S. Catholic Bishops Still Obsessed With Sex; Pope Francis Says He Has Other Priorities

Virtually all the Catholics I know have been really thrilled with the Pope Francis, who was elected in March 2013 when the widely despised rightwing Pope Benedict XIV suddenly and mysterious retired. They have appreciated that he has shifted the church’s focus from an obsession with sex, fulminating against gay marriage, abortion and contraception and attempting to meddle in U.S. elections, to a broader vision that involves care of humanity and care of the planet.

It seems some sex-obsessed bishops and archbishops have not gotten the message — and that includes Cleveland Bishop Richard Lennon, himself not too popular with the flock.

Some of you may have seen stories of the increasing numbers of hysterical bishops, desperate to maintain control over the flock’s genitals, who have been requiring teachers in their schools — who very often these days aren’t Catholic since the church has driven all the nuns away — to sign “morality” pledges promising never, ever to speak out on any of the church’s hot button issues or to do or say anything that might indicate a position that might now align with the church’s. Your son is gay? Too bad. Anything you say or do to support his relationship is forbidden.

Such clauses have already cropped up in Cincinnati and Columbus. In Cincinnati, a teacher quit at the prospective of being told she could not publicly support her gay son.

In Columbus a lesbian teacher was fired after her partner’s name appeared in an obituary for her mother. The diocese reached a settlement with her.

Lobby for Choice Lobby Day in Columbus, Wednesday April 22

Are you fed up with a bunch of rightwing, mostly male lawmakers in our state capital, spouting about freedom and less government out of one side of their mouth and appointing themselves the doctors of Ohio's women out of the other?

Me too.

It seems "getting the government off our backs" doesn't apply to the most life-changing choice a woman can make: whether and when to have children. This gang of clowns in our statehouse has been relentlessly trying to strip women of any agency and control in their lives, condemning lower-income women — those predominantly affected by their cruel, invasive laws — and their children to lives of increased poverty. And if you read my earlier post you know poverty among Ohio children has dramatically increased already, to a quarter of Ohio's kids. And with the lack of social and economic mobility in the U.S. many of those kids are consigned to lifetimes of poverty.

Thanks, legislators.

If you are angry and want to let our state legislators known how you feel, pro-choice groups have organized Freedom of Choice Advocacy Day this Wednesday April 22 in Columbus.

"Freedom of Choice Ohio will hold our annual Advocacy Day on April 22. This year, Ohio women and men will gather at the Ohio Statehouse to learn more about the significant, multiple threats to reproductive health care. Armed with information and training, participants will engage their legislators to show that their constituents do not support abortion bans or attacks on funding."

The day starts at 9:30am with registration and a light breakfast, followed by a keynote speaker and a short training session so you know the proper way to approach the staff in the legislator's office (who you will probably be talking to). They will assign groups the offices to visit; they have made the appointments for you so you don't have to worry about a thing. You will also get lunch.

If this sounds good to you, here's where you go to register:

HOW Arrogant Is Taxin' John Kasich?

"Republican Ohio Gov. John Kasich Is Waiting For God To Tell Him To Run For President"

Anyone who thinks God will deliver this message is delusional and unfit to be President. Ahem, Sarah Palin.

The pompous, sanctimonious governor put piety on ostentatious display on Meet the Press, saying, "My family is a consideration, and number two, the most important thing is, what does the Lord want me to do with my life? You know, he puts us on Earth, all of us on Earth, to achieve certain purposes, and I’m trying to determine if this is what the Lord wants, and I’m not going to figure that out laying in bed hoping lightning strikes, so I’m out there one foot in front of another. We’ll see what happens.”

Really, Taxin' John? Did the Lord also tell you to attack working people and take away their rights? Did He also tell you that you needed to give more money back to the rich and pass the bill on to ordinary people scraping to get by? Did you tell you to turn your back on the needs of children and the elderly in order to reward your rich campaign donors?

Isn't it funny how all of that contradicts the message he sent through Jesus Christ, who you as a "Christian" supposedly consider the Son of God? It must have been a while since you read the Gospels. And yet you are so full of yourself, you think you have some special purpose the Lord will determine.

Here's something: why don't you actually READ the Gospels and the things Jesus preached, and if you actually believe, use those as a guideline to your "purpose" instead of exhaling these high-flown words? Unfortunately, you would probably have to change your whole way of thinking, what you said during the 2010 campaign about making Ohio a "test lab for conservative ideology." And that ideology is at odds with the Gospels.

Here's Your Kasich "Economic Miracle" in a Nutshell

Matt Bird, a policy and program assistant at the enter for Community Solutions, writes on the Policy Matters Ohio blog:

"The Center for Community Solutions has released a new series of county profiles that show an increase in poverty, food pantry use and Medicaid enrollment despite a strengthening economy."


Bad news from CCS here:

Yes, he says, the number of jobs has been slowly increasing throughout Ohio (though it's been lagging job growth nationwide for several years), although seven counties — Clinton, Cuyahoga, Hamilton, Lucas, Montgomery, Summit, and Trumbull — have employment levels more than 10,000 below their 2007 levels.

But here's your problem, says Bird:

"Of the top five employment sectors by number of employees, two — retail trade and accommodation and food services — have average annual pay of less than $30,000 per year. The other largest sectors — health care and social assistance, manufacturing, and educational services — all have average annual pay of greater than $40,000."

And we all know which job categories have been growing the fastest. By 2013, median household income had dropped nearly 12 percent in a decade and 15.8 percent of Ohians — including many working Ohioans — were living in poverty. That included more than a quarter of children under five, meaning a more impoverished future for them.

Bird wrote that SNAP recipients had increased 59 percent since 2006 but still weren't meeting the need, stressing out food pantries.

The one bright spot: Medicaid extension meant 470,000 more Ohioans enrolled and covered. So now, almost a quarter of the Ohio's population is enrolled in Medicaid. That's good but it's also an indication of how poor the state is becoming.

Guest Column on the ODP Endorsement of Ted Strickland for Senate

*P.G. Sittenfeld*

An Opinion from the Grassroots
By Karen Marotta

I think the Ohio Democratic Party made a mistake by prematurely endorsing a candidate for the US Senate. A more thoughtful approach by the leadership would allow a robust debate on the issues which would lead to strengthening the message for the winner of the Primary Election. As a grassroots activist in a red county, I know how important it is to have good Democratic candidates. When a young person is willing to run for office and fight for our values, we cannot afford to discount them.

I live in the 2nd Congressional district and in 2014 we were shown what a primary should be. We were lucky to have multiple candidates for the race and two of them, Ronny Richards and Marek Tyszkiewicz conducted themselves with integrity and mutual respect. When Marek won, Ronny worked harder than anyone to get him elected. Even though we lost the race, we were proud to have these men represent our Party.

PG Sittenfeld should have been welcomed with open arms into the race for the Senate. He and Ted Strickland should have been encouraged to face off on the issues, emphasizing how important it is that we win back the Senate in 2016. This could have been an opportunity for the Party leaders to encourage new candidates and allow them the experience and the name recognition they will need to be successful in future races. The resources spent on this would have paid dividends in a united, energized Party that attracts and invites new members and new voters.

No Money in State Budget to Mail Absentee Ballots

As it stands now, there's no money in the state budget to mail out absentee ballots in 2016. Because of course not.

The latest state budget, submitted to the legislature by spending addict Taxin’ John Kasich is a record-busting $72 BILLION. But Ohio legislature has nixed the request from secretary of state Jon Husted — for once not the bad guy — for a mere $1.25 million to mail absentee ballots to votes across the state in 2016 for the presidential election. Because of course we want to humiliate the state still more by having one of the worse turnouts in the nation. In a presidential year. Gotta keep those voters and those ballots apart.

“It's not in there yet," said Husted's optimistic press secretary Joshua Eck told the Columbus Dispatch. He who added they've been given no indication that lawmakers against it. Ha ha. Yes, it’s just like if David Brennan of the failing White Hat Charter Schools wanted another $100 million.

Last month assistant secretary of state Matt Damschroder testified to the House Finance Committee that “In the grand scheme of things, $1.25 million is a small price to pay to ensure that when all eyes are on Ohio, we deliver another smooth presidential election.”

You’d think. But maybe let’s play our little games first instead of treating this as a no-brainer. But the House members the Dispatch spoke with were vague and noncommittal, like this is no big thing. Speaker Cliff Rosenberger said maybe the money would be added. At some point. When he’s good and ready.

“There is absolutely no reason that this modest request was not among the amendments that made it into the substitute budget bill,” said League of Women Voters of Ohio executive director Carrie Davis. “If the legislature refuses to fund the Secretary of State’s absentee mailing next year, then they ought to repeal the prohibition on the Secretary of State or other government offices sending absentee applications on their own.”

Kasich Does a Good Thing, Takes a Stand Against Voter Suppression

Taxin' John Kasich's record as governor has been mostly dismal. It's been six years of reckless spending, increased taxes, cuts to local governments and public schools, lax charter school oversight and repeated scandals as well as failure, lagging job creation, shrinking middle class, growing poverty, attacks on women's rights .... the list goes on and on.

The Republican regime in Columbus has especially been notable for its attacks on fair elections, with attempts at creating obstacles and confusion for voters coming from Secretary of State Jon Husted, attorney general MIke DeWine, and of course, our neanderthal legislature.

It was the latter who decided, in their infinite lack of wisdom, to insert a provision into the transportation bill that required college students to acquire an Ohio drivers license and car registration within 30 days of coming to Ohio if they wanted to vote at a cost that could be as high as nearly $100 — you know, a poll tax.

I know some have said "They should vote at home if they don't intend to live here." The problem is college students often don't know where they will end up. Their lives are in flux. Why get a brand new drivers license (especially since many students have no access to a car while at school) if you don't know where you'll ultimately be going? But the present reality for most is their college. And by letting them have a voice in what goes on in their new hometown, you give them a stake in it and a reason to stay.

I wasn't clear to me what would happen if a student's car title was in their parent's name, a not-uncommon thing for a college kid. Whatever. The design of this was clear: create yet another expensive, time-consuming and confusing obstacle.

Here's Your Kasich "Economic Miracle"

We all remember how Taxin’ John Kasich ran a campaign last year based on a big lie — that he had somehow performed an “economic miracle” and that Ohio’s economy was roaring.

And it is — in reverse.

A new study from Pew Charitable Trusts shows that out of 50 states, Ohio had the second largest decline in its middle class, exceeded only by Wisconsin.

The number of middle class households in Ohio dropped from 50.9 percent in 2000 to 45.7 percent in 2013. Median income fell from $56,434 to $48,081 in the same time period. The share of households spending at least 30 percent of their income on housing jumped from 25 to 30 percent.

Obviously, given that time frame, not all of that is due to Kasich. Two other governors and a major recession caused by George Bush were also involved. But it sure puts a damper on Kasich’s claims that Ohio has completely recovered thanks to him and is doing so well. It’s not. It continues to struggle.

And it seems like Kasich and our legislature just continue to look for ways to push it back own when it tries to get up. Kasich’s proposed taxation program slams ordinary working people with a sales tax and cuts to local government that have fueled an endless cycle of levies. In my city, we’re facing the THIRD Kasich school levy in six years. If passed, property taxes here will have increased more than $600 per $100,000 valuation. We’re not an anomaly.

State Rep. Teresa Fedor Gives Powerful Testimony on Anti-Woman Heartbeat Bill

There's a lot of empty nattering about "protecting life" and caring for the "unborn" coming from from proponents of the punitive Heartbeat Bill which passed the Ohio House yesterday by a vote of 55-40 — 54 typically misogynist Republicans and one so-called "Democrat" — Cleveland's Bill Patmon, of course.

But one Democrat gave exceptionally powerful testimony about why the bill is not just wrong-headed but incredible cruel. Toledo state representative Teresa Fedor stood up and for the first time publicly told the story of her own abortion.

She revealed that when she was a young woman in the military, she was raped and because pregnant. She chose to have an abortion.

She said,

You don’t respect my reason, my rape, my abortion, and I guarantee you there are other women who should stand up with me and be courageous enough to speak that voice. What you’re doing is so fundamentally inhuman, unconstitutional, and I’ve sat here too long.

I dare any one of you to judge me, because there’s only one judge I’m going to face. This debate is purely political. I understand your story, but you don’t understand mine. I’m grateful for that freedom. It is a personal decision, and how dare government get into my business.

Smug, sanctimonious state rep. Christina Hagan, who is being used by the Republicans in the legislature as the pretty young face of their movement clearly has a lot of learning to do as far as understanding and respecting the beliefs and situation of others who have not been as fortunate as she, told the Toledo Blade,

Ohio House Continues Its Assault on Women, Passes Heartbeat Bill

The woman haters in our state legislature just won’t give up their fight to make Ohio women poorer and less free, with fewer choices and control over their own lives.

The ghastly — and unconstitutional — Heartbeat Bill keeps rising from the dead like a particularly smelly zombie. Passed once before in the Ohio House but dying in the Senate and then falling short in the House last year, the bill, HB 69, passed the Ohio House by a vote of 55-40. It bans all abortions with no rape or incest exceptions after a fetal heartbeat can be detected or about six weeks — before many women even know they are pregnant.

The House exposed its true intentions by voting down amendments requiring that emergency contraception be available to rape victims, providing healthcare coverage to low-income pregnant women and offering paid maternity leave.

As Senator Sherrod Brown said in an email today touting his Improving Access to Maternity Care Act in the U.S. Senate, “Babies born to mothers who did not receive prenatal care are three-times more likely to be low birth weight and five-times more likely to die than babies whose mothers received prenatal care.”

That makes it crystal clear that the welfare of babies, born or unborn, is immaterial to Ohio House Republicans (and one loathsome Democrat, Bill Patmon who represents a section of Cleveland with a high infant mortality rate). The only thing that matters is stripping poor and working women of their rights and punishing them for having sex.

Not that this is news, but these people need to spare use the phony baloney about “the unborn.” That narrative is dead. When Rep. Christina Hagan, one of the bill’s sponsors who has been acting as a sort of legislative face for the anti-choice movement, said, “We have the ability to save many lives,” she was right. She forgot to add that they’re not doing that. Instead they want to condemn women and children to poverty.

Democracy — more people voting — is freaking out Republicans

When I comes to voting, it seems like there’s a life-or-death tug of war going on in this country — and the stakes are nothing less than the life or death of American democracy.

Last week when President Obama spoke at the City Club of Cleveland, he put out an intriguing and controversial proposal. He suggested that voting be made mandatory, with a small fine for those who did not vote without a good reason. (It’s not some wild, untried idea; Australia already has mandatory voting).

This came on the heels of the news that the state of Oregon — which went to all mail-in voting 15 years ago and has one of the highest levels of voter participation as a result — had passed opt-out voter registration. It automatically registers a person to vote when they apply for a drivers license or a state I.D. The voter has 21 days to indicate they don’t want to be register. Oregon’s participation is going to go through the roof, making it a true fountain of democracy.

It’s a complete reversal of what we have been seeing since so many state governments were taken over by Republicans in the last five or six years. Their campaign has succeeded in making it harder to vote in at least half of all states. According to Ari Berman in The Nation, 395 new voting restrictions were introduced in 49 states between 2011-2015.

There is no rationale for these new restrictions — no flaw in any state’s election system that requires tightening up the rules or making the process of voting more confusing and more challenging. All claims of voter fraud — especially voter fraud that could be prevented by increasing use of voter I.D. at the polling place — have been thoroughly and repeatedly debunked.

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