With only the scantest handful of exceptions, every candidate I knew or was rooting for won last night.
Statewide, the picture looked great for Democrats going into next year's elections.
One bellwether was the loss – by a fairly substantial margin — of Toledo's execrable mayor, Michael Bell, in "independent."
This race was interesting because four candidates were in the nonpartisan primary, and both Democrats lost, leaving only Bell and fellow independent Michael Collins.
Bell's lost was significant not just because he had the backing of the local Republican party, not just because he had cozied up to Kasich but because of his strong support for SB 5, which voters repealed by a better than 60-40 margin.He called it "crucial for our survival." Obviously, it was "crucial" for his political survival — but in the opposite way from what he claimed.
Another Kasich buddy went down in Cuyahoga Falls, the northside suburb of Akron. Thirty-year mayor Don Robart was ejected from official, narrowly defeated by councilman Dpn Walters.
Robart didn't just enthusiastically support SB 5, calling it "unbelievably good," and "one of the best pieces of legislation I've seen in my 27 years on city council," but laughably called Kasich "the best governor we've had in my lifetime." (He's obviously prone to hyperbole).
He's not the most open-minded, progressive dude anyway. He came off like a fuddy-duddy, and made his town seem lost in time, when he expressed a fear a couple of years ago that the town was being overrun by kids wearing black and sporting piercings.
You'll hear a lot of cynics and doomsters on our side wail about voters' "short memories" and how SB 5 is already forgotten and won't be a factor next year. Bell's loss says it will be. If the rightwingers succeed in getting right to work for less on the ballot, it will be an even bigger issue and fuel Kasich's potential defeat. Altogether now: awwwwwwwwww.
The issue of the last day or two is ENDA: a bill that would prevent workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
In the last 24 hours, I've gotten emails from Senators Kirsten Gillibrand, Tom Udall, Jeanne Shaheen, Tammy Baldwin, Dick Durbin, Amy Klobuchar, and Jeff Merkley supporting it (Yeah, I'm on a lot of mailing lists).
And this evening it passed the procedural vote to let debate proceed — the place where Republicans have been blocking most of the business of the last several years with their pretend filibusters — will support from eight Republican senators, in addition to all Democrats.
One of them was Rob Portman, for which we Ohioans should say a big "thank you."
Of course, we don't know how he — or his seven GOP colleagues — will vote on the final bill later this week.
Unfortunately, we do know what will happen in the largely useless House. John Boehner has already said that he's against it because of "frivolous lawsuits" that might cost businesses money. Well, they could always try not discriminating. This means he probably won't even bring it up for a vote because in what world is Congress actually expected to vote on anything?
People like Boehner and his fellow Republicans who aren't happy unless they are allowed to discriminate against someone are likely to get run over in the next couple of years.
The movement toward marriage equality is gaining momentum. That makes failing to protect LGBT people from being fired for their sexual orientation look even more petty and out of date. Boehner and his crew are on the wrong side of history, and I think we will see the results of that in next year's elections.
In today's Columbus Dispatch, editorial columnist opines that Democratic candidate for treasurer Connie Pillich could give incumbent Josh "The Empty Suit" Mandel a tough race next year because she "has a sense of humor, a military record to match Mandel’s, and she is a very determined woman."
He points out correctly that "Mandel has made himself a flashpoint for controversy."
Mandel gained a lot of name recognition in his campaign for U.S. Senate last year against Sherrod Brown. But he gained just as much disapproval. It seems like each additional person who learned who he was was another person who didn't like him.
Throughout that campaign, he just couldn't stop himself from lying. He earned a record combined 11 "falses" and "paints on fires" from the Cleveland Plain Dealer's PolitiFact feature. When he wasn't lying, he was trying to dodge the public and the press.
Connie Pillich doesn't dodge anyone.
And throughout 2012, when he was campaigning for the Senate, Mandel's absences from the treasurer's office on days when most public officials whose salaries are paid by the taxpayers are working were frequent; he was usually out of state at a high-dollar fundraiser. His disinterest in the work of the treasurer's office merely continued from the previous year when he missed every single board of deposit meeting, the monthly meeting where treasurer's office officials decide where to invest our money. You'd think he'd be curious to drop in at just one. Apparently not.
As Hallett says, "He spent about 10 minutes in the treasurer’s office before deciding he wanted to be a U.S. senator." So his eye was on a bigger prize, not in doing good work as treasurer so that he'd have credentials for higher office.
Well, isn’t this special?
“Ohio State’s $50 million investment in Mark Kvamme came despite concerns from top official”
Our governor’s idea to privatize the state department of development and create shiny new miracle agency JobsOhio has been plagued by missteps and questionable ideas/actions from the start.
From his dubious idea to fund it by leasing the profits from the state liquor agency, to his choice to lead it of out-of-state crony Mark Kvamme who had to bow out because he was ineligible, to his pushing the legislature to pass a quickie bill putting its books off limits to the state auditor, JobsOhio has produced one ominous headline after another — or would have if most of these state’s newspapers cared as much about massive potential corruption in the governor’s office as they care about little diddly things some local Democrat did.
Oh, and apparently, it’s not creating jobs — Kasich’s number one campaign promise. Jobs, jobs and nothing but jobs. Ha.
Now of course, there’s more. And this is an even more depressing story, given the rising cost of higher education and the state’s steady disinvestment in it. And Kvamme’s back with his hand out to accept our tax dollars again!
In yet another incident of dubious cronyism, Kvamme’s new venture capital firm came to THE Ohio State University looking for it to invest some of its money in a venture other university officials recommended against because it was unproven. But the wheels were set in motion to do it anyway by another of Kasich’s good buddies, former THE OSU president Gordon Gee. (Remember Kasich’s 2012 state of the state free-associative word extrusion he called a speech, in which he mentioned Gee 13 times?)
And even more dubiously, Kvamme was still the head of JobsOhio when he came to THE OSU to open conversations about potential donation to his fund.
Apparently our attorney general Mike DeWine doesn't get that he's supposed to be the lawyer for ALL of Ohio's citizens, the way his predecessor Rich Cordray so doggedly was.
He doesn't seem to realize that women, LGBT people, and voters pay the taxes he's squandering to advocate against their rights.
We all know he's been a good partner to secretary of voter suppress .... I mean STATE ... Jon Husted to trying to limit voting opportunities.
He's diligently pursued the "right" of private employers to deny women contraceptive coverage if it offends their sense of patriarchy, disguised as "religious beliefs."
He tried to prevent the state of Ohio from recognizing the marriage in another state of a dying man and his partner who just wanted their relationship to be a matter of record.
Now there's this:
"In brief to Supreme Court, DeWine backs abortion limit"
He's joined an appeal of a federal court decision that overturned an Arizona law that banned abortion after 20 weeks.
In fact, this is the cruelest ban, and the exact place government should butt out, since virtually all of these abortions are due to tragic medical circumstances. Government should have zero say in these late-term abortions.
The gerrymander following the 2010 census — the redistricting directed by consultants working for John Boehner — divved up Ohio’s 16 congressional districts into four safely Democratic districts, 11 safely Republican districts, and Ohio-14.
Ohio-14 in the northeastern corner of the state is Ohio’s only real swing district. For ten years, it was represented by the invincibly popular Steve LaTourette, who retired in January. Now it’s represented by anonymous first-termer David Joyce who’s trying to pull the old LaTourette shtick of looking like a moderate and voting like a conservative.
He’s got a strong challenger in Democrat Michael Wager. If you are looking for a race to support where your money could make a different, this is a good one to take a look at.
Now polling done by respected pollsters PPP for progressive advocacy group MoveOn is suggesting more Republican-dominated districts may be in play.
Dare we dream?
It’s claiming that Oh-01 (Steve Chabot), Ohio-10 (Mike “Who?” Turner), Oh-15 (slimy bank lobbyist Steve Stivers) and Oh-16 (the execrable Jim Renacci) could be flippable.
Except for Turner, each of these congressmen has a disapproval at least ten points higher than his approval. Turner's approval is one point higher than his disapproval, and the polling shows him four points ahead, so he's in the best shape. The polling puts Chabot a couple of points ahead of a generic Democrat and has both Stivers and Renacci trailing.
Steve LaTourette was the inexplicably popular congressman from Ohio’s 14th district — the state’s northeast corner — for a decade.
Last summer, he suddenly announced his retirement from Congress and his withdrawal from the 2012 ballot.
He complained that Congress had become too extreme and said,
I have reached the conclusion that the atmosphere today and the reality that exists in the House of Representatives no longer encourages the finding of common ground.
There was much rending of garments and gnashing of teeth over at the Cleveland Plain Dealer, especially from columnist Brent Larkin who’s made a career of strewing LaTourette’s path with rose petals.
LaTourette was never actually any sort of “moderate.” He was a solid conservative. But he was correct that the ground was shifting under him, and his party was becoming more extreme.
Apparently, LaTourette wants to keep tilting at the same windmills, only outside of Congress and probably with better pay.
He’s now president and CEO of the Republican Main Street Partnership, a job he landed in immediately after leaving Congress. Its mission is as follows:
The Republican Main Street Partnership was founded in 1993 to promote thoughtful leadership in the Republican Party and to develop and advocate for pragmatic common sense solutions to the challenges our country faces.
I downloaded and have been perusing a study just released by D.C.-based policy research Group Good Jobs First titled "Creating Scandals Instead of Jobs.'
Oh my. It doesn't contain much good news for Ohio about John Kasich's alleged job-creating miracle entity JobsOhio.
The group, whose mission is "to make economic development subsidies more accountable and effective," finds that JobsOhio is not doing that. Who would have guessed!
Download and read for yourself:
Subtitled 'The Failures of privatized State Economic development Agencies," the report is a followup to one they did in 2011 that warned about the potential for lack of transparency and corruption in such "public private partnerships." It finds that these agencies are fulfilling that potential.
Three years ago, newly elected governor in several states, most notably Wisconsin and Ohio, decided that the best way to create jobs was to transfer economic development business-recruitment functions to "public-provate partnerships." The experiments in privatization have, by and large, become costly failures.
We concluded in 2011, as our title suggested, that the real agenda behind these PPPs was not to make economic development efforts more effective but rather to more tightly concentrate the control over—and credit for— job creation events in the hands of governors and their appointees.
The study dissects five such agencies, in Indiana, Florida, Arizona, Wisconsin, and of course, Ohio. It opens with five and a half damning pages outlining the mess that John Kasich created which, says Good Jobs First, "has been plagued by accountability and transparency problems since the start."
Darrell Issa has an obsession. As head of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, he's going to find something —anything — damning on President Obama. Even if he has to make it up, which he pretty much has so far. Benghazi! Baeghazi!
Apparently he doesn't remember what happened the last time Republicans pulled this, back in the ’90s. Bill Clinton became the most popular politician on Earth.
Noe he's spending his time and our tax dollars posting pictures of cats (as in "felines") who are unhappy with Obamacare. Yes, you can see this on his official, taxpayer-funded website:
This has really taken the right wing attacks on the Affordable Care Act aka Obamacare to new comedic lows, although the cats are cute, as cats always are. But cats don't give a shit about Obamacare. Just get that can of Fancy Feast in the bowl ASAP.
Republicans are so desperate to sink this program, despite its benefit to millions of Americans and to the economy, that they'll do and say anything, even co-opt man's and woman's best friend.
Right now they're flogging the idea that because the website rollout was glitchy, then the entire underlying program must stink. Funny. They didn't say that when Medicare Part D, a Bush program, rolled out in 2005 — and Internet access was a screwed-up mess.
When it comes to car-stealing, probable arsonist Darrell Issa, we here in Ohio can be grateful for one thing. He's not ours anymore!
Born in Cleveland and raised in Cleveland Heights where he dropped out of high school he fortunately removed himself to California in 1985, only three years after this incident, described in WikiPedia:
How predictable. How disgraceful. And when it comes to these "right to life" groups how revealingly hypocritical.
They say the state Controlling Board, which passed the expansion yesterday, has no authority to do so. The four state reps filing the suit are a clown car full of extremists: Ron Young, Ron Hood, John Becker, and Matt Lynch. For many years, Lynch had a big sign in front of his house on Rte 306 in Chagrin Falls which he changed periodically to carry different anti-Obamacare messages. The guy is a dedicated crusader against giving people access to affordable health care.
Hood and Young have been in the forefront of stripping women of their freedom. Becker is the guy who wanted to impeach the judge who ruled that a man's marriage to his dying partner could be legally recognized in Ohio (By the way, we got word earlier today the man's partner just died. I'm sure Becker won't be fondly discussed at the funeral).
And then there's the "right to life" groups. While Ohio Right to Life actually Medicaid expansion, Right to Life Cleveland and Right to Life Cincinnati have jumped right into the fray, exposing them as the woman-hating baby killers they are.
Baby killers, you ask? Yes, baby killers.
This expansion covers single adults with incomes up to 138% of the "official" poverty level. This group includes many pregnant women — who will now have access to prenatal care. And prenatal care is the most effective way of preventing premature births. And premature births are one of the main factors in infant mortality.
Of course they're saying ABORTION ABORTION. Because apparently these self-described "Christians" don't take the commandment about bearing false witness seriously.
By a 5-2 vote today, the controlling board voted for the expansion of Medicaid that Governor Kasich was requesting.
Don't crack out the champagne and start the toasts yet. Read the article at the link above.
You can find the poison pill at the very top, in the second sentence.
Ending months of debate, a legislative oversight panel approved spending $2.56 billion in federal money today to expand Medicaid coverage to about 275,000 low-income Ohioans. Almost immediately after the bipartisan 5-2 vote, Senate Republicans said they planned to use the expansion to offer a $400 million income tax cut, about 4 percent, with money largely coming from Ohio hospitals that would see additional federal funds from the expansion.
I don't know what that sounds like to you. But to me it sounds similar to the fast one they played with the Lottery. Remember how it was going to produce all this new money for education? And remember how the state then took away money from the general fund to make up for the new money so schools didn't really gain anything at all?
It sounds like they are proposing to subtract state aid from hospitals in proportion to the new money they get from Medicaid. And maybe I'm missing something, but doesn't more patients mean more demand for services — and higher costs? The Medicaid expansion would cover the new patients but now are these hospitals going to be struggling to serve the patients they already have?
So instead of upgrading the health services the state can provide, it appears our legislature wants to convert this new federal money into tax cuts for the wealthiest Ohioans — since income tax cuts benefit middle class and average working people very little — using hospitals as pass-throughs. That's both reckless and inhumane.
You know what they say about "no honor among thieves"?
Ben Suarez is showing us what that means in Ohio Republican politics, which has no shortage of thieves.
You remember Ben Suarez of Canton's Suarez Corporation, Josh Mandel's good buddy who raised buckets and buckets of cash for him, and is now under federal indictment because his fundraising scheme may have been illegal?
We wrote about this here:
Mandel has already returned the cash — under some pressure — and claimed he knew nothing about the dubious circumstances of its origin. Recent stories have cast doubt on that.
Now Suarez is claiming it's all Mandel's fault, and he doesn't really know Mandel, and doesn't like him anyway (join the club!)
Suarez told the Akron Beacon Journal he has "no relationship" with Mandel or with Congressman Jim Renacci, the other recipient of enormous sums of Cash from him and his employees. Yeah, he just happened to shower each of them with more than $100,000 in donations in a couple of days because he barely knew who they were.
In fact, he said he probably wouldn’t even cast a vote for Mandel, who currently is state treasurer.
“I just don’t consider him to be a person of very good character,” Suarez said of Mandel.
Most of us came to that conclusion years ago,. But most of us didn't make a donation to his campaign, let alone serve as a conduit for over $100,000 in donations to this "person of not very good character."
Anyone with an ounce of awareness and/or honesty knows that having voted to default on the country's debts for the first time in our history would have mean the collapse of our economic, widespread unemployment, massive loss of wealth, especially fatal to those with retirement savings, the destruction of both our physical and services infrastructures, a reeling international economy, and a permanent loss of faith both here and abroad in the trustworthiness of the U.S. economy.
Anyone who voted for this came dangerously close to committing treason — putting their own ideology above the welfare of the country and its citizens.
Last night the House of Representatives followed by Senate vote in which only 18 Republicans, led by the fanatic from Texas, Ted Cruz, voted for this. Neither of Ohio's senators were this wreckless.
Unfortunately, eight of our congressmen were. It's a real list of shame.
It includes Steve Chabot, Brad Wenstrup, Jim Jordan (of course), Bob Latta, Bill Johnson, Bob Gibbs, Jim Renacci, and Mike Turner.
That means two-thirds of our GOP Congressmen, and half our total delegation, voted for the demolition of Ohio's already fragile economy and the continuing impoverishment of its citizens. What a disgrace.
On the plus side, four Ohio Republicans joined their Democratic colleagues Marcy Kaptur, Marcia Fudge, Tim "The Good" Ryan, and Joyce Beatty in doing the same, responsible thing — keeping our government running and paying our bills.
They are John Boehner, Pat Tiberii, Steve Stivers (probably ordered to vote this way by his masters the big banks who would have been ravagaed by default), and David Joyce, undoubtedly concerned about re-election in his swing district that has already drawn a strong Democratic challenger, Michael Wager, who you can support here:
I'll bet you wouldn't like to be John Boehner right now. I suspect he is going to leave the capital this evening and start his long weekend off right away.
We've seen a couple of weeks of posturing, showboating, and reckless ignorance coming from the far far far right, while to his left, the Democrats just want to keep the government functioning and aren't interesting in enacting under threat radical right-wing policies (such as the repeal of Affordable Health Care) that couldn't be passed through the normal legislative process.
It's been 17 years since the Republicans shut the government down under President Clinton — and in 1996, we had a strong economy as we were heading into the digital/Internet boom.
This time, with the economy already struggling, thanks in large part to the Republican-demanded sequestration and failure to do anything about creating jobs because they're way too obsessed with women's sexual activities, the impact will probably mean an extended period of slow growth.
Meanwhile, the far right Tea Party types were ready to do something that has never happened in the history of our country: default on the national debt. If that had happened, we'd mostly likely have gone into another depression and the economy probably wouldn't have recovered in our lifetimes. It's hard to tell HOW far-reaching the effects would have been, but they would certainly have been far-reaching.
Some of these radicals were going around saying it wouldn't have been so bad; others, like the crafty but cruel Ted Cruz, just seemed not to care.
First Mandel received over $100,000 in suspicious large donations from employees of the Suarez Corporation who'd never made any political contributions before.
But Mandel's hands were clean, we were told, because he didn't know anything about how or why he got the donations.
Still, he gave them back. For no reason because they were perfectly legal donations from true supporters, or something.
Then in September Suarez Corporation owner Ben Suarez is indicted for allegedly using his employees to illegally funnel donations to Mandel as well as congressman Jim Renacci
But Mandel's hands are still clean, we're told, because how could he have had any idea what was going on?
Then we learn that Mandel had ASKED Suarez to raise this money shortly before the donations came rolling in.
"Mandel has not been accused on any wrongdoing," the newspapers assured us, even while reporting the story.
Then we learn that Suarez's lawyers son works for Mandel. Maybe a coincidence, hmmm?
And now this:
"California treasurer's office surprised by Josh Mandel's letter on behalf of Benjamin Suarez"
Each paragraph is more jaw-dropping than the last.
And once again
Mandel has not been accused of any wrongdoing, and a treasurer’s office spokesman said Mandel doesn’t remember writing the letter to Lockyer or a second letter to U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci, a Wadsworth Republican, on Suarez’s behalf.
But the story speaks for itself, and it speaks louder than the reporter's assurance that "Mandel has not been accused of any wrongdoing."
Wrongdoing bursts from every paragraph of the story. Whether he is legally culpable of anything or not, he's certainly skirting the edges of some highly unethical behavior.
And not a minute too soon.
As most of you know, the legislature stuffed a batch of anti-choice provisions into the biennial budget bill back in June, stuff that had nothing to do with the budget. These thing were added without warning 48 hours before the vote was taken. There were no hearings. Despite thousands of Ohioans contacting the governor, asking him to line-item-veto them as extraneous to the budget, he signed them in the dead of a Sunday night surrounded by six other middle-aged white men.
*Seven white men taking away women's rights. Photo by Karen Kasler*
The ACLU is saying this is bullshit.
“To put it simply, none of these amendments have any place in the state budget bill,” said Susan Scheutzow, ACLU cooperating attorney and partner at the law firm of Kohrman Jackson & Krantz. “This massive bill is not intended to deal with new policy; the single subject of the budget should be the appropriation of funds for existing government programs or obligations.”
The provisions being challenged include the one that ban public hospitals from making transfer agreements with abortion clinics, the one hat requires doctors to look for a fetal heartbeat and recite a script written by religious fanatics in the legislature intended to "help her bond with her 'baby'" according to one of them, and one that redirects state family planning money to organizations forbidden from talking about abortion.
We can hope!
But it's sure looking more and more like it when you see headlines like these in the COLUMBUS DISPATCH:
"Josh Mandel asked Benjamin Suarez to raise campaign cash"
"Attorney Links Mandel, Suarez"
Oh what a tangled web Josh Mandel seems to have woven for himself.
You may recall this story from two weeks ago:
Nearly two years ago, reporters spotted unusual high-dollar donations being funneled to Mandel and Congressman Jim Renacci from the Canton-based Suarez Corporation. They were being made to these two favorites of company owner Ben Suarez by employees who had never made ANY political contributions before and whose job titles seemed to indicate they weren't in a position to make such large donations.
Two weeks ago, Suarez was indicted for using his employees to basically launder his donations. That's illegal.
Papers like the Dispatch have been breathlessly proclaiming Mandel's (and Renacci's) innocence from the beginning. After all, they had no way of knowing what was behind these generous contributions.
Or did they?
A few days later, we hear Mandel leaned on Suarez to raise this mountain of cash. And it's reported in the DISPATCH.
And now, also from the Dispatch:
I promised more on Wednesday's We Won't Go Back rally in Columbus, and here you go.
Anyone who wants to see even more photos, there is a slideshow posted here:
At least 500 people and probably more (the Plain Dealer definitely lowballed it at 350) turned up outside the statehouse for the rally which was organized by Cindy Demsey and Lana Moresky, and Kathy DiCristofaro from Trumbull County. Women of all ages — as well as many men — were in attendance.
Speakers included Planned Parenthood Ohio's Stephanie Kight, Kellie Copeland from NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio, Sarah Hutchinson from Catholics for Choice, Petee Talley of the AFL-CIO, Terry O’Neill of the National Organization for Women, and Ellie Smeal of the Feminist Majority.
Cleveland ob-gyn Dr. Lisa Perriera came to the podium holding her 2 ½ week old son and talked about how angry it made her that legislators were trying to dictate the kind of care she could give to her patients. After she spoke, the MC, former congressional candidate Sharen Neuhardt, presented her with a “onesie” that said “This is what a feminist looks like."
A number of state legislators came by to show their support, including Kent’s Kathleen Clyde, Columbus’ Tracy Heard, Connie Pillich of Cincinnati, Dan Ramos of Lorain, Bob Hagan and Capri Cafaro of Youngstown, Chris Redfern (also state Democratic Party chair) from Catawba Island, Athens’ Debbie Phillips, and Cleveland area legislators Mike Foley, Nickie Antonio, Kenny Yuko, Sandra Williams, Nick Celebrezze, and Nina Turner. There was quite a stir when Turner arrived. I think she's going to make a big impact in net year's elections. Look out, Jon Husted!
Frances Strickland was there too.
Also present were a number of candidates including Michael Wager, running for Congress in the district east of Cleveland, and Jill Miller Zimon, Michael Houser, and Anthony Fossaceca, all candidates for house seats in Cuyahoga County.
Hey, GOP, take your Heartbeat bill and shove it, OK?
What an amazing day at the Statehouse!
A huge crowd of women and supportive men (I heard people bandying around 750-800) gathered to let our governor and legislature know that stomping on women's rights and expecting us to make like the Duggars and be baby factories is NOT acceptable.
There were some great speaker, including Kellie Copeland of NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio, Terry O'Neill of NOW , and Ellie Smeal of the Feminist Majority.
A whole gaggle of state legislators were there in support, as well as candidates. Even former Ohio First Lady Frances Strickland was there.
I took something more than 500 photos so I'm still sorting and processing. More later. But here are a couple of crowd shots.
Obamacare enrollment starts today!
So you've probably heard by now that the radicals holding the Republican Party and the country hostage went ahead with their reckless scheme to push the country down the path toward anarchy and economic disarray by refusing to fund the government and shutting it down.
Despite what some pundits and quivering "centrists" are saying, there's no "both sides" in this or any rational "compromise" available. The passage of this funding, free and clear of conditions, has pretty much always been automatic. Now it's not because these radicals have seem a path to force-enact an extreme agenda that even a large number of Republicans probably know is ill-advised.
When some describe what's going on as "extortion" or "hostage-taking," that's accurate. These extremists have basically said "In return for passing a routine funding bill, we're demanding a laundry list of rejected policies that are unpopular with and damaging to average Americans be enacted by fiat — no bills introduced, no hearings held, no votes taken. Just do it or else."
Most conspicuously this includes delaying the start of the Affordable Care Act, which was passed, signed, and upheld by the Supreme Court. Does anyone seriously think that a group of people who have spent four years demonizing health care reform with lies plan to let it go into effect without complaint a year from now? That's laughable.
But they've demanded a bunch of other things they cannot get legislatively, including the construction of the Keystone Pipeline, allowing any employer to deny women contraception coverage just because, and the elimination of regulations that prevent Wall Street from damaging the economic health of Americans even more than they have.
Recently, we wrote about how Governor Kasich’s spokesperson Rob Nichols responded testily about state rep. Debbie Phillips’ request for correspondence surrounding the dismissal of the state official responsible for overseeing water quality, allegedly because he offended one of the governor’s Big Coal donors.
In an email to the Columbus Dispach, he sniffed,
If she had her way, we’d all be living on a collective farm cooking organic quinoa over a dung fire. So I think we’ll take her views in context.
A month later, we get a story from John Michael Spinelli, an independent reporter who has been covering state government — better than most of the state’s big dailies, we should add — for over a decade.
It seems Spinelli was on the same teleconference with Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ed FitzGerald and state reps. Lou Gentile and Nick Barborak last week that I was. That was the one where they talked about how the governor and legislature had put in place a fairly low income limit on eligibility for the property tax discount for seniors.
Recapping the topic, Spinelli put a pin on his Pinterest page that said,
Funny. Ohio's governor said the state shouldn't take the Medicaid expansion deal because the feds couldn't be trusted to pay their promised share into the future. Making seniors pay more property tax because the state decided to stop paying its share to fund tax cuts for people who don't need them is called transitioning to job creation. Really?
Read Spinelli’s whole story here:
The next morning he got an email from Nichols that said,
So Tuesday I get this email that Cuyahoga county executive/Democratic candidate for governor Ed FitzGerald and Columbus-area state representatives Lou Gentile and Nick Barborak were doing a telephone press conference later that day about a provision in the new state budget that limited the property tax discount for seniors 65 and older to only those making $30,000 or less. (Currently, there is no income cap).
I had nothing going on at that time so I decided to jump on the call and see what they had to say.
This means-testing of the property tax relief at such a low income level is one of a number of travesties in the recent state budget process that increases taxes on ordinary working people while providing lavish breaks to the wealthiest Ohioans.
And that was what FitzGerald focused on — appropriately. As a still largely unknown challenger, he is working on getting out his ideas and policies in ways that are clear and easily for people to understand.
"The budget is a statement of priorities, what you really value," he said. "One of what I thought was most egregious and regressive portions was what amounts to a tax increase on seniors that are trying to stay in their own homes and happen to make more than $30,000 a year. I think eliminating a policy that helps senior citizens stay in their homes is not humanitarian."
Then came the Q&A portion. And both Henry Gomez of the Plain Dealer and Joe Vardon of the Columbus Dispatch appeared to be playing “gotcha” with FitzGerald, pushing a predetermined narrative and agenda.
They pressed him on the issue of whether, if elected, he would roll back the income tax cut, which primarily benefits the wealthy, and roll back the sales tax increase, which falls heaviest on the poorest people.
When he responded that his overall philosophy is to target tax relief to middle- and lower-income Ohioans, not the wealthy, Vardon accused him of being evasive, of refusing to respond to the question.
Anyone remember THIS story from the last election cycle:
"Canton Firm's Workers Making Unusual Donations"
It was about Canton-based Suarez Corporation, a direct marketing firm owned by Ben Suarez. It seemed that many of his employees were giving maxxed out donations to certain candidates Suarez supported — specifically Congressman Jim Renacci and U.S. Senate candidate Josh "The Empty Suit" Mandel. Sometimes their wives maxxed out too.
The Blade calculated, based on their job titles and home values, that these weren't people who could afford to be giving $5,000 or $10,000 or even $20,000 to political candidates. And something else interesting: these big donors, pitching in for their boss' favorite candidates, had never made ANY political donations before.
Since it is illegal to pass donations through others, Suarez of course denied that these employees were reimbursed in any manner.
That claim, alas for Suarez, was not shared by a federal grand jury. Today the Canton Repository is reporting,
A federal grand jury has indicted local businessman Benjamin Suarez on charges accusing him of conspiring to violate campaign finance laws and interfering with a subsequent FBI investigation. ... Prosecutors say Suarez, Giorgio and others funneled almost $200,000 to campaigns during the 2012 election.
According to the indictment, Suarez agreed to raise $100,000 for an Ohio candidate for the U.S. Senate and $100,000 for an Ohio candidate for the U.S. House. ...
Giorgio, under the direction of Suarez, told potential contributors the money would be reimbursed by the company, according to the indictment.
Hey, Steve Israel! (chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee)
Do you want to see Ohio Democratic checkbooks remain tightly closed? Just keep sending out stuff like this. Maybe you want to explain to us why on EARTH, after several years of relentless attacks on women's reproductive rights, you seriously think women (and most Democratic men as well) would want to contribute to an anti-choice candidate?
No, no and NO.
I really wish, instead of pissing in the wind on this one, the DCCC would get solidly behind the electable PRO-CHOICE Michael Wager, who is in swing district Ohio 14 and COULD beat freshman David Joyce with a little muscle behind him.
Since Steve Israel and the DCCC are off on some little cloud of unreality, I ask YOU to look at sending contributions to Michael instead.
Maybe Steve Israel should read this:
And stop sending emails like this:
As Chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, it’s my job to find the best candidates to run for Congress.[Then please do so and dump this one]
One of our top races is Jennifer Garrison in Ohio’s 6th district -- this seat is CRITICAL to winning a Democratic majority.[If this is your "top race," you have insulted the women of Ohio. What good is a Democratic majority if we start to beef up the decimated Blue Dog Caucus again?]
National Republicans know it too. That’s why shady special interest groups will be targeting Jennifer, ready to spend HUGE amounts of cash to buy this seat.[Yeah yeah, they target everybody. Jennifer's main problem is that Democrats know she's anti-choice and don't need shady special interest groups to tell them]
*"Is Jon Husted sincere when he says he's just trying to prevent 'voter fraud'? Let me think about that. No."
So our secretary of voter suppres ... I mean STATE .... Jon Husted is out and about, trying to raise his profile, undoubtedly preparing for a run for governor in 2018 after getting himself elected to another term in his current office.
He was featured this week on Fox "News," which dubbed him a "rising political star," and gave him a platform for his mendacity in pretending he is an advocate for fair elections.
Yup, the same Jon Husted who was ready to allow Republican counties longer early voting hours than Democratic ones across the state, until it was exposed and he started getting tons of bad publicity. The same Jon Husted who went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court to try to shut down voting the weekend before the election.
And the same Jon Husted who publicly said Ohio's voter I.D. laws need to be more "onerous," and the legislature is now following up on his recommendation, introducing a bill that greatly narrows the acceptable forms of I.D. even though not ONE SINGLE CASE of voter fraud in Ohio has been identified that could have been stopped with tighter I.D. laws. NOT.ONE. None. Zip. Zero. Nada.
(Husted says it wouldn't have mattered in a majority of cases, but he hasn't produced any where it would have mattered, so obviously he has no such cases).
This is all about slashing the number of people who vote, who are able to vote, a shameful goal for an elected official in a democracy.