The passing of George Voinovich

A common theme appearing in coming-of-age tales is one of a youth who becomes disenchanted with a hero.  The youth discovers the hero has flaws.  The youth becomes a bit cynical.   The youth feels disillusioned.  The youth doesn’t look at the hero the same way again.  It’s just a part of growing up.

But then one is not all the way grown up at that point.  One has to grow up a little bit more and not only be forgiving of flaws, but giving permission to others to be flawed.  Why?  Because no one is perfect and because no one ought to coerce another to give up their flaws.  We have to respect agency–people making choices about their own lives . . . and if someone doesn’t make any wrong choices, then that somebody isn’t making choices, period.  Furthermore, one only has to look in the mirror to find a person who needs forgiveness for being flawed, for making wrong choices.

So as I reflect on the passing of George Voinovich and what George Voinovich meant to me, I have to own up to making a hero out of him.  By September 2009, I was disenchanted.  Now, I find my criticisms a bit harsh and now I find myself wondering why I didn’t try to muster some forgiveness sooner.  I need to look in my mirror and take a good long look at a flawed person again to cement in my mind the need for forgiveness.

I first remember Voinovich from my boyhood, when he was mayor of Cleveland.  He performed two miracles.  One was getting elected as mayor of Cleveland as a Republican.  That he had been a Cuyahoga County commissioner some time prior to that was amazing enough, but Cleveland mayor?  Republicans just don’t get elected as Cleveland mayors.  It just doesn’t happen.  At least, not anymore.  There have been mayoral elections in Cleveland where Democrat primaries settled the mayoral races.  The other was that he led a Cleveland economic renaissance immediately after his predecessor, Dennis Kucinich, had led the city to financial default.  If only Detroit could have been so lucky as to have a person like Voinovich take over as mayor after Kwame Kilpatrick was ousted.

He went on to be Ohio’s governor, and then U.S. Senator.  He was the rare Republican who could sweep the vote across 88 counties.

One of the issues that I really felt close to Voinovich on was his opposition to casino gambling.  His steadfast stance on the issue was perhaps the main reason I lionized him.  The casino lobbyists had infested Ohio by the swarms, targeting weak and corrupt legislators of both parties.  The lobbyists kept saying that casino legalization would be an easy revenue raiser.  Voinovich had brought Cleveland back from financial default without resorting to gimmicks like gambling.  The lobbyists were doling out campaign contributions left and right, but Voinovich wasn’t having any of it.  It’s refreshing to see politicians who will not be bought by the agents of sleaze.

I really feel like Voinovich’s star shone brightest when he held executive office.  Not so much legislative office.  He was better at on-the-spot and uncompromising executive decisions than the highly deliberative and compromising legislative decisions.

My first taste of government service came as a volunteer intern in the office of Governor George Voinovich.  Though my tasks were menial clerical ones, I felt like I had an excellent aerial view of Ohio’s political landscape from atop the Vern Riffe State Office Tower.  I assisted with the filing of the “Governor’s Clips.”  Each day, staffers combed through the print media to assemble a digest of the day’s political stories.  This digest kept the governor informed about the issues without occupying too much of his time.  This was back in the day before internet killed print media, and back when filing cabinets held paper files rather than computers holding data files.  After the governor read each day’s clips, that wasn’t the end of them.  They had to be filed for possible future retrieval.  They had to be filed according to date, according to source, according to location, according to the names of people in the news clips, according to issues, etc.  I do that on this blog with tags.  With paper files, tags don’t quite cut it.  The date, location, and source filing was easy.  That was done by others before I even arrived at the office.  My task was to skim through the stories, themselves, to pull out the keywords, then make as many photocopies of the clipping as I needed in order to file away each story according to each keyword.

Working with the “Governor’s Clips” gave me a brief glimpse into my political future when I encountered an article outlining a state legislator’s gambling expansion proposals: Some guy named Joe Koziura wanted a casino built on Lorain’s lakefront.  I was incensed.  Years later, in 2002 and 2004, I would run against that same Joe Koziura for the office of state representative, but lose both times.

Until 2009, I had voted for Voinovich every time his name appeared on my ballot.  I had handed out his campaign literature door-to-door.  I had attended some of his fundraisers (which meant that some of his campaign money came from me).  I had also worked phone banks getting out the vote on his behalf.  But the chinks in my hero’s armor had begun to show.  Congress bailed out Wall Street in 2008, something it should not have done.  I didn’t understand Voinovich’s voting patterns.  When I finally paid a visit to the offices of the U.S. Senate in Washington, DC, I figured it out.  Those office buildings, especially the Hart Senate Building, resembled palaces.  Democracy gives way to aristocracy in the rarefied air of these Senate offices.  It was the Beltway Bubble.  Our Senators are too far removed from the real world, and even a man as principled as George Voinovich succumbed to the disengagement with the real world.

In the upcoming Senate race, I have no love for Ted Strickland, who reneged on his pledge against the expansion of gambling on his watch as Ohio governor.  Voinovich and Strickland had touched base on the topic of casinos, and Strickland had told Voinovich that he would hold the line against them.  He lied.  He lied to George Voinovich.  He lied to Ohio.  Strickland doesn’t deserve Ohio’s vote.  I here and now endorse Rob Portman for reelection.  However, I would note that Portman has been around DC for far too long.  Between a stint in the US House, and a stint in the US Senate, Portman served in the George W. Bush administration.  I would urge Portman to (get reelected and) use this upcoming Senate term to groom someone else to succeed him.  Make that two someone elses, for we need someone to oust and succeed Sherrod Brown, too.  And I would say that we need more diverse representation than what we’ve had.  Portman has had “listening” tours around Ohio so that he feels like he hears from folks outside the bubble, but I would say to Portman that, at some point, before he serves any additional terms in DC beyond the next one, that he needs to BE one of the folks from outside the bubble if he’s to remain useful as a representative of Ohioans.  This is what I learned about the bubble on my trip to DC.  Even a hero like Voinovich could not make sound decisions after spending too much time in the DC bubble.

Farewell, George Voinovich.  We didn’t end up with quite the Ohio that we wanted.  Four casinos are legal in Ohio now.  The lobbyists wouldn’t be denied.  But as long as you were in the real world with us, outside of that bubble, no lobbyist could cross your conscience.  We need a government with a conscience.  Badly. And so I should have forgiven you a long time ago. I do forgive you.



Ohio Primary on March 15, 2016: Buckeye RINO endorses Kasich and Sanders in GOP and Democrat prez races

The heyday of this blog was a few years ago when I had my hands less full of things to do, thus more time to write.  I don’t post new blog articles as much as I used to.  Imagine my surprise to see that my blog traffic is actually on the rise despite my relative silence.  I guess people are really, really, really interested in the elections this cycle.  When I look to see what is driving traffic to Buckeye RINO, I see people are digging up my endorsements in past election cycles, particularly in races lower on the ballot than the race for POTUS.  I’m sorry all you readers who came to Buckeye RINO only to find news about years past and very little about this year.

For this primary election, the only local endorsement I’ll make is that I support Michele Silva Arredondo for Lorain County Common Pleas Court judge on the GOP ballot.  I’ll remain silent on all the other local and state races.

In the GOP race for POTUS, I endorse John Kasich, and in the Democrat race, I endorse Bernie Sanders.

I’ve been hesistant to endorse a GOP candidate for U.S. President.  In a blog article much earlier on in this election cycle, I chronicled how no candidate in either party excited me, and this is still the case.  It seemed to me, on the GOP side, that as soon as I pick a favorite, my favorite drops out and then I have to search out another favorite, so I hope my endorsement, at this date, is not the kiss of death for John Kasich.  For a while, I favored Bobby Jindal, then Rand Paul, then Carly Fiorina, then Ben Carson.  Each has exited the stage.

I’ve had some beefs with Kasich.  If you dig through Buckeye RINO, you’ll see some of my criticisms.  But when I reflect upon my biggest disagreements with Kasich as governor, a number of those disagreements are about education.  Education is a big issue when one is governor, but there are bigger fish to fry as President of the United States, one of which is the national debt that has our nation perched atop a crumbling economic precipice.  Kasich balances budgets.  Yes, it took government shutdowns during the Clinton administration to force the White House to accept the budgets, but it stuck.  Ted Cruz has caused government shutdowns in the name of good fiscal policy, too, but Cruz doesn’t know how to remain friends within his own caucus.  With Kasich’s government shutdowns, his colleagues were still his friends, which means that Kasich is better poised to identify a Congressional coalition that will help him govern as U.S. President.

Cruz actually made me angry when his staff pulled a stunt during the Iowa caucuses claiming that Ben Carson was dropping out.  Cruz operatives apparently pulled the same stunt this past Tuesday in Hawaii at the expense of Marco Rubio.  In these and other instances of dirty tricks, Cruz was very lawyerly in defending his campaign.  How Clintonesque.  What a turnoff.

See the little search window at the top of the left sidebar on Buckeye RINO?  If you type in the search term “gambling,” you’ll see that I despise gambling.  Trump, being the casino tycoon that he is, wasn’t likely to get my nod for nominee, anyway.  Also, I have decried religious intolerance before, so when both Cruz and Trump harp on and on against Muslims, they are not winning any points with me.  As for the flap about Trump somehow being in cahoots with the KKK, I think that’s all manufactured by the desperate.  I fail to see past Trump conduct that fits with this seemingly manufactured narrative.  If I see conduct from Trump in the future that smacks of racism, I’d be happy to call it out, but I fail to see such a pattern thus far.

Marco Rubio has revealed himself to be a candidate of the donor class, not a candidate of the grassroots.

Having said all of that, in November, I’ll vote for any of the Republicans over Hillary Clinton, should she be the Democrat nominee.

Democrat voters in 2008 made the right decision in nominating Barack Obama, notwithstanding I voted against him in November of 2008 and 2012.  Yes, I disagree with much (but not all) that our current POTUS has done and is trying to do.  Some have said he’s the worst president in history, but I’d have to disagree.  There’ve been worse.  Hillary Clinton, had she won it all in 2008, would have been worse.  Bernie Sanders would be a far more ethical, far less corrupt president than Hillary Clinton would.

DOJ politicized under Obama?  You bet.  IRS politicized under Obama?  You bet.  But while Obama claimed that the IRS was a phony scandal perpetrated by a bad actor or two with no connection to the White House, I could easily envision an emboldened President Hillary Clinton issuing a charge to the DOJ and the IRS to take down the “vast right-wing conspiracy” that menaces her and the country (or at least menaces her plans for the country).  With Obama, there’s denial.  With Clinton, she’d be justifying it.

One may wonder:  How can a right-of-center blogger favor Obama and Sanders over Clinton when they are further to the political left than Clinton?  My reply would be that I sense that Hillary is capable of far more heinous treachery.  U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren is further to the left of Clinton, too, but if I had a choice between Warren and Clinton, I’d take Warren.  As for Sanders’ socialism, I would just note that the political pendulum swings back and forth.  Socialism won’t take firm root before it is out of vogue again.  In the meantime, Sanders is more honest than our current president, more honest than many of the GOP candidates, and far more honest than Clinton.  We could use some cleaning up of Beltway ethics, and I think Sanders could deliver on that front.  Depending on the GOP nominee, there is a possibility I could vote for Sanders in November if he were the Democrat nominee.  It depends on how dirty politics looks by then and how squeaky-clean Sanders looks by comparison when election time draws near.

A Sanders presidency may clean up corruption, whereas a Clinton presidency will maintain the status quo, letting the corruption continue.  You can see it in the New Hampshire Democrat primary exit poll data that showed that it is the privileged Democrats who will benefit from a Clinton presidency.  The only group of Democrats who supported Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire were those who thought the country was headed in the right direction, who were not worried about the economy, who had not felt betrayed by their government or their political party, and whose annual income exceeded $200,000.  Voters in subsequent primaries and caucuses should take note:  If you are unhappy with the way things are right now, Hillary is not your candidate.  She is there to do the bidding of the privileged Democrats who donate to her: Maintain the status quo.  These privileged Clinton Democrats don’t have much in common, demographically, with the rest of the Democrat Party.  The Clinton Democrats are the ones who pull all the levers within the party machine (hence the “superdelegates”), they often have prestigious titles working in America’s universities, liberal think tanks, non-profit organizations, and crony-capitalist businesses such as those on Wall Street.  These people, if they get in trouble, they get bailed out.  That’s who Clinton represents.  If that description doesn’t fit you, then you have no business voting for her. Clinton and some media types have said what a wonderful thing the Democrat primary race where voters have two good choices and the candidates see eye-to-eye on most issues.  This is a lie.  The difference between who Sanders is and what he represents and who Clinton is and what she represents is huge.  To me, it is the difference between broad sunlight (Sanders) and a dark alley (Clinton).

When I was a young boy (3rd grade), my career ambition was to be a U.S. Ambassador to France.  With that thought in mind, I majored in international studies at Ohio State.  Nowadays, my field of specialty is teaching English to speakers of other languages.  When I contemplate the death of the U.S. Ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens, along with the deaths of three others at the hands of terrorists, it gives me chills.  The terrorists acted upon information.  For all I know, the information the terrorists acted upon came from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, for she did not safeguard top-secret information, including information about U.S. assets and personnel abroad.  Looking at events leading up to those deaths–where it seems that security vulnerabilities were deliberately overlooked–and looking at events unfold after mischief was clearly afoot in Benghazi–where it seems that the opportunity to evacuate was doable but somehow deliberately nixed–I can only arrive at the conclusion that Stevens’ death was the desired outcome.  Was he a man who knew too much?  Even if his death were merely due to Clinton’s negligence, rather than malfeasance, it is still too much for me to stomach.  If I were a U.S. Ambassador to anywhere, I’d want the U.S. government to have my back.

Hillary Clinton tried to rig the elections in 2008, but Barack Obama outsmarted her.  She has outdone herself this time around, with nearly every superdelegate handpicked for their loyalty to her.  The election on the Democrat side is rigged.  Only rank-and-flle Democrat voters have the power to throw a monkey wrench into her machine, and I hope they’ll do just that.

As for a brokered GOP convention, I do not favor the pandemonium that Mitt Romney seems to invite.  If Trump has the delegates, then he’s the nominee.  If Trump goes on to lose the election, then the establishment can engage in party-building after that (and get in touch with the grassroots) and make a push for redemption.  If Trump goes on to win the election and the establishment still cannot make amends with him and thus will not allow him to be their standard-bearer going forward, then found a new political party and recruit elected Republican legislators across the country to switch to this new party starting in January.  If this new party succeeds well enough at this recruitment, it could conceivably enact laws in many states that would grant major-party status to their new creation.  If we’re to have a falling out, let’s have it then, after January, in the broad light of day.  Make new rules then.  Don’t bend and break rules midstream this July in some smoke-filled convention backroom to thwart a vast array of voters.

I hope that Ohio will do the right thing.  Kasich for the Republicans.  Sanders for the Democrats.  Make November a sweeter pill to swallow.