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.

 

 

Trump University fraud . . . is this news? Trump’s a casino owner, which means he’s been in the fraud business a long time . . .

If you’ve been reading Buckeye RINO since its inception, then you probably know how I feel about the gambling industry.  I’m totally against it.  I’m even against state lotteries.  I don’t even play bingo or buy raffle tickets . . . even for charity.  If I feel like contributing money to a charity, I’ll do it as a straight up donation rather than as an entry into a game of chance.  I’ve written many times about how the gambling industry is a fraud industry.  All the marketing for gambling tells you that you have chances to win.  The truth is, the house always wins.  This means, in the aggregate, gamblers lose.  Right now the media is fixated on the fraud that was Trump University.  It would be helpful if the media would also fixate on the even bigger fraud that the gambling industry perpetrates.  Hey media! . . . want to go after Trump University?  Fine.  How about going after Trump casinos, too?  How about going after all the casinos no matter who they’re owned by?  After all, the more money consumers spend on gambling, the less money they have for anything worthwhile.  Gambling redistributes wealth in the wrong direction.  Gambling feeds economic contraction.  Gambling compromises law enforcement, especially casinos, for casinos are used for money laundering.  The sad tales of those few consumers who complained about the value of their education at Trump University pale in comparison to the sad tales of those who have lost so much more at casinos.  Leave it to the media to strain at gnats and swallow camels.

Why should we be surprised that Trump cannot admit that Trump University is a fraud?  Why should we be astonished that Trump lashed out at a judge, any judge, for releasing information about suits being pursued against Trump University?  Casino owners would never admit that they perpetrate fraud and that an important part of their business is laundering money.  Deflect, deflect, deflect.  Trump has called into question the bias of the judge because of the judge’s Mexican heritage.  Guess what?  If the judge had been a white Presbyterian New York Republican male, like Trump, the strategy would still have been to deflect, deflect, deflect.  The demographic background of the judge wouldn’t have saved any judge from Trump’s attacks so long as the judge did something that met with Trump’s disapproval.  Remember that casino owners are special people with special rights.  Casino owners are entitled to more than the average citizen.  When it comes to public servants such as judges and legislators, casino owners view them with contempt because either they are contemptible because they can be bought or they are contemptible because they can’t be bought.  Gambling buys politicians.  Remember why Trump has donated to Hillary Clinton in the past?  Because Trump buys all the politicians that he can.  He finds that contemptible.  Trump self-funded his primary campaign to show that he could not be bought like Hillary.  But then there are other public servants, like the judge in this Trump University case, who can’t be bought or persuaded, who, since they stand in Trump’s way, they are also to be treated with contempt.

What is novel about this election cycle is that casino owners in the past were donors to political campaigns.  They weren’t politicians, themselves.  Donald Trump is now a politician.  He’s on the ballot.  A casino owner’s business is a sleazy one, which makes running for office quite a dicey proposition, as it’s hard to dismiss the sleaze factor when the political opposition puts a target on one’s back.  I think the fact that Hillary Clinton was anointed as the inevitable Democrat nominee emboldened Trump to run.  I think if the undisputed Democrat frontrunner were trustworthy, ethical, and incorruptible, Trump would have stayed away from the presidential race.

My disparagement of Trump should not be mistaken for support for Clinton.  I believe Ambassador Stevens is dead because someone in the administration wanted him dead.  The terrorists who took him out in Benghazi acted on information.  Clinton didn’t safeguard information.  I find it telling that at a Cheryl Mills deposition (Mills being a chief operative of Hillary Clinton’s), not only did Mills have three attorneys there to help her navigate the interrogation, there were also two attorneys for the State department and two attorneys for the Justice department, meaning that a lot hinged upon what was permitted to be asked and how minimal the responses needed to be.  In other words, if Cheryl Mills had been inclined to freely answer truthfully about every last detail, the integrity of the State department and the integrity of the Justice department would have been impugned just as much as the integrity of Hillary Clinton.  Mills had to walk a tightrope.  She wanted to keep all of the information to herself, but she had to make at least a minimal effort to appear that she was cooperating.  We’ve only been given transcripts of the deposition, for the judge agreed that video would have been too politically damaging to the Clinton campaign.  The State department is putting on a charade that they are cooperating.  They allowed the inspector general report to come out (but if State were really on top of things, they would have had an inspector general in office throughout Clinton’s tenure as Secretary of State, but, instead, there was never an inspector general at State for the whole of Clinton’s tenure there).  The Justice department is putting on a charade by conducting an investigation (but if the FBI, a branch of Justice, is doing the questioning, why were two lawyers from Justice present to make certain that the FBI’s inquiries were limited and make certain that Mill’s responses were also limited?).  Just now, the media is starting to learn that archived footage and transcripts of official press conferences at the White House and at State have been doctored so that future historians would only able to cobble together a revised history.  I think Ambassador Stevens was the type of person who personally understood shady things were going on and also personally disliked that he had to put up with them.  I think someone in the Obama administration figured that they’d rather have a dead Ambassador Stevens than a whistleblower Ambassador Stevens.  I think Edward Snowden is convinced that the Obama administration would have preferred a dead Edward Snowden than a whistleblower Edward Snowden, because Snowden didn’t blow the whistle until he was safely away.  I think if Hillary Clinton is elected to office, the corruption of the federal government will only worsen.  We’ve seen the IRS politicized, the FBI politicized, the State department politicized; and the list will go on.

I will not vote for Hillary Clinton; I guarantee that.  I’m hoping that Bernie Sanders will succeed in his quest to wrest the Democrat nomination away from Hillary.  I also don’t plan to vote for Trump, though I see a silver lining if he were to be elected (a shake-up of the establishment).  Especially if there’s no Bernie in the equation (but maybe even if there is), I will probably vote for a minor party candidate, which is not unprecedented for me.  I vote my conscience.

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.

How does Scott Walker win Ohio? He won’t.

I hear that Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker gives really good stump speeches in his quest to win the U.S. Presidency in 2016.  In a very crowded GOP field where a candidate only has to have more than 10% support to be considered one of the serious contenders (really? when 2016 is still 5 months away?), Walker appears to be well positioned for the first GOP caucus contest early next year in Iowa.  So, what if he wins Iowa?  What if he wins nominating contests in New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada?  A lot of competitors will have quit after striking out in the first four contests, true.  But will those potential wins provide the bump he needs to win the White House?  I don’t think so.  Though Ohio’s electoral votes seem to decrease with every census, I still do not see how a Republican candidate wins the White House without winning Ohio.  I don’t see how Scott Walker can win Ohio in a general election unless the Democrat nominee makes a mammoth (and I mean huge, huge, huge) blunder.

It is conceivable, however unlikely, that Walker could win a GOP primary in Ohio, especially if the GOP field is still crowded.  But the field won’t be crowded.  With so many candidates at this stage of the race, the double-digit support Walker currently has makes him seem like a Goliath (OK, maybe not compared to Donald Trump or former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, but I think you know what I mean).  In my memory, I can never recall a GOP primary ballot in Ohio that listed more than five presidential candidates.  Going from double-digit numbers of candidates down to 5 candidates would mean that Scott Walker would have to climb to at least 20% of the vote to win, and 20% would only win if the other candidates were also deadlocked with 20% of the vote yet each tallying one less vote than Scott Walker’s.  If there were just 2 candidates Ohio’s GOP primary ballot and one of them were Scott Walker, I seriously doubt he could cross the 50% threshold to win.  His best chance to win Ohio’s delegates is for all the other candidates to drop out (and sometimes that happens by the time Ohio votes).

Walker was making national news as governor of Wisconsin at the same time that John Kasich was making national news as governor of Ohio.  True, Kasich made national news as a key member of the Congress that balanced the federal budget in the 1990’s, but, for many voters, that is not recent memory.  Governors Walker and Kasich were in the national spotlight for the same thing: passing legislation to drastically alter the collective bargaining rights of the public-sector labor unions.

To me, showing real leadership in executive office means toughly negotiating a fair contract.  Leadership is needed not only at the state level to get labor contracts that strike the right balance, but also at the local levels of government, too.  Voters don’t always elect good leaders, and that’s on them if they didn’t do their homework prior to voting.  So, if labor contracts exist that are not in the public’s best interest, then the public needs to recruit good leaders and vote them into office.  After the victors take office, they need to remember that taxpayers expect that our government executives negotiate contracts that the public can support.

What Walker and Kasich tried to do was compensate for an overall lack of leadership, at state and local levels, regarding labor contract negotiations.  They tried to use the legislation to overturn negotiated contracts.  This step, in and of itself, is not only wrong (because it breaks promises), but it weakens the executive branch’s negotiating clout down the road.  Negotiating in good faith strengthens one’s clout.  Wiping out contracts with legislation shows that one did not negotiate in good faith.  Now, what does one do to engender trust when negotiating with the unions if the unions think that you’re just going to turn around and lobby the legislature to undercut what you just agreed to?  Walker is insulated from his mistake, for now, because voters in Wisconsin sided with him. Now, he needs to find votes in other states, and, speaking of states, Ohio is not an insignificant one.

I think that the labor unions in Wisconsin mistakenly thought that marketplace principles don’t apply to them, for they must have assumed that they could do a crappy job and get away with it. When I think about how things turned out, I think Walker’s victories must have had more to do with taxpayer discontent with public employee performance than with anything else. The moral to the story for Wisconsin’s public employees is this:  Serve the public well.  Had that been the case, Wisconsin’s public employees might have succeeded like the public-sector labor unions in Ohio did.  Ohio turned out to support its public employees at the ballot box.

In 2011, Ohio voters supported the referendum that killed Senate Bill 5, carrying 83 of Ohio’s 88 counties. In Kasich’s bid for re-election in 2014, he had to assure Ohioans that he had learned his lesson and would not go back down that same path to do an end run around labor contracts via legislation.  Lucky for Kasich, he was opposed by Ed Fitzgerald, an ineffective and disgraceful politician from Cuyahoga County, in the 2014 gubernatorial race.  Media observers outside Ohio should not read too much into Kasich’s 2014 win because they need to take into account just how pitifully weak a candidate Fitzgerald was.  Therefore, Kasich’s ability to win Ohio as a presidential candidate is not a foregone conclusion.

Let’s make something clear:  In turning back SB 5 in all but 5 counties (Delaware, Warren, Holmes, Shelby, and Mercer), it would appear that a number of Ohio Republicans thought that the bad-faith legislative end-run around promises made to public employees was a bad move.  Democrats, alone, didn’t kill that bill.  In a contested GOP primary, assuming Walker is still in the mix, he can only pick up the votes of those who favored the bill, which, as I pointed out, may not provide a winning margin if the number of candidates is dwindling.  I don’t know what Walker’s fundraising acumen is, but I suppose he could find well-heeled donors in Delaware and Warren counties to give the illusion that he has some kind of political support in Ohio, but money doesn’t necessarily add up to votes.  Though there are other planks in Walker’s platform besides union-busting, many of those same planks exist in the platforms of his competitors.  In other words, he is different from the other candidates in that he engaged in union-busting and got away with it.  Except, he really won’t get away with it, because the path to the White House leads through Ohio.  Kasich, for his part, is apologetic (but he still might not carry Ohio).  Walker remains unapologetic.  And this brings us to the general election of 2016 (okay, I said the 2016 general election might not even happen if all hell breaks loose).

Do we need to remind everyone that Ohio is a swing state?  The Democrats GOTV efforts in Ohio during presidential election years have been full-throttle, to say the least.  The Democrats know that no matter how large the magnitude of resources is that’s poured into Ohio, it pays off if they deny the GOP of Ohio’s electors.  So though Ohio looks red in between presidential election years, the Democrats painted Ohio blue in 2008 and 2012.  History shows us that Republicans do not win the White House without Ohio’s electors.  If Scott Walker were the GOP nominee, how does he carry Ohio?  The death of SB 5 would suggest that Walker will definitely not max out the Republican vote.  What does he offer for Democrats that may cause them to think about crossing over?  Nothing.

Walker slashed the unions claiming that it would save the taxpayers some money.  Maybe it just re-allocated where money is spent, for Walker plans to help the Milwaukee Bucks NBA team get a new arena with the help of taxpayer money–from new taxes.  That’s called corporate welfare.  That doesn’t even sell well with the Tea Party.  Meanwhile, as a saving grace, Kasich works wonders with budgets without more taxation.  Conclusion: Walker’s union-busting is a bust in Ohio.  White House access denied.

Kasich, for his part, has a chance, but the Democrat nominee will not be Ed Fitzgerald in November 2016.  I think he knows that.

Press release: Resolution introduced in Ohio House to prohibit using the state constitution to carve out protected monopolies

Editor’s note:  This press release, dated June 16, 2015, announces the introduction of a resolution that should have been part and parcel of Ohio’s constitution from its inception.  One of the weaknesses of the state constitution is that it has been too easy to amend in ways that make little sense.  Though I favor this resolution, hasn’t the damage already been done?  Of course, the damage I am referring to is the legalization of casinos in Ohio.  Had Ohio’s constitution not been allowed to be amended to establish a business monopoly and prevent said monopoly from any future competition, we would not have the current abominable amendment on the books that allowed the establishment of 4 Ohio casinos (Cleveland, Toledo, Columbus, Cincinnati) all backed by a particular group of casino investors.  To me, Ohio should have had zero casinos (and no state lottery, either).  But if Ohioans demand casinos, then the casinos should not be monopolies and they should not be protected from future competition.  If Ohio must have casinos, then let them be no different than other retail businesses.  If someone wants to be a restaurant owner, no problem.  If someone wants to be a gas station owner, no problem.  If someone wants to be a casino owner in a state where casinos are legal, there should also be no problem.  Unfortunately, this resolution cannot undo what has been done, but at least it can prevent future improprieties of this sort. I hope this is indeed on the November ballot and that Ohioans turn out to support it.–DJW

State Reps. Ryan Smith and Mike Curtin Introduce Resolution Prohibiting Constitutional Monopolies

COLUMBUS—Today, State Representatives Ryan Smith (R-Bidwell) and Mike Curtin (D-Marble Cliff) introduced a resolution that prohibits an initiated constitutional amendment that would grant a monopoly in the state of Ohio from being proposed as law or as a constitutional amendment through the petition process.

House Joint Resolution 4 calls for a constitutional amendment to be placed on the ballot for the November 3rd general election of this year that would ensure that monopolies cannot be created through the use of constitutional amendments. This would block any upcoming initiatives that create a monopoly from becoming effective in the Ohio Constitution.

“I believe that, as elected members of this government, we are all called upon to protect our Constitution from being exploited for personal profit,” Rep. Smith said. “In addition, as the current standard-bearers of this state’s democratic process, for us to allow any person or group of people to enshrine in this Constitution a provision that would only serve the financial interests of a highly selective group of wealthy individuals would be a tremendous moral failure and an injustice to every citizen of this great state.”

“This would protect Ohio’s century-old constitutional initiative process from those who would pervert it, who would stand it on its head, who would use it to protect the privileged few rather than to protect the many against the privileged few,” said Curtin. “All we ask is that Ohioans be given the opportunity to vote this November to protect their state constitution—to protect it from those who would carve into it a self-serving, and permanent, monopoly.” 

H.J.R. 4 will receive sponsor testimony today in the House Government Accountability and Oversight Committee at 1:30 p.m.

Hypocrisy of Ted Strickland at the DNC

At the DNC on 9/4/2012, Ted Strickland said President Obama is “a president who stands up for average working people.”  What would Ted Strickland know about that? Strickland never stood up for average working people as governor of Ohio.  His policies increased the number of unemployed people of Ohio.

If Strickland was concerned about the survivability of the auto industry, why were Ohio Democrat politicians around the state, from people like Joe Koziura to people like Jimmy Dimora, empowered to shake down companies via fines or kickbacks in ways that cannibalized free enterprise in Ohio for decades without being held accountable?  Strickland could have improved the business climate for the auto industry in Ohio, but he did not.

Strickland has a problem with Americans who offshore money?  Really?  Strickland single-handedly handed over Ohio to the gambling industry, the ultimate predatory industry that targets the working class and sends its fraudulent ill-gotten gains offshore.  On top of that, organized crime, that also preys upon the working class, now has a permit to launder their money inside Ohio’s state lines now that casinos are opening for business.

The Republicans lie about waiving welfare’s work requirement?  The President’s executive order on the matter is not written in plain English, so parsing the words themselves is not exactly illuminating. Therefore, we need to look at the function of the executive order.  If the executive order did not change the work requirement, then why does it exist?  If there’s no change, why not rescind it?  It still stands, so evidently it represents a change of the requirement.  It functions as a waiver.  Therefore, it is a waiver.  This is a problem because the statute specifically forbids the exercise of presidential power to alter that requirement.  The Democrats lie.

But as far as calling out someone for lying, let me take the opportunity, once more, to call Strickland out as a liar of the Nth degree.  Prior to his gubernatorial election, he postured against the gambling industry.  During his term as governor, he ushered those wolves into the fold so they could glut themselves upon the sheep.  Turncoat.  What a whopper of a lie.

Strickland, who worsened the labor market in Ohio, eventually fed Ohio to the wolves.  He could easily conjure up a fiction of Santa Clause laying off reindeer and outsourcing elves because, in reality, he, himself, has actually done something many times worse.

Forget Vegas! This is all about VCU! VCU’s got to do what VCU’s got to do!

In men’s hoops, the NCAA Final Four is not comprised of teams that most sports fans were expecting: A 3rd-seeded Connecticut, a 4th-seeded Kentucky, an 8th-seeded Butler, and an 11th-seeded Virginia Commonwealth (which I will abbreviate as VCU).  Picking this Final Four field was as easy as posting the names of the 68 tournament teams on a dartboard, putting a blindfold on, throwing four darts, taking the blindfold off, and reading the names of the universities where the darts landed.  You didn’t need to know much about men’s college basketball to figure this out.  In fact, the more you knew about men’s hoops, the more likely you were to predict the wrong Final Four.

Two Associated Press stories about the NCAA tourney caught my eye that I’d like to share with readers.

A story written by AP’s Paul J. Weber recaps VCU’s stunning upset victory against a 1st-seeded Kansas squad.  Kansas was so heavily favored to win, not just this game, but the entire tournament, that even President Obama predicted that Kansas would win it all.

VCU’s coach, Shaka Smart, has an Ohio connection.  A history major, he graduated magna cum laude from Kenyon College, where he also played men’s basketball at the Division III level of the NCAA.

As if the pre-game taunts from Kansas players weren’t enough, as if the arena chock-full of Kansas fans weren’t enough, as if the naysaying sports reporters and pundits weren’t enough to get under the skin of Shaka Smart, VCU’s coach plainly saw that the game’s referees weren’t going to call the game the way Smart saw it.  Adversity reared its head anywhere the coach cared to look.  There was no friend to be found anywhere outside the VCU camp.  Every last one of those converging on the VCU contingent were foes.

And then Coach Smart was whistled for a technical foul.  That’s it.  That’s the last straw.  Enough.  To seek redress for these grievances, there was only one option left open to VCU: WIN!

Here’s an excerpt from the story, and I’ve taken the liberty of highlighting the most salient quote from the coach in bold print:

Smart, the 33-year-old whose enigmatic personality has made him a breakout star, was so animated shuffling in front of his bench that officials shooed him back. Another official later served Smart his first technical all season.

Smart said he used that moment as a motivator – though he had to clean up his language first.

“It was basically forget the refs, forget Kansas, this is all about us,” Smart said. “We got to do what we got to do.”

Among the field of Kentucky, Connecticut, Butler, and VCU, I was feeling mixed emotions about whether I’d like to see Kentucky win it all or Butler win it all.

Butler, located in Indianapolis, is another giant-killer small school, just like VCU, but I tend to favor teams from the Midwest.  Butler competes in the Horizon League, against schools such as Cleveland State, Wright State, and Youngstown State.

Kentucky is the team that ousted Ohio State by just a smidgeon in a game that went down to the wire.  If Ohio State can’t win it all, then a consolation would be that OSU lost to the eventual champion.  Kentucky is legendary in the annals of men’s basketball lore, so it’s no great shame for Ohio State to lose to such a highly-vaunted hoops program.

Kentucky?  Butler?  Kentucky?  Butler?  Kentucky?  Butler?  Kentucky?  Butler?

Which brings me to the other AP story, penned by Oskar Garcia, about who the Las Vegas oddsmakers favor for the men’s NCAA championship.

You’re not a regular long-time reader of Buckeye RINO if you are unaware of the fact that I have always vehemently opposed gambling.  Let’s see . . . there are at least . . . let me count (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, . . .) at least 22 blog posts chiefly about my anti-gambling views.  There are additional blog posts in which some other issue is more prominent, yet my opposition to gambling still gets expressed.  So, to the casual, infrequent Buckeye RINO readers or those who are just recently coming into regular contact with my blog, let me just say, “Hi!  My name is Daniel Jack Williamson, and I’m opposed to gambling.”

As I contemplated whether I wanted Butler or Kentucky to win it all, I had an epiphany.  I ought to be rooting for VCU, and the Oskar Garcia article explains why.  Here’s the opening paragraph:

Las Vegas casinos have tabbed Kentucky the latest favorite in an NCAA tournament full of upsets, and are hoping that Virginia Commonwealth ends its improbable run without a title.

Now here’s the clincher.  It’s a quote from Mike Colbert, an insider in the sports betting industry in Las Vegas.

“VCU is the one team that we don’t want to win,” he said. “Every other team is good for the house.”

Right now, VCU is the underdog among the four with 7 to 1 odds.  Back when VCU reached the round of 16, however, the odds of them winning it all were 80 to 1 , so, to say the odds have improved dramatically since VCU has advanced through two more tourney rounds is perhaps an understatement.  Apparently, some big wagers were placed on VCU last week at the 80 to 1 odds.  If a VCU championship materializes, it’s going to sting the sports gambling apparatus.

My antennas are up.  My radar is beeping.  The trajectory of whatever is out there faintly portends that Vegas might take a direct hit.  Bwahahahahahaha! I’m rubbing my hands together with cocked eyebrows and a mischievous grin on my face as my imagination plays out the complete annihilation of the gambling industry of Vegas in my mind’s eye.  I cackle some more and dance a little jig.

I do realize that, in the grand scheme of things, a VCU championship would be just a tiny setback for an industry that wins day in and day out.  Sporting events are strewn throughout the calendar, so the pipeline of $$$$ flowing to the industry won’t really be interrupted, as the house will win 99.99999999% of the time no matter which contestants win or which ones lose.  The industry almost always has all bases covered, but apparently VCU is one of those very rare exceptions.

Just the same, I derive some perverse delight from any event that causes the gambling industry to flinch because of pain, however fleeting the hurt may be, so VCU is my team leading up to this year’s Final Four match-ups.

I hope that Coach Smart takes offense against Las Vegas for not just disrespecting VCU, but for openly spouting its venomous contempt of VCU.  This is disrespect beyond opposing players, opponents’ fans, the media, or even the refs, for they might not want you to win, but they wouldn’t want actual harm to come to you.  Vegas would probably break the legs of every VCU player if they figured they could get away with it.  I hope that becomes bulletin board material in the VCU locker room.

Nobody’s looking out for the best interests of VCU in Vegas.

If it enraged Coach Smart that he could find no one outside the VCU camp who possessed even an ounce of goodwill toward his team at the Kansas game, then it has now been confirmed that the coach is not the least bit paranoid as VCU heads into the last two games. Vegas is truly out to get him and the team.  Winning it all is the only way to turn the tables on Vegas.

Forget those hateful conspirators!  This is not about what the haters want.  It’s all about VCU and what its players actually do on the basketball court at the appointed hour.  When play commences, the haters will have no power to determine the outcome.  Only the team that steps out onto that floor has that power.

Forget Las Vegas!  This is all about you, VCU!  Do what you gotta do!

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