Hillary Clinton to keep, and apologized for, calling half of Donald Trump supporters “a basket of deplorables.” Setting aside the lousy optics of criticizing a quarter of the voters, what’s up with that weird phrase? What American would ever use it?
Then there’s John Kasich.
It’s just another political horse-race story about another white guy running for president, but “Kasich Looks to Republican Primaries, ‘Ohio Story’ in Hand” in the March 19th New York Times would have made me fall out of my seat had I not been confined by a seatbelt and squished in by a pair of chubby fellow airplane passengers.
John Kasich is the other Scott Walker, another Republican governor of a Midwestern state contemplating a run for president next year.
Kasich runs Ohio. Ohio is my home state.
Says the Times, Kasich is touting his “Ohio story” to make his case for moving into the Oval Office: “On his watch, Ohio’s $8 billion budget shortfall has turned into a $1.5 billion surplus. He has increased funding for mental health services and takes credit for 352,000 new private sector jobs.”
(Note the qualifier “takes credit for.”)
To be fair, the paper quotes Ohio State Senator Joe Schiavoni, who notes that “nearly half of Ohio households are getting by paycheck to paycheck, and 43% of students in public schools are on free or reduced lunch.”
When obscure governors run for president — Carter in 1976, Clinton in 1992, Bush in 2000 — their case to the nation is: Look what I did for my state! Elect me, and I’ll do the same for the country. The fact that Kasich is bragging about what he did to Ohio indicates that he’s (a) politically suicidal and/or (b) has absolutely no idea what’s going on there, especially in the state’s urban centers.
When I looked it up, I was surprised to learn that Kasich has actually visited Dayton, the southwestern Rust Belt city where I grew up. It’s a mess.
To be fair, this disaster predates Kasich by decades. Like many of my friends, I left after we graduated high school in the early 1980s because there were no jobs. Dayton Press, where they printed magazines like Time and Newsweek, closed. Mead Paper moved away. Department stores were boarded up, abandoned and demolished; factories rusted and rotted and were carted away. It got so you could take a nap in the middle of Main Street without being disturbed by traffic.
But things have only gotten worse under Kasich. Dayton’s population has plunged by 40% since I left. The local economy has been devastated since GM’s huge Moraine Assembly plant closed in 2008, throwing 5,000 people out of work.
Forbes listed Dayton as one of the ten fastest-dying cities in America. Four out of 10 were in Ohio. (The others were Youngstown, Canton and Cleveland.)
Forbes tried to put a bright face on Dayton’s problems: “Cash register and ATM manufacturer NCR is based in Dayton, and one of the region’s major employers, the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, is not going anywhere.”
Every day I check the Dayton Daily News app on my phone to follow the latest mayhem. Grim accounts of grinding poverty, drug epidemics and random violence are routine. The national story about the boy who found his neighbor’s mummified body while exploring an abandoned house somehow spoke volumes about the collapse of the city of Dayton. Facing foreclosure, the dude had hung himself five years ago. Bank officials never bothered to look inside.
Even the national economy recovered, Dayton’s contracted last year.
Kasich’s “Ohio Story” is a nightmare.
Cleveland, Dayton, Canton and Youngstown aren’t the Buckeye State’s only urban disasters — though they are some of the state’s biggest cities.
Toledo is so broke that its mayor asked residents to cut the grass in public parks. So many Cincinnatians are dying of heroin overdoses that the morgue is facing a budget crisis. The infant mortality rate is soaring in the capital city of Columbus.
Under John Kasich, Ohio is in danger of becoming a failed state.
Just what America needs!
The Ohio political blog Underbund has the goods on Kasich.
“The so-called ‘Ohio Story’ Gov. Kasich is out shilling to ruby red western and southern states will never include the kind of statistics reveled Friday in a report by the Pew Charitable Trust, which painted a different portrait of the state,” writes John Michael Spinelli.
Spinelli quotes the Pew report:
- “In John Kasich’s Ohio, the share of households that are middle class has fallen from 50.9% in 2000 to 45.7% in 2013.
- “Meanwhile, median income has also taken a dive under Gov. Kasich, from an inflation-adjusted amount of $56,437 in 2000 to $48,081 in 2013, a dip of nearly 15%.
- “And the share of households spending at least 30% of income on housing as gone up, from 25% in 2000 to 30% in 2013.”
I have a question for Governor Kasich: If you manage to gain traction in the race for the 2016 Republican nomination, how will you keep reporters away from Dayton?
(Ted Rall, syndicated writer and the cartoonist for The Los Angeles Times, is the author of the new critically-acclaimed book “After We Kill You, We Will Welcome You Back As Honored Guests: Unembedded in Afghanistan.” Subscribe to Ted Rall at Beacon.)
COPYRIGHT 2015 TED RALL, DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM
To the State of Ohio, Dennis McGuire was a human guinea pig — the first inmate executed using an experimental mix of poisons cobbled together because the manufacturers of pharmaceuticals used in older, proven cocktails refuse to continue supplying them for anti-medical purposes. For 25 agonizing minutes, McGuire thrashed against his restraints, choked and gasped for air before finally succumbing to death. “He started making all these horrible, horrible noises, and at that point, that’s when I covered my eyes and my ears,” said his daughter Amber McGuire, who witnessed the state killing at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility, near Lucasville.
Unsurprisingly, the family of the woman McGuire raped and murdered was unmoved by McGuire’s suffering. “As I recall the events preceding her death, forcing her from the car, attempting to rape her vaginally, sodomizing her, choking her, stabbing her, I know she suffered terror and pain. He is being treated far more humanely than he treated her,” said a statement issued by Joy Stewart’s survivors.
Ohio doesn’t have an awesome track record with killing killers. In 2009, the state unsuccessfully tried to kill Romell Broom — who did his best to help his would-be executioners. “For more than two hours,” reported the Cleveland Plain Dealer, “the team attempted to insert two shunts into a vein of the compliant Broom, who tried several times to assist his executioners by shifting positions, rubbing his arm and pointing out possible usable veins…At one point, Broom, 53, lay back on his bed, covered his face with his hands, and cried. Another time, while sitting up, he was seen grimacing as the execution team appeared to seek a vein around his ankles.”
In 2007 prison staff tried to find a usable vein in the arms of an obese inmate, Christopher Newton, for nearly two hours. “The execution team stuck him at least 10 times with needles to get in place the shunts where the needles are injected” before finally managing to kill him, according to the AP.
Given the finality of capital punishment, proof that one innocent person has ever been executed is enough for me to find the practice abhorrent. The fact, is numerous innocents have died in American death chambers.
Most of the world agrees. Only 21 out of the world’s 195 nations carried out any executions last year.
But I keep coming back to the angry statement issued by Joy Stewart’s survivors. They have every right to their rage. If some monster took away someone I loved like that, I would want to kill him too.
But I would want to do it myself.
Assuming that the guilt of death row prisoners like Dennis McGuire could be ascertained with absolute certainty — which is impossible in 100% of capital cases — I would be fine if Stewart’s grieving relatives shot him or garroted or beat him to death. Whatever makes them feel better.
Revenge is fine. Routine murder is not.
I can’t get past the gruesome bureaucratic spectacle of government workers executing people like McGuire (or trying to execute people like Broom) bloodlessly, motivated solely by a paycheck. As a society, we shouldn’t demand that state workers expose themselves to psychic trauma. As a system of justice, the death penalty is dishonest because it masks its true purpose: vengeance.
The purpose certainly isn’t deterrence. Year after year, states with capital punishment have significantly higher murder rates than those without it.
Some countries — nations most people would not look up to — nevertheless manage an interesting compromise: the authorities carry out the death penalty, but only if the aggrieved parties agree to it. In some executions carried out under Sharia law in areas of Afghanistan and Pakistan under Taliban control, the crimes are read out to a crowd of witnesses. Judges ask the victim’s family whether they want the execution carried out or, instead, prefer to offer mercy. (Mercy can vary between outright release to a harsh punishment short of death, for example, an amputation. In a surprising number of cases, families choose forced labor on their farms.)
Here in the United States, on the other hand, executions are often carried out against the wishes of the victims’ families. What’s the point of that?
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COPYRIGHT 2014 TED RALL, DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM
If Romney Loses, Blame His Running Mate
Unless something surprising and dramatic happens, Obama will win the election. Earlier this week the Associated Press released an analysis of public and private polls that put “within reach of the 270 electoral votes needed to win a second term.” Obama is running ahead in many major swing states, including Ohio—a necessity for a GOP candidate to win. Yeah, yeah, this week’s presidential debates could make a difference—but they rarely do.
What went wrong with the Romney campaign? (Insert the usual fat-lady-not-over-blah-blah-anything-could-happen disclaimer here.)
All things being equal, this should have been a cakewalk for Romney—or any half-decent Republican. The economy is still awful. The official unemployment rate is over 8%, a magic number that historically kills reelection campaigns. Since Obama hasn’t promised any big jobs programs, neither Hope nor Change is on offer. And Romney has/had a sales pitch tailored for hard times: he turned around companies; his business experience will/would help him turn around the U.S. economy.
This election is/was Romney’s to lose—and apparently he has. The cause can be summed up in two words: Paul Ryan.
Sure, there were plenty of other missteps. His bizarre “47%” remark turned out to be a game changer that alienated swing voters. Like the (unfair) story about how George H.W. Bush was so out of touch that he’d never seen a supermarket price scanner (no wonder that preppy pipsqueak didn’t care about Americans who’d lost jobs under the 1987-1992 recession), Romney’s 47% slag fit neatly with our overall impression that Romney is a heartless automaton of a CEO who doesn’t feel our pain. Worse, he’s a man with something to hide; his refusal to release his taxes proves it.
Though greeted by Very Serious pundits as a canny combination of intellectual heft and Tea Party cred, the selection of running mate Paul Ryan has been a bigger disaster than Sarah Palin in 2008. (To be fair to John Cain, Palin was a Hail Mary pass by a campaign that was way behind.) As Paul Krugman pointed out in the New York Times, the selection is beginning to shape up as a “referendum” on the legacy of the New Deal and the Great Society, on Social Security, Medicare and, yes, Obamacare, which represents an extension of that legacy.”
Which is Ryan’s fault.
Before the veep announcement, the campaign was a referendum on Obama’s stewardship over the economy. Which was good for Romney. Since August it has been about Paul Ryan, known for his plan to trash reform entitlement programs. Misfire! The one time you don’t attack the safety net is when people are feeling squeezed and pessimistic about the future.
Sensing resistance, Republicans walked back Ryan’s extreme agenda using the classic “divide and conquer” approach, guaranteeing that people over 55 would keep their Medicare and Social Security. No sale. Romney-Ryan forgot something: senior citizens have children and grandchildren. Older Americans want younger people to enjoy the same benefits they’re getting now. Many senior citizens no doubt see the slippery slope of austerity: taking away Social Security for people under 55 next leads to going after those over 55. Finally, with the U.S. Treasury squandering trillions of dollars on wars, it’s hard to argue that the sick and old ought to resort to Dumpster-diving.
The Romney–Ryan campaign understood that voters were pissed at Obama. But they didn’t understand why.
There were two types of anger against Obama. Mostly prompted by Obamacare, right-wingers hate the president for growing an intrusive federal government. But there is also liberal resentment—shared by many moderates—at Obama’s refusal to help the jobless and foreclosure victims. Lefties also dislike Obamacare—but because, minus a public option, it’s a sellout to the insurance conglomerates. Romney could have seduced these voters with his own plans to help the sick and poor. Instead, he went with Ryan—who would destroy programs that are already too weak—and frightened disgruntled Democrats back into Obama’s camp.
Romney ignored the time-tested tactic of moving to the center after winning your party’s nomination. Romney repackaged himself as a right-winger to win the GOP nomination. In the general election, he needed to appeal to Democrats and swing voters. Choosing Paul Ryan sent the opposite signal.
This is not to say that President Obama will have an easy second term. Unlike 2008, when the vast majority of Americans felt satisfied that they had made the right choice, Obama is only likeable enough (the words he used to describe Hillary Clinton) compared to Romney. The only reason Obama seems headed to victory this November is that he was lucky enough to run against one of the most staggeringly inept campaigns in memory, headed by an unbelievably tone-deaf plutocrat.
COPYRIGHT 2012 TED RALL