Oppose Republican-Leaning Pee Dee
He didn’t shoot us in the head. He just stabbed us in the stomach and back a couple of times. We’re bleeding badly but we ain’t dead. That’s okay, isn’t it? No!
That’s the way I feel about the reaction of too many people and institutional voices to Gov. John Kasich and his far-out right-wing policies. It’s the usual — take from those who don’t have and give to those who have too damn much. The rich don’t need protection. They can buy it themselves.
Even Labor is too conservative in its opposition to ideologue Kasich. I’ll get to that later.
This criticism extends to our social service agencies that seem to be going along with Kasich because he hasn’t ravaged their clients too much. He only badly cripples them. That should not be good enough for our charities and non-profits. They’re blessing these severe cutbacks by not reacting sharply.
For my money, the worst reaction to the onslaught by Kasich and Ohio Republicans comes from the Plain Dealer. The Plain Dealer that helped give us this brand of anti-government government. The worse of the worse. The PD, of course, endorsed this Kasich calamity last November. It rejected Democrat Ted Strickland. He was doing okay in these tough times. Now they bring on this radical rightist.
Kasich has disastrously moved to cut essentials from the Ohio budget while avoiding any necessary tax increases and planning to give away important government assets to private interests. He’s teapartying Ohio. Nothing could be worse.
A poll in Saturday’s PD showed that even the general public is far ahead of the politicians in thinking about the problems we face. The problem is a large deficit in funding state government. The poll showed 53 percent favoring a “combination of tax increases and reduced spending.” Only 35 percent say only reductions are in order. Kasich, however, won’t raise — or restore — a single tax on those who can and should be paying more. How dumb and wrong.
The poll tells me that the people are ahead of the journalists and the editorialist too. Especially those at the Pee Dee.
Kasich is the friend of the wealthy. And why not. He’s one of them.
The Dayton Daily News outlined his millionaire status. Laura Bischoff reported last year that Kasich made $1.4 million in 2008: $265,000 from Fox News; $61,538 from Schottenstein Properties; $165,719 in speaking fees; $77,273 from sitting on corporate board; $121,926 in interest and dividend income. And, of course, Kasich’s “earnings” at Lehman Bros. at $587,175 in salary, bonus and bennies. He has no problems. He now just makes problems.
What got stuck in my craw have been the editorial positions of the Pee Dee in light of its helping to burden us with Kasich. The editorial department of the Pee Dee is a big disappointment, starting with its editorial page editor Elizabeth Sullivan. I expected more of her when she took over for Brent Larkin.
The Pee Dee has been on a rampage for more than a year about local government because of the corruption mess in Cuyahoga County. It means primarily they’ve been tough on Democrats. It shouldn’t mean, however, that they become allied with Republicans.
The first editorial that caught my attention was on March 17. It was entitled “Mr. Kasich’s feats of fiscal daring.” It was much too easy on the new governor.
Not that they didn’t have some piddling problems with Kasich. But the headline lets Gov. Kasich off much, much too easily. It’s not fiscal daring, it’s fiscal fraud.
Appearing beside the PD editorial is another Kevin O’Brien piece of right-wing propaganda on the Kasich budget. “An honest budget,” says the columnist’s headline. That’s enough to make you ill. The paper has NO opposing political columnist anywhere near O’Brien’s rightist slant.
There is no mention in the editorial of the most important factor: Taxing those who need to be taxed. That means the wealthy. The Pee Dee totally avoids the issue. How could you forget that? Only by trying hard.
Just before these editorials appeared the PD editorial page carried a piece by Zach Schiller, a former PD business editor, now research director of Policy Matters Ohio, a research group.
Schiller points out what should be first in the Pee Dee’s editorializing shots: Ohio politicians have been giving away billions in tax revenues. Isn’t that crucial in any talk about Ohio’s revenues? Schiller cites “$7 billion in exemptions, credits and deductions from state taxes that otherwise would be paid EACH year” (My emphasis.) That’s a lot of money. Given away. To banks and corporations primarily.
Schiller does what the Pee Dee editorial people either are too dumb (not so) or too negligent (not really) or too dishonest (more likely) should do: take on the tax cutting idiots. These cash diversions outrun corruption in loss money.
The editorialists almost simply ignore another elephant in the room. Where is outrage that Kasich will privatize important state functions, from prisons to the Ohio lottery to our turnpike and others? These are huge decisions. He seems to be doing it recklessly with little forethought.
Why isn’t the paper challenging these decisions?
The Pee Dee suggests that the legislature should give this proposal “exacting scrutiny.” Why no “exacting scrutiny” by the Pee Dee? They have no responsibility in these awful decisions? Does the PD really believe the Republican legislature will get sweaty working to really assess these give-aways? They can’t be that naïve.
The very next day the Pee Dee “takes on” Kasich in an editorial entitled “A glaring error in budget plan.” Please, talk about piddling and avoidance criticism. This is their cover for not going after what’s really important. A way of seeming tough.
The editorial bosses spend the entire editorial chastising the Governor on an “unjustified assault” and a “slash and burn attack.” Those are really descriptive words. Those are tough words. Those are the kind of words we need.
However, they don’t deal here with the most crucial economic issues. They avoid them. They address — correctly but rather small when considering other problems — Kasich’s cutback in the Office of the Consumer Counsel. Not a good decision to cut here. But it pales in contrast with many others.
If the paper’s editorialists got so exercised by this wrong Kasich move, why not on the much more meaningful bad decisions? Why the timidity?
Avoiding the obvious plays well at the Pee Dee. There is where the dishonesty cries out for reform. Where the paper’s credibility suffers badly.
For example, the rather mild reaction to the $1.3 billion cut in schools. If you can’t get really exercised by this maybe you’re not alive. Certainly you’re not serious. Because some who know say the theft is really a huge $3 billion slash in K through 12 education. C’mon. Where is the future in this kind of decision?
We should be increasing the pay of teachers to attract some of the best minds for our children. Instead of a system of reward we pursue a system of punishment. How dumb is that?
Where is the outrage on the truly essential cutbacks that we see from our Governor? Why is the paper so damned timid? Where’s the “slash and burn” outrage where and when it is needed?
It is not there. Why? The Pee Dee needs to explain. Otherwise, we have to doubt their honesty.
As to Labor, it has arisen somewhat from its stupor. It is being attacked directly and rather brutally by Kasich and the Republicans. But Labor needs to use all its power now.
For one thing, this is a Labor and Democratic town the Pee Dee serves. And makes its profits. Why support a newspaper that directly and sharply opposes your interests?
It’s time Labor and all those allied with working people rise up. The PD should expect economic blowback for its support of right-wing forces. If the Pee Dee wants to stand with Republican corporate interests, why should people financially support the paper? It doesn’t make sense.
I think it’s time for Labor and its supporters to warn the paper: it can’t work against the interests of working people and expect working people to buy the daily newspaper.
While I’m on newspapers, the same goes for the alternative weekly Scene. Each week it is more disappointing. It fails to provide news of value. Its “news” seems to reflect its soft porn ad readers. It’s very disappointing for something that wants us to view it as an alternative to the daily dish.
I’d suggest for those who want a different take on Kasich and his gang, go to the web site Plunderbund:
And for more from time to time from Akron area veteran reporter Abe Zaiden to:
It’s time we all get real. We have to stop politicians as Kasich, son of a mailman but daddy to the powerful, from going after the poor and weak for the benefit of the rich and powerful. Enough is enough people.
Roldo Bartimole celebrates 50 years of news reporting this year. He published and wrote Point of View, a newsletter about Cleveland, for 32 years. He worked for the Plain Dealer and Wall Street Journal in the 1960s.
He was a 2004 Cleveland Journalism Hall of Fame recipient and won the national Joe Callaway Award for Civic Courage in 1991.