Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Kasich battles moderate label

By Scott Cavanagh
Ohio Governor John Kasich has a pretty impressive resume—one that includes some serious conservative credentials.

During his nine terms in the United States House of Representatives, Kasich served six years as Chairman of a House Budget Committee that was instrumental in passing both the Balanced Budget Act of 1997 and welfare reform. From there he moved on to The FOX Channel, where his Heartland with John Kasich program espoused conservative economic theories of smaller government and reduced tax burdens every week for seven years.

In his two terms as governor of The Buckeye State, Kasich has overseen one of the strongest economic turnarounds in the country—at least on paper. The $8 billion budget deficit facing the state has become a $2 billion dollar surplus, while some 200,000 new jobs have been created and the state’s credit rating has been upgraded from a B to an A. He is pro-death penalty and anti-abortion.

So, why has the governor had such a hard time gaining any traction with the majority of conservative voters in both local and national polls?

“They simply see him as a moderate,” said Republican strategist Terry Brown “I don’t think it’s a label that fits, but somewhere along the way, people began to see him as sort of a Jeb Bush-like character that is kind of wishy-washy on certain key conservative issues.”

It is true that Kasich is in favor of a path to citizenship for illegal aliens already working in this country, and that he supported the expansion of Medicaid in Ohio, but does that make the governor a moderate?

“He’s a moderate in conservative’s clothing,” said GOP and Tea Party activist Norm Leonard. “He has expanded government in the state, sides with the position of people illegally residing in the country and has always been anti-gun.”

The gun issue is one that could truly cause Kasich some trouble, particularly in heavily red-state primaries. As a supporter of the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban, the governor earned the wrath of the National Rifle Association—something no would-be Republican nominee wants to deal with.

“Yes, he supported the Assault Weapons Ban, at a time when our nation was seeing violent drug battles in our city streets on a regular basis,” said Brown. “I think it was the right stance to take at the time, and one he needs to stand by. His record on protecting the rights of hunters and handgun owners has been strong and consistent from the beginning.”

The trouble that most Kasich supporters have to deal with is one that plagued both Mitt Romney in 2012 and John McCain in 2008—how far to the right does he have to go to garner the GOP nomination, and how much would that hurt him in the general election if he were to grab it?

“Kasich is a candidate that can win a general election,” said Brown. “He is balanced and steady on issues up and down the spectrum. He needs to maintain those stances and uphold his principles. If he runs to the right to appease an extreme side of the party—particularly on issues like immigration—he will be a sitting duck in November. He is a conservative in the mode of Reagan, with the ability to see the big picture and compromise when needed. That is what the country needs and what the party needs.”

The question is—is it what it wants?

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Sunday, July 19, 2015

Tolerance is a two-way street

By Scott Cavanagh
It’s been a great couple of months for people on the left side of America’s political landscape. From Supreme Court decisions legalizing same-sex marriages and protecting the Affordable Care Act to the removal of the Confederate Battle Flag from the Statehouse in South Carolina, events of 2015 have made it good to be a liberal.

As an advocate of progressive causes, I take great pride not only in the winning of these cultural battles, but in the way most on the left went about doing so. While many conservatives attacked with insults, demagoguery and name-calling, progressives more often than not responded with facts, reasoned arguments and compassion.

Recent years however have brought us a new form of debate--one waged in 30-second sound bites and 140 character opinions. The rise of FOX News as essentially a conservative propaganda network hellbent on scaring the crap out of anyone who might be the slightest bit leery of change, led to the creation of the overtly liberal MSNBC.

The information age has also led to the creation of thousands of websites steeped in an ingrained culture—either right or left—that indoctrinate often young readers with a certain take on local and world events before they have had even the slightest bit of exposure to other trains of thought. This “us or them” form of debate produces nothing of value. It is intolerant of differing opinions and degrades everything people with open minds have spent decades fighting for.

In recent weeks I have been both shocked and saddened by much of the vitriolic garbage coming out of the mouths and keyboards of supposedly progressive people.

Any person of faith that disagrees with a liberal stance is vilified as a fool who “worships a man in the sky” or “believes in some Bronze Age superstition.” Nice tolerance there, huh? Would they have said that about Dr. Martin Luther King? JFK? Malcolm X?

In just the past week, I’ve seen people called bigots and homophobes—or worse—because they had the temerity to suggest that a female college basketball player battling terminal cancer at the age of 20 might be more deserving of a sports courage award than a 65-year-old millionaire reality star that hasn’t been involved in sports in 40 years.

These types of reactions are no more tolerant (or creative for that matter) than a racist telling an African-American that detests police brutality to “go back to Africa.” It’s the dumb guy’s response and it’s incredibly frustrating to see anyone on the left react in such a way to people who think differently.

Just yesterday, the former governor of Maryland was shouted off the stage at a liberal rally because he made the “offensive” statement that “white lives matter too.” This comes only weeks after Hillary Clinton faced the same reaction by saying that “all lives matter.” Remember Hill—we are following a script these days—don’t deviate—or the torches come out.

Not long ago, a good friend of mine reposted an opinion piece on Facebook from an African-American scholar discussing his unwillingness to talk to white people about race. It was a very good article and made some great points. When I commented that I agreed with some of his opinions and disagreed with others—particularly the recent PC mantra that all white people are born inherently racist—like some form of original sin—I was told by other readers that I did not understand the article and was probably part of the problem. As a kid who grew up poor in NYC with more close friends of color than white ones, I found those responses not only offensive, but comical—particularly coming from white Midwestern suburbanites whose only exposure to black people was probably The Cosby Show.

Many Progressives expect a 65-year old Baptist woman in Alabama to be tolerant and understanding of a man that dresses like a woman, who is not yet a woman, but identifies as one--yet they call her names and make fun of her if she messes up the “he” or “she” when discussing her. This is the very behavior that fuels knuckleheads like Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck and makes it harder on LGBT people to gain acceptance—not easier. You see, people generally don’t like other people making fun of their grandmothers.

Things are going well these days. Walls are coming down and barriers are being broken. Let’s try to be humble, engaged and compassionate—not a bunch of snarky judgmental know-it-alls.

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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

NCAA is not the Justice Department

The NCAA is the governing body of college athletics--not an arm of the legal system.

The organization's recent punishments of Penn State were bizarre and a big overreach. What authority does it have to fine a tax-payer-funded public institution $60 million for behavior that had nothing to do with current player or coaching staff behavior, eligibility, recruiting or academics?

The American justice system has been handling this situation quite well without the NCAA. Jerry Sandusky committed horrible crimes. He has been convicted of those crimes and will die in prison--a punishment befitting his actions. Joe Paterno is dead, and therefore cannot defend himself. The others involved—Curley, Spanier and Schultz—have all been fired and are all now facing criminal prosecution.

The kids who were violated and damaged by Sandusky’s horrible actions and the ensuing cover-up are in the process of filing literally hundreds of civil suits against PSU—which will most likely result in hundreds of millions of dollars in damages. The system is working just fine.

The NCAA is incapable of even updating its ridiculous and arcane rule book. It does not even have the power to fire a coach, but somehow it now believes it can step in to this serious matter and play junior Justice Department.

Penn State did not win or fix any games, jigger any grades or award any illegal benefits through Sandusky's crimes or the cover-up. An athletic association's involvement in this matter should end there.

Billion dollar taxpayer-funded institutions of higher learning with obligations and commitments to the well-being and futures of thousands--in this case tens of thousands--of students, faculty, alumni, employees and taxpayers all over the world cannot be held accountable to the sanctimonious and self-serving decisions of some semi-regulated, quasi-affiliated football/basketball television network posing as the protectors of amateur athletics.

Is the NCAA--a national institution-- now going to step in each time someone breaks the law and steal millions of in-state taxpayer dollars that would otherwise pay for the educations and jobs of thousands of blameless students and workers by slamming the university with crippling fines and penalties? That prospect is particularly galling when you consider that those same people are already paying for the legal system that will be trying those cases--both criminal and civil-- in the first place.

PSU football should have gotten the NCAA death penalty for a year and a loss of scholarships for a period of years thereafter. All other punishments should have been, have been and will continue to be handled by the legal system--not the jokers at the ridiculous and corrupt NCAA. They are way out of their jurisdiction here.

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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Republicans' mystery opponent

By Scott Cavanagh
The current Republican presidential candidates have done their best to tear each other to pieces this primary season, but they've still managed to save their biggest and juiciest attacks for the man the winner will face this November. The question is—who is this guy they are railing against?

The man they keep attacking is a Kenyan Muslim Socialist who has presided over the fall of our economy, raised everyone’s taxes through the roof, regulated small businesses into bankruptcy, gutted our military into ineffectiveness and accomplished nothing legislatively.

I’m not sure who that person is. I do know this—the man currently in the Oval Office is an American Christian who has presided over 22 consecutive months of economic growth, saved the U.S. auto industry and its thousands of jobs from extinction and lowered the taxes of virtually every citizen. The same guy has signed three increased defense budgets while presiding over the end of the Iraq War, the killing of Osama Bin Laden, the freeing of American hostages from pirates and the end of the Qaddafi and Mubarak regimes in the Middle East.

That same opponent also proposed tax incentives for businesses that keep jobs here in the U.S.; made student loans available to thousands more young people and provided health care to millions of citizens—all while dealing with the worst inherited economy since the Great Depression and the most hostile do-nothing Congress in history.

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Friday, January 20, 2012

Bark Bits... Quick Hits and Fazed Cookies

Mitt's Millions
As reported yesterday, it appears one of the factors keeping Mitt Romney from releasing his tax records is his penchant for conveniently stashing millions of investment dollars in U.S. tax-free Cayman Islands tax shelters.

This is just too much--the ultra-rich corporate raider businessman stashing away millions to avoid paying taxes to the government he wants to run. What a patriot.

Don’t worry though. Missionary Mitt plans to make up for that shortfall in the national treasury that he and thousands of other “job creators” have created--by cutting your retirement and health care benefits.

Little Dumber Boy
While Romney Rolls on, the Rick Perry Cowboy Train has finally run off the rails. The Texas governor, who wants to eliminate multiple departments of the federal government, but can't seem to remember which ones, will now have much more free time to address the topic he loves the most--Texas succeeding from the union. If only it could...

Holy Crockamole
Perry's exit brings to three the number of GOP candidates that have dropped out of the race despite the endorsement of The Almighty. Perry, along with fellow comedy writers' dreams Herman Cain and Michelle Bachmann, all claimed that their White House bids were inspired by conversations with God--where he urged them to run. Good to hear The Big Guy still has a sense of humor.


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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Greatest in so many ways

By Scott Cavanagh
Muhammad Ali turned 70 today. In an era where an athlete is considered controversial because he says a prayer after a touchdown, or interesting because he changes his name to Ocho Cinco to match his jersey number, or principled because he only tweets about his contract disputes at halftime, “The Greatest” just seems all that much greater.

Controversial is telling the press that fighting in Vietnam would make no sense because “No Viet Cong ever called me nigger.”

Interesting is calling out opponents who continued to call him Cassius Clay--long after his name change--by screaming “What’s my name?” as he beat them into submission.

Principled is giving up the greatest title in all of sports, one that he had worked his entire life to acquire, in order to follow the tenants of what he believed. And he did all of this in the politically charged, assassination-filled climate of 1960’s America. Oh, and by the way, he was a pretty good boxer too.

Happy birthday champ. Assalam-alaikum.

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Saturday, January 14, 2012

The Evangelicals' best option?

By Scott Cavanagh
Republican presidential candidates are spending millions of dollars in South Carolina trying to woo the state’s substantial Evangelical Protestant family values crowd in advance of the state's upcoming primary.

Unfortunately for the GOP, with a field consisting of a thrice-married serial cheater, a devout disciple of Ayn Rand, a Catholic, two Mormons and a guy that’s put more people to death than any governor since Pontius Pilate, there is only one candidate values voters could possibly choose. If they want a happily once-married, Baptist family man with no blood on his hands, they have one choice—Barack Hussein Obama.

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Sunday, January 1, 2012

GOP 2012: New Year, Same Old Song

By Scott Cavanagh
With the new year upon us and only two days remaining before the Iowa caucuses, the Republican presidential candidates are spending a great deal of time and money regaling interested Hawkeyes and the national media with their plans for the future. Let me save them a lot of energy and cash.

They want to cut taxes on the rich and corporations, gut regulations that protect you, me and our environment from those corporations, and pay for it by slashing programs that make life better for average Americans. Okay, they may also want to bomb some country filled with brown people after they've won the War on Christmas, but that’s it. That’s all they’ve got—and that’s all they’ve had for 20 years.

Tax cuts, fear mongering and manufactured wedge issues make up their entire plank. They fear and scapegoat virtually everyone -- gay people, union workers, public school teachers, black people, brown people, government workers, atheists, immigrants, east coasters, west coasters, the French, Muslims, intellectuals, the media, scientists, environmentalists--the list goes on and on.

They remain devoted to labeling Obama as some kind of scary Socialist--another great old standard. The Republicans have been calling every Democratic president and presidential hopeful either a Communist or a Socialist since Woodrow Wilson. Any politician that wants to do anything for anybody that doesn't reside in the highest tax bracket is immediately branded a damn commie. How can anyone with a third-grade education buy this nonsense?

It’s the same thing with guns--another totally bogus non-issue wedge issue. No one on the left has ever proposed any legislation hindering the ownership of hunting weapons or the rights of legal gun ownership, yet the right continues to frighten people into believing that an army of liberals is ready to strike at any moment and do away with the second amendment. It’s total B.S. What have they now spent the last three years yammering away about? Death panels and the president's birth certificate. It’s almost as ridiculous as believing that a 21-year-old John Kerry somehow conned the Navy into giving him three bogus Purple Hearts. How in the world can they continue to get away with spouting this garbage? Who in the hell is still voting for these people? 

These days they spend the majority of their time hammering Obama over the economy. How convenient is that memory loss? This entire financial meltdown was engineered by Republican greed. Bill Clinton left them with a massive budget surplus which they immediately squandered on two unfunded wars, obscene tax cuts in that time of war and a huge prescription drug program that handed most of the benefits to pharmaceutical companies.

Now they want to balance the books by picking the pockets of the weakest members of our society--the elderly, the working poor, students--while at the same time pushing for even more tax breaks for those that need it the least and huge corporations that will waste no time investing that money overseas, slashing jobs here and paying no taxes whatsoever.

The Republicans like to promote themselves as the party of good Christian values that stands up for Americans that work hard and play by the rules. When examining those claims, consider these facts: Over the past 30 years, 85% of all new income in this country has went to the richest 1% of our citizens, while the nation's richest 400 families now control more wealth than the bottom 50% of our entire population. The average American pays roughly 30% in taxes, while billionaire hedge fund managers—who provide nothing to society—pay 15%. Billionaire Warren Buffet pays a lower income tax rate than his secretary. Exxon-Mobil—the most profitable company in the history of mankind--paid no taxes last year.

Republicans like this system. They like it so much they want to lower marginal tax rates on the rich and corporations even more. They want to pay for it by cutting Social Security and Medicare benefits for your parents and grandparents, raising taxes on the working poor and gutting protections for the air we breathe, the water we drink and the food we eat. How can anyone—particularly anyone that calls them self Christian—support such policies?

It shouldn’t be surprising though. The GOP has been against every policy or initiative to protect or lift up regular people for nearly 100 years. Child labor laws, The GI Bill, The Marshall Plan, student loans, the minimum wage, unemployment insurance, seat belts, pollution control, civil rights, consumer protection, women’s rights, worker’s rights, Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security—Republicans opposed all of them, and each one was supposed to turn us all into a bunch of socialists. All the while they’ve never seen a corporate tax dodge they didn’t love.

2012 might be a new year, but in the immortal words of Steven Tyler: “It’s the same old story, same old song and dance.”

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