Late Friday afternoon, a powerful storm came through Central and Southern Ohio, knocking out power to hundreds of thousands in Metro Columbus. (Update: The storm has since moved on and caused horrible damage in other states.)
At Ohio’s second We The People Convention, those who lived in the local area who weren’t staying for dinner were advised to hang around for a half-hour or so after the last break-out sessions. Internet access also went away and didn’t return to the event’s Ohio Expo Center site before it ended.
I was able to draft this post late Saturday morning on WTP Director Tom Zawistowski’s Mac, which temporarily had Net access through his phone. I intensely appreciate him providing that access.
Friday afternoon, I went to James O’Keefe’s presentation on “How Online Video Is Changing the Political Landscape.” It was very nicely done, and the packed room enjoyed it immensely. I didn’t know that his first effort occurred while he was still a student at Rutgers, where he succeeded in getting Lucky Charms cereal banned from university cafeterias because the portrayal of the cartoon character on the box’s cover was offensive to Irish-Americans. The related video he showed was predictably hilarious.
Some attendees were asking him, “Can you investigate this for us?” The real answer (as O’Keefe politely noted) is that people need to be doing more of this themselves.
The final module I attended Friday was “Investigative Reporting Skills for Citizen Activists.” Trent Siebert, who runs a Texas Watchdog.org group, did an entertaining job of letting attendees know how much info is out there for those who have the patience to do the sifting, and digging out the nitty gritty detail at the local level is how things will change from the ground up.
The key speakers at Friday’s dinner were Ohio Congressman Jim Jordan, who lots of Ohioans were hoping would run for U.S. Senate this year, and Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel, who actually is. I’m happy to report that Mandel, about whom I have had concerns about youth, inexperience, and presentation, completely dispelled those worries last night, delivering an outstanding speech that fired up and motivated the crowd.
The Saturday morning modules I attended had an upper and a downer. The upper came from the True the Vote presenter. These folks will be a force in controlling election fraud in November. The downer came from Mark Lucas. His report on how out-of-control our immigration system is was a sobering reminder of how serious and hard-fought the effort to fix the system will be.
This year’s We The People Convention kicked off in Columbus today. I would estimate today’s attendance at 600 or more so far, with probably several hundred more arrivals by the time all festivities conclude tomorrow.
As was the case last year, the sizzle is found in the lunch and dinner speakers, while the steak is in the morning and afternoon general sessions. Those sessions include how-to presentations for candidates, campaign managers, and activists; Ohio-specific modules on taxes, natural resources, and potential electoral matters such as right-to-work; and break-outs on national issues like immigration reform, voter fraud, environmental policy, and (oh yeah) ObamaCare, where the related Supreme Court decision is on everyone’s outraged mind.
I have audio of the lunchtime speeches today, but attempts at transcription will have to wait until I escape the cavernous echo chamber known as the Ohio Expo Center. For now, I’ll note some key and in some cases quite sobering points made by the three lunchtime speakers (mostly paraphrased):
- Former Congressman Dick Armey, whose FreedomWorks has in effect been advocating tea party values for over a quarter-century, told the audience that when he saw the tea party groups forming en masse from the group up in 2009, he felt like the cavalry had finally arrive. He emphasized that rehabilitating the Republican Party is of paramount importance. Also (no pressure — ha), Ohio activists need to recognize that the weight of that “the weight and burden” of liberty may very well be on their shoulders in November, because in his view (and of course many others through several decades, “As Ohio goes, so goes the nation.”
- Kibbe, also of FreedomWorks, opined that if progressives may have thought they saw something in scary (to them) in 2010, “they haven’t seen anything yet.”
- I’ll relay more of what Fund had to say later, but here’s one key point he made — So many Republicans and (so we thought) conservatives going to Washington planning to draining the swamp (or saying they do), but they end up deciding that the swamp instead serves as a great hot tub. Obviously, that’s got to stop.
As would be expected in a state with both a significant existing coal mining operations and huge potential in fracking that is enduring Obama administration hostility in both areas, energy is also a dominant topic.
To say that the determination to make a difference in November is fierce would be a huge understatement.
Mitt Romney’s “win” in Ohio of course isn’t the kind you take into office. It’s one where you say “I got more votes than anyone else (barely), and probably more delegates too. Let’s move on to the next states.”
To me, Ohio proved that “not Romney” is still leading the pack. Why anyone should be impressed that a candidate who has been in essence campaigning for five years, outspent his opponents by as much as 6-1 in the Buckeye State (I’m hearing that the ratio was actually higher), and only survived because he had a super-PAC which serially lied so badly and baldly about Santorum’s record that you would have thought Romney was running against Olympia Snowe, is a complete mystery.
Newt had a bad night in Ohio and I believe everywhere else except his “home” state of Georgia. If he really feels that a Romney nomination is as problematic as he claims, he should drop out. I would expect that most of his support would go to Santorum, especially if he endorses him.
Following up on most of the other races I was tracking, and supplementing a bit:
- The big, big upset of the night is Brad Wenstrup’s defeat of three-plus-term incumbent Jean Schmidt in OH-02 (which in a shameless plug, I believe I called before anyone else). I warned earlier today that “An upset seems very unlikely, but not impossible.” What Wenstrup did was concentrate on the populous areas of Hamilton County and Clermont County (Schmidt’s home county), achieving 8,000- and 2,500-vote margins, respectively, while totally ignoring the other rural counties, where Schmidt’s overwhelming margins couldn’t make up the difference. I also noted earlier today that I thought Schmidt “hasn’t campaigned aggressively.” I think she also underestimated the impact of redistricting, and that she may not have pursued the support of those who had never seen her name on an election ballot aggressively enough. And yes, Wenstrup fought dirty, but that’s been the Schmidt-haters’ style for almost seven years. She should have been ready for it — and wasn’t.
- Marcy Kaptur defeated Dennis Kucinich in a face-off of two veteran congressional Democrats. In that same district, “Joe the Plumber” Wurzelbacher won the Republican nomination in a tightly contested race, and will have a difficult time unseating Kaptur. If there’s hope, it’s in the fact that Wurzelbacher, who is from the Toledo area, somehow did really well in Cleveland’s Cuyaghoga County (yes, the district is a disgraceful example of gerrymandering), and that a large plurality of residents of the redrawn district have never voted for Kaptur.
- In Columbus, former Congresswoman Mary Jo Kilroy was defeated in a comeback attempt.
It will be a while before the State Central Committee races I mentioned this afternoon get sorted out.
As usual, Ohio, in the words of an old state slogan, seems to be “the heart of it all.”
In the presidential race, the big question in my view is whether Rick Santorum’s huge advantages in rural counties and the ex-urbs will be enough to offset Mitt Romney’s smaller advantages in the more populous cities and nearer-in suburbs. It’s truly a toss-up.
I’m aware of two congressional races we should watch. The first is on the Democratic side, where longtime congresspersons Marcy Kaptur and Dennis Kucinich are facing off because of redistricting. Logic would indicate that Kaptur has the upper hand, as Kucinich is considered the outsider by most. But these are Democrats, and Kucinich, whose career was thought over decades ago after his dismal mayoral term in Cleveland, could pull off an upset.
The other congressional race is in a district (OH-02) in which I no longer live (I didn’t move; the district did). Incumbent Jean Schmidt, who first won her seat in August 2005 in a race against Paul Hackett which received major national attention, has been challenged in a primary every time since. This year, she’s up against Brad Wenstrup, who is somehow trying to out-conservative an incumbent who has a mile-long list of 100% ratings from pro-growth and family values organizations. I don’t think it’s working, but Wenstrup seems to have found a ton of money from somewhere for TV and radio ads, and from what I can tell Schmidt hasn’t campaigned aggressively. An upset seems very unlikely, but not impossible.
Separately, even though he was the only name on the ballot, I did not vote for incumbent OH-01 congressman Steve Chabot, simply because despite requesting an answer at least five times, I was never told why my “new” congressman co-sponsored the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), or why (if it’s even true) he withdrew that co-sponsorship.
More mundane but important to Ohioans are the State Central Committee races. State GOP Chairman Kevin DeWine, who believes he is the most important Republican in Ohio, has been openly feuding with Governor John Kasich, who obviously really is the most important Republican in Ohio. Kasich staffers, presumably with the Gov’s blessing, are attempting to run challengers to DeWine crony Central Committee incumbents hoping to force DeWine from his chairmanship. My guess is that the effort probably won’t work, largely because DeWine is unconscionably spending a lot of money which should be spent in the fall on defeating Barack Obama, Sherrod Brown, and other Democrats on mailers and other media on behalf of his Central Committee faves — pretending, as was the case in 2010, to have “Tea Party Values.”
That act alone should cause Republicans across the state to demand DeWine’s resignation, but he told me personally several weeks ago that he has no intention of doing so, despite the possibility that his stubbornness may lead to an Obama win in the fall.
In my column which went up this morning I observed that:
(Ohio Republican Party Chairman Kevin) DeWine is trying to rewrite the Central Committee qualification rules at the last minute to prevent insurgent winners who haven’t voted in the last three statewide primaries from being seated.
This means that a candidate can win his or her Central Committee race, but will not be seated unless they voted in the Republican primary in 2008, 2010, and 2012.
The insurgents are a number of Tea Party supporters and others encouraged to run by Governor John Kasich, who has been feuding with DeWine ever since the ORP in 2010 “asked donors not to give to Kasich,” who was in a tightening race against incumbent Democrat Ted Strickland and only won by two percentage points.
Ohio GOP committee gives Chairman Kevin DeWine a victory through rule change
The state Republican Central Committee voted 29-28 Friday to change the qualifications for being elected to the group.
The vote is a victory for state Republican Party Chairman Kevin DeWine and a rebuke to GOP Gov. John Kasich.
By a single vote, DeWine loyalists passed a rule that only candidates for GOP committee who voted in the last three Republican primaries would be eligible to sit on the committee.
… There are thought to be as many as 12 Kasich-recruited members for the committee who would be disqualified under the new rule.
The narrow margin shows that it isn’t just insurgents who are infuriated. What it really shows, despite the “victory,” is that Kevin DeWine is the one who was “rebuked” by as many as a dozen of his longtime loyalists. The 66-member committee has perhaps 46-50 longtimers (Tea Partiers took perhaps 16-20 seats in 2010), so Kevin’s support has clearly eroded.
Really, if almost half of your group is willing to go against something like this after all the arm-twisting which surely occurred, why would you want to remain in charge of it? This really is a message (destined to be ignored, I’m afraid) that Kevin should step down in favor of someone on whom almost everyone can agree, and who will work with Kasich instead of undermining him.
SCC candidates who win election (note that early voting for the March 6 primary has already started) but are prevented from being seated by the new rule will surely mount legal challenges which under Ohio law seem to have a reasonable chance of succeeding. Of course, ORP now has a handy weapon to use against all challengers, namely a whisper campaign: “Why vote for someone who won’t get seated?”
It’s not an understatement to say that Kevin DeWine has embarrassed himself and his organization in front of the whole nation in a critical swing state which has already begun its primary.
Stupid Party indeed.
It was originally created in early January by Steve Greenberg, a Los Angeles freelancer.
I don’t really have a lot to say which hasn’t been said before about who the real racists are (Hint: It’s the people who think minorities aren’t smart enough to get, carry, and show photo ID), or how easy it is for someone to vote when there is no voter-ID requirement (see James O’Keefe).
But I will add a Buckeye State-specific point.
Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted, who among other things represented districts both as a state rep and a state senator in which he did not live before achieving higher office thanks largely to shameless state Republican Party cronyism, campaigned in the 2010 GOP primary as an advocate of voter ID and a fierce opponent of ACORN. In the general election campaign, that strident advocacy suddenly disappeared from his web site.
Shortly after taking office in 2011, Husted, who appears to have aspirations to become Ohio’s next governor, made a move apparently designed to make himself look better to Democrats and moderates when he announced that he opposes a voter-ID requirement in the Buckeye State. Now there isn’t one.
In light of the cartoon above, it’s worth asking: “How’s that appeasement workin’ out for you, Jon?”
Sister Souljah was a 1990s rapper whose hateful lyrics brought a rebuke from Bill Clinton during the 1992 campaign:
Angry rappers, such as Sister Souljah and Ice-T, speak for a generation of black youths with little faith in the mainstream political system. This week they both got a chance to talk to Middle America on the network news and talk shows.
Democratic presidential candidate Bill Clinton criticized Sister Souljah for contributing to racial polarization last Saturday when addressing Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow Coalition.
Souljah, whose real name is Lisa Williamson, was quoted in the Washington Post as saying, “If black people kill black people every day, why not have a week and kill white people.”
Clinton condemned the remarks, and was critical of Jackson’s organization for giving her a forum.
Her message In “The Hate That Hate Produced,” was, “Souljah was not born to make white people feel comfortable/I am African first, I am black first/I want what’s good for me and my people first/And if my survival means your total destruction, then so be it.”
Jackson defended Souljah and accused Clinton of using the incident to embarrass him.
On Friday, PJM published my column (“October 14, 2008: The Day the Economy As We Knew It Died”) about the third anniversary of Hank Paulson’s figurative “gun to the head” meeting wherein he had CEOs of the nation’s largest banks “agree” to take Troubled Asset Relief Program money in the form of government preferred equity “investment.”
Karl Denninger at Market-Ticker.org didn’t take too kindly to it (“Bald Lies from the Right: THIS IS IMPORTANT”), in the process recklessly accusing yours truly of “utter falsehood” and smearing PJM as “people (who) need to be exposed as the liars they are.”
PJM agreed to let me submit a rebuttal (“Dour Denninger Dumps on Yours Truly — and PJ Media”), which went up yesterday, in which Denninger’s diatribe was refuted point by point, and in which an unconditional apology to myself and PJM was demanded.
Not content to be rhetorically routed, the unapologetic Denninger believes he struck back hard early this morning by pointing to a picture of two (out of nine) smiling “acceptors” of Paulson’s “offer” and by asserting that the employment of obviously dramatically intended quotation marks is a grammatical crime and an abhorrent act of deceit. Seriously.
PJM has had enough of recognizing Karl’s intemperate nonsense, as have I. But I’m taking one final shot (that’s figurative, Karl, as is “gun to the head”). It’s here (“Karl and Tom: Ending the Foodfight”) at my home blog.
The demand for an unconditional apology to yours truly and PJM stands. Whether or not Denninger to provides one will say quite a bit about his sense of decency, honor, and fealty to truth.