Seriously, is this what passes for newspaper commentary now? I read his column in today’s Plain Dealer on SB 5 and saw a guy destroy more straw men than a Kansas tornado.  A college freshman taking an Intro to Rhetoric course could have written a stronger column.

I know O’Brien likes to fancy himself as Ohio’s version of George Will, but like all cheap imitations, this one is deficiently lacking in the intellect and reason abilities of the original. O’Brien debates himself on SB 5 and declares himself the winner by refuting the following proposition he himself proposed:

“Why do you hate (take your pick: teachers, police officers or firefighters)?”

Note that O’Brien doesn’t pay a cursory compliment to teachers, police officers, or firefighters.  He instead pretends his Sarek of Vulcan urging Ohioans to reject all emotion.

And then six paragraphs later he refers to public union employees as “dead weight.”

Big corporations are behind this; they want to have all the influence.”

O’Brien’s argument is, essentially, that since Ben & Jerry’s doesn’t support SB 5 then it is untrue that corporations are behind this.  But what O’Brien glosses over is that this fight is being pushed by the Koch Brothers-funded Americans for Prosperity and the Buckeye Institute who also rely on far more corporate interest money than grassroot small donors.

We already know that the NFIB and the Ohio Chamber of Commerce are committed to supporting the effort to defeat repeal of SB 5 by referendum.  While O’Brien is correct that those organizations don’t represent all private businesses, that didn’t stop O’Brien and other Kasich supporters from arguing they did represent the entire business community in Ohio when they endorsed Kasich.

Just yesterday in the Dispatch, the head of the Ohio chapter of Americans for Prosperity was quoted:

"There is an effort. It’s just that the structure unions have where they can make their members donate does not exist on our side," said Heimlich, who also said she hoped corporate money could flow "from somewhere outside and inside Ohio."

Having proudly declared victory in refuting the notion that this is about corporate power trying to weaken organized labor power, O’Brien then refutes himself (again?)

Ohioans will need to be outspoken and organized to stave off the public employee unions’ big-money effort to regain control of local governments.

Nothing to see there, I guess, folks…. move along, move along.

“Public employee unions stand between the middle class and destruction.”

O’Brien’s line of argument is one that, coincidentally, is an actual talking point we saw Americans for Prosperity stress in training Tea Party activists:  public union employees only make up a small portion of the middle class; ergo SB 5 does not hurt the middle class.

Let’s apply that same argument structure in a different context:  Because African-Americans in the South were just a small portion of the African-American population, Jim Crow laws in the South weren’t racist.


“Reining in public employee unions won’t save any money.”

First of all, who has actually said this?  Seriously, I don’t think there’s been a single person who has.  We haven’t.  But the issue is are the savings necessary and worth the social costs in decimating a segment of the middle class in Ohio during these economic times?

Of course, O’Brien doesn’t address that in his debate in which he mentally projects a Alan Colmes version of himself.

But on second thought, there was at least one person who has suggested the savings could be illusory:

Asked if the pension or health-insurance changes could be considered pay cuts, Kaman said local governments "can bump up their wages to make up for that."

Mr. Kaman just happens to be the legislative liaison (or was as of yesterday) for the Department of Administrative Services.  In other words, the Kasich Administration itself admits that the promised savings of SB 5 could potentially be illusory.

O’Brien also must have missed that despite all the hits state employees are taking under SB 5, even the Administration’s deeply flawed propaganda piece being paraded around as “analysis” claims that the State can only expect to save $191.3 million.  While that’s hardly chump change, it’s a drop in the well, let alone a bucket, when compared to Kasich’s cuts in funding for local governments and K-12 public education.  Heck, it’s substantially less than what Kasich expects to “save” from privatizing five Ohio prisons.

“This is all about giving tax cuts to the wealthy.”

Here’s O’Brien’s stirring response to this charge: “No, it’s not.”  Am I supposed to retort now with “rubber and glue” now?  Seriously, Kasich’s budget boasts about how he is preserving a tax cut that predominately benefits the upper of the upper classes.  His friends in the legislature are still wanting to repeal the estate tax.  Kasich can find ways in the budget to “afford” making $100 million in corporate welfare available for JobsOhio, but we can’t afford to pay our government employees based on their experience anymore?

Kasich, in case Mr. O’Brien hasn’t been paying attention, has also said he wants to make room to give major tax breaks to venture capitalists as well.  To say that the Administration isn’t doing this to pay for planned tax cuts for the wealthy requires one to ignore what the Administration has done and proudly admits it hopes to do.

“You never cared about spending when…”

Yep, O’Brien interrupted…. O’Brien:

Ah, the hypocrisy argument — the last refuge of people whose every attempt at substantive argument has failed.

It’s nice that O’Brien thinks that he’s already reduced the anti-SB 5 O’Brien doppelganger to his “last refuge” after all prior attempts at substantive argument has failed, but isn’t O’Brien just celebrating that he won a shadow boxing match?

What’s even more pathetic than his childish victory dance over himself is that O’Brien’s column cites only one factual piece of evidence in any of his shadow boxing arguments, and it’s the one about what percentage of the middle-class in the United States belong to public unions.

But then again, what do you expect from a fool who thinks organization labor is going to spend “$10 billion” during the course of this referendum fight?

Tagged with: