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?

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  • Adrienne Knight

    Thanks, Kevin O’Brien is low down dirty dog evil and will get a great job working for evil rich people and the Rethugs when the time comes. The problem is he is a true believer which makes him extra dangerous and evil.

  • For every Connie Schultz there is a Kevin O’Brien. :/

  • Don’t get me started on O’Brien. I was so angry at his commentary once years ago I called him directly. He was a sloppy & combative conversationalist.

    I have always wondered why these two are the same:
    union political donations made by union leaders who are elected by the union membership and instructed by union members who vote on contract issues
    corporate political donations made by high level CEO management and Boards of Directors who are not appointed or voted into leadership positions by any corporate employees

  • Jose O Sola

    There are so many O’Brien journalist types out there. Every time I read him I want to just punch him….I need to stop reading him…

  • Mlrp75

    i quit the pd after being a 35 yr subscriber. They suck!

  • Anonymous

    Ha…see his statement on hypocrisy..that’s what he’d tell you…he wouldn’t answer your question…he’d just say you pointing out his cognitive dissonance means you’re not winning the argument.

  • Anonymous

    Seriously — you READ his column? In Cleveland, we never do that anymore. It’s a cesspool of straw-man arguments, false assertions, nyah-nyah “logic” and attempts to personally discredit those who disagree with him instead of responding to their points. The PD will tell you they are trying for balance — after all, they have their cute little “house liberal” Connie Schultz, whom they act so condescending toward. But Connie almost always based her arguments on reality (her worst fault is occasionally getting a tad too emotional), and she doesn’t attack people to try to undermine opposing arguments.

    My standard retort to any Plain Dealer telemarketer or representative at a Home & Garden Show who wants me to subscribe is “Only after they apologize on the front page for their presidential non-endorsement in 2004 and fire Kevin O’Brien.”

    If he ever tried to rationally lay out a conservative point of view, that would be one thing. But he isn’t honest. It’s all “Why? Because I say so.” They would never let a middle-of-the-road columnist get away with this, let alone a liberal columnist.

    By the way, perhaps Kevin O’Brien would like to explain why he thinks he’s worth much more than a teacher or police officer for 600 words of prattle three times a week.

  • Anonymous

    Yes, remember when they were in full-scale denial about Tom Noe, and even ran an editorial praising him but saying that maybe he should take a leave of absence from the state board of regents until he was cleared (they didn’t say quite that but implied it)? They buried the story for the first six weeks or so while the Blade was breaking a new angle every day. They swallowed whole the Republican Party’s assertion that this was just partisan attacks and there was nothing to see. Oops.

    Meanwhile, they CONTINUE to imply the involvement of Democrats in corruption who had nothing to do with it. They think the fact that county prosecutor Bill Mason’s daughter got a part-time summer job at the City of Parma snack bar for $7.40 an hour is a big catch.

  • Anonymous

    So typical. He’s so rude, condescending and insulting. He HAS no valid arguments so he has to attack whoever he’s arguing. He’s worst than just a lazy, wannabe conservative intellectual. He’s completely invalid. I stopped reading him even online (I refuse to subscribe the The Plainly Republican) after a column about 4 or 5 years ago when a group of progressive clergy from We Believe Ohio went in to talk to the editorial board. The result was an O’Brien column mocking them as being out of touch with how religious people really feel by contending that in the end, more people cared about social and human justice and caring about your fellow humans than about abortion and gay marriage. His point was that anyone worthy of calling themselves a person of faith was obsessed with these issues as all good Ohioans of faith were.

    Every once in a while, someone will tell me he’s written his ‘Ha ha look at the blizzard we just had; where’s the global warming” column again and I thank my lucky stars I didn’t have to read it. What an ass.

  • Anonymous

    They treat Connie like she’s an amusing child. Their so-called “reader representative” is always making condescending remarks about her being their little house liberal. Even worse, some time last year, they added a disclaimer to her column saying she is Sherrod Brown’s wife, like she’s too air-headed and immature to have her own opinions or maybe that he’s so weak and hen-pecked she does his thinking for him. How insulting! I want to know what Kevin O’Brien’s wife does. if she works for some big corporation, for instance, couldn’t that be a conflict of interest?

  • Anonymous

    I wrote a letter to the editor asking why they aren’t providing unbiased coverage of the budget bill and why they haven’t reported on the clause in the bill allowing our services to be sold off to bidders that don’t have to be located in Ohio (or even the U.S.), hire Ohioans or even pay taxes. They of course did not publish it.

    They’re completely ignoring a damning item in the budget that will cost jobs and state revenue…I call that lying by omission.

    I tell ya, if I ever win a big Mega Millions jackpot I’m going to start my own paper here.

  • Surfinbird

    On 03/21/2011 one of O’Briens supporters complimented him on his commentary stating, “All I can say is this article was one of the better written ones I have read in a long time…reminded me a bit of of Dr. Suess’s language too- “The time has come, the time is now…”.

    I kid you not.

  • Littleguy

    If you would like to email your objections to Kevin Obrien regarding his
    SB5 column, his email is

    Like a chicken shit he doesn’t put it on the columns he writes, or anywhere on the Plain Dealer website, but that is standard format for PD staff. I just did that and got a smart ass reply so I know the email address works.

    Except he didn’t answer the question I asked of him, as to how many days he had ever spent in the classroom, or how many burning buildings he had run into, or how many times he had stared down the gun barrel of a criminal. Funny how he never answered that one. as much as he rants about public employees, you would think he would have that experience.

  • Anonymous

    Or, you’re going to invest heavily in your favorite Ohio political blog… right?

  • Anonymous

    It’s pretty disgraceful how contemptuous they are for their Pulitzer Prize winning columnist. What has O’Brien ever won?

  • Anonymous

    Yeah…I’ll make you more famous than Markos 😉

  • Anastasjoy

    Judging from the panel on the media tonight at the Shaker Heights Democratic Club, he has won mountains of scorn from readers and the many former readers in the room.

  • Anastasjoy

    The correct named is The Plainly Republican.

  • rick

    hes like the runt kid in jr high who would run his mouth , then run to the teacher when someone was gonna bitch slap him..

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