Editorials from around Ohio

Recent editorials of statewide and national interest from Ohio newspapers:

It’s past time to put country first

Akron Beacon Journal

Nov. 17

How did America get here? This fractured place where facts matter less and less, and neighbors can’t even share how they really feel.

How did we become a nation split by extremists on both sides of the political spectrum, people willing to say and do anything to win and hold power? Witness the shameful defense of President Donald Trump by those who privately know the facts show his unforced Ukraine error replaced national interests with personal ambitions.

And, more important, why do the many Americans who fall in the middle of most political debates tolerate the insanity we see daily in Washington, D.C., and even in Columbus at times?

Elected Democrats actually called for impeaching Trump before he took office. Republicans had similar plans for Hillary Clinton that magically disappeared when she lost.

Both sides exploit every perceived political opportunity while finding more brazen ways to punish or embarrass the other for putting it through the last so-called scandal. Sure, deny us a Supreme Court candidate until a new president arrives, we’ll show you.

How would Republicans be handling the Ukraine affair if Clinton was linked to the same set of facts? Unless something miraculously changes, the next Democratic president had better make sure he or she never tiptoes near any problems.

We can blame partisan cable news coverage filled with talking heads and extremist websites masquerading as legitimate news operations. Facebook surely has done plenty to spread false and highly partisan information. The mere ability of people to find others with similar prejudices online creates opportunities for once niche causes to gain momentum.

Perhaps it’s the fault of the two-party system that consistently produces partisan presidential candidates a significant number of Americans will dislike or even despise. Primary victories require promises that impress the left or right, with the winners trying to convince moderates they didn’t mean what they said a few months before.

Yet, the blame really rests on all of us. We continue to allow elite power brokers to play games with our lives. We’ve allowed them and rich special interest groups to drive wedges between young and old, even families.

Does anyone believe pre-existing medical conditions should be excluded from medical insurance coverage? Does anyone believe universal health care is possible without higher taxes? Do we want to deport children brought to America by their parents? Do we want our border to be a lawless waypoint? Don’t we wonder why our government failed to stop the opioid epidemic?

These are not Democratic or Republican issues. They are American issues that reasonable people should be able to resolve with respectful dialogue.

Many of us are too busy with life to navigate beyond the partisans’ carefully crafted talking points — including outright lies — designed to exploit our prejudices and get us angry at the other side. Repeat the same lie enough times and it can become fact to those who don’t consider other viewpoints inside their political cocoon. If you don’t think that’s dangerous, just wait for a deep-fake video putting words in a leader’s mouth.

And, worst of all, we’re willing to explain away unacceptable behavior by our side just to preserve power.

Democracy can’t be a spectator sport. Being a citizen demands more than just voting. It requires our engagement in our communities and nation. It demands a willingness to put country and community before one’s self-interests, especially if you hold public office.

It’s time to ask, what’s best for America or your town? When will we say enough is enough?

Online: https://bit.ly/359xT7m

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Central booking pilot in Cuyahoga County should move ahead quickly. It’s a matter of justice.

Cleveland Plain Dealer

Nov. 17

Criminal justice reform advocates, prosecutors and others have pressed for years for a centralized booking facility in Cuyahoga County for many reasons. These include fairness and equality before the law, as well as keeping more people from unnecessarily long jail stays. That potentially would also help suspects keep their jobs and avoid other disruptions in their family obligations while reducing jail crowding and the jail costs paid by taxpayers.

So we applaud Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish and Chief of Staff Bill Mason, the former county prosecutor, for their plan to proceed as soon as possible to convert unused space at the Justice Center into a temporary centralized booking facility to test out this concept.

Central booking deserves buy-in from all stakeholders in this county who care about the smoothest, fairest and most cost-effective operation of the county justice system.

Setting up a temporary booking center in the building is a separate issue from the future of the Justice Center and should not be tethered to those big-dollar, bricks-and-mortar deliberations that will likely take months, maybe years to resolve.

County officials are still working out details on their central booking proposal, including how much it will cost. Yet reducing jail stays would also save money.

The Dayton Daily News recently reported that, statewide, Ohio taxpayers pay about $266 million annually to hold suspects in jail prior to trial.

The arguments for centralized booking dovetail with strong arguments for bail reform – reform that’s already been implemented in Cleveland Municipal Court and is now being pushed statewide by the Ohio Supreme Court via significant proposed changes in Ohio Criminal Rule 46, which sets statewide bail-setting requirements.

The high court’s bail reform proposal, now being reviewed after a public comment period that ended Nov. 6, would require all Ohio courts to release defendants on “the least restrictive conditions,” subject to flight and public-safety risk considerations.

As with earlier Ohio legislative attempts to reform bail practices statewide, the high court’s proposal is getting pushback from the bail bond industry, but is supported by the Ohio State Bar Association, the Dayton paper reports.

Online: https://bit.ly/33Z5zV3

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Does this make us better?

Toledo Blade

Nov. 17

How is impeachment working out so far?

It is hard to see that anyone is better off. The President? The Republicans? The Democrats?

It is hard to see how the country is better off.

The Democrats have put on their blue jerseys and the Republicans their red ones.

Three State Department professionals at least gave us respite from the buffoonery. But, at the end of the day, we were left with Adam Schiff’s unctuousness, and Jim Jordan’s ranting interruptions and badgering.

Neither leaves a good taste in the mouth of the body politic.

Watergate was different. The proceedings had substance and dignity, in large measure because the people conducting them did.

The Watergate crisis, following as it did the Vietnam war, the anti-war movement, and the killings of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Robert Kennedy, was a trauma for the country. We had been through a lot. And now we were considering removing a president from office — no small thing.

The leaders who guided us through Watergate — Sam Ervin in the Senate, and Peter Rodino in the House — approached their task with great sobriety and care. They followed rules of evidence and procedure, and treated their Republican counterparts not as adversaries but partners. They did not have to do that. They wanted to. Because they wanted the system and the people to be stronger at impeachment’s end.

Those men, and their GOP colleagues, took pains to step back one step from pure partisan politics. As a result, as evidence mounted that the president had broken the law, men like Republican Sen. Howard Baker and Senate Watergate Committee minority counsel Fred Thompson detached from the party line. They went with the evidence.

Eventually a series of juridical proceedings caused the president’s political support to erode in the Senate. Politics followed a serious, deliberative process conducted by responsible people, some of whom emerged as statesmen.

Doing things in the reverse order will not work.

If we start with politics — highly partisan politics — it is unlikely that we will get a result that seems fair and just.

Yes, impeachment will always be an inherently political process. But, as with judicial nominations, if it is totally political, if there is no weighing of evidence or balancing of values, the process will not be seen as honest, or honorable, by much of the public. As traumatic as Watergate was, the country emerged stronger and feeling positive about our constitutional system and the ability of our leaders to manage crisis and conflict.

It has only been a week, but these hearings are not accomplishing a similar end. They are not educating, informing, and uplifting us. They are simply deepening already deep divisions.

What we have learned so far is that the President made at least one phone call, and maybe more, that many, perhaps most, would see as improper and a violation of presidential norms. That information is not new.

We have learned that professional diplomats and politicians had legitimate policy differences with the President. That is not new either.

We have learned that aid to Ukraine was held up for a time by the President. Democrats say it was bribery and a circuitous path to meddling in the 2020 election. Republicans see it as appropriate presidential bargaining based on concern about corruption. There is similar disagreement about the intent and actions in Ukraine by the Obama-Biden administration.

An election is surely the time and place to debate policy and norms. Impeachment is a totally different instrument. It is not a debate, a contest or a campaign, but a juridical proceeding.

It seems most likely that, at the end of the process, Democrats will see the President’s actions as impeachable, just as they did at the start of it, and that most Republicans will see them as justified.

In fact — and this ought to sober all of us — it is quite possible that not a single Democrat will say that violations of norms are not generally impeachable, and that there must be a “high crime” to impeach. And it is quite possible that not a single Republican will say: This was beyond the pale and impeachable.

No one will take off his or her jersey and behave with the indifference of a judge or jury. No one will even try. No statesmen and no nobility or deeper understanding will come of all this.

And if that is the outcome of these hearings, the moral, intellectual and constitutional health of the nation will not be helped but will be hurt.

And the bitterness of impeachment will further infect our already rancid national politics.

Online: https://bit.ly/2rRLzpf

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A dozen years later, Jim Jordan has not changed

Nov. 16

The Lima News

Republicans never made it a secret they wanted Jim Jordan to be one of their nine members on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. The panel’s hearings will determine whether President Trump’s behavior warrants impeachment, and Jordan has clearly defined himself as the person who will go toe-to-toe against any and all of Trump’s critics.

His unflinching loyalty actually comes to a fault, we believe. Yet it is exactly what’s wanted by those who voted him into office seven times in the highly conservative 4th Congressional District, which snakes all the way from central Ohio to the shores of Lake Erie. It’s been called a district where the name of a potted plant could win an election as long as the plant’s name had an “R” beside it. The 4th District has voted Republican in all but 16 years since the Civil War.

While Jordan is beloved by most in his home district, he’s loathed elsewhere. The accusations against him are many: He’s been criticized for being bombastic, too combative, being accusatory, playing up to the Sean Hannitys and Rush Limbaughs of the world, and even for not wearing a suit or sport coat to hearings – on Wednesday and Friday, Jordan showed up to the impeachment hearings wearing his trademark look: shirtsleeves and a yellow tie.

What people don’t understand about Jordan – and probably why he’s such a darling of the Republican’s right wing — is that Jordan doesn’t just drink the conservative Kool-Aid, he manufactures it. There’s nothing wish-washy about him, which in itself is unusual for almost any politician inside the Beltway.

Twelve years in Washington has not changed the 55-year-old Jordan. If anything, it has invigorated him to the point where he is known as the conscience of the GOP’s conservative wing. That at times has come with a price, even from inside his own party.

In 2013, Jordan and 150 other Republicans broke with House Speaker John Boehner to oppose a compromise to extend the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts for families earning less than $450,000. Jordan voted against it because it raised taxes on upper-income Americans and contained puny budget cuts. Later, he joined a group of conservative Republicans to torpedo a House Republican leadership plan to provide health-care coverage for people with pre-existing health conditions.

Some Ohio Republicans were so irritated with his resistance to compromise on both issues that they briefly toyed with eliminating Jordan’s congressional seat during the 2011 redistricting battles.

As recently as the past two weeks, Jordan had to again defend himself against accusations that he had knowledge of the perversions facilitated by Dr. Richard Strauss when Jordan worked as an assistant wrestling coach at The Ohio State University. Is it a coincidence the claims by a wrestling referee came just before the impeachment hearings began? You be the judge.

Jordan’s political rise began in 2006 when he won a surprisingly easy congressional primary over Findlay banker Frank Guglielmi then cruised past Democrat Rick Siferd in the November general election. It was no secret that then-U.S. Rep. Mike Oxley, a Republican who held the office for 25 years before announcing his retirement, favored Guglielmi.

But Jordan, despite overwhelmingly being outspent by Guglielmi, won the old-fashioned way. He knocked on doors, shook hands and spoke to church groups, veteran organizations, Rotary Clubs and women’s groups. Send him an invitation, and chances were good the 43-year-old state senator would make a visit happen.

In that regard, Jordan hasn’t changed. A dozen years later, he’s still highly visible throughout his district. He’ll tell you he was sent to Washington to reduce the size of government, cut the deficit and halt tax increases — “the people’s business,” as he likes to call it.

In recent years, however, he’s spent less time on those objectives. Instead, he’s taken on the role of government watchdog and as the president’s Protector in Chief. That’s made him a frequent visitor of the Sunday morning talk shows, which has drawn the ire of Democrats. But back in Ohio’s flat lands, he still wins elections by double-digit margins.

You can bet Jordan will continue to have strong support across the 4th District as the impeachment process continues next week and beyond.

Online: https://bit.ly/2KzG8Sp