Tuesday, September 16, 2014

There's a big difference between white hat and white hard hat

Re-posted  from Plunderbund

Having declared Ed FitzGerald's gubernatorial campaign DOA on several occasions, the Plain Dealer  still persists in digging into  his distant past in the hope of handing the election to Gov. Kasich by acclimation. In less-polite circles, it's known as piling on.

There's never been any doubt that the PD, the voice of the city's controlling business and religious establishment, was on board with Republican  Kasich way  back when it endorsed him against Democratic incumbent Gov.Ted Strickland.  When I asked an influential source at the paper how they arrived at that decision, he gave me his raw  assessment:

"Kasich scares the shit out of me.  But Strickland never did anything for Cleveland."

 Oh. Another glimpse of Cleveland's fantasy of statehood?

 In today's moment, the contest is no longer about re-electing the governor.   Heavens, no!   It is about having their guy win by such a crushing margin that he can immediately set out to run for the White House. (Kasich denies interest in higher office  about any of his motives other than blistering his opponents in temper tantrums. Meantime, secretive big- money  committees are gathering to pay for his trip to Disney World.

 What a selling point in the heavy-footed swing state.  To suppose that the Blue Collar Kid would be the savior of the party that has lost two presidenticsl races to an African American, well, you might know how those things go, rather softly among his caterers in the state media.   .

So on Saturday,  there was PD politics writer Henry Gomez  talling us on front page that 15 years ago, FitzGerald  didn't mention any  traffic violations when he ran for a seat on Lakewood City Council.  Yes, FitzGerald should have. And in a race that might have been a dead heat, that could have rolled some eyes.

But. hey, what does it matter to be sniffing arournd for more flaws from 15 years ago?  And to have the Columbus politlcal writer writing the story with a Lakewood dateline.

From experience  I can suppose that the Republican leak machine is working overtime while the governor, in one of those white hard hats from the central casting stock room,   is appearing in TV commercials  with his delighted Smilies with a shovel to stress how many jobs he has created in Ohio. (When will he - or the media, for that matter - admit that whatever success he's enjoyed with the state economy can be immeasurably traced to the comeback around the country from the Bush recession?)

Careful, there, Guv.   Your right wing has long insisted that government doesn't create jobs. Even when the governor is decked out in a hard hat and flanked by a bunch of happy-go-lucky Republican achievers.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Another dull moment in life of Mama Grizzly

That must have been some bloody brawl Saturday night in Anchorage, Alaska  that involved Sarah Palin's family-values people and inebriated guests at a birthday party.  Although the accounts differ (they always do when drunks are involved)  about 20 people got so involved that Sarah's husband and First Dude, Todd, wound up with a bloodied face and her son Track suffered several cracked  ribs.

Question: Where was Mama Grizzly when her side was under attack?

By the way, John McCain's former runningmate has just launched her  own TV news channel out of Houston, Texas, the Sarah Palin Channel.  Its homepage urges: "Together, let's live life  vibrantly, purposefully and boldly."   Do you think that maybe the Saturday night  fracas was a dress rehearsal to promote that theme?

(Aside to McCain:  How could you?)

Friday, September 12, 2014

Bishop Lennon drenches himself in cruel canon law

We normally don't poke our nose into another person's churchly views in the land of the divinely free and the Koch Brothers, and the home of everybody else; but we had to gasp at the  intervention by Bishop Richard  Lennon of the Cleveland Catholic Diocese  into a national fundraiser for medical research  that might someday save countless lives.

I refer to the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge with overwhelming response by volunteers who gave up their bodies  to be drenched  in ice water for the cause. They raised more than $111 million to fight the deadly Lou Gehrig's disease.  Good for these guardian angels!

Still the Bishop  objected, in a letter to the diocesan pastors and schools because the ALS Association  conducts or supports  "at least in part, embryonic stem cells research."  He warned that the facts present a " real and significant moral issue for Catholics as research using embryonic stem cells requires the destruction of a human embryo, and  thus the destruction of a human life."

One would think that at the intersection of religious canon and the prospect of saving so many folks who have already made it to planet earth in the flesh, the bishop would spend a few moments examining his soul for any hint of humanity in letting gravely ill people die.

But he did say that it was morally unacceptable for him to remain above the research labs, warning that the ALS event could lead to abortion.

Bishop Lennon, you are immorally wrong!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Debate-less Press Club series for state candidates

Through the combined efforts of the Akron Press Club and the Bliss Institute the  Akron area will get a closer view of some statewide candidates on the November ballot. Democrat State Rep. Connie Pillich, who is challenging Republican Treasurer Josh Mandel,  will open the fall series on Sept. 30.

Unfortunately,  there will be no political debates.  University of Akron political science professor David  Cohen, who does much of the  heavy lifting for the fall series, said the  process of setting up debates has simply become too complicated.

We experienced some of those complications when I served as the Press Club's program chairman.  Republicans simply  aren't keen on meeting  their Democratic opponents  on a debate  panel, particularly in Akron, where more than a few nitwits accused the Club of being a subversive Democratic hideaway.  (As Press Club president, I had at  least four Republicans on my board.) One critic even reported me to the national Veterans of Foreign Wars for catering to socialists!

In one instance,  we had succeeded in lining up a debate between Democrat Capri Cafaro, of Niles, Oh., and then-U.S.Rep, Steve LaTourette, a Lake County Republican.  We  later learned  that LaTourette had canceled his appearance for the age-old standby, a scheduling conflict. So Cafaro had the benefit of the entire program for herself.

The late U.S. Rep. John Seiberling, a towering Democrat who had  nothing to be gained from debates, agreed to more than a half-dozen encounters  with restaurateur, Mark Figitakis,  a Republicsn  running squarely and hyperactively  on the anti-abortion issue.  I covered the first one at the Tangier Restaurant  in which Seiberling calmly, cooly,  and collectively  left the Republican for dead.  (I told Seiberling  afterward that he  could debate as often as he wanted, but this was my first and last  one as a political writer.  He smiled gently and said he enjoyed  fulfilling his obligation to voters to debate, no matter what.)

Akron Mayor, Don Plusquellic, a Democrat , also accepted debate invitations from  the Press Club.   But over on the other side, Summit County Republican Chairman Alex Arshinkoff refused all attempts to haul him up to the debate panel against Republican Kevin Coughlin, who was challenging Arshinkoff for his job. The normally voluble  chairman flatly turned it down.    "I should have known," Coughlin told me.

I should have, too.


Wednesday, September 10, 2014

No answers in MidEast, so why blame Obama?

Did you see that Dick Cheney, the rusting Tin Woodsman of the Republican Party, ambled back up to Capitol Hill to advise others in his class on how to handle the ISIS problem.  According to the New York Times, his remedy could be reduced to a handful of words:  Embrace a strong military and reject rising isolationism.

But wait.  The Times report also noted that he didn't embrace specifics.  Smart evasion.  For one thing, nobody - not the president, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, America's allies in Europe, John McCain, Dick Cheney,the highbrow pundits, the fly on the wall know how to resolve this crisis without a lot more people (see Bush Iraq) getting hurt or killed.

It remains a challenge to political historians, however,to explain how the Republican Party can listen to this world class loser's hollow rambling. At the outset of the Iraq invasion, Cheney did tell us that the war wouldn't last more than a few weeks. How desperate must the GOP be to continue to kneel at his altar.

Obama critics do, however, have the luxury of using it as one more assault on the president before they leave for lunch. Let me know if I've missed something.

In his deadpan column,  McCain, called for the U.S. to embed additional American forces on the ground with our allies.  But he also writes:

"It is a truism, to say there is no military solution to ISIS",  ignoring another thought that told us "We need a military plan to defeat ISIS,  wherever it us." ..And then: "Still, we must face facts: A comprehensive strategy to defeat ISIS  would require more troops. assets, resources and time."

As a college freshman history student I filled all 16 pages of an essay exam and  the exam came back with an F.   I told the prof that I had filled all of the pages. " I know,"  he said. "so you wrote everything that you could.  "The  answers may have been in there somewhere but you didn't  know what they were".  He was absolutely right!

Oh, for the luxury of being John McCain.  (We'll never forgive him for accepting Sarah Palin as his veep candidate.  Nor his buddy, Dick Cheney, for being a driving force in leading Dubya  into an Iraq invasion.

In the current global darkness there are no fail-safe answers. Not even close.   Which leads me to the famous response by Bertrand Russell, when he was asked to explain the universe.

"The universe is just there, and that's all."

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

It's foie gras vs. kibbee and hamburgers

I was 47 years old before I learned how to spell foie gras.I mention that only because I am a hopeless laggard in what Smithsonian Magazine has referred to as the Era of Crazed Oral Gratification, which in the old days we called pigging out.

Smithsonian , however, noted that it was a perfect fit to tell us at length about world-class eclectic foodie(!) Anthony Bourdain, the global traveler with an iron stomach in search of exciting  new tastes and textures. (Clue: Rotting shark!)

Less exotically, the New York Times featured a piece on its front page about a Chicago nursing home for retired nuns as an example of the way kitchens are responding foodwise to the increase in aging Americans.  An upscale senior center in Evanston serves citrus-dressed duck breasts and "tomahawk" pork chops.

"The latte and sushi generation is coming," the Times quoted Mary von Goeben, the executive director of the nuns' residence.

My culinary needs are largely satisfied at the food truck level, although there were things on my mother's table that lived in their own cultural universe: Raw kibbee, doused in a generous pouring of olive oil and set off with crispy raw onions.   We also shared a putrified smelly cheese which I will  attempt to spell phonetically.  It was called shunkleesh, a word that described its evil intent quite well.

The only dropout from kibbee in our tribe was my Aunt Della, who had read something about tapeworms and other toxic intruders in raw meat.  My parents lived into their 90s anyway.

Now that I can spell foie gras,  I have yet to figure out how to pronounce it in polite society. A hamburger life is so much simpler.


Monday, September 8, 2014

The wash from the week that just ended - finallyl

Summit County Democratic chairman Jeff Fusco drew a good turnout  - 100 or so - for a pep session of party activist sand candidates on a rainy Saturday at the Dems' Grant Street headquarters to deliver a single message:  Hit the streets.

The centerpiece was the launch for delivering 80,000 sample ballots in the county.  "It will take a couple of  weeks,"  Fusco  told me afterward.  "But we'll get it done."

* * * * *

Finally unwinding after the near-collapse of the Steelers. The game saver:  Ben Roethlisberger, who never  knows enough to panic and led the team to a field goal spot on the field in the final minute.. It was known as winning ugly, but worth a win in the standings.  Whew!

* * * * *

When Eric Cantor joined aWall Street investment banker after his loss in the Republican primary, his new career offered perfect symmetry to Gov Kasich's own line of work when he voluntarily left congress to become a very rich man at Lehman Brothers (now defunct).  For the one per centers who are ideologically with you, there's always room for one more.

* * * * *

So eager are the Obama haters to find fault with his every breath, Dana Perino - former president Bush's press secretary - noted that Obama's brief tourist walk at Stonehenge had bad "optics".  I wonder how many divisions the optics army has.

Understanding Ohio politics, Plain Dealer style

Today's recommended reading:

John Michael Spinelli's  piece  on Plunderbund on how the Plain Dealer has set the table with its own political utensils  not only for the November election but also for 2016 and even 2018.  He reports that PD political writer Henry Gomez has based his crystal ball on hs best five (unidentified) Democratic sources.  Yummy stuff for  guys like Gov. Kasich, the PD's  choice since it endorsed him four years ago.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

The possibility of impossibility!

The Page One headline in the Sunday Plain Dealer told the reader,

                 Congress unlikely to do much in session

That quickly recalled a recent New Yorker cartoon that  depicted a valise -bearing couple walking past Capitol Hill.  She is saying:

Politics is the art of nothing is possible.

Friday, September 5, 2014

For Husted a very busy week

It's been a busy week for Secretary of State Jon Husted.  While he was attending to his re-election campaign,  he also had to rule on a Summit County Board of Elections matter and then suffer a setback by a Federal judge on his  controversial election reforms.

To no one's surprise, he informed the county board that he would step aside from a request from Democrats that he investigate a board worker's use of her cellphone to post many times on Facebook as a sort of personal phone bank while she was on the job - a big-time  no-no.

Husted called upon the board to settle the issue in a "bipartisan fashion".  He said what?
Bipartisan?  It is  beyond acceptable naivete to use that standard of civilized behavior for a gathering of  board officials with English-speaking accents.  Six years ago, former Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner, a Democrat, even unceremoniously removed board member Alex Arshinkoff,  the county Republican chairman, from his hallowed chair for being disruptive.  (He has since returned under Husted.)

There's more.  Husted's decision to cut and run had a deeper context:  the  worker in question is Cecilia Robart, the wife of former Cuyahoga Falls mayor Don Robart,   the fellow who   had a brief stay on Husted's office payroll as a liaison in northern Ohio - brief because of the stuff that later was found on his office computer after he left office. Yep, pornography.  That damned Internet can be a career killer.

In that instance, Husted acted promptly in an election year by removing Don Robart from his ranks.

When you connect the dots, you can't make these things up.

Arshinkoff's solution to the latest hometown guyser   was to call for a probe of everybody's  cellphones, which , of course, eliminated any further thoughts of bipartisanship.

* * * * *

We assume the alarm button in Husted's office ran overtime when U.S. District Judge Peter C. Economus in Columbus declared Husted's restictrive voter plan was unconstitutional and ordered him to restore all of the cuts in voting hours.

The secretary's deal was gilded with Republican repeatedly expressed concerns that voters were cheating like hell when they went to  the polls.  Voter fraud? All  subsequent studies revealed  no such thing and merely raised serious concerns that minorities were being targeted, which indeed they were.