Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Religious freedom? Ohio nearly went over the cliff

Reposted from Plunderbund

As hell was breaking loose over Indiana's "religious freedom"  law,  Ohio Atty. Gen. Mike DeWine was busily doing what has come naturally to him in his mission to keep Ohioans, eh... morally straight:  He filed a brief with the U.S. Supreme Court arguing that  same-sex marriage had "no fundamental right" in the Buckeye State.

As we all know by now, DeWine is passionate about warding off trending  human relationships.  It is further evidence that the AG as well as other conservative politicians in Columbus serve at the pleasure of the religious right, beginning with the guy at the top:  Gov. John Kasich.

If it hadn't been for Arizona, the Ohio legislature was on the verge of passing a bill similar to Indiana's a year ago.  But it was withdrawn despite its many co-sponsors  because of the potential havoc that led then-Arizona governor Jan Brewer to veto her state's law.

With the reminder of the proposed Ohio law's potential for havoc,  State Rep.Bill Patmon, a conservative Cleveland Democrat, and Rep.Tim Derickson, Oxford, Oh., Republican, withdrew their sponsored bill.

The co-sponsors included former Akron Rep. Zach Milkovich,who was defeated in the 2014 Democratic primary, and Cleveland Rep. John Barnes.   The political careers of this pair have been marked by unrelenting attacks on other Democratic leaders.

Milkovich has been a thorn in the side of Akron Mayor Don Plusquellic.  Barnes has been warring against Democratic leaders, once filing a defamation suit against the Ohio Democratic Party.  An African-American, he even refused to join the Ohio Legislative Black Caucus.   In a suit filed by Barnes' Republican lawyer, Donald Brey, who was a repeat complainant  against the Ohio Elections Commission, Barnes accused the party of racism.

You have to wonder how he didn't recognize the official exclusion of  same-sex couples, gays  and   others caught up in a Religious Freedom Restoration Act. .

We should all send thank you notes to Arizona for saving Ohio from itself.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Pence OK with changing law to keep it the same

Reposted from Plunderbund

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence has been fumbling around in the swamp ever since he crossed the Rubicon by signing a discriminatory  anti-gay law.  Julius Caesar had the good sense that his rash ill-fated decision would not go well and declared "Alea iacta est" - the die is cast. But with a trapped look, Pence has been in a full damage-control mode to insist he meant no affront to gays  when he set out to protect religious liberty with his approval of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act ( Who thinks up these titles?).

Whether warding off direct hits on  ABC's "This Week" Sunday morning by dodging George Stephanopoulos' questions or treating his hometown press to non-answers, the governor didn't hesitate to blame the media and others for the "misunderstanding" over whether a private business owner could refuse to serve a gay customer, no matter that 
it was a glass of wine or a wedding cake. 

If there was anything clear about the tempest that he set off that stained the Hoosier state's image,  it was the erupting reaction from big companies, organizations, celebrity athletes and others who believed he was badly mistaken.  And if you want to grab a politician's attention, just mention that the cash flow in the state has been dampened.

Oh, he did say that if a revised bill would be handed to him, he would sign it, but only if it didn't change the law. No, I didn't leave out any clarifying words in the non-sequitur.  

"This is not about discrimination," he asserted on TV.  "But we're - not going to change this law."

You must remember that religious conservatives say homosexuality is an abomination, which incites them to condemnation and cries for their own religious liberty. Still, we keep waiting for Pence to assure us that some of his best friends are gay...but...

One hometown radio host even went so far as to say  the protests are a "frightening appeal to fascism."

On the other hand, The Indianapolis Star, never  known to be fond of liberals, was among the mourners, declaring: "It was a difficult , painful week in our state.   Our Indiana....The law was unneeded and destructive." 

Still unclear to me is how the highest ranking political leader in the state could be so dense, dumb, numb, or out of touch with modern reality that he wouldn't sense the trouble he would set off with his signature.  But standing in the midst of it today he should finally be honest and lament, "The die is cast. I screwed up."      

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Tyson: The truth about scientific truth

In the continuing assault on science by right-wng religionists, we turn to astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson to set the record straight.  Tyson,  who will be speaking  at E.J.Thomas Hall on May 6, offered these words:

"The good thing about science is that it's true whether you believe in it or not."

Gay drinking fountains, too?

Now that Indiana Gov. Mike Pence has signed a bill giving business owners the right to discriminate against gay and LGBT customers on "religious liberty" grounds, he is facing a heavy rebuke from the state's major employers and a lot of others who don't think his action will help the state's welcoming image.

Pence says the bill is not discriminatory, but a means to protect religious freedom.

Next question, Gov:  Where does religious freedom end and the true meaning of religious tolerance begin? 

At least he could be honest about it, a virtue in itself, and admit that he's pandering to the Religious Right in his state.  Will the next step be separate drinking fountains for straights and gays?

Kasich says he's now aware of people's problems

Reposted from Plunderbund

Reporters who have traveled with Gov. Kasich on his national stand-up stage tour have quoted him as warming up  to  "people's problems".  Here's how Kasich, a practicing born-again, explained his new concern for the less fortunate during a stop in West Virginia:

"For some reason the Lord has made me more aware of people's problems.  And I take that awareness seriously."

Kasich often reminds us that he's a blue-collar kid from Western Pennsylvania, so you have to wonder why it has taken all of these years to recognize the needs of others.  As a sort-of black-collar witness of the coal dust - the mines were within short walking distance from my home - I couldn't miss the miners, their faces and hands blackened from a long day burrowing into Standard Shaft, as they slumped past my porch on their way home .  Talk about problems!

I didn't need the Lord to tell me about them. But I wasn't thinking about running for president.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Plusquellic facing more sharks?

As we await Mayor Don Plusquellic's official word on his decision to seek an 8th term, Democratic Party insiders who know him best say there is a troublesome element delaying that decision.  It is his concern about the growing faction on City Council with its roots firmly planted in opposing his agenda.

Some of that anti-Plusquellic opposition has shown itself in  failed primary election challenges to him.  The most recent one was from Councilman-at-large Michael
Williams, a Democrat whose ambition to run the city from the mayor's office has not waned.  Since then, others have  been seated in City Council who share their personal disdain for the mayor.  Among them:  Councilwoman-at-large Linda Omobien, Ward 6 Councilman Bob Hoch,  Ward 4 Councilman Russel C.Neal Jr, Ward 5 Councilwoman Tara Mosley-Samples, and possibly another.

The faction, I'm told, still doesn't add up to a majority on the 13-member council, but it could stymie the mayor in his talks with companies interested in doing business in the city by weakening his image as a leader who can deliver what he promises

"The issue is what keeps him up at night," one source told me. Nevertheless, the source, as well as others,  all agree that he will seek office again.

Over the years, Plusquellic has effectively demonstrated his ability to ward off all comers, and would do so again. As with Williams, a dissenting Democrat is likely to turn up in the party primary.  (Republican challengers never make a dent.)

 My hunch  is that he will eventually call in the media and declare his candidacy because he's not one to run from a fight.  And at 65, he's still defiantly young enough to step back into the ring. We hope so.  There remains a need.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Mayor Plusquellic: a worthy choice for an 8th term

Has an entire generation passed since Don Plusquellic was first elected as Akron's mayor?  Remarkably, it has.  But who's counting? For the record, it happened in 1987 and has been happening ever since to the chagrin of his political foes as he surely plans to seek an 8th term this year.

Although the teetering maxim is that familiarity breeds contempt, in Plusquellic's case it has made him more secure in a high-risk job that can only  create some enemies along the way.  From potholes to hiring policies, from snow plows to budgets, from whispering campaigns to failed recall efforts, an  urban mayor's lot, like the policeman's in the H.M.S. Pinafore, is not a happy one on many days.

He has been called a bully, sometimes deservedly earned because of his  short temper and reputation as a single-minded visionary.  But what his opponents have never quite accepted is that someone who is looking at an 8th term has repeatedly won convincing support from voters who have found a lot to admire about their mayor.

And why not? The simple answer:  enlightened stability.  Cities can only survive as livable places if they offer  a reasonable amount of continuing day to day guarantees  of what is best  for their citizens.  Not an easy challenge.  But Akron has stood out in a disheveled modern urban environment thanks to Plusquellic's steady hand. Veteran Plain Dealer poliltical columnist Brent Larkin aptly put it  this way:
"Plusquellic is as ferocious and passionate a defender of his hometown as any mayor I've ever encountered.  Even some of his most outspoken detractors - not an especially small group - admit to harboring private fears about  the city's future when he is no longer mayor."
Detractors?  The mayor (read:the city) has had his hands full fending off the assaults on his policies by Federal Judge John Adams, a beneficiary of the mayor's biggest critic through the years, the frustrated and frustrating Republican chairman,  Alex Arshinkoff.  Time and again Adams  has slammed down the mayor's programs, only to be criticized for his decisions by higher courts. (The Beacon Journal accused Adams of an "absence of reason" and "mean spirit". That's a start.)

Adams has fairly well planted himself in the dark corner for  judicial decisions and it's likely to go on, at great expense to the city's taxpayers for the foreseeable future.  As you know, federal judgeships are cushy lifetime political jobs.

Finally,  any doubts that Plusquellic,  at 65, will go for the gold again have little standing on the streets or among  Democratic Party officials. When asked whether  the mayor will be back on the ballot this year, Party Chairman Jeff Fusco doesn't hesitate:  "I'm confident that he will be."

On the other side, Arshinkoff says he will again challenge the mayor , telling the BJ that it  will be some yet-unamed person.

Does the pool include former mayor Roy Ray?


Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Benghazi: GOPers ignore their own committee


Now that the Republican pols have returned to Benghazi as their equivalent of raising the Titanic with the sniffing of Clinton's emails., you might find  interesting  this Associated Press report earlier this month which didn't make much , if any, of a splash in the hometown papers. It began:
"The two-year investigation by the Republican-controlled House Intelligence  Committee has found that the CIA and the military acted properly in responding to the 2012 attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, and asserted no wrongdoing by Obama administration officials.
"Debunking a series of persistent allegations hinting at dark conspiracies, the investigation of the politically charged incident determined that there was no intelligence failure, no delay in sending a CIA rescue team,  no missed opportunity for a military rescue and no evidence the CIA was covertly shipping arms from Libya to Syria."

So what the hell are these mind-locked conspiracy theorists thinking about when they can't believe their own committees?

And with the McCarthy-like Ted Cruz officially in the  race, it can only get worse.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Found this gem peeking out from human arms at the pet show at
Summit Mall Sunday:


Sunday, March 22, 2015

Jordanites accuse Boehner Republicans of cannibalism

Republicans  who will be laying down $50 or more for the Summit County party's annual Lincoln (!) Day dinner Saturday night will be treated to an upfront look at the guy who has dedicated himself to tearing the national party into oblivion.  I refer,  of course, to the local event's prized speaker, Rep. Jim Jordan of Urbana, a fringe conservative who  has  been leading a poisonous  assault on Speaker John Boehner  & Co. through Jordan's House Freedom Caucus - one of those wacko far right outfits that lean more toward anarchy than to whatever might be left of Republican centrism.

Anyone attempting to digest dinner at Quaker Station won't hear any of the negatives that night because the way Chairman Alex Arshinkoff has put it in the  invitation, his guest is a national recognized conservative and "second to none watchdog of President Obama's failed...(fill in the many blanks) policies."

As has been evidenced many times in the past, The Boss can get absolutely hysterical when he starts damning the people he doesn't like.  But does Jordan represent the new norm for the county   party's more sober days under the late Ray Bliss, who never encouraged a raised voice against any other Republican?

On the other hand, Jordan has close ties with Rep. Steve King of Iowa,  who seldom lets a week go by without saying something stupid, and enjoys doing so from his outpost somewhere out in Iowa.

Jordan and King were among those  maddening congressmen who condemned Boehner for not  agreeing to shut down  the Homeland Security Department in the fracas over Obama's immigration policies.   Their scandalous motives have so enraged the Boehner side of  wealthy influential Republicans that the latter staged a $300,000 advertising campaign  accusing Jordan and a couple of his congressional buddies on national TV , including Fox News, of  placing America's "security at risk."

That peeved King, who described the ads as party "cannibalism," or as King went on to explain:

"It looks like cannibalism by leadership to me.   I mean when you go after your own people, what else would you call it?"

Well, I would say it's a lot like what the anti-Boehner crowd  in the party has been doing to the Speaker.    (Trust me: I do not speak as an ally of Boehner, either.)

So, isn't it fair to ask whether the Summit gang under Arshinkoff has stooped to a shameful new norm in a party that once was known for centrism and quiet reflection by Ray Bliss?

Keep that in mind, Republicans, when Alex lights the fuse after dinner to introduce Jordan with a flood of compliments.  When you stop to think about what the chairman won't tell you -  as I just did -  you'll know what I'm talking about. And it didn't cost me fifty bucks.

P.S. Jordan sent out a release thanking Benjamin Netanyahu for speaking to Congress as a man who wants  to secure Israel from its enemies.  Homeland Security for Americans?    Apparently he'll think about it.