Sunday, April 26, 2015

With Fiorina, who needs expertise?

Get out your brackets: time to write in Carly Fiorina, with Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder and Wisconsin Gov. Scott donning their gym togs.

But first, Carly (nee Cara Sneed).  Sitting on millions in  her treasury, she's been restlessly trying to be  relevant ever since she was deposed as CEO of Hewlett-Packard  in 2005.  Her corporate  rap sheet?   HP 's stock fell to half of its value as she led a move to merge with rival Compaq.

A Republican, she later lost to  Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer in 2010.

That has given her five more years to consider her stage career and the word from California is that she is running for president.  Of late she has been going around damning environmentalists  for her state's drought, describing it as "man-made " by obstructive liberals  who opposed a waterline into the state.  (The more thoughtful Romans succeeded with viaducts!)

Funny, but I recently read a piece in National Geographic about the drought in which some experts predicted that it could last more than 200 years, long after the current collection of environmentalists leave the scene (as well as Carly herself or her money, whichever comes  first).

B. Lynn Ingram, a paleontologist from the University of California at Berkeley,   based his scary forecast on studies of tree rings and microorganisms in ocean sediment to build his case.  I don't know  much more about the science than that.  Interestingly, not once did the National Geographic experts lay the blame on environmental hoodlums. But political jabberers  like Fiorina normally don't' turn to expertise to support their empty shop talk.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Are there chaotic risks in informing the public?

I once worked with a radio newsman and editorial writer who returned to our office from one of his broadcasts with a puzzled expression.  "What's the problem, Dick?" I asked.

 "I think I just incited chaos in my commentary by calling for everyone to become active in public affairs.   If that happened, there would be no way we'd ever get anything done," he said.

More than a half-century ago the   columnist-philosopher Walter Lippmann  wrote his similar concerns about public activism:

"The one effect of inviting everybody to judge every public   question is to confuse everybody about everything.  It is not in fact possible for all the people to know about all  things, and the pretense that they can and that they do is a bad illusion."

There's a downside to that,  too.  In our alleged  communications age, political candidates, toothpaste advertisers and over-the-counter health fixits (for constipation?) can still exploit public ignorance to advance their goals.  And those videos that seem to expose every police shooting these days still don't deliver active scenes of so many other  critical issues that might get no more than a line or two in the hometown paper or  before the sports and weather at eleven.

A stronger media effort to inform the public is worth the risks of chaos.  


Thursday, April 23, 2015

Paul Tipps, a Democratic power in in his time

The passing of Paul Tipps closes the book on a generation of Ohio Democratic leaders  who unapologetically took their messages to the streets, the board rooms and assembly lines as he managed  a party in nearly  full control of the state's highest offices. And that included all but one of the Supreme Court justices!

As the Democratic chairman from 1975 to 1983, Tipps wore a teasing smile and pleasant  demeanor  to disguise the gritty  side of surviving the disarray  so common to Democrats who were otherwise alive and well.

The party's first-team roster included Atty Gen. Billy Joe Brown, who would have preferred being governor, but was barred from fund-raising  by the Mahoning County
Democratic chairman; House Speaker Vernal Riffe, a powerful political and legislative operative who also wanted to be governor;  Richard Celeste, who eventually became  governor and hoped to be president;  often feuding Democratic  lode stars  Sens. Howard Metzenbaum and John Glenn,  who later patched up their rivalries;  and a bed sheet list of fussing union  leaders and some distrustful Cleveland egos. You needed no reminder that hyperkinetic political activists were on the scene every hour.

Even before he became chairman, Tipps  encountered opposition from Glenn's point man, Steve Kovacik,  who,  with the former astronaut's blessing,  sought to elect state Sen.  Nelson Lancione to the job. At the time, I wrote a column critical of Glenn for spending his political capital as a freshman  on such a losing course.  While I was frying eggs in my kitchen, Glenn called to scold me for being "premature" in assessing the fallout.   Tipps won handily - evidence of his solid political skills in the party's field commanding county chairmen on the executive committee. (On the night of the lopsided vote, Lancione was nowhere to be seen.  It was rumored that he was enjoying the better climate of Florida )

For a political reporter, it was a lively time. With a half-dozen or so Democrats running for president,  the chairman tried - and lost - to discourage the candidates from carving up the Ohio delegation to the 1976 convention.  Even the favorite son ticket he had set up for himself and party VIPs failed to go anywhere.  Lacking his own official voice, he sat aside of the Ohio delegation as a mere spectator.   It was one of the few times that I saw him on the outside of internal party business.

 Remember, too,  that it was not the heyday of cable TV, digital shoptalk or the pressure of conservative preachers and their moral agendas.  In that respect, the work was less complicated .  Politics was simply politics  as usual  as handed down over the centuries.    Tipps had an innate sense of the workings from his "undergraduate" work as Montgomery County Democratic chairman.  C.J. McLin, an African American state rep from Dayton, was his  perfect guide through urban racial unrest.

 Tipps was ready to move on.  To the despair of his critics, he was a tireless lobbyist,  no small benefit for a state  chairman.  He was a  tough survivor , and not easily discouraged , a genuine success story with all of those Democrats sitting in high office in Columbus. (Despite  their early differences, Tipps and Glenn became friends. Glenn remarked  this week that Ohio had "no better friend than Tipps.")

Even his lobbyist  work was shared with Republican Neil Clark.  That was  a non-starter  for politics at Tipps' level.  But that merger blew up in a nasty feud. On the other hand, he was never apart from Riffe in their joint assembly of can-do power and influence.

For every feud, one could point to Tipps' genuine successes.   Upon hearing of his death, it quickly occurred to me that the Democrats  once had more than one  prospect for every job.

 Did I say Democrats?


Tuesday, April 21, 2015

A campus sign that wasn't spellbound

Talk about a name change for Akron U., as I did yesterday:  I've now been made aware that the idea could be infectious in other places on the campus. A Grumpy Abe reader tells me that an electronic sign at E. J. Thomas Hall alerted the public that Neil deGrasse Tyson will be  the featured speaker there on May 6. However, it referred to the astrophysicist as  "Neil Tyson Degrassi"!

When my source called somebody  at the U to correct it, the name that turned up the next day was OK.  But then the following morning, it appeared again as "Neil Tyson  Degrassi'.

That's hardly the way to promote a famous guest scientist.  The source  also wondered about  something  else:

"What concerns me,"  he said, " is that out of the 5,000 people that pass that sign every day, I'm the only one to notice or complain."

Although I had recommended Harvard West University for the school's new name,  I may have to reconsider using the Ivy League academic giant's name in vain.

Monday, April 20, 2015

On Akron U. name change, Strickland and Ben Carson

We've been told that the name change idea at the University of Akron is "still under discussion."  Not that it is at the same priority level as seeking more ways to cut the budget, staff and departments.  (Um..."disinvestment" they disguise it in the polite upper reaches of the administration).

May I come in?  Since Rubber Ducks has already been claimed by the Akron Aeros, I would suggest THE Harvard West U. as the Zippies new name.  With the added prestige, the school could immediately double its tuition instead of the annual incremental  increases to pay the many bills.  And it could convert its new football stadium into a giant receptacle  for a lake for a serious Harvard-style inquiry to convert Lake Anna into a bottomless source of fresh water for  California.

Even better, the scholarly research  might develop a way to ship freshwater icebergs to California - a concept  that has been on people's minds for a long, long time.  In the 1970s, for example, Mohammad al-Faisal, nephew of the king and a promoter of towed icebergs,  went so far as to have a two-ton berg shipped from the Arctic to Iowa for a conference on how to do it. But the cost made it prohibitive for Amazon to make it available to collectors.

* * * * *

For all of the naysayers among some Democratic gurus, Republican oracles  and the ever vigilant Cleveland media who are dissing Ted Strickland's age in his  bid for the U.S.Senate, here's a tidbit you might want to consider:  At 73, Strickland is of  the same age as Iconic Ronald Reagan when the latter was sworn in for a second term.  Haven't read anything since then  that Dutch was too old when he sought to return to the Oval Office.  Almost forgot:  Jim Rhodes, another Republican icon and media star, celebrated his 72nd birthday during his fourth term.

* * * * *

In my tireless  quest to recognize the many rising Republican stars, I discovered one in the report of Dr. Ben Carson's featured talk to the Cuyahoga County Lincoln Day (!) Dinner Saturday night.  The Plain Dealer reported that  top tier Republicans, normally white guys before they head south for winter vacations in the sun, are  "happy to have a black rising star on their side," as the PD described him. That's one.

Meet the new John Kasich, Mr. Goodwrench

Did you happen to see NBC's Chuck Todd  interview of Gov Kasich on  Meet the Press on Sunday.  If not, you can witness it on-line.

Has Kasich undergone a personality change as he gears up a team for a presidential candidacy?  Yep.  Full of rubbery smiles, collegial good natured talk, and cheerfully  boasting that he has more experience than anybody else in the GOP's expanding field.  In case Todd didn't catch that part of it, the governor repeated it authoritatively as though he were warning all of the others to pack up and leave.

Not quite an official announcement of his own yearning options that are still on the table,  he said, a handy cliche.    But....''I can a see the future," he assured doubters, even though prospective voters have yet to see him in the national polls.

 Oh,  will he make  his faithful trust in the Lord one of his enduring  conceits, as in forever explaining to impatient reporters that he's waiting for God to tell him what to do?
 As Plunderbund noted, he once told the New York Times that God advised him to run for governor.

Those references, not only by Kasich but other presidential wannabes have a way of cheapening one's reliance on personal faith for guidance to the pick of  the litter.
We prefer Aaron Rodgers mature response when the Green Bay Packers star quarterback qas asked whether God had played a role in the Packers' victory.

"I don't think God cares who wins a game," he replied.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Will this turtle lay an egg, too?

As most people probably know,  turtles - among the slowest moving creatures -   lay eggs. Even slower, however, is the GOP Senate boss  who has now stalled a vote on Loretta Lynch for attorney general for more than 5 months because of a sex trafficking bill held back by anti-abortion politics.

But while the Senate turtle is having his say to prove that Republicans clearly  know  how to govern,  he could wind up  laying his own egg by inciting  the wrath of his opponents.

But his stone-walling has been shared so far by Ohio Sen.Rob Portman, who will only say he's still "weighing whether to vote on the bill." Five months, Rob!  Five months!.

Between McConnell and Portman,  I would have to think about it a long time before giving either one the edge for procrastination.  Portman already is being targeted by women's and minority groups. ( By the way, that's the turtle below.)

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

We liked this item from Daily Kos:

Some of the people banned
Fargo, North Dakota, coffee shop owner Joe Curry does not appreciate the 56 North Dakota legislators who voted against a bill that would have protected LGBT people from discrimination. Curry put up a sign:
"Ban effective immediately. The listed Men & Women are now banned from entering this establishment.* This is based solely on age, gender, race, beliefs, color, religion & disability."
That asterisk points to this statement:
"Unless accompanied by a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transexual, Queer, Intersex or Asexual person."
Curry's coffee shop is the Red Raven Espresso Parlor. His intention is not to discriminate as he pointed out.

With GOP, Some things never change

Old Lukovich cartoon, but still current:

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

When our congressman is the silent type

Once upon a time, our hometown newspaper would tell us how  a local congressman voted or commented on  a hot issue that was generating so many columns and headlines.   But, alas, that important nexus between a newspaper and us has been abandoned in the decline of what used to be tossed toward our front door each morning.

The latest example for me was when I realized that I had seen nothing reported about my Republican  congressman regarding the Iran nuclear framework that was causing so much commotion. I decided to call his office.   I'm talking about Rep. Jim Renacci, folks, who doesn't seem too unhappy about his absence in newsprint, particularly on controversial matters.  This time he simply chose to  go undercover.

 "I would like to know what the congressman's position is on the Iran nuclear deal," I said to a voice at the other end of the call.


Then another voice, this one in Renacci's Washington office , responded. "May I help you?"

I repeated my question.

Pause, a longer one this time.

Finally, "The congressman will have no statement."

But even that evasive answer might have been reported in the daily paper for anyone hoping to be an informed citizen.   Trouble is, the Beacon Journal has no Washington Bureau, once professionally managed by Dave Hess or Bill Hershey.  It has closed it's Columbus Bureau, too, which as the paper's then Metropolitan editor, I had  the convenience of working with our  able reporters.

Bottom line: Reporting on the area's state lawmakers  is so scarce that we won't see their names in print until they appear on the ballot again. And with Congress, it's  even worse now that the Republicans have chopped Summit County into four  districts.  

Do you think that democracy is  supposed to work that way?