Thursday, March 5, 2015

Her purse more than a drop in the bucket?

As if the oddly-produced action from the podium wasn't  enough to chill your soul,  Bill Moyers reported this weird off-camera  cameo from the Congressional gallery during Speaker John Boehner's Netanyahu  festivities.  Seated next  to her husband Sheldon Adelson, whom Moyers describes as the Godfather of the Republican Right, Miriam Adelson dropped her purse to the floor below, striking a Democratic congressman.

Was that a symbolic reminder that Democrats would again be targeted by  the billionaire casino owner's boxcar-size wallet?    Moyers would only say that the purse  achieved "metaphoric glory".   But it does seem that the wifely purse, fashioned by America's leading supporter  of a Netanyahu-led Israel,  was the real thing, not a metaphor. The message from the GOP Godfather has always been quite clear


Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Bibi came but hardly conquered


 So what did we learn from the  gaudy Netanyahu road show on Tuesday?

Despite his contrite assurance that he meant no disrespect to President Obama, his presence at the podium did exactly that.    You had to assume in the end that he didn't love the president, which is how Giuliani would have rated it.

When Bibi said  he "deeply regretted" that his appearance was interpreted as a political event, you sat back and waited for his flim to head into his flam.  It was fair to consider that the  prime minister is up for election in a few weeks and he was fully prepared to ambush  American nuclear talks with Iran - an in-your-face insult to Obama & Co.  The scheme, as we know, was worked out with Speaker John Boehner, Bibi's scheduler and event planner who doesn't love the president, either.  As such , Bibi,  playing the role of Horatio, was a perfect fit, not only for Republican wingers but also for Sheldon Adelson, the Las Vegas casino billionaire and Israel lobbyist who vainly spent $100 million to defeat Obama in 2112.

As he puffily elevated himself as the the protector of  Israel's welfare against an evil enemy, Netanyahu did manage to ignore the fact that his country has around 100 nuclear warheads ready for any funny stuff by his country's enemies.

Netanyahu is a slick politician who  is running neck and neck with his opponent in the Israeli election so who can doubt the politics of it all?  Ot that  the prime minister is  not a very good liar.  

The Huffington Post, one of a host of media forces that shriveled the speech, described it in a single-word headline:  Bupkis. 

His audience was largely  Pavlovian, instant partisan responders to his word, gleefully pumping themselves up and down.

And considering that his date with Congress was worked out by the light  of the moon with Boehner without a hint to the White House, therein bared  the scandal because we already had learned what Bibi was going to say anyway.

Nice try.

* * * * *

 Stop me as  I lose it and how a little mercy to Boehner, who lost a second time on the homeland security issue. (That would allow Obama to repeat that he won both of them).    On top of that is an Ohio colleague, Rep. Jim Jordan, the head of the Republican fringe group House Freedom Caucus, which has been in Boehner's face to wrest control from the speaker.    Ohio! Why  does the Buckeye State contribute  so much nonsense  in the House?

* * *  *

Did you see Gov. Kasich working the crowd on the House  floor, good naturedly shaking hands and looking like he's ready to move on to New Hampshire.  He was part of the family reunion of former congressmen who turned up.  Kasich said,  of course, that he was a long time foreign policy student,   thus resolving the issue of his qualifications by what he might offer to New Hampshire.   Enough excitement  for one day, folks
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Monday, March 2, 2015

The multi- con job of conservative politicians

Celebrity Republicans continue  to search for conservative indentities that hoist them above the others.  Jeb Bush defines himself as a "reform" conservative. As he embarks on his path to the presidency, he wants us to believe that he is not crazy.  Ohio Sen.Rob Portman. who is not a a candidate for the high office, calls himself a "commonsense" conservative, which,  I suppose, is how he thinks a guy should be in the wake of George W.'s failed "compassionate" conservatism.

There have been references to economic conservatism, an old standby;  social, paleo, fiscal,neo,  religious ...Sorry, need oxygen here.  But I will offer ambitious Republicans a term that might provide clarity to the confusion:    Existential conservatism.  Can't fail. It sounds too impressive.    It will work because nobody on earth knows what it means, even many  existentialists who won't admit that much.


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Sunday, March 1, 2015

Do some political parties age better than others?

Former Gov. Ted Strickland's decision to challenge Sen. Rob Portman, Republican "commonsense conservative," as he sees it, has drawn mostly yawns from Ohio's media stallions who  argue it is a dramatic  sign of the Democratic Party's pathetic  lack of youth and energy. (Strickland is 73).

I would agree that the party needs a younger profile.  But for the articles and editorial pages to fret over the Democrats' creaking bones is a rare sign of  Ohio's Republican-leaning newspapers to fret over the general welfare  of the  "other party".

Young or old, it usually doesn't make that much difference who shows up on the state ballot as a Democrat.    Don't take my word for it.  If age is a factor, here are some engaging figures from the 2014 vote:

Of the five state offices on the ballot, only one posted a Republican younger than his opponent , Treasurer Josh Mandel, 37, big deal(!),  who was younger than his opponent Connie Pillich, a lively and competent 54.

In the other four, Republicans were the greybeards - none  more pronounced than the attorney  general contest that pitted Republican incumbent Mike DeWine, at 68  against Democrat David Pepper, 43!

As long as these many years that I've followed DeWine's career, I've never figured out how he maintains his Rasputin-like grip on editorial writers leading them to such contradictory endorsements.   The Plain Dealer produced not a single negative word about Pepper, a Cincinnati lawyer who had ably served as a county commissioner and city councilman.  The PD however, did go on distressfully about the lengthy downside of DeWine's tenure as the state's top lawyer, from questionable awards of state contracts to other matters that led him "astray'' by "insulting Ohio's voters for refusing"   to debate Pepper.

So what will it be?  Sayeth the lords of the Cleveland newspaper world:

"DeWine is a work in progress.  But his flaws and blind spots are more than outweighed by his energetic and effective advocacy on behalf of all Ohioans on a range of issue" thus earning him a approval for a second term.  

A work in progress at 68? Better hurry.

The PD lined up six of its opinion writers to record the  event.    Elizabeth Sullivan, the opinion director of the Northeast Ohio Media Group,  expressed her sorrow over the old folks party thusly:  Strickland's  return is "another sorry statement about the dearth of  viable Democratic candidates for a statewide run..."

Then, my old paper, the Beacon Journal, concluded that although DeWine "has stumbled at times"  the record also showed that he ''has been a much better attorney general than  Pepper allows" and deserves a second term.

Jarring, too, is DeWine's active  agenda that has been at odds with the paper's position on several major  issues dominating everyone's lives, from the Affordable Care Act to abortion rights and same-sex marriage.

With the yawners, I guess, it depends what party is creakily on the ballot.

So for the Dems,  would it improve their chances  if they sent in a teenage  candidate for an endorsement interview?   You might grow old waiting for a reply.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Boehner's New Houseland Security gambit

As Speaker John Boehner played chicken against  President Obama  in the Homeland Security showdown,  it occurred to me that a new term was needed to describe the action.  How about Houseland Security,  which is really what he's had in mind from the beginning? That, after all, is what Speaker B was doing to protect his job  - and the title and  limo-class   perks - from the Tea Partiers in his House even it  meant putting the entire nation at risk in an age of heightened terrror.  Hardly a hint of a profile in courage from the Southwest Ohio pol.

Even as reporters questioned him about this next move,   Boehner created lasting video clips  by defiantly puckering his lips in kisses (fortunately, nobody was close enough to physically suffer his hapless advances.) He did seem a tad tipsy. D'ya think?

Folks, this is disgraceful. Particularly so soon after his aberrant invitation to Benjamin Netanyahu to address Congress in which he lied to the Israeli insiders that the Democrats were on board with his decision.

As the guy who allegedly is in charge of the House he has become the emperor in a new suit of clothes that only he could see.

Not to be outdone by  the Republicans on the right, Wisconsin Gov.Scott
Walker  and trending candidate for the presidency exploded the myth of his own competence by breezily  asserting that he would have no problem taming ISIS.  As he put it in a terrible way:  "If I can take on 100,000 [union] protesters, I can do the same around the world."

And as he said  in the wake of Rudy Giuliani's melody of love:  "I 'll tell you.   I love America".   Problem still not solved.

As a footnote: Missing in the media action on Friday was the Beacon Journal, which carried not a word of the looming shutdown, doubtless the biggest story of the day!    
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Goodell could start by pointing Browns to QB

Put this in the file of "don't bite the hand that feeds you".   I mean, when  NFL commissioner Roger Goodell was asked at the Canton Memorial Civic
Center what he would do to make the Browns more competitive, he gave Browns owner a big vote of confidence, saying:

"I'm a big fan of Jimmy Haslam,"   adding: "He's learned a great deal.  He's making smart decisions for the long term.  I think this community - and I know this is
Browns country -  I  think they're fortunate to have Jimmy Haslam as an owner and we're   fortunate to have him."

Don't you think they would be more fortunate to have a quarterback?

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Browns new logo should have been more dramatic

Did you notice the  subtle changes in the new Browns logo?  Yeah, me neither.  I had hoped for something more fetching to capture  the moment and the legacy.  So in the interest of game-changing progress, I humbly offer this one.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Kasich state of state speech: A ramblin' wreck

OK, I did survive it.  Gov. Kasich's hour-long lecture on Tax Cuts 101, I mean, in his State of the State address to an audience of  more than a thousand  mostly white guys in black suits in Wilmington. I hung around to watch the live transmission on TV because that's what I do in my never-spare time. The follow-up of the PBS documentary The Italians made viewing worthwhile again.

About the speech:  with the governor's defiantly protruding lower lip pointed at the seated following, he repeatedly rambled through  his version of the evils of taxation.  And when he mentioned that Ohio businesses are moving to a friendly economic climate in Florida,  I wondered whether he couldn't solve the problem by lining I-71 with palm trees.

The crowd was  courteous with muted applause and nobody shouting,"You lie!"

He said nothing about the environment, climate change,  and other current matters that impact so many people's lives. But he defended consumption (sales)  taxes, an idea that has been dismissed widely  since he was a blue-collar kid as the most regressive of taxes.

 He boasted that his tax reforms would be a model for the country.And he declared his support of charter schools, a billion-dollar industry that is siphoning taxpayer money from public schools,  and   isn't working. He pleadingly glanced often at a couple of stone-faced gremlins  seated  nearby - Ohio Sen. President Keith Faber and House Speaker Cliff Rosenberger,  both hard-core conservatives from southwest Ohio districts that for all that I know extend farther west to below Evansville. Ind.

He desperately needs their help in the legislature and there's a good chance he won't get it.  Rosenberger is but 33 years of age and hails from Clarksville  (Pop 548), collects toy soldiers  and has soaring support from the gun, pro-life and other right-wing lobbies.   Faber is a fellow from Celina (pop. 10,400) which tells you that northern Ohio won't have a snicker of a chance in this legislative session.

But wait:  "We're on the move!  We're rising! Creating jobs!   Nobody is left out!" Kasich asserted.     Don't you wish that  as the governor that lags so many others  in job creation would give the Obama Administration a little credit for an economic recovery that   has slowly but surely turned the nation - and Ohio - around?

Wasn't he the same guy who opposed the stimulus that saved a mountain of jobs but later said he was glad it worked out?

I've left out a lot of numbers that desperately arrived from the governor's podium with the authority of someone who once was an advisor to a Wall Street firm that  went belly-up-down-and sideways.

It might have helped if Kasich had brought along Joe the Plumber.


Tuesday, February 24, 2015

When will the governing party govern itself?

When  Republicans stormed into both houses of Congress from the November election they wanted to prove they could...um...govern.  Still,  with all of the dissent and gridlock  within the party, the real test will be whether they can even govern themselves.

Freedom of press not one of Kasich strengths

Open note to John Michael  Spinelli, a contributor to Plunderbund who has been critical of Gov. Kasich:

John:  I  saw the  short piece in  Plunderbund that you have been barred from covering Sunny Kasich's State of the State speech in Wilmington. As a political writer in our state and now a blogger, you apparently have succeeded in ruffling the governor from his comfort zone as he prepares to run for president as a caring Republican do-gooder  (Matthew25), surging breed apart from the right-wing crazies, and a thunderous reelection winner in a swing state against a guy who dropped out of the race weeks before the election.

I know how disappointed you must be because several years ago the Summit County Republican chairman, Alex Arshinkoff,  banned me from covering the party's annual fund-raiser,  breaking a long tradition that was courteously nurtured by Ray Bliss, an earlier chairman.  And as one of  Jim Rhodes' biggest critics, I was always accorded the finest hospitality by the four-term governor, who even wrote a light-hearted newspaper column about me from a national GOP convention.

So you will have to listen to Kasich's speech on radio, if you dare. And you may end up quoting mobster  Marlon Brando  from "The Freshman"  who,  upon  scanning a young  student's college room, was clearly unimpressed,  muttering:

 "I didn't miss nuttin'." 

Abe