Sunday, August 31, 2014

The worldly pursuit of the tan suit

In the soaring atmospherics of my keen preparation of Grumpy Abe, I have only  occasionally slipped out of the noose of commenting on the darkest side of politics.  So when I happened to see President Obama in a tan suit instead of funereal black, I gave it no more attention than any tan suit should have, even one worn by the leader of the free world..

Little did i know at that critical moment that it would become  the biggest sartorial story of  our day that would surpass the wardrobe malfunctions of Biblical proportions that   exposed nipples to TV audiences.

 There were reports of an explosion of twitters around the world that even created a "suitgate"  (not my word!) for anybody who needed one more thing to blame on the president.  It was a modern reversal of Hans Christian Andersen's wonderful tale of  the Emperor's  New Clothes - actually skin colored and not tan.  

One of the leading critics of Obama's attire was Rep. Peter King, the New York Republican who can always find something to bitch about.

He was outraged that Obama wore a light summer  suit to talk about the economy and the revision of the second quarter numbers when there are so many weightier matters on his plate.  In the scheme of talking points, King downgraded the  economy as though it were a trivial pursuit.  You get that way when you are a well-fed, well-paid congressman from a safe district.  Shouldn't these  guys simply enjoy their ample public troughs  and shut up?  

Tan suit or black suit or no suit or Reagan's plaid sport jacket or  LBJ's "Open Road Stetson" or George W. Bush playing cowboy.  Congressman, the person who is out of work has only one concern: a paycheck to get the family through the day.  Why don't you know that?

Friday, August 29, 2014

Charter schools not a happy narrative

Today's recommended reading:

If you are rightly concerned about the invasion of public school education (and your tax money)  by charters,  check the detailed account of the current dismal situation reported on Plunderbund.  You can easily find it  under the headline: Are Religious Charter Schools  the New Norm Under John Kasich?  

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Normal etiquette returns to Board of Elections

Every now and then, a warm and fuzzy slice of political life reminds us that there is a glimmer of hope in the future of civilized discourse.    Such was the case today in the Beacon Journal report that normalcy has returned to the Summit County Board of Elections.

The story told us that Cecilia Robart, board worker and wife of former Cuyahoga Falls Republican mayor Don Robart, was quite active in using her cellphone while on the  clock.  An investigation  revealed that she had been on Facebook 48 times  in a single day (twice that number over a longer period!) even though board workers are prohibited from taking such liberties on company time.

Well, now.  The probe called for a studied temperate response from Summit County Republican Chairman Alex Arshinkoff, a board member, and he rose to the occasion.  He  considered the affair a dirty trick by Democrats. He didn't call it dirty, asking only: "What kind of crap is that?  That's baloney." The reporter said he pounded his fist.

We all know that throughout his millennia as GOP boss for the party of family values,  Alex has set near-impossible standards for gentlemanly etiquette for his line of work.  He had long rumored that Akron Mayor Don Plusquellic would be indicted for reasons not fully explained.    And leaping to  the solemn defense of his party when United Way included a stop at Democratic headquarters to pick up a bauble  for a scavenger hunt, he once called for a boycott of the charity.There were other times, but we're talking here about more pleasantly  controlled moments. As they say in hockey, no blood, no foul. 

As for Cecilia Robart, she wasn't pleased, either.   In her cellphone  chatter,  she merely raised the spectre of  recalling Don Walters, the Democrat who vanquished her husband, because the new guy ended Rockin' on the River in the Falls. (Last concert Friday night.) She called him a liar and  threatened the Democrats with the return of her husband to oppose Walters the next time. Aside from that, well...you've heard enough.

Looks like more halcyon days ahead, right,  Alex?


Re-posted from Plunderbund



The Ohio Republican Party says it has found a scandal in Democratic State Sen. Nina Turner’s campaign against Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted. According to the party’s top flak, Chris Schrimpf, Turner is …um…”too partisan”.
Who knew?
Although Schrimpf’s assessment of Turner hardly rises above the level of playground insults, it is the stuff one would expect from a spokesperson who once labored in the non-partisan inner circles of righties like Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue.
Schrimpf doesn’t think Turner is playing nice by referring to Republicans as “stupid and dumb”, words not unfamiliar to Gov. Kasich who famously called a Columbus police officer an “idiot”. So I have to ask: What is the dividing line between “partisan” and “too partisan”?
We should all be thankful that we aren’t faced with answering such pressing questions in our workaday lives.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Cheney raging at Obama from his Cluck Dynasty

Dick Cheney has emerged from his Cluck Dynasty on Fox News  to condemn President Obama for taking a vacation while the planet is still spinning.  Although it's true that no president ever takes a real vacation from  troubles (got that, Maureen Dowd?),   Cheney is outraged that Obama wanted to get in a round of golf.

To Sean Hannity's everlasting delight, Cheney, a helpless liar, hissed that there's new evidence every day that Obama prefers to play golf rather than  deal with weighty  problems.

Here's the rest of the story from National Memo:

To date, President Obama has spent 150 days on vacation since taking office in 2008.  But George W. Bush, Cheney's designer  boss, spent 1,020 days at his Crawford,Tx. ranch and 43 at the Bush family compound in Kennebunkport, Me.

There's a difference in context , too.  During Bush's term, the world was serenely at peace and America's economy was booming.  And even though Osama bin Laden was still lurking somewhere, Dubya dispatched concern by saying he didn't know where the guy was and couldn't care less.

As for  Cheney, you you must understand that one of a cluck's liabilities is they can't do the math.  Nor do they want to.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Chris Christie to win Arshinkoff's straw vote poll?

OK, here's the load:     If you're planning  a vacation at Lake Anna in late September, scrub it.  Chairman Alex Arshinkoff's Summit County Republican Party wants you to SAVE  THE DATE.    Chris Christie is coming to town.

For a $300 ticket, they will seat you at the party's finance dinner at the Hilton in Fairlawn on Sept. 29. You also will have a chance to get an up-front look at what  the dinner's sponsors assume will be the GOP presidential nominee in 2016.

That's a safe assumption about Alex because he caters to  fill-the-bowl VIP dinner speakers at these affairs.  You also will get  a chance to participate in his unique  straw poll that will find its way  into the next day story.  In 2112,  Rick Santorum, then (and still is) a presidential candidate, thrilled the audience with his attacks on President Obama and won a landslide victory in the straw poll.

When I last looked, Christie, though still the target of an investigation into the George Washington Bridge scandal, was in Kansas trying to dig  Gov.  Sam Brownback from a deep hole.

A couple of years ago, Brownback signed away the state's decent financial health  with huge tax cuts (25 pct.  for the richest Kansans), and turned the state's ledger from a $600 million surplus to a $2.5 billion deficit.  At the time,  Brownback cheerily proclaimed his state would  gush upward and not trickle down to demonstrate how Kansas would save America through his good works  and the Grace of God.

Once again, trickle-down economics would find a way to avoid the bullshit filter.

Joined by happy talk, both Brownback and Christie  have asserted  that Kansas' devastating path to looming bankruptcy was entirely due to - yep - President Obama's "failed economic policies".  I   have to say that when these guys move on they will leave behind no intellectual history.

A cautionary note: If you're in the neighborhood  on Sept. 29, be on the alert for a lot of orange cones and a massive traffic jam at the All-America Bridge.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Kasich: the blue-collar kid who really isn't

Re-posted from Plunderbund


John Kasich wants me to know that he grew up in humble surroundings that seeded his deep concern for ordinary, hard-working folks.  He seldom fails to mention in his TV ads that his father was a mailman for 29 years.  His reelection campaign is spending millions of soft-earned contributions from the highest rollers that pay for  these ads.  He's just a regular guy, they tell us - or as National Review defined him,   "a  blue-collar kid from a little town near Pittsburgh called McKees Rocks.  (Historians tell us Alexander McKee was a colonial British Indian agent who was loyal to royalty during the revolution.   That explains everything.)

C'mon, guv. There are countless small-town kids  who were too short on ambition to  be  governor.   There were many, too, who grew up with silver spoons that went on to be the head of state.   As one who was nurtured in the culture of  a small coal-mining town not that far from Kasich's home,  I would have been an awful governor. So what's the point?

Acknowledging Kasich's blue-collarship,  it's worth knowing   he also was the  one who vigorously supported the voter-rejected  bill that would have restricted unions, which sort of  made him the  white-collar kid that he really is. The cascade of dough that has found its way into his campaign suggests his croupiers outshine anyone you'd find in Vegas.

In 1998 as chairman of the House Budget Committee, then-Congressman Kasich  concocted a Federal budget plan  that mercilessly slashed money from welfare, anti-crime and  environmental programs, a proposal that  was even resisted by some Republicans but lauded by his colleague,  then-House Speaker  Newt Gingrich, who as a presidential candidate called for the firing of all school janitors. On the other hand Republican Rep. Michael Castle of Delaware  said Kasich had "overreached in both  policy and political viability".

So this is what Blue Collar kids do when they get to Congress?

Dave Hess.  retired Capitol  Hill reporter for Knight-Ridder newspapers, wrote more recently that Kasich's slogan of "a new way and new day" was  the "typical  Republican euphemism  that adorns all of the party's proposals and policies...to ensure a steady flow of election year lucre by preserving the wealth of the wealthy..."

I do want to thank the governor  for one small matter.  As one forever interested in the meaning of the written word, I  can now add a new synonym to the definition of "blue collar kid."



Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The dive bombers are active on Browns' QB crisis


The reports from the boiling  Browns QB crisis are not reassuring.  The updates:

The Beacon Journal described it as a "conundrum".

The Plain Dealer's usually upbeat Terry Pluto described it as  "chaos'.

Ch3 sports guru  Jim Donovan said the QB's performances in Game 2 were  "terrible," adding that the Browns are the only NFL  team that don't know who the starting QB will be.

I can't go on.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Post-game reviews; Browns lose more than a game

Quickly, to update my earlier piece on the media hype of the  Browns' QB crisis:

The reviews of the Monday night snore were distinctly  flavored with the acidity of a lovers' quarrel.  The Beacon Journal headlined "QB hopefuls  don't impress''  and the story reaffirmed it  by describing  the historic performance  as "perhaps the biggest dud since the Y2K  Scare".

The Plain Dealer took a  meaningless  more humane course by calling for a reader poll on whether  Brian Hoyer or Johnny Middle-Finger Football Manziel should be the starter. (One fan proposed dressing Tim Tebow for the next game!  You can understand the desperation.)

But  shouldn't some of the red faces be shared by the media for the  electrified buildup of the QB gold rush that asked us each day which guy should start?  Unfortunately, the Browns  didn't play on Broadway Monday night, where bad reviews can close a show in an instant.  .

They are left, instead,  with Hoyer and Manziel, for better or worse and the show must go on.






Alas, ABJ's Beliczky is leaving

The word from the  ABJ is that  another top reporter ls leaving an already skeletal staff. Carol Beliczky is packing up after 24 years on the local staff plus two in the Columbus bureau and will be gone in two weeks.

Her departure, folks, is a major blow to the paper.  Her coverage of higher education as well as the Tressel epic at the University of Akron was at the highest level of professional journalism and one of the few bright signs of local reporting. The decision didn't come easily.  After extended consideration she applied for a buyout during the last staff churn - and was  turned down by the front office.

A university town can't afford to lose her, but it will too soon.