Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Meet Sen.Portman, the tidy Un-Trump

When Ohio Republican Sen. Rob Portman stepped up to the  podium at  the
Akron Press Club luncheon, the well-behaved partisan audience got a closeup of the prototypical Un-Trump.

Casual open collar, lean,  unthreatening, a sweep of gray  hair  betraying his boyish manner, a regular guy - all of it Un-Trump evidence of his selfie as a "Common Sense Conservative".

As it happened, even his  speech as the candidate for reelection against former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland followed the  safest route, narrowly content  to tell us what everyone in the room already knew:  Good grief.  There's a  drug crises in the land. 

It wasn't until some  questions from the audience led him  down the unscripted off-ramp that we heard, if only  briefly,  that he wants to delay the nomination of Merrick Garland - a  highly qualified jurist, says Portman  - because  it would be "better for the country". Better than what?  His practiced imprecision can throw the unsuspecting.

There's more to fill out the image, unspoken.  Un-Trump Portman is still the same guy who voted to defund Planned Parenthood.  Vigorous pro-life supporter. Opponent of protection  of ocean, coastal and Great Lakes ecosystems.  Climate denier.  Insists on repealing ObamaCare and replacing it with  something or other.

Don't get me started on the Common Sense Conservative who had tagged along with Mitt Romney throughout swing-state Ohio leading the political gurus to assume that he was in line for the vice presidency.

There are times when it would be fair to say that,as I occasionally read on my computer,    his message has no content.

That's an Un-Trump for you.

His Press Club audience  seemed unmoved by his speech, offering no more than muted applause at the end.

For once I could agree with that particular group.


It's back!!! With plenty of urging and skill by son and friend.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Campaign 2016: Bleating and tweeting on the right

You may have noticed that there's been a lot of nasty  pushing snd shoving by Republican candidates who want not only to make America great but also to satisfy the  hitherto ignored hearts and souls of civilized human beings.

That should be clearly evident in the bloody crossfire of people like Donald Trump and Ted Cruz who have settled on the word "liar"  to defend one from the other.  John Kasich has sought shelter in pretending to be a moderate right up to the split-second that he came down ferociously conservative on abortion, Planned Parenthood, Obamacare, the auto industry  bailout,  the  stimulus  and public unions. but unlike Cruz, he never resorted to calling Trump a "sniveling coward".(Cruz also was widely quoted as saying"Trump may be a rat, but I have no desire to copulate with him."  I dare not go further  with this because I have no idea what the hell he's talking about.")

Name-calling isn't  anything new to politics.  It just gets wider currency in the  era of  bleating tweeting social media and antisocial patriots who want everyone else to atone for the LGBT's  who are threatening our religious  liberties.

No one has experienced  the mobocracy's assault more than President Obama , who was even shouted  a  liar  by a South Carolina representative  as Obama spoke to a seated Congress. The prez has been on  the receiving end of  Socialist, Communist, traitor, Kenyan, monkey and Watermelon Boy from the grandstanders

But in an historical context  of badly seeded narrative, Spiro Agnew's words will live in notoriety for his remark that the American media were nothing more than "nattering nabobs of negativism" - a term fed to him by wordsmith William Safire that was less effective for its lack of reach to  the minds all those who  couldn't fathom its meaning. .

And of course, we lived with "Tricky Dick" Nixon  for ages.  Still,  my  choice for graphic malcontent must go to Tom Dewey as he was asked how he could have possibly lost to Harry Truman.   Without pause, the Republican asserted: "The son of a bitch won."

As for Kasich, the Secret Service's code name for him is "Unit 1"  because as he once confided,  "My wife said , "You'll never be Unit 1.  You're  Unit 2."

It's still March and we can only hope that his code won't improve before the calamity on the horizon at the Cleveland convention..  And that's no lie.

(Reposted from Plunderbund) 

Sunday, March 27, 2016

UA: The Polytechnic (?) Empire misfires back

In the midst of further evidence of the University of Akron's woes,  the Akron Beacon Journal not only again called this week for a change in leadership but also dumped the school's critics (like me)  into a class that it described as  "unfair, misinformed and small-minded at times".

Right.  I can only presume it refers to this writer and the thousand or so folks who signed a "Scarborough must go" ad in the aforementioned newspaper.   In assessing the misbehavior of  those of us who have long sensed a meltdown at the downtown campus, the editorial deans should be reminded of their headline  that once asserted Team Scarborough "has a good plan...It really does."

The "really"  part  suggested a plea for approval  from any doubters who remain in our midst.

Having  unfairly sprung that from my system, may I continue?

In the simplest terms for this week's installments of the UA Epic of Biblical Proportions,  here's the narrative.  It really is.

(1) A few days ago veteran reporter Marilyn Miller wrote  a firm  facts-and-figures  front page story telling us of a continuing decline in the school's enrollment. Headline: Enrollment slide is largest in MAC....

(2) Next day, on Thursday, the UA front office emailed the paper, shredding Miller's story as"inaccurate, misleading  and apparently relied on out-of-date information".

(3) On Friday, UA gave the paper later information.

(4) Miller then followed Saturday with  another front-pager that was headlined:
 "UA takes exception to article on future freshmen".

The school came up with new numbers in a vain attempt at triage:

The paper reported the new level was  actually worse than first reported! New student enrollment was at the lowest number  in five years.  Are you as confused as I am? Did tail bite tail?

Never mind, UA said.  It issued  good news through its own filters that called Team Scarborough's "pretty extensive efforts"  on track with recruiting initiatives ranging from social media activities  and letter-writing to one- on- one phone calls to student prospects by Scarborough himself.

Well, to be fair about it, he didn't create the existing problem when he whizzed onto the campus two years ago.  His mismanaged agenda merely made them worse, as he  moved quickly  with ideas that drained millions from the ailing budget for inner circle salaries,  new programs of "student success coaches"   provided by a start-up company with little experience, a new student Cadet Corps amid a couple of hundred layoffs,  and God knows what else is in the fine print. Oh, a nearly $1 million renovation of  the president's
 home that accommodated a suite for his wife's parents. (No, I won't revive the memory of the damned olive jar!)  For a president who often shares his reliance on his  Christian values,  this all sounded a lot like the Prosperity Gospel, right?

When confronted with these not so small matters, Scarborough has said his critics simply don't understand what he is trying to accomplish...That would include the 50-2 no confidence resolution by the Faculty Senate and the local paper's rising impatience from an earlier berth on the Good Ship Lollipop.

And  if he doesn't respond to his many critics, it's because he doesn't understand their idea of vibrant leadership two chaotic years into his calling.

 Time to go, President Scarborough - as the bumper stickers advise  - and  don't take the school with you.

As you yourself once said to a local religious group:

"What  matters most is what we learn from our  failures and how those lessons make us better. I believe  moments of failure are when we are most receptive to actually hearing what God has been trying to say."

And while you're listening, sir, invite your enablers  at the Board of  Trustees to listen with you.

Well?  So much for today's...um... unfair misinformed sermon.

Friday, March 25, 2016

The computer nightmare is over - I hope

Well, I'm back.  No thanks to Apple or Google. Neither was useful after hours and hours on the phone in  trying to solve my blog block on Google.

That was remedied by Son Rick's friend Tim, who  arrived as I was seconds away from a nervous breakdown , pushed some buttons and Bingo!, it worked in less than 3 minutes.

It was a learning experience.  Never answer the phone, nor follow up on advisories from distant voices, in solving these problems.  Never. Never. Never!!!!!  Why was I too dense to know that?  The cloud cleared when some outlier with a hard-to- understand voice told me the computer was infected with something called "Bubblehead"  or something  that had intruded upon my way of life . Huh?

The bigger question for me  by now was how would I fill the empty hours that were usually infused with blogging for 8 years.  How could I make amends with the darkened screen that had mirrored my thoughts above all others, including the useless stuff.   How could I ever again determine how many times Dino Restelli had struck out on a 2-2 count with  a runner in scoring position and his team behind by  15 runs in the bottom of the ninth.   Or how many times John Kasich has told us that his father was a mailman.?

You grow listless.  You spend more time on the New York Times Sunday crossword with your mind out of sorts. .  You are a prisoner.  Your ideas for possible columns with no place to put them   are overlaid  on 12 across or 10 down.     You recall a Smith-Corona typewriter that you bought at a PX when you were in the Air Force.  It always did what you wanted it to do and could be carried on a plane. You could even make instant copies with carbon paper. even if your fingertips turned ink blue.

  Whatever happened to the good ol'  days?  When I wanted so send an article to the Washington Post or one of several magazines that I had occasion to write for, I merely  folded t he paper,  fit it into a big envelope and MAILED it.

Enough of this gibberish. As I began this report I told you it was a learning experience. I can only hope it lasts. And that Tim continues to be available.


Sunday, March 20, 2016

Stevens: GOP needs more than white voters to win

In his column in the Daily Beast, former Romney campaign manager Stuart Stevens laid out the Republican Party's decline in the clearest math that anyone -  maybe even Sarah Palin or Joe the Plumber - can understand.

The column heading said  it all:

 "There Aren't Enough White Voters for GOP Win".

Stevens' logic isn't hard to follow once he does the math. "Over the last six presidential elections,"  he writes, "Democrats  have won  16 states every time for a  total of 242 electoral votes out of the 279 needed to win.  In those same six elections,
Republican presidential candidates  carried 13 states for 103 electoral votes. Here's another way to look at it.  The last time a Republican presidential candidate won with enough votes to be declared the winner on election night was in 1988 [George H.W. Bush]"

The clincher?  Stevens argues that although it's erroneously believed that a smaller percentage of white voters supported Romney than Ronald Reagan. the opposite was true.   Romney lost  because the white voter pool  had shrunk.

 And will continue to shrink!

He  concludes that it's a myth to believe a great mass of white voters are lying back to vote when  the right Republican candidate eventually arrives.

"Call  it the Lost Tribes of the Amazon Theory: If only you paddle far enough up the river, and bang the  drum loud enough, these previously hidden voters will gather to the river's edge, " he writes.  "The simple  truth is that there simply aren't enough white voters in the America of 2016 to win a national  election without getting a substantial share of the non-white votes."

Republicans,  he says, need between 25 pct. and 35 pct.  of the non-white vote to win.

 But the party still has its sacred but less potent base, of sorts.

Anybody for demographics?

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Friday, March 18, 2016

Don't count on grown-ups in the wings

Political campaigns  are never without a fresh supply of jargon, from Yellow Dogs, boll weevils  and angry white guys, to gravitas, NASCAR dads and a soccer mom from somewhere up north. We need an artificial way to extract one pol from another to keep everybody casually informed of who's who.  

Now, we're being introduced to the phenomenon of "grown- ups". It's a common word that has taken on new meaning  in the helter-skelter of the 2016 campaign.   As the Plain Dealer chipped in with its endorsement of John  Kasich:  "Alone among Republicans Kasich acts like a grown-up". I only agree with the acting part.

 It's  his good fortune to be in a room of maniacs.  As it's been said, in the land of the blind the one-eyed man is king.   More about that in a future column.

But  with a shattered Republican party, it may be the only household word that will serve as an ad hoc standard in the planet's  frantic  search for an Ohio Miracle, which is what Kasich has long promised for years.

Good luck on that. You can't count on clarity from, say,  MSNBC's Chris Matthews, a dam-bursting  Kasich  fan who speedily expresses himself without punctuation marks.  The Ohio governor, after all,   outlasted  Marco Rubio , once considered a grown-up, who quit with a self-awarded consolation prize that  he finished fourth in a field of seventeen.

The TV news class - so-called strategists, bellowers and assortment of insiders -   has come at us with Donald Trump's Castro-like segments of his  babbling but  has now settled on Kasich as the "grown-up"   in an anybody-but-Trump  movement.  You'd think that after  ignoring Trump's earlier  rise for so long they would now  have a plausible  solution in the GOP's afterlife.  But as the sign says in the antique shop:  You break it, you own it.

You will  be hearing a lot of talk from the muses of  fill-in grown-ups   all of the way to the convention. Even Kasich will try to confirm that he's the miracle-working deity.   Some of us, however, would do well to watch the cartoons instead.

Good grief.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

A day that once had walls

This being St. Patrick's Day, it's a good time to remind ourselves it's also a day when some noisemakers want to build walls.

The Irish of more than a century ago encountered the same walls in America, a traditional enterprise over the years that would exclude blacks, Jews,  Catholics, Italians, Muslims, Germans, Japanese, Asians and Middle Easterners, depending on the prevailing prejudicial winds.  Which one is in your family tree?

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

The GOP Bottom feeders are in full voice

Since the earliest moments when Barack Obama  - he of the darker skin - entered the Oval Office, the bottom feeders of the Republican Party have denied that he was elected by The People.  Nearly  two terms later, they're still at it with Sen.  Mitch McConnell providing the hapless  face of his political class.

Never has that been more evident than their hollowed-out  opposition to a replacement in the President's  final year in office.  The orchestrated  off-key reaction to Obama's  nomination of Merrick Garland to  the U.S. Supreme Court  the morning after Tuesday's round of primaries revived the notion that Obama somehow mythically botched the U.S Constitution by stealing into the office when the voters weren't looking.

With McConnell leading the choir, his senators chanted that the next court appointment should come from The People,. a majority of whom have already spoken  in favor of appointment this year. In his own humorless way, the Senate leader continues to be staring at the shadowy walls of Plato's cave.

Crouching forward as the Republican National Committee Chairman, Reince Priebus mumbled that Obama was doing a "disservice" to the voters by trying to upstage the next president.  Priebus, who seldom makes sense in his responses to easy questions,  accused Obama of attempting to "tip  the balance of the court with a liberal justice in the eleventh hour of his presidency" .

And Ohio Sen . Rob Portman, who insists he's a "commonsense " conservative,  opposed an appointment his year - a year in which his own job will be severely tested by former Ohio Democratic Gov.  Ted Strickland.  "I believe the best thing for the country is to trust the American people and allow them to weigh in on the issue".  "Weighing in",   of course, is something Portman, whose greatest strength is  piloting the Koch brothers ship in Ohio,  is rarely inclined  to do.

Folks, these bottom feeders are not only intellectually corrupt but rather just plain politically stupid.  And they wonder how Donald Trump has gotten this far!