Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Some matters you may be troubled to find in Ohio

We spent a few moments following up on the state's new motto, "Ohio, find it here."

Our curiosity was  aroused by Tourism Director Mary Cusick's  comment that the
Buckeye State was not reaching as many adventurous far-flung tourists as,  we'd add, Virginia's boast of "lovers".   So now we will  have a $6 million blitz of TV and other advertising channeling  the things you would find within our borders if you only looked.

We figured that might include the Ohio legislature, a rather medieval rural oriented body centrally located between Circleville and Sunbury, that clearly needs  rebranding if it is what President Scott Scarborough is trying to shoulder at the University of Akron to attract more students.

So as a public service we set out to find something that you may have missed while the plan to lure out-of- state tourists and college students took shape in the pre-Black Friday days  that began last spring:

Republican State Rep. Barbara Sears (Monclova Twp.) introduced a measure to "reform" the insolvent unemployment compensation fund on the backs of the unemployed despite its already Draconian restrictions.

Rep. Nino Vitale, the Urbana Republican, is fully supportive of a "Pastors Protection Act" to protect the cloth from retaliation for not adhering to the U.S. Supreme Court's
ruling that same-sex marriages are constitutional. Opines Vitale: "It is an issue of  protection; protection  for those who have committed their lives to the service of God and their community."

The Ohio House, by a party-line tally of 62-30, voted to defund Planned Parenthood, one of the GOP's favorite pinatas.

And Rep. Ron  Maag,  Lebanon Republican, introduced a measure to broaden the number of  "unarmed victim zones"  for people who carry concealed weapons.  That includes school zones, places of worship and day care centers.  But not the legislative chambers. Maag said he merely wants to protect folks who exercise their Second Amendment rights.

If you still want to visit the state, we could invite you to some of our wonderful parklands, including the Cuyahoga Valley national park.   But a word of caution:  25 pct. of the state's more than 27,000 bridges are in disrepair,  even if you ignore the ones that have fallen down.  We doubt that those figures are of top priority with the Columbus hoofbeat pols  so dedicated to guns , assaults on Planned Parenthood and resisting gay marriage.

Monday, November 23, 2015

A friend for all who are in need;

Let's start  the week on a happier note:

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Should Johnny come marching home?

If Gov. Kasich's presidential campaign had been a light comedy  with a Broadway stage in mind,  the warmup production would have closed in Boston long before heading for the Big Apple. The reviews have been uniformly awful.

From his snappish behavior in the last debate to his most recent goof that he would create a federal agency to beam Judeo-Christian values around the world, he has lost ground.  The agency notion drew so many boos that within 24 hours he said never mind. He conceded it wasn't necessary after all.  There were other ways to reach pagan countries, Kasich said, with,  say, the Voice of America, which  reaches 188 million people a week around the world, but wasn't really getting the story of American values across.

He doubtless had kicked up a fuss with conservatives who weren't buying the idea,  Judeo-Christian values or not.  For them, another government agency was an unspeakable  sin in itself.  On the liberal side, columnist Joe Conason referred to  Kasich as a "useful idiot".

It didn't help him to knock  a rival who is leading Kasich in New Hampshire by 20 points and with far more than enough millions in campaign cash.  Donald Trump, no slouch at bombast himself, huffed that Kasich was "irrelevant"   and not worth wasting money on TV ads to point that out. So fancy that, Guv.

In all of this,  you have to wonder how Kasich,   who  brags  that (figuratively) he can  land an airplane to show his skill at leadership, decides  on his talking points each day.  Do his advisors caution him that for a guy who was in Congress a couple of decades ago, there are some things that don't work in the modern era of politics.  Or is it possible  that he is so brashly confident of his own brilliance that he doesn't need calm advice?

From all appearances, he is running a theocratic tough guy  campaign with a disposition that glowers but seldom glows. He doesn't consume his daily bread with nuance.

I would think that from all of this, the  time has arrived  to lower the curtain on his road show,  pack up the scenery and head back to Columbus  to manage some  lingering odds and ends: The disgraceful cheating and  mismanagement of Charter schools that have already led to the resignation of  the husband of your campaign manager; your fumbling of a plan to control  carbon emissions; your non-Judeo-Christian  outburst to deny admission of Syrian migrants to Ohio.

Don't get me started.


Saturday, November 21, 2015

We should all feel safer


Friday, November 20, 2015

Rubio spin: welders vs philosophers

We should all be grateful that Marco Rubio has offered us some fresh insight into the  exercise that we once called presidential politics.  The Florida Republican informed us that welders make more money than philosophers.  I'm not sure where that fits into the  grand narrative of leading America, as Donald  Trump puts it, to greatness again.  But there it is:   welders vs philosophers. What an exciting thought!  Never heard anybody
of a lesser mind put  it quite that way.  The pace is quickening.

For those of us  who have never encountered  the thought after many years in the partisan foxholes,  we had no choice but to leave  it to the metrics of the welders and philosophers to tell us of the relative merits of  their chosen  life's work.  Having been neither, I can only say that several reliable sources quickly dug into their volumes of scholarly research and concluded  that Rubio's reach may have exceeded his grasp in the opaque world of, say, Hegel  or Schopenhauer, both of whom I joylessly encountered in a single college level philosophy class.

Besides, both have expired and are not here to defend themselves.

So I looked for parallel comparisons to challenge the senator.  Do welders make more money than,  say, U.S. senators?  It may be argued that  politicians who weld hollow  ideas on the campaign trail  or wherever there is a TV camera in their face should be considered for a pay raise and  better parking spots to inflate  their  own prestige  as engaged representatives of the people.

That much would be required if they spent  24 hours a day to deliver themselves from such public menaces to civilization as Ben Carson, who has likened migrants to "mad dogs"  and Trump, who roars that the  only way to defeat ISIS is  to "bomb the shit out of them" leaving only a moonscape  behind.

With the phalanx of Republican presidential candidates groping to pick up cues to counter Rubio, must we consider whether pizza twirlers have a brighter future than the whirling windmill of current GOP aspirants for the Oval office?  We can only guess where this is going.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Scarborough alters program with same message

 University of Akron President Scott Scarborough's talk to a swollen Akron Press Club audience  of 150 at Quaker Station on Wednesday  was packaged in a new format without PowerPoint and included an odd  geography lesson to explain the rebranding of his school's name.

The tag of "Ohio's Polytechnic University", he said, referenced  Ohio for all of the out-of-towners who don't know where Akron is on the globe. Who knew?

Working from a series of topics suggested by the audience  that  was heavily laced with faculty and  students, he posted each with grease pencil on two white boards  - and checked them off with his replies  with the ease of a  scripted delivery that suggested a heavy layer of Teflon.

The responses were familiar to anyone who has heard his talks around town.  Yes, change is difficult when you are trying to reduce $40 million debt, he said. .  And if there are critics of his administration's policies, they are the result of misunderstanding and miscommunication in what he's trying to accomplish.

Scarborough,   part academic and part bank  auditor with some preacherly hints of  his southern Baptist  background, seems untroubled by the swirl of controversy, major donor tropouts  and messy rollout of his plans since arriving in July 2014 from the University of Toledo.  He's glibly self-confident that he's rising to his calling and victimized by people who don't understand the job he's been asked to do.  With the servile politically appointed Board of Trustees that hired him, and the Creator on his side, he's now on an  assured  fail-safe course.

To the question of how he has surrounded himself with a clutch of highly  paid managers  in his comfort zone,  he responded that in order to convert UA into a national monument of higher education you faced  supply and demand in recruiting the most gifted people for the job.

He summed up any missteps  by his team as a natural  flaw in laying out a new course of action,  adding the chestnut that leaders  are only mistake-free when they are not doing anything to move forward.

 The pro forma speech drew only light applause when he finished.

So maybe now's the time to turn the page for  some TV ads emphasizing that Akron is in Ohio.   By his standards, it couldn't hurt.

P.S. Akron is in northern Ohio, just south of Cleveland.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Cruz: Only migrant Christians should be admitted

A woman in a doctor's office in our area was heard to  say she was happy  to know that any effort to keep out refugees would  stop all of those  "Sicilians" from landing on our shores.  That was a head-turner as various nations desperately try to figure out what to do with massive war-driven migration  across European borders.  It once again  alerted us  to the unwashed views of many folks   about the staggering reality of a horrific world that defies  solutions.

So you can forgive the woman's error about  the terrorist peril and paralysis the past few days that even the right-wing presidential candidates and their playmates insist belonged in the lap of President Obama.

From the breast-pounding fringe has come calls that he resign, blaming him for not mentioning  "Islam" in his responses; Columnist Michelle Malkin  referred to Obama as the "Nobel Prize-winning workplace violence whitewasher," a  cheek-swelling  mouthful, if moronic.

Some of the Pavlovian candidates, their hearts pounding in feverish anticipation,  rushed off to Fox News to vent their shopworn political violence on the president with glib accusations but absolutely no solutions of their own. No one was more defiant than Sen.Ted Cruz, who asserted  that any admission of refugees should be limited to Christians because  they do not "commit acts of terror".  (Hitler, a Catholic Christian, rehabbed).

And  unsurprisingly, Jeb! challenged our short-term memory by accusing Obama of creating the "quagmire" in the Middle East.

His dysfunctionally hawkish brother - can we mention that?  - at least was inventive enough to don a pilot's uniform and land on an aircraft carrier to declare "Mission Accomplished". It was one of history's greatest theatrical allegories of presidential chutzpah  in action.

(His supporting cast  wasn't much more persuasive as Dick Cheney batted away questions about the duration of the Iraq war by assuring the audience that it wasn't likely to last more than several weeks and that Iraqi oil would pay for the high cost of the American invasion.)

Frustration and uncertainty  - that's what the whole civilized world faces.  You'd think that in these days of need, the fringe would try to understand that there are no bumper-sticker solutions. None.  For the superhawks, sending tens of thousands of American soldiers to Syria would satisfy the critics' needs to say something,  but what would we do about terrorists scattered around the globe? And even in Belgium,where the pot was stirred for the bloodshed in Paris.

If we decide to bomb Brussels, should we first drop warning leaflets, as they did  with Monte Cassino in WW11  with little  success?  The bombs killed more than 200 Italian civilians;  the Germans had abandoned the hilltop abbey without a single casualty. .

The Bush-Cheney class  now pretends that it is methodically in control and knows all of the answers.  So Belgium, beware.  And non-Christians, better fly business class.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Turning back the clock on Big Ben

As Cleveland Browns fans mourned another lost week end to the Steelers, Bill Hershey, a former Beacon Journal colle├ągue, recalled an earlier piece in Sports Illustrated  that told of Ben Rothlisberger's youthful rise to super-stardom while  playing  at Findlay High School his senior year.  I offer it to Browns fans not as a gloating Steelers fan (that would be a cheap gloat  these days!)  but rather as a vignette from an earlier day when Big Ben didn't get to start as a quarterback until his senior year. Notice how he took advantage of that opportunity to throw for a record 4041 yards and 54 touchdowns. (Cliff Hite, his high school coach at the time, is today a Republican state senator from Findlay.)

Here's the word from Hershey:
At Findlay High School, Rothlisberger was  captain of the football, basketball and baseball teams.  He did not play quarterback until his senior year, giving way to the coach's son, Ryan Hite.  Instead, Roethlisberger played wide receiver because as Coach Cliff Hite  explained to the Toledo Blade, "My son  throwing to Ben was a better combination" He said the reason for passing over Ben as the QB could be simply explained:  "I'm a nationally known knucklehead."
At the same time, Ryan Hite was a talented athlete, too. As far as knuckleheads go, it's a serviceable word for the Browns front office,  which didn't see the point of drafting Big Ben.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

People who damn the media should be careful about what they wish for

Although life hasn't been going well in the media world with the decline of newspapers, it's getting even worse these days with  deranged presidential campaign rhetoric  delivered as applause lines for a mindless right-wing audience.

  Donald Trump, America's first multi-billion-dollar demagogue, hysterically refers to journalists as "scum and garbage'" while his dreamy rival, Ben Carson, insists that without Fox News, "America would be Cuba".

The vituperative pile-on by all of the "Republican" candidates after the CNBC-sponsored debate merely contributed to the national delusion that we would all be better off watching geezer-friendly old TV movies than reading printed words (except Bibles and NRA newsletters).

As a long-time journalist who has been known to be at odds at times  with the modern TV and print media, I have a few words for the critics of the so-called "liberal media". It's called the First Amendment.  It includes, you know,  Freedom of the press", a durable concept  hundreds of years old  that has survived royalty, tyrants and colonial governors.  Moreover, it  doesn't exclude media that you, nor I,  might not  happen to like.

Even a panicky University of Missouri commnications professor, who should have known better, ignored the roots of her profession by shouting for more "muscle" to prevent a  student journalist from doing his job during the  campus protests.  Melissa Click,  who was on courtesy assignment to the staff of the respected  School of Journalism showed such little regard for  press freedom that she later withdrew from the journalism school program with an apology.

Always an apology these days when things go wrong to your disadvantage.  Her troubles may just be beginning.   Another student is seeking action for a charge to  be filed against her for obstructing his presence at the site. She should have learned about such misbehavior  in Journalism 101.

Well, here I go again appearing to be an apologist for my profession when in fact the more relevant issue is whether the political fringe will find its  way to tolerate a free press in a free society in a not- so- free world, even as  Carson finds it political convenient to warn his crowd about Cuba.

Timothy Egan wrote in the New York Times that more than 20,000 newsroom jobs have been lost in America since 2001 - a work force drop of 42 pct.

The problem today is not the press,  but rather its rising death toll.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Akron native Gary Pinkel heads off the field

Gary Pinkel, the Kenmore High School-KSU alum and one of college football's most successful coaches, is ending his distinguished gridiron career after the current season at the University of Missouri.  He announced his resignation following the  chaotic week at the school in which he defended the successful decision by black members of the Tigers football team  to boycott  this week's game   unless the school president resigned.

Pinkel, 63, has been treated for non-Hodgkins lymphoma, and said he had been cleared by doctors to continue his long coaching  career.  Still, although the treatment would not interfere with his coaching job,  he said he wanted to spend more time with his family.

During his 15 years at Missouri, he was the winningest coach in that school's history.  (117-71) His teams went to bowls in ten of those years.    He was  equally successful as the coach at Toledo University.  In 1995,  the Rockets were undefeated  (one tie), and won the Las Vegas bowl.

He added to his laurels off the field when he stepped up to support his players in the racial  protests.

No better time to wind up a career than when you are ahead  - way ahead. During the game,  and otherwise.