Thursday, October 30, 2014

Hey, Guv. Where are Ohio's wackadoodles?

Broken news for Gov. Kasich:  Did you notice that the team from the state that you have scorned as the home of "wackadoodles"  won the World Series for the third time in five years?  Yep, the San Francisco Giants claimed the high honor while you were probably busy trying to convince the voters that you should be re-elected by acclimation.   I'm only sorry that Ohio's wackadoodles  aren't ever able to thrust the Indians into the playoffs.    Wouldn't that be  a more convincing affirmation of your "Ohio Miracle"?

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

update: corrected version Pepper for Turner

Can we talk?
As some of you surely know, much of my professional career plunged me into the printed word - newspapers, magazines, books, some crabby letters to editors and now the digital offspring, blogs.  I say this only because some of you may be wondering why I' ve been picking on newspapers so much during this dreadful election year for which they must accept some of the responsibility for its odor.

I do want to say that the decline of newspapers, which is now  past the point of no return, gives me no joy. Still too much printer's ink in me.    Nor would I deny that newspapers have their rights to  endorsing  whatever candidate they find in their comfort zones.  But this year they seem intent on dwelling in conflicts of interest with themselves, thus costing them more  ounces of credibility. That hurts.

The most blatant recent example derives from a story in the Columbus Dispatch,  in which Republican endorsements  have been grandfathered  since Gutenberg. (Good grief!  Josh Mandel won the paper's approval?  )

Still the Dispatch published a piece reporting that during Atty. Gen. Mike DeWine's four years in office, Ohio has filed 53 amicus curae (friend of the court) briefs, at taxpayers expense,  with the  U.S. Supreme Court on out-of-state  cases.  Unsurprisingly, many of them satisfy his need to demonstrate his support of social conservative issues -  his long-held opposition to same-sex marriage, abortion, gun control, ObamaCare.etc.

You might say, as others have pointed out, that he has converted his office into a chapel.
The defining paragraph in the Dispatch story confirms that.

He was asked about  his defense of Hobby Lobby 's denial to employes of health insurance coverage that  includes  birth control.

Did he base his decision on these matters  simply on his opinion or what's best for the state?

"It's both, really," DeWine replied. "Do my principles, do my beliefs in what is right, impact it?  Well, sure."

OK, he's made it clear on women's issues.  Not only in the Dispatch but whenever he has been asked about the access to hospitals  by abortion clinics.

But about the time that the Dispatch was parsing his positions, the BJ's editorial page, a pro-choice advocate, bore a column  by Michael Douglas, the editorial page editor, pointedly  complaining  about the anti-abortion obstructionists.

Douglas wrote: "Gov. John Kasich  and the Republican legislature have embarked on a mission to all but eliiminate abortion rights in the state" -   without mentioning DeWine as one of the perps.

 He  concludes by disapprovingly asserting:

"The fight over abortion in the courts and elsewhere won't end soon.  Yet, for now, one thing stands:  Abortion is a right, and those exercising that right deserves to be treated accordingly."

But shouldn't the treatment be applied accordingly to DeWine, too?  The paper has maintained a cozy attitude with the AG and even endorsed him despite his closed-fist activism against abortion.  In so doing,  it rejected DeWine's opponent,
David Pepper,  a pro-choice Democrat and aggressive campaigner.

Don't spend too much time trying to follow the bouncing ball, folks.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Plunderbund threatened with suit by Plain Dealer

Plunderbund  reports that the Plain Dealer/Northeast Ohio Media Group has threatened to sue the blog for publishing a short clip of a 40-minute video that the  paper had shown online - and then removed.

The flap involved the PD 's editorial board's  group interview of Gov. Kasich, Democratic candidate Ed FitzGerald  and Green Party candidate Anita Rios.

Plunderbund reported a letter from Chris Quinn, vice president of content of the Northeast Ohio Media Group, demanding the removal of the clip from the blog, accusing it of " illegal use" that "entitles us to statutory damages,  which can be quite steep".  In other words, criminal copyright infringement.

I saw a few stray (?) clips that found their way to  Cleveland TV telling me that Kasich was not taking the interview with aplomb.  With FitzGerald trying to say something, the governor turned his head  away and laughed.

(His dodge-em campaign  mode recalls the TV commercial in which a car makes crazy   turns while a squib warns the viewer that it is  a " professional driver on a closed course. Do not attempt".)

Plunderbund said the governor "slumped in his chair, refused to acknowledge the other candidates and ignored repeated attempts by the PD staff to answer even basic questions about his policies and programs."

That insufferable imperious attitude  convinced me that  he should satisfy his ego  and run for president, as he did once before.  Unshielded by the friendly Ohio media, he would find a much different reaction (and distraction) from a national media that would soon become impatient with his bullying style  and short temper.

So guv, as you have said, this is halftime in the governor's office so go for the big one in
Washington.  That would be painful to watch.  But we're getting used to painful politics in Ohio.

GOP's new class of "i'm-nots..."

Re-posted from Plunderbund

Republican strategists  reportedly are ecstatic over their new fail-safe response to critics of the party's climate-change deniers.  Their candidates have now resorted to "I'm not a scientist" to shrug off  questions about their dismissal of environmental issues.

  We can now look for the same pattern of self-denials on other issues as their gang backs away from such  delicate matters as ebola.  Chris Christie, who is coming to Ohio to campaign for his buddy John Kasich as the comic relief,   is already dodging a flap over quarantining ebola victims.   "I''m not a doctor," he booms.  Atty Gen Mike DeWine  might choose "I'm not a gynecologist" to reject his pro-life defense.

Any day now, we expect Secretary of State Jon Husted to defend his voting restrictions that effectively  reduce  the number of minority voters with  "I'm not a mathematician."
Neither is the governor,  despite his Wall  Street references to "metrics" to define his positions.    But you can bet that he is already counting the days until he can leap into the national presidential wars.

Do you think the  seeds were planted when Richard Nixon faced the TV cameras and pleaded, , "I am not a crook"?

Saturday, October 25, 2014

To the BJ: What's that you say about DeVitis?

When the Beacon Journal endorsed Republican Anthony DeVitis over Paula  Prentice, his Democratic opponent for the 36th Ohio House District, it conceded that it agreed more often with Prentice on policies.  But it turned to DeVitis anyway because it believed he was a moderate who could have an influence on  the conservative (or Hoofbeat Republicans  - my word) in the House.

The paper ignored his loyal support of his side of the aisle on key issues in its erroneous vision of him as a potential game changer.  Folks,  it's only a two-hour trip down I-77 from downtown Akron to the spooky legislative chambers in Columbus, but still long enough for an Akron-area Republican to change political style and tone from a local editorial board interview upon his arrival among his political caretakers.

As a reporter who once  hung out with the pols  before and long after legislative business, I saw it happen more than once.

That brings me to Friday's follow-up editorial from the BJ tower that sounded more like regret from a teachable moment than considered re-approval, of the endorsee. Clearly, the paper's voice rose to a shout in condemning the ugly TV commercials   -  bought and paid for  lies, really - under the headline: DeVitis and pals, again.

A couple of points raised by the editorial: A commercial acidly accuses Prentice, a Summit County councilwoman, of not filing campaign contributions.  But the paper noted:  "Technically she did not fail to report contributions because she didn't receive any - none."

Or how about this whopper from a mailer by the Ohio Republican Party, which the paper said "grossly" inflated DeVitis' "record of pulling Ohio's economy out of a hole, quite a feat for a guy in his first full term".

Oh, did I mention  that the Devitis, temporarily the moderate, says he doesn't condone negative campaigning, but silently accepts the benefits? "Tarnished his image", the BJ concludes.

Not quite a conclusion, I'd say.   When a paper can post a political rap sheet like this one, the next logical  step would be to withdraw its endorsement. Other disillusioned  papers have been known over the years to do so.

Scroll down in the  redemptive teachable moment. You should find it somewhere.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

When these pols prove to be dumb and dumber

The following squawk probably won't go down well with some of my Republican acquaintances but, by golly,  I know my First Amendment rights! So you can quote me as saying that ...

Many Republican politicians are either  intellectually corrupt - or dumb. Or maybe even both.  

Two late entries for your consideration arrive from GOPers with homes on the range.

Of particularly density is Rep. Jason Chaffetz, of Utah.  He  raised hell because President Obama didn't, as he put it, choose the surgeon general to serve as ebola czar instead of Ron Klain, who had gained respect in managing the stimulas.  Pure hackery, Republicans declared.  But David Gergen, a Republican analyst, described him as "strong and very tough".

In his meltdown, Chaffetz overlooked an undeniable fact.  There is no surgeon general.   Republicans have blocked Obama's nominee, Dr. Vivek Murthy, since February because the NRA objected to Murthy's support of  expanding background checks.   Hey, Jason.  Pay attention.

The other late entry is Republican Sen. John Barrasso, of Wyoming, who assailed Obama for discussing  ebola with the World Health Organization and not doing enough on our own  to protect Americans from the virus. Are you aware that Ebola is solely an American calamity that spares the rest of the planet?

Yep.  Intellectually corrupt and ignorant. Or both.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The inexpert ebola experts take over

Were you surprised to learn that  there were so many ebola experts living in our midst?
 Hardly a moment passed that one or more of them weren't hustled to a TV camera to tell us that everybody was badly out of step in responding to the plague; everybody, that is, except the one doing the scolding.   Even George Will, the forever ponderous pundit, scolded the medical professionals who assured us that the virus was not transmitted by air.  With his usual sober profundity of a cleric performing last rites,  Will asserted they were all wrong, that you can indeed breathe ebola killers. So there!

 There were long discussions by the same newly minted experts of whether a travel ban would relieve the perils.  That's how I was again reminded that I'm not an expert - on travel bans, breathing or a lot of other things that go bump morning and night  these days.   But we  live at a time when expertise is cheap,  when TV beams it into your living room because that's what  it does to stay current, amid the heavy traffic of auto commercials.  A  New York Times article described the free-for-all as, "wild misinformation, political opportunism and  garden variety panic".

I would also add that it represented flock strife among the peacocks.  For all of the give- and-take, some of it not amounting to much more than loose talk,  nobody really knew for sure what the hell was going on - and you don't  have to be an expert to suggest that they still don't.


  .   .  

Monday, October 20, 2014

Mandel playing pattycake with Tea Party founder

How do you define political desperation?  .  Well, with Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel, it's warding off evil spirits with a  homophobic Tea Party guy who believes same-sex marriage will produce wedding cakes  adorned with  phallic symbols and genitalia.

From Joseph at Plunderbund comes  notice that Mandel will be joined at rallies across the state with Tea Party Nation Founder Judson Phillips on Thursday. .
It was Phillips, Joseph writes, who warned all of us  that 'small business owners would be  required to create a cake for a homosexual wedding that has a giant phallic symbol on it'  or to 'create pastries for a homosexual wedding in the shape of genitallia [sic].'"

Good grief!  Penis cakes?  Are there no limits  on  how Republican candidates like Mandel are trying to screw the public?

Sunday, October 19, 2014

What's with all of the missing nicknames?

In a fit of nostalgia I googled my childhood hometown weekly, the Mt. Pleasant (Pa.) Journal,  for reassurance that it has survived the world's catastrophic problems, not to mention the Pittsburgh Steelers.  It's now in its 141st year  as the paper of record for the townsfolk who were dutifully reported in its chatty columns to have "traveled over hard-surfaced roads" to visit friends,  or of  families whose kids were off to college.  The paper had a calming spirit about it upon its arrival at our house, reporting all that was not libelous, prurient  or seriously divisive in the town that  bordered the Standard Shaft coal mines within walking distance of our back door.

But the mines are down now and other changes have taken over, including the replacement of the  high school football team's nickname of Bobcats with Vikings.  The team, we learned, must be a powerhouse, having most recently destroyed Charleroi 71-14.  But more interesting to  this visiting reader were the names of some of the players.   Shockingly to me,  their first names were Trevor, Josh,  Brian and Aaron.

A long time ago, those  would have sounded quite bizarre.  The boys were best known, for starters,   as Peck,  Cheesie, Bib, Hicker, Toomek, Kushbug,  Fuszju, Scroogie,  Peeny, Scratchy, Isher,  Ziggy and, brutally, Shakey.  Some of my contemporaries mockingly  referred to me as Boozite in homage to a  disheveled geeezer  who sat on his stoop and glared at us  as we passed his way edto school.

That said, I've always wondered why none of the girls had nicknames. They remained Mary, and Evelyn, and Peggy and Thelma from sunup to bedtime.  A couple of the girls who were kicked out of summer camp for misbehaving after hours  soon earned names that you couldn't repeat in front of your mother.

As for Boozite, I never complained.  Most of the other kids were bigger than I, and the nickname was sort of a rite of safe passage to their club.


Friday, October 17, 2014

From Kasich's Wackadoodles to National League pennant

We're confident that you've  heard by now that the San Francisco Giants  won the National League pennant with one of those walkoff things -  a 9th inning  home run on Friday after a walkoff error a game before.

If you don't understand the joys and heartbreaks of walkoffs, it's not the purpose of this blog to explain them.  Rather, I'm also confident that many of you learned in grade school that San Francisco  is in California.  That's the West Coast state that our Gov. Kasich, in one of his trademark moments of hubris, knocked  as the  "wackadoodle Californians".

If so, shouldn't the Cleveland Indians spend more time wackadoodling instead of hopelessly trying to upgrade their  players into better fielders, Guv?