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.




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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.








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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?

Thursday, October 16, 2014

The PD's home run for Nina Turner over Husted


Re-Posted from Plunderbund


Even in these shrinking days before the November election there are still a few surprises left in the media world.  I refer to the Plain Dealer's full-page endorsement of
Democrat Nina Turner over her Republican opponent, Secretary of
State Jon Husted.   The paper's statement was more than an act of altruism for a hometown candidate, although her residency in Cuyahoga County couldn't hurt.

No, Turner is an aggressive, extremely savvy  state senator - the kind of spirited person you would  want to have on your side in any confrontation with the enemy.  In a state buttoned down by a Republican dynasty, she represents a healthy start toward the political equilibrium that the state so desperately needs.

The issue that the PD recognized but eludes the Beacon Journal's editorial page  is what I've called the Husted Hustle for his tactics of talking one game plan while executing another.   For too long he's been a leader in stirring the GOP witch's brew with a Boy Scout's honor to make voting easier and eliminate (non-existent) cheating.  Amazing how many of Husted's media cheerleaders have bought into that notion at the expense of their own credibility.

But the PD knows something about the demographics of  Cuyahoga County, whose population is nearly one-third African American. It is obviously aware that Husted's mythical protection of every voter's rights  is at the expense of the minorities. Two federal courts have ruled his scheme unconstitutional despite the Ivory Towers who were inexplicably offended by their decisions.

As the PD asserted:

"Husted, 47, strongly defends his decision on early, in-person voting as stemming from a 'bipartisan' consensus  of the state's election professionals.  But the state's chief election officer must protect all Ohioans'  voting rights and not narrow those rights unequally.  Under Husted, those rights have frayed,   including through his directives to restrict hours and days for early in-person voting an to deny local boards the right to set their own hours."

By now Cleveland has had plenty  of experience with the wreckage of past elections, from the purchase by elections officials of voting machines that didn't work, to tabulating  errors to the general torture  of citizens trying to vote.   This time it wants  to begin  with a clean slate in Columbus and not an illusionist.  Hometowner Turner's spirited attention to the system's inglorious flaws as proposed by Husted was convincing.

Come to think of it, maybe the PD's choice  wasn't surprising after all.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Must read: Dyer's sizzling series on Angley

Shall we all raise a glass to Beacon Journal reporter Bob Dyer for his  sizzling X-rated series exposing Ernest Angley, the cultist tactile preacher with a fascination for hands-on   (HEAL! for God's sake)  salvation, leeches and the size of...um...penises.?

Angley,  slicked coal-black wig  and all,  has been  the mega-star attraction for 20 years at Grace Cathedral, the huge saucer shaped man-made  hillock  in Cuyahoga Falls with an unfinished  tower that was to serve as the modern version of Jacob's ladder topped with a restaurant.

What is it  about televangelists who claim to render unto God what is God's and to  themselves what is royally theirs?  Several teleministries, as enriched as they were, have seen their leaders dismissed in sex-related scandals.  Jimmy Swaggert comes to mind.  And there was Jim Bakker, whose significant other ended up in full unclothed view of Playboy scanners.  There have been others of more recent vintage.

Bakker is a narrative worthy of a how-to manual.    He recently returned to public scrutiny for his venture in "End of the World Biscuits" - and please don't think I'm kidding.   He is asking TV viewers to prepare  themselves for  the Apocalypse  by laying in survival kits that include  heavy clothing for sunless days.

Maybe he and Angley  can crack a deal that would sell the critical end-of-days foodstuffs at the top of that tower. With this preacher, as Bob Dyer has forcefully reminded us,   anything is possible.






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Monday, October 13, 2014

Ohio newspapers launch their creative endorsements


re-posted from Plunderbund



It's been a dreary election season, folks.  No  debates that invited the public to see the contestants going at it eye-to-eye. No gubernatorial contest.   Gov. Kasich shoveling soil in his confident high definition mode as though he were needlessly digging up more campaign cash.   The  media  in Cleveland, Akron and Columbus tacking, as always,  to Republican candidates.  Inventive endorsements that  pardon their choices for glaring flaws.  Not a good election season all around.

A prime exhibit  was the odd word salad in which  the Beacon Journal endorsed  Republican Ohio House member Anthony DeVitis over his Democratic opponent, Paula Prentice, a  veteran Summit County Council member.

The paper opined that although the "editorial page agrees more often on policy matters"  with Prentice,  it  believed that DeVitis was a moderate (which he isn't) who might be able to influence the nutty Republican hoof-beaters in the legislature on key issues.  Fat chance.  The R's are mired so deeply under water that one could not reach them in a bathysphere. You'd think that people who write editorials would know that by now.

Then there is the bewitching  stuff  that both the Beacon Journal and Plain Dealer conjured up to make nice for Atty. Gen. Mike DeWine, a deeply entrenched social conservative on all counts.  Not that they agree with him on such matters as  women's issues, same-sex marriage, abortion, charter schools and such.  Nor spending taxpayer money charging off to other states to join those who share his gospel.

I've written several times that when you think of Mike DeWine, you think of his version of warm and fuzzy goodness. But it does work in editorial offices and on the stump even when he's scandalizing the idea of the Affordable Care Act with promises to get rid of it.

The disconnect between the attorney general's active policies and the papers' own year-round gospel  does make the friendly editorialists  uncomfortable and forces them to concede that Mike is a million-dollar pay-to-play artist.  A recent example is the word that he replaced a veteran debt collection agency with one that literally  walked into his office with the seal of approval of Summit County GOP boss Alex Arshinkoff, a former DeWine payroller,  and walked out with a lucrative contract.

And what did the  BJ say  about Mike's widely reported cookie jar  schemes?

 "No question, DeWine has stumbled at times," the editorial noted.  "He talked about a system for bringing transparency and accountability to awarding contracts, only to find himself struggling to explain a local episode that carried the odor of pay to  play."

Odor?  That alone would have qualified DeWine's Democratic   opponent, David Pepper,whom the paper credited with running a "pointed, vigorous and worthy [!]  campaign.

 The PD pattered over the same problem

These papers have a lot of transparency after  they sit down to make endorsements.   You have to have  quite a problem  as a Republican to lose their support.  Sadly, creative writing is one of their few remaining claims to relevance.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

With Kasich, tax cuts, real or imagined, never end

Re-posted from Plunderbund




When somebody mentions that John Kasich wants to cut the income tax rate, let's try to remember  that a more forthright governor, Democrat Jack Gilligan, daringly laid a new income tax at the wallet of every  Ohio voter.

"If you don't want an income tax," Gilligan warned during his  1970 campaign, "vote for the other guy."  He won anyway, defeating Roger Cloud,  and forcefully promoted the 1971 measure that earned him the title of "Father of the Ohio Income Tax".  The voters upheld the tax in a 1972 referendum, proving there are things that concern them  more than Republican guff about the evil of taxes. (Even when Republicans  get their way, it has been repeatedly shown that the benefits of such cuts generously trickle up and not down  to the so-called "hard-working" breadwinners.

Gilligan was a man of cool college-classroom-honed intelligence, refreshing honesty, Irish wit  and commitment to civilized governance for the people and probably overqualified to be the head of state.

Indeed his  disregard for political caution led to his defeat by No-Tax Jim Rhodes by 11,000 votes in 1974 while some of his advisors were busily  trying to offer him for a Democratic presidential nomination in 1976! (A few days before his loss in Ohio, his chief of staff sat in a hotel booth in Cleveland and showed me a carefully guarded roadmap to storm the 1974 Democratic mini-convention.)

It became an oft-repeated gag among statehouse reporters that although Rhodes had exploited his anti-tax scheme, he went to bed each night thanking Gilligan for the revenue and did nothing as governor to eliminate the tax.   No dummy,  Rhodes knew well enough that he needed the revenue to run his own shop.

For Kasich, his anti-tax charms, carefully framed for the election season, will be a subject of news stories and speculation on whether an income tax cut would be just what the doctor ordered as Ohio limps  its way behind many other  states from the dreadful GOP recession years.

It's the usual GOP fantasy that will pass after election day when lame-duck Kasich's thoughts will turn to a spot on the national ticket as a spectacular fund-raiser that his wealthy friends have anted up to $15 million.

On that score, I can only wonder - but not for long - how that much money arrived in his pot for a campaign that has seen his opponent declassified.   What could they possibly want in return from Kasich that cost them so much?

The Shadow knows.  And so does everyone else paying the slightest attention.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Anything for a laugh? Kasich loves labor unions

Need a laugh?  Try this gag from the governor:

  • When John Kasich accepted the endorsement of a Cleveland operating Engineers Local amid heavy construction equipment,  he wanted everybody to know that he was quite appreciative of its support.  Meeting  with the union leaders , the Blue Collar Kid from Western Pennsylvania  sustained that image with casual open collar and both hands in pockets as he humbly said that labor unions are deeply implanted in his DNA. Since his childhood, he said.  Coming from a guy who supported the failed union restrictive  Senate Bill 5, his memory is growing shorter each day.   He said he wasn't surprised by the endorsement because results are more important than labels. Are you laughing yet?  

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Re DeWine: Shall we not pass the collection plate?

Re-posted from Plunderbund


When I am trying to absorb a monotonal speech by Ohio Atty. Gen.  Mike DeWine why do I feel I should  be sitting in a pew?  As I've noted in the past, DeWine comes across as bottled goodness. He's the people's lawyer, the righteous guy to defend the law, the go-to family man to protect all that is wholesome in American life.  Still,  Biblical scholars will tell you that there is nothing specific in the Book about modern pay-to-play.

There is nothing in his words to lead you to believe that this 67-year-old  social conservative is  the same wheeler-dealer who handed out a lucrative contract for debt collection to a close friend and contributor of   the Summit County Republican Party chairman who once worked for him. The contrast in his public profile is stunning.

So there he was at  the podium as a Akron Press Club/Bliss speaker explaining why he is sworn to uphold the sanctity of traditional marriage, his refusal to debate his opponent,  Democrat David Pepper,  and his objection to Federal court rulings that declared Ohio's newly minted voter restrictions  unconstitutional.

About the debt collection contract:  He's asking prospective clients to sign a written form. Problem solved.

About the voting system  placed in abeyance by the U.S. Supreme Court:  He doesn't think the law is unconstitutional.  Problem solved.

About same-sex marriage: Ohio law bans it, regardless of the court decisions, and he dutifuilly must support it.  That says nothng about the taxpayers' money his office has spent skipping around the country filing amicus  briefs to uphold of such bans in their states.  Look, his opposition to gay marriage is in his genes, not the law.

About his refusal to debate:  "My  opponent is not qualified to be attorney general."  The cheapest of shots.    Pepper is a Yale law school graduate with a string of student honors - Phi Beta Kappa, Summa Cum Laude, managing editor of Yale Daily News, etc. etc. etc. (Should I also mention that when DeWine was in the Senate he could not practice law for 10 year because his license was inactive?)

More on the non-debates:  DeWine argued that he's already crossed paths in an unofficial "debate" with Pepper in a room interacting with Gannett Ohio editors.  In contrast, Sen. Sherrod Brown, then a congressman, debated then Sen.DeWine four times and creamed him by winning a 56 pct. majority vote as a liberal Democrat.

As a personal note, if I may:  I once interviewed DeWine for a half-hour TV program.    It was painful.  People who watched it said he froze on me.   And I didn't even  try to debate him!