Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Either way, LeBron's decision won't be slam-dunk for city

WE WILL ALL know LeBron James' momentous decision soon enough after weeks of speculation, rumors and, quite frankly at times, gasping nonsense. Certainly his presence in Cleveland is of some temporary economic benefit to the city; how much, who really knows?. Still, a larger question for the once-great city: Is the live-or-die economic future of Cleveland now fully dependent on a decision by a young super-star athlete? Some of the hand-wringing would have you believe that. If true, even if LeBron decides to stay - and I hope he does - the city will still have a long way to go to balance its books and regain its stature as a thriving city. Whatever happens, LeBron will be nothing more than a bit player in resolving the city's entrenched social, economic and political problems that won't respond to a slam-dunk.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Thurgood Marshall on trial by Senate overdogs

FOR A BRIEF MOMENT, may we consider the work of those overdogs on the Senate Judiciary Committee who are looking for various desperate ways to embarrass Elena Kagan? Overdogs? Well, what other antonym is there for committee member Sen. Jon Kyl, the Republican whip from Arizona, who linked Kagan to former Justice Thurgood Marshall's sympathy for "underdogs".

I had fully expected the confirmation hearings to be another fruitless witch hunt - but the minority overdogs have actually turned it into a warlock hunt. They have not hesitated to attack Marshall, the nation's first African-American justice, as a "well-known liberal activist judge", to quote Alabama's Sen. Jeff Sessions, who is always around to add southern-style scholarly charm for any debate.

Kyl, an ascendent masculine overdog, complained that Kagan was much too friendly to underdogs because she was a disciple of Marshall, complaining that she "wrote a tribute to Justice Marshall in which she said in his view it was the role of the courts and interpreting the Constitution to protect the people who went unprotected by every other organ of government".

Marshall, a civil rights icon, died more than 17 years ago but there are some things that overdogs, like their symbolic elephants, are inclined never to forget.

Monday, June 28, 2010

A new study from Down Under : Grumpiness is good!

IT WAS WITH a fleeting smirk that I read an article sent to me by a former newspaper colleague which, I assume, was in good faith. In a scant four-word headline, the article declared:
"Grumpy People Work Best"

Before the twitters and snickers begin, I should tell you that the report has a smidgeon of authority behind it, inasmuch as it tells of a new study by Australian psychology professor, Joe Forgas, described as a "behavioral expert" at the University of New South Wales in Sydney. If it didn't require a long-distance overseas call, I would let him know personally that I fully agree with his assessment of grumps.
There's more. According to the writer, Lisa Johnson Mandell, the study reveals that "grumpy people think more clearly, are better at decision-making and are less gullible."
On the other hand, the report did not offer much cheer for cheerful people. Mandell says Forgas' breakthrough for long-maligned grumps could also "explain why the most cheerful and optimistic among us sometimes appear air-headed, unrealistic and naive. Their penchant for 'putting on a happy face' might be hindering their ability to do more clear, concise and objective work, according to Forgas research." (I won't mention her name, but there was a lot of that in the last presidential campaign! Unfortunately, there still is.)

So, yes, I am happy to learn that we grumps of the world have positive behavioral ability . Unsurprisingly, it was my only grin of the day. Herrumph!!!!!...

Do you suggest that they only eat cake, George?

SEN. GEORGE VOINOVICH, who will be retiring this year with handsome federal and state pensions, was among the back-40 Republican senators who voted against extending unemployment benefits. That will leave more than 180,000 Ohioans without income. Tee-hee. While there will be defenders of his action in these times of budgetary stress, the problem that he and his colleagues continue to avoid is obvious: What does he recommend as immediate options to help these folks survive? I might suggest that without a clear remedy, he might declare as a symbolic gesture for his less fortunate Ohioans that he give up some of his own tax-supported perks in his soon-to-be comfortable retirement.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Bobby Jindal: Do as I rant, not as I do

SO THERE WAS Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal , his arms outstretched in a cruciform moment, on the front page of Saturday's New York Times. The governor is again letting it be known that he doesn't think much of the feds' response to the oil spill. He says so every day , perhaps with a lingering memory of how he flopped in a TV response to President Obama in what seems like eons ago. If so, it's a quirky way of rehabbing your political image outside of Louisiana when a lot of folks doubtless remember walking away from the TV set from his unwashed voyage into la-la politics.

Problem is, he seems to have nobody to blame except his own hyperventilating response to the spill. As CBS news has pointed out, Jindal asked for federal (ich!) help and received word from the Oval Office that the state would receive a helluva lot of support paid by BP. He was authorized to deploy 6,000 National Guardsmen two months ago. So far, he's only come through with 1,053 of the 6,000 available.

The Republican governors in Alabama, Florida and Mississippi are doing even worse. There's a certain amount of speculation in those states that the sight of guardsmen on the beaches and elsewhere would scare off tourists. Alas, it used to be only worrisome hurricanes and alligators.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Three is not a crowd in Tim Ryan's Youngstown district

IT DIDN'T TAKE the gay-bashers more than a second or two to befoul the internet with their ugliest comments after Mahoning County Democratic Chairman David Betras announced that Rep. Barney Frank will be the keynote speaker at a party fundraiser in mid-August. Homophobia and racism will always be with us and a blog's "open mike" is only a modern convenience for the haters who used to spend more of their time scribbling on bathroom walls. .
Meantime, Betras, who impresses you as an unflinching free spirit, says he couldn't care less about what the off-the-page critics are saying about his choice. It is a sort of Youngstown gift of self-styled political immunity that has been around for a long time.

"This is big for the Mahoning Valley," Betras told the Youngstown Vindicator. "Anytime I can get powerful people to the Valley, I'll do it. We'll have him in a room with Valley people to discuss our issues and concerns. It can only help the area having him here," Frank says of the visit by Frank (Clue: Frank, a Democrat, is chairman of the House Financial services Committee, through whom many blessings can flow.)

There's also a congressional campaign going on in Betras' 17th district involving Tim Ryan, the popular Democratic congressman , and a once-widely popular ex-congressman, Jim Traficant, the 69-year-old convicted felon who completed a seven- year prison term ( bribery and corruption) in time to file as an independent candidate. There's also a Republican candidate, Jim Graham, a Cortland pharmacist, that Betras refuses to discuss, saying only: "I don't like Republicans!"

Need I mention that it is a heavily Democratic district? Betras and some other observers believe Ryan is heading for victory, but concede that Traficant still maintains a die-hard corps or loyalists. And there may be complications. David Skolnick, the Vindicator's political writer, says that although Traficant hasn't been on the ballot for eight years , "he certainly has his followers" but hasn't made anypersonal appearances in the District lately.

There may be a name ID for Graham, Skolnick says, that could have confusion value. Graham's cousin, also named Jim Graham, is the UAW president in the district who is supporting Ryan.

Over at Youngstown State University political science Prof . Keith Lepak enthusiastically says he's a great fan of Traficant and would easily vote for him - but can't. "I live in Sharon, Pennsylvania," he says.

Traficant, Lepak says, is an "archetypical representative of the district. He's fantastic!" Lepak says he admires Traficant's "great political skills" and his ability to shake things up. On the other hand, Lepak describes Ryan as a "nice young man but a stuffed shirt."

Even if that were true - and I haven't found it so in my few meetings with Ryan - I don't think it will cost him the election against a convicted felon running on nothing more than nostalgia for his good old days and a what's-his-name Republican - even for the Youngstown district where there are occasionally a few surprises.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Whirlpool: Sorry Indiana, we're off to Mexico

WHILE ARIZONA IS engaged in a zealous full-court press against illegal Mexican immigrants, Whirlpool will close its refrigerator plant in Evansville, Ind., tomorrow (Friday) and move the operation to a new plant in....Mexico. Meantime, the move will cost 1,100 Whirpool workers their jobs in Evansville, where the plant had been operating since 1956. The company said it was " uncompetitive from a cost standpoint." Critics of the move have pointed out that Whirlpool had received $19.3 million in stimulus money to strengthen its, eh... resources. A thought: If enough U.S. companies follow Whirlpool to Mexico, will we have found a solution to the immigration problem, if not the U.S. unemployment problem?

Bonehead-of-the week is Rob Nichols, GOP gubernatorial candidate John Kasich's press secretary, Rob Nichols, who said this of Gov. Strickland in a press release:
"Not until Ted Strickland feared needing their votes did he give urban Ohioans a second thought. Having grown up in a chicken shack on Duck Run, he has all but ignored our cities economies and their workers."
Yes, the governor did spend some of his childhood living in a chicken coop because of family poverty. But even though Nichols' perspective is the view from Wall Street via Kasich, he's still worth a Grumpy Abe Linguistic Lunacy (GALL) Award. Or should it have gone to Kasich, himself, who said he was "not part of the chorus" in northern Ohio who wants James to stay in Cleveland.

A WEEK TO GO and LeBron is keeping the sports media and fandom on edge about his plans. Heavens. (I think he should remain here.) The tension seems to be increasing as free agency day nears. What will the hitherto mentioned sports media do for news in July other than another Browns training camp filled with optimism? Back to LeBron: It's like the countdown moments when the Russian ships were heading to Cuba against President Kennedy's blockade. Will the story end happily? Or will the Cavaliers be doomed?

President Obama appears to have gained a few points (some grudgingly) as a man of action in firing Gen. McCrystal, following in the footsteps of Lincoln (Gen. McClellan) and Truman (Gen. MacArthur). The same can't be said about Congress, where Republicans and half-hearted Democrats have yet to find a substantive issue that they can't butcher to death. And these guys and gals are paid well to be dysfunctional, including plenty of cash from lobbyists.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Walter Shapiro: Where have all of the reporters gone?

NATIONAL POLITICAL writer Walter Shapiro recently added another gloomy chapter to the fading world of newspapers and it tells of local reporters who are no longer there. Shapiro, who has covered eight presidential campaigns, found himself in Hartsville, S. Car., a town 70 miles northeast of the state capital of Columbia a few days after a wild GOP gubernatorial primary that led to a runoff election. It was won by Nikki Haley, an Indian-American woman that one Republican state legislator had brutishly called a "raghead". She would be there, along with 100 or so Tea Partyers and some national media.

What's wrong with this picture with strong post-election elements? Well, there were notable absentees, Shapiro observed. Not a single South Carolina newspaper, wire service, TV or radio reporter showed up.
"What we are witnessing in this election cycle," he wrote, " is the slow death of traditional statewide campaign journalism. I noticed the same pattern (and the same nearly reporter-free campaign trail) in Kentucky last month as I covered libertarian Rand Paul's decisive defeat of the state Republican establishment in the GOP Senate primary. Aside from an occasional AP reporter, virtually the only print journalists whom I encountered a campaign events were my national press-pack colleagues from the NewYork Times, the Washington Post, Politico and the Atlantic Monthly."
The reason for the disappearing act? Shapiro reports the sad numbers in staff size:
"Newspapers like the Louisiville Courier-Journal and The State, South Carolina's largest paper, have dramatically de-emphasized in-depth candidate coverage because they are too short-handed to spare reporters. A survey by the American Society of Newspaper Editors (ASNE) found that newsroom staffs across the country have declined by 25 percent since 2001."
I would add that in some newsrooms, it's a lot worse than that

The newspaper-bashers, including politicians whose oxen were being gored, would find nothing troubling about a digest version of a newspaper - or nothing at all - arriving at their doorstep every day.

But the cutback in political coverage is creating a serious vacuum on the home front in accountability for local and state politicians. Neither the New York Times nor office-bound Rush Limbaugh covers your suburbs. In these spots, the pols have a free hand in most instances short of mayhem. This is not to suggest that all small- town officials are on the take. Not at all. But even in non-criminal matters, attention by the local newspaper can keep everyone on the alert that there may be a more effective way of governing than what you might find in self-congratulatory press releases.

Unfortunately, the decline is beyond the point of no return. In another decade or so - maybe sooner - a lively aggressive local media will be part of the folklore like Hildy Johnson and The Front Page.

Monday, June 21, 2010

BP: UA's $500,000 partner

THE SPRING ISSUE (now that it's summer!) of AKRON, the University of Akron's alumni magazine, has a piece lauding "energy industry giant BP" for its $500,000 grant to the school's college of engineering for a corrosion engineering program. Awful timing, I'd say, for the announcement by UA, the magazine and, of course, the giant. According to the article, the gift is from BP Exploration's Inherently Reliable Facilities (IRF) Flagship Technology Program. (Emphasis mine.)

UA President Luis Proenza says he's proud of partnering with industry to create the materials of the future..."

And Simon Webster, vice president for BP's IRF program says, "As BP's operations move into more severe environments - deeper reservoirs, higher pressures, higher temperatures, higher fluid velocities - it needs materials and corrosion technologies to perform in these increasingly harsh environments."

That inherently explains everything.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Tony Hayward, yachtsman and company PR headache


Tony Hayward took off for a day with his yacht
He said it was an escape that he needed a lot.
As the BP oil was spreading
Up our coast it was heading
He blithely shrugged, "What hath God wrought?"

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Hot in Cleveland: Well beyond belief

TV VIEWERS IN Northeast Ohio had something to talk about today that doesn't involve LeBron James's current sphinx-like role in the destiny of the Cavaliers. It's the new sitcom "Hot in Cleveland", a fetching title for a city that is seldom very hot, but in this instance produced three not-very-interesting over-50 flustered women, a late-octogenarian (Betty White) and a number of on-site references to convince you that it was an authentic stage for the hyperventilating comedy.

I watched it from sheer exhaustion of sitting through several innings of another Indians loss. The writers obviously felt that with Cleveland in the title - a gushing source for late-night comedians - viewers would be lured with the expectation of, say. White out-jumping LeBron for a rebound. It wasn't to be. Instead we are asked from the outset that we suspend our disbelief that the three Los Angelenos - Wendie Malick, Jane Leeves and Valerie Bertinelli - were deposited in Cleveland when their plane made an emergency landing.

After visiting a generic bar, where the women found the commoners cool, they immediately rented an apartment, thus assuring that they would be around for awhile for later episodes! Apart from a few good one-liners (White's references to whores), the whole idea rested on sight gags, shattered egos and fascination with how much Clevelanders (the normal people) eat without calorie-guilt.

The new TV Land's show suggested to me that the originators should have spent a little more time in the city to find the real source of humor. (As an added attraction to seduce the viewer, Leeves strutted around in a short skirt revealing her perfect legs. But she could have done that in a show about Chicago or Dallas. )

The show may get better. But if it does, I'll have to read about it.

Alex Arshinkoff, chairman in perpetuity

NOW THAT the Summit County Republican Party's inner circle has again elected Alex Arshinkoff as chairman in perpetuity, isn't it time to concede that his opponents represent a powerless faction that will remain that way until it finds a leader who will do more than simply dream about kicking him out? The party grows older with a shrinking number (10 pct.?) of registered voters, few elected officials outside of the judiciary and , according to Arshinkoff's own accounts, an increasingly hard time balancing its books. Although his critics have shed an ocean of tears over the state of the party, they have shown once again that they are so politically inept that they couldn't even field a candidate to oppose him this time. So from now on, any talk of deposing him is a non-story. Fact is, there's nobody else around who wants the job.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Beck rants against evils of World Cup

IT MUST HAVE BEEN a slow news week for Glenn Beck, the Fox court jester. He has now ranted against the World Cup. Beck, who has made Professor Backward seem lucid in contrast, is telling his eager fans that soccer is evil, that it has been "jammed down the throats" of unsuspecting Americans by international conspirators who don't have our honorable best interests at heart. Here's his spin:"
"It doesn't matter how you sell it to us. It doesn't matter how many celebrities you get. It doesn't matter how many bars open early (He could probably name some.) . It doesn't matter how many beer commercials they run. We don't want the World Cup. We don't like the World Cup. We don't like soccer. We want nothing to do with it..."
There are two problems with Beck's babble. (1)As Media Matters points out, 120 million Americans "did enjoy" the World Cup on TV in 2006. (2)His company has its own soccer outlet: Fox Soccer Channel. I'll leave it at that and simply give him a Grumpy Abe Linguistic Lunacy (GALL) Award.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Unraging Obama: No straw to fix the oil leak

NOW THAT President Obama's "rage index" has become issue in the national media, I have taken some time from my yard work to find out what I've been missing. With the BP oil spill, the Afghanistan war, the Israeli blockade, staggering economy and the latest comments on Barbara Boxer's hairstyle, it's understandable that the DC reporters and pundits would be forced to look elsewhere for some meatier news. Voila! Is the president raging enough? Well, whether he is or isn't, I doubt that if he would have kicked over a few flower pots on the first day of the spill that we would be any farther ahead in solving what is now the country's greatest environmental disaster.

Were the pundits really counting on a furious meltdown like a deranged King Lear in the Oval Office demanding that thunder "strike flat the thick rotundity of the world!"? Naw. Even if you are talking about obesity, which a lot of people are doing these days, no editor would allow "rotundity" to appear in a modern newspaper. And what about a reenactment of Rigoletto's explosive anger upon realizing that his daughter had been murdered , believing that she was the victim of a curse .(Actually, I believe it was a stiletto that did her in. ) "Ah, la maledizione", he cried out anyway. The curse!

The media, however, did look at Obama's cool disposition as indifference to the mess and the question came up at a recent press conference in which the CBS guy asked press Secretary Robert Gibbs for an estimate of Obama's rage. "Yes, I've seen rage from him," Gibbs replied. But Chip Reid, the TV reporter, persisted. "Can you describe it. Does he yell and scream? What does he do?"

You can see that Reid was not going to take anything less than a description of Obama climbing the walls a la Spider-Man after a lost week end. Over at Fox News, the sole arbiter of good and evil, they aren't taking Obama's rage index lightly, and have gone so far to bleep "ass" in reference to what the president says he has to kick. I don't remember. Did they bleep George Bush when he called the NY Times' Adam Clymer a "Major League asshole" and Cheney added, "Oh, yeah."? And there were no dead pelicans on the beaches, either.

And now Rupert Murdock's Times (of London) is advancing the rage index in a piece by a clearly enraged British columnist, who believes we have been much too harsh on BP.
"Barack Obama," Jonathan Leake sizzled, "has indulged in shameless partisan attacks on a foreign company for the sole purpose of boosting his popularity ahead of crucial elections due to be held in a few months time. The American press, which is notorious for its complete inability to conduct meaningful , impartial research, has gone along with Obama." Right.

There are a lot of things wrong with that thought, including the bit about partisanship, but he's entitled, I guess. But, Jonathan, before you ready the Red Coats for another trip to our chores, you should at least be aware of a real sign of official rage that would suck up some of the loose oil and dump it into the Themes.

Unfortunately, Obama says he personally can't go down into the deep and suck it up with a straw. The president will address the nation tonight on the oil spill and unless he finally agrees to take a straw down to the rig's base, nobody will be satisfied. If it were me, I would invite some of the national media critics to go down there with him.


Saturday, June 12, 2010

Sen. Knotts: The devoutly hateful Christian

South Carolina Republican State Sen . Jake Knotts says he could "care less" after the Lexington County GOP where he lives voted 25-7 to censure him for his reference to President Obama and Nikki Haley, the Republican gubernatorial candidate, as unwelcome "ragheads". (Haley is an Indian-American). Knotts' enmity has been fueled by his expressed Christian values and his belief that Haley is getting a "free ride" from the media, telling a reporter: "have you ever asked her if she believes in Jesus Christ as her lord and savior and that he died on the cross for her sins? Have you ever asked that?" No reason to, Jake. But I do I have a question for him or anyone else: How can a so-called devout Christian be so hateful? Hmmm? Anybody?

Friday, June 11, 2010

Joe Pistone: Tom Ganley's campaign infiltrator


Joe Pistone, a.k.a Donnie Brasco, has been booked - not on criminal charges, for heaven's sake - to arrive in Northern Ohio on July 21 for a major shindig to honor auto dealer Tom Ganley in his quest for the 13th District congressional seat. That's the word from the Ganley camp, who are ecstatic that they can present to the voters a star-quality supporter who likes Ganley. (The recent fund-raising visit by John Boehner doesn't - and shouldn't - count). You may recall a movie that was sort of based on Pistone's life as an FBI undercover operative who infiltrated the New York Mafia for six years and lived to tell about it.

Jeff Longstreth, Ganley's campaign manager, has no further details at this time for the visit. He also says that's the extent of their plans for possible others, although more will be forthcoming. Ganley, who will be 68 this year, wants to reinforce his image as a tough law-and-order guy, and believes FBI has an accommodating sound to it in his bid to defeat Rep. Betty Sutton, the Democrat.

For the moment the Ganley campaign has been relying on TV ads to soak up some of the millions that are being set aside. But Longstreth dismisses questions that his boss will spend $6 million - the figure tossed around when Ganley, a severe conservative, was a senate candidate. But Sutton is already taking advantage of Ganley's campaign wealth by reminding her supporters to be generous with contributions to at least make a dent in his costly high-maintenance campaign to send him to Washington.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

The latest coiffure spill: Sen. Boxer's hairstyle

IN MY HUMBLE and imperfect effort to keep you up on the deeper issues involved in Political Planet 2010, I have assembled a few post-election tschotschkes for your scrapbook:

Three have become a crowd in the California political races. Carly is put off by Barbara's hairstyle, casually asking, "God, what is that hair?" Carly also thinks it was "bizarre" for Meg to appear on Sean Hannity's program. Carly (Fiorino) is the Republican candidate for the Senate against Barbara (Boxer), the Democrat. Meg (Whitman) is the Republican candidate for governor against a fellow familiarly known as Moonbeam (Jerry Brown), the Democrat. And this is only June.

Meanwhile, back in South Carolina, the fictitious Democratic Party is deservedly embarrassed that a mystery man on the party's ticket won the Senate primary. It was enough to note that Alvin Greene didn't campaign, nor spend any money, and has a felony charge pending against him. House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-SC) stormed that Greene was a "plant" and should be kicked off the ticket. "There were some real shenanigans going in the South Carolina primary," Clyburn said on a radio show. "I don't know if he was a Republican plant; he was someone's plant." Whatever comes of it in a state where shenanigans begin in the beleaguered governor's office, it won't make any difference. Republican Sen. Jim DeMint, who makes so many foolish statements sinply because he is foolish, is expected to win by acclamation.

Up in Connecticut, Joe Lieberman has created a mini-version of What-will-LeBron James-do?by telling the media that he hasn't decided on whether to endorse Republican Linda McMahon, the Midas-rich wrestling promoter whose pastime focussed on blood and gore. Joe, who remains an "independent" in a wiggly construction of the meaning, said he didn't want to consider her life before she retired from the ring six months ago. but will give her strong consideration for the past half-year of her life. Excepting for the tail-wagging media, Joe, nobody cares. (On the other hand, do you think LeBron will stay in Cleveland? Huh?)

Finally, there's Michael Steele, who is stilling hanging around, rushing to the defense of Nevada Republican senate wannabe, Sharron Angle. "I feel good about what Sharron Angle will bring to the Senate," he glows. What she will bring, Mike, are staunch endorsements by the newly minted Tea Party and an outfit called Oath Keepers, whose militant members vow to take up arms against the federal government on matters of their choosing. So now we can include Michael Steele, who has had problems advancing on his learning curve, and the Republican National Committee squarely behind an unapologetic extremist that supports anarchy - a condition that seems to affect the whole of the GOP today. She did, however, get more votes than another candidate who wanted to offer physicians chickens in lieu of cash to revive old-fashioned bartering.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Tuesday's Primaries: Political Planet 2010

THUMBING THROUGH Tuesday's primaries turned up some choice glimpses of the political landscape of 2010.

In California, Meg Whitman, the former eBay chief, spent $61 million - much of it from her own piggy bank - to win the Republican primary for governor. She doubtless will spend much more for the general election against Democrat Jerry Brown. Whitman got 64.1 pct. of the vote, which translates into nearly a million bucks per percentage point. Nice work - if you can find a way to pay for it!

Also from California came the good news that Orly Taitz, who has gained questionable prominence as a leading witch-like voice questioning President Obama's birthplace credentials, was defeated in the GOP primary for secretary of state. She got 26 pct of the vote, which may be evidence that one of four California Republicans believe in witchcraft.

In Nevada, the home of high rollers and quickie marriages, Sharron Angle, won the Republican senatorial primary to challenge Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. Angle is the darling of the Tea Party and a militant outfit called Oath Keepers, who are convinced they they should be armed for battle when the U.S. government starts creating concentration camps for innocent Americans across the land. If it sounds like anarchy is on the march , well... I can only wonder how Sen. John Cornyn, who heads the Republican national senate campaigns will respond to this bit of scary news.

For pure Planet 2010 in American politics, however, nothing can top the Democratic senate primary in South Carolina, a state where strange things seem to happen every day. A fellow named Alvin Greene, an unemployed military veteran with virtually no cash on hand, won the contest although he was relatively unknown. Never mind. State Democratic Party Chairman Carol Fowler offered this meek explanation of how Greene topped former State Sen. Vic Rawl on Tuesday. She supposed that since neither candidate was well known, people voted "alphabetically." I can only conclude that when the word gets out, a lot of people with last names beginning with "A" or "B" will be clogging the ballots. Makes sense to me.

PS: State Rep. Nikki Haley, an Indian-American, won the South Carolina primary for governor to the chagrin of GOP State Sen. Jake Knotts, who described her as a "f--king Raghead". For the sake of the children who might show up at the polls, let's put that in context: What he said was: 'We already have a Raghead in the White House, we don't need another one in the Statehouse." Then came the added F-word description. Knotts did show a little remorse when he was criticized for his ethnic insight. He allowed that he should not have used the F-word.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Rushbo/Elton John!: One for the money

HOW ABOUT that million-dollar fee that Rush Limbaugh reportedly paid Elton John to sing at Rushbo's fourth wedding? Elton John? Who's married to another man? Paid by one of the leading homophobes of our century? The posh nuptials in the Palm Beach Breakers Hotel also served as a family reunion for Rush's well-fed conservative admirers: Karl Rove, Ralph Giuliani, Mary Matalin (and husband James Carville , who's a kooky fellow anyway) , Sean Hannity and - wonder of wonders - Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. Rush and Guliani could have spent much of day reminisicing about their ex's. It's a not very exclusive version of the right-wing's supple family values. Oh, the bride? Kathryn Rogers (33) , whom Rushbo (59) met while going through his third divorce. Was there a pre-nuptial agreement?

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Ohio Supreme Court: Racing into the unknown

OH, MY! The august Ohio supreme court has now ruled that it would take nothing more than a police officer's radar-less estimate to convict a motorist of speeding. Oh, you could go to court, but it's not likely that your word against the officer's would permit you to escape a fine. In other words, you will be guilty with no valid opportunity to prove yourself innocent. The 5-1 decision by the all-Republican court was covered by Justice Maureen O'Connor ,writing for the majority. She opined:
"Independent verification of the vehicle's speed is not necessary to support a conviction for speeding."
She did say the officer should have been trained and certified by the Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy. Oh? Certified to do what? Convict on the spot?
The ridiculous ruling is asking for trouble. Might we assume that a motorist might be cited not by dead reckoning but by profiling? Or by egregious line-of-sight error?
Fortunately, most law enforcement people are not buying into O'Connor's argument and say they will continue to rely on radar, thank you. Good for them!
And so to my hometown newspaper, which applauded the move in a Sunday editorial that warned: "Speeders, prepare to be unhappy," I would add: "Non-speeders, too." The current way of nailing speeders wasn't broken. So why did the court try to fix it?


Friday, June 4, 2010

Out of the oil spillage of the slippery apologists

NOW THAT WE are approaching the 8th week of the faux BP oil spill cleanup, it's interesting how its apologists have been caught as unprepared as BP to add their slippery words to the disastrous oil slick. Left with little more than absurdities to defend BP, the defense team has been as trapped as the pelicans sinking in the muck. Some extraordinary comments:

"The Gulf of Mexico is a very big ocean. The amount of oil and dispersant we are putting in it is tiny in relation to the total water volume." - BP chief executive Tony Hayward, during the early days of the spill.
"We will get this done. We will make this right." - BP ad campaign, which is making it wrong even though the company just hired Anne Womack-Kolton, Dick Cheney's former press-secretary to get at least a little of it right as BP's spokesperson.
"The spill would never have happened if we would have drill-baby-drilled in the National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska." - Republican Rep. Sam Graves of Missouri.
"Acts of God are acts of God." - Republican Rep. Tom Cole of Oklahoma, a most ardent supporter of Big Oil.
"We don't wash our face in it but it doesn't stop us from jumping off the boat to ski." - Mississippi Republican Gov. Haley Barbour, comparing the spill to a "harmless gasoline sheen found around ski boats." And this guy is considered to be a potential candidate for president in 2012!
"It may have been an act of God." - Texas Republican Gov. Rick Perry, who couldn't find anybody else to blame at the moment.
"...the ocean will take care of this on its own if it was left alone and was left out there. It's natural. It's as natural as water is." - Who else but Rush Limbaugh, who never leaves alone any chance to blame environmentalists, liberals and oil company critics?

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Jim Joyce: A big league umpire (?)

NOBODY'S PERFECT. But some people are more imperfect than others. Such will be the stigma (I hope!) that will haunt Major League baseball umpire Jim Joyce after his historically lousy call that cost Detroit Tigers' pitcher Armando Galarraga a perfect game against the Indians Wednesday night. With a single out to record to complete Galarraga's masterpiece, Joyce ruled the Cleveland runner safe at first on a play that wasn't close. His blown call cost Galarraga a rare spot in baseball's Hall of Fame. There ought to be a way to appeal the decision - but there isn't. And there should be a way to punish Joyce with a fine and a suspension - but there isn't. The only option is for fans to send the umpire the film of the play at first base to remind him of the dishonor that he brought to himself because he was daydreaming when he should have been umpiring.

UPDATE: I have one of my infrequent ideas: Why not install Galarraga in the Hall of Fame with an asterisk? The plaque could say that he pitched a perfect game and the umpire gave up one hit. I like that, even if it will go nowhere in a tradition-bound sport.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Palin: My new neighbor will be a Peeping Tom

President Palin is outraged that author Joe McGinniss has moved into a house next door to hers in Wasilla. POLITICO reports that she is angry because she believes he will be able to see directly into her teenaged daughter's window. That assumes a couple of things: The best-selling author, who is spending the summer in Alaska to research a book on Palin, really wants to look into her daughter's window. And (2) McGinniss would not be offended if Palin looked into his window. McGinness accuses her of acting like a Nazi. She denies it. Look for this neighborhood spat to show up in the book.