Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Be patient, Issa says. You may win the lottery someday

IF YOU ARE serious about finding a reason to support the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy, you might want to consider as good a reason as any from Rep. Darrell Issa, a fringe Republican from California. Rising to the challenge in the Fox News Echo Class, Issa said that it would be important to any of us if we happened to win a lottery. Said Issa: "One of the things that you lose in the debate is most people don't make over a quarter million dollars a year. But a great many people once in their lifetime will sort of win the lottery." Cool. Tell me when it's my turn.

Issa, who made a fortune in the auto security business, is the richest man in Congress with a piggy bank of $250 million. According the ThinkProgress, if the GOP takes over the House of Representatives, he would be chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee. His early agenda would include investigations of the U.S. Post Office Department and ACORN, despite the fact that the community organizing operation has already been scrutinized inside out on a bipartisan basis. He will also be raising more questions about President's Obama's birth, reports ThinkProgress, as well as whether his parents were ever married. All of this has the the makings of still another Republican presidential candidate. Although he represents a very conservative district that includes part of San Diego, he actually was born in Cleveland (I haven't seen his birth certificate) and attended the Kent State University Stark campus for awhile. He's s rich, kooky pol but the kind of guy who will make his party proud even though very few of us will ever hold that big winning lottery ticket.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

DeWine: Bland speech, tiny audience: Recipe for disaster

WELL, IT has to be called a train wreck for the candidate and for his host. I refer to Mike DeWine's solo (in nearly more ways than one!) appearance at the Akron Press Club luncheon Tuesday. DeWine, as you may know, is the former Republican senator who is trying to unseat Ohio Atty. Gen. Richard Cordray in November. Speaking almost inaudibly, head down, into his prepared text, DeWine wanted to leave us with the the notion that as attorney general, he would provide "leadership" and would "do better." At least, that's what I think he said. He also opined that the Tea Party had brought into the system "a lot of people passionate about politics." Right.

He reminded the sparse audience (fewer than 35!) which included a few Cordray aides, (one of whom filmed what there was of the speech) and DeWine's wife Fran, that being an unyielding defender of the law and the Constitution, he would file suit against ObamaCare because he considers it unconstitutional. He also attacked Cordray for a sloth-like work of BCI, the state crime lab - delays that have since been dismissed by such independent sources as the Plain Dealer's PolitiFact/Ohio.

DeWine had turned down a Press Club invitation to debate. If he had been the futurist that he claims to be, he would have also rejected the later Press Club offer to let him speak alone. It was an embarrassingly inertial moment for some of the folks. and it could be felt hovering in the dead air. (Cordray, accepted the Press Club's debate invitation, and had to settle for his own solo appearance on Oct. 7.)

He did score a first, however. The skimpy crowd was the smallest audience for a statewide candidate since the Club started sponsoring debates at least a decade ago. Even his former part-time employe, Summit County Republican Chairman Alex Arshinkoff didn't show up for his ex-paymaster. Nor was there a table reserved for Republicans, which was the chairman's call in the past. Tsk. Tsk.

Ok, the event wasn't a total loss. Dewine passed out his wife' s recipe booklet - "Fran DeWine's Family Favorites" - before heading to the lecturn. Besides recipes, that booklet prominently showed his wide-ranging belief in God, Mother and Country. The back of the booklet featured a photo of Mike and his wife, an American flag and what might be mistaken for a religious leaded window. Actually it depicted blind justice.

It couldn't have been more unsettling for the candidate, what with the rain outside and chill in the room.

FOOTNOTE: It was a troubling day of setbacks for the DeWine campaign. The Ohio Tea Party PAC had just announced its endorsement of one of its own, AG candidate Robert Owens of the Constitution Party; the Dayton Daily News, the newspaper in DeWine's Southern Ohio neighborhood, endorsed Cordray, saying the case for him was "overwhelming"' and the Toledo Blade hardly mentioned DeWine in editorially supporting Democrat Cordray for his "honesty and dedication."

Monday, September 27, 2010

GOP's old contract born again as a pledge .

HOW TO YOU LIKE THAT? I had long left Newt Gingrich's Contract with America for dead, but after all of these years along comes the Republicans' Pledge to America. Alas, as presented to us by John Boehner in between his golf outings via corporate jets, it would have been easy enough to confuse it with that spray-on polish that brightens your furniture. As some observers have quickly pointed out, it was another superficial wipe-on to clean up a political culture that thrives on earmarks, taxing the rich and relieving hospital emergency rooms of unfortunate folks without health insurance.

Why, beyond the normal excesses of political rhetoric, does Boehner insist on dragging out the GOP's well-worn notions - a 'manifesto" says Rupert Murdock's Wall Street Journal - to bamboozle the public into believing it is on the fast track to prosperity? Largely it is a party so eager to regain power that it can only do so by cooking the figures - a tactic that it holds dearly.
Not being one of the party's mathematicians, I keep waiting for someone to explain how you can cut billions in taxes, balance the budget and live happily ever after. Nobody can. That's the beauty of the magic polish to give new life to a party myth that is as old as a mature olive tree. This pledge is nothing more than a cynical revival by GOP politicians in empty suits who won't have a clue once they get into office to spend more time with their lobbyists. As for Boehner, who is commonly known as the leading recipient of perks from well-positioned lobbyists (R.J. Reynolds, MillerCoors, etc.) he can ill-afford to ignore the fattest cats if he wants them to continue to host his pleasure outings and ritzy hotels.

He had better get the job done. There's also another coalition of rightwing outfits with names like FreedomWorks, Liberty Control and Tea Party 365, that is up and running as the "Contract from America." Honest. With America? From America? To America? With so many
maniacal Tea Party bleaters running for office today, we can only hope that when the New House of Representatives begins its labors to, say, abolish health care and move the government to Birmingham or Hilton Head Island, the next proclamation won't more accurately be a Contract After America - after, that is, the neo-anarchists take over.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Cash for Clunkers: Which Ganley do you believe?

REPUBLICAN TOM GANLEY, the candidate who refused an invitation from the Akron Press Club to debate U.S. Rep. Betty Sutton, may find that he can't avoid another debate: With himself. That awkward challenge arose in a Plain Dealer PolitiFact/Ohio piece noting that auto dealer Ganley has been slamming the Cash for Clunkers program as a worthless government initiative led by Sutton because "not one job did it create." But the PD reported that a year ago there was a completely different Tom Ganley with effusive praise for the program in a Warner Cable interview by host Tom Conklin.

Let's roll back the tape, in which he declared:
"Once again, the government was searching for ways to stimulate our economy and create jobs. And I'm sure you read General Motors is going to a second shift in Lordstown because of this. That creates jobs; it also creates taxpayers. They are bringing back something close to 1,300 jobs we've stimulated through the Cash for Clunkers. Plus, I have created jobs out of necessity in my stores because of the large volume of folks coming. We are bringing back people that we had laid off."
The paper reported that during the Clunkers period, Ganley's 32 dealerships sold 934 cars worth $20.6 million. Reporter Sabina Eaton said that after reviewing the facts, she concluded that "Ganley clearly changed his tune. We rate his gymnastics to be a Full Flop."

Amateur politician that he is, do you think it's time for him to give himself a seasonal Tuneup?

P.S.: He has now agreed to be a soloist at the Press Club on Oct. 26. Sutton will be there on Oct. 2o.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Care to take your chances on toxic drinking water supplies

DID YOU NOTICE the news article that said Wingfoot Lake and a couple of Geauga County reservoirs have been put under advisories for high levels of toxins? The problems - which have not yet reached Akron's drinking water supply - turned up in warnings from the Ohio Department of Health , Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Agency. Knowing how much conservatives hate government, do you think we should we simply get rid of water testing and take our chances? Just asking.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Sarah Sharia Palin: What's in a name?

SARAH PALIN, the Republicans' self-enthroned Earth Mother, threw in the H-word in an interview with Fox's Greta Van Susteren the other night. It wasn't a slip of the tongue. When Sarah Palin says Barack Hussein Obama, her motive is clear. You know, Hussein. Saddam. Enemy. Cognitively leap to Iran now. Muslim. Mosque. Manhattan. 9/11. Obama. Kenya. Birthplace. Liberal. Nazi. Dictator. Socialist. Obama. Hamas apologist. Sharia. Etc.

Nice going, Sarah. But it's a game that anybody can play. So I will. It occurs to me that this time she is living on the edge with the president's middle name: Hussein. As one who enjoys a bout with scramble words, I have decided that Sarah's middle name has to be encoded Sharia, the Muslim's sacred law. Oh?

If you unscramble the word, it appears as "I, Sarah." What more evidence do you need that she is a closet terrorist? ( Well, actually not very closeted.) Having been assigned to a cryptology course during my Air Force days, I've spent years hoping that someday it would pay off. It just did. Careful Sarah Sharia Palin!

Sen Voinovich: Asking us to live by myth alone?

WHAT'S THAT? Our Sen. George Voinovich says he will oppose the Don't Ask, Don't Tell repeal until he hears what our military leaders have to say about it. That's the old "we need more information to make a responsible decision"' dodge before we leap recklessly into things like health care and financial reforms and now gay and lesbian soldiers. As one who has chronicled the political class for many years , I would call Voinovich's retreat from a decision as a definite NO.

I know life for a senator can get pretty clotted these days to distract them from any details of an issue that has been debated for too long. But to sit and wait for word from the military leaders? Inasmuch as Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen have both said the discriminatory system should be repealed, I wonder what military leaders Voinovich is trying to access. Pope Julius II, the so-called "Warrior Pope" who never needed much encouragement to suit up for battle? Richard the Lionhearted, the venerable if ill-advised crusader? Snoopy's Red Baron?

Sorry, senator. Isn't it time that cohesive Republicans like yourself stop asking all us to live by myth alone?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

In Colorado, three's a crowd to bankruptcy

IF YOU CAN endure still one more nightmarish reminder of the reckless zealotry of the anti-tax crowd , pay close attention to Colorado, folks. There are three measures on the November ballot that are making even conservative Republicans out there fidgety, to say the least. Promoted by a posse of right-wingers that appears to be a on joy ride to hell, the issues would leave the Rocky Mountain State in an ocean of debt with no remedy for paying it off. But one of the big issues in this year's elections is that proposed remedies by the tax-killers (i.e., services killers) are nowhere to be found.

One of the measures would cut property taxes and force the state to cover the loss of money for education. Another would shrink the state income tax rate and cut certain fees. According to the New York Times, there's research that says Colorado would lose $2.1 billion if the three issues pass with no plan to make up the difference. Virtually all of the state's general fund would be swallowed whole to pay for education. (Alas, some of this cliff-hanging is occurring in the Ohio races, too.)

Naturally, the rabid sponsors do not foresee hopeless chaos resulting from this nonense. One is quoted in the Times as justifying their efforts with no apologies. "The establishmnent fears our grass-roots petitions" she said, "because they benefit everyone, not just the insiders."

Oh? I don't know the state that well, so I would merely ask whether only the insiders send their kids to schools, get protection from safety forces and have snow-cleared highways in winter.

Such mindlessness is showing in various ways across the country but in this instance it finally has Democrats and Republicans agreeing that, if successful, the ballot issues would virtually leave Colorado for dead.

It leaves me with the thought that when this crowd of anti-Obama, anti-tax, anti-everything eventually passes from the scene and takes Christine O'Donnell, Sharron Angle and Rand Paul with them, they will leave behind no intellectual history.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Beware the hermit crabs in the political class

THE LATE A.J. LIEBLING, the iconoclastic journalist and acerbic critic of newspapers, once described two Columbus papers housed under the same roof as "two hermit crabs living in the same shell." That also seems to be the crabby case now with the former Republican Party and its Tea Party proprietor that have been clawing the Obama Administration. In their meteoric rise, the TP's have shared time, space and manic attacks on their Democratic victims as well as bashing some of the programs that have been around for more than three-quarters of a century. For example, Social Security.

While many Republican pols find ways to lessen the political consequences of an all-out appeal for ending the program that has served countless millions of retirees, the Tea Partiers toss it into the same stew as, say, street cleaning or 4th of July fireworks. If it comes from the government (i.e., taxpayers) , it has got to go. Some of the very same pols even quietly deny that they are in accord with their Tea Party friends on all counts and that neither occupant of the shell really wants to deprive us of monthly Social Security payments. That's baloney, of course., that only the Fox News culture would have us believe.

I would excuse some Tea Partiers who only know what they heard from Glenn Beck or Sarah Palin. But if you want to know what they are really thinking, pay attention to Dick Armey, the former Texas congressman and bloated chairman of FreeomWorks, whose comfort zone is squarely in the Tea Party base. In an interview with ThinkProgress at a Tea Party rally in Chicago, Armey declared that Social Secruity was a "corrupt goverment practice" and a "pay-as-your-go Ponzi scheme."

Such damning seems to come easily for a person of Armey's means who would live very well, thank you, without those monthly checks. Trouble is, such calculated madness has taken root in a lot of people for whom Social Security, Medicare and other forms for federal assistance are literally keeping them alive these days. W hen the wealthiest among us pretend to empathize with folks living on the edge, what hope is there for a level playing field in this year's elections?

Sunday, September 19, 2010

When is Federal money not Federal money? Ask Robart

What's wrong with this picture? Cuyahoga Falls Mayor Don Robart showed up at the Tea Party rally in his town Saturday to renew his vows of loyalty as one of the mad-as-hell right-wing opponents of federal spending. And yet...

Only a day before, the Beacon Journal reported that Susan Truby, Falls community development director, was appreciative of a $780,000 federal stimulus grant to buy and rehab six homes whose mortgages had been foreclosed., "This creates a great deal of of positive community relations in the neighborhood," she said. Cool. Even the name of Don L. Robart, Mayor, plainly appears on a yard sign in front of one of the homes hailing the program.

Friday, September 17, 2010

More on the Palin-O'Donnell look-alikes

Check the previous post on Christine O'Donnell, who this isn't. Not quite, but close enough. It's Sarah Palin. And here we go. As I was saying, it's Palin's would-be look-alike. Will Tina Fey have to do it all over again? Now if we males could just find somebody who looks like Mitch McConnell....

The Economist: Intelligence vs. ignorance, period!

AFTER WITNESSING the astonishing number of trash-talking candidates and their followers on the fringe, I think we might want to consider the profound mission statement of The Economist magazine. It says its goal is to
"take part in a severe contest between intelligence, which presses forward, and an unworthy, timid ignorance obstructing our progress."'
That's worthy of posting on your refrigerator.

Someone once aptly described the media's role as "comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable."

But as we continue to realize today, those days are gone forever.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Delaware delusion: Palin II arrives

I could have sworn that when I saw Christine O'Donnell burst on the TV screen that Sarah Palin had been cloned. The thumbs-up hand gestures, the wide open smile and flashing white teeth, the wild hair and the red suit and there you have it all except the message scrawled on her palm. Even the mainstream media are describing her as a sensation since she toppled Rep. Mike Castle in the Delaware Republican U.S. Senate primary. Spare me. She is such a sensation that even the state's Republican fixtures are racing for higher ground. The woman is a chilling example of this election year's stampede over the cliff.

So far all we have heard of her is that she opposes masturbation - speaks openly about it - and has slipped into moments of darkness when she has left fingerprints on suggestions that her primary opponent was gay. No doubt about it, she knows a lot about her Bible. If you can stay with the scene long enough to notice, you'll see the sort of bubbly (bubblehead?) hyperactive look-at-perfect-me that only the Tea Party and maybe a few mothers could love. Using her frame of reference, I'll turn it around right now and say that if she ever made it to the Senate it would be a tragedy of Biblical proportions. To borrow the chant of the Tea Partiers, I want my country back!

By the way, her den mother, Sarah, has already advised her to stick close to Fox News for any further talk about her candidacy. She can come back to earth after a few days' instruction at Glenn Beck University - or would she?

KSU: When an assessment is not a tax

I CONCEDE that I must be missing something here. But when Kent State University announces that it will "assess" students $24 per credit hour to cover some of the cost in upgrading its buildings, is that like a - take a deep breath - tax? Heavens. In today's tax-sensitive climate, have a I lost my senses to mention the hated three-latter word? So should I go the blackboard and write, an assessment is an assessment, and a fee is a fee, and a tax is a tax. That would will explain everything, right? How naive of me!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Gingrich: impersonating Crazy Guggenheim

(Ninth in a series)

That's Newt Gingrich, who is running for president as Crazy Guggenheim. He says President Obama is a mystery guest from another world, possibly a zombie-like intruder in the White House. Um, one of the "others". He says a lot of silly things, like sharia is taking over America. It's the same Newt Gingrich who fled the House of Representatives after he was reprimanded by his colleagues, 395-28, on ethics violations. He says he didn't want the job as House Speaker anyway because he didn't want to "preside over people who are cannibals." Newt and his wife - his third - Callista are going to the Notre Dame campus to present a documentary he co-produced with the missus on how Pope John Paul II helped defeat communism. He doesn't realize that Notre Dame would prefer to have him present some players to help defeat Michigan last week. .

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

O'Donnell wins, for Heaven's sake. Really!

WHAT'S THAT AGAIN? Tea Party-backed candidate Christine O'Donnell defeated veteran Republican Rep. Michael Castle for the party nomination for the Senate in Delaware? C-H-R-I-S-T-I-N-E O-D-O-N-N-E-L-L???? Wasn't she the Shirley Temple doll who inferred that her opponent was, you know, gay! And the same person who has associated masturbation with lust and argued that lust was a sin because it said so right there in the Bible. And wasn't she the same candidate who was opposed by the Delaware Republican Party that argued there was no way she could go on winning. Was this the first campaign in which masturbation was an issue? It's that kind of a political year and getting more insane by the minute. Sen. Mitch McConnell recently lauded the Tea Party fringe for injecting vitality into the his party. Better go back to the drawing board, Mitch, and spend less time defending a tax cut for the wealthy.

Yuck: Obama's motivational speech for school kids banned

ANYBODY OUT there think it's crazy for spineless public school superintendents to prevent school children from hearing President Obama's inspired talk on what kids should do to benefit from their education? Like work hard. Study hard. Stay out of trouble. Inflammatory words, to be sure. Well, there are now reports that Obama was denied that TV opportunity in some schools. Quick: Anybody remember what President Bush was doing on the morning of 9/11?

Monday, September 13, 2010

DeWine, Ganley: Candidates on cruise control

IT'S NOW official that there will be NO debates at the Akron Press Club involving two Republican candidates who appear to have put their campaigns on cruise control. Both Tom Ganley, the GOP challenger to U.S. Rep. Betty Sutton, nor Mike DeWine, who is trying to unseat Atty. Gen. Richard Cordray, have unequivocally turned down invitations to debate their Democratic opponents.

As one who moderated many of the previous Press Club debates before stepping aside a couple of years ago, I'm not inclined to salute this wary twosome for their political wisdom and courage. For better or worse, debates come with the territory, particularly for these guys whose yearnings tell them they ought to be in political office for awhile until something better comes along.

Item: Ganley, the mega-auto dealer who is relying heavily on TV ads, did make a solo appearance at the Press Club last fall when he was running for the U.S. Senate. But he has flinched at the thought of facing an incumbent now that he is running for Congress. (He didn't even show up for Alex Arshinkoff's big finance dinner.) DeWine finally agreed to speak alone on Sept. 28 without the bother of an opponent staring him in the face. So Cordray has had to settle for an appearance sans DeWine on Oct. 7.

There has been a long tradition at the Press Club that when both candidates are invited, there would be an empty chair for either candidate who didn't show up. The Cleveland City Club has played by those rules, too. In this instance, however, Press Club board members tell me that club president Bruce Winges, the Beacon Journal editor, is skittish about having Sutton speak alone without offering Ganley another date for his solo even though he's already been there in a campaign mode. Inexplicably, Winges, in a conciliatory mood, is said to feel that unless he gave Ganley a similar opportunity now it would look too "political" by the Press Club. Good grief! Will there next be an agreement to have Ganley address the club's audience from his patio?

Time out for a little history here: Over the years Democrats have always agreed to debate their opponents. The late Rep John Seiberling never turned down a challenge from his opponent. When the Press Club series began a decade ago, neither Mayor Don Plusquellic nor former County Executive Jim McCarthy failed to show up at the Martin Center on time to face their rivals.

The rules of combat have now changed and the Press Club's front office is riding the fence when there shouldn't be the slightest question about what it should do. Why now?

On the Browns: Yogi Berra may have nailed it

AFTER BEING convinced by the Cleveland/Akron area euphoric sportswriters that we could expect a fresh start for the Browns with a new front office, quarterback, blah,blah,blah, I am reminded of what Yogi Berra once said of his woeful Mets: "It's getting late early for the Mets."

Friday, September 10, 2010

Is Wall Street headed to Ohio for a 'New Day' ?


Having watched and read about the ceremonial rollout of GM's Chevrolet Cruze from the Lordstown assembly line, it didn't surprise me that John Kasich was absent from the lines of applauding workers. You would have thought that when the word got out that his opponent, Gov. Ted Strickland, would be sitting happily on the passenger side with GM President Mark Reuss beaming at the wheel, that Kasich would want a piece of the action. But, alas, the Republican contender was not a cheerleader for the bailout of GM that saved thousands and thousands of jobs and kept the company out of bankruptcy. Is that the "New Day" that he promises on his home page?

Let's face it. That kind of opposition to such expenditures is widely popular for so many GOP candidates today, including the ticket in Ohio that it might easily have been arranged in a board room at the Bank of America.

It would be heretical for Kasich to change his stripes now, particuarly after he spent such a long time at the Wall Street investment firm of Lehman Brothers that wound up in bankruptcy. As
Candidate Kasich makes his rounds, he swears Lehman Brothers is old history for him and besides, he had little to do with its operation. Ouch! I would demur by saying that you can take Kasich out of Wall Street, but you can't take Wall Street out of Kasich.

There's been such a loud noise in the campaigns that blame President Obama for the economic mess - great political fodder, if mindless, considering what he inherited - it might be worthwhile to turn to an appropriate comment by the late Daniel Schorr, offered in a collection of his commentaries, "Come to Think of It." Observed Schorr in 2001, as he took an early inventory of the works of Bush II:
"But perhaps one should not be surprised at this tendency [ by Bush ] to act now and think later. This, after all, was the president who decided how much money he wanted to commit for tax relief before he knew how much he would need for defense, education, and prescription drugs.
It was true then - nearly a decade ago. And it's just as true now as Republicans continue to rehash the beauty of restoring the economic nightmare of the Bush tax cuts.

Finally, when we hear the Three Amigos - Sarah Palin, John Boehner, and Newt Gingrich - link the preacher's threat to burn the Koran to the building of the Islamic Mosque in Manhattan - isn't that a wildly over-the-top quid pro quo that ought to be left to playground toughs? These people are regurgitating a Gothic novel to scare the hell out of Americans and it is working in some quarters, with help from Fox News. So may we now turn to the late Allen Ginsberg, the Beat generation poet, who may have been simply looking at faces in the crowd when he wrote :

"Whoever, controls the media - the images - controls the culture."

Chris Redfern: It's much too early to give up

CHRIS REDFERN, the Ohio Democratic chairman, came to the Akron Press Club Thursday to push a big boulder uphill and keep it from rolling back against a troubling sense of defeatism within the party.

At this point, the polls are telling a different story than what Redfern offered in his speech, but he conceded nothing for the November election. He talked of registration that gives the D's a huge advantage over Republicans in Ohio - 2.5 million to 1.4 million -and insisted that his party's biggest task now is to use that advantage to the benefit of the Democratic ticket by getting these voters to the polls.

Democratic hopes lie in the early absentee voting that begins on Sept. 28. Redfern predicted that half of Ohio's voters will have cast their ballots before Election Day. Meantime, nothing is being left to chance. Redfern noted the party now has 27,900 volunteers and a full-time staff of 300 working on assuring a successful outcome for the Nov. 2 election. The party also has planned a statewide bus tour next week to spark voter interest.

Redfern has been credited with being a nuts-and-bolts party leader who has been concentrating on a statewide precinct- by- precinct effort since assuming the reins in 2005. Some of that work contributed to President Obama's victory in Ohio in 2008. His emphasis on the tiniest details of campaign structure has also led to solid fund-raising, the fuel that puts political engines in forward gear. The party's treasury is said to be in good condition for the final weeks of 2010 contests.

His audience in the Martin Center included former longtime GOP state chairman Robert Bennett, who was at the Bliss Institute, which co-sponsored Redfern's speech, to speak to a class. Bennett sat courteously at Redfern's table and exchanged quips with Redfern. When the Democratic chairman acknowledged him in his opening remarks, Bennett replied: "I'm here to learn."

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Is Arshinkoff counting on a rainbow?

IT WOULD BE fair to assume that no one is enjoying the ride to the November elections in Ohio more than Alex Arshinkoff, a.k.a. the oft-eruptive chairman of the Summit County Republican Party. Two of his favorite people, John Kasich and Mike DeWine are, at this stage, running ahead of their Democratic opponents. Should they win, Alex is hoping to find the opportunity to rise above his current status as the head of a party with 10 pct. registration in Summit County. Any higher title would be welcome, whether in the Kasich administration or, less likely since he is not a lawyer, somewhere in the ranks of the DeWine's attorney general's office.

How do we know this? You need only to look at the history of a mercurial man who has been futilely seaching for a statewide playing field for years - or at least his name on a building at the University of Akron and a paying job at the U - none of which materialized such fantasies about his importance in the broader scheme of things political.

Exaggeration? Hardly. As a young man, he was turned down for a job at City Hall by ex-Mayor John Ballard. Hoping to impress then-Gov. George Voinovich, he spent a year raising a handsome treasury for another Voinovich campaign in hopes of winning an endorsement from the guv for state GOP chairman. When the time came, Voinovich, who has always played his cards close to the vest, cast his support for the establishment incumbent, Robert Bennett, at state headquarters.

With the arrival of both George Bushes in the White House, Arshinkoff was a 24/7 soldier for them, even got invited to the White House and Kennebunkport. To show his gratitude for their attention, he took out a second mortgage on his house in Hudson for $25,000 and sent it all to the Bush II folks campaign - which had the same impact as an offer to take Donald Trump to lunch at McDonald's. Still he was gratified by conversations with Karl Rove who told him "We're keeping you in mind, Alex." Fat chance!

In the last Ohio gubernatoriallRepublican primary campaign, he lashed then-State Auditor Jim Petro in reprisal for Petro's failure to find fault in an audit of Summit County Executive Jim McCarthy. a Democrat. Arshinkoff threw his support to Betty Montgomery. When she dropped out of the race, he endorsed Secretary of State Ken Blackwell, whose rhetoric glibly skimmed over the emptiness of his vision. Blackwell, as we all know , was soundly defeated by the current Democratic Governor, Ted Strickland, the guy that Arshinkoff now wants to depose.

All of this occurred while he was in constant battles with the Democrats at home as a member of the Board of Elections, from which Secretary of State Brunner ejected him. He's also withstood two local challenges by a Republican faction that came after him with a largely incoherent game plan.

It has been, at best, a rocky ride for his decades of party chairmanship. If he doesn't squeeze out a job this time, it might be time to consider craigslist.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Seen any good cartoons lately?

AND SO IT HAPPENED that in this looniest election season that a preacher down in Florida has announced to the world that he will burn the Koran on Saturday to mark the anniversary of 9/11 . So outrageous is the Rev. Terry Jones' forthcoming stunt that we could use some comic relief by asking Sarah Palin to tell us again of how she can see Russia from her front porch. The name of Jones' obscure church is The Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville. If you can make any sense out of that then I concede that my neurons have slowed down considerably.

Jones says he is a Christian man and insists that the Muslim holy book is "full of lies." Normally this sort of bizarre religious behavior would not even be mentioned by anyone, but in this case, even General Petraeus says it's something that could cause us a lot more trouble than we already have on this troubled planet. We await the condemnation by a lot of other Christian preachers with enough courage to contend that Jones shouldn't be shouting fire in a world crowded with 1.5 billion Muslims.

Meanwhile, Talking Points Memo got our attention with a report on a Republican candidate i n Delaware who wants to be elected to the Senate seat vacated by Joe Biden. Christine O'Donnell, should it make any difference to you, has come out fighting to end masturbation. She fiercely supports abstinence, too. No rookie at plundering sex for whatever political value it might have, O'Donnell also was a marketing consultant for Mel Gibson's "The Passion of Christ."

There's a lot of conservative Christian chest-pounding going on today and it should be obvious that the political class is meekly falling into line to assure its own redemption. Considering the velocity with which religion has replaced traditional ballot issues, we may have mercifully reached the point where it would be best to discard all elections, relax and watch our favorite cartoons as we await the end of days.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Next logical step: Reforming the 10 Commandments

A FRIEND WHO FINALLY landed a job as a fast-food dishwasher in Washington reports that John Boehner & Co. have decided to strike out in a startling new direction from months of calling for changes in the Constitution.. "They've decided there isn't much more mileage to be gained with the voters who have a short interest span anyway and they plan a major assault on the Ten Commandments," he told me.

"That's pretty risky business, " I said. "The Commandments have been around for a long time."

"Apparently that makes no difference to the reformers. They say that given the current mood of the country they can't afford to pass up this window of opportunity to advance their goals for a permanent Republican majority."

"Yes, that does make some sense. What are Commandments for if you can't break them as needed. Do they want to rewrite all of them?"

"No, that would be too disruptive for all of the TV preachers who condition their troops for Republican causes. At the moment, they are only looking at the Ninth Commandment."

"Which is ---?"

"---You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. They will argue that the Commandment is obsolete inasmuch as it was handed to Moses long before there was a Glenn Beck or Michele Bachmann. But they feel a wisp of guilt when their children and grandchildren are around. By eliminating the Commandment, they can do what they are already doing without having to explain it to their families."

"Wow! They always think of something."

"They're just getting started. When Boehner becomes the House Speaker in the next Congress they have plans go after other things that we have long taken for granted."

"For instance?"

"I can only say that two congressmen from Texas came into our restaurant the other day to pass out copies of a new Boy Scout Oath."

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Ganley, DeWine in a political game of dodge-em

WITH TWO MONTHS to go to the November Election, Republican Tom Ganley seems to have decided to become the stealth candidate against 13th District U.S. Rep. Betty Sutton. His team has flatly refused an invitation to debate Sutton at a luncheon co-sponsored by the Bliss Institute and the Akron Press Club. The refusal comes from a man who would have you believe that as a bold rookie congressman lacking seniority he would still be forceful enough to make significant changes in how they do business on Capitol Hill.

So if you want to know what he thinks and are bored by the TV political commercials, you can get a copy of the right-wing Human Events in which he was recently quoted as seeking to "reopen" all entitlements. There was a bit of a backlash at his automobile agency in Akron yesterday as a group of senior citizens picketed in the fear that he would try to slash Social Security and Medicare, non-discretionary programs .

Ganley is the second Republican to dodge a Press Club debate with the same sponsors. Earlier, former Sen. Mike DeWine rejected a shared dais with Atty. Gen. Richard Cordray. I'm told that he would agree to a solo performance , but not a debate. How will we ever survive all of this forthright action from Mssrs. Ganley and DeWine?

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Pawlenty is revving up his conservative credentials

Tim Pawlenty, the Republican governor of Minnesota who appears to be fantasizing about running for president, is doing a Whirling Dervish around the availability of federal funds. This is a relatively new phenomenon among GOP officeholders in the Obama Era. Briefly, he will accept $263 million in Medicaid money but oppose any dough under the new health care reform law, calling Obamacare "some stupid policy agenda." He has even gone to Iowa to tell the voters something along those lines to prove his conservative credentials. You may recall that Pawlenty was the speaker for Summit County Republican Chairman Alex Arshinkoff's prime-time finance dinner in 2008, when Pawlenty was being mentioned as a presidential candidate. It was a fizzle. Even now, a new Minnesota poll said that 53 pct. of Republicans in his state probably wouldn't vote for him if he should decide to run , most likely with a "pro-growth, pro jobs" agenda. (Jeez. Is anybody against jobs? Trouble is, nobody knows how to do it.) He's also zealously pro-life and wants students in all public schools to be required to repeat the Pledge of Allegiance. I'd say more, but you already know where this is going with Pawlenty.

Glenn Beck: the opposite of Plato's noble liar

THREE CHEERS FOR today's Plain Dealer for reporting another of Glenn Beck's reckless lies, this one to the throng of lemmings at the Lincoln Memorial. Rising to his task of... uh, restoring honor to America, Beck shrieked: "The government is trying now to close the Lincoln Memorial for any kind of large gatherings. This may be the last large gathering ever to assemble at the Lincoln Memorial. Historic. Historic."

With that symbolic clanging of the Liberty Bell, Beck would be assured of having his audience safely in tow for any other outrages that spewed from his platform. (No evidence that he also wet his diaper.) .

But wait! According to the PD's PolitiFact report, there are absolutely no plans to close the Lincoln Memorial to public gatherings. It noted that the Los Angeles Times had contacted the National Park Service, which called Beck's statements "baseless and wrong." Beck's propaganda team did not respond to requests to clarify his remarks. Surprise.

OK. With that settled, can we move on?. Not really. My hunch is that Beck's Svengali-like hold on his worshipers is so complete that any fan who heard this whopper will continue to spread the word that it's true. He knows that. So he continues to destroy reality. It's made him rich.

There are two ways to deal with Beck. You can ignore him and hope that he will go away. He won't. In fact, he will widen the playing field. You can also give him all of the exposure that he is seeking to nourish his mad ego and hope that somehow it will bring a lot of ordinary Americans to the front lines to challenge him and his ilk. So far, however, his style is winning with many of the Republicans campaigning for the November elections. It won't be pretty.