Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Cantor: Nullification a step in right direction

YOU'RE looking at Rep. Eric Cantor , the likely next House Majority Leader, who apparently is trying to pick up further instructions from outer space. Cantor's latest deposit of wisdom on the media deals with something that was settled by the Civil War. It's called nullification, which would allow states to ignore Federal laws of their choosing. Here's what Cantor says about a proposed amendment to that effect in his home state of Virgin -yah:

"The Repeal Amendment would provide a check on the ever-expanding federal government, protect against congressional overreach, and get the government working for the people again, not the other way around. In order to return America to opportunity, responsibility, and success, we must reverse course and the Repeal Amendment is a step in that direction."
The worst part about this is that we will have to put up with his playground bullying for at least two more years. As you can see, Sir Eric, I, too, want my country back.

Plain Dealer: The response to its critics

THE PLAIN DEALER'S lengthy response to critics accusing it of a tardy response to the city's widespread political corruption amounted to little more than a journalistic non sola mea colpa. Although the paper has been relentless in reporting the FBI's work in turning up an avalanche of criminal activity that has already convicted some of the players, the PD defended itself from the critics who wondered why so much of the mischief went on right under its nose for so long.

Good question. And here's how Ted Diadiun, the PD's reader representative, explained the paper's late arrival on the scene in Sunday's voluminous report:
"It's easy to second-guess the coverage, or the lack of it, with the benefit of 10 years of hindsight. I was in charge of the Metro operation for several years in the' 90s myself, and I can tell you that things that seem obvious today didn't look as clear then." ,
In other words, there might have been a little smoke, but no fire. Huh? But he did concede that the paper was
"guilty of a lack of aggressiveness, of failing to put together threads of a story that a lot of people knew was out there and - perhaps - of failing to be as tough as it should have been on people its journalists liked and thought were doing a good job."
True enough. But who were the people that knew the story was " out there" and did nothing to protect the public trust?

Over the years there obviously have been many moving parts among the sinning pols and their beneficiaries and I find it hard to believe that not one aggrieved whistle-blower came forward with a sliver of information that would have led the paper to suit up a couple of its ace reporters to turn up the story. Cleveland politics have always been messier than normal, and more often than not, a hint that somebody might have his fingers in the cash register was a credible cue to go after it with the first team.

The paper has long had a roster of excellent reporters, some of whom ended up on another paper's honor roll. But the decision-makers at the top have been confused and overly-cautious at times and when in doubt, erred on the side of the polite conservative establishment. (See Kucinich, Dennis, for one glaring example. )

No matter how you come down on the coverage of a tattered political crowd, there can be little hope in today's media climate that the PD can improve its coverage as newsrooms, from the New York Times and CBS to the Weekly Reader continue to shrink. As I have lamented many times before, the disappearance of a healthy newspaper watchdog in any community is leading all of us down a very dark road well past the point of no return.

Of course, the PD's admitted early failure to go after a smoking gun in what turned out to be the city's biggest story of the year didn't help.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Pro Football: Out of "luck" only in closing moments

ALLOW ME to change the subject to professional football, of which I am a nutty fan. With sports, one can be nutty without endangering fragile world peace, encouraging the wrath of Rush Limbaugh or forcing John Boehner to choke up. Still, in the wake of Sunday's games it was possible to hear some things that were nuttier than others. Not that they changed anything, which is a good reason why sports is so important in our workaday cares.

For example, you could not pick up a paper or listen to a sportscast that didn't accuse the Pittsburgh Steelers or Cleveland Browns of being lucky to have won because of their opponents' blunders.

The Steelers won in overtime against the Buffalo Bills because, as "luck" would have it, a Buffalo receiver dropped a pass in the end zone that would have changed the outcome. (Actually, the crestfallen receiver openly blamed his misfortune on God's last-minute intervention instead. Honest.)

And the Browns won, as luck would have it, because Carolina's field goal kicker missed the payoff zone with seconds remaining.

Being inexpert on the fortunes of winning and losing, I still must wonder why the witnesses to these terrible moments (for the losers, at least) don't make a big deal out of a mishandled end zone pass in the first quarter of the game, or a stray field goal attempt in the second quarter or any other game-changing episode that unluckily (?) doesn't happen in the closing seconds.

It's quite nutty to raise these questions, I know. There is doubtless a perfectly rational explanation by the deeper thinkers, but I don't know what it is.

As Chuck Noll, the former Steelers coach, once explained to a reporter who asked whether the Steelers would have won if, by chance, an onside kick had worked by traveling the necessary 10 yards. "Winning," said Noll, "has nothing to do with geography."

Gene Waddell's handoff to Alex Arshinkoff

THE PASSING of Gene Waddell recalls the controversy over the changing of the guard when he resigned as Summit County Republican Chairman in 1978. He had called me a few days before the regularly scheduled (and usually news-less) party's executive committee meeting to alert me that he would be announcing his resignation. I was the Beacon Journal's political editor at the time and he wanted to explain that 13 years as the party's chairman was long enough.

As I sat down later at the committee's afternoon meeting , Dick Slusser, a Summit County commissioner, seemed puzzled. "What are you doing here?" he asked, innocently. "Nothing ever happens at these meetings."

"Just stay awake, Dick," I said. "I think something will happen today to liven things up."

Waddell presided over the routine business until he'd run through the regular agenda. Then came his startling notice that he was giving up his job and recommending the party's loyal young gadabout, Alex Arshinkoff, to replace him. (Arshinkoff's name had been passed down by Ray Bliss, who was trying to pump some young blood into the operation at headquarters.)

Some of the local achievers, including Mayor John Ballard, at the meeting were outraged by Waddell's summary call for an endorsement of Arshinkoff and demanded a postponement until they could find a candidate more to their liking. They even sent emissaries to Arshinkoff to persuade him to step aside when a new meeting to elect Waddell's successor was scheduled. Fat chance. (No pun intended!) After weeks of delay, Arshinkoff won the job.

What a change, at least in style points: Waddell was largely a soft-spoken, avoid-the-limelight lawyer who carefully avoided controversy at all costs by not going out of the lines. Arshinkoff moved into the role like a thousand cossacks, never more than a day or two free of controversy.

The rest is history.

Friday, November 26, 2010

A perfect Limbaugh national poll?

DID YOU happen happen to catch Rush Limbaugh's unhinged rant against President Obama's Thanksgiving statement and Rushbo's mad assaults on Native Americans? Here's a challenge to any national pollster: Ask only one question, that's all. It would be, yes or no:
Is Rush Limbaugh crazy?

She's not even stopping to take a breath

SARAH PALIN is America's leading growth industry. To those of you who have tired of hearing the name, she's only getting started. The New York Times, which is not usually given to superlatives to political pop stars, has already described her as a "booming...media empire." That seems a bit excessive. Media empires tend to boom anyway.

Still, Sarah is never content to rely only on a wink and a nod in her 24/7 quest for the presidency. She has her own TV series, sort of a travelogue on the wonders of Alaska, where she spends as little time as possible. She is on Rupert Murdock's payroll as a chirping insider on the Fox News of the day. She is a mainliner at right-wing rallies. And her daughter Bristol found her way onto "Dancing with the Stars" to finish a dubious third-place in the finals, outlasting purported better dancers for TV ratings-sake.

Oh, in her spare moments she writes books. For some reason, she is said to prefer California for her literary endeavors. She will begin a national tour, including a stop-off in a small town in politically-hot Iowa, for her latest tome, "America by Heart"" - a wispy title that is sure to become a best-seller among all of her heart-felt disciples. It didn't hurt that the advance notices from HarperCollins, her publisher, describes it as a "highly personal testament to her deep love of country, her strong roots in faith, and her profound appreciation of family." (She will doubtless leave her affection for Babe Ruth, Shirley Temple and the Durants' voluminous 10-part history of civilization for her next effort.)

Nevertheless, HarperCollins seems to have touched the traditional native emotions of Americans with its clever way of saying "God, mother and country." That squares nicely with her own boast that she is doing the work of God.

By now Palin, has surely moved ahead of some of the other presidential sketches such as impossible dreamer Newt Gingrich, deep south governor Haley Barbour and Mike Huckabee. Poor Mike has already warned the other so-called contenders for the crown that Sarah might "run away" with the nomination, and very well could be. I can't imagine Newt Gingrich tugging at a kayak in the Alaskan wilds and Barbour scaling a deadly cliff for a travelogue. For that matter it would be unseemly for Huckabee, a man of God, to beat a convulsing and bloodied fish in front of a movie camera.

What seemed impossible after she helped shatter John McCain's dream of the presidency, now seems quite doable for a tireless, self-absorbed, heavily-promoted agent of promise for a staggering nation - at least among her wing of the Republican Party. Her GOP opponents are taking notice. And some are already wincing, "It's scary....Very scary."

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Slow down, the voters may have some other ideas

ONE OF THE MANTRAS that Republican congressional leaders have energized since the election is that the people have spoken. Well, yes and no, depending on whether it means that the GOP clones are now free to do whatever the hell they want to do to defeat President Obama in 2012. That would include the latest babble from Michelle Bachmann that Obama is "anti-American".

But the problem with all of this breast-pounding on the right may have shown up in the latest McClatchy Newspapers-Marist poll that blunts some of the notions that the pols want what Americans want. One of the findings, for example, is that a majority of voters (51-44 pct.) like Obamacare and some even want to expand it. (Are the two new guys on the block in Ohio, John Kasich and Mike DeWine, listening?) Unsurprisingly, voters in the higher tax brackets, Tea Partiers and conservatives want to repeal it. Likewise, a majority of voters would not complain if the Democrats allowed the tax cuts for the wealthy expire on Dec. 31

So where does this leave the next Congress that will be throbbing with newly-elected right-wingers operating in the midst of the established GOP lions? Hard yo say, other than it could be a the new version of Edward Lear's Jumblies, who went to sea in a sieve.


Saturday, November 20, 2010

When truth is the victim of political nonsense

NOW THAT THE National Republican Governors conference has ended with huzzahs for all, it can be safely reported that there are presently 126 Republicans running for president. That figure will grow when my out-of-work cousin adds his name to the list in hopes of being the party's compromise candidate on the 43rd ballot. It's silly, I know, but you have never met my cousin.

It is also being reported by Matt Drudge, who heard it from an unidentified janitor in Rupert Murdoch's office, that Sarah Palin will be offered a new multimillion dollar contract to play Florence Henderson in a reprise of The Brady Bunch, the sweet domestic assembly sometimes known as the basic "blended" family. However, in the spirit of the blend, it was considered wise not to permit teenaged Willow Palin to refer to another student as a "faggot" on Facebook while demanding that people stop dumping "shit" on her family.

Michele Bachmann reportedly is preparing a lengthy mea culpa for gossiping that President Obama's trip to the Far East was costing $200 million a day. She will confess her error, saying it was more like $400 million a day.

Mitch McConnell will finally concede that all of his talk about balancing the budget by cutting taxes has been a ruse to disguise his singular reptilian goal of burying Obama in 2012.

Actually, except for the trash-talking Willow Palin, none of the above is true. But it doesn't have to be, does it? As the recent campaign so vividly demonstrated, there are words flowing from the lips of the pols and their hustler friends that are so Pavlovian that they would give
Barnum even greater reason to shout "sucker".

If the past election proved anything it's that many voters don't hold candidates to account for their sins, even though the Christian Right claims the higher moral ground when it sends its people to the polls. Try, for example, the Florida election that elected Rick Scott governor. He's the fellow whose private career included a run-in with the Feds of biblical proportions. His health-care company, Columbia/HCA (from which he was forced to resign) paid a $1.7 billion fine for Medicare fraud. He insists that it wasn't his idea to raid the Federal treasury and promises to run Florida as a business.

You might understand now why I told you my cousin is running for president. I was only kidding. But so are all of those Republicans who say they can lower taxes, balance the budget and create jobs. What will they think of next? The fun house has gotten quite crowded, don't you think?

Friday, November 19, 2010

Democrats, Republicans finally agree on something

WELL, WHAT HAPPENED on November 2 when the inmates took over the asylum?

We're in luck. There are no complicated answers!

On this point, there was sort of a political detente with sheathed swords Thursday night as a bipartsan panel of four campaign gurus agreed that the cause of the Democratic demise in Ohio (as elsewhere) was nothing more profound than an ailing economy. Beyond that, the autopsy produced the insiders' look into the cupboard of strategies that both sides employed - the theatrical props that adorn every campaign , from yard signs to polls to negative ads. Still, all of the traditional stuff appeared to be less important than the fixed perception that when a lot of folks are out of work, the only remedy is to fire the incumbents. To the winning sloganeers with their guaranteed fixes, one can only say good luck to that.

The occasion on panel night was the national conference of the American Association of Political Consultants hosted by the Bliss Institute at the University of Akron. The panelists, who would lead various discussions the next day, were Aaron Pickrell, Gov. Strickland's campaign manager; Michael Hartley, John Kasich's campaign manager; Former Ohio Republican chairman Robert Bennett and former Democratic campaign consultant, Gerald Austin. Bliss director John Green served as moderator.

Of the economic baggage lugged by Democrats in Ohio, Bennett observed that "tsunamis don't stop at the state line". That was soon obvious when the flood waters receded in Columbus. But Bennett was cautious about the long-term benefits to his party. He has witnessed too many reversals by the shifting voters over his many years in managing GOP business to be puffed up with overconfidence after this lopsided mid-term.

Meanwhile, Austin noted that all campaigns can be reduced to "good luck and bad luck." For Strickland the story was full of bad luck, some prompted by his own decisions. The governor's fate was sealed when Barack Obama was elected, Austin said, a novel idea that didn't appear in any of the other post-mortems. His reasoning: Strickland could not run against (i.e., blame) Washington because he and the president were both Democrats. With incisive satire, which has been often been associated with his long path through Ohio politics, Austin referred to Strickland's choice of head of the Ohio Department of Transportation from Brown County, a rural outpost in southwestern Ohio, quipping that the new director probably didn't even know where Cleveland was. He cited other things but you get the idea: bad luck.

On the other hand, Kasich arrived on the crest of the economic meltdown and as a friend of the newly emerging anger-philes souped up as the Tea Party. At that, he merely won a plurality in a close race although he has been sounding a lot like an Eliot Ness who ousted the bad guys by acclimation.

As for the Tea Partiers , Hartley tippy-toed lightly, describing the phenomenon as the "real deal. You can't play games with the Tea Party." That much was already confirmed by the way the TP's wiped out some Republican incumbents in the primaries. I don't think the old Republican lions know what to say or do about the new political menaces who moved into their neighborhood.

All the forthcoming internecine warfare will keep the speculators quite busy until the next election day. For now, Austin was content to compare winning politics with baseball: "See the ball. Hit the ball." That's not inside baseball either.


Thursday, November 18, 2010

Fox's Ailes: Can't get Nazis and socialists off his mind

THE REPUBLICANS' Jolly Roger - Ailes, that is - is unable to restrain his pleasure in the wake of the past election. The boss of Fox News, through whom many right-wing blessings flow, told Howard Kurtz of the Daily Beast that the people who run National Public Radio are Nazis and that President Obama's "socialism" is too far to the left to please Europe. On the other hand, he credited George W. Bush with being gentlemanly for not saying bad things about his successor - not unexpected praise from Ailes, who has worked his political talents through a couple of GOP presidents and resides quite comfortably as Rupert Murdoch's $6 million operative.

The voters continue to defy reason. In Ohio, they elected a new governor, John Kasich, after his many years as defunct-Lehman Brothers Columbus point man even though exit polls reported that American voters' primary concern was ...Wall Street.

Now come several polls that indicate growing public approval of openly gay and lesbian soldiers in the military. But we are also reminded that a CBS-New York Times poll in
February said public approval of gays and lesbians in the military stood at 70 pct. However, when the same voters were asked the same question about homosexuals, approval dropped to 57 pct. Hello out there. Anybody home?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

1776: When courage defined America's political class

AS WE CONTINUE to witness the genuflecting by some Democrats before the Republican hard-liners on Capitol Hill, it is obvious that they haven't learned much about the costs of running away from issues they once supported. Having fallen to their knees long before the ballots were counted, they lost anyway to the myths posed by their rivals. The Blue Dogs, ever fearful of losing an alley brawl on such issues as health care, taxes and Wall Street reforms, cut and ran without courage and honor.

The political class was quite different in the creation of the Declaration of Independence. They were well aware of the grave risks: The 56 men who signed the historic document knew that if their mission failed they would be strung up as traitors to the Crown. Neither side in today's ugly debate over moving the country forward comes close to measuring up to the colonists whose courage has led to the system that even allows for today's self-serving political cowards.

As Ben Franklin warned at the time: "Indeed we must all hang together, otherwise we shall most assuredly hang separately."

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

When Palin says refudiate, it's now a word

IS THERE NO end to the milestones that Sarah Palin has reached in her carefully planned jaunt to the Oval Office? From her vice presidential candidacy, to her book-writing, to her Tea Party universe, to her TV shows, she's now made it to the pages of the New Oxford
American Dictionary with a single word! Well, not really a word until she made it one, probably unintentionally at that!

The word: Refudiate. Translation: part repudiate, part refute. The New Oxford editors were so taken by it that they toasted it as the Word of the Year. Given that there are still about six weeks remaining in the year and the Mama Grizzly will still have a lot of things to say, the editors obviously are convinced that it's worth the risk that she won't come up with anything better. (The word was born in her protest of the proposed mosque near the Ground Zero site.)

So her linguistic miscue will forever be acknowledged in the New Oxford pages as a kind of nonsense chatter that was offered to us by Lewis Carroll in such meanderings as Alice's meeting with Humpty Dumpty in Jabberwocky. (Slithy, he explained , merged lithe with slimy.

But Palin is no Lewis Carroll. He knew what he was doing when he consciously created the words. With her, it just came out that way. We expect to see it on the Palin crowd's t-shirts. Operators will be standing by.

Out of the mouths of knaves

ADD THESE POINTS OF interest in your entertainment guide for your visit to Capitol Hill:

Meet Andy Harris, the conservative Maryland anesthesiologist, who will be going to Congress as a big winner with an anti-Obamacare campaign. At a freshman orientation meeting, he declared his confusion over why his federal health care benefits didn't kick in immediately after he was sworn-in in January instead of having him wait until February. Well, it is what it is, Doc. Maybe all of your sleep-inducing has had an effect on you, too.

Meet Sen. John Ensign, Nevada Republican, another harsh opponent of Obamacare, who accepted without protest a $960,000 earmarked grant to the University of Nevada for a primary care residency program. Ensign has opposed earmarks, too.

Meet Sen. Mitch McConnell, whose state of Kentucky has received nearly $1 million in earmarks. He now says he supports a moratorium on ....um...earmarks.

Finally, meet conservative Rep. Darrell Issa, a fun guy from California and the wealthiest congressman in the corps, who went on Rush Limbaugh's show and denounced President Obama "as one of the most corrupt presidents in modern times." When he was challenged later to put up or shut up - Rep. Dennis Kucinich was among those who joined the assault on him - Issa meekly recanted on CNN with regrets about his fumble in his own (Limbaugh's) end zone. "If I had to do it over again, I'd have parsed my words a little more carefully," he said.
"Do I think the president is personally corrupt? No. I should never have implied that or created that in a quick statement on a radio call-in."

Strange things are said with so much adrenalin flowing in the Republican ranks these days.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

America's new era of enlightenment

IT WASN'T until New York Jets kicker Nick Folk missed his third field goal against the Browns on Sunday that I suspected Sen. John McCain of being a Cleveland fan. McCain has acquired such a reputation of changing his mind on issues that some discourteous reporters have now accused him of moving the goal posts when cornered with questions about his contradictory positions. Even his wife Cindy is now in the habit of doing it. She, first endorsed the repeal of don't ask, don't tell, and then joined hubby in opposing it.

To recap, McCain first held out against the DADT repeal until he heard from a commission that had been created to study the effects on the military. When word got out that it would support ending such restrictions, McCain complained on Meet the Press Sunday (Does he have a contract as a permanent guest?) that the commission didn't go far enough, so he is demanding further studies until the commission gets it right. The goal posts were moved into the hotdog concession.

I'm trying to acclimate myself to the boldly declared arrival of the breast-plated Republicans in January, although it is apparent that some have already arrived. There is hubris everywhere in the greatest upheaval in proprietary claims since the the Indian Removal Act against the Cherokees in 1830.

In Ohio, the Senate president, Republican Bill Harris, has already vowed to block any appointments to the Ohio Casino Control Commission by departing Gov. Ted Strickland. He told the Plain Dealer: "If they don't resign, then we'll take action." On the other hand, Gov.-elect John Kasich is said to have mixed emotions about gambling and thinks it would be prudent to study it more. Further study? How uncharacteristic of him!

The stakes are much higher at the national level, where there will likely be still greater resistance to Administration policies .South Carolina GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham, has become so forcefully bold in the party's winner circle that he wants to bomb Iran. For a time, I thought he and his fellow Republican in the Senate., Tea Party hero Jim DeMint, were leaning toward bombing Ft. Sumter. But if memory serves, that's already been tried to no one's benefit.

Other changes are expected to elevate Rep. John Shimkus, Illinois Republican , to a commanding chair on environmental policy. Shimkus is the fellow who denies global warming with the rationale that only God can destroy the earth. Corporate lobbyists are delirious that we may have staved off Obama's socialism and will no longer have to apologize for Wall Street bonuses. No one is more delirious than Dick Armey, the former Texas congressman, who is credited with being the chaperone of Tea Partiers into seats of power with his lobbying operation called FreedomWorks. Not being a shy person, he invited a number of the new congressmen to a meeting where he explained to the neophytes how the system works.

Be prepared to witness the new era of enlightenment.

Friday, November 12, 2010

'Decision Points': 'Bush a borrower of others material

WHAT IS IT about George W.Bush that he has spent so much of his life as a Mitty-like achiever and never getting it right? This is especially true these days as he moves about to rehab his fallen image with his book, "Decision Points". Although critics have panned the pedestrian writing of his so-called memoirs (despite alleged assistance from a standby author), he's now being accused of lifting anecdotal material - sometimes word for word - from other sources without attribution.

Ryan Grim, a writer for Huffington Post, has documented a number of instances in which Dubya left an impression that he had witnessed a particular meeting recited in the book while pirating these supposed presidential moments from other writers' accounts. (Full disclosure: I have not read the book, nor do I intend to.)

Who knows? Maybe he believes what he wrote was part of his personal experiences as president. Ronald Reagan, the conservatives' Master of the Universe, had some of these same memory lapses(?) . As a projected war hero even though he never drifted far from Hollywood, Reagan drifted in other ways, citing war experiences that were actually created on a movie set rather than a live battlefield - and apparently unaware of the difference.

Alito: the conduct code doesn't apply to him

THE STIR CAUSED BY Justice Samuel Alito's presence at right-wing fund-raisers not only raises questions about his own ideological neutrality on the bench but also whether he is arrogantly defying court rules that bar such action. Alito turned up at a fund-raiser for American Spectator, one of the prominent voices of the American Right, to fill out the crowd that included the loony Rep. Michele Bachmann and GOP National Chairman Michael Steele. (Yep, he hasn't gone away!) When a reporter from Think Progress asked him what he was doing at a political fund-raiser, Alito dismissed the question with "It's not important that I'm here" and walked away. That brief encounter with the media defined hubris.

It's not the first time that he has been spotted hanging out at conservative fund-raisers. Last year he attended an event by the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, whose preferred candidate was Christine 'O'Donnell, the big Tea Party loser in Delaware. Web reports allege that he helped raised $70,000 for the Institute.

In case you need further witness to the rule that bars federal judges from poitical events, here it is from RAW STORY's website:
According to the Code of Conduct for United States Judges, a justice should not "solicit for, pay an assessment to, or make a contribution to a political organization or candidate, or attend or purchase a ticket for a dinner or other event sponsored by a political organization or candidate."
Back in 2006, after Alito had been nominated by George W. Bush to succeed Sandra Day O'Connor on the bench, Alito was more humble in the face of his big promotion. He told a student assembly at Franklin & Marshall College that a judge is guided by law and must forever be aware of it in his or her decisions.

"I have continued to learn from various colleagues that you have to have an open mind to wisdom whenever it presents itself, he said. Assuming that he has read the code, his wisdom enables him to say "it's not important."

Welcome back, Kimberli Hagelberg

THE DIGITAL AGE is adding a new voice to Fairlawn-Bath news coverage. It's called Patch and is part of the local news system created by AOL across the country. The editor of the online report is veteran newswoman Kimberli Hagelberg, former Beacon Journal and WCPN reporter. Kim says she will be working with freelance correspondents as well as covering news events herself to put out the daily news page on your computer screen. It will not only provide text, but also videos. And, yes, AOL will be developing advertising for the page. AOL's website site for Patch (Patch.com) says coverage will be "community specific". Look for it soon. In the shrinking news business, there's plenty of room for one more voice.

Thursday, November 11, 2010


THE REPUBLICANS, joined by some mindless Democrats, continue to retreat before the arrival of those Tea Party-backed congressmen/women on Capitol Hill in January. Get this from Rep. Eric Cantor, the Virginia rightie who will be the House Republican leader: "I've always thought of the Tea Party as representing America." I wonder if Cantor, who is Jewish, includes those folks at Tea Party rallies waving signs insisting that "America is a Christian nation."


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Chasing our tails to create jobs?

ALL OF THE THREATS from the right to cut government workers to shave the deficit leads me to wonder...

Every government employe who loses his or her job will not be paying taxes nor spending for things at the mall in a retail-based economy.

With tax revenue shrinking at all levels of government, it will necessitate more layoffs and only the wealthiest will be spared.

As government payrolls continue to shrink, even shedding law enforcement and school teachers, there will be more unemployed.

With more unemployed, there will be still greater loss of tax revenue.

As the tax base shrinks, there will be even fewer jobs and less spending at the malls.

And so the descending process continues unabated, feeding on itself at a time when the deep thinkers are promising to create jobs.

Not being sympathetic to the Republicans' secret plans to attack unemployment and create jobs, I know I'm missing something as we continue to chase our tails to do something that will only make things worse. But what?

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

For Tom Price, haste makes waste

IN THEIR haste to prove that they ain't kidding around these days, hyperventilating House Republicans unveiled a plan to eliminate a welfare program that they say would eliminate $2.5 billion from the federal budget. But wait! The Huffington Post reports that the proposal announced by Rep. Tom Price of Georgia, who heads the Republican Study Committee, would kill a program that has already expired. ( Price was targeting a program in what he called President Obama's failed "stimulus" package. ) Well, it made another good photo-op for the congressman.
And the Republican-controlled House hasn't even been seated yet. Never mind.

Eric Cantor: Boehner's doppelganger?

You should get used to this duet who will appear together in most photo ops for the next two years -Reps. John Boehner and Eric Cantor. Eric is usually one step to the rear and one step to the right, the politically correct lineup of the pecking order.

On the other hand, is it at all possible that there is no Eric Cantor at all and that the image you see is simply a doppelganger of the incoming House speaker? Don't sneer at that, folks. Not after all of the other strange things that happened in the past election. (I felt the same way about Christine O'Donnell when she appeared on the screen with Sarah Palin. And I was right!)

Monday, November 8, 2010


IT'S HARD TO BELIEVE that a whole week has passed since the Republican massacre of the D's and we still haven't put the slightest dent in unemployment. To be sure, a lot of Republicans got new jobs but it was a wash since they put a lot of Democratic officeholders out of work. I know I shouldn't be impatient with the promised progress by the victors, but I've not forgotten the instant assault on President Obama by the GOP chorus the moment he was voted into office. As I recall, they warned us that America would be denied an elegant future because he was born in a rain forest. But even they couldn't agree on which one it was.

Once again, having not been one of the Army of the Potomac's minor pundits who was invited to the endless "expert" postmortems before the national TV cameras, I am left to man up to my confusion over the results in this blog while the stars shine in their own well-fed universe in Washington. (A friend tells me that the media is now reduced to a handful of third-tier invitees now that they exhausted hundreds of experts within 24 hours of the election.).

So I will say that the campaigns were the ugliest that anyone could have imagined for a nation that claims a superior grasp of political stability and can-do efficiency. .That could only occur with stable minds and there is plenty of evidence that the pols and the voters had decided it was better to wander off into the Twilight zone.

Exit polls reported that people who knew very little about Obamacare or Wall Street reforms, expressed dissatisfaction with both. They then voted Republican anyway while at the same time listing Wall Street as the No. 1 problem. (In Ohio, whose politics have become an echo of the Deep South, then voted in a governor who spent years as a Wall Streeter.) I would call this cognitive dissonance, except how many of right wingers - pols and their entourages - would understand the term?

The buzzwords arrived daily with clear signs of homophobia, racism and ethnic and religious bias. The angrier ones invoked the Constitution - a sturdy but imperfect document that allowed the founders to condone slavery - some simply regurgitating what somebody else had told them. .

More disconnects: Voters disapproved more "generic" Republicans (only slightly) than Democrats but voted for the GOP candidates. A dingbat, Rep. Tim Jones, represented by birther queen Orly Taitz in a lawsuit against the president, was unanimously endorsed by his Republican caucus in the Missouri House of Representatives to be that party's legislative leader. Textbooks were rewritten. Corporate America funneled millions upon millions of dollars into the campaigns with anonymity granted by the U.S. Supreme Court. Thanks to cable TV and the abetting "mainstream" networks, voters acted more on misinformation than facts - a helluva lot more - which is a measure of a society's decline.

Finally, the Tea Party...well, no need to go into that. You've heard more than enough about it already! Besides, it' s an awful way to start out a new week.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Kasich already barking orders to his detractors

AS WE MIGHT have suspected, John Kasich didn't waste a moment in the wake of his narrow victory (49-47) that will wedge him into the governor's office. Never bashful about his image as a fast-talking hustler, he sounded more like a top sergeant than Ohio's next chief executive, barking warnings to any and all who would deny him his preeminent role from whom all blessings may now be expected to flow over the next four years. He first tore into the state teachers union for opposing him in the campaign with language that infuriated him. He demanded that it apologize to him by running full-age ads to admit its sins. That bit of grandstanding, of course, never works, whether it is sought by Kasich or any other politician once the campaign camp fires burn out. Besides, full page ads are expensive, and he knows it.

More interesting as he burst emerged into the center ring was his combative, well staged attack on lobbyists at a big meeting in Columbus that was reportedly mostly attended by...Statehouse lobbyists, who, I would assure him, will still be around long after he is somewhere off in retirement. Observing that a looming budget deficit could reach $8 billion in the next millennium, he allowed that it would not be wise for them to be hanging around for their pet projects when he starts slashing programs to make ends meet.

Among the pols closest to him at the meeting was Summit County Republican Alex Arshinkoff, a lobbyist himself, who is enjoying a rare moment in the winner's circle these days. Also on board was Don Thibaut, who, according to Bloomberg BusinessWeek, is a founding partner of The Credo Company, a newly created government relations consultant and lobbyist. Thibaut had been Kasich's chief of staff when the governor-elect was in congress and was later paid by a non-profit outfit associated with Kasich when he left Capitol Hill. The Ohio Democratic Party has asked IRS to inquire about the financial track, but that 's not likely to go anywhere, either.

It may never be clear where Kasich can go to support his truculence, but you can be sure that a year or two from now he will still be barking to convince us that he knows exactly how to do it, whatever it is that he says he can do. And lobbyists will still be making phone calls.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Political stuff that won't cure a headache

ELECTION LEFTOVERS (Best if accompanied by aspirin ):

For all of the raging political attacks on the bailouts of auto companies, including critics like auto dealer Tom Ganley, did you happen to see that General Motors has paid back the Federal government in full, plus interest? Sales of GM and other companies have all risen, which analysts attribute to a rise in consumer confidence. They also note that without the
$50 billion bailout, which saved thousands of workers' jobs up and down the line, GM would have been liquidated. So may we now say, in the rhetoric of the times, that GM got its company back?

There's some fresh conjecture that when the Republican head hunters start carving up new congressional districts in Ohio to accommodate the state's impending loss of two seats, they will match up two Democrats in Northern Ohio - Reps. Betty Sutton and Dennis Kucinich - to kick out one of them. There's a precedent: to eliminate Rep. Tom Sawyer, the ex-Akron-based congressman, Republicans so butchered the county that it was divided among three congressmen. It later cost Sawyer his job, but the GOP and Summit County Republican Chairman Alex Arshinkoff netted nothing from it because Sawyer's district was pieced out to two Democrats and one Republican. Inasmuch as there isn't a Democratic congressman left south of Akron, the options this time are limited as to who will be sent into retirement.

Speaking of Arshinkoff, he told the Beacon Journal that he is now so happy with the election results that "I can't see straight." Careful when you get behind the wheel to head to your favorite restaurant, Alex. There are sure to be other cars on the road. Wouldn't it be safer if you hired a chauffeur and expensed it to party headquarters.?

More talk now that outgoing Gov. Ted Strickland will appoint Atty. Gen. Richard Cordray, one of the brightest Democratic officeholders defeated Tuesday, to the Ohio Supreme court vacancy. Good move, if it happens.

It's no small irony that six of eight Democratic representatives who opposed the extension of unemployment benefits and were on Tuesday's ballots are out of work, having been dispatched by the voters. Also, Blue Dog Arkansas Sen. Blanche Lincoln, a Democrat who gave the White House a headache. also was defeated. Shouldn't that say something about sticking to your beliefs instead of appeasing the other side? Are you listening, President Obama?

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Boehner means business about,,.um... small business

IN THEIR POST-ELECTION theatrics, Republican leaders in the House continued to hypnotize us with their promises that the new Congress will get American moving again by helping small business. You can count on us to help small businesses in America, the likely House Speaker told us countless times long past midnight. It's critical, he says, that Congress take up the task immediately for the sake of...um...small businesses. Rep. Eric Cantor, the next in line dauphin in the House, is another robotic supporter of..um...small business. The only difference of Boehner's portrayal of the alleged work ahead is that Cantor doesn't say it tearfully but rather with a wide brush-a- brush-a brush-a Ipana smile that appears to be awfully real.

Where have these fellows been?

As I recall, the Democratic Congress finally was successful in passing a $30 billion small- business measure in September after GOP chorus blocked it for months. But it's easy to find disconnects with Boehner, one of corporate America's (i.e., big, big business) favorite baggers of lobbyist money even if he insists he is a commoner who shares the woes of small business because as a kid he used to scrub floors in his father's little tavern.

Kasich, DeWine create jobs- for themselves!

IF EVER AN election was preordained - or God's will, as some of the victors will call it - Tuesday's results will do nicely for a class in Politics 101. For some time, the national pundits had been convinced that life, as the Democrats once knew it, was over. The economy, a bottomless supply of campaign money, Tea Party hysterics and a determined assault on President Obama's policies from the board rooms of powerful corporate interests were a deadly brew for the party in temporary power. It was even worse in Ohio, where Cuyahoga County woke up each morning to more evidence of Democratic corruption, Gov. Strickland was burdened with a serious recession not of his own making in a state where manufacturing jobs had already been vanishing back in the years when Republicans had long controlled everything in Columbus but the course of the Scioto River..

As a so-called swing state, Ohio also finds a way to eat its young, as it did in the defeat of Atty. Gen. Richard Cordray, one of its most promising younger voices, to a bland Republican
retread, Mike DeWine, who came along for ride because as a once-defeated U.S. senator, he needed a job. (And so much for the unanimous scintillating major newpaper endorsements of Cordray!)

At the national level, it does discourage optimism for the nation's future when John Boehner says, yeah, we'll work with Obama but only if we don't compromise any Republican principles. It sounds like the comment that has often been attributed to Nikita Khrushchev that "what's mine is mine and what's yours is negotiable."

Or how about Mitch McConnell's pledge that the GOP's top priority was to make Obama a one-term president - this from the Senate minority leader who couldn't even get his own man nominated in Kentucky's Republican primary.

Well, it's now up to the Republicans in Ohio and across the land to see what they can do to turn the economy around by reducing the budget deficit and cutting taxes at the same time. If they seriously believe it can be done that will qualify them for the White Queen's boast to Alice in Through the Looking- Glass that she could believe six impossible things before breakfast.

FOOTNOTES: There was one bright spot in Ohio on Tuesday: Democratic Rep. Betty Sutton's convincing defeat of Tom Ganley, the conservative auto dealer who once had boasted that he would put up $6 million of his own money for his campaign. The moral: Even successful businessmen make bad investments ....

Some talk around town centers on Summit County Republican Chairman Alex Arshinkoff's future now that he will claim to be a preeminent force ($$$ ) in Kasich's election. Some say that Arshinkoff will have less of a chance getting a job in the new administration than getting appointed to the University of Akron Board of Trustees, a position he once held. If so, it will be fun to watch how that plays out.

Scary signs of the times: Tea Party Republican Carl Paladino's snarling appearance before his crowd with a baseball bat after he was thrashed in the New York gubernatorial race by Democrat Andrew Cuomo. Paladino , a wealthy real estate developer, vowed he would return, and waved the bat that would serve as his weapon.