Monday, May 31, 2010

Face it: Facebook has limits, too

I ONCE WROTE a newspaper column noting that as life went on it became necessary to rid your brain of names to make room for the new people that you meet along the way. For all of us, it is the inevitable tipping point of memory that must satisfy a clear recall of the starting lineup of your old baseball team or the name of your sixth grade geography teacher. After serious consideration, I decided that I had to make a list of the least worthy of those crowding my memory, beginning with a nasty cousin whose name I've now purposely forgotten in order to add the name of a neighbor.

I don't know how many people I can identify with a name now, even if I leave out the guys on my old baseball cards. But it's doubtless a lot. And the number keeps changing daily.

So imagine my interest in reading that technological diversions as mighty as Facebook have their limits. (I'm not a Facebook user, but do try to keep up to date to be hip f0r social gatherings.)

According to a report in the New York Times, the people who run Facebook have capped the number of Facebook "friends" at 5,000, which is not likely to sit well with some of the 400 million users. The term for Facebook cleansing, I believe, is "unfriending," which simply means clearing out a name here and there to make room for others. True, these are painful judgment calls, but so are a lot of other things in our lives.

The Times also mentioned a British anthropologist and Oxford professor, Robin Dunbar,
who says the human brain can't deal with more than 150 "stable interpersonal relationships", which is probably why Congress is always fighting over something. It's called "Dunbar's Number," should you ever end up on Jeopardy.

I should stop here. I have told you everything that I know about Facebook. But it was good to know that my brain had unfriended one of my cousins long before there was an internet. In other words, I will take credit for being well ahead of the curve. Cool.


Friday, May 28, 2010

Connecticut GOP strikes out on $ingle pitch

MAY WE TAKE a moment to thank NY Times columnist Gail Collins for keeping us up to date on the latest bizarre Republican meltdown in preparing America for a secure and prosperous future in Jurassic Park. This time, the scene of the crime was Connecticut's GOP Senate primary. As Collins tells us, the state party had two choices in selecting a candidate to endorse.
One was Rob Simmons, a "well regarded former congressman who is a decorated Vietnam war veteran." The other? Linda McMahon, who made a fortune in promoting wrestling, some of it muddy, "building up an entertainment business that specialized in blood, seminaked women and scripted subplots featuring rape, adultery and familial violence. In which the candidate, her husband and children played themselves. Also, the family is named Sexy Bitch."

Faced with the choice between a war hero and a wrestling freak show operator with $50 million to spend on the campaign, the GOP had little choice but to endorse McMahon. (How did you guess?)

Should we even mention that in this raffish display of entrepreneurial ventures there were even instances of wrestlers' (?) heads being slashed with razor blades, an excessive outburst of anti-social and unsanitary behavior in which one wrestler is said to have come down with hepatitis from his wounds in the ring.

Given the current political culture of the party, I wouldn't be surprised if Sarah Palin is invited to the ring up there to wrestle a moose. Being a woman of religious fervor, she would be fully clothed, of course.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

It was no more than, eh... a sexual massage

I AM HERE TO TO warn you that since homosexuals took over the island of Lesbos and possibly Michelangelo's paint brush centuries ago, the crime rate involving gays in America has risen 2,386 pct.! Whoa, there. That's not true, of course, but I am rehearsing for a possible job on Fox News or James Dobson's Family Research Council. The latter outfit may be more immediately available since its co-founder, George Rekers, a fiercely anti-gay Southern Baptist minister, was widely reported to have been traveling around with a 20-year-old male prostitute that he acquired from a source called Rentboy. Com. Rekers denies the unflattering details of the story. On the other hand, the lad says he gave Rekers sexual massages. In fairness, for some people, that might mean nothing more than a finger flip at 20 paces.

But I was going to talk about Peter Sprigg, a senior fellow for policy studies at the very same Family Research Council. Sprigg, also an ordained Baptist minister, has been loudly pestering sensible people on national broadcasts with the idea that gays are criminals who are "trashing" democracy and, to say the least, ought not to be bothering straight soldiers honorably serving on active duty.

Although I have found no evidence that Sprigg served in the military, he seems to be dispensing a lot of inside wisdom on the system.

I've made a note to remember this the next time one of these whirlybirds flies off the handle about gays on TV. I stuck it in my hypocrites file.

a ethath

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Ganley-Fedeli axis: When $$$ soar

MEGA-AUTO DEALER Tom Ganley's congressional campaign against U.S Rep. Betty Sutton is being defined these days by one striking feature: Money, big money. You may recall that at the grand rollout of his campaign he was said to have pledged $6 million of his own cash for the race. He later "loaned" the campaign $2 million that's likely to be channeled into a TV assault on Sutton. Now comes word that he will be honored at a fund-raiser promoted by his staff in the richly appointed corporate offices (complete with a big restaurant) of the Fedeli Group on Rockside Rd. on June 3. It's owned by another millionaire to the umpteenth power, private insurance broker Umberto Fedeli - from whom many blessings have flowed to Republican candidates. (I'm told Fedeli meets annually with the pope for inspiration at the Vatican.)

The tickets run from $1,000 to $2,500. At that price, it's not likely that you will find any pensioners or undocumented workers in the crowd. The highlight of the evening will be a visit by House minority leader John Boehner, whatever that's worth for a pol whose approval ratings are hanging out in the 20s.

So far, Ganley's name-dropping successes have included an endorsement from true right-winger Bay Buchanan, an appearance on Mike Huckabee's Fox program, with well wishes from the host, and now an elbow-rubbing event with Boehner. None of this would be seductive in a northern Ohio congressional district. Still, with Fedeli aboard, the two could provide a new kitchen in his restaurant to return Sutton, as some would have it, to a woman's traditional role.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


The Lukens piece refers to him as "Bible-quiting". That was a typo. Should have been "Bible Quoting". There is obviously a big difference - a big, big difference that only an erring finger could create. Sorry about that. On the other hand, "quitting" has two t's!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Without his flag, the Lukens Buz is gone.

THE DEATH OF former Ohio congressman D0nald (Buz) Lukens was reported on the Plain
Dealer obit pages with a photo of a forlorn figure atilt to the right. If it suggested a need for sympathy, there was something missing. As one of his aides once explained to me after he and a few others struggled to force upright an American flag whose pole scraped the ceiling of a small airport office, "The congressman never goes anywhere without a flag."

For a time back in the Rhodes Era of Ohio politics, Lukens, a feel-good, show-biz, super-patriotic, Bible-quoting conservative, could not be entirely ignored by the Republican Party, whether he was recruiting right-wing support groups or looking for ways to embarrass Gov. Rhodes in anticipation of challenging him for a senate race in 1970.

At first glance, Lukens was a pleasant, unthreatening creature with a lively wit and the sort of looks that might very well attract young women to a sweet-talking bachelor on the way up.

As a political reporter for the Beacon Journal, I spent several days in the Middletown area in southwestern Ohio tracking down rumors that Buz was engaged in mischief with campaign funds. That included mysterious $100 rewards to majorettes for reasons not easily explained.
His friends back home were concerned about it as they appeared to have no more than a superficial understanding of where the money was going. Even his "24th District Club" was little more than a name on a letterhead. When I talked to the club's treasurer, Ed Cranmer, he had trouble remembering the name of club president, Fred Harding. Later, Harding tried to explain the unaccountable nature of the club: "If I sound somewhat vague at times, it's because we have a somewhat loose operation and our bookkeeping might be a little sloppyl"

That suited Lukens just fine.

But there were big, bad moments ahead for him. He tried to undermine Rhodes by secretly passing along charges to Life magazine alleging the governor's earlier ties with the mob - a clandestine initiative that he vehemently denied at a hastily -called Capitol Hill news conference denouncing me after my article appeared in the BJ. (One of his aides later said Buz was upset because the article's details were so accurate he wondered who leaked it.)

Twenty years later, having returned to congress after a long break in the Ohio senate, he was convicted of having fully-paid sex with a 16 year old Columbus girl, then lost the 1990 GOP primary to John Boehner. He resigned before his term expired. His troubles didn't end there: In 1996, he was sentenced to a 30-month prison term upon conviction of accepting bribes from a couple of Cincinnati businessmen.

Despite that photo, flag or no flag, I find it hard to sympathize.


Saturday, May 22, 2010

Texas Board of Education's bid for righteous history

IT WAS A good week, sort of, for Thomas Jefferson. It was a horrendous week for James Madison and Ted Kennedy as well as the school kids in Texas. It came about as a group of demonic religious conservatives - Christians, they call themselves - managed to change what public school students can and cannot read in their textbooks. Book-burner Savanarola never had it so good as he was led to the stake.

After a long and divisive contest to obliterate Jefferson from textbooks (he believed, as you know, in separation of church and state), he managed to barely make the cut and get a mention in the revisionists new textbooks. Madison and Kennedy weren't so fortunate as the Texas Board of Education voted 9-5 to brainwash the young folks with an upgrade of Joe McCarthy, never mind that he was such a heavy drinker that it drove him to his grave. Ah, Phyllis Schlafly, at age 85, is back in print, too. Occasionally known as the conservatives' godmother, she made it to the top of their list back in the early 1960s in the Goldwater-LBJ campaign, offering the voters a shred of wisdom in her authored "A Choice not an Echo," which turned out to be no more than a mosquito bite for LBJ.

The new curriculum standards, which become effective in 2012-13, deal with the old right-wing standbys that the revisionsists insist need to play a greater role in a young person's education: anti-climate change and anti-separation of church and state. The shopping list is much longer, but you get the point.

You'd think that by now, some of these folks on the school board would be a lot more concerned that Texas ranks 49th in verbal SAT scores and 46th in average math scores. But that isn't the way the game is played these days in the Lone Star State. Gov. Rick Perry, who says some loony things from time to time, is strongly supportive of the state board's action. That isn't true of the 1,200 or so college historians who say the new standards distort the historical record.

There are many Texans, of course, who are embarrassed by the board's action - but not enough of them to vote out the religitics who are driving the bus. The vote, the papers down there noted, was along party lines and the Republicans prevailed. Not only that, they prevailed with confidence that a Christian God is on their side. As board member Cynthia Dunbar said in her opening prayer for the historic board meeting, America is a "Christian land governed by Christian principles." (Dunbar, a lawyer, has complained that the current educational standards are "unconstitutional, tyrannical and tools of perversion."

Someday the book burners may decide to live by the principles they pretend to uphold. But it's a long shot.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The GOP brand: Witless anti-porn gambit

THE CONGRESSIONAL REPUBLICANS who are having trouble keeping their holier colleagues from engaging in sinful adultery are turning to pornographic trick plays to block Democratic bills that have nothing at all to do with prurient interest.

The latest GOP downer from Indiana is that Rep. Mark Souder, an evangelical Christian who was making a video with a staffer that championed family values and abstinence has resigned after word got out that he was having an affair with said staffer who was assisting him in the video. They were obviously setting out on a video career with hands-on experience.

But up on the Hill, Republican congressmen are attaching anti-porn amendments to important bills in a way that would embarrass Democrats if the bills ever passed. We've heard of obstructionist tactics in the past, but whatever old white guys thought up the porn gambit will doubtless be hailed as a cavalry leader of a witless gang of political nomads. I can only conclude that these fellows get some kind of subliminal pleasure from invoking sex as a legislative ruse. But you do have to wonder whether the country wouldn't be a lot farther ahead with its important business at hand if the GOPers spent even more time with their girlfriends instead of trying to be so mindlessly clever in their day jobs.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

A visit to Lima and the Hermanators along the way

I SLIPPED OUT of town for a few days last week to give a couple of lectures at the Ohio State University Lima Campus. It is academe at its unhurried best, with plenty of parking, friendly hosts and attentive students who sat through the talks to the honors group.

The round trip through west central Ohio on U.S. 30 also reminded me of another universe with broad farmlands as flat as a calm sea interrupted only by isolated stands of trees and tiny glistening roofs on the distant horizon. Along the way there were county and township road markers that, I suppose, snaked through the fields to one village or another. I had to wonder at times whether there was enough for a sparrow to do to fill a calm day likethis one.

It is unyielding Republican country. In the last election John McCain carried Allen County (Lima's home) by more than 63 pct. of the vote. In nearby Hancock County, the story was the same, as it was - and has been - through many of the state's rural counties. One important element in this, I soon learned as a I surfed my car radio, is that the scattered farmhouses under those glistening roofs are a somewhat isolated captive audience for the right-wing Christian broadcasters (southern preachers, mostly ) who dominate the dial. Within minutes, you realize that you are tuned in to what I would describe as "religitics" - the forceful use of Biblical references to destroy disfavored politicians. In this instance, over and over, "Hussein" Obama.

I finally landed on a program called Herman's Show. It's a national call-in program on American Family Radio that might make Fox News blush. There is little about the conversation that would suggest a rational give-and-take. As for Herman, his thesis is, "You need chicken to make chicken salad." (No argument there, Herman!) And that guide to better living is doubtless an integral part of Herman's "Hermanator's Intelligent Thinkers Movement."

Herman further urges: "Listen! You might just learn something." I listened, and I'm still waiting.

You can't make this up.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Newt Gingrich, the anecdotal candidate

With more than two years ahead of us before the next national election, we are already in the advanced stage of anecdotal presidential candidates who may be remembered more for their nonsensical utterances than for a single thought on how to improve the Republic. Years from now if somebody mentions the name of an anecdotal president, somebody else is bound to say, "Wasn't he (or she) the person who insisted that you can make lemonade from apples?" (Tee-hee) Among those who quickly come to mind is Newt Gingrich. Newt, who seems to remain obsessed with his need to retire to the Oval Office, was back on Fox saying a couple of curious things that have been logged into the oddball department for future political historians.

First, he said President Obama should withdraw his nomination of Elena Kagan for the Supreme Court because she hates the military. To which I would append: "And what was your reason for avoiding military service, Newt?

Secondly, he huffed that Harvard accepted money from the Saudis while she was on the faculty there. Thanks to Sam Stein, of the Huffington Post, for reminding everyone that Gingrich offered this complaint on Fox, whose second highest shareholder in NewsCorp., the parent company, next to owner Rupert Murdoch is Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, a Saudi oil tycoon.
And Newt is laying to the groundwork to run for president!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Freedom-Loving Tea Party denies your vote?

LET ME SEE if I have this right: The Tea Partiers , who chant and shout for their freedom, are heavily into a movement to deny all of us the freedom to vote for our U.S. senators, thus reviving the way it used to be in the earliest days of the Republic. They want to repeal the 17th Amendment and have state legislatures choose the senators instead. That, they contend, would guarantee states the right to protect their interests against the national government.

Even if it's a dumb idea, which it is, they have already trapped some Republicans into accepting it. (Some of them accept anything that isn't President Obama's idea!) But before they excite another Tea Party rally with the mere mention of the scheme, shouldn't they first remind their audiences that repealing an amendment to the Constitution, even if successful, probably wouldn't occur until the next Ice Age. It would take a two-thirds vote of both houses of Congress, which would then submit it to the state legislatures, where it would need three-fourths of them to approve it for survival.

Undeterred by the maddening logistics, the TP movers and shakers are now having politicians sign a petition to support the repeal. (Repeal is quite in vogue today, with guys like Mike DeWine, the Republican candidate for Ohio attorney general, pledging that his first order of business as the AG would be to sue to repeal the health care reform law. The party's gubernatorial candidate, John Kasich, merely wants to repeal the state income tax.)

Still, crazy ideas also can produce uneasy moments for political wannabes who don't read the fine print in their haste to play nice to right-wingers. For example, there's this Republican candidate down in the Ohio's 15th congressional district, where the seat is occupied by U.S. Rep. Mary Jo Kilroy, a Democrat. Steve Stivers, Kilroy's opponent, has decided to rescind his endorsement of repealing the 17th Amendment because...

Well, this is what he told the Columbus Dispatch: He didn't know what he had endorsed. "I made a mistake. I answered that question wrong. It was not intentional."

I can excuse his grammar. But his foolish decision to rush in where angels fear to tread has earned him another Grumpy Abe Linguistic Lunacy (GALL) award. There are so many deserving folks these days that I am forced to order a new batch.

(While we're on the subject of voting these days, a Democratic activist tells me that some Tea Partiers have said to her that they won't register to vote because they don't want to be eligible to be called for jury duty. Honest.)

Friday, May 14, 2010

BP's Hayward: In oil spills, size counts

When it comes to holding opposite ideas at the same moment, Tony Hayward, BP's chief executive, is a master of cognitive dissonance. He can simultaneously think big (as in ocean) but also tiny (as in BP's oil spill), conjuring up both images to slip out of the noose of his company's negligence in the Gulf catastrophe. Here's how he did it in an interview with the Guardian newspaper:
"The Gulf of Mexico is a very big ocean. The amount of oil and dispersant we are putting into it is tiny in relation to the total water volume."
While the experts are still trying to figure out what upward of three million gallons spilling a day will eventually do to devastate that big ocean's ecological system, we'll add our two cents by freely giving Hayward our coveted Grumpy Abe Linguistic Lunacy (GALL) award.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

John Kasich: Haunted by Lehman Brothers

The Columbus Dispatch has become the newspaper of record in its coverage of this year's Ohio political campaigns. Last week it reported the Republican Senatorial Committee internet ad that showed a bare-chested Lee Fisher, with a strong implication that he was turning his lower torso into a playground. And today's paper reported that John Kasich, the Republican gubernatorial candidate, had "tried to persuade two state pension funds in 2002 to invest with Lehman Brothers," the now belly-up investment bank, while he was on Lehman's payroll as its managing director in Columbus.

It identified the funds as the Ohio Police and Fire Pension Fund and the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System. Fortunately for them, they didn't take the bait. Had they entered a deal with Lehman, they would have lost many millions of dollars. A Kasich spokesman has shrugged off his candidate's role in all of this, saying only that he arranged some meetings with other Lehman representatives and vanished from the scene.

Whatever Kasich's involvement, it's now quite evident that Gov. Strickland's reelection campaign will raise Lehman from its bankrupt burial site on Wall Street to haunt Kasich throughout the remainder of the campaign. That's one haunt where your investment would be safe.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Palin, never meek, calls for a Christian nation

Preaching in her new pulpit on Fox News, Sarah Palin is plainly unhappy with people she claims are drawing America away from God and a Christian nation. "Go back to what our founders and founding documents meant - they're quite clear -that we should create law based on the God of the Bible and the ten commandments." As one whose six-figure contract for a speaking engagement at California State University in Turlock includes first class airfare, luxury hotel and bottled water with bendable straws, shouldn't the forever self-absorbed Palin be reminded that there's also a line in the Bible from the sermon on the mount that says the "meek shall inherit the earth"?

Monday, May 10, 2010

Joe is on the prowl again for coverage

Keep an eye on Joe Lieberman, folk. He's making news again. This time, he is proposing something called a Terrorist Expatriation Act. That forms an acronym of TEA. Get it? The measure would permit eliminating the citizenship of anybody that the State Department believes might be a member of a terrorist organization. In these worrisome times, it might sound good - but even conservatives like Rep. John Boehner fear it is going too far. For Lieberman, however, he might just be thinking that if the Republicans regain control of the senate in November, he would have some talking points to caucus with the GOP. Now an independent caucusing with the Democrats after supporting the McCain presidential run, Lieberman always keeps his political options open. Like a pendulum, no less.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Lee Fisher should thank the GOP for its help

THE GOP'S sexually overripe attack ad on Ohio Democratic senatorial candidate Lee Fisher has hardly helped its effort to beat him. The internet ad, which shows him bare-chested and ecstatically weaving with one hand under the table was a clear message that he was enjoying an auto-erotic moment or two and has drawn an avalanche of national coverage and comment (except in my hometown newspaper). Considering the number of denials posted by the National Republican Senatorial Committee, it obviously is has become circle-the-wagons time within the GOP precincts. Even Fisher's Republican opponent, Rob Portman, has distanced himself from the ad's content, saying it was in bad taste.

The denials will have little effect on the story. There's a constant in political campaigns that once a negative becomes firmly implanted in the public mind, it will never die. The ad lasciviously taunts the viewer "Dare to see more?" It concludes, "People are more focused on results than ever before." In this instance, I couldn't agree more.

Let's see: First the Medina Republican Party wants to send U.S. Rep. Betty Sutton back to the kitchen, and now this. Ray Bliss, the Hall of Fame Republican guru, must be turning in his grave.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

A GOP attack that is submerged in the gutter

WELL, IT HASN'T taken very long for the national Republican Party to deliver itself to the depths of a malodorous open sewer in setting the stage for this year's Ohio Senate race. In case you have yet to hear about it, the National Republican Senatorial Committee posted an Internet ad that left no doubt that a bare-chested Lee Fisher, the Democratic candidate, is...masturbating.

What's that again? Masturbating.

The ad even reworked a still photo of Fisher to create the sort of body movement that one could easily associate with the big M.

According to the Columbus Dispatch, the ad ends with the "final image of Fisher, with one hand on his bare stomach and the other below his waist, dissolves to these words: 'Dare to see
more?' That is followed by an invitation to go to a GOP-sponsored web site that attacks Fisher."

The paper also quotes Amber Marchand, a NRSC spokeswoman, as saying a bare-chested Fisher was "meant to create a buzz." She added: "Obviously, there are a lot of different ways that folks (use to) draw attention to web videos." She didn't think it was raunchy at all.

It is only May. But given the ugly mindset of the people running the GOP, which has not yet demonstrated that it has anything useful to say to the voters while it scratches around for a "buzz", you can be sure that the chieftains are just warming up to their disgusting mission. It won't be pretty.

Care to

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

A liar by any other name is still a liar

FOR EVERY GRAVE and jittery event in a today's jittery world, we can always count on Pavlovian responses from Rush Limbaugh & Co. for their audiences of unquestioning true believers. The latest display of trash talking from the Right arrived within moments of the oil spill and the would-be terrorist attack in Times Square. For Limbaugh, it was the notion that President Obama had somehow managed to tip over the oil rig to further his own environmental designs, whatever they might have been. But Rushbo's more insufferably twisted report was that Faisal Shahzad, who is said to have confessed to the failed NYC plot, was a registered Democrat and Obama supporter!

"Guess what?" Limbaugh frothed. "Faisal is a registered Democrat!" He then wondered whether the abandoned SUV had an Obama sticker on it.

Guess what, Rush. Media Matters checked out the voter registration roles in Connecticut and was told by the registrar that there is no evidence that Shahzad was a registered voter.

Not that any of this will make any difference to the legions of Limbaugh followers, who want to believe. Normally, it shouldn't make any difference to the sane world, either. Uninformed people say dumb things every day. But Limbaugh's enraged voice of insidious commentary echoes through the right wing world and soon others of his ilk are repeating it without conscience.

It's tiresome. But at least we can call him on it and clearly profile him as the country's most visibly crazed liar.

In the mornings in Sicily, the street vendors push their carts along the old multi-story buildings shouting strange syllables as the residents of their apartments' upper floors lower their baskets to the sing-song vendors for a day's fresh supply of fruit and vegetables. I once asked a Sicilian what the vendors were saying.

"Saying?" he shrugged. "They're not saying anything. They're just making a lot of noise to get people to buy the lemons and tomatoes."

I wonder if Limbaugh ever tried to sell his lemons in Palermo.

Ohio GOP -2; Tea Party - zero.

A FUNNY THING happened to Ohio's bellowing Tea Parties in Tuesday' s Republican primaries. If you'll recall they had huffed and puffed and ...

And what?

And, well, nothing, really - except for some humiliating defeats. at the hands of GOP-backed candidates. It wasn't even close. Some figures: Dave Yost, the endorsed candidate for state auditor, won two-thirds of the vote against State Rep. Seth Morgan, the Tea Partiers' Chosen One. And State Sen. Jon Husted nailed nearly 70 pct. of the vote against Sandra O'Brien, another Tea Party favorite. Call it a learning experience for a disorganized group of bleaters who lack the political know-how and organizational leadership - which translate into campaign money - logistics and sales message to form, at best, a third party movement. The results looked more like the emperor's new suit.

It should be a learning experience for those county Republican chairmen, including Summit County's mercurial chief, who supported Morgan in fear of Tea Party reprisals.

I was among those who saw the renegades as a growing threat within the State GOP household, particularly in a primary when their dissent at the outer edges 0f ideologies can cause serious mischief even in a losing cause. Tuesday's results don't mean that it will be the last we will hear of the TP's. But unless they can regroup with a tolerable political voice, they will be no more than a nuisance for Republicans; that is, of course, if the regulars don't stop genuflecting to the Tea Party rants.

A born-again Tea Party movement will take more than is has shown so far on Election Day, despite the encouragement of a forever chirping Sarah Palin, or the outlandish male chorus of Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck and their ilk. These jabberers aren't paid to win elections. They are paid to win the ratings wars with their competitors to the satisfaction of their network bosses. In that respect, they succeed. But what other good can come of it?

That would be a fair question to ask Tea Partiers while they are picking up the pieces today.

OK, I'm asking.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Cuccinelli ends the cover-up

KEN CUCCINELLI, the Virginia attorney general and protagonist in the state's Boobgate scandal, has decided to reverse his order that would have covered a bare breast on the state seal, blaming the whole flap on the media. Fully deserving of the Grumpy Abe Linguistic Lunacy (GALL) award was this "never-mind" from the Republican AG:
"This is simply a media-made issue that has become distracting to the work of my office. I am going to end this distraction by discontinuing future use of the [lapel] pin. I think we all do the citizens a service by getting back to talking about things that are more important to them, including my office's work last week to get four sexually violent predators committed to mental health treatment, the collection of $225,ooo in back debt owed to the commonwealth, and assisting local law enforcement in an investigation that resulted in a drug kingpin being sentenced to life without parole."
You had me worried for a moment, Ken. I thought you would never get around to mentioning the drug kingpin.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Legal Neanderthals are rising again


I seldom watch the Sunday morning TV news shows, but happened to catch a few minutes of ABC's"This Week" that produced one of the better putdowns of the week. In a panel merry-go-round on the incendiary Arizona immigrant law, George Will criticized Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, one of the current conservative floor models, for opposing the Arizona law. Will argued that nobody gets into the Virginia Statehouse without an ID - so there! But Al Sharpton promptly felt it necessary to advise the pundit that, unlike Arizona, in Virginia, everybody must show an ID, including white folks. Cool.

While we're in Virginia, we might as well mention the State's Republican Attorney General, Ken Cuccinelli, who ordered new lapel pins for his staff that shielded a Greek goddess' exposed breast that appears on the original state seal - a new version of John Ashcroft's Boobgate cover-up. Remember the drapery Ashcroft added to the Spirit of Justice statue in the Justice Department's Great Hall? My guess is that breast-beating Cuccinelli changed the seal to avoid any embarrassment if the old seal, which has been around since 1776, visibly excited him.

Is there no end to the number of empty heads that want to offer their spins on illegal immigrants? Among the latest is Congressman Duncan Hunter Jr., California Republican, who wants to deport all American-born children of illegal immigrants. Can you imagine how that would have played with the millions of Italian, Irish and eastern European immigrants who arrived on our shores - one way or another - a century ago? The huddled masses, I believe. Unfortunately, in today's world, the immigrants aren't all baseball players.

A recent issue of Smithsonian magazine has a piece on Neanderthals that quotes Rick Potts, director of the Human Origins Program at the Natural History Museum, which would be worthy of mailing to your favorite outer-conservative: Says Potts: "The Neanderthals were smart. They had brains the same size as Cro-Magnon and were very clever at using local resources. They lacked the ability to expand their thinking and adapt to changing conditions."

You can take it from there...