Monday, January 31, 2011

U.S. maps: When is Ohio not Ohio?

THE SHAPE OFTHE U.S. is attracting interest in odd ways as depicted by a couple of maps that have shown up of late. One that appeared on Andrew Sullivan's home page, the Daily Dish, listed each state's best quality. Some may surprise you. Shown within Ohio's borders was credit for the "highest library usage," which may put to rest those critics who insist that only a small portion of Buckeyes can read anything except the scoreboard at Ohio State football games.

South Carolina was credited with the most "golf holes per capita" and Texas's honor was "the most wind power production" - a leadership role that is likely to stay that way so long as Rick Perry is the governor. Oregon had the most "breast-fed babies" while Illinois was the most "average" and Kentucky the "best armed". By now, you get the drift. And in a contentious nation, none of the above is likely to go unchallenged.

The other colorful U.S. map appeared on the cover of the Economist magazine and was headed "State of the Union". In this map, each's state's name inspired a play on words. Ohio, for example, morphed into "Ohno". Some others: New Jersey, "Nojersey"; California, "Califoreclosia:; Idaho, "Doh" and Washington "Washedup". Michigan was renamed "Muchgone" and Alabama was shown as "Alabania."

You can probably do better, but in the whipsaw of winter, we grasp at some lighter banter to counter the side-slapping antics on Capitol Hill. Or is that "Culpable Hill"?

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Kasich's "your people" retort gets a wider audience.

Our new governor is already grabbing national attention - but unfortunately it's not likely to enhance Ohio's woebegone image. POLITICO, the national Republican-tilting Web site, topped its page with this AP photo of John Kasich over a report on his choice of an all-white cabinet. It quoted Sen. Nina Turner, a black Democrat, who told the Columbus Dispatch that she and the Ohio Legislative Black Caucus are demanding a meeting with Kasich to express their concerns.

Turner says that when she personally raised the question with Kasich, he replied that that he "didn't need your people." Huh?

A Kasich spokesman said the governor was actually referring to Democrats, not blacks, which was not at all persuasive to Turner. In any event, Kasich is demonstrating a deaf ear to the fallout from his clumsy remarks. And now the entire country is hearing about it.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Palin's tasteless WTF moments aren't that funny

FOR ALL OF THE SPEECHIFYING, punditry, cable show comments and political posturing, Sarah Palin has once again stolen the show. Her repeated obscene references to President Obama's State of the Union speech (a speech that she found "hard to stomach") aren't pretty, particularly for a woman who wants us to believe that she is the model goody-goody mother of a model goody-goody American family. The Brady Bunch never used the term WTF, and as Lawrence O'Donnell noted, if you don't know what those letters mean in the current glossary of social networking, ask your kids.

Relatively brief rises to riches and public notice by people who are uncontrollably self-absorbed and deeply into their false importance to others can only soar to a certain point before gravity takes over. Palin remains unaware that the least that anybody can say about her political fling is that she is becoming so tiresome that her opponents (including me) craftily arrange to have her continue as a public spectacle. Her low polling figures suggest that our side is winning. We can only wonder that after WTF, what more can she do to demean herself in the public arena?

In fairness, however, she has already created a new growth industry: WTF T-shirts, Watch for them on the Internet. I guess there is a little good in everybody.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

When U.S. Supreme Court justices come to dinner...

AFTER THE SUPREME COURT handed the 2000 election to George Bush, and after its game-changing Citizens United decision that turned over elections to the highest corporate bidders, I had hoped that the conservative-majority guys would finally behave themselves and get back to serving us as apolitical justices. I missed that one by a mile. Indeed, they aren't even bashful these days about their narrow political interests as guests at right-wing fundraisers - places the robed strict constructionists oughtn't to be."

There have been numerous reports of three of the justices making their rounds at these mega-cash registers for sympathetic candidates. Interestingly, the three - Antonin Scalia, Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas - didn't show up at President Obama's State of the Union speech, dismissing these annual rituals as political events. On the other hand, Scalia and Thomas found time to speak at a political fund-raiser organized by Koch Industries - a leading Tea party contributor. Alito made it to an event sponsored by the Manhattan Institute, an honored think tank in the conservative pantheon.

And now, it's discovered that Thomas failed to report his wife's previous job, even though he is required to do so by law. (Until 2007 she had been on the payroll of the conservative Heritage
Foundation, earning $686,589.) Thomas said his failure to list the job - actual earnings not required - was inadvertent for several years because of a misunderstanding and more or less promised he would do better in the future. Maybe he needs better law clerks to explain the complicated forms to him.

Legal experts say, yeah, he broke the law, but nothing would likely come of it, Thomas being a Supreme Court Justice and all that.

Does anybody recall what President Nixon said when David Frost challenged him to explain why he approved of clearly illegal wiretapping? OK, I'll remind you:

"When the president does it, that means that it is not illegal."

Should we now add Clarence Thomas to the untouchables?

y ougers.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Williams-Bolar case goes national

THANKS TO Kymberli Hagelberg's Fairlawn-Bath Patch home page for alerting us to a national movement in support of Kelley Williams-Bolar. (See my post below). Hagelberg reports that a social action site, Change.Org, has a web-based petition to get Williams-Bolar's sentence reduced. Another site, Daily Kos, says more than 1,000 signed the petition in eight hours. Among other things, Change.Org is seeking donations for Williams-Bolar's legal defense. .

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The law was broken - but a felony? C'mon!

THE CASE involving the felony conviction of an Akron mother for falsifying records to place her two daughters in another school has morphed into a whodunnit. The original sentencing of Kelley Williams-Bolare by Common Pleas Judge Patricia A. Cosgrove was a harsh reversal of typical endings in such cases: a felony that threatened the mother' s ambition to become a teacher even though she was just a few credit hours away from a teaching degree. Legal sources tell me it was the first such case that carried a felony. There are many similar illegal transfers that are resolved with misdemeanor charges or none at all.

Well, the judge now says she was quite prepared to reduce the charge, but was thwarted by the county prosecutor, Sherri Bevan Walsh, who has no explanation to rebut the court's claim. So we have two elected officials in a deadlock while many of us continue to wonder whether anyone has a notion about how justice is served. ( That much hasn't dissuaded some broadcast and print voices from checking in indignantly with their idea of upholding the law. They insist the law was broken - case closed with deserved punishment. The law, after all, is the law. Blah. Blah. Blah. )

Funny, but I haven't heard anyone deny that the law was broken. That's hardly at issue. The real issue is did the punishment fit the crime - in this instance, a felony record despite the reduction of the jail term from five years to 10 days with community service thrown in?

Surely, there's a fairer way to run a railroad. .

Rich and poor: some frightful neighborly statistics

HERE'S A STIRRING glimpse of Americana from the Harpers Index:
The median income in the New York's 14th Congressional District, which includes Manhattan's East Side, is $60,099 - the richest in the U.S. Less than a mile away is the 16th Congressional District, the Bronx, whose median income is $17,979 - the nation's poorest.

Monday, January 24, 2011

An overflow of advice without consent

THERE'S A FINE LINE between professional sports and politics, a demarcation that has grown still dimmer these days with the urgent calls to tone down the head butts and trash talk. Calls? In football, our athletic achievers are even being assessed big fines for the appearance of corporal attacks on their opponents. It hasn't reached that pricey stage in politics yet and doubtless never will inasmuch as there isn't that much interest on Capitol Hill for folks to force their "distinguished" colleagues to reach for their wallets over non-violent assaults on their opponents.

Meantime, nothing has demonstrated the link between sports and politics more than the oupouring of advice from the national media on how to score a touchdown or two and what President Obama must do to score points with the public. Throughout the current football playoffs leading to the Super Bowl, miles of copy have been written advising coaches on what they must do to win, or, as it's commonly said, to "put more points on the board." Not that any of this influences the outcome of a game because you can safely assume that a given coach is too busy studying play charts and viewing game films to pay any attention to what the outside world thinks.

That leads us to the flood of advice that many editorial writers and pundits have given to President Obama on what he should say in the State of the Union speech to cheer up sullen constituents in Peoria. No less an authority than the New York Times ran an editorial prepping everyone for the speech (A New Chance for Mr. Obama) with such oratorical directions as telling Americans why job creation and growth are "more important than short-term spending cuts."

Then there was Steven Hayward, a resident scholar at the Conservative American Enterprise Institute, who urged the president to be " more specific and direct than Bill Clinton's famous line declaring that the "era of big government is over." I wonder how many people would remember that if you stopped them on the street. Etc. Etc. Etc.

Hopeful of imperiling any upbeat presidential comments, Rep. Michelle Bachmann, the Tea Party Queen in the House, staged her own defining state of something speech, which led to sotto voce advice from some worried Republicans that could easily be translated into "For God's sake, Michelle, shut up!"

With Obama's rise in the polls (55 pct. approval in the latest CNN tally), shouldn't we assume that he knows how in hell to give a speech without malapropisms? And without everybody telling him to be careful that he doesn't screw it up, or be a fool about the the country's priorities? Of course, he does. But political pundits don't write about pro football, which sort of restricts what they can write about. Besides, I haven't seen a single bit of advice from a sportswriter on what Obama should say about the state of the union. Mention union to the sports world and the only only thing it can come up with is the possible lockout of the gladiators before next season. And to millions of fans, that's something to worry about.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Will Lieberman have a forwarding address?

MY FIRST SERIOUS encounter with Joe Lieberman was no different than anyone else's who sat in front of a TV set in 2000 for what was erroneously billed as a vice presidential candidate debate. The purported contenders pitted Sen. Lieberman, the Democrat, and Dick Cheney, the Republican. Instead, we witnessed an embarrassingly vapid conversation during which Lieberman played pattycake with his sly political counterpart.

Connecticut Joe, who offered no more than a rubbery smile and the bedside manner of Dr. Welby, was Al Gore's greatest blunder (equaling that of John McCain's in 2008!). It was not until much later that we learned the 2000 campaign was no more than a dress rehearsal for Lieberman's plan to seek the Democratic presidential nomination in 2004. The Democratic voters had other ideas and the senator caused no more than a ripple in the primaries.

That rejection is said to have left him so bitter that he became McCain's shoulder-to-shoulder pal against Barack Obama in 2008 - even showing up to endorse him at the Republican convention. You had to wonder. Did he silently believe that McCain might tap him for veep? I don't know. But Lieberman's track record of see-sawing in his allegiance offers a strong case that he had it in mind.

Well, he has announced that he won't seek a fifth term in 2012 and I can only say good riddance, even if we have to wait two more years. Having switched to the independent slot while caucusing with the Democrats, he fashioned his new life on Capitol Hill by shaking down the Democratic leaders with the threat that unless he held on to the chairmanship of homeland security, he might just start pattycaking with the GOP again. With a hair-thin margin of error in the Senate, the Democrats wouldn't risk it.

So he is back where he wants to be, in front of the TV people. And as recently as yesterday, he was defending his hawkish support of the invasion of Iraq with his version of the facts that have long been destroyed. From President Obama, who was betrayed by Lieberman, on down the pecking order, Democrats have dished out pro forma praise of Lieberman while such conservative pundits as David Brooks have applauded Lieberman's independence. But, again I wonder. Brooks insists the Democrats would be nowhere in advancing their key issues such as health care and the stimulus package if Lieberman had not been on board for critical votes. But would fiercely independent Joe have changed his mind if he didn't retain his committee chair?

The answer should be obvious. When hasn't he planted himself in the main arena on any issue to meet his own self-absorbed need for attention? He now says he wants to start a new chapter in his life. We can only guess what that will - or won't - be. After all, he still has time to change his mind to seek another term.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Robert Bentley: Governor or individual?

LET'S SEE: The new governor of Alabama, Robert Bentley, a dermatologist, Baptist deacon and Republican, rose to a church audience and declared that unless you accept Christ as your savior, you would never be accepted by him as a brother or sister. The word spread as quickly as another star falling on Alabama and his first reaction was that he thought he was speaking only as an individual and not as the chief of his state, so he apologized if he offended anybody.

Question: What did we learn from all of this? Does it matter whether a person is only an "individual" instead of a governor as we react to what was obviously his most deeply held religious conviction? A simple politically correct apology doesn't answer the question.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Boehner: the master of his safe house

WHY IS John Boehner smiling and not sobbing in this photo? Why is he pointing - and to whom? Is he telling the Tea Party that he could do it? Is he telling the Democrats that he is now the happy landlord of their foreclosed House? The moment is his after every Republican in his custody voted to repeal the health care - eh, job-killing health care - reform law on Wednesday. All of them. Not a single dissent. 242 plus 3 conservative Democrats, which made it non-partisan. No surprise here. Pleasing the Tea Partyers and hounding Democratic initiatives is a pre-existing condition for the current brand of Republicanistas. By now we should understand that there is no cure for it,which makes any further remedies useless.

Kasich agents of change Include Dr. King's birthday :

THE KASICH ADMINISTRATION arrived in Columbus trumpeting historic change. But little did we ever suspect that such change would include the Jan. 17 commemoration of the late Dr. Martin Luther King' Jr.'s birthday. Incredible as it may seem, Kasich signed a proclamation mistakenly declaring March 17 - St. Patrick's Day! - as the day to honor the civil-rights icon. Even for a person so confident of his ability to make things happen, it's unlikely that the governor would get very far with that idea.

I know that calendars can be confusing. They've been tampered with for ages, and 11 days were even eliminated back in 1582 to get the Gregorian calendar up to date, so to speak. A governor's aide conceded that the office had erred and promised to do better next year. Still, it might be a good idea to hold off on your Valentine cards until we can be assured that it will remain on the traditional day, whenever that might be..

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Arshinkoff: A return to Summit Board of Elections?

THE SUMMIT COUNTY Board of Elections is facing the imminent return of an old nemesis: County Republican Chairman Alex Arshinkoff. That's the word making the rounds among local pols who are bracing for his arrival to the$17,000 a year position from which he was evicted by then Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner in February, 2008. He declared at the time that he was the victim of politics - a day-and-night job that he knows a lot about. But Brunner, a Democrat, said his reappointment to the board would be "inappropriate", noting that he was guilty of berating the staff and creating a hostile environment at the board, often with well reported emotional outbursts .

But the new political pecking order with a Republican governor and secretary of state now will clear the way for his return to the county payroll. It's been no secret that it has been one of his goals ever since he was summarily dumped. And with the planets of Gov. Kasich and Secretary of State Jon Husted lined up in his universe, folks who keep an eye on such movements say the deal will be closed soon when one of the board's two Republicans - Brian Daley and Ray Weber, both Arshinkoff loyalists - "voluntarily" resigns.

Always thinking ahead, Arshinkoff handed Kasich and Husted $150,00 each from the county treasury for their recent campaigns.

Is there no end to Steve King's loony babbling?

WHEN IT COMES to freaky ongoing babble, Iowa Republican U.S. Rep. Steve King is the male counterpart of Rep. Michelle Bachmann of Minnesota. Nothing that he has said has made much sense during the Obama years since the Washington media hand-picked him for the Loony- of-the-Month Club. Yep, he's the same guy who referred to torture of iraqi prisoners as nothing more than"hazing"; that illegal immigrants are "stray cats" who end up of on people's porches to be fed; who persists in trash talk against President Obama. As for the health care reform law, he dismissed it as a "malignancy." (His constituents in rural Iowa must share such rubbish from a guy who once ran a construction company.) He blames Obamacare on "leftists" who "can't help themselves" because it's "in their DNA" to be predisposed to government aid.

Get ready for an outpouring of such nonsense, not only from King but also from many of his GOP brethren who share his views despite the fact that the new law is gaining public support. A new TV commercial featuring Mike Huckabee slamming the measure has now appeared. More to come. It is political grandstanding at its worst. But, who can blame a party that is putting its greatest efforts into playing to the Tea Partyers in the gallery with the IOUs from the November election?

One way to enjoy that National Anthem

THE MOST MEMORABLE moment from the Bears-Seahawks playoff game in Chicago on Sunday occurred as the TV camera panned the stands during the National Anthem. There, rising in grinning ecstasy, was a heavy-set, bald fan with one hand placed over his heart and the other holding out a big glass of beer. For a pro football patriot, it was a sort of heartland American gothic that can't get much better, although the fellow might not know how the game turned out. (Clue: the Bears won)

Monday, January 17, 2011

Kristol on health care - or something

AS THE TEA PARTY inspired House of Representatives prepares to vote on repealing the health care reform law this week, it was reassuring to hear from a leading conservative pundit that Republicans will replace it with something better that can only please us. Such was the confidence of the right-wing media boyar William Kristol. On Fox News, he was asked what that might be, once the current law is repealed. Kristol, usually ready with a glib solution to all of the world's problems, retreated. Instead, he reminded his audience that hearings would be held and that he was sure that in time the repealers would think of something.

We should be grateful that after more than a year of debate that gave the the issue's critics time to think of something, they are finally getting around to simply thinking. Meantime, all of those who joined the repeal movement, including Ohio Atty. Gen. Mike DeWine, will muddle ahead when they have no chance of succeeding against a Democratic Senate and president who holds the veto envelope. But it does promise to fill up the dead space on TV.

Friday, January 14, 2011

The new man at RNC a headache for spellers

ISN'T IT JUST like those Republicans to elect a new national chairman with a name that figures to be their revenge against us slow-witted writers who can never remember such things as whether the "i" goes before the "e" or vice versa. Now we will have to overcome a sort of double jeopardy inasmuch as the new RNC boss, Reince Priebus, will have us Googling his name to decide whether "i" goes before the "e" in his surname rather than in the given name.

In school, we learned that it's always "i" before the "e" except after "c". It was not until my second year in college that I spelled seize and siege correctly without help from a "c", only to forget it later. Weird and wield were just as troublesome and often led me to the dictionary. But Reince Priebus ( I think I got it right) is not in the dictionary. I'll try to get it right from now on, but if I don't, I doubt that there are many people outside of RP's immediate family who will notice it. Michael Steele made life so much simpler.

The pangs of Ohio history

WHEN JACK Gilligan ran for governor in 1970, he didn't mind reminding Ohio voters that if he were elected he'd be the prime mover in his support of a state income tax. Gilligan, a progressive Democrat, was elected anyway and Ohioans have been paying an income tax ever since.

In 1972, conservatives who couldn't bear the thought of any kind of tax sent the tax back to the ballot to repeal it. . They were in for a surprise. The voters handily retained the tax. Gilligan's risky initiative to pay the bills was the last great show of political courage at the Statehouse - and probably the last. Bring back Jim Rhodes, Gilligan's successor, who promised nothing but jobs/jobs/jobs and no new taxes. It soon became obvious that No Tax Rhodes, without ever flat out saying so, had no interest in getting rid of "Gilligan's income tax." It was an important course in his meal ticket to avoid raising taxes, no matter the need.

Nothing has changed. Much of the talk down in Columbus, a town just south of the Delaware County line, is to either lower or eliminate taxes. The argument is that this modern approach to the state's bulging deficit will make Ohio whole again while outsourcing the concerns of the middle class and poor to some yet-to-be-defined Shangri-la many years hence. (How do you end an estate tax for the tens of thousands who have lost their foreclosed homes? )

Jack Gilligan did what he had to do. You don't find that kind of budgetary heroism in Columbus today. The alternative is so much more convenient for the craven politicians who are proving what we might have expected from the so-called Caveman Caucus that has seized power in the General Assembly. They don't have a clue.

MORE OHIO HISTORY: For too many decades, Republican leaders at state and local levels have personally assured us that their party is serious about expanding its base. And now comes Republican Gov. John Kasich with an all-white supporting cast of senior officers. He explained that he merely wanted to get the best person for each job. OK. We'll give the GOP chiefs another 25 years or so, and if they still don't find the "best" person among minorities, we'll know they are making things up.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

But will the rhetoric really tone down?

PRESIDENT OBAMA'S appeal for civility in politics drew praise from Democrats and Republicans alike in the aftershock of the Tucson shootings. As he is quite capable of doing, he superbly grasped the dark moment with a remarkable sense of clarity and humility in calling for a united front against the worst that political discourse has offered since his election. He could speak from experience. Much of the vitriol has been directed at him, from questions about his legitimacy to serve to calls for impeachment for unintelligible reasons.

I am a pessimist. Once everybody gets back to the pre-Tucson workaday world, I suspect it will be difficult for the assault force to tone down its rhetoric (despite appeals from even Fox News boss Roger Ailes to do exactly that!)

As Obama arrived in Tucson, Sarah Palin, in what appeared to be panicky damage control, was telling her choir that the brutal Democrats were out to get her. Watching her measured response, I had little doubt that in fact her presidential skyrocket had suffered a terrible blow from her "surveyor's symbol" and that she had to act quickly to regain her trajectory. It didn't work, unless you count the 30,000 Palinistas who rushed to her defense. That included her spiritual guide, Franklin Graham, who described her as a "kind, compassionate, God-loving woman."

Not as kind and compassionate, perhaps, was Rush Limbaugh's usual diatribe that Jared Loughner "has the full support of a major political party [Democrats] in this country."

What Rushbo hasn't learned as he turns age 60 is that in order for a honest debate to proceed on any issue, both sides have to be in touch with reality. No one should suggest that all debate must now end with calls to tone down. No one should be excluded from accountability for his or her words. But to the right-wingers who rely so heavily on the Constitution, I would suggest that they read the Federalist Papers and other historical documents in which both sides impressively argued their case with the skill that is so lacking in today's political arena.

The Tucson memoriam sent a strong message. But can it be sustained in the echo chamber?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The lingering countdowns of Cleveland sports

IT'S ALWAYS SOMETHING with the dysfunctional Cleveland sports enterprises. Intrigue... Suspense...Recurring seasonal disorders. The latest version of the epic Cleveland Countdown began last year (or maybe even earlier before I got on the bus) over when-where-never LeBron James would jump ship despite his iconic moorings in Northeast Ohio. Months of columns, talk-show callers, sly smiles by the self-described King. Like that, it played out and the disheartened fans could finally turn to new matters, such as...

Would Holmgren fire Mangini? When? And if not, why? On and on. Which game would determine the unfortunate coach's fate? This countdown would deflect the ugly fact that the Browns were finishing the season with a four-game losing streak. But then, Mangini was gone before the uniforms from the final game were laundered...The light at the end of the stadium tunnel? Not really, because....

There was a new reason for daily speculation.

The Mangini narrative would merely be the prologue to another countdown in which everybody but Knute Rockne was mentioned in a non-stop shakeout of his possible successor while days passed and passed and passed. .

Sadly, that's how it has been going on the lake where revolving doors have long been a growth industry in the hopeless search for a winner. You are again reminded of that as TV had the audacity to show us the entire annihilation of the Cavaliers by the Lakers by a record 55 points even though L.A. coach Phil Jackson tried to be merciful by playing his regulars for less than half of the game.

May we hope that a new Browns coach will be hired before the start of the Indians baseball season with its own dismal expectations. Will Manny Ramirez be mentioned as the new manager after Manny Acta is dumped? Let the speculation begin! And don't laugh.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Inaugural pageantry: The easy part is over

BY ALL ACCOUNTS, there was excitement all around yesterday as Gov. Kasich called upon Ohioans to join him as full partners in improving the health of the Buckeye State. The Plain Dealer, which endorsed his candidacy, was so taken by his words that the big headline on Page One described him as "humble". That, of itself, was newsy for a pol who is known for his snappish demeanor.

But one robin, as it has been said, does not make a spring. And his call for audience participation will have to await results, which won't come as easily for the "new" Kasich and his cupbearers. The first hours of his administration produced some other reports that may not fall neatly into the category of team spirit.

There is word now, which is not at all surprising, that Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor has already convinced her people that she will run for the U.S. Senate against Sen . Sherrod Brown in 2012. Will run? Make that is running. The formality of the November election has ended. Time to think about one's future. As some of her predecessors in the lieutenant governor's office demonstrated, that job is hardly the place to extend one's political career.

And then there was the published report that Kasich's new inspector general, Randy Meyer, is slashing the IG staff in half. But as the Columbus Dispatch reported, these are veteran investigators who are expected to look out for "wrongdoing in the executive branch of state government". But apparently they won't be needed by a governor who describes himself as a "servant of the Lord."

Meantime, over in the new attorney general's office, Mike DeWine proved that he is a man of his word and action by joining a suit to repeal the health care reform law. It is
is likely to be a wheel-spinning mission but now that DeWine has committed himself to the plunge, he can't back off. Some of the spirit of his commitment is based on the theory that the law is unconsitutional, an unkind position that has been denied by two federal courts and upheld by one.

Keep in mind, too, that DeWine is a fervid pro-life advocate and although federal financing of abortion has been discounted by those who would rather deal with the specifics of the law than by religious assumptions, DeWine and AGs in 20 state will plow on with great cost to the states.

Closer to home, add this to your list of upcoming political events: There is a buzz that Alex Arshinkoff is waiting for the moment that he will be reseated on the Summit County Board of Elections by Secretary of State Jon Husted to enable the county Republican boss to fill out his state retirement insurance coverage. Isn't that the same John Husted who received a $150,000 campaign contribution from Arshinkoff's ailing party treasury last year ?


Monday, January 10, 2011

Talk radio: And now for their "prevent defense"

THERE IS NOTHING that more clearly defines the right-wing talk showmen than their outrage when their heated words are called to task. A recap of some of their comments by the New York Times reported that they even slammed the Pima County sheriff (see previous post) for "embarrassing" Arizona and "denigrating" talk show hosts. Oh?

Contrary to the hopes of their rational critics, such concern will be asking too much to tone down the rhetoric because, after all, that's what sustains the talkers, and keeps the cash flow healthy. What we will now see is more of their "prevent defense," which pro football coaches find so reliable when, in fact, it is not fail-safe. Rather than giving tiresome examples of the talk showmen's vituperative claims, which rather lamely blame an evil Democratic conspiracy, I'll leave it to you to decide on the merits of the showmen's high priest's remarkable response.

Thus spake Rush Limbaugh in his customary eruptive annoyance:
"It is our right and our duty to criticize the people who have put the fate of our country in peril."
We're disappointed. It seems to us that a man of his profound insights into Planet Politics should be reminded that his proverbs can rightfully work both ways.

Arizona shootings: A somber footnote

MY KNEE-JERK reaction upon hearing of the horrendous event in Tucson was that I hoped the shooter wasn't an illegal immigrant or an African-American. In the culture that destroys human minds, it's easy to think that way to avoid almost certain further violence in rhetoric - or worse. Fortunately the color of the young man's skin matched that of Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin, the latter of whom once posted U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords' congressional district in crosshairs on her Facebook. Palin's aides now say the crosshairs were "surveyor's symbols" and not targets even though she urged her readers to "reload."

Compare that to the poignant response of Arizona's Pima County Sheriff, Clarence
Dupnik, as he reacted in stunned sadness in the wake of the massacre. You've probably read it or watched it on TV, but some of it is worth repeating:
"When you look at the unbalanced people, how they respond to the vitriol that comes out of certain mouths about tearing down the government. The anger, the hatred, the bigotry that goes on in this country is getting to be outrageous. And unfortunately, Arizona I think has become sort of the capital. We have become the Mecca for prejudice and bigotry."

Thursday, January 6, 2011

This was the week that still is

THE WEEK has been anything but dull, what with the changing of the guard in the House of Representatives and a new crop of freshman peacocks saying how they intend to end Barack Obama's career in 2012. Although their optimism may be premature as polls show public support for Obama growing (13 pts. higher than Reagan's at mid-term) you can't blame the Republicans for wanting to stake out a claim on the White House before the public catches on to their odd ways.

For awhile the GOP narrative will be dominated by condemning job-killing ObamaCare, as some of the New Age philosophers warn us. There will be a lot of talk of death panels and apocalyptic your-grandmother- will-die-sooner end-of-days stuff, the sort of thing that is inspired by having millions more people covered by health insurance. Rep. Steve King, the rural Iowa Republican, even added the insightful thought that ObamaCare, in addition to being unconstitutional, also leads to dead infants turning up in trash cans. A word of caution: You can email King's office that he is one of the more prominent morons on Capitol Hill, but it will only support his contention that evil is rampant in the land.

The part I really enjoyed this week of pageantry was the reading of a laundered Constitution on the House floor that expurgated language reminding folks that it was hardly a perfect document when it came to assessing the value of blacks. The drama rose quickly, however, as a section was being read on the requirement that a person must be native- born to be eligible for the presidency.

That lit a fuse. A woman birther in the gallery shouted "Except Obama, except Obama! Help us, Jesus." Until that happens she may may have to first check with her lawyer, having been escorted from the gallery by police.

A couple of Republican congressmen, one being Pete Sessions of Texas, attended a fund-raiser instead of being sworn in. His cavalier attitude toward the Constitution caused a stir in the House, but was finally resolved somehow, as Sessions, one of the GOP's leading fund raisers, knew it would be.

All in all, the faithfully pledged public- spirited unveiling of the new congress recalled something that Al Capone once said, when his integrity was questioned: "Public service is my motto."

An Akron law firm - and an Inaugural whodunnit

THE PUBLISHED report (Plain Dealer) that the Akron law firm of Roetzel and Andress has been raising money for the Kasich Inaugural extravaganza will be met with more than cursory interest around this town. Isn't that the same R&A that has been the source of so much disdain by county Republican chairman Alex Arshinkoff, who long ago set out to scandalize the firm as a back-room Democratic operation with no redeeming virtue? You bet it's the same one.

To add to the chairman's fallout from the disclosure, one of the R&A lawyers who was said to be involved in the affair, former Ohio auditor Jim Petro, was also Alex's bete noire of choice when Petro tried to run for governor in 2006. At the time, Arshinkoff said that if Petro, a Republican, won the nomination, the chairman would support the Democratic candidate instead. Petro didn't win and the Republicans ended up with Ken Blackwell as their sorry candidate.

As is customarily the case. none of the usual suspects accepted responsibility for the donor appeal appearing on the law firm's website. (It vanished from the site after the PD started tracking it down.) But the paper did note that the liaison between the Inaugural committee and R&S was Matt Borges, an ubiquitous chap who was once convicted of a misdemeanor and fined (later expunged) after pleading guilty to some mischief in dealing with donors as the chief of staff of former state treasure Joe Deters, the alleged play-to-pay guy.

Yep, these things can become convoluted in politics, which are forever ringed with these characters. . But we esxpecially liked State GOP Party Chairman Kevin DeWine. who praised Borges. "No one did more to help all of our state, local and federal candidates this year"

That didn't go without saying, so DeWine said it.


Wednesday, January 5, 2011

News flash: King John retreats from the ants

UPDATE: Responding to criticism from the media and others, John Kasich today reversed his earlier decree and will be sworn in as governor at the Statehouse instead of his home in Delaware County. (See below) The ants win! The ants win!

King John, and not the historically famous one

EVIDENCE IS growing that Ohio has elected its first King John. No, not the historical King John who gave his land the Magna Carta. Not even close. The Buckeye version is - How can I be kind about this? - King John as in Kasich, a churlish fellow with strong autocratic tendencies who promises to lead our stricken state past the anthills to the pyramids, as he has described his burden when he is crowned.

Our latest clue is that he has barred reporters from covering his big moment of being sworn-in as Ohio's chief executive a minute past the bewitching hour of midnight Monday in his safe haven residence on his 10-acre preserve in Delaware County. Kasich says he's only looking after his children's security. But that could have been easily resolved by having the ceremonial occasion held somewhere other than his private home where he has decided to construct the state's pyramids from now on. Although he's vigorously promised to cut the costs of government, his rejection of the Governor's Mansion as his live-in hearth in Bexley will require extra costs for Ohio Highway Patrol security. That's not such a big deal when you're facing a deficit of billions in the next biennium, but sometimes even symbols have meaning.

Here, after all, is a fellow arguing transparency on one hand in what his flacks have labeled a "New Day," wherever that might rank as a political cliche that is soon forgotten. As the Plain Dealer noted, the media will be restricted from some other Inaugural events, including a ban on the media talking to any of the guests at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame event. The paper noted that nosy reporters will be allowed to hear the speeches by King John and Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor and then be escorted from the hall before the real party begins.

Earlier in his King-elect period, our sovereign crabbed that reporters ask too many questions about his appointees that hinder recruiting good people for the jobs - and he won't have it! These are the anthills that he must conquer to get to those pyramids. And who builds those tiny powdery anthills? Ants, of course. Nice try, your majesty. But we're too small to bear scepters.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Prepare for pure Republican theater on opening day.

THURSDAY WILL BE an historic day in Congress as Republicans rise on the House of Representatives floor to read aloud the entire U.S. Constitution. It's never been done before, but the current Republican brand is exceptionally sensitive to satisfying the Tea Party's concept of the nation's heritage. And why aren't we surprised? Given the convenient onset of the Oscar season, with possible honors for movies like True Grit and The Illusionist, the gang on Capitol Hill would be fools not to stage their own theatrical one-hour skit.
Good for the Republicans! It will be a grand self-serving gesture to the American experience and let's not hear any yucking from The Left, which has never learned to relate to red-blooded voters and placard-waving religionists. Liberals will try to convince you that their opposites' stunt will expose the hypocrisy of the clucks who have subverted a lot of what the Founding Fathers had in mind. And although Congress has never been shy about political grandstanding, these ideological blowfish will set a new level of retail patriotism that may never be exceeded.

Until now, we have suspected that many of the House members who complained that they were forced to act on a bill without reading it were fibbing because they were incapable of reading a declarative sentence. But this Constitutional moment of sober political oratory will prove me wrong.

Still, the arriving Republican political scientists will tighten the bonds between the right-wing and all those complaints by Tea Partiers that the document is being violated. So let it rip! But a modest word of caution: There are some matters in this document that won't sit well with their supporting cast; to wit, things that mention welfare, or say nobody headed for public office should have to submit to a religious test; or that the President should have the power to fill vacancies during a Senate recess; or - read it for yourself to see what the fuss is all about.

I would merely suggest that if they are going to read the thing in its entirety, somebody should also read the the Federalist Papers, with its views of Hamilton and Madison that finally carried the day after a long rich debate on both sides about the Constitution's merits. But first, the Republican reps must set out to repeal the health care reform law which, you surely know by now, is so unconstitutional even though it's never mentioned in you-know-where.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

2011: What you might expect

What's Ahead in 2011:

January: John Kasich is sworn-in as Ohio governor and immediately appoints Alex Arshinkoff as his liaison to Akron Mayor Don Plusquellic....Sarah Palin announces plan to scale Mt. Everest to get a better view of her porch in Wasilla.... A record heat-wave roasts the East Coast. The Rev. Pat Robertson says it is God's punishment for postponing the snowbound game between the Minnessota Vikings and Philadelphia Eagles.

February: Temperatures soar to more than 100 degrees in Boston and Manhattan. Anti-climate change columnist George Will convinces Cokie Roberts that it is the result of a "Manichaean world view nurtured by post-Madisonian statism and regressive polity"...Carly Fiorina says she is prepared to explain her "Demon sheep" ad in the recent election. Nobody cares.

March: Iowa housing market booms as 14 potential Republican presidential candidates buy homes in Des Moines to demonstrate their commitment to real people....Rejected by Mayor Plusquellic, Arshinkoff is appointed liaison to a 10-year study to determine the merits of a high-speed rail system....John Boehner and Glenn Beck agree to compete in a charitable sobbing contest for Guinness Book of Records. Like Niobe, the loser would be turned into a rock.

April: Long Island paralyzed by 123 degree heat. Michelle Bachmann blames the lack of air conditioners on President Obama who "wants to get even with upscale Republican ghettos in Scarsdale and White Plains"....Ejected as Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele says he will organize a third-party movement to teach a lesson to "all of those smart-ass white guys in the party."...Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer swears that three beheaded Martians were found in the desert.

May: Newt Gingrich officially enters the presidential race, followed quickly by Palin, Jim DeMint and Christine O'Donnell....Rupert Murdock gives another million to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, who launders it through six Swiss banks before it reaches an exploratory group supporting Sean Hannity....A GOP commission planning the party's 2012 platform inserts a plank declaring that Obama was born in the Machu Picchu area before he was smuggled to the Serengeti to grow up among monkeys.

June: Kasich announces the elimination of all taxes on Ohio State football merchandise and anybody who works for the Summit County Republican Party. "It's a start," he says, "in eliminating the state income tax"....Ohio's unemployment reaches 14 pct. as investors hold back while still awaiting the governor's plan to increase jobs.

July: Sea level in the Great Lakes rises 6 inches as melting glaciers head south across Canada. Rush Limbaugh describes the phenomenon as an "optical illusion" by wishful liberals and Polar-Nazis drowning in their own tears...Sarah Palin challenges black belt specialist Vladimir Putin to a wrestling match on Umiak Island. The State Department nixes the idea, explaining that ordinary Americans cannot engage in deals with foreign leaders. Palin says she is offended to be refudiated as an ordinary American.

August: Ohio Tea Partiers join with Kasich in an effort to defeat Mayor Plusquellic in November, saying they are pleased that the governor has agreed to eliminate all taxes in the state and sell off all state property, including the Statehouse, on eBay to private developers.....Palin announces that she has scheduled a world tour with the Dalai Lama to show that she is not prejudiced against foreigners with funny names....Polar bears are spotted along the Ohio Turnpike.

September: The year-long heat wave has raised the water temperature to 102 degrees along east coast, washing out the tourism business at Myrtle Beach. Wall Street says it will forgo bonuses to help pay for the water damage from rising sea water.... Alex Arshinkoff, recently appointed to an expanded Ohio Supreme Court, is also named by Kasich as a dollar-a-year goodwill ambassador to televangelist Rod Parsley....Latest Ohio unemployment figures show a 4 pct. rise in out-of-work faculty on state university campuses.

October: Sarah Palin schedules a book signing of her latest effort in the crater of Mount St. Helens. She tells her fans that she hopes to set a Guinness record for bungee jumps while reading the Constitution....Fourteen more Republicans announce their candidacies for president, increasing the total to 31. Obama says nothing, but an aide said he was was seen grinning while playing basketball in the gym.

November: Don Plusquellic is reelected, overwhelming his Republican name-game opponent, Erskine McKasich Taylor... Heat wave subsides to 100 degree levels. Anti-climate warmers declare victory over Fascist tree huggers and heat-mongering Muslims ..... Kasich eliminates Ohio department of Interior and sells Department of Education to private charter-school enthusiasts....Palin releases a documentary showing her parachuting into Mt. Vesuvius.

December: Melting igloos inundate Alaska. Still in a sulk, Sen. McCain votes down earmark for an ark for his old running mate's state....Failing to increase jobs in Ohio, a bored Kasich resigns to accept a lucrative talk show on Fox News.....Arshinkoff moves from Hudson to Cuyahoga Falls to spend more time with his family at City Hall, which is moved to the site of the planned upscale grocery store on Portage Trail to avoid the flooding Cuyahoga River....And before you know it, it is 2012 and nothing really has changed!