Sunday, February 27, 2011

Arch-enemies vie for Kasich's ear(s)

GOV. KASICH'S IMMINENT appointment of Jim Petro as the new chancellor of the Ohio Board of Regents will set up an interesting clash between two political enemies - Petro and Summit County Republican Chairman Alex Arshinkoff. How could that be, you may fairly ask, when both guys handsomely raised money for Kasich in the past election? First, a little history:

The chancellor is a cabinet member who is in the best position to influence the governor on higher educational policy - the biggest gorilla in the room on a matter dear to the heart of state universities: funding. The board was created by the legislature in 1963 at the urging of the late Gov. Rhodes, who was never enthralled by the heavy lifting of details.

The governor, a college dropout himself, wanted to unburden himself of the ebb and flow of higher-education problems and the jostling of educators who would take up his time with things that weren't high on his list of priorities if they extended beyond bricks and mortar. Former Gov. Strickland increased the chancellor's policy-making influence by adding him to his cabinet.

With Petro - former state auditor, former attorney general and unsuccessful Republican candidate for governor - in a sensitive campus role, Kasich will reward two veteran politicians whose paths could angrily cross inasmuch as Arshinkoff has just been handed the job of University of Akron lobbyist by a Columbus lobbying firm. Trust me: Coincidence had nothing to do with it.

About the Petro-Arshinkoff chasm: The Summit chairman had asked then- State Auditor Petro to send his people up to Akron to examine the books of then-County Auditor Jim MCarthy, a Democrat who was in a race with Cuyahoga Falls Mayor Don Robart, a Republican, for Summit County executive. (Bear with me: I know it can be confusing. But this was in 2000. )

A bad report on McCarthy, of course, would be a windfall for Robart, Arshinkoff's beneficiary in all of this. It didn't happen. Instead, Petro's auditors gave McCarthy a clean report. Arshinkoff was so outraged that there was nothing to be gained from the audit that he promptly excised Petro from the list of candidates to endorse in the 2006 Republican primary, with his usual rip-and-roar attacks on Petro, adding that he would prefer a Democrat over the attorney general. (I told you this could get complicated!) But being a good party soldier, he said he would endorse Republican Betty Montgomery for governor, and if ill-health forced her out of the race, he would step up to the plate with Ken Blackwell. Bad move. Bad, bad move.

Blackwell was demolished by Democrat Strickland. Oh, did I remember to mention that six years earlier, McCarthy also won in a landslide over Robart?

Forgot to report: Petro had raised money for Kasich as a lawyer in Columbus with Roetzel and Andress, the Akron firm that long served as Arshinkoff's pinata around town. For the rest of the story, you might want pick up a copy of War and Peace.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Back to drinking beer in Wisconsin?

THE THREAT OF poisoned public water supplies has often appeared on any list of potential terrorist attacks on the U.S. But may we now add the Wisconsin Republicans' assault on sanity to their list of mindless initiatives? How about this one, for starters: GOP legislators in both Wisconsin Houses have introduced bills that would repeal a law requiring municipalities to disinfect water supplies because - you already know, I'm sure - it's too expensive. .

If you need a few more details on the lurking danger, in 1993 infected water in Milwaukee was blamed on 104 deaths and 400,000 illnesses. and as ThinkProgress points out, the EPA today attributes 13 pct. of acute gastro-intestinal illnesses to dirty water in U.S. cities that don't disinfect their water supplies.

But as the royalists up there in Badgerland would say: Let them drink Old Milwaukee!

Friday, February 25, 2011

What half of the public doesn't know

IS THERE ANYTHING we can say to the fellow down the street who hasn't been paying any attention to the chaotic state of his world - and ours? I don't even know his name, but I know he's out there, as well as his wife, too. And I have a 50-50 chance of being right about this. That much is clear in the latest poll by Kaiser Health about an epic issue that has a life of its own for half of America: Health care reform.

According to the Kaiser Health survey, only 52 pct. of Americans know that there is still a health-care law on the books. On the other hand 22 pct. believe the Republican House of Representatives repealed the law and 26 pct. aren't sure what's going on and are too preoccupied with the important things in their lives to find out.

Short of some sort of cosmic force control, there seems to be no solution to such indifference. Facts are often hard to come by, but I do know that there's a guy down street who doesn't give a damn.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Pick up the phone, Guv. Guess who's on the other end

COLUMNIST GEORGE WILL has been on an odyssey to herald the new generation of conservative governors that could pass a screen test as, say, a presidential candidate. And he is doing it with extraordinary grammar. I know of no other national pundit who would dare begin a column, as he did today, with the word "Hitherto". But that's George Will for you, ramping up the language to charm those who have no clue about the points that he's trying to make. He's lately added Govs. John Kasich and Scott Walker to his honor roll, going so far as to compare Walker to Ronald Reagan. It's a common Republican desparture point in elevating a current prospect to the Reagan legend.

There are instant benefits for guys like Kasich and Walker. As a national columnist,
Will's often inscrutable insights reach readers - at least those who still find their way to an Op-ed page - from coast to coast. With the columnist's endorsement, they might close ranks on a consensus for the next fellow in the White House. He praises Walker for being "serene in the center of this storm" as the governor sits for an interview beneath a portrait of Ronald Reagan. And later he declares being impressed by Walker's "calm comportment" in this crises.

Will's in-and-out visits to crises spots satisfy his pedantic yearnings to create a medieval America in which only the fittest survive. He's attracted to the modern version of Republican governors these days much as hungry sperm whales use echo location to find their fish.

As for Walker's crisis in attempting to dislocate public employe unions, he attempts to create the silly argument that everything in Wisconsin would be fine if those out-of-state union hacks weren't crossing borders to create havoc. As I've previously noted, his own out- of- state sponsors are the billionaire Koch brothers, whose money has been turning up quite often in political campagns. The Koch front group, Americans for Prosperity, has just bought $342,000 worth of TV and radio ads in Wisconsin asking people to "stand with Walker", while bashing unions and President Obama.

But even Walker's crusade, marked by the religious fervency of a man who is a son of a Baptist minister, can run off the highway in times like these.. A New York blogger, BuffaloBeast, tricked him into a 20-minute phone conversation in which the blogger pretended he was David Koch. During the conversation, Walker openly described his plans to crush the union.

To the credit of George Will's brief but studied assessment of the governor, Walker was serene throughout the phone call.

A Fox in an unreal chicken coop

What' wrong with this picture? In reporting a new USA Today/Gallup poll that showed 61 pct. of Americans supporting collective bargaining and 33 pct. opposing it, the Fox News alchemists managed to mislead the viewer into believing the opposite. It simply labeled the results "Take it Away: favor or oppose"? In Fox's sneaky way of reporting it, 61 pct. of Americans favor taking away collective bargaining. Planet Fox has reached the point where realities are meaningless in it's reach for deceptions for an audience that has no problem with being deceived.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Wisconsin: Union invaders meet the Koch invasion

WATCHING WISCONSIN GOV. Scott Walker complain about out-of-state union officials who are invading Madison to foment the protests was a teachable moment for me. It was then that I learned the distance that this zealous crusader would travel to destroy the back-channel facts in the case. I mean, these unionists were not illegal aliens or anything like that. And if labor sent a thousand out-of-staters, they would still be no match for two out-of-state brothers who influence Walker's every movement: Charles and David Koch, the billionaires (35 times over!) who own Koch Industries.

The Kochs own a lot of stuff, in addition to the pols who are expected to protect it. A shopping list of their possessions are oil refineries, 4,000 miles of pipeline and countless other things from Dixie cups to paper towels. They have an anti-union gorilla-like presence in Wisconsin in the energy field. One study by a research institute at the University of Massachusetts listed Koch Industries as one of the nation's top 10 polluters. These fellows have supported Walker with campaign cash passed through a number of fund-raising channels, including an outfit patriotically called Americans for Prosperity. Among their goals is the elimination of environmental regulations and unions, and only concede no more than minimal services for the needy, reports the New Yorker Magazine.

Any wonder that with a pot-of-gold behind him, the governor is fully confident that he can stare down the protests? Whatever else they might be telling you about Wisconsin's budget deficit, nearly half of which arrived with the governor's pet tax cuts soon after he was seated in January, you can shove it. This is all about union-busting and that will make the brothers Koch quite happy.

Speaking of brothers, what's Sarah Palin talking about when she asks her "fellow union brothers and sisters" to oppose union bosses and fight instead for the "right causes in our great country." Somehow, I can't connect the dots between this multi-millionaire wannabe Big Sister and commoners like union brothers and sisters.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Scott Walker separates protesters from taxpayers

AND A THANK YOU from the heart to the Tea Party's latest shiny new floor sample, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. He enlightened me on who pays taxes and who doesn't. That revelation came from him in the the midst of the troubles in Madison, when he declared that he would not let the protesters "drown out" the taxpayers. Until he made that distinction between the good guys and bad guys, I had wrongly assumed that union members pay taxes, too.

Friday, February 18, 2011

The problem with polls naming best presidents

THE HEADLINE on the POLITICO home page declared:

Americans rate Reagan best president

It then told us of a new Gallup poll that reported 19 pct. of those surveyed - 19 pct. - listed Dutch as their favorite. Lincoln came in second with 14 pct. And my hunch is that a majority of Americans couldn't name many presidents before Reagan of maybe even the first George Bush.

So what's the point?

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Arshinkoff/Kasich axis pays off in grand style

IT WAS A no-brainer, really. I refer to the arrival of Alex Arshinkoff's inheritance of a $120,000 (annual) job as a lobbyist for the University of Akron. The eruptive Summit County Republican chairman doubtless deserved nothing less rewarding after spending nearly a year with his tail wagging behind then-candidate John Kasich. He was hired to focus on UA by a Columbus lobbying firm that was already in the University's lobbying mix, thus satisfying his long ambition to be a somebody on the state political scene. Meanwhile, the public be damned!

So here's to your health and newly acquired wealth, Alex!

But why was there such crouching in a defensive mode to make the deal sound like the ties between between Kasich and Arshinkoff were hardly more than a brief encounter at the office water cooler? The ecstatic chairman insisted that it would be a straight player deal with no shifty add-ons. Telling the Beacon Journal that he expects no favors from the Guv, he added: "I expect to be able to make my case for my client. If they agree, fine. If they don't, fine. That's the way the system is." Oh?

Some of the people around town have a different view of the system. Former Republican State Sen. Kevin Coughlin of Cuyahoga Falls and some other Republicans were hardly impressed by the transaction. "He knows nothing about policy," Coughlin, a longtime adversary of Arshinkoff, said on the phone. "He can't open any doors that a hundred others can't open in Columbus. It's like throwing money down the toilet."

UA board member, Jane Bond, a Democratic appointee, is outraged. She said she had no idea that Arshinkoff was part of the deal when Sean Dunn, head of the Columbus lobbying firm that hired Arshinkoff, presented his plan to the Board. "I first knew of the connection to Alex when I read about it in the paper. His name never came up, because if it had, I would have voted against it. The whole thing is a perversion. This is going to damage us with every constituency in town."

The Beacon Journal's editorial settled on the term, "Influence peddler," in expressing its displeasure over the cozy deal. Could the influence have been assured by the $150,000 that the Arshinkoff Summit GOP Party gave to Kasich during the campaign - a hefty contribution that led all other counties by a mile?

What's going on here? Why the protests over a hiring that would have never drawn such attention if it was anybody but this county chairman?

Arshinkoff's emotional outbursts over the years have been well documented in the media so this isn't the place to revisit the landscape. Rather, the most fitting description of his political journey - often as a self-described victim - that led him to the winner's circle, such as it is, can be compared with what Mitch Miller once said of Frank Sinatra: "Frank had to do his suffering in public, so everyone could see it."

Arshinkoff once described politics to me in the simplest terms: "Politics is all about money." And who better than Alex is around to prove it?

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Kasich: The police officer was a what?

OUR NEW huff-and-puff governor, John Kasich, again finds himself in deep do do for his reckless abuse of the English language. A YouTube video has caught him in a Jan. 21 speech to state workers from the Environmental Protection Agency in which he referred to a police officer as an "idiot". Not once, but three times! According to Kasich, the officer ticketed him for passing an emergency vehicle."He's an idiot," Kasich told his audience of the traffic stop that occurred more than three years ago. "We just can't act that way and what people resent are people who are in government who don't treat the client with respect." Client? Huh?

Kasich was still a Lehman Brothers employe at the time of his arrest and doubtless was in his bullish Wall Street mode.

Kasich spokesman Rob Nichols said the governor would apologize for his unfortunate choice of words. It appears that Nichols is going to be kept quite busy sweeping up after a governor who has earned a reputation for shouting fire even when the theater is empty.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

GOP/Tea Party heading for Disney World

AFTER THE RAUCOUS conservative conference in D.C. the past week end, word leaked out quickly that GOP leaders have agreed to shift the site of the 2012 Republican National Convention to Disney World. Some of the delegates, shown at left, have already arrived in Orlando for the rehearsals to take advantage of the party's momentum.

Smart move. There is no finer venue for make-believe than Disney World, so the delegates will hold forth in a perfect comfort zone.

There are so many issues to resolve within the party that it will doubtless take more than year to resolve them. For example, there's no agreement on what Americans should fear the most, although most of the alarms are color-coded. The late polls tell us that 51 pct. of Republicans are shuddering in their conviction that President Obama was not born in the United States. Only 28 pct. say is a true American. The remaining 20 pct. are skittishly unsure. Fearful of alienating the 71 per centers, House Speaker John Boehner says he accepts the validity of Obama's birthplace but insists that he is in no position to tell Americans what to think. Is that the best you've got, John?

There are other worrisome matters. Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, a potential presidential candidate, alarms us with warnings about a new Red Menace that has the nation in its grips as our debt grows. That is a change of pace from the Brown Menace of Muslims that we've been hearing so much about.

There is precedent for this. We once called the possible Japanese collaboration with Mexicans the Yellow Peril that would distract the U.S. from leaping into WWI against the Germans. The Lone Star State would be the first to suffer from a Mexican-Japanese invasion. Is that threat reinventing itself?

You may remember, too, that President Reagan warned that Texas was within easy striking distance by Nicaragua when he went for the Iran/Contra gambit. That one translated into a Yellow (Banana) Peril. Fortunately Noriega had other ideas.

The Tea Partyers even found a new peril at their conference. A panel moderator shook the room when she accused the unsuspecting Tea Party of being infiltrated already by Jihadists and the Muslem Brotherhood. Indeed without round-the-clock vigilance the Tea Party is ripe for a takeover.

Now you can see why Disney World is the uncontested site for the the GOP presidential convention.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Plusquellic and Delord: Tale of two mayors

I RECENTLY READ about the mayor of a tiny French village who is beset by throngs of visitors who believe the world is finally coming to an end. Dec. 21, 2012 to be exact - or is it May 11, 2011? As you might expect, there is some confusion over this among the so-called "esoterics." Mayor Jean-Pierre Delord said his village's misfortune is that it is near the Bugarach mountain, which is believed to have the sort of magnetism that will create the earth's mini-version of the Big Bang. Delord sourly dismisses the idea as the work of "apocalypse believers and lunatics." You can see where he has a long hard road ahead of him to restore sanity to the village of Bugarach. And by the way, the instigator of this latest apocalyptic vision is a fellow named Harold Camping of Family Radio. He's the same guy who predicted the world would end at various moments in the past.

I mention this to illustrate the difficulties that modern mayors face in trying to maintain a civilized city. And so it is with Mayor Don Plusquellic, who just announced that he will go for a seventh term at City Hall. For his enemies, who will be dealt with later, they will be erupting in warnings that Plusquellic has led the city to a tipping point from which there can be no recovery so long as he is the city's CEO. No sooner had he announced than his old adversary, Warner Mendenhall, was already spreading gloom and doom in the pages of the Beacon Journal.

But I will await the first Democratic or Republican challenger to step forward with a more credible idea on how to steer the city through serious economic times. A few weeks ago, I approached him at a luncheon and asked when he would announce his decision. He laughed and said, "Hey, I want to be sure that I do this right." He did, and he will.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Barbour's Mississippi: No picnic for newborns, either

DID YOU HAPPEN to see the hero's welcome that Gov. Haley Barbour received when he declared to the CPAC crowd that his state of Mississippi, by God, is "the safest state in America for an unborn child"? Social conservatives are in a gung-ho mood in attacking abortion these days and Barbour's pro-life boast to the Tea Partyers (who, by the way, want government off their backs) obviously was well considered for his potential presidential campaign.

But to be perfectly fair and balanced, shouldn't someone have mentioned to that same audience that Mississippi is also, um...the state with the worst record of childhood fatalities. It also has the highest percentage of people below the poverty level, and is tied (with West Virginia!) for the highest level of inhabitants with physical disabilities.

Ah, but that's a story for another time.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Tea Party rebels upstaged by the one in Egypt

HOW INCONSIDERATE of the Egyptian protesters to hog up all of the precious TV time when the Tea Party rebels stormed Washington to take their country back. The mainstream media gave the conservative gathering's opening night rites such scant attention you could wonder why they didn't try to persuade Richard Engel to come home for the only true revolution.

The only thing absent from the throng of 10,000 saviors were fifes and drums and a tribute to Betsy Ross. Oh, Sarah Palin,too. She is so confident of her ascendancy in the public venues that she decided to stay away from this C-PAC to tend to her financial empire. Way to go, Sarah!

From the snippets I picked up of the calls to arms, the speakers obsessed on such things as President Obama's socialism, the delusion that he descended from the Montezumans, and that health care reform will lower the average life span of Americans by 20 years. (Think of the fogies on Capitol Hill that it would eliminate!) Rep. Steve King of Iowa, an unintended humorist, said he has a plan to defund ObamaCare. You will be hearing King's name often in a walk-on role in the months leading to the next election.

For these circuses, you merely have to round up the usual subjects to make it a worthwhile night on the town. Michele Bachmann was the keynote speaker, taking great delight in her every word. My favorite, as always, was Newt Gingrich, who for reasons that I can ony partly explain, reminds me of Jackie Gleason's pal, Crazy Guggenheim. Some of my friends might disagree, saying he more closely resembles Crazy Joe Davola of the Seinfeld cast. Gingrich never seems to be talking to anybody in particular as his words wander off into the atmosphere with ease.

I should mention, too, that along came Donald Trump with a surprise appearance that drew a crowd when he said Ron Paul couldn't win. He could have added the names of several others on the scene.

Finally, one of the Tea Party's major architects, Glenn Beck, remained in his classroom with all of the scribbled blackboards, grieving that America will be consumed by a new World Order while Obama joins the Muslim Brotherhood, or the Chinese Communists, whatever. "If you want to call me crazy," Beck babbled, "call me crazy." OK. I will.

P.S. Watch for the delirium over a straw poll at the conference for the presidential candidates. I predict the straw will win.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Arshinkoff Strain returns to Summit politics

WELL, WE FIGURED it would only be a matter of time before Alex Arshinkoff erupted into soaring hyperbole about Summit County's Zombie Democrats. The county GOP chairman had been relatively dormant in his confused euphoria over the November election, choosing only to boast of the county's tilt toward Republicans.

Today, however, it was good to see the Old Alex back on the podium in the Beacon Journal, resorting to his familiar assaults on people he doesn't like and has never liked. Right. Democrats. So when he accuses them of participating in "the dumbest thing I've ever seen", one can safely assume that his perception of dumb things is rather limited or that he has finally exhausted the list of things that he has often called "scandals of Biblical proportion."

This time around Arshinkoff is calling for a petition drive to punish county workers who illegally participate in political activities. A charter amendment, he insists, is the only way to keep these scoundrels from breaking the state law. (The county prosecutor's office opines this law isn't applicable to Summit because the county, unlike the state's other counties, operates under a self-designed charter.)

The history of Arshinkoff is that he's never been reluctant to impute criminality on his political opponent(s). I, for one, would happily sign his petition if he agreed to start at the top by adding former President George Bush (who authorized illegal harsh interrogation of prisoners) and Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas to the list of lawbreakers. It was Thomas who failed to acknowledge his wife's income for several years on his disclosure statements. Both guys are of Alex's party. Both broke the laws. Neither will be punished

Is that a deal, Alex?

Finally,with reference to rampant lawlessness in the county, Arshinkoff not only called it the dumbest thing in charter history, but assured us: "...and I've seen a lot of dumb things."

Even with his prompting, I won't go down that road with him.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Bristol Palin the successor to Sarah?

GOOD GRIEF! Bristol Palin is talking about a run for public office. Do we sense a political dynasty in the near future? If there is a Palin I (Mom Sarah), wouldn't it only be natural to have a Palin II? That's Bush Math, and it worked for the family both times with Bush III - Jeb, of course - in the wings. Bristol may wait until her mother is crowned Queen Sarah in 2012 before she officially steps up to the plate. It does seem that she is only teasing us now during the Hot Stove League of politics. Somebody has to lend a hand to the family while Mom prepares for her Fox News appearances in which she regularly slams President Obama on Egypt, which she also sees from her front porch.

For the time being, Bristol is an enthusiastic supporter of Sarah as a presidential candidate, telling E! News:

"I think she would be a wonderful president, and I still think that she should run. She's just so common sense conservative, just , 'Here's what we've gotta do and this is how we're gonna do it.' and she brings a whole 'nother aspect to politics because she's a mom, because she runs a household, and I just think she's really smart."

Not to mention her superior way of wrestling grizzlies.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Will the real Reagan story be told?

NOW THAT THE nation has been served the Reagan Centennial with lavish golden trimmings, may we point out that such ventures into the inspiration that gave us Morning In America also carries certain risks. However noble the tales of his presence in the White House, there's a lot of stuff lying around about so-called Reagan Conservatism that has been revived to challenge the myths of his perfect presidency. For the benefit of younger Americans who either were in their infancy or not-yet born when he left office, they should know that he was hardly a god during the modern history of these 50 states. OK, maybe the imperfect god of ancient mythology - but that's as far as I can reach.

So when you see folks with iconic Reagan buttons, or, like Sarah Palin, playng the revisionist Reagan card against taxes and deficits, shouldn't we remind them that it betrays the annals. He did, indeed, raise taxes, again and again (11 times!), and set a record for increased national debt ($3 trillion) at that moment with budgets that soared past the total of all previous presidents when the Democratic Congress had sought less.

As the New York Times David Leonhardt pointed out: "Unemployment jumped to 10.8 pct. after Reagan enacted his much-touted tax cut, and it took years for the rate to get back down to its previous level."

Ah, abortion? He arrived with a pro-life reputation. Eight years later, he left after giving it only mild lip service. For this piece, we won't even examine the lawlessness within his first team in the Iran-Contra scandal and other ugly matters. Scandals? Do the names Oliver North, Caspar Weinberger, Richard Secord and James Watt - among many other culprits - mean anything to the record today.?

There was myth attached to Reagan before he turned to politics. As an Air Force captain he never left the states during WW11 and spent much of his time in California making war movies. Still he was hailed as a national hero and when he came to Hollywood the local paper declared that "Reagan Returns!" (From where?) The Hollywood glow remains today for everything else.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Iraq, auto industry: No praise of GOP folly

I HAD ONCE THOUGHT that the worst flogging of reality occurred in the days following the invasion of Iraq. It was the hollow reassurance by the hawkish Bush Administration officials that likened the war to a brief walk in the park. A few reminders as the pro-war hucksters paraded through the TV talk shows to validate the grand design to bring instant peace to the world:
"I think it will go relatively quickly. Weeks rather than months." - Dick Cheney, March 16, 2003.
"I can't tell you if the use of force in Iraq today would last five days, or five weeks, or five months, but it certainly isn't going to last any longer than that." - Donald Rumsfeld , Feb. 7, 2003.
Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz, two key Bush hawks that helped design the war plans, inisted that American troops would be treated as liberators by the Iraqis. Perle even went so far as to say that within six months of the invasion, a plaza in down Baghdad would be named in honor of Bush.

How could so many apologists for a single destructive plan be such villains?

Well, some of the untidy elements of that failed group have been showing up in the rebirth of the American auto industry. Thanks to Dick Polman, a Philadelphia Inquirer columnist, whose work appeared today in the Beacon Journal, we can review the psychotic response by the right-wing Ninjas on Capitol Hill who lashed the Bush-Obama bailout of once-bankrupt GM and Chrysler as a dangerous leftwing government invasion of private industry.

A few of his examples will serve the point on how these Republicans ganged up on President Obama as a reincarnation of Lenin. Or was it Hugo Chavez, who's still around?:
Sen. John McCain, who remains the GOP's media star-in-waiting, declared: "Anybody who believes that Chrysler is going to survive, I'd like to meet them." (Have you thought about taking a walk along Chrysler's assembly lines these days, John?)
Or Rep, Eric Cantor, John Boehner's Little Sir Echo, except that he smiles more than Number One, who warned that Rep. Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Harry Reid were trying to build a car that he wouldn't want to drive. Why? The Obama crowd will "run it into the ground." (The limo's waiting, Eric.)

Can't overlook Boehner, the Man of the House: The rescue effort "guarantees failure at taxpayer expense."
Sen. Richard Shelby, Alabama: "'I wouldn't loan them any money. General headed down this road to oblivion. Should we intervene to slow it down, knowing it's going to happen. I say no."

Fortunately for the country, guys, it wasn't your call and we can understand why you'd prefer to say nothing and move on to other things. As Polman notes, both companies are now out of bankruptcy and showing profits. He notes that President Obama's intervention saved many livelihoods. Since 2009, the auto industry has added 52,900 jobs.

So where are these critics to concede their job-killing errors? Oh. there's still ObamaCare. And abortion. And, well, know the drill. There's always something, right?

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Super Bowl: I have a Terrible Towel. GO STEELERS!

ONE THE EVE of the tectonic eruption popularly called the Super Bowl, I must tell you something: I am a frantic Pittsburgh Steelers fan. Your response to this mini-WikiLeak will be expressed in three ways: Hooray for our side, How could you?, and Who cares?

Well, I care. You couldn't have lived in the apron of small towns around Pittsburgh for 20 years without intense loyalty to a team that everybody beyond the steel and coal country borders either loves today - or hates. But the haters are a small price for us loyalists to pay for Eight Super Bowls and all that goes with them.

Still, the two-week layoff between the last playoff game and the big night in Dallas left the sports analysts little to add to their commentary after a few days - which is when I dozed off.

Even before the experts started to repeat themselves to fill up the next 12 days, we were less than spellbound by those who told us that the outcome could be decided by blunders, penalties and injuries. Or they might not. Would Big Ben's Roethlisberger's pre-season romps, for which he was suspended four games,weigh heavily on the mule of a quarterback who is known to lumber and barrel his way through a half-dozen gruesome attackers? Then there is James Harrison, the all-pro linebacker from Kent State who somehow escaped the Browns' payroll. Is he so mean and brutal that the NFL had every right to fine him $100,000? His disposition to sometimes maul quarterbacks, his critics insist, is something only the Steeler fans could love.

Will the Steelers succumb to the Packers' West Coast offense? Will NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell's ghost bewitch the team? And having lost four of their five starters on the offensive line to injuries, could the backups keep Big Ben from getting flattened a dozen times? Will the Rooney family's winning tradition through the years be enough save these guys? Is hating the Steelers enough to cause them to lose?

You know something? I don't think any these will really matter after the opening kickoff.

Linus has his blanket to serve his pleasure. And near by desk is the magical Terrible Towel. You may not think so, but it can empower the Steelers to make us diehards happy one more time. If we sulk in defeat, it simply means that we are a spoiled bunch who must give the towel a temporary rest. At least, until next season.

No, it won't be the end of he world if the Steelers lose. But for me, it will be hellishly close.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

GOP downgrades jobless for a definition of rape

LET'S SEE. We are about three weeks into the new Congress and, true to their word, the Republicans in the House are diligently upholding the public trust by...what? New programs to create jobs? Naw. If you've heard of any, let me know. Instead, they have taken it upon themselves to rewrite the meaning of rape. Well, a least that was their idea until a heavy wave of criticism from women's groups forced those pregnancy-proof white guys to back off and...what? Not sure. But the new batch of eager Tea Party-burnished GOP freshmen have two years to figure it out before the next election.

We shouldn't be expecting more from the them in their year of religious and political captivity.

Health care reform exuberance is also in play. For example, there was a report in the Plain Dealer's PolitiFact of how our new Republican congressman from the Canton area, Jim Renacci, responded at a public forum when he was questioned by a concerned citizen about his support of repealing the health care reform law.

No problem for him, Renacci said. It was a campaign pledge that he intended to uphold. He also said there was no way that Congress would keep its hands off the cost of Medicare, which he predicted would be reduced by a half-trillion dollars! What he didn't say was that blockbuster would be spread over the next 10 years. PolitiFact corrected him in the story.

As for rape and abortion , issues that a former conservative icon Ronald Reagan , as well as the Bushes, gave no more than lip service, have now taken center stage for the new conservative class. Abortion was at the heart of many who opposed ObamaCare on grounds that it was unconstitutional (without really knowing why). The debate, aided and abetted by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and and other conservative Christians, is likely to consume a lot of Congress's time this year and maybe for the next 50 years. Meantime, they haven't gotten to a mess of other things that should move to the front of the bus. Wall Street corruption, gun control, insurance, pharmaceuticals, public employe unions, the environment and immigration.

Well,it's true you can't do everything. Unfortunately, the jobs this crowd has created are upgrades for their own employment.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Sherrod Brown quickly out of the starting gate

SEN. SHERROD BROWN was in a campaign mode when he spoke at Akron Roundtable earlier this week. The luncheon audience packed the vast Quaker Station dining room with more than 500 Roundtable members and political guests. Seated directly in front of the dais were Democratic Reps. Betty Sutton and Tim Ryan, Akron Mayor Don Plusquellic, County Executive Russ Pry and FirstEnergy chief Anthony Alexander. It was the sort of turnout that would quicken the pulse of any campaigner.

From the podium, or working the crowd before and after, Brown didn't let the moment pass unheeded as he sets out to seek a second term in 2012. As elongated campaigns go these days, there's not a minute to take for granted.

The speech was largely from the hip, and stressed the accomplishments of the Obama Administration and Democrats during the lame duck session, with no harsh words for the Republican opposition. One of the criticisms of the Democrats was that they did an awful job of boasting of their successes. An unwavering liberal, Brown consistently and without apology supported the health care reform bill, the bailouts and the stimulus packages as well as a range of social issues that are anathema to the political right.

At 57, he retains a jauntily casual raspy-voiced approach to others that often belies the fact that he's dead serious about things that matter the most to his constituents.

In 2006, against the judgment of some of his supporters, he decided not to seek an eighth term as congressman from the 13th district. Instead, he challenged Republican Sen. Mike DeWine in what could have been a fool's errand. Brown won in a landslide. There's conjecture in the political campsites that the GOP will put up Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor for Brown 's senate seat, but others may want a piece of the action, too.

Republicans are on a roll this days and Brown can expect to be slammed with the usual right-wing trash talk. But even so, it would be premature to suppose that the Yale-educated blue-collar favorite is out of fashion. In politics, each day can be different from yesterday - and from tomorrow.