Wednesday, June 29, 2011

GOP issues: abortion, photo ID, unions, But jobs?

IT'S A PITY that men can't get pregnant.

Considering the proclivity of some politicians and their stablemates to get into trouble over sexual mischief, it might slow the lawmakers' pace to rule over women in such matters as abortion (among other things).

You are reminded of the biological injustice of unisex pregnancy when the Republican majority in the Ohio House of Representatives preoccupies itself with Draconian anti-abortion legislation that is said to be the most restrictive in the nation. Some supporters would even sacrifice the mother rather than permit an abortion. Nice work, guys! How did the Buckeye state survive for so many years without the benefit of your medieval wisdom?

It should be clear to all of us by now that this GOP group of intellectual stragglers, fattening up on God knows whose money, is moving in for record legislative insanity in hopes of completing their mission before the fat lady sings. Or at least until the public becomes fully aware of the highly inflammable perils of the merging of poisonous ideological lunacy with politics.

There is, for further example, the Photo ID bill passed by the Republican gang in the House (action is pending in the Senate). It would cost the state many millions to administer (at least the abhorrent poll tax of yore produced a bit of revenue.) And it supposedly addresses a fraud menace that the bill's promoters are unable to show exists. Rather, it is the Republicans' fast track solution for their longstanding commitment to blocking you-know-who Democrats from reaching for a ballot.

Sen. Tom Niehaus, the Republican who serves as Senate president, wants to hush such slandering of his party, having been quoted as insisting:

"I do not believe this is any way a voter suppression issue. This is about maintaining the integrity of the voting process."

Having followed the evolution of such blather for many years, I would be happy to lay up a dime that it has everything to do with voter suppression, senator. I would only hope that these integrity-minded folks would stop lying about their motives. Besides, what does any of this have to do with Kasich's daily avowal to create, eh... jobs?

For all of this wickedness however, there is another report out of Columbus that may have kept more than a few members of Team Kasich up a little later on this day. We Are Ohio, the group that heads the effort to repeal the anti-union meaures so eagerly enacted by those Republicans in the legislature and signed into law by the governor, declared overwhelming success Wednesday as it delivered nearly 1.3 million signatures on their petitions to cap its drive to place the repeal on the November 8 ballot.

For Team Kasich, it is cost of doing overreaching business. There isn't a politician alive in Ohio who wouldn't like to ignite a campaign with those petition numbers. It's time for Gov. Kasich and his soul brother, Wisconsin's Gov. Scott Walker, to get on their cell phones to figure out what went wrong in their feral assault on public unions. And if they don't know, there are more than a million folks in Ohio who can tell them.

But aren't Kasich and Walker only trying to create jobs in their states?

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Zombies hiding in the blue grass?

WE ARE PATIENTLY waiting for the Associated Press to update its report on the hacker who invaded an electronic traffic sign along Interstate 71-75 in Kentucky to warn motorists of zombies down the road. It sounds silly, but considering the odd things that have happened in Ohio's neighboring state, it kinda makes you wonder whether the hacker wasn't kidding. Look at it this way: It's the same state where the voters have sent such luminaries as Jim Bunning, Rand Paul and Mitch McConnell to the U.S. Senate and boasts of having nearly 5 million barrels of bourbon in storage. Isn't it reasonable to assume that the state also is friendly territory for partying zombies on the prowl for a night out?

Monday, June 27, 2011

History is Bachmann's Waterloo

This comes from an alert reader:

Michele Bachmann (R-MN) has a thing for John Wayne. In an interview yesterday with Newsmax, she said she wants to live in “John Wayne’s America.” And in the Iowa town of Waterloo today, where she announced her presidential candidacy, Bachmann told Fox News, “John Wayne was from Waterloo, Iowa. That’s the kind of spirit that I have, too.” But unfortunately for historically challenged Bachmann, as the Washington Times points out, the John Wayne born in Waterloo is John Wayne Gacy, the notorious serial killer who murdered 33 teenage boys and young men, not the iconic Western actor.

Akron mayoral race: a quiet beginning

AS EVERYONE must know by now, Akron Mayor Don Plusquellic has a quick temper that has flared occasionally during his 24 year-career at City Hall. It's what led him to complain to the bosses at Station WAKR a few weeks ago about a question at a news conference by one of the radio station's few reporters. To be sure, it was an unwise political move at the start of his campaign for a seventh term, though not that uncharacteristic of the mayor when he heats up.

The story was exhaustively reported by the Beacon Journal's Bob Dyer, who not only sympathized with WAKR's news director Ed Esposito (who seldom deserves sympathy from anyone) but also suggested that the mayor might possess a Nixon-like enemies list. That was hardly a match inasmuch as Nixon's notorious list included some of the most highly respected journalists in the country.

Otherwise the campaign has been short on public viewing as both sides prepare for whatever skirmishes lie ahead. His leading Democratic primary opponent is Akron at-large Councilman Mike Williams, a perennial critic of Plusquellic and whose campaign motto is a less than stirring "It's time". So we must assume these quiet moments will precede some skirmishes before the Sept. 13 Democratic primary election. (They're scheduled for an Aug. 8 Press Club debate.) I do know that with a 95 pct. recognition rate, the mayor won't have to wear a name tag in front of his audiences. I also know that it will will require more than criticism of Plusquellic's decorum to defeat him.

Somebody has been coming after him for 24 years while he's successfully presided over a pretty good city. Indeed, Brent Larkin, the retired Plain Dealer editorial page editor who has seen his share of come-and-go mayors in his own city has gone so far as to write that Plusquellic is "by far, Ohio's best big-city mayor."

Although this is Williams' first bid to unseat him, the councilman has been trying to build a case against him for a long time. Williams even refused to oppose the recall in 2009. The mayor survived the test handily.

And, to no one's surprise, the latest challenge has drawn the usual suspects, including Akron lawyer Warner Mendenhall, who led the recall campaign. You can find him without much effort wearing an "It's time" campaign button. This being a democracy, you can expect him to be quite active in the race. And, as always in Plusquellic's six terms, Alex Arshinkoff, the Republican chairman, will be in the wings trying to encourage a lightning-strike in September by whatever means that present themselves.

As of now, it is, in the words of that great linguist, Yogi Berra, deja vu all over again


In my previous post, I incorrectly referred to Ken Blackwell as the ubiquitous ex-treasurer of Ohio. Sorry, he's not quite that ubiquitous. He is, of course, the ex -secretary of state. As you can see, some people's ubiquitous careers are harder to follow than others. Correction made.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

The Senate race narrows, but to what?

STOP THE PRESSES! Or turn off the cameras. Ken Blackwell, the erstwhile ubiquitous Ohio secretary of state and gubernatorial candidate, now says he will NOT be a U.S. Senatorial candidate in Ohio this year. Does anybody really care?

The remaining field of potential Republican candidates challenging Sen. Sherrod Brown, a Democrat, is now down to two: The newly elected state treasurer, Josh Mandel, who had assured the voters that he would serve a full four-year term in Columbus, and former State Sen. Kevin Coughlin, of Cuyahoga Falls, who reportedly (Plain Dealer) has been seeking Tea Party support.

This is supposed to get interesting. But so far it isn't.

Friday, June 24, 2011

No homer for Cantor, who takes a walk

NOT SINCE Bill Mazeroski's historic walk-off home run to defeat the Yankees in 1960 has such an abrupt ending invited more attention than Rep. Eric Cantor's walk-off tantrum in his budget talks with Vice President Joe Biden. But there the comparison ends. Mazeroski's World Series clincher led him into Baseball's Hall of Fame for a job well done. Cantor's hissy fit merely confirmed that he is not always in touch with the realities of his job. No matter his erratic behavior as a Republican Tea Party fan and the House majority leader from Virginia, he doesn't impress me as a fellow looking at a Hall of Fame down the road. Frankly, he's nothing more than an grandstanding nuisance, not only to President Obama, but to House Speaker John Boehner.

Indeed, the Washington Post's Ezra Klein wrote:
"Cantor has the credibility with the Tea Party that Boehner lacks. But that's why Cantor won't cut the deal. The Tea Party-types support him because he's the guy who won't cut the deal. He can't sign off on tax increases without losing his power base. But if he's able to throw it back to Boehner and Boehner cuts the deal, that's all good for Cantor."
It's an awful pas de deux of the two top Republicans in the House of Representatives while a governmental shutdown hangs in the balance. There are days when the public interest loses all meaning. In fact, too many days.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Come rain or snow in Ohio - or photo IDs.

ONCE UPON A TIME, it was common for Republican politicians to root for bad weather on election day because as one GOP official then confided to me, more of "the coloreds" would stay home. Times have changed, if not the bottom line. Today, thanks to the nasties in the Ohio legislature, the weather is not as crucial to trimming the voter turnout. The perps down there in Columbus - the epicenter of a lot of terrible ideas these days - have turned to less iffy ways to assure their success: under the phony rubric of voter fraud, they want all voters to arrive with photo IDs to prove that they are who they say they are, current felony laws notwithstanding.

As Sen. Keith Faber, the Celina Republican,'' put it in the Columbus Dispatch, the legislative measure is absolutely necessary because it is "relevant, topical and timely"'. And if that isn't persuasive enough to alert us to the evil of massive voter fraud, word was being passed around in the Statehouse that a guy was found to have voted twice in Cincinnati.

We are living in an age of the worst political sorcery in which a party of fake do-gooders has abandoned integrity for a reign of terror on the underclass. So would it be equally ruthless to mention that the Republicans have had their share of election fraud?

For example, Charles P.White, no less than Indiana's Republican secretary of state, has been indicted on seven felony charges involving voting.

And wasn't James Tobin, then President George W. Bush's New England campaign manager, convicted of taking part in a plot to jam Democrats' phones?

Against those exemplary events, maybe I should be a bit troubled to learn that the Cincinnati hoodwinker actually was an out-of-stater who cast a ballot in that city. And there's more: an inmate voted twice from jail. It was hardly reassuring to be told by Hamilton County elections officials that these were the only two mischievous cases out of 400,000 votes cast in the county.

By now, you can see where I am going with this report: There is no evidence of massive voter fraud in the state. The only fraud is the sustained effort to deny voting rights in order to help a political party that is too intellectually corrupt to honestly represent everyone who shows up at the polls. And too dishonest to admit the basis for their shabby schemes.

Herman Cain's race card against Jon Stewart


I see that you have accused comedian Jon Sewart of attacking you because you are, If I may interrupt your transparent presidential campaign to sell your pizza and underwrite other projects by sucking up to the energy industry, consider this: It doesn't matter whether you are black, yellow, red as pizza sauce, designer tan or decorator off-white - nor does it matter to Stewart, a liberal comedy host who may have a bigger audience than you ever will once you leave the smog of Fox News. You have no chance to win the presidency, no matter what Stewart says. No chance. None at all. So I am forced to drag out my Grumpy Abe Linguistic Lunacy (GALL) award for your clumsy reach for the race card. Meantime, Herm, go easy on the pepperoni, please .

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

In politics, a belly ablaze replaces gravitas

AS WE STUMBLE to another presidential election in the hazy distance, this will be the moment when new criteria are accorded wannabe candidates. Unlike the sensible days when we judged the aspirants on whether they had "gravitas" or whether he or she was an alpha person, today's standard is whether any of them has "fire in the belly." Haley Barbour, you may recall, retired to the bleachers with the explanation that his settled tummy told him that he needn't bother. On the other hand, Sarah Palin took umbrage to reports that she had suspended her ballyhooed tour because she no long saw the oval office in her future. (Nor did the media that grew tired of her stunt and stopped covering it!) She reminded anyone who still cared that she was not a quitter and still had a blazing belly.

I spent my childhood around immigrants who kept Alka-Seltzer at their fingertips after a hell fire dinner that could have been serviceable to clean battery terminals. Their agony was never very easy to witness. On this topic, trust me. I know what I'm talking about.

I think we ought to find other ways for candidates to judge their personal ambitions. The level of gray matter in their skulls would be a valid indicator of whether to be or not to be. A maximum of three dumb statements would disqualify one faster than a fiery dyspeptic belly, don't you think? That would eliminate most of the Republican field, including the alphas. And one of the things I learned when candidates were being judged by the gravitas quotient was that most voters had no idea what the pundits meant. (I do recall being told by one astute observer that he was certain gravitas was a major league shortstop.)

Well, I'm digressing, I know. But it comes from paying too much attention to the oddest things that will determine the next GOP presidential nominee - if, as we are repeatedly being warned, the world doesn't end sooner.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Benevolent governor and lawmakers on a roll

SPECIAL PERKS - often carefully disguised as phantom earmarks - have never had it so good as the ones that have taken over the Republican political class in Columbus.

First, there were the notorious Brennan amendments in the Ohio House version of the state budget that handed over autonomous control of charter schools to the company that would most profit by them.

Then we learn that Gov. Kasich's sweetheart deal on casinos was a goody bag for the big casino owners that will be less profitable for the state than that of his predecessor, Ted Strickland. (Not that anyone in the Kasich fold will concede as much.)

It never stops. Today we see in the Plain Dealer that a couple of Republican lawmakers from Springfield slipped in an amendment to the state transportation bill that would limit the auctions of state construction equipment to one company - based in Springfield, of course. All of Ohio's other auctioneers are outraged. But what can you do? Kasich has already signed it into law.

But maybe we're being too churlish toward the governor. He did say he didn't know the auction stuff was in the bill that bears his signature. The way things have started out in his administration leads me to wonder whether his team wouldn't get the first pick in any sports draft.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Sen .LaRose: the non-maverick McCain maverick

ONE OF MY chores this week end was to clear out some of my paper files - the soaring pile of stuff often mindlessly hoarded from newspapers, magazines and the Internet. Still, it did offer a few items worth attaching to the moment. Of particular interest to me was the Oct. 4, 2010 Beacon Journal endorsement of a young Republican candidate for the state senate, Frank LaRose. (OK, guys, based on what I am about to write you can accuse me of hindsight, but the endorsement never made much sense to me from Day One and I wrote as much at the time.)

LaRose made it to the Senate. And here is how the BJ hailed his credentials to send him to Columbus as the candidate who would represent northern and western Summit County from Barberton to Cuyahoga Falls:
"What is appealing about LaRose is his fresh perspective on public life, his willingness to learn and his understanding about the importance of reaching across the aisle to advance the larger interests of the state.

"LaRose makes a point of wanting to get beyond the polarizing attitudes at the Statehouse....'' The editorial praised him for supporting a "prosperous economy" through investments in such things as education and public works.

But unless I missed something that occurred in the Senate between 2 a.m. and 4 a.m., across-the-aisle LaRose has voted down the line with the ultra-conservative Republican majority on every major polarizing issue from concealed weapons in bars and Senate Bill 5 to drilling on state parklands and harsh anti-abortion measures - public hospitals would be barred from abortion services. (He also told the BJ that he didn't think it was time for cutting taxes, but end the estate tax anyway!)

LaRose spent his political apprenticeship working in the presidential campaign of John McCain, the alleged maverick. Whatever the case, LaRose hasn't shown evidence that he is one. He'a too deeply ensconced in Planet Kasich.

By the way, the editorial also referred to LaRose's Democratic opponent, Frank Comunale, noting that he "made a strong case for his candidacy".

Friday, June 17, 2011

SB5 referendum drive soaring


"We Are Ohio, the coalition of union supporters that wants to overturn Ohio's new collective-bargaining law, has collected 714,137 signatures, more than triple the number needed to get a referendum on the November ballot.

"Spokeswoman Melissa Fazekas said the group's internal sampling shows the validation rate on those signatures is above 60 pct, and they have met the criteria for collecting names in 44 of Ohio'a 88 counties. Signature collecting will continue for the next two weeks, leading up to the June 30 deadline to turn in petitions."

The coalition needed 231,000 signatures to qualify for the November ballot.

As we trudge on, should we have a moment of silence for Planet Kasich?.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Concealed guns: Ohio's giant leap forward. Not.

HOW GOOD it was to read today that our Buckeye State is "catching up with the 1990s.'' The authoritative source for this long-awaited breakthrough from our rust-belted past was Jim Irvine, of the Buckeye Firearms Assn. as he celebrated the arrival of frontier days in the state.

As you might know, the Republican state legislature is sending to Gov. Kasich a concealed-gun measure for his signature, a technicality since he's been rooting for such a bill for a long time. It was about time, Irvine figured, to let the state rise to new heights in concealed weaponry. In fact, our savvy lawmakers have put Ohio in the forefront of the broadest of laws that will enable people to tote firearms into bars, restaurants and athletic arenas so long as they don't drink the spirits or decide to shoot anybody, whichever comes first..

Indeed, I confess to be a little confused by the reasoning of the law's proponents that ignored the resistance of the Ohio Restaurant Assn. and Ohio Fraternal Order of police.

For example, one chap explained the measure was necessary to rid gun owners of the inconvenience of leaving their guns in their cars when they entered a bar simply to play the juke box. Heavens, how many people do you know who patronize these spots for reasons other than to have a drink? Or drinks?

But the shuddering anti-concealed gun crowd lost big on this one. I was particularly interested in the bar owner quoted in the Plain Dealer who reassured the doubters that the law made a whole lot of sense as an upgrading societal moment in Ohio history. The guy said, "I just think everybody's safer when everybody has guns." There's a lot of that profound logic going around these days.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Drumroll, please: Arshinkoff is back

ALEX ARSHINKOFF'S return to the Summit County Board of Elections is all but official! Only a couple of routine technicalities separate him from the seat from which he was ousted in February 2008 for causing so much mayhem on the board, as is his nature. All that remains now to make the Summit County GOP chairman's return to the board seat official is a recommendation by his party (a no-brainer) and the appointment by Secretary of State Jon Husted, the recipient of a $150,000 contribution from Alex's county treasury during the last campaign. Obviously Arshinkoff had already carefully planned his triumphal return long before today.

Still, why were we served so much uncharacteristic humility by Arshinkoff in today's Beacon Journal report? If he were asked to serve, he said, he certainly wouldn't turn it down. If?

Of Husted's role in appointing him to the $17,000 a year job, Arshinkoff said: "It's up to him. He's secretary of state. We haven't had any deep discussions." (English translation: Nature will take its timely course, much like the current roaring over Niagara Falls. No deep discussion necessary.)

And more coyness from Husted spokesman Matt McClellan, who told the BJ that it was much too early to predict the outcome. "We'll review whatever nominee the party makes." (English translation: We know who the nominee will be. Why is it even necessary to ask?)

Wayne Jones, the county Democratic chairman who is on the board, was circumspect about the imminent arrival of his political a adversary, telling me: "I hope he's not confrontational."
And good luck on that.

For several months, Arshinkoff has been recovering from serious foot surgery caused by diabetes and has been relegated to running his party by telephone from his home in Hudson. You can be sure that he didn't fill in all of his time watching VCR's of The Sopranos.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The NY Times falls for the carefully laid trap


The omniscient New York Times fell for the non-debate Republican "debate" with a big Page One photo of the Team GOP bar code (see earlier post) and a frightfully long article on what it expansively called the "largest debate of the 2012 campaign." But the reality lies in the fact that the election is still 17 months away and these scrimmages are nothing more than an NFL exhibition game in August in which the rookies hope to show off their stuff to make the cut.

These are media-driven times in politics in which a single TV commentator chooses to cite the candidate who seems to have gained a point or two in a crowded field and is thereby elevated to front runner. My former boss Jack Knight regularly complained that the problem with the pundits is that they cover politics like horse races rather than spending much time examining the issues.

Seventeen months people! Anybody besides the candidates' immediate families want to swear that they will remember this parley a week from now?

Macy's ad: Congratulations to whom?

FROM A READER comes this Macy's ad that appeared - prematurely, to say the least - in the Miami Herald . It could easily qualify as the successor to the Chicago Tribune's famous headline of Nov. 3, 1948: DEWEY DEFEATS TRUMAN.

Everyone involved in the Macy/Herald snafu was naturally red-faced about the preprinted notice that had Macy's out front on what was intended to be a marketing bonanza until the Dallas Mavericks intruded with a victory.

Whatever happened to the old newspaper warning about hasty conclusions: Get it first, but get it right!

Monday, June 13, 2011

When everybody agrees, where's the debate?

I CHECKED OUT of the two-hour Republican presidential candidate debate on CNN at 8:19 tonight. Without revealing it to me, Nancy had predicted that it would be 8:24. Close enough. She knows my patience level too well. Nineteen minutes was long enough.
These events usually reveal nothing. From a distance, the eager and powdered candidates, as an erect phalanx in dark suits, appeared to be a bar code on a Wheaties box. And with 30 seconds to answer a question on the mysteries of the universe, they raced beyond their limits as CNN's John King served as a speed bump to remind them of their excesses.

Besides, it wasn't close to a debate, but rather what the boys back in my old neighborhood called a "gang bang", in this instance, of President Obama. Ron Paul, the Republicans' Harold Stassen, said he coudn't think of a single thing that Obama did right, and would you believe that nobody disagreed with him! Everyone promised to repeal the health care reform law, cut taxes and deliver us from liberal evil. Obama, Mitt Romney assured us, was a failure, so there.
Everyone told us how many children he or she had and how much they loved America. The air was heavy with sincerity.

And Michele Bachmann, just in the nick of time for the collegial symposium, announced to King that she was officially running for president. She wanted CNN to be the first with the scoop.

By the way, what was Newt Gingrich doing up there on the stage in New Hampshire anyway? He looked none the worse (nor none the better) for the exodus of his entire campaign staff. Maybe his recent Mediterranean cruise did him some good even if his former staff didn't.

And how about the woman in the audience who said she was a freelance "journalist" for corporate publications and wanted a pledge that we would all be freed from the oppressive health care law ASAP. Can you imagine that with that hostile point of view what industry publishes her stuff. You're right.

All of this in 19 minutes, folks. Would that their campaigns would last no longer than that.

Cleveland can enjoy another's pain

IT'S POSSIBLE that Dirk Nowitzki, the talented German power forward of the Dallas Mavericks, was the only player on the floor Sunday night who understood the word schadenfreude, which describes one's joy in another's pain. But as a modest and courteous athlete, Kirk would leave it to much of the basketball world to express in the wake of his team's surprising victory over the Miami Heat to claim the NBA championship. The final score simply focussed on the boorish behavior of LeBron James ever since he announced his departure from Cleveland in an outrageous one-hour TV spectacle in which he appeared as The King.

From there, it became a truism among the analysts that the Heat had just bought itself a slam-dunk championship with the addition of LeBron James and Chris Bosh. And in a incredibly tasteless self-congratulatory event - even for professional sports - it beatified LeBron, Bosh and Dwyane Wade on center stage. Wade assured the cheering audience that this collection of talent was "arguably the best trio to ever play the game of basketball."

It would be easy, said King LeBron, who added that they would not win one championship, but six.. seven...eight . You had to wonder why they would bother to play out the season. Well, even for royalty, those are the rules. And along came the aging Mavericks to challenge the gang that couldn't shoot straight. For guys like Nowtizki and Jason Kidd who had hung around for years trying to win their first championship ring, they simply went about their business in the playoffs and left the bragging to others.

The Heat had Lebron, who faltered, when they desperately needed Michael Jordan to close the deal. All that remains of the Heat season is the tattered promise to "wait 'til next year".

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Satire in 1947, reality today

THE CURRENT ABSURD political culture led me over the week end to revisit the 1947 film The Senator Was Indiscreet, courtesy of the Akron-Summit County Public Library. In the irreverent hands of director George S. Kaufman, Sen. Mel Ashton (William Powell) is a boob who presents himself on a campaign-style whistle stop as a non-presidential candidate. (Sound familiar these days?) He is against inflation as well as deflation, but supports "flation". The fanciful plot satirically turns on a diary that he has kept for many years as an insider's story that is so politically delicious that it lures others to steal it. The diary is published and the senator heads to a South Seas Island to serve as its top banana. Naturally, it is all for laughs.

There is much here to remind us of today's laughable antics of a certain presidential field in our midst. Even a master humorist like Kaufman couldn't come up with some of the current lunacy:

As the candidates' words arrived on my computer and TV, here's what they wanted you to know:

Herman Cain insists on loyalty oaths by American Muslims.

Newt Gingrich's entire campaign staff resigns, or as Bill Maher described it: "His staff fired him." (And to anyone who suggested that I was off the reservation in my past references to Gingrich as Crazy Guggenheim , I can only ask, "Would you repeat that, please?

Rick Santorum, the GOP herd's theocrat-in-chief, says on Meet the Press that there are no circumstances in which abortions would be OK, even if the mother's (not the father's, of course) life were endangered.

Does anybody know where these boobs keep their diaries?

Friday, June 10, 2011

Herman Cain: The pizza guy with tasteless sauce

I FIRST ENCOUNTERED Herman Cain as a resonant radio voice while surfing the dial as I drove home from Lima, Oh., last summer. Although I was struck by his articulate nonsense, it would never have occurred to me that he was setting himself up as a presidential candidate. Here, after all, was just another nutty talk show host no different than all of the other right-wing turkeys who either want to save my soul, or my country, or both, whichever comes first.

I should have figured that Cain was up to no good when he and his callers thought it was sooo clever to reference President Obama's middle name, Hussein. Later I learned that Herman (whose last name escaped me at the time) was the founder of Godfather Pizza.

I love pizza, but that's of no importance today because Cain is sounding more llke a don than a pizza salesman as he sets out on his impossible dream to be the president himself.
Cain has cast himself as the leading Republican candidate against Muslims. He wants them to take loyalty tests to prove their validity as Americans.

As an African -American, Cain must surely know about the abuses that blacks have suffered at the hands of pure white Americans. How inconvenient for him. But history, as Sarah Palin again demonstrated, is of little value in the scrap heap of mindless political ambition. So be prepared for a lot of popularized attacks from the nativists on Muslims as well as Hispanics (also fodder on the political stump) on the path to the presidential election, all in the name of the flag.

Meantime, be a good American and keep that in mind the next time your order a pizza.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Wisconsin GOP's ad hoc fake Democrats

IF YOU NEED any further proof of the desperation that afflicts the Republican Party, just check out the Wisconsin GOP's plot to have "fake Democrats" - I can't make this up, folks -running in recall elections in which Republicans have been targeted.

And what is a fake Democrat? To name one, he is Otto Junkermann , age 82, who once served as a Republican state representative and has returned years later to demonstrate his regurgitated value to his party by pretending to be a Democrat. The reasoning behind all of this is much too complex to deserve a long explanation. But essentially it would delay the recall vote because it would create a Democratic primary. There will be other not-so-phantom Republicans appearing in similar roles to head off possible recalls of six GOP lawmakers who supported the Draconian anti-union law that Gov.Scott Walker supported as a fake device to wipe out the state budget deficit.

The Wisconsin voters have already been alerted to the party's retreat to double lives. So you have to wonder whether the schemers have any concern about being branded as cynics to undermine what's left of the system. No, the schemers aren't concerned.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Bill Batchelder's law of earned pay

ASIDE TO Bill Batchelder, the Ohio House speaker:

A report by the Associated Press quoted you as opposing the proposed 5 cut for lawmakers because you believe they "earn" their pay. Does this mean that you don't believe that everyone who has been forced to accept pay cuts - some much greater than 5 pct. - during these hard times don't "earn" their pay?

Sexual misdeeds: We're running out of alphabet

IN THE TIDAL WAVE of sexual misbehavior by politicians, Rep. Anthony Weiner's contribution to True Confessions magazine offers a glimmer of hope. We're down to the W's.

Sexual satisfaction, genetic as it is, has never been an exception to the rule in the political class (or any other class, for that matter). The late DC Madam, Deborah Jeane Palfrey, once claimed to have more than 10,000 names of CEOs, pols and other prowling males in her VIP books. Long before Palfrey, God knows how many ex-presidents would have made the cut back to colonial times, B.C . (Before cable).

However, the modern list of trespassers is impressive. To remind you:

Arnold Schwarzenegger, Mark Sanford, John Ensign, David Vitter, Eliott Spitzer, Bill Clinton, Newt Gingrich, Rudy Giuliani, Newt Gingrich ...Even though they aren't Americans, no hot list would be authoritative without Silvio Berlusconi and some other libinious European leaders.

So much for American exceptionalism.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Coulter's remedy for deadly mob scenes

NOT TO BE OUTDONE by Sen. Shelby's inane attack on a Nobel Laureate, hyperactive Ann Coulter has shoveled a deeper hole for madness by telling Fox News host Sean Hannity that she wasn't at all embarassed by the fatal outcome of the 1970 Kent State protest because "that's what you do with a mob." We're fortunate that visiting hours to her padded room are limited mostly to the pundits at Fox News.

Nobel's Diamond vs. Sen.Shelby: No contest

A PERFECT EXAMPLE of how far into the muck the current Republican political class has burrowed has now arrived in the abysmal assault on Nobel laureate Peter Diamond. The MIT economics professor was cited for his outstanding work in unemployment and labor. Despite that distinction, his nomination by President Obama for the Federal Reserve was blocked by GOP Sen. Richard Shelby, of Alabama, who questioned Diamond's credentials. (It seems that in Alabama, the only credentials for getting elected to the U.S.Senate are an empty head and willingness to champion extreme conservatism as a blood sport.)

Rather than put up with such idiocy, Diamond withdrew as the nominee to devote all of his time to the friendlier and more rewarding culture of academia. But in response to Shelby's blockade that accused Diamond of being unqualified to engage in monetary policy, the distinguished economist wrote in an op-ed piece for the New York Times:
"To the public, the Washington debate is often about more versus less - in both spending and regulation. There is too little public awareness of the real consequences of some of these decisions. In reality , we need more good regulations and fewer bad ones.

''Analytical expertise is needed to accomplish this, to make government more effective and efficient. Skilled analytical analysis should not be drowned out by mistaken ideologically driven views that more is always better or less is always better. I had hoped to bring some of my own expertise and experience to the Fed. Now I hope someone else can."
Meantime, we can look at the insidious Shelby Factor as another defining moment 0f where his party is trying to take the nation.

Monday, June 6, 2011

The sale of Ohio's Republican House of Representatives

IF YOU'VE EVER wondered what it would take to buy the Ohio Republican House of Representatives, there's a pretty strong clue in Sunday's Beacon Journal. In a thorough outing of David Brennan, the GOP's landlord in the Buckeye State, the paper reported that over the past two decades he has given more than $4 million to Republican candidates and PACs hereabouts, a sizable share going to where it would do him the most good as contributor-in-chief . That could only meant Brennan's lucrative charter school company, White Hat Management .

A Columbus Dispatch report included in the BJ"s coverage noted that Brennan's agents (who were greeted with open arms by GOP lawmakers) slipped in to the proposed state budget a couple of amendments that would enormously accommodate Brennan's sweeping plans to further enrich his charter company despite the fact that he has already found a loyal and willing enabler in Gov. Kasich. Keep in mind, too, that Brennan's operation has already received more than $230 million in taxpayer money for his charter schools in Ohio.

The budget is now in the state senate, which will settle on its version this week. It will be interesting to see how Akron's freshman Republican senator Frank LaRose responds to the outrages of Brennan's maneuvers in the House. After the awkward way he went about supporting Senate Bill 5, the union- busting dagger, LaRose can't really afford much more hot water.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Sarah's East Coast Iditarod

AS WE GLANCED at the latest TV report of Sarah Palin's Lower 48 version of the Iditarod up the East Coast, it became clear from the frenzy that we were witnessing the Palin First Law of Centripetal Force. That is,
A falling body decelerates relative to the mass of media energy affecting it.
Folks, not since reporter Nellie Bly infiltrated an asylum for a story and followed up by circling the globe in 80 days have we seen such a determined self-absorbed human spectacle. Donald Trump, with whom she met along the way for a collectible photo-op, could not match it once his birther plot died. The media could not resist Sarah's latest stunt. It's a given factor that she doesn't overlook these days. Will her gravitational pull ever be exhausted? Not until after she topples over Niagara Falls in a barrel?

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The clock runs out on Tressel

AS WE ALL must know, rabid sports fans are a vacant lot, but have fun being so. So the hysteria over Jim Tressel's departure (ouster!) at Football Central in Columbus is not surprising. A full-scale disaster for the Buckeye Boosters, yes. But surprising, no.

In the brief mourning period since Tressel abdicated, there have been howls that the poor fellow not only had a knack for beating Michigan but was blessed with uncommon piety and class. As one who worked in Columbus for a decade, I can vouch that piety is an extraordinary virtue in a town where football, by God, is the practiced religion . That Tressel lied about what he knew was happening on his players back channel was hardly culpable for his teary-eyed cheerleaders. Some critics - mostly letter writers and call-in nuts - blamed the players for betraying their leader. And so the media have been a scapegoat for OSU's loss of one of its favorite sons.

Well, the time has come for a little soul searching for corporate level college sports. The front -office salaries are extraordinary; the cost of a single ticket that doesn't require binoculars is out of reach of many fans; and the media, now accused of hounding Tressel, contribute to the fantasy that the game is something more than a game. Nowhere has this been more apparent than in Buckeyeville, where one or two losses a year on the gridiron is not a winning season.

Ever wonder why Columbus doesn't have an NFL team? They already have one on the campus. And Tressel, the coach who could do no wrong, showed us how it was done, with a little tweaking here and there.

Don't fret, Buckeye fans. The big guys down there will make sure Tressel's avatar will take over from here.