Thursday, September 29, 2011

Christie's entry into the class warfare thing

FOOLED AGAIN. Just when I was beginning to think that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie wasn't as crazy as all those presidential wannabes who keep showing up for the TV debates, he turned up at the Reagan library sounding like Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry et al. As the keynote speaker, which was bound to pop a few forehead veins in his conservative audience, he launched into the class warfare thing that could have the makings of a new Hollywood film noir.

I won't keep you in suspense to learn the exciting plot. In so many words, he blamed President Obama of pandering to the poor at the expense of the rich. Or as he put it, Obama is "telling those who are scared and struggling that the only way their lives can get better is to diminish the success of others..[by] insisting that we must tax and take and demonize those who have already achieved the American dream."

Unfortunately, much of that self-serving dream was created by Wall Street, which has shown no interest in giving up its largesse, no matter what Obama or anybody else thinks of it. As for the scared strugglers, Guv, aren't there an army of them living in Newark, New Jersey , who have no hope of ever having a desk on the carpet at the Bank of America or Goldman Sachs? (As long as we're at it, that would include Middle Class America, too.)

But his Reagan library audience would have been shocked to hear a back-east Republican type tarnish America's high rollers. So I must ask: Who will play Christie in the Hollywood movie now that Sidney Greenstreet has moved on?

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Rep. Dold: Do as I say, not as I do...

WHEN YOU SIT DOWN to honor the leading political hypocrites of our day, be sure to mention Rep. Robert Dold, the Republican congressman from Winnetka, Ill. I know. He's not a household word in your neighborhhood, but he's getting there. He's a freshman, so there's time.

Thanks to HuffPost, we learn that Dold was happily on hand to cut the ribbon for a $4.9 million restoration of a train station in Winnetka, a project paid for with stimulus money. So Dold, who knows a photo-op when he hears of one, stepped up with scissors in hand (he's front and center of the photo).

Trouble is, the stimulus was passed before he got into Congress. And here' what he said before he arrived on Capitol Hill:

"I myself think that what's going on right now is our out -of - control spending is just that - out of control. We need to make sure we're not raising taxes. We need to focus on how to get people back to work...We need to be pro-growth and pro-jobs strategies out there."

As well as out-of - control pro-ribbon-cutting, I'd say.

I humbly offer his name for Grumpy Abe's Linguistic Lunacy (GALL) award.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

And the Republican nominee isn't...

WHILE MANY OF us enjoyed a perfect weather week end of walking, digging, mowing. Marathon running or poring over the Sunday New York Times crossword, there was another event or two that consumed the pundits with new lines of chatter: Herman Cain, the widely described pizza mogul, won the Florida straw vote and Mitt Romney, who was clobbered by Cain, won Michigan. If you've been foolishly keeping score, that gives Cain, Romney and Michele Bachmann (have you forgotten the Iowa outcome already?) each a straw vote victory as they slog for the Republican presidential nomination.

And once again, we are witnessing the media nonsense to be the first to forecast the winner with these meaningless annoyances with the presidential election still 13 months away.

Historians tell us that the first such straw vote occurred in 1824 when reporters from the Harrisburg Pennsylvanian threw straws into the air to determine which way the political winds were blowing. Obviously that was preferable to spinning bottles that could have hurt someone had they been sent aloft.

But what good is a pre-primary campaign if you can't have a front-runner? So far, we've seen mentioned as nominee-designates Sarah Palin, Mitch Daniels, Mike Huckabee, Tim Pawlenty, Michele Bachmann, Mitt Romney, Rick Perry and Fred Thompson. Whoops. Thompson's 15 minutes of media speculation was four years ago. Nowadays he's coming at us on TV with mortgage commercials in a reassuring voice so much like Dr. Welby's.

It is, however, of passing interest that the conservative folks who were dumping on Romney are now out for a quick end to Perry's dream. Brit Hume , the Fox guru, accused Perry of "throwing up" during the last debate. Words like "collapse" and "weak" were tossed about by the Fox panel that vivisected Perry. It was enough to make him return to sheep-farming.

Others are saying it's time for Chris Christie to reconsider, but that may be like waiting for Godot. Meantime, as puzzles go on warm autumn afternoons, I prefer the big one in the Sunday Times.

Friday, September 23, 2011

The GOP debaters in the Kingdom of Moo

WHEN I GLANCED at the latest edition of the Republican presidential debates, it seemed that a more appropriate setting for such bizarre behavior would be a cave. There, they could duke it out in the setting of Alley Oop's Kingdom of Moo without putting any further strain on the outside world. Unless, of course, you got a laugh out of the Tampa audience's jeering section as it booed a gay soldier. In earlier versions of the debate tour, the mere mention of a voluntarily uninsured sick man being left to die brought cheers - as it did when someone brought up the great number of prisoners who were executed in Rick Perry's Texas.

And these are the folks who want their country back - as well as ours. Unless you prefer Gothic tales in which strange things are ever bearing down on the plot, it is impossible to imagine what the country would be like in the hands of a government of Alley Oops. But can we safely dismiss the thought?

Thursday, September 22, 2011

You can do better than that, Rush!

CAN WE AGREE on this entry as the funniest line of the week?....

I refer to Rush Limbaugh's windy assault on Social Security. Rushbo, a mega-millionaire, assured his dittoheads that he has done well despite the fact that he has never once received a Social Security check. But I thought these checks don't start arriving until age 65. He's still 5 years away from qualifying, Ha. Ha. You can't fool me.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

No yards - and a cloud of dust

THE LATE WOODY HAYES earned a reputation for a gridiron offense at OSU that relied on "three yards and a cloud of dust." May I borrow the idea for the latest Republican strategy of opposing President Obama? We will call it "no yards and a cloud of dust."

And another thing while I'm at it: "CLASS WARFARE!" is the latest Republican shibboleth ( (but hardly new) being heaped in unison on President Obama's call for higher taxes on the wealthiest Americans. What chutzpah! The GOP has a long history of defending the rich against everyone else, especially true during FDR's Depression Era days. Shall we refer to their newest model as "crass warfare"?

Monday, September 19, 2011

For the Summit GOP: Look who's coming to dinner

SUMMIT COUNTY REPUBLICAN Chief Alex Arshinkoff has never been known for moderation, whether in political hype or personal habit. He can now add to that dubious reputation his latest jewel for his crown: He will have as the main speaker for the party's annual finance dinner on October 19, which will be studded with dollar signs, the guy known as the most conservative congressman on Capitol Hill: Rep. Jim Jordan, who lives on a farm near Urbana, Oh.

Thus Arshinkoff, straining to become a national player, will push the once-moderate Republican County Party entirely over the cliff into the dark soul-less fringe that has taken over the GOP today.

Let me tell you about Jordan. He is a Tea Party evangelical whose rise to prominence, among others, was boosted by FreedomWorks, Dick Armey's right-wing cash machine. Jordan is now chairman of the House Republican Study Committee, and don't let that group's modest title mislead you into thinking it is a group of intellectuals sitting around and parsing Shakespearean verses. No way. He told the Plain Dealer last May that his job as the HRSC chairman will be to "help Republicans act like Republicans." - which, we all can see today, they aren't doing by the late Ray Bliss' standards.

In the same interview with the PD, Jordan, 47, listed as one of his hobbies "cutting weeds and firewood". And another: watching sports on television. He was, after all, a national wrestling champion. He tried the weed- cutting stuff with his sharp opposition to House Speaker John Boehner 's moves on possibly raising the debt ceiling, and angered the Republican forces around Boehner. Some peeved Ohio Republicans told the Columbus Dispatch that Jordan's behavior in the matter was "boneheaded." Fitting the profile, Jordan also is vibrantly against same-sex marriage and abortion.

Come to think of it: Why am I telling you all of this stuff? The people sitting at the $2.500 tables for 10 will hear it in the most glowing terms from Arshinkoff, who once wanted you to believe that he was a moderate Republican himself.

P.S. If the lights in your home dim briefly on the big night, it will tell you that Alex has just begun his rapturous introduction of his weed-cutting pal.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Boehner plus Cantor equals atavism

John Boehner and Eric Cantor, to name a few, are misanthropic atavists. It's not important that you know what the term means. We can't all be George Wills. Actually, I made up the term, which is not that unusual in national discourse these days. There are a lot of made-up names being flung toward President Obama that are meaningless. Like socialist. Even the folks who use that vengeful word don't know what it means, but they go right on saying it anyway. Maybe it helps their digestion.

Precise communication is not America's strong suit these days despite all of the twitterers walking around malls with those gadgets grafted to their ears.

Talk about communication skills: If you watch TV commercials in any half-hour segment, you would come to believe that we are the happiest nation on the planet. Every item that's promoted works. You know that to be true because there are usually two or three people standing around with happy faces to tell you that it really works. Unless, of course, we are being sold a certain medicinal miracle that , if you have fatal side effects, really doesn't work. By then, it is too late to call you doctor as the pitchman advises you to do - immediately! (I'm particularly curious about the soft-drink commercial in which everyone is awash with the stuff and dancing ecstatically. I tried it, and can tell you that it doesn't work that way.)

I regret that we have reached this level of incoherence in 2011, especially during the 100th anniversary of Marshall McLuhan's birthday. There isn't even a short street named for him in my town and I dare not ask my councilperson to do something about it.

I was drawn to the Canadian professor and media specialist in 1964, when everybody seemed to be talking about his new book, Understanding Media, the Extension of Man. But as a magazine editor, I needed a break from political screeds that were pouring out of the radical right's mimeo machines during the Goldwater campaign. McLuhan argued that the "medium is the message". At the risk of oversimplification: he insisted that it is more important to recognize the medium that influences our existence than what is actually being said.

That's particularly true today when , say, Tea Party rallies are the medium rather than the exhortations by the sign wavers to take back the country. Or, as the professor maintained: "a lightbulb creates an environment by its mere presence." I'd rather not take this further, especially since I haven't noticed any lightbulbs at the rallies.

But to return to Boehner/Cantor: They do find TV the convenient medium to exhibit their atavism, however that might apply as they grope around in the Dark Ages. There has, after all, long been the standing notion that if it isn't shown on TV, it never happened.

What a lousy way to solve the nation's economic problems. Now that I've said it, I'm beginning to feel better about my made-up term.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Three's a dumb crowd


When asked what sort of vice president he would choose for his presidency, Mitt Romney said he would pick somebody like Dick Cheney because of the former veep's' "wisdom and judgment''. Let's see. What would be the first country Mitt would invade?


From the lips of Sen. Rand Paul, the Kentucky Republican : "People move up, the American dream does exist...The rich are getting richer, but the poor are getting richer even faster."


From the lips of Rep. Ron Paul, Texas Republican (like son. like father): A sick man who opted out of buying health insurance should be left to die. (Note: Ohio's Tea Party "leaders" have endorsed this screwball for president. )

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Ohio House redistricting; For cubism lovers only

BY THE TIME the Ohio House finishes its ignoble tinkering, my little neighborhood in Fairlawn will have been dumped into a Muskegon congressional district. Either there or Wilkes-Barre. Nothing is certain when the political carnivores set their sights on exiling voters to where they can do the least harm to the ruling political class in charge of protecting the careers of its sitting congressmen.

We have come to know it as gerrymandering - as in Elbridge Gerry and salamander - and if you've have a chance to look at the jigsaw puzzle that the Republicans at the Statehouse have proposed in their redistricting map you'll get a pretty good idea of what matters the most in politics. We must suffer it with new census figures every 10 years and it will be uglier this year with Ohio's loss of two more congressional seats.

In their wisdom the GOPers have proposed a ribbon of a district (9th) that connects Toledo with Cleveland! Still in an innovative mood, the new map would link Summit County to Cuyahoga, Medina, Trumbull and Geauga Counties and possibly Toronto. That hasn't been decided as yet. The district that slices through Akron appears to have been drawn by a drunken cubist painter. Or M.C. Escher.

Alas, Akron. The city once was well represented solely by the late John Seiberling, followed by Tom Sawyer, both of whom were tightly ensconced in the area's history, identity and needs. A decade ago, the yearning of local Republican officials to get rid of Sawyer (the former Akron mayor) carved out a new district heavily weighted by Youngstown voters. When the GOP redistricting crew wound up its work , Summit County had three congressmen - east, west and north. That was a first for the county. Did I tell you that the crowd that has taken up residence at the Statehouse can be imaginative? There's even talk that the county could end up with four congressmen. With the Ohio House, all things are wretchedly possible, if not in the spirit of basic public service.

As for those concerns for the folks who need easy access to their congressmen, many will have to make long-distance calls. And I'll bet you may have thought that the perps were in office to tend honorably to your business. Think again, folks. Again. You and your alleged lawmakers live in different universes.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The full measure of Plusquellic in 15 minutes

IN HIS BRIEF ACCEPTANCE speech following his Democratic primary victory Tuesday night, Mayor Don Plusquellic offered the full mosaic of what has led him into his nearly completed bid for a seventh term. He expressed his humility ("overwhelmed and humbled"); his intense commitment to the city's welfare (the election wasn't "just about being mayor"); and his seething resentment of his critics' attempts to "mislead" the public about his policies and occasional abrasive personality ("Lies"). There you have it - and will continue to have for four more years.

Sorry, Republicans. You now have a Medina lawyer as a candidate for November. But let's not kid ourselves.

From the outset, I never considered the Democratic primary as a contest between Plusquellic and Mike Williams, the longtime councilman and fierce opponent, Mike Williams. With a mayor who has served in that office for 24 years, most voters would have made up their minds about Plusquellic and went to the polls to judge him, up or down. A majority decided it should keep him on the job.

The only new element from all of Plusquellic's previous campaigns was that Williams was an African American, which could have served the challenger in some quarters and hurt him in others. Unfortunately, that is one of the realities of politics.

The mayor's strategy from the beginning was to eliminate race as a decisive factor. Other issues could have arisen from a gang that has tried to move mountains in ridding City Hall of Plusquellic. A couple of years ago they futilely tried to have him recalled, an initiative that lost badly in the special election. You would have thought that enough is enough.

There were early signs that the recallers were back but I was told that even Williams decided they would not be helpful to his campaign.

Being mayor is not easy these days , a point that the mayor stressed. Plusquellic has been battered by state budget cuts and local personal assaults, some of which foolishly alleged criminality - an ancient curse that originated back at a frustrated Summit County Republican Headquarters. So, months ago, Plusquellic wasn't even sure that he needed more of the same by running again.

The city benefitted from his decision and the voters rewarded him with a likely seventh term. As the mayor's close friend, Council President Marco Sommerville, said afterward: "The city of Akron is in good hands. The people of this city understands what he's trying to do.'

Good for everyone concerned.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Miss Universe says it all for GOP debaters

IT SEEMS FITTING that the Miss Universe contest competed on TV with the Republican candidates debate Monday night as beauty contests in which both events fed us predigested answers to please the judges. Even the hype was intended to be breathlessly fetching for the viewer.

The advance reporting alerted us to the possibility that the presidential candidates would get after each other, and even crash in fireballs, as they sometimes do in the Indy 500 for the benefit of those spectators anticipating bloodshed. It wasn't enough to persuade me to skip the NFL game. Instead, I later scanned the on-line coverage. Smart move.

For starters, there was a huge difference in apparel, of course, ranging from baring to boring. Do you think we might get a self-conscious presidential debate in Nehru suits to remind the audience of the candidates' grasp of history? Somehow black business suits just don't work very well with the glittering pageantry of the moment.

I concede that I was taken by Miss Universe winner's response to the question of how she might change her "personal characteristics" if she could. Leila Lopes ( the winner) declared:
"Thank God, I'm very well satisfied with the way God created me and I would not change a thing. I consider myself a woman with inner beauty. I have my principles. I have acquired many wonderful principles from my family and I plan to follow this through the rest of my life."
That pretty well touches all of the principled bases for the self-assured debaters, too. No one can ever doubt their self-satisfaction in the pursuit of the Oval Office. Still, there were voices on stage with thoughts that made you wonder about their crazy pursuit of the crown. For example, Michele Bachmann attacked Rick Perry for mandating the use of an anti-cancer vaccine on teenage girls. There's more, folks.

She then rushed off to speak to Fox News, which is a kind of latrine for conservatives who have to go, to warn of the dangers of the vaccine. She said she had been told by one mother that the latter's daughter suffered mental retardation after she was vaccinated!

Poor Michele, whose fortunes are falling as fast as they once arose. That wouldn't even get her an honorable mention in the la-la land of Miss Universe.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Are you ready for some football?

SOME OF THE national political blogs are turning out lists of things to watch for in tonight's Republican debate. Unfortunately, none of the lists mentions Monday night football, which could easily be much more interesting.

Pawlenty turns up on a slow news day

THE USELESS political news today is that former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty has endorsed Mitt Romney. And the former Massachusetts governor has happily reciprocated by naming Pawlenty the co-chairman of his presidential campaign.

Aside from the immediate political families, it's not unfair to ask, 'Who cares?' As I vaguely recall, Pawlenty was a candidate for the job himself until he discovered not that many people cared about that either. He only has a $500,000 campaign debt to show for it.

We now await Rick Perry's fellow Texan, Kinky Friedman, to step up with an endorsement of anybody else in the field that might be a tad more thrilling.

UPDATE: Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal endorsed Perry. It's a whole new ballgame between Pawlenty and Jindal, if nothing else.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Why didn't I become a paid lobbyist?

MY FATHER WANTED me to be a doctor. He had his reasons. Two of his brothers were physicians. Furthermore, he believed my grandmother would add me to the list of M.D.'s in the family by paying for my tuition. It was a formidable incentive for him to guide me to medical school someday. When I turned down that presumed benefit, he thought it would also work with Grandma if we told her I would study to become a lawyer. I finally persuaded the few members of my family who even cared about my future that I wanted to be a writer of some sort.

It was a tough call. My mother even mentioned to my high school English teacher that I hoped to work for a newspaper someday. "Is that good?" she asked, quite puzzled about my direction in life. He took a non-committal wait-and-see attitude to avoid offending anyone.

Now, I think I was wrong. Instead of newspaper work, I should have decided to become a lobbyist. In these lean times, lobbying is a well-paid growth industry in which you can even put your movie popcorn on your expense account. These insiders are everywhere at the national and state levels.

I was again reminded of this a few days ago when I read that the pols on the "supercommittee" that will look for budget cuts in defense and health care once employed nearly 100 aides who now work as lobbyists for General Electric and other defense contractors as well as the health-care industry. The high rollers cover themselves well to make sure that nobody takes a bite from their apples.

While reading Reckless Endangerment, New York Times columnist Gretchen Morgenson's and financial analyst Joshua Rosner's inside look at Wall Street, the home mortgage industry and all of the culprits that brought down the economy, it was scary to learn how all the moving parts enriched so many people at the top and destroyed so many others at the bottom. The book's subtitle is, How outsized ambition, greed and corruption led to economic Armageddon, and upon reading the authors' argument, you might conclude that the title was the kindest thing you could say about the book's targets.

Among the evil-doers are Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the two private but government sponsored companies that manipulated a gold rush of home mortgages from banks to fashion a pyramid of treasure before they tumbled. But this piece was about lobbyists. So we must turn to James Johnson, Fannie Mae's chief executive in the the 90s, an influential super power in the mortgage business with both political parties who stacked the deck against the competition. As the authors tell us, Johnson personally realized $100 million in the 9 years that he enjoyed the lofty position. He was so adept at the game with Fannie Mae's "army of lobbyists" that he even paid lobbyists not to lobby against it. (My emphasis.)

In Ohio, the arrival of John Kasich brought in new crew of registered lobbyists - 375, the Plain Dealer recently reported. The paper added that today's roster has about 1,500 members, including Summit County Republican chairman Alex Arshinkoff, whose close ties to the governor has paid off handsomely for him.

Of course I'm jealous and wonder why I never thought of cashing in on this rich employment market much earlier in life instead of being content to play the piano in night clubs and at weddings while writing awful essays. Who knows? As Brando lamented in On the Waterfront, "I could have been somebody" when I walked into the governor's office before heading to the watering hole to buy everybody a drink. Who knows? Rats! Too late, now!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Ohio senate loosens purse strings


Down in Columbus at the Statehouse, where the honored catchword in troubled times is "frugality", we read in the Columbus Dispatch that the Ohio Senate has given raises to its 19 top aides ranging from 4 pct. to 33 pct. The lucky recipients include 10 Republicans and 9 Democrats. But Senate President Tom Niehaus (R) says calm down, he can explain it. "It's never a bad time to do the right thing," Niehaus said. "What I did with the pay increases is consistent with what we advocate in Senate Bill 5, which is paying people for performance .

Among those receiving $15,000 raises was Niehaus' chief of staff, Matt Schuler, whose salary rose to $138,507. With this crowd of cheapskates, it all depends on whose wallet is being gored.

The GOP's uninterrupted talking points

THE MOST THAT can be said about the Republican response to President Obama's jobs speech is that the plot didn't thicken. It's already thick with the same well-rehearsed Tea Party talking points. A lot of TV interview time could be saved if you bunched all of these characters together and called out"Ready, choir": cut taxes, cut spending. In unison!

That's it. We'll be back in a moment for tonight's baseball scores.

The likelihood of the Republicans doing anything to make the economy (read: Obama) look good before the 2012 election is not an option for the president's opponents who have been out to crush him since the minute he entered the Oval Office. Take House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, the Virginia Narcissus with an expansive view of himself. Cantor immediately declared of his side, "We're serious and we have a vision". That, of course, suggests that Obama is trying to win over Americans as he prepares for his own Comedy Central show.

Then there's Rep. Paul Ryan, of Wisconsin, whose grandiose economic schemes have been shredded more than once. He accused the president of being "excessively partisan." Go figure for a GOP caucus that engages in frenzied partisanship before and after every Pledge of Allegiance.

And then Ohio's Rep. Jim Jordan, who may be to the right of the Tea Party, trashed the speech by comparing it to the movie "Groundhog Day." Clever reference from a guy who seems to rely on his farm life for his imagery.

And Michele Bachmann, perhaps feeling less than cheery as the pundits have summarily erased her from the list of presidential contenders, declared the Obama plan DOA. She's no longer a player, we're being told. But what about the media-driven fuss leading up to the charade in Iowa, which was supposed to be a sort of winner-take-all ascent to the White House. She won, and all that, but ...

So shall we now add her to the humbled list of wannabes that for their brief 15 minutes of fame were declared the people's choice? Think Donald Trump,Tim Pawlenty, Sarah Palin (the Divine one) Haley Barbour, Mike Huckabee, and ...zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. The only one still standing that I haven't included is Newt Gingrich. But he was the only one who ever considered himself to be a serious contender in the first place.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Perry's losing scheme vs. the Ponzi scheme

THE CURRENT BUZZ word in the political lexicon is "Ponzi" - as in Carlo Pietro Giovanni Guglielmo Tebaldo Ponzi. He was the Italian immigrant who arrived on these shores penniless in 1903, went on to take in about $15 million in a postage coupon swindle and from there went on to prison.

From the Republican right-wing tower commanding the presidential road show comes word from Texas Gov. Rick Perry that Social Security is a Ponzi scheme. Perry goes after some issues as though he is trying to lasso a rodeo bull with a rubber band. But as we have learned from rubber bands, they can snap back into your face.

Nevertheless, you will be hearing about Ponzi's schemes from the comfortable Social Security haters who obviously believe that if those recipients who survive on their monthly checks are going to starve, then let it happen quickly. The chorus of those who agree with Perry includes such modern-day social and economic philosophers as Tucker Carlson, Rush Limbaugh(whose current wealth could help restore Social Security to good health overnight) Fox News gurus Andrew Napolitano and Brit Hume and CNN contributor Erick Erickson. There are others, but this gives you some idea of where all of the Ponzi raps are coming from.

But wait. It should be an absolute in politics that if you scare the hell out of the public on issues like Social Security, you are destined to be an also-ran. On this point, I agree with Mitt Romney's aide who asserted after Wednesday's GOP debate that "Perry just lost the election."

Poor Carlo Ponzi. Wasn't it enough that he went to prison for his bloodless crimes that he must now have his name trashed even more by loony people like Rick Perry and the Fox/CNN crowd?

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

When some things are more out of control than others

AS TEXANS WORK desperately to contain the fires of hell, here are some figures for Rick Perry's "miraculous" leadership, courtesy of the Crooks and Liars blog:

There are 879 volunteer fire departments in Texas, many of which have responded to the wildfire.

There are 114 paid fire departments.

There are 187 fire departments with volunteers as well as paid firefighters.

The state has cut its financial support to the volunteer departments by 75 pct.

P.S. Perry, who has attacked Washington for being "out of control", apparently excludes those times when the wildfires are out of control in his state. He now says he wants Uncle Sam's help for this particular emergency.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Should we still call it Labor Day?

SO ANOTHER LABOR DAY has passed, not with a bang but sorrowfully a whimper. The media told us of the bleak economy and in a couple of instances, still mindful of President Bush's quick fix, suggested that consumers could provide a glimmer of hope by going shopping.

The national h0liday was set aside by President Grover Cleveland in 1897, ten years after Oregon had declared a "Labor Day" to honor its workers. Until recently, editorial pages on this special day were dominated by grand salutes to the contributions of the working class to the strength of the nation.

My, how times have changed! Editorials in in the Plain Dealer and Columbus Dispatch went on and on about the state of the economy and how important it is now to find solutions. Interestingly, neither Kasich-friendly paper had a single reference to the governor's union- busting initiatives that will be challenged on Election Day. Nor could they. How hollow their words would be inasmuch as both oppose the repeal of Senate Bill 5, which severely restricts public unions.

Instead, the Plain Dealer hauled out the usual imprecise but handy nostrums to invigorate the economy, to wit:
"It is up to all Ohioans, and our political leadership, to show the imagination and forward-thinking in education, taxation and spending policies needed to bring vibrancy back to the employment market."
And what might they be? A brief translation: cut taxes and spending. That's imaginative these days with trickle-nowhere corporations sitting on more than $2 trillion that could help remedy the jobs picture?

The Dispatch, meanwhile., simplified the problem by blaming President Obama and the National Labor Relations Board, a thought that is not even forward-looking nor original but largely inspired by something held dearly by the National Association of Manufacturers.
Concluding that the NLRB was out to "punish" companies that strive to create new jobs, the Dispatch huffed:

"These moves have cowed, paralyzed or blocked the private-sector decision-making that is necessary to get the nation moving again."

To its credit, the Beacon Journal did slip from its occasional anti-union noose to call upon Obama to support unemployment benefits and protect the jobs of "teachers, police officers and firefighters, among others." That, of course, was an unmistakable reference to those public unions most affected by Senate Bill 5.

But for the state's two largest newspapers, it was a Labor Day that called for extending the employment benefits of their friends in the eagerly compensated front offices.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Doesn't either side want to be presidential?

IF YOU HAVE any interest at all in next year's presidential election - and I know that's a stiff challenge -then you can only conclude that:

While the current preposterous Republican job-seekers are doing their damnedest not to win the election next year...

President Obama's repeated concessions to the GOP suggest he is doing his damnedest to lose it.

Will it be a tie?

Arshinkoff: Searching for a presidential speaker?

THE SUMMIT COUNTY Republican Finance Dinner, the premier fund-raising event for the locals, still hasn't been scheduled even though it has usually been set much earlier. According to a source at Party Headquarters, it could be held in late September or later. My hunch is that Chairman Alex Arshinkoff is still turning up his Tarot cards to determine which magnetic presidential candidate might be lured to Akron as the star attraction who satisfies the
Tea Party and his big donors.

Arshinkoff always aspires to being a player in the national arena but his list of recent speakers as potential presidential nominees has not paid off. Among them: Mississippi Gov. Haley
Barbour , former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, and Lincoln Day speaker Mike Huckabee - all of whom gave nice Republican pep talks in Akron and then decided against a presidential bid.

Anybody wanna guess? The winner will be awarded a GOP tea mug.

The junk politics of Eric Cantor

WHAT IS IT about Eric Cantor, the House majority leader, that prompts him to be so beastly toward civilized behavior? Although there has been plenty of earlier evidence of his fondness for junk politics, I now refer to his opposition to Federal aid for hurricane victims unless the money can be offset by further cuts in the budget. He can say such things with grave resolve or with his familiar Mona Lisa smile.

  • Is he hoping that such loony talk will lead him to a spot on the national ticket next year when Tea Party Republicans may be expected to reach for the craziest candidate on the their ticket?
  • Is he simply the bratty child simply demanding attention from Mommy?
  • Does he impatiently have to go to the bathroom?
  • Is he still trying to remove personal guilt for voting to accept federal aid when his own state of Virginia was stricken by the elements several years ago?
  • Is he a narcissistic moron driven by junk politics?
Speaking about junk politicians, what can we say about House Speaker John Boehner, who is a rank above Cantor?

Do the folks in his congressional district in Southwest Ohio know that he was servilely obedient to Rush Limbaugh when the latter called for him to block President Obama's original date to address congress on j0bs? In setting a precedent for a rejection of a President's request, Boehner has paid an addition premium to the political right by seeking parity with the Oval Office.

In this skirmish Obama failed to recall something he said as a candidate when he was asked about President Bush. He said: "You can only have one president at a time.." It made sense at the time. Why doesn't he believe it makes sense today against this gang of junk politicians?

Friday, September 2, 2011

Sherrod Brown: a solar jobs deal near Toledo

THERE WAS SOME good news today by way of the Toledo Blade:

A joint announcement by Sen. Sherrod Brown and the head of the federally operated Ex-Im Bank reported that the bank will provide $455.7 million financing that will allow the First Solar Inc. plant near Toledo to produce solar panels for two solar projects in Ontario, Canada.

The paper said the 18-year government guaranteed loan will sustain jobs for 550 workers at the plant. It should be further noted that Fred Hochberg, Ex-Im Bank chairman, said such financing was needed through federal channels because without it the project could not obtain loans in the commercial lending marketplace.

There's a chance his Republican opponents will find a way to criticize Brown for the deal. They usually do if they aren't busy raising questions about global warming or damning the Feds.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Will muni income taxes become a Kasich enterprise?

I DON'T WANT to sound like I'm picking on Rob Nichols, Gov. Kasich's media puppy, but as long as he insists on staring into the dark wall of Plato's cave, I can't avoid being a nag - or worse. It seems that not a day goes by the Nichols doesn't sound like a damn fool in defending his boss's latest assault on local government.

So when Kasich & Co. shows interest in taking over local income tax collections as progressive "belt-tightening" measures for the officials who run city halls - Democrats and Republicans - across the state, it is left to Nichols bring out his shovel to explain the latest bizarro from the executive palace in Columbus. First, Nichols describes mayors who huffily object to the idea "as advocates of the status quo." As in, the mayors love their fat cities the way they have been since America liberated itself from the British.

From his mentally embedded script, he then tells the Plain Dealer: "All of this has to be done if we are going to make Ohio more economically competitive. We can't afford the government that we have, and I think very few Ohioans feel that the government is so efficient that there isn't some room for things to become leaner."

Instead of portraying local officials as easy streeters with public money, a few belt - tightening facts (which are obviously of little value to Ohio's chief executive):

In 2013 , local government will lose the estate tax , 80 pct. of which goes to local government.
And the Republican legislature has already cut a third of local government funds.

Rechanneling local income tax revenue into the state's hands for distribution would be an administrative nightmare without anything more than second-rate guesswork to tell us how it would attract a company from Germany or China to invest in Ohio.

We await Ohio's corporate controlled editorial pages to refer to the scheme for what it is: another Kasich fiasco-in-the-political-making. He's already proved to be a master of such handiwork with Senate bill 5. If you don't think so, it's time to come home from the beach.