Monday, December 31, 2012

For Republican pols, no place like home

Just saw a report that the Republican lunatics in the U.S. House are planning to go home without voting on any Fiscal Cliff deal passed by the Senate, thereby guaranteeing  most Americans  an unhappy New Year.  I want my country back.  

Sunday, December 30, 2012

How Renacci links Newtown and 9/11

We shouldn't let the year end without recalling the voice of Rep. Jim Renacci, Wadsworth, Oh., Republican, who found a way to join gun control, which he opposes, with  9/11.  Although the logic leaps, it at least shows you the evasive ways  of the pro-gun politicians who object to  the calls for even modest controls following the Newtown tragedy while pretending to be responsibly thoughtful about the issue.

In a statement reported by the Beacon Journal, Renacci argued that although 9/11 was carried out by religious extremists, there was no outcry to "erase our First Amendment right to free exercise of religion".  Funny that no one thought about it that way at the time.

You can see where this is going.

The same Constitutional standard, he says, should be applied to the Second Amendment. In other words, don't tinker with  the right to bear arms.  Rather, he opines,  the nation's collective  mental health should be the No. 1 priority because the massacres of  9/11 and Newtown's kids were carried out  by "madmen,  not by our Founding Fathers  or our Constitution."

The comparison was invidious, but we're getting used to such high-minded obscurities by the Renaccis  on Capitol Hill.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

When friends meet to ring in the new...

The guy on the left was a Christmas gift from a 47 percenter;  the one on the right was a gift at an Akron Aeros baseball game. President Obama and Akron Mayor Plusquellic, both of whom are ending  the year as winners.  It was only fitting that they should be together  in this photo-op. Nancy also has a bobblehead of Omar Vizquel, a winner, too.  But for this historic photo,  three would be a crowd.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Mitt's painful role as the reluctant dragon to save America

As if Republicans aren't  suffering enough blowback from their whining ever since they lost the election, Tagg Romney has  set more tongues a-wagging by declaring that his dad never really wanted to be president anyway. So there!

Even the overseas media are quoting him these days.  The Daily Mail of London, for example, screamed:  "Tagg Romney makes shocking revelation".   Some Brits complained that Mitt had only succeeded in wasting a lot of conservatives' time.

Shocking?  Well, yes and no.  Tagg, after all, is the same son who once declared that he felt like punching President Obama during the course of the presidential debate with Dad Mitt. As the hostile action of some conservatives goes, that remark was good enough to downgrade the fury of Rick Santorum's disclosure that a speech by President Kennedy made him want to puke.

For anyone caught up in holiday shopping or gift returns,  the critical secret revealed by Tagg went like this:
"He (Papa) wanted to be president less than anyone I've met in my life.  He had no desire  If he could have found someone else to take his place...he would have been ecstatic to step aside.  He is a very private person who loves his family deeply and wants to be with them, but he has deep faith in God and he loves his  country, but he doesn't love the attention."
"Yeah, right," declared blogger Daily Kos, which further noted that Mitt Romney was "preparing  to run for President of the United States even before he took the oath of office as Governor of Massachusetts 10 years  ago."

Tagg  blames himself and Mom Ann for pressing Mitt onto the painful martyr's  path to save the country from the Obama menace.  And as far as Mitt's failure to find  "someone else to take his place"  there was a phalanx of eager others on the GOP  debate stage who would have gladly accommodated  his hunger for privacy.

NOTE:  Grumpy's column  on the state of today's  newspapers is posted on Plunderbund.


Thursday, December 27, 2012

Stop misnaming Republican Lincoln Day dinners

While viewing Steven Spielberg's compelling film, "Lincoln",  I couldn't avoid  thinking of the wide gulf between the Republican Party of Abraham Lincoln's age and the impostors that have kidnapped the GOP of today. In the 1860s, Republicans were the good guys who supported their president's efforts to preserve the Union and free the slaves.  Lincoln had little hope that he would be reelected.   The Democrats were the bad guys clinging to slavery while engaged in a war of secession.

But in a dramatic reversal of roles,  the capture of the Republican Party by the Tea Partyers and their wealthy enablers has openly abused the Lincoln of wisdom, courage and patriotism (so sensitively  revealed by Daniel Day-Lewis).  There is still silly talk of secession within wacko groups.
And few will deny that racism kept Barack Obama's victory closer than it might have been.  For confirmation, simply check the figures of white-guy voters.

In February, or a little later,  Republicans will stage their traditional Lincoln Day Dinners, often showing preference for right-wing GOP speakers.   The trend by the Summit County GOP, for example,  has featured   such conservative icons  as Mike Huckabee (whom, it says in the invitation, is a "leading favorite to top"  the 2012 presidential ticket;  Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, chairman of the party's very very conservative Study Committee;  and Rick Santorum, who needs no further introduction.  I have occasionally referred to these misnamed "Lincoln" events as identity  thefts.

 Although I don't expect happier results, may I suggest that now that they have lost the election, the  sponsors of these political stage shows find a new name for the dinners .  The  Norquist Day Dinner?  The LaPierre Day Dinner?  At least this would be a more honest approach and not slander Lincoln in his grave.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

The Dispatch endorses Kasich for reelection!

The Columbus Dispatch, the bellwether of conservative chatter in Upper Arlington and other spiffy  Republican enclaves, sent a Happy New Year greeting  to Gov. Kasich on Sunday that could easily pass for an endorsement for  the guv's reelection campaign of 2014.

You might ask, "What's the hurry?" Well, in the Dispatch's case, it's never too early to safely  ferry home its politician of choice in a major editorial -  long before anybody even knows the name of his eventual Democratic opponent.

Actually the paper's  enthusiasm for Kasich,  the fellow it endorsed the last time, covered so many positives that we can only conclude that it would take the Wright Brothers to invent any new ones that would rise to greater heights.   Rather than wade through a series of exclamatory compliments in the Dispatch's stargazing passages, you  can quickly get the point in the opening paragraph:
"For Ohio and the governor, 2012 has been a transformative year.  John Kasich sped through his second year with his trademark zeal for getting done the big and difficult things, hardly skipping a beat after  his 2011  reforms stabilized the state."
"The man who once balanced the federal budget, line by line, took a scalpel to the Buckeye spending plan and erased the deficit without raising taxes.  He launched reforms of Medicaid, prisons and job-killing red tape."
It goes on with goose-bumping accolades for Kasich's  education reforms and initiatives for roadbuilding, job growth and balanced budget.

On that last point it was never mentioned the teeniest that part of the balancing act was the  convenience of stripping the school budget by more than $1 billion and, reports  Plunderbund, cutting 50 pct. of the local government fund in his 2013 budget. Public school cuts in teaching staffs, and local school tax levies,  have become commonplace.

Finally, the greatest excision from the governor's  fanfare for his jobs record is acknowledgement of any credit to a growing  national economy and the Obama administration's revival of the auto industry that saved  saved thousands of jobs in Ohio.

The Dispatch did concede  that none of the governor's good deeds rank as highly as the fact that his "most critical accomplishment...rests in the hearts of the many Ohioans who again have hope"  that happier days are here again.

Is it gross to mention that the Dispatch also endorsed George W. Bush and Mitt Romney?

Saturday, December 22, 2012

LaPierre, worse than a bad hair day

Wayne LaPierre, the voice-over for the National Rifle Association, may consider himself an expert on guns,  but he appears to have shot himself in both feet with his news conference that called from armed officers  in every school in America.

Not even the New York Post, owned by world conservative Rupert Murdoch, was comforted by what the NRA had billed as as a "meaningful" solution to such massacres as the  one in Newtown.
The pictured front page speaks for itself.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Bolton prepares to head off Hillary at the pass

Dashing all fear that the world would vanish on Friday,  far-sighted Republicans have locked on to a new  calamitous challenge  to them  that could occur  four years from now:  A presidential candidacy by Hillary Rodham Clinton.

With all of the media chatter that Hillary is da first lady-to-be of Democrats, the GOP's ever-vigilant Hard Right is already gathering its battered  forces to deny her of any hope of leading a parade that she has yet to say she would do anyway.

One of the party's leading gorillas,  John Bolton, has thrown down the gauntlet by accusing her of faking a concussion to avoid an appearance before a senate committee probing the Benghazi attack. (He doesn't really know that to be true,  but you can see how this goes..)

You must understand that with guys like Bolton, the former UN ambassador appointed by Condoleezza Rice,  there's never room for professional  courtesies in sickness and in health.   He's a long-time cold warrior, militaristic poker player, Fox News favorite,  and gadabout in conservative think tanks.  He is obviously now the point man in his assault on Clinton to spare the world of another Mayan assumed catastrophe.

 Frankly, it sounds like the GOP is recycling the immodest words  of Sen. Mitch McConnell on Day One of Barack Obama's first presidency that his first duty was to make Obama a one-term president. (We all know how that worked out!)  May we  now assume that  the GOP's most noble vow will be to make Hillary a no-term non-president?

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

With Scott, GOP ship of state sails on...

If you happened to read beyond the first paragraph the reports on South Carolina Rep. Tim Scott's appointment to the U.S. Senate, you will learn that (1) he is the first black Republican to serve in that role from the south since 1881 and (2) he is virtually a political clone of retiring conservative Tea Party Sen.  Jim DeMint.

Not only that, we are informed by the New York Times that Scott "first earned his Republican credentials by serving  as a campaign co-chairman  in 1996 for Sen. Strom Thurmond, a onetime segregationist, in his final campaign."

With the defeat of Rep. Allen West of Florida in the November, and the departure of Scott, the GOP House will be without a single black.  But Republicans will now have a single African-American in the Senate.

We can only add that for Republicans, who were wiped out by black voters in November,  it's a start.

Monday, December 17, 2012

And now, the Louie Gohmert awards of 2012

For the past year, I've been building a file  dedicated to  Rep.  Louie Gohmert.  A Texas Republican, he's the congressman least likely to be considered for a Rhodes scholarship.  Not even an invitation to appear on Jeopardy, if you know what I mean.

The file is bulging with tributes to odd and quirky antics and quotes - many of them not elegantly stated, as Mitt would say -  that littered the 2012 political landscape. Shall we begin with the honors?

Most useless right-to-work stunt in the 2012 presidential campaign:  To Paul Ryan, for washing pans that had already been washed in  a soup kitchen run by the St. Vincent De Paul Society during a stop near Youngstown.

Most forgettable  moment in the Republican debates: To Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who  conceded that he could  only remember two of three U.S.  departments he would abolish if he were elected president.

Most stupendous  medical malpractice by pro-life white guys:  The award goes to three  Republican non-physicians:  Rep. Todd Akin, who said a female body would prevent pregnancy from "legitimate rape";  Indiana treasurer Richard Mourdock,  who allowed that pregnancy from rape was God's will; and Foster Friess, a major contributor to Rick Santorum's campaign, who said that in his day, one way to avoid pregnancy was for the ''gals  to put an aspirin  between their knees".

Most spaced-out comment of  the year:  Candidate Newt Gingrich, promising a permanent base station on the moon in his second term in the Oval Office.

Most prolonged ego-trip by a pain-in-the you-know-what birther:  Donald Trump, who was left running in place at the starting gate.

Most detached flag-raiser by a state official:  Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted's deepest concern that  restoring early voting was "un-American".

Most insightful political reprieve of the downside of Mitt Romney's wealth:  House Speaker John Boehner's conclusion that Americans  are supportive of rich folks and would vote for Mitt because "they don't want to vote for someone that hasn't been successful."

Most cognitive dissonant statement of the presidential campaign:  Mitt Romney's repeated contention that "the economy is getting it better but Obama made it worse."

Most  in urgent need of a hearing aid in  House of Representatives: Soon- to- exit Rep. Allen West of Florida,  who said he "heard" that there were 80 Communists posing as Democrats in the House.

Most errant description of the Republican comeback team: Michelle Bachmann, describing Romney and Ryan as a "brilliant combination" to carry the GOP banner.

Most ignored warning from a GOP conservative:  Rick Santorum,who described Mitt Romney  as the "worst" possible candidate to get the Republican nomination.

Most Houdini-like escape from his party's exile:   George W. Bush, last mentioned when he flew off to  the Cayman Islands to give a talk on investments.

Most audacious definition of "fair and reasonable":   Doug Preisse, Franklin County GOP chairman, who asserted: "I guess I really actually feel we shouldn't contort the voting process to accommodate the urban - read African-American - voter-turnout machine. Let's be fair and reasonable."

Most descriptive profile of a Republican candidate:  Summit County GOP chairman Alex Arshinkoff, describing  Josh Mandel as a "Jew with balls".

Most chilling statement by a GOP official about an apparent zombie attack:  Maine Republican Chairman Charlie Webster, who said he was astounded by the "dozens,  dozens of black people who voted"  because he personally did not know anyone in town who "knows a black person."   He said he didn't know how that  happened but promised to find out.

And finally, there's ol' Louie Gohmert himself, a right-wing Lone Star  gun-loving operative who  believes that the only solution to gun massacres is to arm all school faculties.  In the wake of the unspeakable Newtown shootings, Louie said if only a fatally wounded teacher had had a gun in her desk, she could have blown off  the head of the shooter.

Or maybe not.


Saturday, December 15, 2012

Huckabee plays God card in school massacre

How delusional!

While the nation searched into the deep night for answers to the numbing tragedy that murderously claimed 20 children and seven adults, a prominent preacher who once aspired to the presidency insisted that he can explain it.

Speaking from his favorite pulpit at Fox News, Mike Huckabee unhesitantly played the God card.

By his reasoning, a young man went into an elementary school in Newtown, Conn, armed to the teeth because America has banned God from public schools.

The former Republican presidential candidate put it this way:  "We ask why there is violence in our schools, but we have systematically removed God from our schools.  Should we be so surprised that schools would become a place of carnage?"

As the Huffington Post noted, Huckabee has debased rational discourse in the past when such massacres occurred.  "We don't have a crime problem, a gun problem or even a violence problem,"  the preacher said. "What we have is a sin problem" by denying God in our daily lives.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

PolitiFact: Here lies the biggest 2012 lie

Despite his poor showing on Election Day, Mitt Romney has bounced sideways with a national award:  PolitiFact cited him for  spreading the 2012 "lie of the year".  In a business where exaggeration and embellishment are common tools of the trade, Mitt's sin was that he continued to repeat it  even after it was repeatedly shown to be untrue.

In short, he claimed that Chrysler would cost American workers their jobs by moving its Jeep production to China.  PolitiFact described his campaign ads as "brazenly false". So did Chrysler's front office. (An Italian company that has controlling interest in Chrysler said that although China will  start building Jeeps, it would have absolutely no effect on Jeep production in the U.S., which, in fact, is expanding.)

That wasn't good enough for Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, one of Romney's top advisors, who's waving to you in the above photo.  He went on CNN just before the election to defend the political handiwork.  "I thought it was an important ad to run,'" Portman said in an effort to convince Ohio voters that President Obama was destroying  the company in America.

But he added:  "It doesn't mean that we'll have fewer jobs here, because hopefully our market will improve here as well, particularly under Mitt Romney if we get an expanding economy"

While we're at it, Talking Points Memo listed  all of the Republicans on Capitol Hill who have pulled away from the Grover Norquist tax pledge.  There is only  one Ohio Republican , retiring Rep. Steve LaTourette, who originally signed it, then backed off.    Portman remains firmly on the signers list.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Hooray: Husted says vote fraud is rare

Ohio's Republican Secretary of State Jon  Husted offered his scintillating version of the Husted Hustle to a Washington forum  on Monday to defend his inspired antics to restrict voting in last month's election.    

The Plain Dealer quoted him on the perils of his job, which, in the spirit of the holiday season, I could only respond with a "Ho, ho, ho"  over my morning coffee.    Speaking from his Olympian experience as the state elections chief, Husted  cautioned the panel that controversy comes with a gallant effort to assure maximized access and accuracy in voting. (Others in the GOP have openly declared the whole ugly process was invented to help Mitt Romney.)

Still, Husted  sought the sympathy vote, saying: "If you want to find that balance and run a good controversy-free election, don't become a secretary of state in a swing state."

As one who claims he fought the good fight through the courts all the way to the Supremes, who decided not to hear the case,  Husted said he is simply guilty of defending the law. However, in the Cincinnati Enquirer report, Husted did manage to concede that "vote fraud is a very rare occurrence."

But now that he's mentioned his job as a bad career choice for people   who can't suffer the pain of  controversy, we can only add that we hope he doesn't become the Ohio secretary of state a second time.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Dowd: Can anybody love the white guys?

We hope Maureen Dowd got home from the office OK after her scathing attack on white guys in her latest column. More specifically Republican white guys.  Having written earlier about them myself as a peculiar breed of Rambos in a less than complimentary way,   we were happy to find Dowd in an especially hissy state when she wrote:
"The Mayans were right, as it turns out , when they predicted the world would end in 2012. It was just a select world:  the GOP universe of arrogant, uptight , entitled, bossy,  retrogressive white guys."
I would have added "pugnacious" and "dyspeptic'', but under deadline pressure you can't think of everything.

Dowd was writing about the consequences of Mitt Romney's  disastrously produced presidential campaign that ran aground long before Election Day. (By the fateful day, it is always too late to do anything about it!)  Along the way, Mitt & Co. seemed to go out of the way to satisfy the predominant Caucasion brand of the party  while the GOP stagehands like Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted were enlisted to shrink the Obama turnout by minorities.

While all of this was going on, did no one in the GOP camp notice that Obama was surging ahead with  the same campaign organization that had earned him his  earlier triumph.  Within a year or so, his organizers were setting up shop in Ohio to replicate the first campaign.  So confident of winning was Team Romney that  it didn't come close to catching up with Obama's  textbook  ground organization when Mitt's operatives arrived in the Buckeye State a couple of years later.

(And didn't they make fun of Obama's community organizing work in Chicago?)

Aside to Maureen Dowd:  Save your breath.  White guys, unlike more socially adjusted white males, never listen to anybody anyway.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Kasich sees Adelson during visiting hours

Well, the pilgrimage has resumed to the knees of Sheldon Adelson, the impossibly wealthy  Las Vegas casino baron.  It has been reported that even Ohio Gov. John Kasich, hoping for a fast $$$ launch of  his reelection campaign, visited Adelson recently so that everybody on Kasich's side will soon be on a first-name basis with  everyone in the Adelson family.

For political practitioners, it hasn't gone unnoticed that Adelson dropped $150  million into  Mitt Romney's collection plate and millions more to Republican candidates that included another loser, Newt Gingrich.   But when you're worth many billions and are that generous, who's counting anyway?

So far, Adelson's beneficiaries haven't been that fortunate on Election Day.  He may have to reserve some good fortune for his own  challenge by the Feds who are looking into his casino enterprises in Asia.  Undeterred, Adelson  is said to be prepared to unload another $100 million on 2014 midterm House and Senate candidates who could do him some good.  Just one more way for Adelson to shoot craps these days after a bad night at the table.

Friday, December 7, 2012

For McConnell, an odd day at the office

We never dreamed  something like this could happen, but on the other hand we are talking about a  Republican U.S. senator named Mitch McConnell. If you turn your computer upside down, you'd  get a better look at him, although we sort of like the upside down photo after what he did this week on the Senate floor.  The Senate minority leader filibustered his own call for a vote on President  Obama's plan to increase the debt ceiling.  It was pure gamesmanship that was exposed by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who called McConnell's bluff to embarrass the Democrats and said the vote would proceed immediately. Caught by surprise  for an instant vote that he hadn't expected (check your nearest parliamentarian for the insidious details), McConnell  objected  and moved to filibustering his own proposal.  Let's let it go at that.  It's giving me a headache.

Sorry, folks on the right....

Here's one to enclose in your Christmas cards to all Tea Party friends.  An example of a paraprosdokian:  A victory center that doubles as a loser's rental:

Thursday, December 6, 2012

How can a non-existent agency steal an election?

How can it be that the greatest nation on earth can be the home of a major political party with so many half-wits?  For today's Exhibit #1, we call your attention to a Public Policy Polling Survey reporting that 49 pct. of  the Republican voters believe ACORN, the former urban community organizer, stole the election for President Obama.   That would have been quite difficult inasmuch as ACORN was disbanded two years ago.  But the PPP pollster said there was still a very modest sign of progress  among people who expressed that belief because 52 pct. of the R's polled earlier believed ACORN was guilty of theft in Obama's first election in 2008.

Rob Portman heading for the Twilight Zone?

What...What in the world did  Ohio Sen. Rob Portman have in mind when he joined 37 other Republican senators,  a majority of whom were from southern states, in opposing U.S. support for a United Nations Disabilities Treaty?  I mean, even John McCain and a wheel-chair bound ex-Sen. Bob Dole (pitifully rolled  onto the Senate floor for moral support) favored  the measure.

Maybe I read too many articles about Portman being  a calm and deliberative nice guy from Cincinnati who  was Mitt Romney's cupbearer throughout the campaign as a  GOP "rising star".  Maybe I almost believed that  George W. Bush's budget director and trade representative could lend a glimmer of sanity to the Republican side. Or maybe he simply caved under the maniacal pressure from Tea Partyers and homeschoolers who foolishly supposed  the measure would be a blow to U.S. sovereignty as well as curtail  the rights of parents with disabled children.

After all, in June, the  hometown conservative Cincinnati Enquirer, long a Portman booster, had an online story with a provocative  headline asking:  The Loyal Soldier: Is Rob Portman the next vice president?  Not yet, as the November election results told us.

Yet, in the disabilities vote, Portman turned up on the southern conservative roster in a 61-38 tally that failed because a two-thirds vote was required for passage.  We were told that the biggest concern of the 38 aginners was what it might do to homeschooling.  Sixty-one other senators, including all of the Democrats,  considered that hogwash, which, of course, it was.

Oh, my. The drum roll continues anyway in the media.    Now the  Dayton Daily News is  suggesting that  a Kasich-Portman presidential ticket could arise in 2016.  After all, the Columbus Dispatch has reported that the governor's name has "surfaced as a potential" presidential candidate.  Don't clip. Don't save.

Still, that would be perfect match.  Kasich has been known to say silly things.  And Portman has downgraded his own public image with his  crazy swing to the far right in opposing the disabilities measure. It could be harder for this GOP "comeback" team to receive  serious consideration  unless by 2016, the party has decided to move its show to the Twilight Zone.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The Boehner fountain in Gubbio

In the quaint Umbrian town of Gubbio they tell a somber story of madness.  It is typical of the lore that I've encountered on my many visits to Europe, where every cobblestone is honored in its historical context.

There's a tale about the fountain in Gubbio's Piazza del Bargello  that leaves the tourist with a view of the dark side.  Some of the townspeople take shuddering  delight noting that the fountain has a special effect on anyone who walks around it three times: you go mad.

I have to ask whether John Boehner is one of the fountain's victims as he arrives at the TV cameras each day to foolishly repeat his laps around the  fiscal cliff.

PolitiFact Ohio: It can handle the truth

Robert Higgs is a modest soft-spoken journalist who seems quite unlikely to be managing a hot spot in the undisciplined  world of political  oratory - some of it true and some of it scandalously beyond  Planet Earth.  He's the deputy metro editor of the the Plain Dealer, but more to the point in this instance, the editor of PolitiFact Ohio,  the wide ranging  verifier of truths or  lies showered upon voters in any garden variety election campaign.

As Higgs related in a recent talk to the Akron Press Club, the thoroughly researched  topics  by PolitiFact  can draw as much  attention from the pols and readers as its rating system - from "true" to "pants on fire".  Now that Josh Mandel is gone from the beaten trail of his U.S. Senate campaign, it can be safely reported that he led all other politicians with fiery pants.

Clearly, candidates take great delight in seeing their opponents reduced to ashes from  saying things that would not make it  past a kindergarten  rating system.   PolitiFact's pool of reporters spends hours and days checking every possible shred of information that would confirm or deny  the veracity of  the story line  in question. Ohio had its great share of both.  But non-partisan  fact checkers seemed particularly irritable to the Republican side that indignantly snarled responses to PolitiFact reports, grumbling  that "somebody ought to check the fact checkers."

The Daily Caller, the Washington-based right-wing blog, as well as Media Trackers Ohio angrily accused PolitiFact Ohio of being a tool of creepy media  lefties, which included a Columbus Dispatch writer who referred to the  PD Reports about Mandel.

Come now.  A verifiable  lefty on the Dispatch reporting staff?  Be reasonable!

Nice try, but you instantly learned whose noses were turning red. ( I should also mention that the Washington Post awards "Pinochios"  for political lies.)

Higgs  hears from all sides and also is aware that more than a few people are paying attention.  Like the 20,000  hits that PolitiFact got for the second presidential debate.  Or the many requests it gets from the public to check out questionable political statements. If the right-wing doubters are upset by such  admirable public service, their grief is just one more benefit derived from the important work of the PD's Robert Higgs and the reporting staff.

PS: Alas, PolitiFact Ohio  could be a victim of the severe cutbacks in staff next year.  The paper has informed the Guild  that it will slice a third of its news staff, according to Connie Schultz.  That would reduce it to about 110!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Grover's alert to a perfect storm of Tea Party Two

No matter what he tells you, it wasn't  one of Grover Norquist's better weeks.  Not when  some of his anti-tax fraternity pledges  have decided that there might be a life after the Big Bad Wolf has huffed and puffed to blow their vulnerable  house down.

As you have probably heard  a million times  since the election, Grover Norquist is the  self-righteous operative  who runs Americans for Tax Reform, which argues that it really will not put up with a single tax increase for anybody (particularly for the wealthy who subsidize his lobby).

How big of an operative?   For the 2012 election he managed to have 238 of the 242 House Republicans and 41 of 47 R's in the Senate who signed up.   Even the non-congressional sheep like  Ohio Gov. John Kasich signed his stupid handiwork. (It will soon become overwhelmingly obvious that Kasich is already running for reelection and doesn't need the distraction of a Tea Party candidate in the Republican primary, even if the Secretary of State Jon Husted is hungry for the job.) .

Norquist's  only inducement was the threat that if they turned him down he would field  a Tea Party candidate against them in the mid-term elections.   Notice that none of the defectors turned up before the November election.

But don't count on Grover giving up his livelihood that easily.    He was back on Meet the Press on Sunday for damage control , defiantly boasting that if the president  leads America over the fiscal cliff, there will be a second Tea Party that will "dwarf Tea Party  One"   that will seek unmerciful revenge against the taxers.   Nobody knows that more than Speaker John Boehner, who will be back on the biennial ballot.   He is currently acting like the captain of Norquist's ship, the last mortal to abandon it when the sea slaps across the deck.

Imagine that:  A non-elected lobbyist is presiding over a majority of Republican congressmen to set policy for the entire country.  A former newspaper colleague used to refer to him  as the "101st senator" because of his extraordinary influence over the elected ones.  But as Tea Party One failed to prevent Obama Two, will Grover's Tea Party Two  be any more effective against the defectors?

Sunday, December 2, 2012

A Stark reality: Mitt didn't reimburse either

Recalling the fuss that a Beacon Journal columnist made over  the costs of President Obama'a campaign stop in the  Akron area  that  fell into the laps of local taxpayers, it only seems fair to refer to an article in the Canton Repository that told of a similar free ride by Mitt Romney for his rally at Hoover High school on Oct. 26.

The paper reported that local requests by  Canton  and Stark County for reimbursement of $l4,500 have been rejected by Team Romney.  An additional $600 bill for Paul Ryan's visit to North Canton wasn't paid.  Mayor David Held said he s was "disappointed".

Probably not as much as all of the Republicans in Stark County who voted for Mitt , a Red County that supported him in a losing cause.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

A moment of humor with para-somethings

A Columbus reader added some sunshine to the weekend with a list of paraprosdokians that should find a place in Grumpy's blog.  A list of what?  The strange word describes sentences with odd endings.  We're told that Winston Churchill, among others, was quite fond of them.

For example, Yogi Berra was never without them, as when he said the "the restaurant was so busy that nobody goes there anymore".  Or culled from a long list of Jewish references, "Oy, the food at this restaurant is terrible...and the servings are so small."

From my friend's list I've chosen for now:

(1) If I agreed with you, we'd both be wrong.

(2) In filling out an application, where it says, 'in case of emergency, notify:' ... I put DOCTOR"

(3) Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit, wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.

(4) Women  will never be the equal to men until they can walk down the street with a bald head and a beer gut and still think they are sexy"

These can give you an  idea of how paraprosdokians work.  Henny Youngman left a great legacy of these,  as when he told his audiences that when his wife asked him to take her someplace where she's never been, he took her to the kitchen.

Your turn.

Friday, November 30, 2012

What Obama offered Romney at lunch

Washington insiders, from the pols to the media, have buzzed for a  couple of days to figure out what  President Obama and Mitt Romney talked about during their  private lunch at the White House.  They should have asked me. My inside source at a little-known Washington diner says the President offered Mitt the ambassadorship to Kenya.  Trust me.  You don't make up things like this!   No word on whether Mitt accepted it.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Mitt won, but Barack made it worse

ln case you've been busy with the week-old leftovers from Thanksgiving, I should inform  you that  after deep reflection, the vanquished Republicans have now decided  that they won the November election.   It didn't really go into the history books that way, of course, because  the Obama Machine didn't play fair in its socialistic, fraudulent attempt  to  give every voter "stuff".   Cheating was particularly true in a crucial Ohio County (Wood) where Obama got 108 pct. of the vote.  Not even PolitiFact/Ohio could convince the crazy people that their math had gone awry.  The county was so important to the subversive  scheme  that the scandal became a perfect fit for  Aesop.

Now Mitt Romney's chief campaign advisor, Stuart Stevens  has raised a helluva brouhaha by pouring  more gasoline on Fox News' fire breathers insisting ...I want to be sure I have this right ...that  the final election count betrays what would amount to a moral victory  for the ex-governor.

In an Op-Ed column in the Washington Post this week, Stevens argued,
"In the debates and in sweeping [!] rallies across the country, Romney captured the imagination of millions of Americans.  He spoke for those who felt disconnected from the Obama vision of America.  He handled the unequaled[!]  pressures of a campaign with a natural grace and good humor that contrasted sharply with the angry  bitterness of his critics."
( Stevens didn't mention it,  but Romney also sang "America" off-key with the same tone deafness  in which he ignored the rising voices of those groups who were dead set on votitng against him.)

But about that 3.5 million popular vote Obama victory margin.

Undaunted by mere numbers, Stevens characterized the outcome as a moral victory for Mitt because he captured a majority of voters  who earn more than $50,,000 a year - as opposed to, well,  let's not go into that.

If Stevens had any regrets about the campaign, it was simply that the Romney side  got the message too late to reach out to the various subgroups of  the white guys.   Which I guess you might ask, what took them so long?

Still, Stevens concluded that the race came down to
 "Republican ideas vs. fundamental Democratic ideas.  It was about lower taxes or higher taxes, less government or more government, more freedom or less freedom.  And Republican ideals - Mitt Romney carried the day.
  "On Nov. 6, that wasn't enough to win.  But it was enough to make us proud and to build on the future."
Stevens is a film writer and ardent athletic adventurer who is said to have once skied the final 100 miles to the North Pole.  But in acrobatically declaring that Romney was a veritable winner who fought for the essential core of America, he may have been inspired by Sen. Henry Clay, who gave us the historic line:

"I'd rather be right than president."

Clay, a failed presidential candidate himself,  was referring to his abolitionist views on slavery.

Unlike Clay, there were times when it was impossible to know what Mitt was talking about.

The same can be said about his man Stuart Stevens.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Why Photo ID's are so important these days

President Obama with what we hope is Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer and not somebody even worse

Tom Niehaus, a Republican making sense

I spend so much yelling at Republicans that it is only fair to report that an ounce of sanity still exists in the Ohio Senate. His  name is Ohio Senate President Tom Niehaus, a Republican  who has removed from the legislative table the so-called heartbeat  abortion bill and another that would defund Planned Parenthood in Ohio.

He issued the following statement on Tuesday:
"From my  perspective, I think you have to look at the entirety of the work that's done by Planned Parenthood, and I believe that they offer much needed services that are not available other places, so I chose not to take up the bill in lame duck."
What a breath of fresh air from  the cave-like GOP!

NOTE:  My column on the GOP state candidates for 2014 has been posted on Plunderbund.  

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Kasich's silent jobs role in JobsOhio campaign

If you happened to see the full-page ad in Sunday's Beacon Journal  that trumpets a thriving economy  in Ohio, you can safely assume  that even though he wasn't mentioned, Gov. Kasich is off and running  for reelection.

The message appearing in a seven-figure campaign in newspapers and on TV  throughout the state is quite clearly a feel-good benefit for Kasich that is underwritten by the Kasich- inspired JobsOhio, the private non-profit outfit that now serves as the state's development department.

Not much else is known about JobsOhio inasmuch as its records remain in private hands and not available to public scrutiny.

In fact, JobsOhio is not even mentioned in the current ads.  Rather, readers and viewers  are referred to, which urges them  to respond with stories of business success that "changed your life" in the state.

"Right here in Ohio, we're making things better. Faster. Smarter," the ad boasts.

 "In the past year alone, Ohio businesses have created more jobs than almost every other state."

The timing is perfect  for Kasich's reelection launch.    Mitt Romney is no longer hanging around the swing state complaining about how much President Obama has destroyed the economy  - an annoyance for the governor who was offering  a much more optimistic outlook under his command.

Secondly, there's a better than average chance that as the economy continues to grow natioanally, the Obama Administration will upstage the governor on recovery in America.

At least one of Kasich's potential opponents is having none of such claims in the Ohio ads.  Democrat Ed FitzGerald, the Cuyahoga County Executive,  has challenged the jobs campaign as a "waste of taxpayer dollars" to elect Kasich.

For the guv's opponents, it's a start.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Black Friday: Now, but never then...

It appears that we have managed to survive Black Friday.  It's  the moment of epic madness that  somehow encourages us to believe that marketers are the only people in the know about curing whatever ails the economy. Even the New York Times felt secure in noting that the "annual shopping spree", played out  like a National Football League grudge match, was a sign of "rising consumer optimism".

Good for the consumers, I guess. Even the  woman quoted by the Times who said  she and her daughter  had arrived as early as possible to buy a 96-cent Samsung Galaxy S111 smartphone, which had already been sold, and settled for a 40-inch  Sanyo LED TV even though "I didn't even want it."

As for me, I go into denial for wanting "stuff"- as Bill O'Reilly demonized  the class beneath his pay scale.   With me, it's generational, I suppose, for someone whose ideas were formed in the b.i. era (before such i-things as, say iPads and iPhones)  with a first TV set that offered low-definition images that improved slightly if you wrapped a patch of aluminum foil around  one of the rabbit ears.  Today's newspapers are splashed  with i-things  to buy with help from the salesperson  to tell you what the gadget is without mentioning that it will be obsolete tomorrow.

Here's a sample of my own holiday shopping with my mother:

Having spent my early years in a very small town, the Christmas buying season began in early to mid-December with no discounts until the big after-Christmas sales - and maybe not even then.   Not even a fellow named Saloom, a friend of the family, would give us a price break at his modest one-room "department store".

My mother would lead me into the store past a few racks of clothing and shelves filled with boxes.

She advised Saloom that she wanted to buy me a  long-sleeved sport shirt that she couldn't put off until after Christmas because it got very cold in December  and her son needed a shirt to protect his arms from a chill.

Standing behind the counter, Saloom would turn and scan some boxes on a nearby shelf, grab one, and carefully open it on the counter.  It would contain 4 or 5 shirts, which he would  with surgical precision gently pull  out.

"Here, Helen," he would say, spreading the shirt on the counter and patting down the wrinkles. "This is
a little big for him now.  But he is a growing boy, God bless him.  He'll grow into  it.  You'll see."

Satisfied that Saloom was  an expert on shirt sizes, she'd buy it over my protests that I didn't like the color.

"Come on"' she tugged at me. "If you still don't like it when you put it on at  home, I'll give it to your  cousin George for Christmas.  He never complains."

Problem solved.  As I said, it was a very small town and the stores opened only during regular hours.  Nobody got hurt and  cousin George would have a long-sleeved sports shirt for Christmas whether he liked it not.  My mother knew he would not be a problem.

By the way, were you out in the mix on Cyber Monday?


Friday, November 23, 2012

Mitt emerging as the true 47 percenter

As if Mitt Romney doesn't have enough bad news about his election loss,  his historic   47 pct. notion about the folks who would never vote for him is returning to haunt him in reverse.  According to the Washington Post,  when the final votes are finally tallied, President Obama will likely receive 51 pct. and Mitt...47 pct.  Writer Greg Sargent is relying on a projection by the nonpartisan Cook Political Report.

Writes Sargent:  "At risk of piling on,  a 47 pct. finish would represent a perfect conclusion to the Romney political saga. If Romney ran a campaign of unprecedented  dishonesty and lack of transparency, virtually all of it was geared towards misleading  people about the true nature of his - and his party's - actual beliefs and governing agenda.

I'd say that 51 pct. of the voters would agree with that assessment.

To Sen. McCain: Trust me, Hillary was actually in Cairo!


No, not the two figures in the photo, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Egyptian Prime Minister Mohamed Kamel.

The mindless one contnues to be John McCain, current embittered ranter-in-chief against President Obama.

While  Clinton was tirelessly on board in Cairo working out a cease fire, McCain was of no mind to cease his own fire.  He sneered that although the U.S. once had Secretaries of State Henry Kissinger or James Baker at the scene of a crises,  Obama was merely in "Burma making phone calls",  clear  evidence, McCain huffed,  of a weak foreign policy by the re-elected president even though the leaders of the combatants  were praising Obama's  efforts for a cease-fire.

It should be clear evidence by now that Kissinger and Baker were not the president of their times  but held the same title as Hillary, who as we see in the photo was actually on the scene.    McCain is so off the page  that it's possible he may have forgotten Clinton's name.

A little history for this totally clueless loser to Obama in 2008:

After the elder Bush lost to Bill Clinton in 1992,  they later teamed up to raise millions of dollars to aid impoverished Haitians.

Following his loss to George W. Bush in 2000, despite the fact that he received a half-million more popular votes, Al Gore devoted his life to environmental projects.

John Kerry, loser to Dubya in 2004, stayed in the Senate to work for his constituents in Massachusetts without raising hell about Dubya  every other hour.

Ah, but John McCain, hopelessly  in a snivel?  Since his loss in 2008, he has pathetically devoted much  of his time to trashing Obama.  He's nowhere close to being the loyal opposition but rather a public figure who is so warped by hatred and despair  that he  needs a lot of help to get him through the day.

Among other things, McCain has pushed another's defined mid-life crises into his mid-70s.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Ending federal waste begins at home

Oklahoma, where the wind comes sweepin' down the plain            
                   And the wavin' wheat can sure smell sweet 
                              When the wind comes right behind the rain. 
               From Oklahoma, the Broadway musical 
Anyone caught up in the compelling four-hour two- episode Ken Burns PBS documentary, The Dust Bowl,   would quickly realize  that upbeat Broadway  musicals sometimes get it wrong.  Watching the towering black walls of dirt slam into the Oklahoma's panhandle and a wide expanse of the plains around it  could only draw us directly into the myths of humanity that we can win the battles with  nature by ignoring its power to destroy.

The gleaming wheat fields drew farmers and speculators to  recklessly plow up the soil for even greater profits,  skinning the land that turned into pulverized soil. Drought and the high winds across the plains soon conquered the  people, their crop lands and the livestock with sand dunes reaching above  the windows of the desperate homesteaders' meager homes.  An estimated 850 million tons of topsoil were blown away in 1935.  Next came the pitiful migration to California of  broken Okies.

As the film noted, the people were sturdy, independent folks who  had no use for government.  Any thought of calling upon Washington for aid was met by some critics as "socialistic".  But as a succession of dirt storms in the 1930s  battered the spirit of  the deeply troubled  residents, the federal government moved in to salvage whatever was still possible.  It was the driving determination of President Roosevelt,  while also battling the  Great Depression,  to deliver the goods, which he did with the creation of various agencies, the WPA, CCC and various other alphabet programs along with the Soil Conservation Service, all adding up to thousands of newly employed "responders" to
America's worst environmental tragedy.

Right. Socialism.  Sound familiar, particularly in such once-darkened "red" states that today are staunchly anti-government.

And what timing for Oklahoma's  Republican governor  Mary Fallin to declare her opposition to  Obamacare's expansion of health service to the poor,  while rejecting outright the creation of a health insurance exchange,  which has become a fashionable - if hypocritical - refusal by many Republican governors these days.

Her decision not  to obey the health-care rules flies directly into the face of the great amounts of federal farm subsidies to Oklahoma politicians.   A study by the the Tulsa World newspaper in 2011 revealed;
"Roughly two dozen state lawmakers - some who have railed against government spending - have collected  federal farm subsidies in recent years, either directly or through payments to spouses, a Tulsa World investigation found."
And who has collected $1.96 million  in federal farm subsidies since 1995?   Would it shock you to learn that her husband, Wade Christensen, an Oklahoma City lawyer,  was a the recipient?

The Tulsa World  quoted a couple of lines  from Gov. Fallin's  2011 State of the State speech in which she declared:
"When hard times hit, the public expects a leaner, more efficient government...I'm challenging our citizens and our government employes:  Help me find more places to save money and cut waste."    
Guv, I know where you can start.

NOTE: My column on where Josh Mandel can go from here has been posted on Plunderbund

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Remember the Elephant Walk from the 70s

Clearing out old files I found this gem from the cover of the January 15, 1977 New Republic,   one of the classics of the post-1976 presidential election.  Sorry, couldn't resist. Besides, we should give special  thanks this Thanksgiving week.   

Monday, November 19, 2012

The mindless reader vs. the "liberal media"

The reports of looming changes in the Plain Dealer's workaday world have ignited another round of attacks on liberal journalists as the culprits of the paper's troubles.

On cue, letter writers are  hissing that the  PD's "liberal" views drove away armies of subscribers.  To where?  They don't say.  But those of us who labored for many years in newspaper offices have forever heard complaints about the "liberal media"  from people in an endless snit about something or other.   The newspaper industry is in retreat these days for several reasons,  none of which can be traced to the liberal crowd in newsrooms.

I have twice worked for major newspapers owned by Republicans.  That's where the corporate world will take you if you want to work in the business.  No one was more conservative than Ben.Maidenberg, my boss at the Beacon Journal who found a way to tolerate me,  and I, him.   Otherwise,  we were argumentative friends.    Later, when my column was suspended at the Plain Dealer by a  new editor (no longer on the premises!),  I was told he considered it "too liberal".

So where's the liberal media?  I've  tired of asking.  But now  that the Plain Dealer, which tilts to corporate power over progressive pols and labor unions  -  unless a candidate  like Josh Mandel  gives them absolutely no room to endorse a Republican -  the boo-birds are at it again.

Whoops.  Almost forgot.  The PD also endorsed President Obama.   But also  Republican Gov. John Kasich.   Not that most readers pay that much attention to endorsements  anyway.  

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Black Friday: Learning from voter restrictions

With the growing  reports  of fanatic bargain hunters camping out at electronics stores a week before  Black Friday,  a couple of close family members are urging  Secretary of State Jon Husted to invoke his early  voting restrictions on early shopping. I couldn't persuade them that bargains being what they are supposed to be on Black Friday, there was little that Husted could do to prevent people from  being maimed when the doors open. Besides, his track record with early things is not that encouraging, particularly since Ohio went to Obama anyway.

Anyway, Nancy handed me a list of things that might work, and I'm dutifully prudent enough in a family situation to forward some of them to you, to wit:

Restrict early shopping on the week end before Christmas.
MasterCard or Visa can only be used if the sun is shining on a shopping day.
Gift cards for restaurants will require photo ID's and cannot be used for the purchase of Mexican foods or stuffed grape leaves and other ethnic foods ordered by strange-looking people.

All mall stores must purge their lists of credit card holders.

Any shopper errors in signing for charges will invalidate sales and three lawyers  and a police officer must appear with the buyer to advise him or her of their rights.
BestBuy credit cards can only be used on weekdays and never on Sundays unless the computer buyer is accompanied by a teenager.
Require  all early shoppers to  identify the president of Uzbekistan. 
Finally, under  penalty of self deportation, swear that you have never been convicted of     shopper fraud,  knocking down senior citizens in line or comparative shopping at Sam's Club.

Got that, Mr. Husted?

The Plain Dealer tells us more about change

The morning began with the Plain Dealer reporting  major changes in two front page stories about life in Northeast Ohio.  One piece, with a big photo, told of a change on the way for the lakefront parks.   The other informed us of something that we've been hearing about for months:  a  new way of life for the PD itself.

In a letter to readers signed by publisher Terry Egger and editor Debra Simmons, we were told in agonizingly reassuring terms that the paper will hit the  reset button after January 1. What does that mean?  From what I've heard from  insiders  plus the alarm expressed in the newspaper guild's big ad last week, the PD  will no longer be home-delivered 7 days a week.  One scenario making the rounds is that home delivery will be cut back to Wednesday,  Friday and Sunday with availability at news boxes the other four days.

To soften the blows to its readers and staff, the puffed-up preening letter about the PD's journalistic accomplishments promised to continue its high quality  with a decision "not based on cost-cutting".
As the Guild pointed out , a staff  that once reached 350 has been cut in half.

The paper is owned by Advance Publications, a Newhouse operation, which has already altered its other papers ways of reaching readers and advertisers in an electronic media world.

Oh, I should remind you that one of the letter-signers Terry Egger, recently   announced that he's leaving on January 1.  One step closer to that reset button.  

The anti-Obama crowd: poor post-election losers

If we've learned anything in the post-election days, it's that Republicans are poor losers.  Mitt Romney accuses the president of bribing voters.   John McCain pathetically  fumes that  there is a cover-up  in the investigation of Benghazi, and the worst incompetence  he has ever-ever  seen,  another botched Watergate.    A gun shop owner in Arizona says he will not do business with anybody who voted for Obama.  A Republican county party treasurer  in Texas refers to the Obama voters as "maggots". A Tea Partyer,  he is readying his friends to secede from the Union.  Bill O'Reilly sours that Obama won because people want, of all things, "stuff". We know who he's talking about, don't we?

About the secessionists:  They, too, are soreheads.  Tens of thousands across the land with nothing better to do with their time have signed petitions to secede.  Can whole states self-deport from America?
Quacks like Sean Hannity seem to be enjoying the secessionist uprising.  They're his people. This is the gift that will keep on giving for Fox News.  It's their Obama-caused Pompeii.

Their only problem is that Obama's victory shocked the hell out of Mitt's army, which had planned a major motorcade to his campaign headquarters on election night, a huge fireworks display and good ol' boys  conviviality for the 40 or so  wealthy friends - Donald Trump and that spooky billionaire Sheldon Adelson among them with overflowing piggy banks -- who flew into Boston in their private jets.

That's the awful news.  The good news is that Obama did, in fact, win,  because if he had lost,  Mitt and the Tea Partyers and the miscellaneous billionaires  would have been much more insufferable.


Friday, November 16, 2012

The sad public meltdown of John McCain

From CNN comes this sign-of-the-times testy response by John McCain to a CNN reporter who asked him why he missed a briefing on Benghazi:
"I have no comment about my schedule and I'm not going to comment on how I spend my time to the media," McCain said.
Asked why he wouldn't  comment, McCain grew agitated:  "Because I have the right as a senator to have no comment and who the hell are you to tell me I can or not?"
Sadly for the old soldier who insists on making a fool of himself with his bitter post-election rants  against the President, his meltdown continues in full view of the public.  Maybe it would help if his friends removed the mood ring from around his brain.  After all, no one has appeared more on TV as a guest than...McCain.

                                                                     * * * * *
Why do we need   to know that Paula Broadwell, Gen. Petraeus' paramour, has only 13 pct. body fat?
                                                                       * * * * *

Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, a Republican known for his colorful exercise of the English  language, insists the GOP ought to search seriously for answers to its defeat by beginning with a proctologist.  The party can use a few laughs these days in its darkest hour.

But Donald, he LOST!

I knew you could do it, President!

Columbus Dispatch to GOP: Lay off Planned Parenthood

Just a thought:  We're happy to report that the backlash against the GOP's fixation on right-wing social issues reached a new level in today's Columbus Dispatch.  The conservative paper, which endorsed Mitt Romney, began an editorial with the following assertion:
"Ohio lawmakers have no valid reason to steer Medicaid funding away from Planned Parenthood."  
Yep.  You read it right.  But read on.  It gets better later in the editorial:
"Ohioans want lawmakers to focus on restoring the state's economy and managing its budget wisely, yet Republican lawmakers persist in pushing divisive measures that pander to a minority  in the party's  base of support." 
The "Big D", as the Dispatch  has often been called as it rises across the street from the Statehouse,  is reacting, of course, to the Republican dominated House Health and Aging Committee's vote to deliver a proposed law to the House floor that would "reprioritize" the use of federal funds for  family planning  services in the state as a way to  curb  abortions.

One other incisive observation in the editorial:
"Beyond all of the ideological posturing, another fact remains:  Better access to contraception, including that provided by Planned Parenthood is the surest way to prevent abortions."
The editorial didn't got so far as to describe the GOP lawmakers as morons.  I will.

P.S. The results of the presidential election  has already forced some Republicans to reflect on their own wayward path.  Might the Dispatch now be thinking about the possible  damage that the right-wing antics might inflict on their friend, Gov. Kasich, when he seeks reelection?  Just a thought, folks.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Graham and McCain: The red, white and blue guys

And so we have another red, white and blue moment in the postbellum world of
Republican politicians - a couple of old white  guys from red states taking out their GOP election blues on UN Ambassador Susan Rice and President Obama.  The woman at the left is Sen. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire (these days Republicans are finding it prudent to have a woman in their photo-ops. It's a start, America. )

So McCain and Graham heigh-hoed  to the TV cameras to angrily revive the McConnell Mambo  in which Sen. Mitch McConnell pledged within nanoseconds of Obama's first election that he would do  everything possible to make damn sure that Obama would be a one-term president.  It was one of the few times that a Republican could be accused of thinking ahead.

Oh, the mambo?  You might recall that in West Side Story there was the wild scene in which the mambo was vigorously expressed with shouts and harsh fingerpointing.

Now we witness McCain, still  in a sulk over his own defeat by Obama in 2008, slamming Susan
 Rice as the potential presidential  nominee for secretary of state.  "She's not qualified!'' growled McCain, growing more erratic by the day.  "I don't trust her!" screeched Graham, McCain's buddy in all of those tours in Iraq when when they were still committed to proving the existence of weapons of mass destruction.  Their tour-group included a hawkish third senator, Zelig Joe Lieberman  who is finally leaving town in January.  One out of three is still better than none out of three.

Susan Rice is being accused of messing up the facts in the ongoing probe of the Benghazi bombing, scripted for her by the CIA since she had no connection to any of it.  The Washington Post's fact-checker gave the McCain-Graham hostility  to Rice two Pinocchios for "mischaracterization" in the case.  The two guys still haven't full explained how they so were charmed by  Condoleezza Rice,  who didn't deliver the goods in the lead-up to 9/ll.  They never will.

But Obama brought his gauntlet this time:  "If Senator McCain and Senator  Graham want to go after somebody, they should go after me," Obama asserted at his own news conference.  It was obvious from his tone that the nice guy was no longer at the podium.

Maybe this gang should have begun with C-A-T...

Upon witnessing this demonstration , the Vegas bookies increased the odds 1000-fold against the the secessionists'  hopes for success.  

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

More leftovers - and those diehard Republicans


How well this banner describes the Republicans' preoccupation with women's personal choices instead of unemployment and other economic matters.  These women were engaged in a protest in Columbus where a legislative committee was considering a bill to ban public money from  going to Planned Parenthood.  Being  Republicans-tilted, the committee ignored  the protest and voted 11-9 along strict party lines to send the bill to the House floor for further consideration and a vote.  News of President Obama's election that gave him the edge on social issues had apparently not found its way into the GOP cave in Columbus.

                                                                 * * * * *

Speaking of issues, how did Paul Ryan arrive at the conclusion that during the campaign his side was talking about the "popular" issues (i.e., the ones supported by the voters, I guess)?  Ryan also scoffs that Obama won a mandate from the voters because the House of Representatives remains in Republican hands.   That overlooks the math that told us a majority of America's voters supported Democratic congressional candidates, but gerrymandering  remained the decisive factor in electing Republicans. Case in point:  Although the president carried Ohio, Republicans won 12 of the 16 congressional districts.  Go figure.

                                                                 * * * * *

Let's stop talking about "mandates" - fuzzy references to the width of a winner's margin to carry out his or her plans.   A wise old politician once told me he didn't have much interest in mandates.  Rather, he said, a true leader looks at a situation and simply says to himself, "I gotta do what I gotta do".  Makes sense to me.

                                                               * * * * *

In case you felt overwhelmed by all of those TV political ads, there was a reason:  The New York Times reported 1.4 million ads were aired, estimated cost: $952 million.

                                                              * * * * *
Biggest  losers in Ohio were Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted and Atty Gen. Mike DeWine, both of whom traveled down dark paths by mistakenly ignoring  the potency of  those voters who had been  profiled  to lose .   DeWine  worked with Husted in trying to shrink the vote.  And U.S. District Judge Algenon Marbley in Columbus assailed Husted's late-campaign directive   to further alter the vote , declaring  it was "surreptitious" and a"flagrant violation of a state election law." Clear enough?

* * * * *
My column on Jon Husted's lashing by a federal judge and the GOP attacks on Planned Parenthood has been posted on Plunderbund

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Texas: If at first, it won't secede -

Have you noticed the secessionist  jag that's going on in Texas and  30 other states by people who are so unhappy about Tuesday's election that they want to take their ballot and ball and go home from America?  It's one way to try to work off a loser's frustration, but it is a fool's errand among the heated sagebrush and sandy plains deep in the heart of.

Having once been cruelly stationed in Texas for six weeks by the Air Force with only two sweaty fatigues,  I concede that more than once I asked why we didn't give up the place to Santa Anna at the Alamo forever and get on with the work of building the rest of the nation that was free of red dust and 10-gallon hats.

But there are reasons why secession is a maddening trajectory for the Lone Star State, even if more than 80,000 spoilsports have reportedly  signed petitions.

It might  occur the very same year that the  Houston Texans could finally wind up in the Super Bowl.   In an independent Texas,  the team would be denied any chance of playing in the NFL.

George W. Bush would not have been able to seek the presidency and win - twice. In those instances,  secession would have been a plus for the other 49 states.

Just last week, the state was honored when Texas A&M knocked off Alabama, thought to be America's preeminent college football team.   The Aggies would not have had that opportunity  had they been a foreign team.

Finally, the Dallas Cowboys could no longer be designated as "America's Team".  Secessionists, that's giving up too much of the state's ego to satisfy your revolutionary plans.  Take several deep breaths, have a cookout at the Alamo,  and then think it over some more.


The Plain Dealer Guild addresses a critical moment

The Newspaper Guild Local 1 of Cleveland ran this ad in Sunday's Plain Dealer in a plea for public support against a possible major cutback in the paper's publication frequency. There have been rumors  on the staff that significant changes are on the way - a reduction to a three-day-a-week arrival on your doorstep: Wednesday, Friday and Sunday.  With such warnings as this ad, you know that the situation  has reached the critical stage.

As one whose byline appeared in the PD during the 1990s,  I have witnessed the decline in newspapers in Cleveland, Akron and cities around the country.  Can't say I'm overjoyed by the print media's retreat at the hands of new communications media. . But it does hurt.

As the ad pointedly addresses the question:  "We're not afraid of change.  But we're afraid of disappearing." The staff has already been advised that unspecified changes are on the way in January. Many have already occurred. Since the 1990s, the PD has cut its staff in half from 350 to 175.

The paper is owned by Advance Publications,which has already turned to thrice-weekly publication in New Orleans and several other papers.  For whatever good it might do, the Guild calls upon readers to  contact Advance CEO Steven Newhouse at  718-981-1234,, or
Advance Publications,  950 Fingerboard Rd., Staten Island, NY10305.  Or go to Facebook  to sign a SaveThePlainDealer Petition.

Today's post is the least I can do for an institution that once provided me with grocery money and a lot of other things when newspapering was fun.  

Monday, November 12, 2012

Norquist's "poopy-head" reference is more genteel

Now that we  learned from the election that the tax-hating emperor  has no clothes, we should still keep Grover Norquist around for a few bizarre comments that manage to entertain us when he isn't getting elected Republicans to sign his anti-tax pledge.   His latest offering:  Obama won the election because he defined Mitt Romney as a "poopy-head".  It's obvious that he meant what we call in impolite society  a "s--t- head."  But Norquist was making his rounds on  national TV and decided to clean it up for the adults, if not their children.

The speculation continues: Portman? Kasich?

In Shakespeare's Hamlet, the long-suffering protagonist laments to his friend Horatio that his mother remarried so quickly after his father's death that the leftover "funeral bak'd meats" for his father's wake  were  served at his mother's wedding.  

Methinks there  is something Shakespearean  in the rush of speculation in the  wake of Mitt Romney's political death last week about what leftovers  will seek to succeed  him  four years hence. Alas, politics is forever impatient and doesn't provide for pauses or vacuums.

Amid all of the speculation, a case  in point arrived via the Columbus Dispatch that centered on an Ohio dream candidate featuring either leftover  Sen. Rob Portman or  Gov. John Kasich at the top of the heap.

Or as the Dispatch's Jack Torry wrote on Sunday:
"Less than one week after President Barack Obama defeated Mitt romney,  Kasich and Portman are being talked about as serious candidates in 2016.  If they run, they could provide that most prominent moment for Ohio politics since 1920, when Republican Warren. G. Harding of Marion defeated Democrat James Cox of Dayton for the  Presidency."
The article even quotes John Brabender, a senior advisor to  Rick Santorum's dead-end campaign (!),  as describing both guys as "certainly credible."  Some other Republicans gave pro-forma applause to both Ohioans.  That much alone could get the juice  flowing.  Are you ready for it, Iowa?

Oh, about Harding... He was dead-set against taxes, opposed America's entrance into the League of Nations and on other matters raised the generic Republican flag.   Some historians also suggested that his rise was clearly aided by the fact that he very much looked like a president.

Some familiar?  

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Husted: Romney by acclimation in Ohio?

Plunderbund and Ohio Public Radio have noted something  that seems to have fallen through the cracks of the  mainstream print media.  Not satisfied with the  notoriety he's already earned with his nationally reported efforts to restrict the Ohio vote  on Election Day, Secretary of State Jon Husted is now suggesting  that he would like to see a major change in the state's winner-take all electoral votes: dice them up according to congressional district results.  

His rationale - which is too kind a word -   is that Ohio draws too much attention as a swing state and would be less critical to the national outcome if each of  its congressional districts were awarded delegates based on their  votes.  Spoken  like a true Republican in the wake of Tuesday's results.

If Husted really wanted to dim the quadrennial glare on his state, maybe he should just  go about his business in a a less partisan way without being   mentioned in the national press so  often as  an elections officer  who by hook or crook tried to "swing" the state to Mitt Romney. Don't count on it.

(Note: Plunderbund has posted my column on Josh Mandel's plans for his political future which, as you are probably aware by now, could change by the day.)

The GOP elephants in the dark

It was that kind of silhouetted election night for Todd Akin,  Richard Mourdock, Joe Walsh, Allen
West, Mitt & Paul  - and friends Donald Trump, Sheldon Adelson, the Koch Brothers,  Karl Rove, Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Billy Graham,  Sean Hannity et al.  None of the elephants are running now - unless it's for cover. .  

Friday, November 9, 2012

News from the battlefield


There's nothing that would snap our brief euphoric holiday from the presidential election more than the  report in the Columbus Dispatch that Gov. Kasich was asked at a news conference whether he would consider running for president. Well, as the Dispatch, Kasich's adulatory voice in the capital city, recorded his response:

"I haven't announced this yet but I have full intentions of running for re-election and I have a great job here as the  governor."

Sort of a non-denial denial, don't you think?   At least that's how it was interpreted down there with the paper noting: "He didn't rule it out."

Good grief!

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We clipped and saved Glenn Beck's pre-election communication with God in setting the stage for a presumed President Romney: "I believe Mr. Romney prays on his knees every day.  I believe he is being guided [and his election Tuesday] would be a sign from God."  Shouldn't Beck have checked first with Nate Silver?

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The Economist recently quoted the late  Ronald Reagan's view of Latinos thusly:

"Latinos are Republicans," Ronald Reagan is supposed to have said.   "They still don't know it yet."

Update to the iconic Gipper after the Latinos massive turnout for President Obama on
Tuesday:  They still don't.

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 The conservative gurus, apparently carried away by wishful thoughts,  simply crashed in  their predictions.  George Will forecast a 321-217 electoral vote victory for Romney.  And alleged  analyst Dick Morris predicted a landslide for Mitt.  For high-paid talking heads, this was worse than embarrassing.  It might even be considered a defining moment for their political insights.

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Finally, a picture is worth...


Thursday, November 8, 2012

Mitt needed a lift from the pizza man

Back in September, Florida pizza shop owner Scott Van Duzer guaranteed himself a place in political photo-history with his impromptu bear hug of Barack Obama during the president's  unscheduled campaign stop in Ft. Pierce. Some onlookers were said to gasp at the sight.   It was all in fun and although it didn't seem so at the time,   you could  later look back on it to define  the differences  between the campaign souls  of the two presidential candidates:  Obama's easy spontaneity  in a crowd and Mitt Romney's herky-jerky body movements and unconvincing smiles. For all of the money spent on his campaign, you'd think they would have set aside a little to match the pizza owner's  spirited scene.

I, and apparently a lot of other people, couldn't quite get past the notion that Mitt was  unable to break  from the mold of a powerful  businessman who wanted to  incorporate every store front (and pizza shop, maybe) in America.  From body language to scripted repetition of thought-lines - "I've done it before and can do it again", he repeatedly pledged, as though we hadn't heard him the first thousand  times -  never convinced a majority of the 99 per centers that he could relate to our worlds.

By all previous notions of winning politics, he should have coasted to the White House. A slowly recovering  economy, the every-present racial undercurrents, a flood of more campaign money than could be restrained by Hoover Dam, or more succinctly, the three Rs of this year's campaign - racism, religion and Rovism.  Obama was undermined by the U.S.Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Republican Jewish Coalition, evangelicals and countless religious broadcasters, including Mike Huckabee, who loudly protested the nation's movement toward a more liberating  social gospel that accepted same-sex marriage, contraceptives   and other individual lifestyle choices.   "Sociocultural rot," cried Plain Dealer deputy editorial page editor Kevin O'Brien,  a fully accredited Hard Right thinker, in another weepy outburst on today's Op-Ed page labeled "It's twilight in America".

Clearly, even for the stubborn CEO like Romney, he ecountered more on his plate than he could handle and raced to the tall weeds in the Tea Party for cover.  Whether it was personal choice, health care,   climate change  or the auto industry, Mitt remained a Tea party captive and never deviated from the script - at least his current one, not the older one as governor  of Massachusetts.  On Tuesday, the same state rolled over him , with 61 pct. favoring Obama.

Now, the post-mortems are piling up from the right, declaring him to be a traitor to the conservatives' cause, that he wasn't really one of them.

Oh? Then who was he?

We may never know.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Life challenges on the white-guy track

There's been a lot of attention  given to white guys , the pejorative term for white males,  during this election season.  That's because the polls once again showed white guys strongly favoring Mitt Romney, a self-iconic success story,  over President Obama.  Political thinkers, sociologists and the producers of Romney lapel buttons have all checked into the long-running phenomenon of why white guys prefer Republicans.

Still unsatisfied with the GOP quarry, Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina went so far as to complain that "We're not generating enough angry  white guys to stay in business for the long term."  What he fears as a generic white Southern Republican is that minorities will become the majorities in the U.S.over the next decade and where will that leave the white guy party?  Well, where?

A number of theories are around.  The Economist recently reported a paper published in Psychological Science that suggests that muscles have something to do with the political profile of white guys.  Researchers Michael Petersen  (University of Aarthus in Denmark) and Daniel Sznycer (University of California, Santa Barbara) asked their subjects whether  resources should be redistributed to the poor.  Musculature identified those who opposed such redistribution.

The scholars didn't say so, but it does seem that one clue to the white guys'  preference for Mitt Romney could be their  desperate  remedy for erectile dysfunction against groups of rivals.

It comes down to fear of losing the dominance that only Republicans can offer in their campaign bombast about success in a rapidly changing marketplace.    Will, for example, the white guys'  traditional cookout role of grilling steaks  be diluted by pushy females who escape from the kitchen?  Or as Executive Chef Elisabeth Karmel asks: Is the grill the last bastion of masculinity?

As one who grew up in a family with many cousins of Republican toughs with Popeye arms,  I can say that yes, there is anger  and resentment over minorities and women's roles  that have been coming on for decades.  A college professor once complained to me that female professors were  getting too sassy around him.  And a former boss didn't know how he could survive  after his company had placed a woman executive above him.

Stricken by such thoughts of servitude to The Others, some fearful white guys still rely on holstered sidearms, barbells and hairy chests to prove they are not sissies.  How else can they disguise their resentfulness and insecurity over the threats to their masculinity?  To them, seeking refuge in the brave old world of Republicanism would at least give them a temporary  safety net.