Friday, March 30, 2012

GOP elephant still at large

Shame on me for jumping to conclusions when I read
the headline on a news story that said:


I quickly assumed that after months of nonsensical behavior, McNewt Gingrich had withdrawn from the Republican presidential race.

Alas, no such luck. The story told of a 2.5 ton elephant named Baby that escaped from a circus in Blackpool, Ireland, and was running around a car park near a shopping center. It was soon captured, as will be Gingrich, hopefully sooner than later.

The anti-science conservatives increase in number

YOU REALLY DON'T have to be a rocket scientist nor a neurosurgeon to know why political conservatives are assailing global warming as a phony threat to civilization. The opponents are down on science despite scientific research that tells us the planet is getting warmer, ice caps are thawing and ocean levels are rising. We see some of these changes with our own eyes.

Not good enough , say those people who are in denial against the warm warriors. Why? Because scientists are behind the crazy notion and who can entrust scientists to know anything about anything, for God's sake. Against evidence to the contrary, these same naysayers insisted that a curve ball doesn't...well, curve, because they were never asked to hit one. Or maybe they heard a damning reference to it on Fox News. Or from their preacher. Or Republican county chairman.

A study published in American Sociological Review, which reached me via Slate Magazine, confirms that opposition to science is rising dramatically among conservatives. Sociologist Gordon Gauchat of the University of North Carolina, who led the study, reports that only 35 pct. of conservatives have a "great deal" of trust in science, well below the 63 pct. who trusted it in the mid-1970s.

His explanation in U.S. News:
"Science has become autonomous with government - it develops knowledge that helps regulate policy, and in the case of the EPA, it develops policy. Science is charged with what religion used to be charged with - answering questions about who we are and what we came from, what the world is about. We're using it in American society to weigh in on political debates, and people are coming down on a specific side."
In other words, conservatives like McRick Santorum and his legions of conservative supporters are telling us that you can't believe both science and religion. A fellow named
Galileo could have vouched for something like that.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Rove & Groucho: No, no no

AS WE NOW await the decision on Obamacare by the right-wing Supreme Court - another leftover from the Bush Administration - my political diary turned up this quote from Karl Rove from August, 2009. Referring to the GOP's role in challenging President Obama, Rove asserted:

"This is going to be defined by Republican conservatives by what we oppose."

Unfortunately, with that game plan, Rove, also known as "Bush's brain," nailed it.

And so we've had a rebirth of Groucho Marx's unyielding position that "Whatever it is, I'm against it."

An awful way to run a country.

Akron Art Museum: Heading for a jackpot?

In an ideal world, a museum wouldn't think of parting with one of its highly prized works. But Mitchell Kahan, the director of the Akron Art Museum, must live in the real world in which collections must be nourished by acquisitions. So it explains why Kahan, with a keen eye to the museum's future, is an advocate of carpe diem in sending a multi-milion dollar photograph to Christie's for auction on May 8.

The piece is the creation of contemporary photographer Cindy Sherman, who had set the photo auction world ablaze last year with another work that soared to $3.89 million at Christie's - a record for photographs. It is labeled "untitled #96" (see above) and drawn from Sherman's "Centerfold Series". All of the self-photographed images are of Sherman, who appears in various disguises. The AAM acquired "untitled #96" in 1981, when Sherman created it. Talk about foresight!

When I spoke to Kahan, he conceded that it isn't easy to give up a work by a photographer so highly valued in the art world. But he says the sale - estimated to fetch $2.8 million to $3.8 million - will sweeten the museum's $2 million available for acquisitions. Thus, he says, there will be greater opportunity to acquire distinguished pieces for AAM for future generations.

Oh, I should mention that Kahan won't be total bereft of Sherman's work. He has another one in the vault. That lessens any regret of shipping one of the two off to a New York
City auction house.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Obama and Ahmadinejad: Santorum's one of a kind

IF YOU HAVE the slightest doubt about McRick Santorum's desperate (if hopeless) quest to win the GOP nomination, check his campaign's latest attack ad on President Obama. It should be easy enough to find on the Internet. The 65-second ad is titled "Obamaville" and pictorially cross-references Obama and Ahmadinejad with quickly alternating head shots. Although there is no mistake about the ad's projection of the president as the Iranian leader, Santorum's spokesman Hogan Gidley told NBC News that it would be "absurd" to conclude that the ad suggests Obama and Ahmadinejad are the same person.

The Democratic National Committee, of course, is outraged that the Republican would stoop this low and is responding with its own ad to denounce Santorum. If they need some humble advice, I would suggest a counter-ad alternating the photos of Santorum and Rush Limbaugh. I would have preferred Torquemada, the notorious Spanish Inquisition perpetrator, but who would remember him today?

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

GOP senatorial committee needs a dictionary

WE WERE HAPPY to see the Columbus Dispatch's Joe Hallett set the record straight on the Republican Senatorial Committee's attempt to smear U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown by making one word serve for another. According to Hallett, the RSC found useful a column by a "GOP-friendly conservative" blogger quoting Brown that Congress was a little more "niggardly" on spending money when the veterans came home from the war.

Well, now. Pure racist gold for Brown's Republican opponents, who have been sinking more deeply each day into the muck to portray Brown as something that he isn't. To the blogger's credit, Hallett wrote, the blogger placed the correct non-racial definition at the top of his post. To its discredit, the RSC removed the definition and mass-mailled the blog post to news outlets.

There are two ways to look at this untidy event: The RSC is either trying to advance another myth, or it is too dumb to know what the word means. We like the second choice. But we're not sure.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Santorum declares a tired war on New York Times

You'd have to think that Rick Santorum is wearing down from his saintly campaign grind when he accuses a New York Times reporter of bullshit. It escaped from his lips on Fox News when he said the reporter misquoted him as saying Mitt Romney was the "worst Republican in the country to put up against Obama." (By other accounts, Santorum did say that, folks.)

Since McRick and I each grew up in coal mining towns I would say, however, that having lived among the miners, the choice of words to describe the paper could have been a lot more ethnically colorful - particularly at the Kosciusko Hall on Saturday nights.

So here we go. If you can't whip the guy ahead of you in the primaries, you run against the New York Times. Republicans have been doing it since the Dead Sea Scrolls.

But Santorum takes this pandering to the illiterati a step farther by insisting: "If you haven't cursed out a New York Times reporter during a campaign, you're not really a good Republican, is the way I look at it."

By the first day of summer, real Republicans will have to sign a Santorum pledge that they are real Republicans by cursing that paper in Manhattan. Not even Grover Norquist's no-tax pledges can top that when you're looking for authenticity - which is sort of scarce these days in the GOP front lines. Who will be the first really real Republican to sport a t-shirt that says, "Don't blame me. I'm a really real Republican."?

Too bad they weren't available when McRick spoke at the Summit County Lincoln Day dinner. A lot of folks, from the chairman on down, would be wearing them today.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

It is the worst of times, it is the worst of times.

AS MARCH MADNESS morphs into April insanity, the presidential primaries will only draw us still closer to the conclusion that the Republican Party - from top to bottom - has offered us the worst collection of maniacs, misogynists and liars of the modern political era.

Their desperate four-year effort to return a white guy - any white guy with the sort of friends who can pay for it - to the Oval Office demonstrates the party has lost its conscience and its soul. It began on the day Barack Obama walked into the office and has gotten so much worse with abusive accusations from candidates who ought to be an historic embarrassment to the entire electoral process. And if there are any local diehards who wish to disagree, let me see a show of hands. Thought so.

True, there have been crackpots and dead-enders in the past. But none of them hung around long enough to be remembered. This time, after months of combat, there are still four stiffs on the GOP primary ballots.

Among the most shameful utterances of the season was Newt Gingrich's ugly reference to Obama's mournful reaction to the savage killing of Trayvon Martin. Newt, the Crazy Guggenheim who seems to be staying in the race for the hell of it, said it was "disgraceful" that Obama remarked that if he had had a son, the boy "would have looked like Trayvon"

Newt, of course, is on the edge of derangement, and enjoying every minute of slandering the president. Eh, in his words, the biggest food-stamp president in history. And we know what underlies that notion. Ha. Ha. He also repeats that Obama likes Muslims more than Christians.

Meantime, Rick Santorum has been sustained by voters who broadly believe that Obama is a half-breed or worse with an illigitimate claim on the office. He also thrives in the heated atmospherics of Catholic bishops and evangelical protestants - a rather combustible mixture of religion and politics. Listen to Santorum and you can sense the ecstasy that drives him to his denunciations of birth control and other secular excesses.

Then we have Mr. Romney, who was pictured in today's New York Times signing his Massachusetts health care reform law with well-wishing Ted Kennedy at his side. Now, of course, he says Obamacare is a bad way to look at the Masschusetts law.

Even at the state level, we have the Republican State Treasurer and U.S. Senate candidate , Josh Mandel, who at 34 seems to sample his next political job the way Florentine tourists salivate in choosing their next flavor of gelato .

The PD's Ohio PolitiFact noted the other day that the whiz kid has already been caught in blatant falsehoods a half-dozen times. And it's only March. One will do for all of them: His charge that Sen. Sherrod Brown, who has played a leading role in trying to keep jobs in America, is in the forefront of shipping those jobs to China.

I've asked this before: As a once-thriving major political party, is this all the GOP has to offer in 2012. The answer is undeniably yes.

We can't even cheer about Gringrich's promise to reduce gas prices to $2.50 a gallon. Not even if the counters on the gas pumps were replaced with Etch a Sketches.

P.S. In the interest of offering visuals to illustrate the state of politics today, I have offered this painting titled "The Scream", by Edvard Munch. Don't you agree?

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Why Paul Ryan et al need the poor

THE CURRENT crop of Republican pols must count their blessings every minute of the day that there are poor people in America. Where else would they turn with what they describe as "bold and gutsy" proposed budget cuts?

There's no better evidence of the GOP's class warfare on the poor than Paul Ryan's budget that was quickly endorsed by McMitt Romney. It hones in on cuts in Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, education - these and other Federal programs that try to sustain a semblance of survival for the folks at the lower end of the economic ladder. But as the late Ohio Gov. Jim Rhodes was heard to say when he faced complaints about the state's shoddy underfunded mental health system - "Those people don't vote anyway."

But wait. People making more than $1 million would get a tax cut of $265,000 with an after-tax income rise of 12.5 pct. Need I add that people down the ladder would not enjoy relative benefits. Half of the those earning between $20,000 to $30,000, according to a report in Forbes, "would get no tax cut at all."

Corporate tax rates would be reduced to 25 pct. from 35 pct. But as Romney has told us, "Corporations are people". Unfortunately, the Republican tax proposals do not regard a lot of people as corporations.

While we're on the subject of Romneyana, when I hear his daily campaign gaffes, I always wish that I knew the first person who said:
"If you don't know anything, it's hard to learn anything else."
I know. You could say the same about the others in the crowd. But he may be headed for the nomination. Fair warning.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Rev. Pat: angered by the Tebow trade

BY NOW, YOU'VE probably heard the grisly story of how some of the unsaintly New Orleans Saints were running a pool to harm opposing quarterbacks. Not that you needed a pool for that sort of thing to happen. Even the head coach, Sean Payton, was in on the deal and has since been suspended without pay ($7.5 million) by the NFL for a year.

Anyway, TV preacher Pat Robertson has his own ideas about the fate of certain quarterbacks.

Robertson is miffed because the Denver Broncos, who just signed superstar QB Peyton Manning, traded Tim Tebow, the prayerful quarterback, to the New York Jets. He accused Denver of treating Tebow "shabbily".

"And you must ask yourself," the Rev said, "OK, Peyton Manning was a tremendous quarterback, but he's been injured. If the injury comes back, Denver will find itself without a quarterback - and in my opinion, it would serve them right."

Anybody in doubt about what has to happen to serve 'em right?

A true conservative on preachers & the GOP

WHO SAID THE FOLLOWING? Barack Obama? Bill Maher? Mahmoud Abmadinejad?

Wrong. Wrong.Wrong. Read on.
"Mark my word, if and when these preachers get control of the (Republican) Party, and they're sure trying to do so, it's going to be a terrible damn problem. Frankly, these people frighten me. Politics and government demand compromise. But these Christians believe they are acting in the name of God, so they can't and won't compromise. I know. I'v e tried to deal with them.".
Want to guess? SCROLL DOWN...

Barry Goldwater, former conservative icon who has been replaced by the more moderate tax-raising Ronald Reagan as the "true" conservative.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

It's forward to the drawing room for Mitt

ERIC FEHRNSTROM, Mitt Romney's chief advisor, left no doubt in a CNN interview today that his candidate was fully prepared to assume a a new persona in a general election campaign mode free of all of the conservative hysterics that he had channeled against Rick Santorum et al. Don't pay any attention to all of that, Fehrnstrom seemed to be saying because you will see a New Romney one-on-one against President Obama. As Fehrnstrom put it:
"Well, I think you hit a reset button for the fall campaign. Everything changes. It's almost like an Etch a Sketch. You can kind of shake it up and we start all over again."

As for the New Romney, we sort of like the above scowling sketch by freelance cartoonist George Coghill.

P.S. We wouldn't be surprised if the first thing his remark shook up were the Romney advisors who are trying to reshape him into presidential.

Romney/Dubya: Can 't duck the duck

AS I WATCH MCMITT ROMNEY on his presumed victory lap in the Republican primaries, I have a nagging feeling that I've seen this fellow before. For 8 years. George W. Bush, who is now living in seclusion from his party.

The similarities are...well, see for yourself:

Both, propped up by the GOP establishment. Both, wealthy scions of wealthy daddies. Both, troubled by incoherence. Both, robotic. Both, hawkish. Both, white- collar-and- tie stiffs (except when they want to be regular guys in jeans, either down on the ranch or before a crowd of regular people).

No? I demur, preferring the principle that if you walk like the other duck, talk like the other duck...Well, you know how that goes.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Santorum: I don't care about the jobless

IF YOU ARE WONDERING how Rick Santorum is breaking new ground as a pretender to the White House throne, check his latest toxic reference to people who are out of work:
"I don't care what the unemployment rate is going to be. It doesn't matter to me. My campaign doesn't hinge on unemployment."
He said what?!?!? Yep, that was how he reacted to Mitt Romney's frequent references to being highly qualified to preside over America's economy. And that was a single day before the Illinois primary.

But we shouldn't be misled by Santorum's daring, finger-pointing assault on his opponents - particularly Romney's Mormonism, which some people argue is a cult below the reach of Christianity.

Fact is, Santorum is practicing his Catholicism as a cult, much of which he has developed from his close association with Opus Dei, the secretive Catholic society of true believers. The former Pennsylvania senator leaves no doubt that his heated religious war on secularism - which embraces a war on contraceptives, women's health and pandemic pornography - has given him cover to utter his maniacal indifference to the unemployed and human decency.

(For the full story on Santorum and Opus Dei, you can find it in today's online Washington Post.)

Meantime, keep in mind that Santorum's wife Karen says that her hubby is running for president because it's God's will. Sorry, but Sarah Palin and Rick Perry, two dead-end ex-candidates, also told us that God willed them to run.

If that were so, the Lord led these people away from the promised land.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Time for IQ tests for lawmakers in the abortion debate

HARDLY A DAY passes that some Republican politician doesn't come up with a new way to oppose abortion. There's even a move in Tennessee that could force a physician to disclose the name of a woman seeking an abortion. Hundreds of bills are floating around state legislatures with one goal in mind: stop abortion with whatever law that it takes while the GOP controls all of those legislative bodies, aided and abetted by Christian conservatives. It is a national obsession that has risen to the top of the charts in many states, and not the least targets of its sweep is the health care reform act and Planned parenthood.

Some counter measures have been satirically proposed, including Ohio Sen. Nina Turner's plan to have men who want Viagra to prove that they are impotent and have sought sex therapy. I have my own proposal: Men must take an IQ test as the prerequisite for Viagra. Not only that. Their scores should be published in their hometown papers. They must also write an essay on why conservatives want the government off their backs while demanding that a woman submit to lying on her back. It would be interesting, don't you think?

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Tina Fey is back; Puerto Rico to Santorum: No mas!

SARAH PALIN, UNDAUNTED BY a movie that casts her as a dope, says she will go to the Republican convention in Tampa because she's "not closing the door" on anything. That can only mean that she has more fame and misfortune in her summer vacation plans, and that (1) she can see the White House from the convention stage or (2) she is, in fact, a winking dope.

At this point, my problem with her is that she always seems to be Sarah Palin playing Tina Fey who played Sarah Palin on Saturday Night Live. And now to complicate matters, she may start playing Julianne Moore who plays Sarah Palin in Game Change. If that happens, Katie Couric will have her hands full asking all three of them which newspapers they read, don't you think?

But we'll know for sure when she arrives in Tampa that she freakin' well is serious when she tells the media that, of course, she can clearly see the White House from her perch in Florida.
As she tells it like it never was, there will be other dopes in the crowd who will nod in approval.

* * * * *

WILLARD ROMNEY said this week end that he "can't take a stand" on U.S. troop withdrawal from the war in Afghanistan because he doesn't have enough information!. But he did opine that things don't seem to be going very well in the decade-long conflict and that President Obama must share the blame for his "lack of leadership".

He said what?/?/?

Among Obama's failures is lack of experience in running a business, Romney said, insisting that even though the economy is improving Obama made it worse. Finally, he says he's quite wealthy and won't apologize for it. And he tells us that Obama is a "lightweight?

* * * * * *

Finally the week-end brought McRick Santorum bad news from Puerto Rico, where he was clobbered by the voters in the wake of of his decree on English-spoken statehood. Did I hear them say, "No mas!" ?

His latest fervent crusade is against what he calls a "pandemic" of pornography. Like Romney, he blames Obama for an absence of leadership, accuses the president of being soft on porn by his "refusal to enforce obscenity laws."

We recall a day when Mayor Ralph Perk staged an anti-porn conference in Cleveland and went on endlessly about men who bed down with inflated rubber dolls. My hunch is that some still do, and will continue to so long after Santorum moves on to his very own monastery.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Good grief: The discussion will continue manana

OK. I think Mitt Romney finds something to love about Rush Limbaugh. Maybe a lot of things. So I'd better include this part in the Romney chronicles before he finds something not to love about Rushbo. (Did I tell you that Limbaugh is an honorary member of the Republican caucus in Congress? He is, folks. ) The latest dispatch from the front reports that McMitt thinks Bill Maher is a garbage mouth - which the comedian can certainly be at times - but Rushbo is another matter , even when he tells his listeners to believe that Sandra Fluke is a "slut" and a "prostitute".

In a serial appearance on Fox's dark side, Romney, who is a presidential candidate of sorts,tried to put some daylight between Maher and Limbaugh. You may recall when the Fluke story erupted, McMitt said of Limbaugh's slander, "it's not the language I would have used" - a meek response that hardly earned him a red badge of courage. But he updated that remark to Sean Hannity, crooning, "Well, you know, I find it hard to disagree with Rush Limbaugh on topics."

He said what?!?!?

Romney, who has Darwinian tendencies, also says he is quite rich and won't apologize for it.

We figured that we had better get to that quickly because now Romney and McRick Santorum have changed the subject to whether English should be the official language of Puerto Rico, which it already is along with Spanish.. Santorum has created a stir before the Puerto Rican Republican primary by saying English must prevail if Puerto Rico has any chance of becoming America's 51st state. It was enough to force one of his delegates, Hector Perez, to bolt, only to be replaced by Carlos Baerga, the former Indians second baseman and fellow Christian conservative who said he admired Santorum for having been a longtime supporter of Puerto Rican interests. Besides, Carlos, proving there is life after the Indians, said that he had played for a half-dozen teams and joining one more wouldn't possibly hurt.

Since then, there has been some twisting and turning by Santorum to explain what he really meant while Romney tried to tell us what he really intends to do about it. In this instance, neither guy relied on much plain English - certainly not as plain as McMitt repeatedly telling us that he is quite rich and has no intention of apologizing for it. (Not even in a quiet room that he once suggested was where delicate money matters ought to be discussed ).

Santorum said he didn't mean to suggest that all Puerto Ricans should have names like Smith and Jones, not even when they played baseball, nor that they should stop going around saying things like manana and tacos unless they were talking in the privacy of their immediate family.

Back in the states, Romney said he was quite rich and wasn't going to apologize for it.

Santorum, also a Darwinian, once said people shouldn't be lifted from poverty with other people's money. Romney suggested that's not the language he would have used, but he did say he was quite rich and wasn't going to apologize for it.

Hoping to get in the last word, Santorum said teleprompters should be illegal.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

GOP violent misogyny as great art...

Nothing in classical art more clearly captures the brutality of the Republicans' attacks on women's rights than Nicolas Poussin's painting of the ancient Romans' abduction of the Sabine women. What better way to show the GOP's opposition to a renewal of the Violence Against Women Act? Once a bipartisan measure when enacted in 1994, we're now seeing how crazily the conservative male chauvinists on Capitol Hill have swung to the narrow opening in their cave. It would be a special reminder to them if the Democrats wore lapel pins containing Poussin's great work.

And while we're at it, just when we thought that no one could match Rush Limbaugh's stooping to conquer Ms. Flute, we get graphic evidence on TV that Pennsylvania Republican Gov. Tom Corbett had a facile answer for women who must now have ultrasound exams before they can have an abortion. Even though the bill he just signed to mandate such procedures requires the women to view the copies of the internal probe, Corbett gave them an option:
"You can't make anybody watch, Okay, " he sniffed. "Because you just have to close your eyes."
He said what?!?!?

We think there is more to be gained from all of this if ultrasounds were mandated for rightwing male brains before they opted to make total asses of themselves.

Media parachutes: When life is worth living

IT'S OFTEN SAID that it's lonely at the top. But for the one percenters, topness does make life worth living.

There's a piece in the current Columbia Journalism Review that clearly tells you why golden parachutes are the best way to survive a frail economy. Posting figures from Bloomberg News, CJR focused on just two media ex-CIO's who will never miss a meal: Janet Robinson of the New York Times Co. and Craig Dubow of Gannett.

Although the Times' stock crashed more than 80 pct. during Robinson's seven years of watching over the shop, she managed to leave with a $21 million parachute. She also got a $10.9 million pension at the same time that employee pensions were frozen. The article reports what the $21 million could have otherwise paid for: 230 starting reporters salaries: 14 years of Baghdad bureau funding; 21 million reporter's notebooks; 17,514 iMacs, and 4,200 digital cameras, among other things.

Gannett's Dubow got a $37.1 million parachute that could have bought 3,550,239 shares of the company's stock; 1,474 starting salaries at the company's Indianapolis Star; 37,100,000 reporter's notebooks and 2,555,096 copies of Job Hunting for Dummies, which, mercifully, neither Robinson nor Dubow will ever have to read.

CJT noted that after awarding Dubow his retirement package, "the company announced it would force employes to take their fifth unpaid furlough in three years".

But as Mitt Romney has so often reminded us, the one percenters should not be criticized for their hard-earned and well-deserved success. In this instance, however, I'm never a good listener.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

A new campaign against teleprompters?

Well, Mitt Romney's Southern Strategy of y'alls' and grits didn't work, not with a Republican electorate that comprised more than 80 pct. white evangelicals in Alabama and Mississippi. So if he gets anywhere near Chicago for the Illinois primary, he would be smart not to rely on pierogies to rescue his campaign. And don't bet $10,000 that the Cubs will win the pennant this year!

Meantime, I see his nemesis, Msgr. Rick Santorum, has set aside his assault on sexual transgressions to bring up another target to make illegal. Teleprompters. He says teleprompters are inauthentic for presidential candidates because somebody else wrote the words. For him, every speech must be full of unscripted passion all the way down to his groin. Let's hope that the sun will rise tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Camera-shy Josh Mandel' s black-suited guys

A SKIRMISH BETWEEN Josh Mandel's troops and an Akron Press Club officer caught the eye of the Huffington Post this week, which reported it in full. As noted in Grumpy Abe earlier, Team Mandel tried to shut down a photographer for the other side when the Republican U.S. Senate candidate spoke at the PC on March 1. It was an amateurish intrusion into standard Press Club practice of letting all sides record an event.

It didn't go well for the guy who is hoping to oust U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown. Indeed it drew a sharp rebuke from PC Board member David Cohen, a University of Akron political science professor who was trying to manage decorum in the camera section at the back of the room. ,

"Mandel's staffers acted unprofessionally and were clearly trying to intimidate the folks that came to record the event," Cohen said. "They tried to prevent one individual from even entering the room until I intervened and also tried to obstruct their view with their heads and holding up pieces of paper until I told them to stop. "

Well, that's one way of using their heads in this instance because they simply don'thave a clue to understanding the freedom the club accords anyone who wants to video the event.

"Those folks that came to record the event, by the way, despite what has been reported, did not try to disrupt anything, " Cohen said. "In fact they did not say a word while they were recording nor did they ask for help while they were being harassed."

Every mature campaigner can expect trackers from their opponents and this was no exception. Cohen noted that when Brown spoke at a club luncheon on Jan. 6 his opponents would have been granted the same opportunity.

I happened to attend the Mandel program and noticed a very important-looking Mandel team in black suits moving about the room checking something or other (bugs?). They should have known better. And Mandel, the Repubican whiz kid state treasurer, wants to be a U.S. Senator?

Well, yes. So much so that the Plain Dealer reported that he flew to the Bahamas on Friday to speak at the payday lending industry meeting and held a fundraiser at the resort. The payday lenders who think nothing of charging borrowers preposterous rates? Tsk. Tsk.

The next step in Cuyahoga Falls Natatorium issue

The Cuyahoga Falls city administration's silly denial of family rates at the Natatorium to a same-sex married couple will be tested in City Council. Councilwoman Diana Colavcchio emailed the following response to question I had asked about the issue's future:

We [Democratic caucus] will be forming the ad hoc committee, without the
necessity of an ordinance. Next Monday, the committee will be announced,
along with a meeting schedule. I will chair it. I expect the meetings to
be held on Mondays, immediately after council, for convenience purposes.
The committee will analyze data and make a recommendation back to council.

(It's good to know that someone is paying attention in the Falls to common decency for everyone and not one segment of the public!...AZ)

Monday, March 12, 2012

Happy Birthday, McMitt, without Medicare.

McMitt Romney celebrated his 65th birthday Monday by having an aide confirm that he will not enroll in Medicare. The aide says his candidate prefers to keep his private medical insurance plan. And who could be surprised? When you're worth a couple of hundred million, you would never go without. You could even possess your own hospital.

Way to go, sir. We await your explanation of how the rest of us could have our very own emergency rooms. Happy birthday, anyway, and now that you are a senior citizen, may you never need a private emergency room. With, Cable TV and the Wall Street Journal gratis.

When Republicans rocket to new jobs, etc.

SCANNING THE PAPERS for soggy guidance from worldly philosophers this morning we were impressed by the treasures one discovers, and it doesn't cost that much.

Today, there was a report in the Beacon Journal with state Rep. Lynn Slaby telling us that the Republican state representative , at 73, is "ready to tackle new career." Well,, maybe not that ready for his new $119,000 job as a member of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio. As he put it, he doesn't know much about utility operations but assured us that he is fascinated by the challenge. I'll bet.

We learned that (1) Slaby was not "enamored" of his House seat to which he was elected last year. The BJ quoted him as saying, "I wasn't ready to retire and not sure the fit is right for me in the House." (He was age-limited out of his judgeship on the Ninth District Court of Appeals in 2009.) (2) His wife, Marilyn, 72, a former state lawmaker who was defeated at the polls, is interested in returning to the seat that hubby is vacating. Oh, I see.

* * * * *

Then , there was this whopper in the Plain Dealer via PolitiFact Ohio: In a recent appearance in Cleveland, McMitt Romney accused President Obama of never once - not once! - mentioning deficit or debt in his State of the Union address. The fact checkers, however, counted at least six references to debt and deficit, which means that Romney will not include PolitiFact on the long list of things he loves. Poor McMitt. He should be living in ancient Greece, when the gods changed human beings into any figure that served the needs - a bull, a swan, a river, a tree, whatever. Now, it's simply McMitt being McMitt.

* * * * *

For all of this, we must still give a belated Grumpy Abe Linguistic Lunacy (GALL) Award to National GOP Chairman Reince Priebus, who, in a desperate strike against some good economic news showing an increase of 225,000 jobs, hissed :
"Today's jobs report is yet another reminder that far too many Americans are out of work, and the situation is clearly not improving."
We know how it could be made better by eliminating one job at National Republican headquarters.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Who's all wet at the Falls Natatorium?

WHEN MY JOB led our family to a home in Cuyahoga Falls on an unpaved street in 1968, I often encountered a description of the town in a sarcastic term, as in, "So you moved from Columbus to Caucasian Falls?" Empirically, it didn't take long for me to figure that one out. However, history eventually overtook the term. Even the street was eventually paved after we moved several blocks away and finally to another suburb.

But now the Falls may end up with another stain on its image. Beginning with its long-sitting Repubican Mayor, Don Robart, the city has yet to grant a request by a same-sex married couple, one of whom is - good grief! - a wounded Iraqi veteran. The request hardly is apocalyptic. The couple merely asked that it be granted the lower family rate at the city's Natatorium.

Since Day One, it has become more confusing in what the mayor and his team are talking about. Robart offered his excuse as necessary because Ohio law does not recognize same-sex marriages. (Obviously, other Ohio venues who recognize such marriages in their rate structure have yet to understand this.) Next, the mayor insisted that a change would throw the Natatorium's member rates out of whack. That held up long enough for Thursday's meeting of the Falls Park and Recreation Board, which turned down the couple's request 3-2.

It was then that the smoke and mirrors disappeared in the controversy. Board member Dick Sebastian, who voted with the majority, told the Beacon Journal:

"Biblically speaking, I know a lot of people would be upset if it's yanked out."

You bet it's Biblically speaking, particularly when a Baptist minister and 18 of his flock showed up to protest any change. Forget the barrier of Ohio law mentioned by the mayor (Law Director Paul Janis had opined that no law would forbid the Board from modifying the rates);. forget the out-of-whack rate structure; this issue is turning solely on Biblespeak. To clarify, the Baptist minister and his friends have every right to show up and protest as concerned citizens. But the Board had every right to reject him.

Board chairman Tim Gorbach, a Democrat, one of the two members in the minority, was disappointed by the outcome. When I called him, he said he would detail his position on the rate structure in an email.

Here it is in its entirety:
Moving to the Household rate format would result in about $48,000 in annual revenue given our current membership. That is a little more than one pct. of our total annual revenue at the Natatorium.

To minimize this impact doesn't have to mean raising rates across the board. It could mean reducing expenses elsewhere with very little if any impact on our members. For example, we have been paying down our debt at an accelerated rate. This is a great thing, but not something that has to be done. Given the extremely low rates on our short term debt, it wouldn't cost us much in reduced interest savings. This is only one of the many options that unfortunately will not be explored due to the majority's decision to remain the same.

Epilogue: There's still a chance that Falls City Council will come up with a plan to spare the city of further embarrassment. Until it does, could anyone blame Coty May, the injured soldier, and his caregiving spouse Shane if they might be wondering now which America Coty was risking his life for in Iraq. Certainly not the one that denies them a rate change at the Natatorium.

She's back; need we say more?

When the past is present in politics

THE CACOPHANY from right-wing Republicans has developed into the endless pre-concert orchestra tuning rather than the actual overture itself. So we must put up with the silly attacks on President Obama for gas prices by the very same fools who have forgotten their own words in 2008 when gas prices under a Republican president had jumped beyond $4!

Two of the Fox hounds among many, Bill O'Reilly and Cal Thomas, were rather adamant in those not-so-ancient days in offering cover for President Bush and GOP presidential candidate, John McCain. Virtually in unison they chanted: A president cannot raise the price the gas nor lower it!

I'll be happy to repeat that startling thought if it didn't sink in the first time. The TV film clips are all that are needed for verification of one of the current political season's extraordinary examples of undiluted propaganda by talkers whose guardian angels have long fled to saner quarters.

Or, I can share Oscar Wilde's snappy wisdom: "No man is rich enough to buy back his past." Cool.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Arshinkoff outreach includes Portage County

WE SHOULD NOT be surprised when anyone brings up official Republican mischief in Summit County. The trail usually leads to GOP county chairman Alex Arshinkoff. The only change is that Bryan Williams, the successor-apparent and gate-keeper to Arshinkoff someday, also is appearing in the picture these days.

The Columbus Dispatch reports that Portage County Republican Chairman Andrew Manning has filed an affidavit with federal investigators accusing Arshinkoff and Williams of offering him a deal to withdraw as one of the 66 candidates from the state GOP Central Committee ballot in Tuesday's yet unsettled intraparty showdown between Gov. Kasich and Ohio Republican Chairman Kevin DeWine. Manning is a DeWine supporter; Arshinkoff and Williams are dedicated Kasich apostles. Manning said he was promised that if he abandoned his vote in the Central Committee, he would win style points with the governor.

Don't look for a heckuva lot to come out of this symbol of turmoil within the Republican Party . But it is one more peek at how the Summit GOP locals dutifully work at their day-and-night political jobs for Kasich. Notice that I dropped the word "allegedly".

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Dittoheads, pinheads and scorned women

"The climax of all evils is when a man rooted in some false opinion grows fatally persuaded that his course is right." - Petrarch

How prescient of the great 14th Century Italian poet and humanist to define someone we all know today, say, Rush Limbaugh. Or Bill O'Reilly? Or Sean Hannity? Limbaugh is not inclined to rise for a moment from his spasmotic derangement. He's been at it again slamming two women journalists with glee for no other reason than to convince his dittoheads that he's da Man. It has reached the point of monstrous random slander, which is his only strong point that is apparent to me.

Meanwhile the Republican leadership(?) and first-row candidates are still cowering in their bubble to escape any mention of Rushbo. On another front,however, they are baring their chests to annihilate Iran. Romney, Gingrich and Santorum all have been on the stump mindlessly huffing and puffling about Iran while characterizing President Obama as the weenie in the room. (Are we having any fun over their war games yet?)

Unsurprisingly, their hawkishness belies their own interest in military service. None has worn a uniform, thanks to various deferments in times of need. That takes us back to a previous administration when George Bush and Dick Cheney found a way to dodge the draft while serving as the biggest bullies in their playground. (In fairness, Bush did land on an aircraft carrier in a flight suit.) In fact, Romney explained four years ago why none of his five sons had been in the military: They were needed in his 2008 campaign. This fellow never gets it.

* * * *
Ohio State Rep. Nina Turner's remedy for vaginally fixated lawmakers has widely resonated with other women and could produce a growth industry in helping overreaching males in the controversy over birth control. In Illinois and Virginia women legislators are playfully hastening to help the guys subjected to medical or psychological assistance since their health might be at risk by taking sexual stimulants. One proposed law calls for rectal examinations; another mandate seeks treatment for "persistant erections". My opposite-sex spouse likes the idea of "sperm limits". It's never been truer about the fury ignited in scorned women than by the current Dark Age (Plutarch's term) male wannabe gynecologists.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Nina Turner's perfect antidote for impotent men

WE RECENTLY WROTE about Aristophanes' solution to warring men: Lysistrata, the title character of his classic play, assembled a group of other Greek women to declare that they would deny sex to their husbands until the guys stopped fighting wars. Now that modern men are preoccupied with new laws to rule over vaginas, State Sen. Nina Turner of Cleveland has smartly channeled the issue solely into the men's private domain. She has introduced a bill in the Ohio legislature that will require men to prove that they have erectile dysfunction for physical and not only psychological reasons.

How would that work? She wants cardiac stress tests, analysis by sex therapists and any other means to determine whether the guy gets a prescription for sex-enhancing drugs like Viagra.

In a sly put-down of meddling male lawmakers, Turner told a reporter:

"We want to make sure that men, vulnerable, fragile men, who are not capable of making decisions for themselves, understand all of the side effects and the implications of these types of drugs."

And in a release, she mischievously explained: "The men in our lives, including members of the General Assembly, generously devote time to fundamental female reproductive issues - the least we can do is return the favor."

That seems fair enough, right men? Oh? You don't think so? Should I warn you that Lysistrata's wicked response to hawkish men worked?

Misogynists, you have a problem - and it's not limited to erectile dysfunction.

Post Super Tuesday withdrawal symptoms

AS THE WOEBEGONE 2012 CLASS OF Republican Warriors stumbled across the Super Tuesday finish line, we continued to be told that our freedom was at stake in the hands of,
President Obama. It wasn't one of those Bartlett Quotations liberty-or-death Patrick Henry warnings - the 2012 Class's rhetoric isn't that profound. In the modern world, freedom is the buzz word for Obamacare and at some point Mitt Romney - if he is the nominee - will have to go lectern to lectern with Barack on national TV to offer the second line to his argument of why his Massachusetts health-care plan is so much different than the current plan.

Rick Santorum, when he wasn't preparing everyone for a secure path to the heavenly gates, also believes we are all the President's prisoners. Referring to the wide curse of government health care, he told a Steubenville audience as much, declaring: "Ladies and gentlemen, this is the beginning of the end of freedom. Once the government has control of your life, they've got you."

Meanwhile. here are some footnotes that didn't make it to the front page:

(1)When Romney carried Summit County, it reminded us of the straw poll - ballyhooed as the largest in the state, for God's sake - taken at the GOP Lincoln Day Dinner here where Santorum was the supernova speaker. The honored guest won that one with 74 pct. of the vote. We still wonder why the local party made such a fuss over Santorum, but these days we wonder about a lot of things. But it is true that Ohio Atty. Gen. Mike DeWine is getting his 15 minutes of national attention for tagging along with Santorum.

(2)Just when you thought the Obama haters couldn't burrow more deeply into the muck, a federal judge in Montana emailed a purported joke that suggested Obama was the child of a mother impregnated by a dog. The state's chief federal judge!!! Responding to calls for his resignation, Judge Richard Cebull, conceded that the joke was racist, but said he only sent it to others because he was "anti-Obama."

(3Down in Laurens County, S. Car, the county GOP has set up new critreria for a candidate to appear on the primary ballot., Candidates will have to swear that they never had pre-marital sex and will never again look at pornographic stuff. The party had first asked the candidates to sign a pledge - signed pledges are quite fashionable in the Republican pure-at-heart schemes these days - but backed off because it might have had legal problems.

I particularly like this part of the requirement: You must be faithful to your wife, cannot marry anyone of the same gender nor support same-sex civil unions. The candidates will be screened for moral purity by a three-member committee. Clearly, this would have been a serious problem for ex-South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford, who had an adulterous fling with a mistress in Argentina while explaining his absences as hikes on the Appalachian Trail. You might have heard, he will have no such morality problems with Fox News, which just signed him to be a political analyst.

(4)And finally, Fox's Chris Wallace has told us that Fox's health insurance plan indeed covers contraceptives. But didn't Bill Reilly, who once resolved a sex harassment suit with a big out-of-court financial settlement, rant that the entire Sandra Fluke uproar was in fact nothing more than a Democratic plot? He said what?! ? You bet he did.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Sun rises, air clears as Ohio primary ends

WE THOUGHT THIS DAY would never arrive. I mean, the Ohio Republican primary. To borrow a recent reference to Californians by our Gov. Kasich, the four wackadoodles who formed the GOP candidate pack will have to turn their attention elsewhere and Ohioans will be able to breathe clean air again.

It was not a campaign of highlights. Even when the wannabes pranced beyond the Buckeye State, the word instantly got back to us in 2o12's technological glare. For example, there was McMitt Romney singing about Davy Crockett in Tennessee in his usual atonality and telling us that. Gosh and Jeepers, there was nothing in America that he didn't love. (His wife Ann lately assured us not to take the family's Midas-like wealth seriously inasmuch as she really didn't consider herself wealthy. Image problem solved.) It made us yearn for the return of Herman Cain, who, if nothing else, had a great on-pitch voice.

Across Ohio, McRick Santorum continued to run as a Manichean seminarian dividing all of humankind between good and evil. Thankfully, I don't think he sang about it.

McNewt Gingrich, who has long come across as Crazy Guggenheim since he chose to shut down the government as House Speaker, tried to soften his scary decrees by describing himself as the "cheerful" new Newt. That avowed conversion lasted for no more than a brief moment before he tore into Romney as a basically dishonest person who is trying to buy his way to the nomination.

Finally, Libertarian Ron Paul went around was just being Libertarian Ron Paul.

I write this without knowing who will win in Ohio. But does it matter? Even conservative icon George Will now tells us it doesn't, which opened the hostilities on another front by minor philsopher Donald Trump. Damning Will's pessimism, Trump erupted in an interview with CNBC morning host Joe Kernan:
"I think George Will is a loser...He actually spoke for me at Mar-a-Lago a long time ago, I was very unimpressed..You take away his little round spectacles and his cute little greasy haircut, and I think he probaby realizes he's not a very smart guy."
We'll save a profound essay on Trumpish haircuts for another day.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Kasich says no, then yes, or maybe, to FEMA

HOORAY FOR GOV KASICH! He decided to call for Federal aid after rejecting it for the victims of a tornado devastated swath in southwestern Ohio. For two days, we thought he was going to solve the deadly problem by sending umbrellas and pitchforks to the stricken area. During that crucial post-tornado period, the governor assured us that the state was perfectly capable of handling the desperate situation without having the Federal Emergency Management Agency move in. But now he says he only wants FEMA to "assess" the damage before his final approval. At the same time Kasich's aide Rob Nichols softened the governor's first position by saying he never ruled out asking for FEMA help in the first place. He just wanted to assess the crises himself . So now after several days of the governor's critical delay, I will flip-flop. No hooray for Gov. Kasich.

The weed patch beckons for GOP first team

BACK IN THE 70s and 80s, when we spent a lot of time in Columbus covering the antics 0f Gov. James Rhodes, one Statehouse reporter came up with a defining term for Rhodes. The late Rick Zimmerman of the Plain Dealer, frustrated by the governor's absences during unpleasant moments like civil rights marches or protests about the state's shabby mental health system, would report that the governor could not be found. "He's in the weed patch," he said.

Zimmerman was not only a very good reporter, but also a cartoonist whose devilish drawings hung on reporters' office walls. In fact, when I left Columbus, he gave me a framed cartoon of tall weeds with a balloon above them enclosing the words "Good-bye, Abe" - James A. Rhodes."
It is preserved on the shelf above my desk.

Although Zimmerman has passed on, nothing demonstrates the weed patch mentality more than the guys who want to lead the country into another universe. It was clearly evident by the responses of the Republican candidates who want to dodge the consequences of criticizing Rush Limbaugh for carrying out a three-day assault on a young law student before finally apologizing.

As late as the past week end, candidate- of- interest #1 or #2 , Rick Santorum. asked to comment on Limbaugh's slander, bobbed - Honest! - "That's not my business." Oh? No one has stirred up the whole contraceptive issue more than Santorum during the campaign. Meanwhile, in a weaving reaction by Mitt Romney, he allowed as how "That was not the language I would have used." But we still await what language he would have used.

Some Rush dodgers shrugged that he was only dealing in entertainment, no real harm done. (Former GOP national chairman Michael Steele). Or, at worst, Rush's nuclear comments"inappropriate."

What makes all of this so inappropriate is the fearful shallowness of people who complain that President Obama is a patsy for our opponents around the world as the GOP crowd heads for the weed patch. I can only guess what my friend Rick Zimmerman would have illustrated about them.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Cuyahoga Falls: A friendly host to Santorum


I see that McRick Santorum will be speaking in Cuyahoga Falls Monday night. The suburb is becoming Republican Mayor Don Robart's petting zoo for GOP presidential candidates in the closing days of Ohio's elections. It was a campaign motorcade stop for President George W. Bush, when he was seeking reelection in 2004. Among other things, he charged his Democratic opponent, Sen. John Kerry, with wanting to expand the "power and scope" of government. It played well to his hosts, including those with powerful ties to politics and government. Indeed, county party chairman Alex Arshinkoff didn't hesitate to biblically describe the election as a "contest between good and evil." You know the rest of the story.

* * * * *
I again caught a glimpse of McRick Santorum roaring that "faith has been driven out of the public square" - which is puzzling since everything he says about faith is televised to the public square every moment of the day. I am even more baffled by the empty charge in a country with 500 religious radio and TV programs in a billion-dollar industry run by conservative religious groups. Among them: Pat Robertson's Christian Broadcasting Network and Regent University; and Jerry Falwell Ministries, now operated by the late Moral Majority leader's two sons. These two mammoth operations alone account for more than $700 million in revenue, according to a report by Americans United for Separation of Church and State. Hmmm...

* * * * *

More and more states and cities are rising to an understanding of what true democratic rights are all about in a free society. So it was good to read a Beacon Journal report this morning that Akron Mayor Don Plusquellic, Canton Mayor William Healy II and Stow Mayor Sara Drew have signed a national Freedom to Marry resolution supporting same-sex marriage. They will doubtless hear from critics , but so what? Unlike the Republican pols who race around the country demanding that government get off the backs of individuals while also invading the very same personal lives, the mayors have qualified for the new enlightenment that says to Big Brother: Mind your own business in how we want to present ourselves at the altar.

UPDATE: Limbo apologizes...He did what?!?

When Rush Limbaugh apologized to Sandra Fluke for denouncing her as a "slut" and a "prostitute", you had to conclude three things: It was getting too hot in the kitchen with sponsors pulling ads from his radio show, that his lawyer framed the apology, and that it was Saturday afternoon when many Americans were at basketball games or shopping the malls and not paying attention. .

But the retreat only made him look like the greater monster that he is. He said: "I did not mean a personal attack on Ms. Fluke"

Since Wednesday, as his Republican friends raced to find cover, he not only called the Georgetown law student (who testified before Rep. Nancy's Pelosi's committee on birth control) those slanderous names but alleged that she was sexually promiscuous and wants to be paid by insurance companies to have sex" - so much so, he said, "it's amazing that she can still walk."

You can see, I'm sure, that he was only kidding when , as he put it, "I chose the wrong words in my analogy of the situation" - even, I suppose when he referred to her as an "anti-
Catholic plant."

Finally he humbled himself by explaining: "My choice of words was not the best, and in the attempt to be humorous, I created a national stir. I sincerely apologize to Ms. Fluke for the insulting word choices."

Sorry, Rush. We heard you the first time.

Limbaugh's landfill is overflowing

WHAT A SPECTACLE! I refer, of course, to the ugly meltdown of Rush Limbaugh, who delights in his slanderous attacks on Georgetown University law student Sandra Fluke as a "slut" and "prostitute" while demanding that she provide videos for her alleged sexual encounters! It is the latest political porn from Limbaugh. This, from the guy who as early as 1994 was chosen by GOP congressional conservatives as an "honorary member" of their caucus. But by the looks of things, that, too, is hardly the worst of it. Rush is actually the heart and soul of the Republican Party, and their leaders would agree if they had an ounce of courage to confirm it as we head into the
Super Tuesday GOP primaries.

His intrusion into the campaigns' narrative has drawn the the two Abbot and Costello frontrunners - McMitt Romney and Mc.Rick Santorum - into offering silly, don't-
-bother-me responses. "It's not the language I would have used," shrugged Romney as though he was objecting to a distasteful dressing for his artichoke salad. If not that language, then what other one? He didn't say. Santorum said only that the choice of words was "absurd", but absurdity is not the same as outright slander. John Boehner's aide said the Speaker described Limbaugh's comment as"inappropriate," but added that was also true of the Democrats' trying to raise money from the viral controversy. The round-the-clock primal partisan, Boehner always try to draw blood from the other side.

Interesting how these guys who are forever accusing President Obama of being soft on our overseas enemies cannot solidify their spines to stand up to their honorary congressional member.

No one should be surprised that the Fox folks immediately circled the wagons around Rushbo by deflecting the issue away from birth control, while isolating the debate as solely a religious freedom matter. Echoing the maniacal Limbaugh, Bill O"Reilly accused Sandra Flute of wanting to have others pay for birth control with company-paid insurance. Huffed Dr. O'Reilly (father of two) that birth control was in no way related to health, while Viagra, which was OK with him, dealt with real male health problems. (He said what ?!?!?)

Well, some of Limbaugh's sposnors , including Dan Gilbert, the owner of Quicken Loans Inc. and the Cleveland Cavaliers, has now reversed himself as the kitchen got hotter and withdrawn his ads from Limbaugh's syndicated radio show. But we would be more impressed if Limbaugh's fearful minions in the GOP told him that enough is enough. Fat chance. It's tough to give up your pre-Jurassic notions.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Whiz Kid Mandel: a growth industry for shoemakers

WELL, WE GOT OUR first look at Josh Mandel the 34-year-old Ohio treasurer and self-reputed Republican whiz kid who is now running for the U. S. Senate a little more than a year after he stepped into his current four-year job. But more importantly, he visited us with stage props in the form of some worn-out shoes that he held up at the end of his Akron Press Club speech Thursday - optics to prove that he's feverishly interested in moving to Congress.

It was tempting to wonder why anybody would care about the candidate's worn- out shoes after lunch with cookies for dessert.

Although Mandel assured his audience that he has a fresh young vision for remedying governmental ills, the shoes schtick is not really an innovative badge of political character. In 1952, Adlai Stevenson's presidential campaign may be best remembered by an unposed photo that revealed a large hole in his left shoe. That was soon followed by people wearing tee-shirts commemorating the historic shoe with his remark that "Better a hole in the shoe than a hole in the head!" And eight years later, Nikita Khrushchev threw a tantrum at the United Nations and banged his shoe on a desk. ( And didn't an old woman once live in a shoe?)

Still, Mandel's moment - allegedly the official announcement of his candidacy that has been under way for months - had come to tell us that he had worn out three pairs of shoes and knocked on more than 19,000 doors (who besides him is counting?) in the Cleveland area in an earlier campaign for the state legislature. That preceded his dash for state treasurer (won during a nightmarish year for Democrats in 2010) which now is quickly morphing into his Senate space probe. He's still a tad too young to declare for president, so there is still some good news to report on the footwear front.

Listening to Mandel's shrill populism, I was carried back to a much earlier day in 1972 when as a reporter I followed young Dennis Kucinich back and forth across Cleveland in his first thrust at a congressional seat. He was forever eager, in a hurry and angry. We had never met, but agreed by phone to spend some time together for a day or two of campaigning. When I arrived at his door on the city's west side, five minutes past the appointed 7 a.m., he flew past me
to the car while scolding me that I was late. For God's sake, I said, I've never been in this neighborhood before and missed a turn. I knew it was going to be a long hard day.

There are similarities. Maybe this is the inevitable spinoff from the ways of Cleveland politics since Mandel is a Cleveland area (Beachwood) lad himself.

While I was being drawn to the connection, Mandel was declaring that he wanted to rise above the scandalous politics of Washington for the sake of future generations, and it was impossible for him to ignore his calling. "We can't wait six more years," he declared, noting that Democratic U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown has been in one office or another for 37 years (which, at Mandel's own age, would be quite impossible for him to duplicate for now. But I'd say give him time. There are at least six shoe stores in the mall near my home.)

So he hauled out the customary Republican chant to lower taxes, create jobs, kill Obamacare (with a few exceptions) and throw out Brown. "The country is being driven over the cliff and Sherrod Brown is at the wheel.", he declared, with a bit wheel spinning himself. He would be the guy who would assume the role of saving America because he couldn't turn his back on all the people who urged him to run. A year ago, he said, he never thought he would be standing before this audience declaring yet another candidacy. Nor even three or four months ago when he turned down an invitation to the same lectern because he was "too busy." But it takes true leadership to understand that we live in an ever-changing world, right?
Refreshingly, he didn't pick up on some of the current garbled right-wing notions that it was God's will.

But on some major issues, he simply indicated little understanding of Brown's record. I'll give the most puzzling example: Brown's long pursuit of retaining jobs in America rather than staffing Chinese assembly lines. The senator has proposed more equitable free trade policy that has earned him broad support from organized labor. Josh didn't mention it.

Oh, he was asked whether he supported Issue 2 restricting unions, which was trounced by Ohio's voters the past November. I wasn't clear about his response. So I asked some others around the room. They weren't sure, either.

Still this young man will have staying power with deep pocketed supporters like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the American Petroleum Institute, which have already flooded TV with anti-Brown ads. So if Mandel tells you he will be his own man independent of Democrats and Republicans and will have only "11.5 million Ohioans" as his bosses, I wouldn't take that one to the bank!

Aside to Josh: I know it was a learning moment, but please understand that when you address any press club, the doors are open to all chroniclers of your appearance, even your opponents. Don't you think it was sort of amateurish for your people to attempt blocking a video camera managed by one of the senator's guys? I wouldn't be surprised that you'll get a chance to see clips from your speech in a TV ad or two.