Monday, April 30, 2012

Stranger-than fiction campaign dumbly moves on

AFTER A RELAXING Sunday afternoon family cookout, I've now  found my way back to the big shovel in the garage to report on the stranger-than-fiction presidential campaign.   These items fall into the category of, the more things  stay the same, the more they stay the same.

We can always count on John Boehner to give us a lift by continually saying things that are grimly foolish.   For example, without tearing up, Boehner  asserted that he fully expected Romney to win because he is a proven success and the voters don't like losers.  Was he thinking about President Obama as the loser who isn't worth a couple of hundred million dollars because his father, well...blah, blah, blah? As he put it:
"The American people don't want to vote for a loser.  They don't want to vote for someone that hasn't been successful.   I think Mitt Romney  has an opportunity to show the American people that they, too, can succeed." (As we've previously noted, there isn't a million or two difference between Dubya and Romney. )
At what point will Romney''s Midas card be shelved?

+ + + + +

Here's another  in championship political style:

Romney advisor  Hank Brown predicted  that his man can win the youth vote because...because..because at 65, Mitt is "younger'" and "more dynamic"than John McCain was in 2008.   He said what???  Pause, while I get another shovel.

(In the inspirational words of our former president: "Brownie, you are doing a heck of a job.")

+ + + + +

It was good to read this paragraph from Economist magazine's report on the NRA's recent convention in St.Louis:
"The [NRA's] future does not look bright , either.  Despite attempts to attract women, most convention-goers in St.Louis were  white men over the age of 40 - a segment of the population in decline. The classified sections in NRA magazines such as American Rifleman feature, besides all the weaponry, advertisements for gardening equipment and Viagra."
+ + + + +

Finally, what's with  the big stink from Republicans over President Obama's references to Osama Bin Laden?  And Romney's laughing remark that even Jimmy Carter would have acted in the same manner. Good grief, once again history has been trashed.   Obama, all authoritative accounts have since reported, was warned by some of his top advisors that it was a high-risk deal that could ruin him if it went awry.  And wasn't it the very same Romney who urged college students to take risks if they wanted to succeed in the post-collegiate world?  It's an opportunity that Obama can't replicate because the carrier is now headed for the Bush Library.  


Saturday, April 28, 2012

Obama foes shout fire in empty theater

April,  as T.S. Eliot once wrote, is the "cruellest month..." and nobody needs to remind President Obama of that sad tale. As everybody knows by now, he's the guy who lured those Secret Service agents into sexual encounters against their solemn will.  And as Joe the Plumber, nee Samuel Wurzelbacher, the Man from McCain and Republican congressioanal nominee against Ohio Rep. Marcy Kaptur, now convincingly  reports, the president's parents were Communists.  Let Obama deny that one!

Finally, for April at least,  it is now fairly certain through subsequent DNA tests that Obama ordered the Seals to waterboard Osama Bin Laden before forcing him to drink the Kool-Aid,  a hilarious voodoo stunt he learned as a community organizer for  the Muslim Mafia in Chicago's southside.

As if that isn't enough to convince you that we have a failed president, as Mitt Romney repeatedly assures us, there's the awful news about the thousands of dead fish in the waters of Cleveland Metroparks this week.  And who was cleverly campaigning around the country on Air Force One  when the mysterious fish-kill occurred? Right!  Some of Obama's critics would remind you that Al Capone was never on the scene when the worst was taking place in Chicagoland under  his remote control.

The great outpouring of these undeniable truths will guard the nation from doing anything foolish all the way to November.  It is reassuring to know that Fox News, Rush Limbaugh and their countless operatives  can continue to make a damn good living by shouting fire in an empty theater.


Thursday, April 26, 2012

Where there's Perkins' smoke, there's fire

BUSINESS MUST be slow these days for Tony Perkins and the American Family Association.  Perkins, the Christian conservative  group's president,  has been increasing the volume  of his attacks  on President Obama, particularly now that red-baiting has become fashionable  among some of Obama's more temperamental opponents.

You wouldn't think that Perkins could be so nasty in his own venues if you saw him on TV as the sort-of grown-up kid from the Andy Griffith Show.  But now that the American Family Association was among the losers who seriously endorsed Rick Santorum, he's had to fully turn his aggrieved attention to Obama. Aside from spreading doubts about the president's birth certificate, Perskins urged  his constituents  to read a  column suggesting there is  an alarming Communist strain in  the President's behavior.   The right-wing writer, Sandy Rios, hisses  that the president has so weakened America  that it will encourage a Communist takeover.

Perkins says  he isn't exactly naming names but "We're looking at facts." To add more trash to the fire, Rios praised Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.) for declaring there are 81 communists in Congress.

And Perkins' group defends its wholesome mission as defending family values, lunacy obviously not being one of them.  

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Well, Walter, the old wagon is gone

A report to my late friend Walter Mirapaul:

After all of these years, Walter, it might come as a pleasant surprise to you that I finally dumped my 19-year-old Taurus station wagon.   Yep, as I write this, the old war horse may be on its way to Ford Heaven if the dealer can figure out how to get it started.  ( I explained that if you turn the key to the first faint click, you can then shift into NEUTRAL from PARK, whereupon you can then turn on the motor and freely shift gears.  The good man at the dealership seemed puzzled and asked me what that was all about.  I said, "Damned  if I know, it's been that way for a long time." All of that probably took his mind off the muffler, which hung no more than an inch or two off the road. Now I have to figure out all of the bells and whistles on the new car without your immediate advice.

You never did appreciate the usefulness of the old wagon and often ridiculed it to friends.  Besides, unlike your insistence on trying to repair my VCR's and TV sets with a screwdriver and pliers, there wasn't anything that tempted you to stick your head under the wagon's hood.  It's one reason I never mentioned the bizarre way that you could shift  the gears to start up the motor.

On another subject, Newt Gingrich, the Crazy Guggenheim in the field, finally gave up  and said he would endorse Mitt Romney, which leaves a big hole in the Republican cast of characters who were so much fun.    Did I tell you that Romney's name was totally ignored by the speakers at the Tea Party Rally in Cuyahoga Falls?

Finally, I had to get a new garage door for the house.  The old one was in awful shape.   I know.  You might have had an extra one or two in your garage.  Didn't know that Rex's sold those things, too.


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

From the mouths of lawmakers who said what?.

Back in my Columbus days, I discovered it was best not to hang out in the Ohio legislature on those days when I showed up without my Tums.  It was asking too much of my digestive system to listen to a backwater lawmaker explain the meaning of his dreadful bill that he had yet to read. Although legislatures have produced some folks who went on to greater deeds, it's also true that you never know what you're getting when you encounter a hominid who insults himself by forever calling attention to his mindless brief moment on earth.

Still, for pure moronic outlook,  none of the low-enders from the 19060s-70s General Assembly could compete with  the strange collection of state lawmakers who earn a living today by saying a lot of things that make no sense.  We've already mentioned Ohio  House Majority Leader Bill Batchelder's defense of pay raises for the representatives by telling us that they deserve more money because they "work hard".  Or Akron Rep. Lynn Slaby (R) excitedly looking forward to his new position on the Public Utilities
Commission of Ohio shortly after winning an uncontested Republican primary for reelection.  How could that be?  He said he didn't find the legislative seat a good fit for what he wanted to do, at age 73,  with the rest of his life.  (As candidate Slaby, his home page said things like "we need his wisdom and leadership in the legislature more than ever...")

Sorry, we'll have to muddle along without him.

None of this however, matches the right-wing noise occurring in other legislatures acorss America.  There was Indiana State Rep. Bob Morris (R),  who unsuccessfully tried to enter a resolution against celebrating the  Girl Scouts' centennial celebration   because the  group is being subverted by Planned Parenthood's agenda to "sexualize young girls."

And how about  South Carolina State  Sen. Jake Knotts' (R) calling President Obama and South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley "ragheads"?

 But our clear winner` so far is Missouri State Rep. Dwight Scharnhorst, (R),  co-sponsor of the "Don't say gay bIll'  in the legislature  to ban any mention of homosexuals in public schools.  How can you top his whirling logic that tells us, "There is no need to talk about Billy wanting to marry a goat."

For that one, I will even give him the Grumpy Abe Linguistic Lunacy (GALL) award.  It was easy.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Robart and his blessed pals may win this one

IT'S BEGINNING to appear that the issue of whether to grant family rates to a same-sex married couple at the Natatorium in Cuyahoga Falls will break in favor of Mayor Don Robart's conservative political and religious forces.  The months-long question will be on hold until May 10  when the city's Parks and Recreation board will again meet to discuss whether to grant the couple  its request for the lower family rate.

Unfortunately, the opponents still have the numbers on City Council and the Park Board to vote down a $130 annual fee  change.  It is hard to imagine how reactionary the Robart-defined  crowd is to  turn its back on the couple, one of whose spouses is a wounded Iraqi veteran.

The Tea Party mayor has disingenuously argued that the city cannot recognize the couple's family status because same-sex marriages are not recognized by the state. He has  even  simplistically dismissed the issue  as a "can of worms"  for the city's finances and described the current attempts to change anything a matter of "fiddling around".     Even his own law director has said he sees no reason why the city can't offer the family rate, as has been accorded in some other cities.  At the same time, the mayor's political and religious allies on the board and city council have expressed religious opposition to any deal.  And Robart has ingloriously decalred he will veto a majority vote on council.

The current partisan makeup of council  favors Democrats, 6-5 over Republicans, But Councilwoman Diana Colavecchio, who along with the other five Democrats  who favor a rate change , says she would need eight votes to override a veto, which is not likely to be reached.   Parks board Chairman Tim Gorbach, likewise a Democrat who supports a change, has seen the board's 3 Republicans turn it down, 3-2.

What price the stigma for Robart and his town?  Try a $130 rate change.  Go ahead.  Fiddle around.  

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Lieberman: Count me out. Good!

Joe Lieberman, the Independent/Democratic/Republican senator from Connecticut, says he won't endorse either President Obama or Mitt Romney, announcing his non-participation to Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday.  Nor would he say how he will vote. "I'm going to try to stay out of this one," he purred.

My only question about this is why would anybody besides Joe's immediate family care?  Now that he's declared his neutrality, we can only hope that we won't hear from him again.

Friday, April 20, 2012

A man of many blog comments

Some of you may have wondered about that a name that pops up frequently on this blog's comments - David Hess. The reason that it does has a long history. We are both ex-newspapermen with combined experience and liberalism that adds up to about one century. And although I would argue that I was a much better poker player than Dave, I can't say the same about our relative talents as journalists He was always at the top of his or anybody else's game.

We met in the early 1960s when I was a reporter for the Columbus Citizen-Journal and he was working through his master's studies on Latin America at OSU while trying to earn a modest living as a PR man at Nationwide Insurance. When I became the editor of a new liberal magazine at Nationwide ordered by the company's progressive owner, Murray Lincoln, Dave joined the tiny staff as the Statehouse reporter whose reporting became a major nuisance to then Gov. James Rhodes. As the editor of his column, I might add that Rhodes got off easy if you saw some of the original copy of Dave's work. In editing out certain of Dave's preferred references to Rhodes, "Machiavellian," 'insane", "sniveling", (occasionally in the same sentence!) - I had to remind Dave that we could land in jail. Dave's response, which left little room for argument, was "Dammit! It's true."

It was profoundly true, too, that the only reason that we continued to work together happily was our gritty coal-cindered roots in southwestern Pennsylvania and West Virginia. (You get a glimpse of his sardonic impatience with today's Republicans that is evident in his blog comments.)

After Lincoln's death in 1967, the magazine was abolished by Lincoln's' successors, pure insurance people who preferred a more amicable relationship with Rbodes and his insurance department.

Dave and I were hired by the Beacon Journal's Ben Maidenberg, one of the state's most conservative executive editors, who enjoyed arguing vigorously with staffers who disagreed with him. As newcomers on the staff, we worked closely as an investigative team before the paper sent him to the Knight Newspapers Bureau in Washington, where he covered Capitol Hill close-up for many years, including the back channel antics of an Ohio congressman, John Kasich.

During that tine, Dave was so respected by the Washington media that he was elected president of the National Press Club, no small honor. From there he moved to the National Journal and from there to retirement in Springfield, Va. Without encouragement, he now has hooked on to the blog with no pay. Along with being his close friend, I'm also happy that he shares his incisive comments on Washington's bizarre political life. Conservative Republicans aren't happy with him, but he's a helluva lot more forthright about the system than they are.

As I noted, he is adding his brief comments voluntarily . You can be sure of that. If he didn't want to do it, he wouldn't. Hrrrumphhh....

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Kasich & Romney: Now joined at the lip

I see that Gov. Kasich has stepped forward to endorse McMitt Romney, joining the tattered Republican establishment's half-hearted rescue mission for a candidate who will need more than millions of pennies from heaven to win in November.

What do these exercises in Day-Glo politics mean, after all? Not much, for either party.
I've always considered them as ephemeral efforts that fall into the category of here-today-gone-tomorrow collegiality , even for a guy like Kasich, who I'm sure has more than once thought of a spot on the national ticket.

Again, as Team Romney's enablers step forward they repeat the authorized version of conservative politics, asserting that they are the sole protectors of the job creators in America. Even Cuyahoga Falls Mayor Don Robart loudly asserted to Sunday's Tea Party outing that President Obama is so witless that he wants to tax the job creators

Lt. Gov, Mary Taylor, who has been off in the wings in case something better turns up, also endorsed Romney, accusing Democrats of being ...must I to say it?... "tax and spend" operatives even though that old rubbery phrase doesn't hit the road. A few Republicans (Sen. Orrin Hatch for one) would disagree, arguing that under George W. Bush, the party preferred to spend without taxing .

OK, with the formality of governor's endorsement out of the way, we can all relax since the suspense was killing us. And maybe Kasich will now be able to get back to doing something he ought to be doing for the army of school teachers who are being laid off in Buckeyeland. Can we really call that job creation?

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

A way to survive education budget cuts

THE HEADLINE IN the Plain Dealer gave us more sad news about public education. It said:

City schools to cut 500 teachers, shorten day, eliminate classes

It's becoming an old story everywhere, as states severely cut back funds for public education.
As I've mentioned before, education is no longer a priority for the budget hawks, including those in Ohio.

I have a remedy.

Let's split up the students alphabetically. Everybody with a last name beginning from A to M can go to class for a half year; from N to Z, the remaining half year. The only criterion would be that the split would not interrupt the school's football season.

Such a plan would cut class size in half, reduce the number of teachers accordingly and dramatically shorten the lines at the school cafeteria.

Do you think this would work until we can come up with a plan to eliminate students and teachers altogether? Desperate times call for desperate solutions. Mention it to your state legislator and tell him or her that I sent you. Meantime, isn't there anything in the
Constitution that requires every politician to take an IQ test before they can file for office?

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

McCain vs. Mandel: A test of character

In my weaker moments, there are times when I find myself sympathetic with Sen. John McCain, the man, not John McCain the politician. In my weaker moments!

There he was, the Old Soldier, fulfillng his political obligation by soldiering in Ohio for another veteran, Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel - at least that was Mandel's title the last time I looked - for the U. S. Senate. The Plain Dealer reported that McCain showed up at a VFW post in Hilliard, Oh., to laud the Republican whiz kid with words like,

"I believe that the future of America rests with our being able to elect young men and women with the knowledge and background and experience and dedication of Josh Mandel. "

That's a bit obligingly much, even for politics., don't you think? And I'm sure that McCain may have crossed his fingers when he uttered such nonsense about a young man who has been adrift in a fantasy world of well-financed and well-reported lies even before he entered the race against Democratic U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown.

You feel McCain's pain when you recall that as a candidate against Barack Obama in 2008, he corrected a woman at a rally who accused Obama of being an "Arab terrorist" - a synonym in her mind for Muslim. He gently leaned forward to her, shook his head, and quietly said, "No, he's a good man...A decent family man citizen." (I think he meant well in this context even though an Arab or a Muslim can very well be a good man.) One of his few memorable highlights in a campaign largely focussed on the decline and fall of his running mate, Sarah Palin.

Fast forward to 2010, as Mandel campaigned for Ohio Treasurer with the guarantee that he would serve the entire four-year term. His TV ads against Kevin Boyce, a black Democrat, strongly suggested that Boyce was a Muslim. It created such an uproar that he finally pulled the ads, but the public jury had already digested it.

Seems to me that there is quite a character gap between McCain and Mandel in how you go about trying to win elections, even if the Old Soldier went off the page complimenting Mandel's "knowledge"(!), "background"(!), "experience" (!) and "dedication"(!).

For McCain's sake, let's hope that the word gets back to him before he is further embarrassed by politically responding to his call to duty.

* * * * *

There's so much speculation today about whom Mitt Romney will choose as his veep, I might as well enter a name of someone who will be out of work next year: Joe Lieberman. Like Romney, he has been all over the partisan universe. But no matter Romney's final choice, he or she should be aware that McMitt could choose a different person the following day.

* * * * *

Did you see that the Tennessee senate passed a bill with only one dissenting vote, 28-1, banning students from holding hands because it is a "gateway sexual activity". And teachers who demonstrate such naughtiness instead of "tsking the dangers it poses" could be sued. Time to recall the ghost of Clarence Darrow down there.

* * * * *

Did you also see that Barberton has dismissed 28 more teachers because of cutbacks from the states and Feds. What is it about educating our kids that we prefer to do without?

* * * * *

With John Boehner now in tow, I keep waiting fro Gov Kasich to endorse Mitt Romney and invite him to a social occasion to watch a campaign film on Senate Bill 5.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

A Sunday Tea Party Uprising in the Falls

I WENT TO my first Tea Party rally Sunday at the Cuyahoga Falls River Square pavilion.

Tea Party? I did.

April 15. Tax Day. Even tried to blend in as a regular guy by wearing a faded sweatshirt and jeans. Like the ordinary taxpayer that I am. With this crowd, I figured it couldn't hurt .

Listened to strident speakers. Strolled around, peeking at the literature in booth after booth for more than 90 minutes, but finally gave up when the speakers started to repeat themselves to the several hundred Tea Partiers who showed up from at least four counties with the latest right-wing T-shirt fashions, signs, bumper stickers, petitions and flags. (One shirt had a target on it and warned that if you could see it, you were "within range.")

I believe most of the angry groups in America where represented by at least one T-shirt to embrace the rally's theme of "Rescue America". The John Birch Society, National Rifle Association. pro-lifers and anti-taxers, constitutionalists, freedom defenders, EPA haters - I may have missed a few, but you get the idea.

A huge inflated eagle facing Broad Street told me the sponsors weren't shy about spreading patriotic thoughts. Nor was the Republican mayor of the host city, Don Robart, who welcomed the throng by declaring his pride in seeing so many Tea Party supporters seated in the sun-splashed amphitheater.

Unable to contain his joyous moment for his town, he declared that the "Tea Party is the social, fiscal and moral conscience of America." (Got that, New York to California? A little over the top, don't you think?)) The mayor then settled down and spent the remainder of his time there working the crowd.

But it was an African-American preacher, Theodore Wilson II, who commanded the stage with a long assault on everything-Obama-administration to a 99.9 pct. white audience. He even went after the critics of the Republican-driven Voter ID movement. And we know that would deny votes to certain people that the GOP would prefer to stay home, don't we? I did catch him saying nice things about the Rev. Franklin Graham, who is not sure that Obama is an American.

But why focus on this one of several inconsistencies in what turned out to be about a gathering heavily shaped by religion, from abortion to same-sex marriage, and condemnation of the government. (I wonder if Wilson got a glimpse of the bumper sticker that referred to Obama as the "big African ass"?)

There were a number of pols slated to speak later, including State Treasurer Josh Mandel and State Sen. Frank LaRose - but I doubt that they could have added anything fresh to the narrative.

As I left the scene, it occurred to me that I hadn't heard Mitt Romney's name mentioned even once. I went to the Summit County Republican Party booth to inquire about it to the chairman, Alex Arshinkoff. But nobody seemed to know where he was.

On the way out, I was approached a couple of times with puffy bios of Mandel that mentioned his time in the military. It reminded me that this whole event was being hosted by a mayor who opposes a minor change in the city's Natatorium's fees for a wounded Iraqi veteran who happens to be a partner in a sex -sex marriage. Do you think you could talk some patriotic sense into him, Josh?

On the other hand, as a Tea Partier yourself, maybe you agree with him.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Museum and malls: the cultural divide

AS I WANDERED about the Rembrandt exhibit at the Cleveland Museum of Art Friday, I soon realized that I was caught up not only in the Dutch master's paintings but also by a cultural divide. The rooms were quietly attended by a lot of folks - adults and young people - peering at the works with hand-held audio devices pressed against their ears, a clear indication that there is still interest in the details of what great art is all about as the recorded narrators effectively channeled information into the visitors' minds.

That was a remarkable difference from what you experience these days in the modern world of pop communication. You can 't avoid it at shopping malls and elsewhere as everyone seems to be preoccupied with texting trivia with friends. Or tweeting, or whatever they are doing when they burst Zombie-like from stores , the phones flattening their ears, into the paths of others as though the place is on tornado alert. That's not all. At the Post Office the other day, a burly fellow was talking so loudly to somebody on his cell phone that I could have joined the conversation from 20 feet away.

For many, the convenience of such technology has cut deeply into civil public behavior these days, whether by the mindless shoppers who attack you from all angles without acknowledging their rudeness, or by the bellowing guy at the Post Office. At least the museum visitors with hand-held audios went home knowing more than before. Unfortunately, we can't say the same about the other side.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Bullet-proof teleprompters are not that funny

In every political season there are fools. And then there are fools. My choice this week is Foster Friess, the millionaire retired hedge fund manager and supporter of Rick Santorum's lately aborted (!) presidential candidacy. You remember him, don't you? He 's the fellow who recommended that women put aspirin between their knees as an effective means of contraception.

But hear this from the Los Angeles Times: On Fox Business this week, Friess said of President Obama: "There are a lot of things that haven't been hammered at because Rick and Mitt have been going at each other. Now that they have trained their barrrels on President Obama, I hope his teleprompters are bullet-proof."

Maybe somebody reminded him that bullet-proof teleprompters are not a laughing matter. So he followed up by saying he regretted this choice of words. He also said he would now put his dough behind Romney, who famously described his feelings toward Rush Limbaugh's reference to Sandra Fluke as a "slut": "It's not the language I would have used." He may have to say it again.

Seen any good movies lately?

The bonding of Japanese, CPAC and Tea Partiers

THE CURRENT ISSUE of Atlantic magazine tells us of a visit by some Japanese operatives to the Tea Party co-sponsored CPAC annual meeting in February. One of the visitors, Jay Aeba, is a leader of his country's right-wing Happiness Realization Party, which appears to be anything but happy about the way things are going back home; another, Yuya Watase, founded the Tokyo Tea Party, evidence of how quickly news spreads to other angry folks across the waters. Those who join the Happiness party, by the way, are known as "happies". Does that make more sense to you than it does to me?

Their mission was to learn some things about how American Tea Partiers denounce taxes, government and the current occupant of the Oval Office, all in the same breath. The report quotes Watase complaining that Japanese people who work for private companies are now "actually slaves of the government." Witnessing how the CPAC delegates riotously responded to each conference speaker, the Japanese guests were hopeful of stirring anti-government passions when they returned home to continue their work with the Tokyo Tea Party's slogan of "taxed enough already".

Back to the Happies: The Atlantic report notes that the Happiness Realization the "political arm of a new-wave religious movement called Happy Science, whose founder claims to be a reincarnation of Buddha."

Among other things, the Happies want to eliminate Japan's constitutional ban on waging war.

If they needed further inspiration, they got their money's worth from such bonding podium headliners as Marco Rubio, Mike Huckabee, Mitt Romney and Sarah Palin. And let us not overlook Allen West.

About the tea: The Boston Tea Party was not on the visitors approved list of positive talking points. Said Watase through a translator: "They threw away the tea, which is very valuable. Japanese people value tea. We would never throw it out; we would save it."

Of course, some anti-goverment protests might lose something in translation.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Allen West: Regressing to the days of red-baiting

AS THE REPUBLICAN militiamen push back into the Middle Ages, one of the party's s most outrageous members seems to have paused for a briefing in the 1950s. Rep. Allen West, of Florida, a Tea Party icon known for insufferable rants, told a Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) gathering that there are 80 Communists in Congress. Even the late red-baiter, Joe McCarthy, didn't muster that many back in the 50s . When West's words hit the fan, he blamed the media reports for misquoting him even though videofilm revealed that he wasn't misquoted at all. It gets worse. He said the communists were really the liberal Congressional Progressive Caucus (Democrats) , as if that explained everything.

West, a retired colonel who drew the brass's wrath when he fired a shot just over a prisoner's head to persuade him to answer questions, enjoys attention. And he usually gets it. In fact, two right-wing pols - Sarah Palin and Herman Cain - have already recommended that Mitt Romney choose West as his running mate. That would be worth the price of admission!

I haven't heard anything so stupid since conservative Sen. Frank Lausche, an alleged Democrat, was hurling unnamed communists at us during his unsuccessful primary election campaign in 1968 against Jack Gilligan. There was Lausche in a speech to a Democratic club in Delaware, Oh, warning that communists were on the loose in the Federal government. When I asked him afterward to name one, he brusquely waved me off and declared he would say no more about it and bolted toward the door. Unfortunately it was a Saturday night and there wasn't much else for me to report from Central Ohio. Never did find out who, if anybody, Lausche had in mind.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Down goes Santorum, leaving GOP with what?

Now that McRick Santorum has given up his solemn clerical quest for the presidency (while promising to keep fighting for the values that make us American!), we can turn to the genius of Hollywood casting: Willard Romney. Lean, board-room looks - fair skin and very good hair - possessor of a couple of hundred million dollars (not that much, really), a business resume corporate America could trust, robotically engaging, and a four-car elevator in the plans for fixing up his beach-front home in California, which even Bush didn't have. He now has the least encumbered hand to go after President Obama. We await, in his spokesman's words, the Etch a Sketched New Romney.

So far, what we have been told by the former Massachusetts governor is that Obama is a "failure", that as the economy inches up, Obama has made it worse, that there is no connection between his trademark RomneyCare as governor and ObamaCare, which can and will be easily shown as the offspring

Wall Street, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and the Republican establishment ganged up on the unfortunate Santorum while the Bush Supreme Court unplugged a sea of campaign money that was of no small assistance to Romney's contributors. Not that they were enthusiastically drawn to the GOP's presumptive nominee, but what palatable options did they have?

So here we go. Obama vs. Romney. Or Obama vs. Obama in the eyes of his delirious critics with Romney along for the ride? Delirious? Iowa's Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley just described the President as "stupid". And a federal judge in Montana didn't mind forwarding a joke suggesting Obama's mother had sex with a dog.

When Obama was elected, people around the world were impressed that American democracy had finally reached a new level of maturity in making a black man its leader. But at that very moment, Republicans set out to dash our historic progress, casting aside any thought of how they might help to clean up George W. Bush's mess. Instead, with monstrous intensity, they set out on a single goal, publicly declared, to destroy Obama's presidency without a moment's delay. Inasmuch as Obama had yet to sit at his new desk, their best weapon was to build an impervious wall against him on Capitol Hill while also driven by racial motives in an obvious return of Nixon's Southern Strategy. They simply found, as did this season's GOP candidates, various ways to encode them.

You got hints of it in Romney's assertion that he wasn't "concerned about the very poor" because they had a safety net (that they would make more porous along the way); or Santorum's word that he didn't want to help people with other people's money; or Newt Gingrich's cynical contention that Obama was the "food stamp president". It all was funneled into the Tea Party mentality and embellished by the birthers. What a mucky way to present yourself as the honorable wave of the future.

As Shakespeare wrote in Twelfth Night: "Some are born great, some achieve greatness and some have greatness thrust upon them"... We won't know until Election day, whether Romney will manage to qualify for the third category.


Monday, April 9, 2012

GOP's Bob Bennett may be back in town

ALL OF THE talk that former Ohio Republican chairman Bob Bennett will return to that high office as the new Ohio Republican chairman can only bring remorse to Summit County GOP chairman Alex Arshinkoff. Over the years, Arshinkoff, having once aspired to the state job himself, never had anything good to say about Bennett. And now that Gov. Kasich, who rules the GOP plantation these days, has succeeded in brutally dispatching the party's current chairman Kevin DeWine, Alex can expect no favors from the party's downstate headquarters. Or maybe at 73, Bennett will generously disregard past insults.

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The headline in today's Columbus Dispatch has this to say about the Republican whiz kid who is running for the U.S. senate against Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown:

Mandel campaign endures 'rocky start'

And then some! So far, all we've learned about Josh Mandel, the 34-year-old Ohio treasurer, is that he's challenging Romney for empty talking points but an avalanche of campaign cash. Avalanche may be too cautious. Two major conservative Sugar Daddies, the American Petroleum Institute and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, are among the majors who have plowed more than $5 million into TV ads bashing Brown . And there is doubtless a lot more on the way.

Among Mandel's weirdest charges against Brown is that the senator, a longtime friend of labor, has been in the forefront of sending American jobs to China. When challenged on that easily refuted form of political idiocy, Mandel blithely says he has no reason to stop saying it and plans to utter it "again and again''. He also boasts that he is an ex-Marine with two terms in Iraq. Thank you. We can honor that. But I can also add that as an ex-Air Force officer myself, I would have made an awful senator. Frankly, the young man gives me a headache.

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Well, here come the birthers again. Two Republican congressmen are now expressing grave doubts that President Obama's birth certificate is authentic. So naming names, they are Rep. Cliff Stearns of Florida, and Rep. Vicky Hartzler of Missouri. Says Hartzler, one of the people minding the Tea Party store: "I have doubts that it is really his birth certificate." Can you imagine how much more of this nonsense we'll be hearing into November by Republicans who want to lead this country into

Sunday, April 8, 2012

The Portman chant is under way

THE HEADLINE above Brent Larkin's flattering Sunday column in the Plain Dealer about Sen. Rob Portman captures the flavor of what will surely be the design of Ohio's conservative newspapers (the majority!) as the presidential campaign shambles toward the GOP convention:

"Safe, steady Portman looks like VP material"

Indeed, he does. Lean and unthreatening, even in a neatly pressed Republican establishment business suit, Portman has been the gleam in GOP eyes long before he was considered statewide as "safe" and "steady." His cheering section began in earnest when George W. Bush added the Cincinnatian to the first team, first as trade representative and then as director of the Office of Management and Budget - two words that now seem mutually exclusive considering the economic mess that Bush left his successor.

Portman resigned after one year on the job in order, he said, to spend more time with his family, although by 2007, the glow was dimming considerably from Dubya. In Portman's year at the OMB helm, the Federal deficit rose $469 billion.

Should we mention at this point that it was left to no less a conservative than Utah's Orrin Hatch to identify the Bushies' fingerprints at the scene. The forever-prim senator allowed that they wanted a "lot of things without paying for them." With Republicans in high offices and their wannabes, nothing ever changes.

Although it seems a tad early to be seeding the Republican ticket with entries that qualify as logical Veep choices, political writers become bored quickly without speculation in the political version of sports " bracketeers".

What does it all mean when it comes to the No. 2 slot on a national ticket? Unless the rules of engagement have changed dramatically, I can only report what I had heard a thousand times from the political deep thinkers as I traipsed after candidates, that veeps cannot help the candidate at the top, so their selection must be based on a running mate who can't hurt you.

Enter safe and steady Portman. But wasn't "safeness" one of the strikes that editorial writers used against ex-gov. Ted Strickland when they endorsed the other guy? Media rule: Don't look for consistency. Ever.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Mandel becoming a PolitiFact regular

IF YOU'VE BEEN following the PolitiFact/Ohio column in the Plain Dealer, you'd have to think that Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel has been consigned to the non-partisan fact-checker as a repeat offender. The whiz kid's latest encounter with the truth was featured Thursday in his confused slam at U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown's stance - his rival in this year's senate race - for impeding an emissions rule to clear the air. PolitiFact's long and complicated research into Mandel's claims also did some air-clearing, thusly:
" It is true that Brown voted against an amendment to strip the EPA of its power to regulate greenhouse gases. But the rest of the claim is inaccurate and invokes issues that don't exist in reality. In fact, were it not for this shred of truth, we might consider the claim for a ruling of Pants on Fire. "
Reality? So far in this campaign, Josh has yet to distinguish between fact and fiction. But he is beginning to be a regular in PolitiFact/Ohio, which will cost him credibility if not a dime of campaign cash to tell people that he's the Republican candidate.

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Did you see that the Center for Health Transformations, the think tank that also operated as the Gingrich Group - yes, that Newt Gingrich - has filed for bankruptcy? The group was best known as a health care consultant, from which Gingrich, who passed himself off as a health care guru, has now divested himself. The New York Times reported that CHT had issued a promissory note of between $5 million and $25 million to McNewt, the figure appearing on his financial statement last year.

Candidate Gingrich, it's time.

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McMitt Romney has found a new love, in addition to Michigan's trees and streets ("They're just right."). Oh, and Detroit's cars. He now says he loves immigrants. "We are not anti-immigrant," he declares. "We are the Party that loves people coming to this country as immigrants."

Allowing them to vote is another matter, we presume.

Romney: The risks for GOP's last man standing

NOW THAT EVERYBODY except McRick Santorum and possibly a few diehard members of the hyper-religious Family Research Council have eliminated him as a presidential contender, the posse galloping after Barack Obama has now been reduced to a single rider: McMitt Romney. He is, of course, told-you-so joyous about this, hyperventilating more each day as he goes about his business of trying to convince the voters that it's past time to return a Republican to the Oval Office. That's a particularly shaky notion since many folks - including Republicans who dare not mention the name - have tried to forget the last Republican who enjoyed an Easter Egg hunt on the White House lawn.

But with Santorum's absence as a serious talking point for the TV news shows, there are new risks for Romney as the last man standing in the GOP field. (Please. Gingrich and Paul were never contenders.) He will now have the whole show, and the searchlights will illuminate still more his weird pursuit of greatness. It has quickly begun with, say, his unqualified endorsement of the Paul Ryan budget, a reclamation project that has already failed once. Even the right-of-center Economist Magazine described it as "unworkable". And should I mention that liberal Nobelist economist Paul Krugman calls it the "most fraudulent" budget in history?

It will now be left to Romney tell us , day after day, why it it isn't.

And will he explain to the 99 percenters why, as a "regular" guy in the midst of a presidential campaign , he is engaged in a multimillion dollar renovation of his California beachfront home to include a four-car elevator? That revelation did help distract the national media's gasping dog-on-the-car roof story.

If I were a Romney advisor, I would urge him to negotiate with Santorum to hang around quite visibly until the GOP convention. Santorum insists that's his plan anyway. But it's purely a symbolic presence that isn't going to intrude on Romney's lonely path in the months ahead.

Come to think of it: Herman Cain and Michele Bachmann might be helpful returnees to the trail, too. An Etch a Sketch will not do much when he's out there alone.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Nikki Haley disses contraceptives. She said WHAT?

FROM SOUTH CAROLINA Gov. Nikki Haley comes this lightning bolt of wisdom:

"Women don't care about contraceptives. They care about jobs and the economy."

That may come as a shock to a multi-billion dollar industry in which more than 95 pct. of the ladies have enjoyed contraceptives.

Sorry, Guv. You leave us no option but to give you the Grumpy Abe Linguistic Lunacy (GALL) Award that wins out in an increasingly crowded field these days.

The Tea Party will be back in the Falls to clutter the debate

TODAY'S NOTICE is to alert you about another political revival in Cuyahoga Falls on April 15. Not by coincidence, it has been scheduled by Tea Partyers on the Christian Sabbath to ululate about the burden of government and taxes - the precise deadline for you and me to have paid up our share of America's overhead. I should tell you right off that I'm not enthralled by taxes, either. But being a reasonably good citizen, I know of no other way to pay for a lot of things that we would not want to do without. Nor do the Teabaggers, for that matter. So they take the cheapest way out by wailing about the overhead while driving to rallies on roads that we all, of necessity, must pay for, or by calling the cops on the slightest fear of the mysterious light on the next block. Emergency health care, even for someone who might pass out at one of these events? Don't get me started.

For this group, the Falls is becoming the preferred Garden of Eden for indignant right-wingers, like Myrtle Beach is for Ohio golfers. There have been previous Tea Party congregations there, and not an election passes that people like Rick Santorum doesn't show up on the Riverfront Mall to preach his final sermon before losing the Republican primary the next day. One of the reasons, I suspect is that Don Robert, Summit county Republican chairman Alex Arshinkoff's favorite mayor, presides over the city's political and spiritual agenda much of the time, completing the exercise with Arshinkoff, who serves as the tail wagging the tail.

For this year's tax day, the Republican headliners will be Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel, who slipped into the U.S. Senate race with a warehouse full of money before the big guys in Columbus could find somebody more likely to win; State Sen. Frank LaRose, who cast the deciding vote (after indicating that he wouldn't) to pass Senate Bill 5, which restricted collective bargaining and was destroyed in a referendum; and U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci, one of four congressmen who has a piece of Summit County following shameful GOP redistricting.

All would probably tell you that they are not really Tea Partyers, but this is an election year, so the safe thing to do is to attend these events to whip up the crowd by endorsing what Tea Partyers stand for. My ancestors had a clever way of innocently fending off such criticism. "Shou baddi aamel" - What am I supposed to do?"

A couple of things that don't make a helluva lot of sense to me: These anti-government blowhards are all on the government payroll with perks that you wouldn't believe. They also will be appearing on the Riverfront mall at the Pavilion, a convenient stage that was enabled by Federal tax money. (They didn't tell you that?)

Still more hypocritical is the fact that LaRose and Mandel are Iraqi vets who will be appearing to make hay in a town where the mayor would be expected to veto any move by City Council to give a same-sex marriage couple family rates at the Natatorium. Robart's position is even more repugnant in the fact that one of the spouses is a wounded Iraqi veteran. I doubt there will be a single word about this on April 15.

The issue isn't dead. Councilwoman Diana Colavecchio, a Democrat, says the six Democrats on council shares her belief that there should be equitable rates for all Natatorium members, but faced with a a threat of a veto she would fail to reach the 8-vote threshold to override Robart since the five Republican council members are siding with the mayor. One even expressed fear that otherwise he was afraid it would trouble some people, biblically.

On April 12, the matter goes back to the parks board with a possible opening. Both Colavecchio and board chairman Tim Gorbach, a Democrat, say they have dicovered a contradiction between two of the operations that the Board oversees- the Natatorium and Water Works Park. The latter has nothing in its rules denying a discount to same-sex couples but the Natatorium does. "It will take some time," says Gorbach, a Democrat who supports the couple's request, "but we'll have to find a way to reconcile the two to grant the discount."

That's the kind of leadership by him and Colavecchio lacking at City Hall, where religion and politics collide to enfeeble the idea of equality..

Sunday, April 1, 2012

A penthouse parking spot with view of ocean

IT HAS BEEN A busy week in the higher levels of public life that, among other things, has added broccoli and automobile elevators to the modern narrative of witless political and judicial behavior.

Let's begin with the news from McMitt Romney's camp that the candidate has decided to wait until after the campaign to go forward with his four- story auto elevator that will be added to his
California mansion.

It is one of the few wise decisions to arrive from the Romney people. How do you look into the eyes of the 99 percenters and tell them in your own modest estimation that the car lift won't cost that much? Besides, it is merely part of a $12 million expansion of the seaside hearth that may very well show up on the Wealth Channel on AT&T TV.
Not even the luxurious Hearst mansion up the way offered that kind of parking space. Romney defends his investment as a way of solving a need to find a place for four cars.

Vanity Fair suggested he could easily ease the expense by getting rid of a few cars. In my case, there are days when I wonder if can I ease my 19-year-old station wagon from the garage to the driveway. I know. Envy is a terrible thing.

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OK, surely you have heard about the broccoli thing. That was how Justice
Scalia during the health care reform hearings went about contending that if you can order people to buy health insurance, you can also mandate them to buy broccoli. (Even I would oppose that!) But what else can you expect from the right-wing political majority on the court that has some other weird stories in its resume. Justice Thomas, we are told, was struck dumb when he was appointed to the court and hasn't uttered a word from the bench in several years. Thomas, who once went to a seminary to prepare for a life as a Catholic priest, only needs to lean slightly forward for a signal from Scalia on how to vote. Then there is Justice Alito, who has shown up at several right-wing political fund raisers as one of their stars. When confronted by reporters, he shushed them by saying he didn't think his presence at these fund-raisers was "important". We are left to imagine how it would have gone for a Democratic justice who took a table at an Obama fund-raiser this year.

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Finally, the pundits are declaring Romney to be the Republican nominee-designate if he wins the Wisconsin primary on Tuesday. Everyone in the GOP establishment has been rushing to his side to endorse him these days. It's rumored that even Lincoln and
Reagan endorsed him posthumously. Meantime, there was his nemesis Santorum insisting on TV Sunday that he was going all the way to the convention. Hence, today's appropriate painting (above) of Marc Chagall's "Two Clowns on Horseback". Giddyup!