Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Is ass-kissing any way to talk at a holy site?

Somehow, it seemed so natural that after Mitt Romney stumbled  through the first two stops   of his foreign tour,  one of his aides would upstage him in Poland with the most clarity  anyone has gotten from his camp to this moment.  Resorting to an old idiomatic expression  that leaves no one guessing,  Romney aide Rick Gorka invited a reporter to "Kiss my ass".

Well, now.  The challenge was issued as a frustrated Gorka  was calling for respect - as in "Kiss my ass" - from reporters to honor a solemn moment at a holy site.  Moments later, Gorka huffed at another reporter: "Shove it."

As one who has seen more than one political aide lose it - just this morning a local pol accused me of kicking his ass - I would have thought that Gorka could have said it differently and with more panache.  I can only guess that Mitt, hopeful of maintaining a civilized tone while combing Warsaw for a souvenir pierogi,  took his aide  aside in a quiet room and advised him, "Son, that's not the language I would have used".

The ass-kissing moment did, however,  detract  from the catcalls Romney has generated for praising Israel's health- care system - a health-care success story, he asserted - for a nation with the 4th best life expectancy.

Does this fellow really not know that Israel has had a socialistic health care system since  1948 and anchored into law as a government mandate in 1995?

Really, folks, does he know anything at all?  Or did his Israeli contributors  succeed in brainwashing him, that memorable word from his father?  We're only sorry that the guided tour didn't include 50 more countries.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Is Mitt going 3 for 3 to earn hockey's hat trick?

Mitt Romney's travelogue to three overseas cities was intended to demonstrate his keen understanding of foreign policy among friends - in contrast to that ill-suited president in the White House from Chicago or wherever.

So he began by insulting the Brits while in London and then following up by pouring gasoline on the Palestinians with insensitive remarks at a fund-raiser in Jerusalem that included the Midas-like casino owner Sheldon Adelson.  It may have played well  as his Jewish breakfast hosts reached for their wallets, but it was a translated as "racist" and "offensive" by a  senior aide to President  Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority.   How's that for well-considered diplomatic moves to bring the
 two sides together in the smoldering region? Pandering that trumps diplomacy?

As Romney arrived in Poland, we awaited  his comment that he can see two kielbasa shops from  his front porch. Once  upon a time, a contemporary historian reflecting on Pope Leo X's love of the arts, observed that he would have made a "perfect pope if he had even the slightest knowledge of religion."

Is that what would accompany Mitt 's "diplomacy" to the Oval Office?

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Who, really, is this cautiously masked man?

Now that many of us have concluded that Mitt Romney is a secret agent running for president,  literally giving us no more than his name, Bain rank, and serial number, I figured I would add one more facet to his protected self.  Did you know that as governor  he wouldn't let  elevators stop on the floor of his office?

Here's a memorable paragraph  from a Romney bio that I've preserved from Vanity Fair several months ago:
"You remember Richard Nixon and his imperial presidency?  Well, this was the imperial governor,"  a lawmaker told the writers.  There were the ropes that often curtailed access to Romney and his chambers.  The elevator setting restricted access to his office.  The tape on the floor told people exactly where to stand during events.  This was the controlled environment that Romney created.  His orbit was his own.  "We always would talk about how, among the legislators, he had no idea what our names were - none," the lawmaker said, "because he was so far removed from the day-to-day operations of state government.'
When Mitt screwed  up - royally - in London, to the chagrin of his supporters,  one of his aides said it was the result  of fatigue from his travels.

If so, you'd think they could have reloaded the matrix.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Courage against the GOP fraud of charging voter fraud

I am calling today for a one of those sweeping waves at sports stadiums to honor a true American.

He is a fellow named Christopher Broach, a Democrat who is an elections inspector in Colwyn, Pa., which is quite near Philadelphia.  Broach told the Philadelphia Inquirer that he has no intention of enforcing Pennsylvania's voter-suppressing  photo ID  law, explaining:  "To ask me  to enforce something that violates civil rights is ludicrous and absolutely something I am not willing to do.''

Although Broach risks a fine or jail, he's not backing off. The law has the potential of denying tens upon tens of thousands of otherwise eligible voters from casting ballots, particularly in the City of Brotherly Something,  where 43 pct. of the voters do not have a state-issued ID. This GOP inspired  witch's brew is now being challenged in court by the ACLU and the NAACP  and is being investigated by the U.S.Department of Justice.

All of this in the name of fighting voter "fraud".  But , wait.  As the case went to trial, the state has now said it cannot produce in court  any  evidence of fraud.  No evidence!!!.. We thought so.

And Pennsylvania's Republican Gov. Tom Corbett , who signed the law, concedes that  he can't remember what kind of ID's are acceptable.  Well,  a governor can't think of everything.

The  only honest view from a Republican in this matter is state House Majority  Leader Mike Tarzai, who inocently says the law "allows Romney to win Pennsylvania."  But the fraud, sir. The fraud...Oh?

Meanwhile, time to whip up the spirited wave for Christopher Broach.  I'm glad somebody is getting it right.  Wanna bet no Republican is dumb enough to charge him with breaking the law?  On the other hand, we're not really dealing with functioning brains on the other side.

Mitt in Israel: Allies, but not in Heaven


"Romney will also give a public speech while in Jerusalem - his first such engagement thus far during his foreign trip - that is expected to be heavy on praise for America's most important ally in the Middle East, with whom Romney has repeatedly called for the U.S.  to 'lock arms' on the international stage."

We wonder whether Mitt, a man of deep religious convictions, will also remind  the Israelis of the basic Christian tenet that Jews cannot  enter Heaven unless they convert.  

Friday, July 27, 2012

Innocent abroad - or another ugly American?

Not since the colonists dumped the tea overboard in Boston Harbor have the Brits been so offended by  an American political act.  We refer, of course, to the outrage expressed by Prime Minister David Cameron and others on  down in booming headlines  over Mitt Romney's suspicion that our Anglo-Saxon friends might not be up to staging a successful Olympics.

Wasn't Romney the one boastfully slamming President Obama for hurting our international relations  like a raw kid at the rear of the class?  Meantime, we'll never know the details of Mitt's own stewardship of the 2002 Winter Olympics back home because somehow all of the records  have been destroyed..

Way  to go, Willard!   Time to get out of the islands  before they send in the Redcoats.  The country knows Churchillian prose - and you're no Winnie.

P.S.  If you had trouble remembering the name of labor party leader Ed Miliband as he stood aside you, take a cue from Sister Palin: Next time, write it on the palm of your hand.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Memories of Santorum - the local video

The Summit County Republican Party  may have discredited itself as a proud corridor of political power (i.e., money and influence)  for the  home stretch to the November election. You only need to review the video of the party's Lincoln Day dinner in February that's been posted on the locals' home page.  In it, falsely absorbed by their  own worth in national politics, the  brass  revealed  a fawning embrace of its marquee speaker, then- GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum. Chairman Alex Arshinkoff allowed that Rick could be the "next Ronald Reagan" after applauding the candidate's "great speech".

 A meaningless straw vote of the dinner guests (the biggest in Ohio, the hometowners boasted)  gave the former Pennsylvania senator 74 pct. of votes.  In return, Santorum, who told his audience that he had been an underdog in an earlier political life,  praised the Summiteers as his kind of "grassroots party". Everybody apparently went home happy that they had a winner.


Now what?  Will Mitt Romney finally show up in downtown Akron?  Or at least in Cuyahoga Falls, where Mayor Don Robert, a Tea Party welcomer, sat on the dais that night?   Will Mitt remember that Santorum has shrieked  that Mitt would be the "worst candidate" that the Republicans could nominate?   Will the Akron Zips win more than one football game this year?

Rushbo: A Steel Pier special attraction

WHEN I SEE Rush Limbaugh  hysterically vibrating in a video clip on some news show it occurs to me that here is a man in the final  stages of dissipated human behavior.  A side show spectacle, really.  He screams. He bounces. He pounds his desk.  He slurs. He is fully out of control, which leads him to froth  that President Obama  has a world class ego for mentioning his own children in an expression of sympathy for the Aurora shooting vicitims.

 What the hell is that all about, Rushbo?

He would have been a perfect fit for the special bizarre attrractions at the old Steel Pier in
Atlantic City where one could be awed by a headless lady who appeared to be fully aware of questions by responding through tubes that curved  like a bunch of sink faucets plugged into the top of  her neck.
It was awesome to a youngster - and probably to the adults who believed it was all for real. (Modern Dittoheads in Rushspeak.)

Rushbo could have been a roly-poly man bouncing high on a trampoline with an apple lodged between his lips.

Is it fair to ask whether we have a deranged man in our media midst?  Yes, it is fair.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Romney: Professor backwards, sideways and forward

Funny how older news keeps turning up as newer news in a presidential campaign.  I refer to a report on Mitt Romney's  somersaults over abortion that was wickedly documented in a report by William Saletan  first published in Slate Magazine on  Feb.22. It's not that we weren't aware that Romney had a revolving  position on abortion for every occasion.  Rather, Saletan tracked it for 20 years with video clips that showed up on Lawrence O'Donnell's MSNBC program last night - a startling indictment of a candidate who manuevered through  campaigns for governor, the U.S. Senate and now his second presidential effort.  With so much on film it will be difficult for anyone to give him the benefit of the doubt today that he is what he says  he is on abortion, whatever that is.

Here's how Saletan summarizes his investigative report that you can read on-line:

"When you see the story in its full context, three things become clear.  First, this was no flip-flop.  Romney is a man with many facets, groping his way through a series of fluid positions on an array of difficult issues.  His journey isn't complete.  It never will be.  Second, for  Romney, abortion was never really a policy question.  He didn't want to change the law.  What he wanted to change was his identity. And third, the malleability of Romney's core is as much about his past as about his future.  Again and again, he struggled to make sense not just of what he should do, but of who he has been.  The problem with Romney isn't that he keeps changing  his mind.  The problem is that he keeps changing his story."

As I mentioned at the start , there can be no denial that he's been all over the lot on abortion.    It's all on video and audio, folks.  In his voice.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Grumpy Abe matches up with Plunderbund

A  personal note:  As of today I will be writing occasional pieces for the liberal Plunderbund blog in Columbus.  If you are unfamiliar with Plunderbund you should treat yourself to its content - which ain't that friendly to Governor Kasich and Statehouse Republicans.  Simply Google Plunderbund.com.  Meantime, I will continue to  offer Grumpy Abe to friends and alligators.

Niam's Parkette - memories remain vivid

The recent word that Wally Waffle  was moving from its Locust Street  home to a  spot in Highland Square would hardly have deserved more than a passing glance in the ways of Akron eateries.  Restaurants seem to open and close somewhere every day.  But even as routine as it sounds, Wally Waffle's departure will mark the epilogue of the story at the old place that, for some of us, at least, was a hometown landmark  that began more than a half-century ago as Niam's Parkette.

The place, as nurtured by Ed and Gerrie Niam,  was a breakfast -and-light-lunch haven that opened at dawn, a shrine to Notre Dame, a hangout for some of the town's most colorful characters with improbable stories,  bookies, cops, business types, Amishmen, lawyers, and if I'm not mistaken, urologists,  dentists and a guy who made all of the orange barrels that we are forced to navigate on Ohio's highways. Other than arriving in Eddie's presence at the same time with the same sworn-to truths  every day, the Parkette denizens were not a homogenous group of human beings.

It was a place that would have qualified for one of  A. J. Liebling's loving essays on  the assembly of New Yorkers who could be encountered at any number of out-of-the-way storefronts in the 1930s.  Casual, often with matters in dispute, it was a retreat safely out of the way  of buttoned-down social niceties,  a place where you could talk to somebody by raising your voice from several booths away.

But over the years, the little restaurant was turned over to a series of managers and Ed and Gerrie passed on.  A few years ago, the long-time owner of the building, Paul Salem,  Gerrie's brother, sold it outright to Akron Children's Hospital , which wanted it  for its expansion plans.

It's  said that nothing lasts forever -- unless you were part of the thinning  Parkette gang.   It's not only the stories we could tell about the place.  It's the stories we still want to tell.


Advice to Mitt from Socrates

As the Romneys continue to stonewall disclosures about  their wealth with boasts that Mitt need not apologize for  his soaring financial success, history has recorded sage insights from others on the richest among us.  We like these words from a fellow named Socrates:

"If a man is proud of his wealth, he should not be praised until it is known  how he employs it.''

Dressage and car elevators?  It's merely a start.  

Saturday, July 21, 2012

From our people to you, Ann Romney

OK, Ann Romney.  That's it.  No more Mr. Nice Guy from me ignoring your silent-partner role in your husband's mystical presidential campaign.  You've referred to our people as "you people".  That's more than we can take.  You went on TV and told an inquiring reporter - one of us! -
"We've given  you all [that] you people  need to know and understand about our financial situation  and about how we live our life..."
Not so fast, Ann Romney.  Need I remind you that even people who don't take big tax deductions for such  diversions as dressage are  also people, some of whom  once owned hobby horses without taking a modest tax write-off?

That's how we lived our lives.  That's how we live our lives today and we don't care who knows it.

It's all over with us, Ann Romney,  so long as you people dodge everyday questions that people with their heart set on the Oval Office  should answer.

So here's the deal, Ann Romney:  Our people WILL NOT EAT CAKE.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Fringe discourse: Bring on the Armpit Committee!

We are bulling ahead in of our crusade to  create a '"House UnAmerican Armpit Committee" - HUAC for our older readers. It will be an overdue inquiry into the lunacy whose unpleasant odor is affecting everything we hold dear to civilized behavior.  In recent days alone there have been numerous occasions to subpoena the most toxic voices among us with the plaintive question once raised by  Atty. Joseph Welch, to Sen. Joe McCarthy:  "Have you no sense of decency?"

Could we not begin by summoning Rep. Allen West, Florida Republican, to explain his math that there are 80 communists in Congress?

And Rep. Michele Bachmann, Minnesota  Republican who was reprimanded by Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican, for accusing Huma Abedin, a deputy chief of staff in the State Department, of being a secret operative of the Muslim Brotherhood sneakily influencing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. It was a towering moment for McCain, and could demand that Bachmann  appear before HUAC to inquire about her declining mental state  these days.

And Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who assembled a few "investigators"  to review President Obama's birth certificate and now declares with forensic neglect that it is a "forgery".  Arpaio must  be asked by HUAC when did his nuttiness began emitting such foul odors that he is now the leader in the toxic armpit  birther gang.

Romney campaign soldier John Sununu accused the President  of being unlearned in the art of being an American.  (He later Etch-A-Sketched his comment but HUAC could ask him to say why  he is such a boorish dumbbell.)

The Committee could summon Rush Limbaugh, but it would be a still greater diversion if we waited until the circus comes to town.

What's that? Cuyahoga Falls getting Federal money?

There are some painful things in politics that are clearly unavoidable.  That's true about the federal money that is arriving in the coffers in Cuyahoga Falls, a city  whose Republican Mayor Robart recently  bestowed the highest honor on Tea Party fiscal conservatism.  In this instance (certainly not the first for such federal- to- city transactions in the Falls), the mayor reported a grant of $489,704 from the  Federal Emergency  Management Agency (FEMA) to increase the size of the firefighter staff. Right. FEDERAL money right here in River City, folks. Actually the money was originally announced by Sen. Sherrod Brown, a liberal Democrat.  We're happy for the firefighters, even if the grant didn't fit Robart's Republican brand.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Jon Huston: The Sequel to J. Kenneth Blackwell?

Secretary of State Jon Husted won't be on the November ballot as a candidate.  But his game-changing presence could be felt on the Election Day vote returns.  In ruling against extending a three-day extension for early voters in Cuyahoga County to break a deadlock on the  Board of Elections,  Husted has cast his lot with the GOP controlled General Assembly law that is palapably aimed at minorities,  a majority of whom would likely support Democrats.   Republican officials won't say that. We just did.

For Republican Husted, who obviously has stars in eyes for higher office, he is in no mood to rock the boat among his political friends  in a year when the party is active across the land to shear the minority vote.  But in Ohio it is also a dreadful reminder of  another  Republican's  jerrybuilt  management of the 2004  presidential election in the state.

We go back to J. Kenneth Blackwell, not only the secretary of state but also President Bush's co-chairman of his  Ohio campaign. To dismiss  any thought that  Blackwell was striving to keep his thumb on the scale for Bush would deny the presence of Asian carp in Lake Erie.

From  overcrowded voting precincts to all sorts of confusing challenges to voter eligibility, Blackwell rose  to new heights in Bush's election apparatus.

Purely as an aside to Husted:   he might recall  that when Blackwell decided to run for governor on his laurels in 2006,  he was thrashed 60-37 by Democrat Ted Strickland.    Voters often have a way of remembering,  even when politicians try not to.

No county will be impacted more than Cuyahoga,  where Democratic officials, organized labor and some clergy  are outraged by the GOP's handiwork.   "It's Republicans' dirty little secret," declared county Democratic  Party Chairman Stuart Garson. "What they are saying is, 'We don't want you people voting'."

Nick Martin, the party's executive director,  refers to figures that show nearly 50 pct. of the early voters are African-Americans. (50.9 pct. when linked to Hispanics).  The number who could be short-changed  could turn an election around across the state. Another batch of figures shows 1.7 million Ohioans voted early in 2008 - a full one third of the total who cast ballots.

The Obama campaign has filed suit in Federal court in Columbus to extend early voting days.

We can hope.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Sununu on how to become an American

 Former New Hampshire Governor John Sununu, George HW  Bush's chief of staff and a Romney surrogate, says he wishes  President Obama would "learn how to be an American."

Nobody could pass on more helpful advice than Sununu who, as chief of staff,  flew around  the country in corporate jets, some owned  by military contractors,  to meet his schedule of personal appearances.  He was full of wisdom about how Obama ought to learn the ways of entrepreneurs.

  He also  picked up on addict Rush Limbaugh's deranged rant the night before that Obama was a doper in grade school.  According to Sununu,  nobody should be surprised  that "because he spent his early years in Hawaii smoking something,  spent...another set of years in Indonesia.

Sununu ought to learn how to complete a thought.

UPDATE:  Sununu  said he "misspoke" about Obama's American credentials and apologized.  Why don't these so-called political veterans get it right the first time?

Monday, July 16, 2012

Can you retro your retirement?

Although I still haven't quite figured out how Mitt Romney's "self-deportation"  plan would work to solve the immigration problem,  one of his veteran advisors has now offered us a another New Age plan, this one called "Retroactive retirement".

 That's how Ed Gillespie described the situation in which Romney served as president and CEO of Bain Capital  for three years without being the president and CEO of Bain Capital for three years.

As you might expect when novelties show up in the culture,  the  term exploded on the Internet with desperate attempts by cryptographers, linguists and nit-pickers to know precisely what it means.   As one who benefited from two undeserved retirement parties myself, I was particularly interested in the question raised by one columnist:  Did it mean that a retroactive retiree would be entitled to a retroactive retirement party that would appropriately  include an old cake and muddy coffee?

But wait.  Unless my dictionary betrays me,  for something to be retroactive, it  must have been in existence at the time when somebody  decided to retro it.  In other words, Mitt was indeed the president and CEO of Bain for three years when he was  supposed to have left the company, right?

I asked the guy at the bank about it and he said he'd have to check with the home office in Zurich.

Frankly, it all sounds like a strategic retreat to me that only made matters worse.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

A couple of old hawks - in less discreet times

In our laudable effort to say something rude about McMitt Romney, we followed the  press reports of his recent journey to Wyoming, his buddy Dick Cheney's home state,  for a fund-raiser at the former veep's private elderhostel - a thick-walleted Country Club.

It  was good for $1million, we were told, reminding me once again that there are still folks out there who find Cheney irresistibly credible even though he was on the elite first team of Dubya Hawks that led us into the disastrous Iraq invasion, which he insisted would be a very brief conflict..

"It was the right thing," he has boasted.  Do you think there are Gold Star mothers who might disagree?

But Romney is forever impressed by the guy with the cryptic Mona Lisa smile.  "He's the kind of guy I would like to have,  " Romney said when asked of his choices in his administration. He also described him as a "person of wisdom and judgment."    But considering  Cheney's soaring disapproval rating in national polls, there aren't many around who might nod in approval.

That explains why no media photographers were permitted to capture the  two together at the fund-raiser - a version of photo-stopping instead of photo-shopping. It was sort of a case of taking the money and running.

Oh, the picture above was taken in better days when they didn't  mind being seen with each other.  Funny how such photos can't ever be etch-a-sketched away.

* * * * *

By the way, McMitt's demands that President Obama apologize to him is like blaming the bank for bouncing your bad check.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Romney"s Ohio: A hatched campaign manager

When the Romney campaign announced  in early May that Scott Jennings would be Mitt's senior advisor and campaign manager in Ohio, it was largely underplayed or not at all  in some Northern Ohio newspapers. The Plain Dealer ran the a pro forma story and photo of Jennings with the usual laudatory comments from the campaign about Jennings', a former Kentucky operative,  aggressive political style. "We're excited," crowed Senate Minority  Leader Mitch McConnell, the forever somber Bluegrass Republican.

But earlier, a couple of out-of-state newspapers  did take some time to record a blemish in Jennings' political past that tells us more about his labors for ex-president George W.Bush  as a White House political appointee.  On Jan. 26, the Lexington (Ky.) Herald-Leader reported that Jennings  was among those in the White House Office of Political Affairs  cited for violating the Hatch Act by the U. S. Office of Special Counsel.

The Hatch Acts restricts a federal employe from using federal money to work on political missions.  In this instance, Jennings was among a group of operatives named in the report for spending taxpayer money to help Republicans win elections. Jennings  worked for the biggest gorilla in the Bush operation, Karl Rove.

Jennings has responded by contending that he was exempt from the Hatch Act.

The Office of Special Counsel said he's guilty but exempt from penalties -  but only because he's no longer a federal employe.

Now working with Rove's brain, he'll be an interesting fellow to watch in the next four months.  We're happy that Mitch McConnell is so excited about this.  Jeez.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Romney: It worked! Break out the watermelon!

 Watching Mitt Romney speak to/at/over the NAACP audience in his typically kinetic way,   I must tell you that I was distracted by wondering what he was quietly thinking about.

Borrowing loosely from Camelot, was his brain humming, "I wonder what my Swiss are doing tonight'?

Naw. His people are in touch 24 hours a day to tell him what his Swiss are doing, down to the last million or two.

Was he thinking about how he might disguise Seamus, his Irish setter,  the next time he straps it to the roof of his car to keep the Humane Society and Gail Collins from whining about it?

Naw.  He won't be driving to Canada or wherever  until after the election anyway.

Was he thinking about saying how much he loved African-Americans because they are the right height, particularly the ones in the NBA, where a couple of team owners are his good  friends?

Naw.  There probably weren't any 6-foot-10 ladies in the audience to appreciate the loving reference.

Was he thinking about how he was wasting his time speaking to a group in which 25 pct. might  be denied voting by ID laws or were on food stamps?

Naw.  They had sat courteously throughout his remarks so there was no reason to make the natives restless at this point.

But he did want to make a point about his muscular  opposition to...um..Obamacare.. That would prove his courage  to the Tea Partiers and white racists who think he is a wus.

 He could only hope that his plan to be loudly booed  would work while he stood defiantly before the  mob with a tight-lipped smile like Leonidas at Thermopylae.

It worked flawlessly! (In a tightly- guarded room off the hall, his campaign staff was so joyous that it broke out the prize watermelon.) Mitt could even claim on Fox News that 'black leaders' told him privately afterward that they supported him.  These were the surrogates his campaign flew in to the Houston conference to declare their fealty to the Republican contender.

Epilogue:   The heady   businessman who constantly reminds us of his unique ability to do things then confidently flew off to Hamilton, Montana,  near the Selway Bitterroot Wilderness,  for a fund-raiser to boast about his own mission accomplished. He told the friendly  group that if some handout-minded folks "want more stuff from the government, tell them to vote for the other guy."

That was a another campaign moment when he wasn't thinking at all.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

County election board: Husted all alone

Surprise surprise.   The Summit County Board of Elections is sending three more deadlocked 2-2 votes to Secretary of State Jon Husted to cast the deciding vote.   This has occurred so often since County Republican Chairman Alex Arshinkoff was reinstated to his old seat that one wonders why  any board member bothers to vote at all. On most important issues, the board consists only of Husted.

In this instance,  the two Democratic board members want to provide more space at the empty hhGregg building near Chapel Hill Mall to serve a projected 25,000 early walk-in voters  for the presidential election.  Arshinkoff and his compatriot Ray Weber propose  the  vacant second floor at  the Beacon Journal, with less available parking. Make me laugh. Voters would have to pass the BJ's security guard at the entrance to the building and  sign something.  (The procedure hasn't been worked out, I'm told.)  Those who aren't able to walk up two floors would have to wait for the elevator from another era.

Convenient, huh?  But convenience is not what the GOP locals have in mind. Voter suppression is a better way of explaniing it.  

The Republican duo refers to the higher cost of the Democrats' proposal, but that's clearly a ruse.  Across the Land of Freedom and Opportunity, the GOP has devised various plots  to  restrict voting by you-know-who's with Voter ID Laws, shifting precincts  and other nefarious means short of house arrests.  It's intended to, um, wipe out massive  fraud that doesn't exist.  It's no different in Democrat-rich  Summit County, where a Democrat denied is a Republican plus.  This theory began long ago  when it was not uncommon to hear Arshinkoff et al literally pray for bad weather on Election Day to discourage blacks and seniors.  It's still in play.

(When reading this Post, it would be more appropriate to turn off the sound of Sousa's Stars & Stripes Forever. We're not there yet, folks. )

Mark this: Williamson to WNIR?

What's that?  Former Akron  mayoral assistant Mark Williamson is a candidate as a WNIR talk show host to replace the late Howie Chizek?  The right-wing station is reporting that Williamson's on-air turn will come soon.  I usually don't pay that much attention to the local broadcast media, scanty as it is.  But in this instance, the idea of Williamson possibly joining a broadcaster that has dedicated itself to trashing Mayor Don Plusquellic is sort of newsworthy, don't you think?

Williamson had been the news director at  Akron's  Channel 23, which has since morphed beyond recognition in recent years. He spent 15 years at City Hall as the mayor's spokesman, but it wasn't a well-kept  secret that he and the mayor became estranged to a breaking point.  He resigned in January.

Perhaps it was Williamson's broken ties with Plusquellic that led to his interest in the opening at WNIR, a station that might best be described as a poor man's Fox News. A very poor man.   Or maybe there's simply a lousy job market for guys with his background.

As the newspaper editorialists often say, this bears watching.   Particularly by the mayor's office.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

For GOP, another defining cattle call

We are now quickly  approaching the Republicans' next defining millennial  moment in their guarantee of life, liberty and the pursuit of Barack Obama.  There are reports out of the GOP-controlled House of Representatives that it will vote on Wednesday to repeal the Affordable Care Act.  Nobody doubts that it will.  The cattle call has gone out to the all of the party's representatives suffering from what appears to be post-traumatic stress disorders  to close the deal in the wake of the Supreme Court decision.    Not that it will make a whit of difference.  This is purely stagecraft.  It leads me to wonder why it isn't listed in the New York Times' off-Broadway lineup.  And why the reps are paid with taxpayers' money to produce the farce.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Mandel's $$$ buddies: Jot down the Koch Brothers

We happened to catch a TV political attack ad on Sen. Sherrod Brown, not a  rare intrusion into my program viewing these days.   It was sponsored by American Commitment, one of those shadowy players  whose name means so little to so many folks beyond the Potomac.  What made this more interesting than the others, I discovered with a few minutes research, is its president, a guy named Phil Kerpen (pictured).  He's listed on the web  as a columnist on Fox News Opinion, chairman of the Internet Freedom Coalition and a former vice president of policy for Americans for Prosperity.

In other words, he's a lobbyist for generic conservative groups whose names normally promote starry patriotic  themes like freedom, (from taxes) liberty (from taxes)  and...American Commitment (to unseat Democrats who stand in the way of lowering taxes, fatter profits,  and deregulation.)

You could go on and on about the things that keep these folks up at night, but the one group that stands out in Kerpen's resume is Americans for  Prosperity.

That's the mega-funded juggernaut founded by David Koch, a billionaire who wants to rearrange  American life to suit his own rich stake in the land .  He and his brother are doing so by laying up tons of cash in House and Senate races, including Ohio's.  You might wonder what a man of Koch's vast wealth is doing birthing  organizations with prosperity in the title since he already has more dough than he needs to buy his own country.

But the intersection of Kerpen, Americans Commitment, Americans for Prosperity and the Kochs is a sweet deal for Brown's whizzy  Republican opponent, Josh Mandel, who doesn't appear in the ad but you can bet the Statue of Liberty that Josh is well aware of it every waking moment of his day.

So factor into Mandel the name of David Koch, one of seveal of Josh's silent partners.

And so far, it hasn't worked despite the millions that the Mandel campaign is spending on attack ads.  A late Quinnipiac poll  has  Brown about 11 pts. ahead  with Josh settled in at 36.6 pct..

Sunday, July 8, 2012

In the Caymans, a penny hidden is a penny saved

After reading about Mitt Romney's unreported tax-free millions that he has stashed in Swiss banks and the Cayman Islands, we were so inspired by his clever accounting that we decided to do a little investing, too.  We called the International Hide-and-Seek Bank in the Caymans to learn more about their appealing deposit plans.

When a polished voice came to the phone, I explained my mission:

"I would like to deposit some tax-free money in your bank."

"Yes, sir.  That's why we're  here. No one will ever know because we deal in the strictest confidence.  "

"Right. That's what I've been told."

"How much would you wish to deposit?"

"I would wish to begin with $24.63.


"I'm sorry, I didn't get that.  Was that millions or billions?"

"No, sir.  $24.63. That's all I can afford."

"Surely, sir, you are kidding."

"I think not.  I grew up in a fiscally conservative Middle Eastern family, tight-fisted as hell,  and if there was one thing my father never kidded about, it was money."

'I see.  But what's the point of depositing so little with us when your tax savings  - let me figure this out - would be less than a penny?"

"You must understand,  my friend, that a penny hidden is a penny earned."

"I'm sorry, sir, I don't think we can hide any of your money so if you'll simply ---"

"OK, I can round it off to an even $25 and ---."


Moral:  If you can't match Mitt Romney's hidden treasure, it's best not to flaunt  your own $24.63.  

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Reince Priebus: GOP's wannabe Jon Stewart

Readers,  what would we do without Republican National Chairman Reince Priebus offering us comic relief from the otherwise dreary narrative of  the party's election year playbook?  I mean, he's the megaphone of the national party and there he was telling Wolf Blitzer (who isn't that exciting himself) that  Rep. Allen West was "one of the most  dynamic new Republican stars in our Party...He's got a bright future."

That was  the chaiman's side-splitting response to  Blitzer's question about West describing Obama as a slave boss. Or as West put it earlier about Obama: "He'd rather you be his slave and be economically dependent on him."

Pressed by Blitzer to take the thought further, Priebus declared, "Allen West is an important member of Congress from South Florida.  I'm not going to throw Allen West in a ditch."

Funny that he should refer to West as a dynamic  Republican  star when the same rising star said recently that there were at least 80 or so Communists in Congress!.  On to the ditch, I say!

Friday, July 6, 2012

The authorized version of Tressel's UA arrival

It now seems likely  that former Ohio State University football coach Jim Tressel's personal authorized history officially began the day he arrived at the University of Akron as the school's "vice president for strategic engagement".  Akron, UA's alumni magazine,  featured him in a cover story that ranged across two full inside pages without a hint of how he came to be available for the newly created campus job.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Why am I now grouped with Cleveland voters?

To my despair,  I have learned that my neighborhood in Fairlawn, which is a few minutes away from Akron, is in the Eleventh Congressional District.  That means my vote will be dumped into the new boundaries that include Euclid, East Cleveland, Shaker Heights and  Cleveland. My  congresswoman will be Marcia Fudge, a Democrat,  the former mayor of Warrensville Heights.  I'm sure she is a competent representative.   But I live in Fairlawn, some distance from the bulk of her constituents. Excuse me if as a voter I feel isolated from the crowd.  Excuse me again if I say the Republicans responsible for  butchering the new congressional districts couldn't have cared less about the relationship between the People's House on Capitol Hill and me. Am I not a people?

Did I say People's House?  Defining people has taken some strange turns this political season.  Mitt Romney insisted that corporations are people.  And the   gang in Columbus that isolated my neighborhood in an alien  Cleveland  people zone was greedily at work in  building a still greater GOP force in Congress that already boasts of 12 of the state's 16 congressional seats.
Their math is telling.   May we conclude that three out of four Ohioans are Republicans even though the state went to Barack Obama in 2008?

A little history of this ridiculous scheme:  When I arrived in Summit County more than four decades ago , there was but one congressman,   Bill Ayers, a Republican.  He was ousted by Democrat John Seiberling in 1970.  To no avail, the local Republican front office spent many restless nights trying to figure out how to win back the county.

It didn't get any easier in 1987 when Seiberling retired and turned the seat over to Tom Sawyer, the city's Democratic mayor. After more restless nights,  the local and State GOP decided  the best way to rid the county of Sawyer after 15 years was to carve  up his district, pitting him against Tim Ryan, of Niles, in the Democratic primary.  It was a no-win  challenge to Sawyer with the eastern part of the county dumped into  Ryan-leaning territory.  The county has now evolved into three congressional districts with Fudge, Ryan and Republican Steve LaTourette (a bit of the northern patch  of the county).

It's a mess  from the Master Carvers of Columbus. (There was a moment or two when I thought my neighborhood would end up in Toronto).

Ah. but others have taken note of this villainous handiwork.  Voters First, set up by the League of Women Voters, has filed petitions with the Secretary of State - more than 430,000 signatures - to place a constitutional amendment on the November ballot to create a non-partisan  citizens commission to draw up district boundaries.  I hope it works , but at least I am now assured that there are 430,000 others in this a state who care about fairer representatation as much as I do.

UPDATE: Thanks to a reader, I now can tell you that the goulash called Summit County congressional districts is even more tasteless.  The county actually has four congressmen - four!   I have overlooked Democratic Rep. Betty Sutton, which  ended up with a horribly malformed district  zigzagging south across part of the county  from Lorain to Green.       How did my new district escape Toronto?   I stand corrected.  

UPDATE NO. 2:  A Republican called to inform me that there were four congressmen with bits of Summit County in 1972 when Democrats drew the lines.  The one that escaped me was a single township  assigned to the late  Rep. John Ashbrook.  So I must ask:  Is there anyone out there who can report five?  

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

The Higgs Boson: Now for a down-to-earth inquiry

AS WE ALL -  at least  some of us - awaited the official word on the discovery of the so-called God particle,  the long pursuit of the universe's missing link reminded us that science never gives up on adding one more clue in defining what we and the mysterious universe might be all about.  I'm hardly qualified as a layman to go beyond  the surface of the reports that the $10 billion  experiment by countless scientists aided by the highest tech available are  99.99 pct. sure of the presence of the  Higgs boson - the other name for the elusive particle that is said to be the first expression of spatial birth.

Some will say, why bother when there is so much need on the tiny particle called earth?  Yet that has never been the case with serious  human inquiry.  Galileo would know better than I how to answer that.  Or the Curies or Edisons.   Still, they should now explain a recent Kaiser public opinion poll that told us how much farther we have to go to overcome the indifference of so many people to things they ought to know without  the aid of supercolliders and commitment to scientific inquiry.  The survey flat out reported that 41 pct. of  those surveyed weren't even aware that the U.S. Supreme Court had just handed down an historic ruling on health care!

Folks, help me.  Take  it from here.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Matt isn't drudgery for Mitt

MITT ROMNEY finally answered a specific question with a specific answer.  Responding to an inquiry by NEWSMAX Magazine about what media he prefers, Romney  offered a small exclusive group that included right-wing gossipmonger Matt Drudge (at right) as well as onlines Fox News, Wall Street Journal and  New York Times - the latter  a sine qua non for national pols.

On the other hand he rejects Newsweek and Time Magazine, explaining:

"I'm afraid Newsweek and Time have fallen off my shelf, they're not what they used to be in terms of my interest, but I still read The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times in paper version, if it's available."

It is, Mitt.  Every day.

Monday, July 2, 2012

boehner's words on gas prices: A pain is a pain


At the barber shop this morning, where you can hear a lot of things, I learned that the price of gas had dropped to $3.14 at the Medina County town of Wadsworth.  The messenger did not mention President Obama as the guy responsible for the price decline. Of course, he wouldn't deserve any praise in the matter.  Presidents have no role in the rise or fall of oil prices.   On the other hand, weren't there a lot of Republican critics out there accusing him of being an enemy of the people for driving up gas prices at the pump?

The current Economist Magazine reminded me of something that House Speaker John Boehner said when experts warned us the price  could reach $4.50 by July.  Sayeth the Grim Speaker in early April:  
"The President holds the key to addressing the pain...at the gas pump.  My question for the president is:  What are you waiting for?"
I should tell you that one way to reduce America's pain is to retire Boehner.  John:  What are you waiting for?

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Glenn Beck et al: The GOP landfill will soon overflow


When too many Americans  are fighting fires or watching their homes flooded  away, Glenn  Beck, a tee-shirt capitalist,  is busy trying to make one more buck.  He has eagerly  jumped into the onslaught against Chief Justice John Roberts with this tee-shirt that he is offering for a cool $30! You have to feel sorry for Beck.  When people don't know that they are a bizarre blip on the radar screen, how can you accuse them of being crazy?   Oh, hell.   I'll still call him crazy.  I haven't  been near one of those shirts, but it wouldn't surprise me if they were all made in China. What about it, Glenn?

* * * * *

Have you seen the campaign commercial that Republican Josh Mandel is running on the Internet?  It's titled "Boots"  and is carefully  on message that begins with an unidentifed soldier  lacing up combat boots and is followed by battleground footage of Marines in the midst of combat.  Don't know whether Josh is in any of the films but the message is clear since he paid for it to convince voters that he is rough, tough and ready to take on all challenges if his senate campaign against Sen. Sherrod Brown succeeds.  I always  thought that George Bush's carefully staged  landing on an aircraft carrier to declare "mission accomplished" would stand  forever as overarching political stagecraft.  However,  Mandel, the 34-yuear-old whiz kid, obviously is never going to let anybody forget that he was a Marine. Somebody should tell him that politicizing military service  solely for personal gain (campaign fund-raising)  only cheapens the true image of  Marine Corps valor.    As I once mentioned , John Glenn was a marine, and I would remind you again that Josh is no John Glenn.

* * * * *

Finally, I will again ask why the Summit County Republican Party continues to post on its home page  an attack on a Democrat for hiring a relative when the "outraged" GOP's  local party boss, Alex Arshinkoff,  has three members of his family working in politically-appointed jobs, as I noted in an earlier post.

Some would call it a "scandal of Biblical proportions".  But it ain't smart.  Or maybe the local GOP leader relies on an explanation that Malcolm Forbes Jr. atttributed to his daddy:  "There's nothing wrong with nepotism so long as you keep it in the family."