Saturday, June 30, 2012

Issa's Cursed House of Seven Gables

Has there ever been a moment in the history of House of Representatives when one political party engaged en masse in a witch hunt?  That's the valid question that can be raised by the gang of Republicans led by Rep. Darrell Issa in voting Attorney General  Eric Holder in criminal and civil contempt of Congress.

How dare Issa, the California Republican and chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee and wealthiest congressman of Capitol Hill (several hundred million $$).

You need to understand that this sinister grandstander said before the vote that he had no evidence  that Holder had any knowledge of the screwed-up undercover gun deal that was to lead to drug dealers in Mexico.  No evidence.  So what!  If Holder had agreed to add a few more documents to the  thousands that the Justice Department had  already turned over to Issa, who knows?  There might been a sliver of damning  information leading to Holder.  That's the Issa narrative, at least.

Folks, this isn't even good political farce.   It's a power-mad committee chairman leading his lemmings who are all over the Tea Party-driven House. Issa had to know that his stunt  would go nowhere outside the boundaries of his captives on Capitol Hill.  The Justice Department quickly announced that it had no intention of prosecuting Holder,  the first presidential  cabinet member to be voted in contempt. That's of no consequence to Issa.  He had already succeeded in showing the Obama Administration who was boss on Capitol Hill, such as this monster is.

The Congressional Black Caucus and its white allies in the House marched out of the chamber before the vote to show Issa that they had no patience for  playing his game of seeking  and destroying an African-American attorney general.  Issa's shameful behavior should have erased any hopes  among black voters that the GOP is on their side.

Issa  has turned his side in the House of Representatives into Hawthorne's House of Seven Gables, which existed under a curse.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Roberts: The Republicans unmentionable justice

Although the Republican leadership (?) has had very little to say about Chief Justice John Roberts, who was considered one of the good ol' boys in the conservatives' family, the party's raucous  Noise Wing is having a nervous breakdown over  Roberts' "betrayal".  Very shortly you will see IMPEACH ROBERTS  bumperstickers and torturered versions of it on Tea Party placards wherever three or more anarchists assemble.  (Or possibly on the door to Cuyahoga Falls Mayor Don Robart's office, now that he has lovingly cast himself in the cradle of the Tea Partiers' arms.)

Such  hostility toward a Republican chief justice has happened before.  That was back in the 1950s when racists and anti-communists joined  their attacks on Chief Justice Earl Warren, calling for his impeachment on billboards and other public places. Their grievance: Warren's progressive positions on desegregation as well as  the rights of criminals.  As we know, their virulent  campaign didn't work.  Nor will today's assault  on Roberts.

Still, for the other side, Roberts is a double windfall.  He not only  shocked the pundits and the right-wing panderers in sustaining the health care mandate.  He offered the Democrats a rare opportunity to praise a Bush appointee to the Supreme Court.  Can you imagine how much worse it would have been if a liberal chief justice had saved the health plan?  I don't want to think about it.

It was often said that only Richard Nixon's  own  fixation against the Red World  could have steeled him against charges of treason as he headed to China  - the first president ever to do do - to open relations between the U.S. and Chairman Mao. Considering the state of anti-Communist fervor in this country at that time , inflamed by the late Sen.  Joe McCarthy, a Democratic president who would have dared to go to China  on a diplomatic mission would have been barred from returning to these shores.

In Ohio, the current response from the GOP mandarins was hardly surprising:   Now that the milk has been spilled, there was only one solution:  Throw out President Obama in November and repeal the law.  With what?  They don't say. But what else can a senseless party of hollow suits, from Romney on down, say?

Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor, who also serves as the director of the Ohio Department of Insurance, has already rejected an insurance exchange under the law, arguing that she doesn't have enough information from the Feds.  A woman in her lofty position could ask, don't you think?

Meantime, Atty. Gen. Mike DeWine, who has staked his  reputation  as a minor legal scholar on his belief that the mandate is unconstitutional, was among the AGs who joined the lawsuit  that drove  the issue to the Supreme Court.  He told  the Associated Press that the health care reform law will be the "preeminent issue of the presidential campaign". He  said he will continue  to fight the law because it compels people to "violate their religious principles".  He's been wrong before.  He was the Romney supporter during the GOP primaries who jumped ship and endorsed Rick Santorum when he erringly  concluded that Santorum would be the party  nominee.

Religious principles? Oh, now we're getting to the bottom of this, which leads me to wonder whether the AG wants to serve as the state's top lawyer or as a robed bishop or preacher.

The coming months will be pretty  ugly.  If totally senseless, too.

P.S. The A.P.'s long wrapup of the comments of Ohio Republicans did not contain a single mention of  Justice R-----s.    

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Words from Supreme Court 'authority' Rand Paul

Late words from the Rand Paulpit:   
''Just because a couple of people on the Supreme Court declare something to be constitutional does not make it so"
Right .  And just because people  call you senator doesn't mean you're not  totally mad.

Surely Senator Paul jests. Not.

Let's see.  There was Mad King George.  And Mad King Ludwig.  That's pretty tough company  for Sen. Rand Paul, but the Kentucky Republican is getting closer to making it a threesome.

Paul added another  claim to his bogeyman  behavior in the Senate this week by strangely linking federal flood insurance to the abortion issue. He warned that he would block a bill extending FEMA's flood insurance program for five more years unless the Senate  voted on a  measure declaring that life begins at the moment of conception - the so-called personhood concept.

Surely, he jests.   Surely,  he doesn't.  And his timing is awful, coming just as flooding caused by  Tropical Storm Debby was driving tens of thousands of Floridians from their homes.  Paul says he's "just trying to get  a vote for the people who elected me". Kentucky, the Beautiful.

Mad Senator Paul?  I'm getting used to the idea.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Jon Kyl Returns as a GOP Ill-Humor Man

Arizona Republican Sen. Jon Kyl  continues to operate in a parallel universe when he tries to explain complex issues.  For example, Talking Points Memo reports that Kyl  blames President Obama for President Bush's failure to enact the White House's immigration reform bill in 2007.  One problem: As senator, Obama voted for the bill; Kyl  joined the filibuster against it.

Why do I get worked up about his nonsense?   Well,  I must remind myself that Kyl was the pathetic guy  who accused Planned Parenthood of devoting more than 90 pct.. of its activities  to abortions.   When the number splattered in his face (3 pct. is  more like it), a  Kyl spokseman said the senator's  comment was"not intended to be a factual statement".

Kyl is now suggesting that Obama should be impeached for his new immigration policy.    How can such a beautiful  state be corrupted by screwies like Kyl and, for that matter, Gov. Jan Brewer? And for that matter, Sheriff Joe Arpaio. And...that's more than  enough already. .

Monday, June 25, 2012

PD's Senate race headlines leave us guessing

IF YOU  HAPPENED to see the Sunday Plain Dealer's letters page you might have  noticed the big headline that needed translation:
 Mandel may sling some mud,  but some of it deserves to stick
Oh? Stick to whom?  Josh Mandel? Or his  opponent, a "deserving" Sen. Sherrod Brown?  Brown  would be a  good guess.  Even the sole italicized  quotation under the heading was drawn from an anti-Brown letter.    (The  eight published letters were evenly balanced pro and con, if you got that far.)

The brouhaha was prompted by an earlier PD editorial  taking issue with Mandel's revival of a generation-old issue that Brown assaulted his former wife - now friendly and raising money for his campaign - during a rancorous divorce proceeding.  The story is hardly new, and even was circulated during the liberal Democrat's  successful 2006 challenge of then-Sen. Mike DeWine, who declined to inject it into the narrative of his own campaign. But you should remember that the same Josh Mandel  raised questions about his African-American opponent in 2010 during the race for Ohio Treasurer, suggesting that the guy was a Muslim.  He wasn't, but why should that be a criterion? Mandel won.

Back to the PD:  The critical editorial lost its edge when the writer  concluded that Mandel was "capable of better".   There's no evidence that he can be - or will be - in his catch-as-catch-can rush to Capitol Hill at age 34.   But the ambiguous headline and the italicized quote  weighed against Brown.

The letters rested above another headline over two other letters  near the bottom of the page that read:
Wisdom of Sen. Brown's pollution vote debated
Once again, it certainly appeared to be a Brown negative.

All of this should be put into the context of the state's corporate media (read: Republican) being  less than thrilled by Brown's friendship with organized labor and opposition to exporting America's jobs.   He's been running uphill against the state's editorial writers for years , the last time in his successful challenge to DeWine, which Brown won in a landslide.

The PD seems a tad frustrated that a young right-wing Republican prospect  like Mandel may be forfeiting any claim to credibility by his nastiness, deceptions and callow game plan toward his current opponent when he is "capable of  better."  Hint, Josh. Hint. There are still more than four months to shape up  for editorial endorsements.  Sunday's fuzzy headlines on the PD's  letters page are  another start.


Saturday, June 23, 2012

Romney: If you can't say something bad, cool it

MITT ROMNEY is having trouble dealing with an economy that is creeping upward.  Down in Florida,  Romney's campaign people have told Republican  Gov. Rick Scott to cool it  on boasting that more people have jobs today in the Sunshine State.  For a candidate for whom good economic news is bad news - at least until after the election - Romney must hope that we'll all be on welfare by November in order to  sell his  vague jobs plan to the voters. Next thing you know, he will ask Republicans to stop buying new cars and  homes until you-know-when.

 His position remains as he stated it during the primaries:

 "Of course the economy is getting  better, but Obama made it worse."

So "worse" in Summit County  that home sales were  up 18.5 pct.  and 19 pct. in Ohio over a year ago. During that period  Akron's unemployment dropped from 9.2 pct. to 7.6 and in the county 8.3 pct. down to 6.6 pct.   Those are figures that Team Romney may prefer to discuss in a quiet room.

And another thing, while we're at it:  Does he really think it will be all that helpful to substitute one word for another to avoid suspicion that there is less in his orations than meets the ear?  His campaign has now banished the use of the word "outsourcing" - a killer thought among people who want to keep the jobs in America.  His euphemism of choice is "offshoring". But that sounds like a better fit for rich investors like Romney who keep their mega-accounts in non-taxed offshore vaults.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Summit GOP: It takes one to know three

The Summit County Republican Party website has a curious  item from the Beacon Journal about a relative of a Democrat who was hired by the county.

The Republicans' spin on it was...well, let me quote the local GOP's hallowed chronicle: :
"Just the latest example of Summit County's elected Democrats handing high-paying government jobs to their relatives and political cronies, regardless of qualifications or anti-nepotism laws.  Even the local newspaper can't cover up that stink bomb.  Outrageous.! "(Bold face and italics as appearing in the original.)
One problem with that.  Actually, three.

Party Chairman Alex Arshinkoff's brother Chris happens to be the bailiff in the Republican-held Summit County Probate Court.  Chris' wife Joan is the bailiff for Republican Common Pleas Judge Alison McCarty. Alex's niece,  Susan Sweeney, is chief deputy of the Barberton
Clerk of Courts.  Only a coincidence?

By the way the website just added a video  of the party's Lincoln Day Dinner in February in which the principal speaker, then- GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum. claimed the Summit County Party as his own.  He mentioned that his strength in his earlier political days was that people didn't take him seriously.

 Sorry, Rick, they still don't.  Still at the conclusion of his address in which he gave a light-hearted account of a dog that peed in his lap during a campaign stop, Santorum  inspired  Arshinkoff to shout, "What a great speech! What a great speech!  We may have a new Ronald Reagan!"

Not yet, Alex.  Not yet.

Democrats leave dinner formalities to Republicans

THE SUMMIT COUNTY DEMOCRATS  met under one roof this week for the party's annual
FDR dinner (Franklin Delano Roosevelt for anyone with a short memory).  The 400 or so who arrived at Todaro's party center early enough for a head start on  wine and buffet nibbles  assembled the party's first team - County Executive Russ Pry, Akron Mayor Don Plusquellic,  chairman Wayne Jones et al - to begin  an evening of Democratic pep talks featuring Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley,  who some folks are already casting as a fellow of great potential.  Say, 2016?

O'Malley, the former Baltimore mayor,  and Plusquellic developed a lasting friendship when the latter served as the president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors.  As Plusquellic told the audience of his friend: "He's qualified to be the president". Say, 2016.

Well,  that's a long way off and the local event served as the platform  for O'Malley to drive home the need to reelect President Obama in November, the governor's current mission as he travels about  to engage new voters and rev up the old ones.

All in all, it was an informal  evening that once again contrasted how Democrats and Republicans go about their business at celebratory occasions in this county.  The Democrats provided a venue for collegial banter, some decent food, a lively speaker, and awards to its workers, all of which took no more than a few hours.   Having attended a score of Republican dinners before new rules barring certain media were exercised, I  can tell you there is a world of difference here.

Republican dinners are pure pageantry: A live band, drumrolls, an off-stage voice calling out the names of each Republican grandee who proceeds to his or her seat on the dais with applause,   and an evening filled out - in recent years, at least -with  prominent ultra-conservative speakers symbolic of the party's servile acquiescence  to the far right.

There also is the customary  bellowing harangue by the County Party chairman, Alex Arshinkoff, with his laundry list of grievances against the Beacon Journal, a former editor, a local law firm and whatever else needs to be aired out for the dinner guests.  Heavens!

Trust me:  Whatever your politics, the Democratic events hereabouts  are always more fun, even without the drumrolls.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Romney's gift at making pie shells

There was a picture in today's USA TODAY  of  one of those made-to-order photo-ops of Mitt Romney  on his campaign tour in Michigan. The sleeves of his white  shirt were rolled up to the elbows  to show that By God he was a regular guy among regular guys and gals  invoved in the common labors of the middle class and below.

The caption said the candidate was kneading dough to make a pie shell.  It was a fitting image of the empty shell his campaign has offered so far.  He has dodged the difficult questions, shifting from one position to another , as the moment dictates, spinning them as he would a pizza crust.  Aside from repeating that he would cut  taxes and create jobs,  he has yet to tell us how he would do this while eliminating the deficit.

 As one who occasionally watches TV 's Cake Boss solve impossible problems with imaginative solutions  (and a lot of icing) I would think Romney might  want to add him to the campaign  to offer  ways to fill the shell.  Or is it no more than a shell game?

(P.S. The headline on the story told us:  Romney mum on unions as he woos Mich. What did I just tell you?)

* * * * *

Speaking of newspapers:  The Plain Dealer  today editorially crtiticized Josh Mandel for being
"stuck on the low road."  That's a reference to Mandel & Friends dragging out the ancient published story of how Sen. Sherrod Brown was the source of domestic violence during his rancorous 1986 divorce.  (No matter now that he and his ex-wife have  remained friends and, indeed, she just  hosted a fund raiser for him. )

But Mandel is an incorrigible brat who raised false Muslim issues against his opponent when he ran for Treasurer. As someone once wrote of the Roman historian Livy's questionable accounts of wars, "He had a taste for truth,  but no passion for  it."

So allow me to quibble  with the PD's optimistic assessment of the Whiz Kid, which asserted :

"Mandel is capable of better".

There's no evidence of  "better" in his mad-dash  political career.  Or was the PD, as the corporate media are quite capable of doing these days,  merely trying to soften the blow?

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Alas, the wackos are breaking out all over

EXCUSE ME, with so much wackiness further degrading the current political scene,  I'm having trouble keeping up with the worst of the worst to give my un-coveted Grumpy Abe Linguistic Lunacy (GALL) Award to.  I'm sort of leaning to the fatherly insight of Rep. Blake Farenthold, the Texas Republican, in response to President Obama's humane  initiative on immigration.  That's Farenthold in the photo, a daddy who shared such wisdom that the young folks who  arrived in America with their parents  as illegals didn't really have to come because they could have influenced their elders to stay home.  Right .  "Believe me," the congressman said to CNN's Soledad O'Brien, "my 16-year-old daughter has given me input on everything - pretty much everything the family wants to do."  Moral: Don't make a move on immigration policy until you've talked to your kids!

Hold it right there:  Maybe a group  GALL award should have gone to the Republican legislators in Michigan who banned a Democratic lawmaker - Lisa Brown - from the chamber because she uttered the word v----a   during a debate on abortion.  The seraphim-driven conservatives simply don't appreciate "vulgarity" , which tells you a helluva lot about  their arching manner toward the opposite sex.  One of these days  somebody is going to demand that all male lawmakers disclose whether they had vasectomies.  Sorry, folks.  V---------s.  Jeez.

These are the expressions of nuttiness that may have distracted you from the monumental struggle  in the presidential race in which McMitt Romney has yet to find a way to answer any questions directly.  That is particularly true of his response to the President's move on illegal immigration.  Romney will only say, after first assuring you that he is a successful businessman, not a politician,  that he will work with Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio to come up with a new plan in Congress.  Not so fast there, McMitt.  You've lost your crutch.  Rubio just said he is withdrawing any plan to move in a new direction on immigration. That leaves Romney with his only fall-back position  - self-deportation.   Hey, take a breath, McMitt,  and let my grandparents rest in peace.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Marines Josh Mandel vs. John Glenn: No contest

Anyone who has been following the quasi-meteoric rise of Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel couldn't escape the fact that  he is an ex-Marine.  And if you didn't know  by now that he is running somewhat as an ex-Marine for the U.S.Senate against Incumbent Democrat Sherrod Brown, Josh will be more than happy to fill you in.   The 34-year-old Whiz Kid has cast a heroic glow on his political life.  As Summit County Republican chairman Alex Arshinkoff once admiringly declared of Mandel,  it took  "balls"' for a Jew to be off fighting in Iraq.

Right. Like Horatius at the bridge!

Mandel's sanctified message is simply that just as he answered his personal call  to duty in Iraq , he will likewise save America from the liberals, beginning with Sen. Brown  and Barack Obama. Casting himelf as a disciiplined soldier and first-tier friend of Israel,  he has succeeded in raising millions of dollars as well as kind words from the Republican Jewish Coalition of Cleveland, which obviously had something to do with his decision to enter the  Senate race.  He has also so pleased the Tea Party that it has solidly claimed him as one of its own with all that this portends regarding health care. The feeling is mutual.

One quickly senses with Mandel that every moment of his life is well planned, from his political birth as a Lyndhurst councilman, to state representative  to Ohio  treasurer in less time that it takes to steal second base.

I've met ambitious young politicians over the years, but none comes to mind with so much campaign cash to destroy his opponent. Or for that matter, enough lies to keep Politifact/Ohio  busy eight days a week.

Now, allow me to go back to another Ohio Marine, Col. John Glenn, a Democrat who landed in the Senate.

In the many years that I reported on his political career, I heard not a word from him about his military life, which included tours as a combat pilot shooting down MIGs. His record as a flying ace  and astronaut could speak for itself without his embellishment.   His advisors often were disappointed that he didn't play on that noteworthy aspect of his life when he ill-advisedly decided to run for  president, a short-lived  venture. Actually he was  too reticent  about his accomplishments to run a national campaign.   He turned down offers to make cameo appearances on sit-coms.  Never made a product endorsement.  Went shopping in Manhattan for shirts while Jimmy Carter was on the verge of naming a veep in 1976 as  Ohio Democrats futilely promoted him for the job. He even turned down a floor rally at the convention by the D's in his  behalf.

This Boy Scout from New Concord, Oh., had a reason: "I've already had more recognition  than I need," he told me.

Once, when I visited his home in Central Ohio, I was astonished to see a smaller version  of the iconic  sculpture of Marines  raising the flag on Iwo Jima.  It was sitting on a wide mantel  in the spacious living room.  It was the sculptor's  model in creating the monumental memorial that now sits just outside Arlington National Cemetery.

"They sent this piece  to me," he said casually, nodding to the model.  "I shouldn't have it, so I'll send it  to the Smithsonian."

Glenn, always the modest hero with a liberal voting record that showed his deep concern for average folks.     So I'll  tell you this much:  I knew John Glenn.   Josh Mandel is no John Glenn.


Friday, June 15, 2012

Anybody know crude Neil Munro? Thought so.

THE RIGHT-WING white-collar anarchists added a new antihero to their  muddy agenda Friday.  His name is Neil Munro, and if you are keeping a list of the abuses by this gang of  warriors in their attempt to bring down President Obama,  catalog Munro.  His name will disappear from the news  as quickly as it arrived at Obama's Rose Garden announcement of a major change in the rules governing the offspring of illegal aliens.

Munro, a sinister  symbol of the delirium  of the crazies out to destroy Obama,   interrupted the President by calling out  one of the Republicans Golden Oldie questions clearly fashioned for such opportune moments:  "Why do you favor foreigners over Americans?"  Rhetorical, yes. Stupid, yes.

Obama sternly told the guy that it was not acceptable to interrupt a president.

"No you have to take questions!" Munro yelled.   Imagine that - a grandstander with press credentials  attempting to take over the show.  No, my man, a president doesn't have to do what he doesn't want to do - any president!

Well, Obama explained the rules and moved on.    But soon enough the Tea Partiers will be after Munro to  be their after-dinner speaker.

So who is this guy anyway?   Well, he works for Tucker Carlson's blog the Daily Caller.  Carlson is the preppy bow-tied fellow who has been moving around Potomac circles to sell his own hard right agenda.  When asked about Munro's oafish behavior, Carlson said he didn't see anything wrong with it.

In a day when disrespect for a black  man in the Oval Office has burst from open sewers,  Munro  merely advanced  the crude shout of "You lie" by South Carolina Rep. Joe Wilson during an Obama address to Congress. And how about Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer arriving at the airport for a finger-pointing stunt in Obama's face.

A personal note:  As one who labored through countless speeches by presidents, governors, congressmen and the lot for decades, never once did I hear anybody from the press corps interrupt a speech.   It's not servility, folks, as the Munros would have it.    It is simple courtesy for the office, whether you agree with the speaker or not.   So long, Neil Munro.  It wasn't good to know you.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

A friendly advisory on Mitt's doughnutgate

AS MITT ROMNEY continues his assault on President Obama for being out-of-touch with the economy, it seems only fair to point out that Mitt  is out of touch with doughnuts.  To the glee of the national  media desperately in need of levity in a weighty world, the Republican candidate came through big-time by failing to identify the beloved pastry  in a campaign photo-op during a sit-down with a few folks.  He might just as well have referred to a hotdog bun  as a Twinkie.

Embarrassing?  Who knows what embarrasses Mitt these days? He says so many things that merit it.  Still,  let me help him out of his problem with doughnutgate.

Mitt, Sir, what you see below is a doughnut:

Draper's autopsy of the congressional corpse

    "The institution is still humanly perfect.  The problem is, the  inmates in it are not.  There's all manner of rascality and bad behavior going on here.  I'm more frustrated than I've ever been in my career."  - Rep. John Dingell, Michigan Democrat 

Dingell, who will be 86 in July, ought to know about these matters.  He's serving his 29th term - longest in congressional history and he has watched the "People's House" go from bad  to worse with the arrival of an army of freshmen Tea Patrtiers on Capitol hill who equate compromise with treason.

His despair is clearly inscribed in Robert Draper's new book Do Not Ask What Good We Do - which is more of  a political autopsy of  the congressional corpse that reveals  more than enough to ruin your hopes of  reasonable progress in the forseeable future.

The author is a freelance who has written for the New York Times Magazine and National Geographic.  The characters who people his work are fairly well known  by anyone with at least a passing interest in the political world that shapes our workaday lives -  self-absorbed crusaders on the right bearing political venom and a cross.  Reps. Allen West, slandering Nancy Pelosi beyond normal muck; Tea Party Paul Ryan and his budget to nowhere; John Boehner, forever chacllenged by the zombies  to the right of him.  Eric Cantor...You get the idea of each playing their temporary roles as cult figures until replaced by another generation with a greater vision of progressive democracy.  (We can hope.)

There's also a full account of the imbecilic  behavior of Anthony Weiner, with his clothes on or down to his puffed shorts . Certainly this is  peekaboo stuff written with sober attention to detail about a dysfunctional  House whose popularity has fallen at times to 10 pct or less.

The crowning chapter is Draper's play-by-play account of the ugly path leading to a vote in 2011 to raise the debt ceiling as the Tea Party freshmen insisted that spending be cut (except for a new bridge or road in their district) ,  lower taxes and threats and ultimatums  to  anyone open to compromise (including Boehner)  to head off a govewrnment shutdown.  The calamity was finally averted at the last moment, but not before egos and political careers suffered badly.

There is much here that one  doesn't learn from watching the Sunday talk shows or the  20-minute network capsule news at dinnertime.  Even cable TV, limited by time and commercial breaks, cannot flesh out the the behind-the-seen antics with added dimension of those who are either impeding or struggling to upgrade efforts to engage sane minds in the process.  People interested in the detailed workings of  Congress, which  familiarly has been described as sausage-making,  will enjoy the book.     But you also will  be left wondering whether Congress these  days can even grind out a  half-way decent sausage.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Blankety-blank verse for Ohio Senate race...

Here comes the old gang led by Pat Boone
That you'll be hearing from quite soon.
With nearly a million to spend
Seeking Sen. Sherrod Brown's end
For Mandel, still another silver spoon! 

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Josh Mandel: A dash out the service door

The latest word from the front is a report in the Toledo Blade telllng us that U.S. Senate Candidate Josh Mandel is not keen  on talking shop with reporters.  Not even hello and goodbye.

 How else can we interpret his quick exit through a service door - !!! -when he anticipated  questions about a widely reported snafu in one of his practiced fund-raising efforts. When  we last bore in on  the Republican Whiz Kid's efficacy in raising the staff of political life, he had returned $105, 000 that had arrived via the charitable folks employed by a  Canton donor.

That appears to have occurred only after the FBI became interested in the contributions from  the Suarez Corp. of Canton, whose owner Benjamin Suarez is  always ready pass  on great sums of money to Republicans.   In this instance, one can fairly ask how the checks arrived at Mandel's treasury in equal amounts of $5,000 per employe.

According to the Blade:
"The Mandel campaign declined multiple requests for interviews and failed to respond to written questions for this story.  After a speech in Toledo last Thursday,  Mandel avoided  a Blade reporter and rushed out of the building though a service entrance ."
For Mandel, who happens to be the Ohio Treasurer, something isn't quite right about the evasiveness of a young man who has never hesitated to boast of his service as a Marine in Iraq.  There are things about his repeated leaps to higher political office that aren't quite right for a guy who assures  us that he has the gravitas to replace U.S.Sen. Sherrod Brown,  So far the only  talent he's shown is  his hop-scotching to various fat-cat donors, with some of his financial aid coming from Karl Rove's right-wing multi-million-dollar Crossroads America  fund-raising behemoth.  As we have learned,  Rove and money never sleep.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Right-wing pols won't say the sea also rises


If you need  more evidence of Republican madness, we offer this bit of loopy censorship from Virginia's  legislative ranks. A study of the shoreline commissioned by the House of Delegates included references to the recent "rise of sea levels," which were excised by right-wing pols, one of whom described them as  "liberal code words".  ThinkProgess reports that State Del. Chris Stolle, an apparent student of Orwellian Newspeak,  preferred to describe  rising sea levels as the consequence of "recurrent flooding".

 The word from down there is that  Norfolk and Virginia Beach are spending $6 million annually  to "elevate roads, improve drainage and help homeowners raise their houses" while the U.S. Naval base at Norfolk is spending "hundreds of millions to replace piers to withstand rising water."

Oh, the term  "climate change" also is tabu in the once-proud  land of Thomas Jefferson.   My liberal response : "What don't you understand about the words "Glub, glub...?".  

(Psst!  These are the paleopoliticians who keep assuring us that they  are the ones who will make things better!)

* * * * *

When Mitt Romney begins advising us on educational matters, I have a greater appreciation for my days  at tiny Third Ward School in Mt. Pleasant, Pa.   The classes were small and one-to-one help from some fearsome teachers was not uncommon.  A teacher didn't have to leave her seat in the front of the room to stare you down. Looking back, I can say it was a first class education, thank you, even when I shudder at the thought of  having to memorize great portions of Hamlet in English class.

But along comes Mitt to tell us that class size isn't important, and we don't need more teachers.   The Tea Party cheering section rose on cue with each of his empty utterances. But should any of us be surprised by  a fellow who sent all of his kids to exclusive private schools and attended a preppy one himself. Hearing Mittspeak, I hear a very wealthy man who has long been comfortably removed from  the rest of us.  So should he now be considered an expert on a subject with which he has no experience?

* * * * *

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor says there will be no more legislation in the current  session. With a presidential election down the road, his search-and-destroy team will need the time to kick out President Obama.  Jobs bills will have to wait for the House Republican caucus, all of whom already have well-paid jobs, to carry out its scheme.   They may even shut down the government.   Cantor won't say what he has in mind to fill in the days between now and the election.  It may take a proctologist to  find out.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

The rehabbing of Bush's image still isn't working

A new CNN poll named George W. Bush as the least popular of former American living presidents. He was unpopular among 54 pct. of those polled; 43 pct. favored him over the others.

The elder George Bush  received a favorability rating of 59 pct. with 34 pct. voting otherwise.

Jimmy Carter came out on the plus side, 54-30.

That leaves Bill Clinton, who scored a TKO with a popularity rating that soared to 66 pct.  and a negative of only 31 pct.

You have to wonder what the GOP program planners  might be thinking as they set the agenda for the Republican presidential  convention in August.  Unpopularity has never inspired pols to share camaraderie.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Rev.Chalker: Setting the Biblical record straight

I shouldn't let the day pass without  saying something nice about the Rev. Kenneth W. Chalker, the senior pastor of University Circle United Methodist Church in Cleveland.  Chalker plowed into the briar patch of the Bible-quoting opponents of same-sex marriage in a blistering column in today's Plain Dealer with a biblical challenge of his own that pretty much left the other side in tatters.

Defending  President Obama's support of the maligned union, Chalker took up his own evidence of  Biblical malfunction by the other side.
"Ordained pastors thundering their opposition based on their view that God, through the Bible, teaches that marriage is between one man and one woman are just wrong," he wrote. "Such a view is at best shoddy, biblical scholarship.  At worst, it is a very cruel lie."
Chalker  reaches into ancient practices and beliefs to refer to the basis of Bible stories, describing biblical references as
 "remembered stories, teachings, written memories of historical events and settings which - in some places in the text - had their origin in traditions that were over 4,000 years old by the time of Jesus' birth... So, to assert that the Bible reveals an unchanging and unchanged definition and practice of marriage is a monstrous fabrication.   Then, to go on and claim in the very same breath that the Bible advocates the civil marriage as understood and defined by Western culture in the 21st Century is just plain holy smoke."
The other side will be outraged by Chalker's blunt dismissal of their argument.  But he isn't the first to question the authenticity  of  every word set forth in the Good Book.  (For further reading to substantiate his views, I would recommend Sir James Frazer's  The Golden Bough, his exhaustive study of primitive beliefs and traditions that produced offspring in later  Christian thought.)

Chalker will doubtless hear about this.  His words will not convince the fierce opponents of same-sex marriage that he may be on to something.  Still, his piece in the Plain Dealer needed to be said, especially from a brave man of the pulpit.  

Friday, June 8, 2012

Schoolhouse doors, and now voting booths

Florida Gov. Rick Scott's grandstanding defiance of a Department of Justice demand that he end his voter purge recalls another dark moment in  the nation's history.  It happened on June 11, 1963. when another southern governor, George Wallace, chose to "stand his ground' at the door of the University of Alabama's Foster Auditorium to block two black students from entering to enroll. (History has recorded it as the notorious "stand in the schoolhouse door") This, after all,  was the guy who had promised  at his inauguration "segregation now, segregation  tomorrow, segregation forever."

Inasmuch as Wallace figured that he had the majority of voters on his side, it didn't take as much courage as, say, that of the man who stood in the path of tanks in Tianamen Square to block their passage to an uprising. (He was pulled away from probable death by onlookers.)

In Wallace's case, he finally stepped aside so that the students could enter after he was confronted by federal marshals.  But he managed to create his self-absorbed moment of his choosing.  He even ran for president four times.

Today, Wallace isn't around to look at the faces of the University of Alabama's basketball coach and players.  They would have been barred  before the Feds moved  in a half-century ago.    

Like Wallace, Rick' Scott's 15 minutes of defiance will eventually be exhausted for all but the historians. His elections supervisors in all 67 counties have now  pulled out of the game.  Just one more example of how Tea Party Republicans are creating havoc wherever they go.  For Scott, it all depends on how he wants to be remembered when his politician days are behind him.  

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Transferring wealth into votes

BY NOW EVERYONE,  save Queen Elizabeth, who was intently preoccupied with her lavish Diamond Jubilee, has spun the  outcome of Wisconsin's  recall election.  What more can be added to the fact that Gov.  Scott Walker famously survived a  challenge that, by all post-election reports, was destined to happen anyway?  The intensity of the rivals and the failure of the recallers to execute their plan have been  elevated by the pundits and pols to having  a significant  effect on the presidential election, still five months down the road.  I wouldn't go that far.  Considering the royal investment  that the biggest gorillas poured into Walker's campaign against Tom Barrett,  it amounted to filet mignon versus Hamburger Helper. More than $30 million went to Walker; roughly a ratio of 6-1 against Barrett.

It's fair to ask why  this was so.  The princely financiers of state elections certainly are not in need of a second yacht, a fourth home,  a new pair of designer socks or a second car elevator at their homes.   And it's doubtful that a guy like Barrett could deny them of any privilege accorded to an isolated and insulated  New Age Plutocrat.  So Walker was merely a symbol, not of advancing   civilized society to a higher order  but rather to advancing their own purses for a greater cascade of non-essential income.

ITEM: During the campaign, Walker was caught on camera assuring his top contributor that he would "divide and conquer" the unions.  The sugar mommy in this case was Diane Hendricks, chairman of ABC Supply, the nation's largest wholesaler of roofing, windows and siding.  Forbes listed her worth at $2.8 billion, and her company paid zero taxes in 2010.   She has  dropped  a half-million dollars into the governor's  cash box.

Kendricks, the billionaire Koch Brothers and other right-wing mega-financiers taking full advantgage of  Supreme Court privileges of buying and selling candidates have proved that not all primates walk upright. The headline above a political column in the Los Angeles Times put it this way:  Billionaires buy recall election for Scott Walker.

A.J. Liebling, the late chronicler of colorful  Manhattan habitues for the New Yorker during the Great Depression, once wrote about  Izzy Yereshevsky, a Broadway cigar store owner and minor philosopher whose customers often bounced checks on him.  Izzy, however, reacted with godly patience, insisting these were otherwise honest folks who  weren't driven by greed but a "need for self-expression".

Think that describes today's high-rollers?  I wouldn't let them off that easily.  

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Time to let the Gipper rest in peace

You have to wonder how many eons will pass before the icon-spare Republicans stop invoking Ronald Reagan's name to lead them out of darkness.  (I write this before the polls close in Wisconsin.)

In his final appeal to Badger voters to save his - if nobody else's - job, Gov. Scott Walker sent this message to the GOPers:

"Reagan died on this date - Win one for the Gipper."

Well, now.   Walker is not the all-American football player who earned his reputation in the late teens at Notre Dame.  Not even close.  Secondly, haven't we misshaped the real Ronald Reagan who presided over huge government deficits, tax increases and debt-ceiling increases?  Besides, Reagan's association with George Gipp was only as  a Hollywood actor, not as a gridiron star.

At this point, I don't know who will come out ahead in the recall.  But I do know that the Gipper, aka Ronald Reagan, won't have anything to do with the outcome.  Please, let the Gipper - both of them -rest in peace.

Monday, June 4, 2012

There are weeds - and there are weeds!

 Spent some time over the weekend therapeutically pulling weeds in our oversized yard. It's far more rewarding than trying to dislodge the ones in the Tea Party-inspired  House of Representatives.  Or, for that matter, the gaunt, taut-skinned  one that has been growing wildly  in the Florida governor's office.

Still, the word from the Sunshine State, where voter suppression was well under way, is no better than we could expect.  The purge, initiated by Gov. Rick Scott,  had hit many snags, drew a demand from the U.S. Justice Department to end it,  and has left the voting system in the state in chaos.

If that was what Scott, a Republican, had in mind, he succeeded in making a mess. Some angry Floridians are coming forward to complain that  they have been invalidated as American citizens.  There is a growing pool of concern  by voting officials that the system was flawed  from the outset.  The election supervisors in the state's two largest counties have already said they don't want any part of it.  The state is beyond the 90-day legal deadline for effecting changes  before the next election (the primary is in August),  and Scott, an absurdity as an elected official, says he wants to continue to counter election fraud that doesn't exist.   He has until Wednesday to answer the Justice Department.

In Wisconsin on the eve of the recall voting on Gov. Scott Walker, the Republicans are spreading fear that voter fraud could very well defeat their man even though there is no historical evidence to support  that myth.  Reince Priebus, the Republican National Committee chairman,  appeared on Fox News to worry that his side will have to do "one to two percent better" to overcome fraud. That's doable inasmuch as Walker  has outspent his Democratic opponent by more than 7-1 - raising more than $30 million - to keep his job.

The only serious fraud  is the con game to sustain their voter suppression tactics across the land. One of the GOP's Golden Oldie fears is that it simply can't win an election if certain "others" are permitted to vote.  The party has long had a partricular fixation on profiled voters - blacks, immigrants, Latinos, unless one is a domestic whose boss will vouch for him or her.

Note to the GOP:  Better hurry. Every demographic projection tells us that these are the voters who will form the majority soon enough   Got that, Guv,  and your allies across America?

If the weather favors it, I'll spend more time in the yard  tomorrow.  The weeds are terrible this election year.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Kasich: The FBI comes calling

THE KASICH-LED intra-party hit job that drove State Republican Chairman Kevin DeWine from office is still haunting the perps.  There are continuing reports that the FBI is looking into possible bribes by the governor's lower-level apparatchiks - otherwise known as the Kasich Goon Brigade (KGB)- to complete the deal.  The palace intrigue is now a topic for national blogs like Daily Kos.  Not a good image to project, Republicans.

You may recall that the leak in the Kasich back-channel bubble arrived via ex-Portage County GOP chairman Andrew Manning, who accused two of the governor's agents - Summit County Republican chairman Alex Arshinkoff and party activist Bryan Williams - of  promising  Manning a more honored  place in the Kasich Order if Manning, who supported DeWine,  withdrew from the state central committee.  ( It was as though the party had regressed to the medieval days when Kings and Popes fought over who was actually in charge of the domain.)

Manning signed an affidavit that he was offered a quid pro quo at a sit-down at Portage Country Club on Feb. 4.    Arshinkoff/Williams denied that they had  any such thing in mind.

But now come reports of other complaints about the governor's tactics.  Helen Hurst, chairman of the Lorain County Repubican Party, called for a response from Kasich on the allegations.  There were still others who entered the fray:  Maggie Cook, of Warren County, told the Plain Dealer that her job with Associated Builders and Contractors, was threatened if she didn't withdraw from the central committee race in which the governor put up his own slate. She refused to resign from the committee.  She was later fired.

Pause to catch your breath while I report that Bryan Williams, former director of the Summit County Board of Elections,  is a lobbyist for said Associated Builders and Contractors and a likely suspect in trying to influence Cook.

Finally, the spreading wildfire claimed another victim who supported DeWine.  The Columbus political blog Plunderbund reported that Jean Raga resigned from the Central Committee, when the Kasich forces allegedly threatened to take it out on Dayton Power and  Light.  Her husband Tom happens to be a  DPL  lobbyist.  The plot thickens.

Hard to know how far the FBI will take this probe under the  federal law that says, you can't "corruptly" give, offer or promise anything of value with "intent to influence any official act. ...'" (It's all in detail on the Internet.)

On with the show!  But first a question: Do you ever wonder whether this bunch of cold warriors ever has a little fun?