Friday, September 28, 2012

The desperate hours continue to mount for GOP

It hasn't been a good couple of weeks for Mitt Romney's  Comeback to Bush Team.  Aside from the poll numbers, there have been a lot of conservatives screaming at Mitt, churlishly  accusing him of running an incoherent  unbusinesslike campaign.  He might even have to call an ambulance to send a campaign lacking mental health insurance  to an emergency room.

The Republicans, for example, have found no way to shed the image of being Akinistas since the Missouri congressman   damn well stayed in his senate race despite pleas from apopleptic party members.  Heavens, it wasn't that long ago that Reince Priebus, the always befuddled GOP national chairman, adamantly rejected any thought of a party endorsement  of Todd Akin , telling a reporter:  "No,  no , no." But on second thought, Riebus now says that since the party couldn't persuade Akin to withdraw, it will endorse him as the gateway to a Republican takeover of the Senate.

And talk about panic!  With voters ignoring the GOP's labeling of Obama as a socialist-communist-unAmerican-alien-cheater, Romney surrogate John Sununu  told Sean Hannity that the president was "absolutely lazy and detached." (Lazy?  In this context, I'll let you decode that one.)  Sununu said it was Obama's fault that Chris Stevens, American ambassador to Llbya,  was killed because Barack didn't attend  CIA briefings.  On the other hand, Sununu credited an alert George W. Bush with taking a keen interest in the briefings to protect America's security.  As he did in the lead-up to 9/ll, right?

UPDATE:  Almost forgot. Mike Huckabee told his Fox News audience that President Obama should be impeached for "lying" about the Libyan attack.  So I ask you:  Is that any way for a former Baptist preacher to show Christian love and forgiveness to a fellow-man - even by a dead-ender like Huckabee?

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Hooray.   The real NFL officials are back.  Now can we start the season all over again?

Note to Newt: Your coming-out party's over

One of the happier thoughts in the early celebratory moments at the end of the Republican presidential primaries was that we had  seen the last of Crazy Guggenheim,  i.e. Newt Gingrich.  He had repeatedly promised to put a permanent base on the moon - but, alas, not until his second term, airily  reveled in describing Barack Obama as the biggest food-stamp president in history and insisted  that all school janitors be fired and replaced by students to teach  them good work habits.

He tried to lure us with a devilish smile and imperious self-confidence. But when he was  mercilessly rejected by his own party in primary after primary, it was logical to assume that this pathetic figure had finally witnessed his  last hurrah. But wait...

The other night he was shown standing aside Todd Akin, the notorious Missouri congressman, to offer his worthless endorsement.  He was later  reported to have voluntarily  drawn up an unofficial playbook to show Mitt Romney how to win his debate with Obama!   Poor fellow is everywhere.    He's a man with the drive of  street vendor who shows up in the worst weather in hopes of one more sale.

He also promised to arrive in Tampa with enough delegates.  It didn't happen.

 Face it, Newt.  It's over. You don't even have the door prize of elder statesmanship.

NOTE:  Plunderbund has posted my column on voter suppressing Republican liars 

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Santorum to Todd Akin: Go for it!

If quasi-priest Rick Santorum has any plans for self-sainthood, he's going about it in an odd way. Now that Rep. Todd Akin, the Missouri  Republican who made the term "legitimate rape" "a household term (as in House of Representatives) has decided to stay in the Senate race, Santorum apparently has no misgivings about vigorously  endorsing him.  Akin is trying to unseat Democratic U.S.Sen. Claire McCaskill, whom the  GOP right-wing would prefer to be back in the kitchen.   Santorum puts it this way:  If the Republicans hope to take back the Senate, they'll have to throw out McCaskill and any oddball Republican successor will do.     Machiavelli is alive and well in some political precincts.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The stricken NFL: Playing out of bounds

 After seeing the melee in the end zone that awarded a victory to the Seattle Seahawks  over  the Green Bay Packers , it's fair to wonder whether the NFL should now be demoted to the  category of trash sports.  To add to the confusion, both teams were forced to return to the field for a meaningless extra point after the clock expired. If you're still unconvinced, the decisive play  is now being described as the worst officials' decision in NFL history.

Is there anyone - player, coach, fan - who hasn't complained about the dismal performance of the scabs who have replaced the striking officiating crews?  Some, as on Monday night, actually changed the outcome of games with questionable penalties, increasing reviews of on-field decisions. The contests have been tediously drawn out with conferences to discuss penalties, all adding to the endless commercial breaks that have extended 60 minutes of actual playing time to a three-hand-a-half hour slog.  Fans are  spending more time watching the officials' huddles than those of the players.

It turns out that some of the officials are rejects from the Lingerie Football League;  ya know, the one  that features female athletes  suited up like Xena the Warrior Princess on an alleged shrunken football field.  And the NFL season is still young.

It's not Bain, but it may have investment potential

Do you think that if Mitt Romney loses in November, he will have more time to pursue a flighty business investment that is already on his mind these days:  roll-down airplane windows.    Ever since his wife's plane was forced to land when smoke filled the cabin, Mitt has been wondering aloud why the passengers couldn't have sought fresh air by opening the plane's windows when the smoke was first detected.

As he explained his concern for Ann's safety to the Los Angeles Times, "You can't find any oxygen from outside the aircraft to get in the aircraft." So when there's a fire in the plane, "There's no place to go, exactly."

Exactly.   The problem, of course, is that a burst of oxygen at a plane's cruising level would, among other  things,  feed a fire.  Still,  Mitt says he doesn't know why the windows don't open.  "It's a real problem. So it's very dangerous."

As one who prefers to be known more as an astute, can-do  businessman than as a potential leader of the free world, Mitt has doubtless given thought to a new growth industry of manufacturing convenient open-and-close  windows, which will be investigated further on his next trip to China.  Meantime, somebody should tell  him that for the time being he will have make do with those drop-down gizmos called oxygen masks.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Golly gee: The multimillion dollar bow tie traveler

As a college student I was told by my father that he wanted me to be, in the following  order, a car salesman, doctor or lawyer.  Being young and contrary - but not yet grumpy -  I figured that I  wanted something else for a day job.  What Dad foolishly never mentioned was that I should try to become the president of a megalopolis  otherwise known as Ohio State University. (He was a Notre Dame fan, anyway.)

I must confess that when I read that E.  Gordon Gee, the OSU president, could easily get by with the world's largest bow tie collection on his $8.6  million in salary and perks  in addition to the  $7.7 million that he's spent on travel in  his five years at OSU, I realized that some folks  have  checkbooks that never have to be balanced.

The OSU guardians of the fortress immediately offered to the Dayton Daily News investigative team that broke the story that, after all, the travel money was drawn from private donors and endowments to attract hundreds of millions of dollars in investments.  Or as a front-office spokesman  described it, "resource generation".  Do these guys ever speak  English?

There's still one question:  Can the Ohio public retirement system really afford to have Gee retire during these lean days?   The formula for his compensation would  be a lot more than $1 million.  Until the economy improves, he should be encouraged to hang around for a little longer to add to his famous bow tie collection and bow tie cookies.  It also would give us more time to find out what the "E" in his name stands for. Ego?

Sunday, September 23, 2012

The widening fallout from Husted's "rising star"

We recently noticed in the Plain Dealer  a reference to Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted  as a "rising star".  If this sort of alias catches on, Husted may have created the next perilous level in his  reach  for the governor's title.  Or will it be an overreach?

As we all know by now,  Husted has been spending a lot of his time joining the fashionable Republican enterprise of shrinking  the state's voter base, defending himself in court suits and otherwise playing nice to the Tea Partiers around the state.  But does he really believe that the counteraction to policies that anger such a heated audience on the other side will disappear  if he ever tries to cash in on a higher office?

It's astonishing how any alleged "rising star"  can leave so many voters for dead by kneeling underneath   the right-wing flap of the GOP.  Shouldn't somebody remind this Tea Party supplicant that there are also are falling stars in the firmament?  Or maybe he will  have to find that out for himself.

NOTE: My column on the Sutton-Renacci race has been posted on Plunderbund.  

Saturday, September 22, 2012

TeaParty signs of the times -and maybe later

Meet the Tea Party folks who rule Romney/Ryan and the Republican House of Representatives and who are determined to rule America.  

...and this one!  

Friday, September 21, 2012

There are battlegrounds, but never Mississippi

How many more decades must pass before Mississippi becomes a "battleground state"? 

(Asked to break the tedium of hearing  Ohio repeatedly called a  "battleground state". 
Could they be referring to the Browns and Modell legacy?)

Gerson is looking at Mitt from our side

And now, the latest from former Bush chief speech writer and Wash Post columnist Michael Gerson:

"Yet a Republican ideology pitting the “makers” against the “takers”
offers nothing. No sympathy for our fellow citizens. No insight into
our social challenge. No hope of change. This approach involves a
relentless reductionism. Human worth is reduced to economic
production. Social problems are reduced to personal vices. Politics is
reduced to class warfare on behalf of the upper class. "

(When conservatives write things like that, I can take the day off!!)

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Universal questions of the millennium

I have questions:

  • As the Republican presidential campaigns shambles toward Election Day,  when will good soldier John Boehner crack and start sobbing on TV?

  • Who will convince  Mitt Romney that the  presidency is  not an  entitlement?

  • Who will respond to comedian Lewis Black's appeal for someone to make his bathroom as white as the GOP convention that he viewed?

  • When a Romney strategist asserted that Mitt would Etch-a-Sketch after the primaries, was he referring to the 2016 primaries?

  • Would it at least help the economy with job creation if  the government made silver  spoons for  the  47 pct. of Americans whom he says won't take responsibilitiy for themselves?

  • Would you join an office pool  to predict the day when Rep. Darrell Issa will say something intelligent?

  • Will Josh Mandel ,  the Republican candidate for the senate,  tell us whether he was really   stationed in the Green Zone in Iraq.

  • When will Paul Ryan stop referring to Romney as his "running mate"?
  • Why won't the media ask Paul Ryan about the time he saw the North Pole from his front porch?

  • Am I the only person who doesn't  think Comedian Dennis Miller is funny?

  • When will Rush Limbaugh refer to all women as sluts?

  • How many wives is Mitt Romney permitted to have? 

  • Finally, will Mitt add an elevator for his dancing horses to his palatial home?  

  • And finally again: Wouldn't Mitt's life be a lot less complicated if he let H&R  Block  do his taxes?    


Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Ryan enters race in the outside lane

And now, Dear Reader. do we have a 3-man race:  Mitt Romney, Barack Obama Ryan?

On at least two occasions, Ryan has said he disagrees with Romney's  version of the 47 per centers...Or...that Mitt's remarks were "inarticulate".

Latest polls among diehard Republicans between Mitt and Paul  now give Ryan 37 pct., Romney 26 pct., with the others undecided or still at the seashore. When Ryan's  boss, who has been out to a long lunch, returns to the office,  heads could roll.

Poetic elegance to explain Mitt

Thanks to the Bard of Akron:

Romney  is a preposterous  gent,
When he talks of the 47 percent.
Is he merely trying to be funny,
Or protecting rich men's money?
Who can be sure of what he meant?  

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Elegant language eludes Romney


                Mitt Romney said his words about  the 47 per centers were not stated elegantly
                                                                        * * *

Until now, we had usually assigned elegance to the words of Shakespeare or Robert Browning.  But  here comes Romney with his 47-47  paint-by-the-numbers  remarks to a thick-walleted group of donors  that assume one can speak elegantly while dissing  nearly half of  Americans as  lazy, whining, tax-free slobs. As one who has accused  President Obama of  "divisiveness,"  Mitt has now said, in his own goal-tending   words: "The president has his group and I have mine."

Mitt would have us believe that his  views on this drag on hardworking taxpayers (his 47 pct .plus the Big One at the top)  were a little muddled because he was speaking "off the cuff".

"I'm sure," he retreated, "I could have stated it with more clarity."

But I'm sure that not until the video blew a big hole in his campaign did he think his message to his high rollers was anything less than clear.

There have been strong hints about where the Romney campaign has been headed in nailing The Others in his great divide.   Rick Santorum, once a Romney opponent and now a surrogate, has recently declared that  the "elite and smart" people would never vote for his side.  Probably true about smart people, although I know little about the elitists. And it's now inelegantly clear that Mitt knows nothing about the 47 pct. who are The Others.

The Republican war on fact-checkers

The Republicans progressively have  created a new defense against any idea that demolishes their positions:  Damn the facts, as others know them. Here are the exhibits, as we know them:

Former Bush assistant and Republican strategist  Ron Christie,  dissing  fact-checkers:  "Somebody should check the fact-checkers".

Romney pollster Neil Newhouse: "We're not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact-checkers".

Long Island Rep. Peter King, when told by Soledad O'Brien that had shown that President Obama never apologized to a violent enemy in a  European speech, the congressman  responded: "I don't care what fact-check says."

As a matter of fact, that seems to be the chosen course of the entire faltering Romney campaign.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Royalty goes topless: a break from bleak reality

We interrupt the presidential election news to bring you this bulletin on the latest reports from what is now being called "The Royal Topless Scandal".   You know the story:  The Duchess of
Cambridge, a.k.a. Kate Middleton, was pictured in a magazine sunbathing topless.  And now the royal court is threatening a lawsuit. For Europeans, however, this is simply a  delicious diversion from the bleak world and morality has nothing to do with it.

Of course, if you've never visited Europe, you won't know that most of the Mediterranean beaches are open  to topless sunbathing women, some of them grandmothers. Most Europeans take such opportunities  for voyeurs and sun worshippers in stride.  I recall that when a priest in the Italian town of Monopoli on the Adriatic tried to clothe the bathers with bras, the townspeople were outraged by the potential loss of tourists and threatened to burn down the church.

Except for the royals, where it's one thing after another in the sniffiest  circles, nudity is not a big deal over there.  Maybe it's because the people have lived  since classical Greece  among towering naked  statues,  none more revealing than Michelangelo's David.  Nor for that matter, Georgione's masterful 16th Century painting, Sleeping Venus.  And so many others.

Still the Duchess' semi-exposure in France, Ireland and by a magazine owned by Silvio  Berlusconi (who else?)  brought down the wrath of Buckingham Palace.  After all, it was hardly the "wardrobe malfunction" that exposed Janet Jackson's nip during Super Bowl XXXVIII  on CBS.  (The FCC fined the network a half-million dollars, but later voided it. How can we ever forget?) In the latest faux-scandal, Middleton didn't malfunction, she intended to be braless.

Sometimes, it's important to skip the presidential campaigns, even the headless GOP ticket, for a moment or two to get to the real problems facing the world.

Sutton-Pelosi vs. Renacci- Boehner?

Sooner or later it figures  that Nancy Pelosi would make it to the Ohio ballot.   That's what Republican congressman Jim Renacci wants to happen.  Not he's any great admirer of the Democratic minority leader.  Quite the contrary.  He wants you to believe that by voting for his Democratic opponent in the new 16th congressional district you will not be voting for Rep. Betty Sutton but for Pelosi

Or as Renacci's new $1.1 million GOP Super PAC ad puts it, Sutton doesn't work for Ohio; she works for Pelosi.

Pelosi's political enemies have been putting a hit on her ever since she rose to prominance in the House of Representatives.  I was never sure whether it was because she was a woman or a Californian. Years ago,  a  guy at a friend's patio party couldn't stop rattling on about "that witch" - my way of cleaning it up. Some white guys have a way about stating their case against women.

Renacci, of course, is a garden variety  conservative Republican who seldom disagrees with his boss, House Speaker John Boehner.  And as the ad snorts, Sutton supports Obamacare, while making the easily refuted claim that the President is robbing Medicare of $700 billion or something like that, to support Obamacare.

That's what you get for $1.1 million these days?   Please.  

Sunday, September 16, 2012

But Rick, surely you can use some of those people, too

While searching for today's unqualified winner of the Grumpy Abe Linguistic Lunacy (GALL)
Award, I figured it couldn't  get any better this one from Rick Santorum speaking at the Value Voters Summit:

"We will never have the media on our side.  We will never have the elite, smart people on our side."

Anybody have a problem with that?

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Today's political news: The view from the rear

What a week, huh? The thundering herd was on the move - backward.  The photo will give you a strong sense of it.  We scooped up a few bits of evidence to close out the week.  Here I go  again:

Romney foreign policy advisor  Richard Wiilliamson  was quoted in the Washington Post as saying the  Middle East would be a kinder, gentler place if Mitt were president.   "There's a pretty compelling story that if you had a President Romney, you'd be in a different situation,"  he said, explaining that  Muslims would have liked him much more than Obama.  I'm not sure what to make of that so I'll move on.

Paul Ryan, who has referred to Mitt as his running mate,  says that when Obama talks about  pulling together to improve  America, he's dishonest.  Why?   Yep, the president's  pro-choice position that "panders to the most extreme elements of his party."
Ryan, an absolutist who insists there should be no exceptions for abortion, said, "We're all in this together - it has a nice ring. For everyone who loves this country  it is not only true, but obvious. Yet how hollow it  sounds coming from a politician who has never once lifted a hand to defend the most helpless and innocent of all human beings, the child waiting to be born."
Plunderbund noted that Ohio Board of Education president Debe Terhar,   a Tea Party activist, has been named the co-chair of the Educators for Romney coalition, whatever that is.    Terhar was appointed to the board by Gov. Kasich, ostensibly to  bring enthusiasm and fervor to the state's education interests.  If this works out,  she'll doubtless be named as the football coach at one of the state universities.  But first she'll have to finish the laundry

 It could change, but as we write, those  efforts to remove Obama from the Kansas  ballot may have fizzled.  A Kansas man who petitioned the state to to deny him a spot on the ballot has withdrawn his petition within a few days before the Kansas Objections Board was to act on it.  The petitioner is a devout birther and had a friend in Secretary of State Kris Kobach,  likewise a birther who  was prepared to honor the request on grounds that Obama hadn't proved that he  was an American.
By the way, Kobach is  on the  Romney immigration advisory team. (It never ends with Mitt!)

What was that memorable line from the Wizard of Oz?  "Toto, I don't think we're in Kansas anymore.")


Note to GOP pols: Women jokes ain't funny

When Gov. Kasich told his audience that his wife was home "doing the laundry" (ha, ha), if maybe only in jest, it was another example of how some Republicans simply don't get it in their  references to women these days.  It quickly recalled how  Rep. Betty Sutton, a Democrat, was dissed  in a  Republican  newsletter during her reelection campaign in 2010.

Remember?  The newsletter, sent out by Medina County GOP chairman Bill Heck,  urged voters to "take Betty Sutton out of the House and put her back in the kitchen".

Heck latter apologized for such opaque insensitivity, saying no one should have been offended because "We were just trying to get the attention of the voters."Which, of course, he did.

Ever notice how these ha-ha's are always directed at a woman's role in the scheme of things?  When was the last time you heard a Republican woman pol  tell the crowd that her husband could not join her because he was home tending to his regular chore of scrubbing the basement floor?

Do we need ask why President Obama is ahead with the women's vote by a double-digit majority?

Friday, September 14, 2012

Is the silent majority really alive and well?

  Republican operative Mark Weaver, Mitt Romney's lawyer in Ohio, joined the few wagon-circlers that formed in the debris of the candidate's attack on President Obama over the violence in Libya and Egypt with a spin that I haven't  heard in political talk for years.   At an Akron Press Club luncheon, he said Mitt was merely saying what the "silent majority believes."

There it is. Silent majority - the term that fell from Richard Nixon's lips back in the darkest of ages.

After the session,  I asked Weaver to clarify his  response to Romney's widely criticized intrusion into foreign policy at the height of an international  crises.

I should have known better. He shrugged off the critics as representing the "liberal media" That's a dog-eared-term kept alive by the Mark Weavers of the world when no other useful explanation serves their side.

So I mention, um, Peggy Noonan , the Wall Street Journal columnist and  once the speechwriter for Ronald Reagan who accused Romney of "not doing himself any  favors" with his bluster.

He dismissed her, too.  "Peggy Noonan is part of the Republican establishment," he sniffed.

Sorry, Mark.  We miss so  much living way out here in ihe Akron area.


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

In a hasty moment, Mitt creates his own disaster

Mitt Romney's rush to judgment on the Benghazi slaughter  was an extraordinary dump  for a guy who is fumbling to  be the CEO of America.  In a matter of minutes before the cameras, his attack on  President Obama in a dark moment that called for solemnity and grace  reaffirmed to us that he is the wimpy malfunctioning robot that we had assumed without this damning proof.

 How dare he say that he is qualified to be the leader of the free world when he  is unable to  articulate a simple rational response to the deaths of four Americans?  Didn't even mention them in his assault on the president. Now a desperate man as he slips in the polls (even the Fox News poll)  you find no triumphal tone in his words, only base politics to appeal to the crazies in his base.   Stunned conservative pundits and quaking GOP colleagues could not believe his display of incompetance.  Or as some critics asked, "Is this the fellow that you want to answer the 3 a.m. phone call?"

I suppose we should quote Rush Limbaugh, the great  white whale, who described Mitt as the "only adult in the room." Truth be known, Rush should be quaking in a different way after the Fox poll  destroyed his sinister argument that the major polls are a liberal conspiracy against Mitt.  Does anybody take this screwball seriously?

Or, for that matter,  Mitt Romney?

NOTE:  My column on Josh Mandel's dismissal of questions until he arrives on the Senate floor has been posted on Plunderbund

Keep an eye on appellate court decision on early voting

There's a critical case ensconced in the U.S.Court of Appeals in Cincinnati  that could have a strong  bearing on  the outcome of the presidential vote in Ohio.  The case is an appeal by Ohio
Atty. Gen. Mike Dewine and Secretary of State Jon Usted  of Southern District Judge Peter Economus' ruling that the state's early voting system  is unconstitutional  The chief jujstice of the appellate court is Alice Batchelder, the conservative wife of Ohio House Speaker Bill Batchelder, a Republican.  Both parties have a lot riding on the appellate court's verdict. If  Economus' decision is upheld, three days   will be restored to early voting just before the election.  If not....

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Romney is 2 for 2 with loonies

Although Mitt Romney has been down a quart or two since the conventions, my unofficial poll  shows him to be strong among dogfight promoters and anti-Communist theorists. He assured himself of their unyielding support by offering his endorsements  to two widely suspected Republican loonies like Steve King and Allen West, a couple of congressmen who operate in another universe.

King, whose Iowa district may have more cows than people,  has long favored dogfighting and  has gone so far as to compare imimigrants to dogs.   He even latched on to the "legitimate rape" issue,   saying he was unaware that pregnancy from rape was that widespread. But that's old news on the right by now.

Never mind.  When  Mitt showed up to endorse King for another congressional term, he declared:  "I'm looking here at Steve King.  He needs to be your congressman again.  I want him as my partner in Washington."  King returned the favor by assuring his constitutents that Mitt was a true patriot with "love for Jesus Christ our savior".

Let us turn now to Florida Tea Party  congressman Allen West, who has declared that there are 80 or so Communists in Congress and recently asserted that "forward" - a word that appears in Obama's campaign slogan -  is an "old Soviet Union, Marxist-Socialist theme" (Aside to Allen: It also appears in Paul Ryan's home state of Wisconsin motto.) It didn't take  long for Lou Dobbs, of Fox News, to remind us that "forward has a a very long history with Marxists and  and socialists" .  Dobbs never has been that original  with his rightwing talking points.

Back to Romney, where today's post began: He happily appointed West as  the co-chairman of his campaign's new Black Leadership Council.

But you can't fault Mitt for trying to win at least one African-American vote, can you?  

Monday, September 10, 2012

Who ended bin Laden's stay on earth? A simple test

 A PPP Ohio poll reports 15 pct.  of Buckeye Republicans believe that Mitt Romney is  "more responsible" for killing Osama bin Laden than President Obama.   At the same time, 47 pct.  of Republicans say they aren't sure.

So here's a simple  plea to these folks:  I've been an Ohioan for 53 years.  Stop embarrassing me to my friends in the Everglades and the Middle East who ask me to explain you.

Here's a simple test that will move you up to the next level of awareness:
 How much is two and two?  Easy enough? No?  

Are you an evil person - or whatever else?

While Mitt Romney was playing his allegiance-to-God card in Virginia Beach  over the week end, the Rev. Pat Robertson was hanging out near the speaker.  There's never any doubt about  the preacher/TV host's own political loyalties. As he succinctly put it,  Democrats "are the party of gays, godlessness and whatever else."

The worrisome thing about Robertson's chilling comment  is the bit about "whatever else".   With so broad a category, you can sit around forever  trying to figure out whether you will be subjected to the Lord's vengeance for being in the "whatever else"  category.  As a long-time journalist, I fear I might be. Would people who didn't vote for Sarah Palin be designated for Hell?

I tried to clarify the remark  with Mitt, who was busy trying to strap Ann's dancing horse to the roof of his car  as they headed  for some R&R at a private lake.  With his tight-lipped smile, he assured me that although he had enormous respect for the Rev. Pat  ,"it wasn't the language I would have used."

(He later issued a statement that old  preachers like  Pat  "are people, too."

Sunday, September 9, 2012

No reason to fact-check Mitt's pollster on this one

Can't let the week pass without choosing  the winner of the Grumpy Abe Linguistic Lunacy (GALL) Award.  It goes to Neil Newhouse , the Romney pollster  who resisted any questions about his candidate's TV ads that mislead the voters on Obama's welfare policy.  Said Newhouse,  "We're not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact-checkers."   That is so obvious that we won't even bother to have his comment to a reporter fact- checked.

Let the games begin

Saturday, September 8, 2012

With Husted-Dewine: Is Blackwell still with us?

Who would have ever guessed that a case could be made for returning Republican Ken Blackwell to the Ohio Secretary of State's office  considering the mess he made of the voting system back in 2004  and later?  From a controversy over provisional ballots, to challenging  the paper used for ballots to adding Diebold voting machines (in which he held some company stock) that were faulty - seldom  a day passed without having to endure more screwups in his office.

On two occasions, the office accidentally exposed Social Security numbers and names of registered voters.  It first released computer discs bearing  such goody information listing  1.2 million individuals.  Second time around, it gave out the names, addresses and social security numbers  of 5.6 million  registered voters.  Blackwell apologetically called the goofs "accidental". Problem solved.

Well, now we have a secretary of state , Jon Husted,  and attorney general, Mike Dewine,  creating greater confusion.  Earlier reports said Husted, acting under a federal court order,  had rescinded his own order shutting down week end voting just prior to Election Day.   That much he did and cheers went up that possibly we could count on a normal election.  You know, like the 2008 election that had caused so few systemic problems.

But we later learned from published reports all the way up to the national media  that Husted, joined by Dewine, had something more in mind, seeking a stay of the court's decision until the state's appeal could complete its course through the courts; i.e., don't do anything until we get back to you, whenever that may be.  Husted's Special Counsel, William S. Consovoy, said the delay was intended to avoid  confusion. 

Plunderbund reported yesterday that this was the same William S. Consovoy who sought an unsuccessful constitutional challenge to the Voting Rights Act in the South.  Husted obviously didn't pull Consovoy's name out of the hat to advance his  opposition to early week-end voting.

In his appeal, Dewine is now talking state's rights instead of voter fraud, a myth that never went anywhere.  I can't imagine the cost of all of these delaying tactics.  Worse yet, it is increasingly clear that Husted and Dewine are still hoping to prepare a table for a Romney victory in Ohio, candor and  the public interest be damned.

Are you listening, Public?

Friday, September 7, 2012

For Mitt, that was then. This is now.

From a reader comes this old flyer from  Romney's gubernatorial campaign in Massachusetts. (That's Kerry Healey, his running mate, not John Kerry. Thank goodness for that.)  Mitt  was in fine "pride" form on this one, don't you think?  Times do change.

GOP-style absentee ballots: 'Righting' the system

Well, Nancy and I each received a feel-good absentee  ballot notice  from Secretary of State Jon Husted today.  It was patriotically red, white and blue, with a prominently displayed checkmark that did double duty by serving as the stylized "V" in the My Vote logo.  Underneath it boldly  declared "My Right - My Responsibility".

How good of Mr. Husted to remind me of my right.  How timely, too, so soon after after he and his cohort,  Atty.  Gen. Mike Dewine  decided to drag out their response to a federal court order to restore week-end early voting.  Oh, they will argue, week-end voting hours are not a right, which is like asking you not to count the change from  a suspicious sidewalk vendor.

It's at least interesting to me how quickly guys like Husted and Dewine move in to blur their tracks on suppressing the vote.   Rights and responsiblity?  Make me laugh, guys.  And as conservative Republicans who preach personal freedom from Big Brother,  shouldn't you be practicing what you are preaching by getting off the backs of certain voters?

UPDATE:  THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH JUST REPORTED THAT HUSTED RESCINDED HIS ORDER  AGAINST EARLY VOTING HOURS FOR THE THE LAST 3 DAYS BEFORE THE ELECTION.  (Shucks.  Mike Dewine, the Ohio AG, had threatened  to be so bold as to appeal the order to the U.S. Supreme Court.    That was STRIKE THREE for Mike, who belatedly switched to the losing candidate in the Republican presidential primary, was on the losing side in the appeal to the Supreme court on Obamacare and now this.  If you think of it, send him a cheerful card as the loser. 

Measuring a convention by tweets?

As I watched President Obama tonight, I decided I would write what everybody else was trying to say, comparing his speech with the others - Clinton, Biden, Michelle et al.  But that seemed to be silly.  He wasn't running against them.  So why was it so necessary to make a big deal of  it.   I merely jotted down that Obama was giving a presidential speech, not a stump speech. Not the most profound insight.  But it was getting late.

But I did learn after so many years in the business of writing about these things that  something new had been added in determining winners: tweets (which I don't do.)  In case you are interested in meaningless trivia, like how many homeruns are hit on a 3-2 count, the Democratic convention produced 9 million tweets; the Republican convention, 4 million.

Can we conclude that's well beyond the margin of error?   I left the room before anybody tried to explain the importance of  that lopsided spread.  If you know, you'll have no luck tweeting me.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

The Husted-Dewine axis challenging Federal court order

Man, these Republican guys aren't kidding in their mad-dash campaign to block early voting on the pre-Election Day week end despite a federal court ordering them to play nice and keep the doors open.  Secretary of State Jon Husted (top photo) has boasted of his leadership in ending the 2008 benefit for pre-election voters, and Attorney General Mike Dewine says he will take the issue onward and upward, to the U.S.Supreme Court, if necessary. Some people define leadership in other ways.

Both men, of course, have their eyes on a Romney election that holds a little promise for their own political future.   Dewine began his term with a promise to join others in appealing Obamacare. You have to wonder whether he has nothing better to deal with his time than to  obstruct  anything that might be favorable for the other party.

As for Husted, well, he's got a tiger by the tail with this one and it's too late to run his office for everyone in Ohio rather just those who vote Republican.

Some Ohio newspapers have already called on the Husted/Dewine twins to obey the court order. But Husted has said he will do nothing until the higher court rules on the appeal. Early voting begins Oct.3, fellows.

I continue to ask:  why have these two state GOP officials given the issue top priority in the workaday world?  I have a hunch that they are looking out solely for their political future.  Dewine, after all, has never seen a possible self-serving opportunity that didn't send him up into the the ether.  He's the fellow, you might remember, who abruptly switched his allegiance from Mitt Romney to Rick Santorum in the final weeks of the Ohio campaign when he was downright sure Santorum would carry the state.  You know the rest of the story.

NOTE: My column  on Josh Mandel's bad habits has been posted on

Bill Clinton brilliantly being Clintonian

Years from now speechmaking will be judged by an adjective derived from an eponym:  Clintonian.  It will be measured by the speaker's ability to connect  one-to-one with a huge audience;  by words  reinforced by the waving hands of a symphony conductor;  by a slight down-home clipped tempo;  by pixie-like humor; by an astonishing  recall of numbers; by an avalanche of facts delivered virtually  as casual conversation; and, finally, by length - which could be compellingly sustained by all of the above.

On Wednesday night at the Democratic convention, that  described former President Bill Clinton, who, as people have come to expect from him, was  being Clintonian at its best.  As the   clearly impressed  Republican strategist Steve Schmidt said afterward: "I wish our side had somebody like that."

In nominating President Obama, Clinton's oration made his  case for  Obama by wading through the complexities of issues like health care, taxation , welfare and others with the brilliance lacking in most active politicians today.  That will be the long-term  definition of Clintonian - a speaker in full command of an enthralled audience.  Folks, who else could have gotten so  much mileage from  a simple household word - arithmetic?


Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Big night for Obama; a boating day for Romney

IF I MAY, some notes from  Battleground Conventions.  Thank you.

      Opening night for the Democrats unleashed a first-inning rally against the Romneyistas who had their chance in Tampa last week. The lineup of speakers left no voter group unturned: women, blacks, hispanics, gays, unionists and just plain folks who can only b e categorized as Democrats.   You expect this sort of thing at political conventions, but the D's were quite efficient in making sure they got their message across.  The cleanup hitter for the evening was, of course, Michelle Obama, who left no doubt about her enormous contribution to the Obama campaign team.

       Surprise of the night:  The blistering  speech by former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland, who shed his previous image as a kindly non-confrontational politician.  If he keeps this up, he will be a strong contender in a crowded Democratic field for governor in 1214.  On this night, Strickland assumed the role of Rahm Emanuel, who was a little restrained from this reputation as a glass-shatterer.  Rahm did start right off by mentioning that he and Obama were from Chicago, the city that Republicans love to hate without  knowing why.

        Aside to Bob Bennett, the Ohio Republican chairman:  He issued a press release allowing that the Democrats must have been desperate to find a spot in the speakers' lineup for former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland.  Can we now conclude that the Dems' "desperation" paid off handsomely?

       Watching San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro, one could only wonder what Rush Limbaugh would do with that name if the mayor ascended to a national level.  I keep hoping that a tyrant will emerge in Siberia with the first name of Rush.

     Meantime, Romney spent the day boating, perhaps satisfied  that he had convinced everybody to put their money into a Swiss vault.  His confederate, Paul Ryan,  turned up in Westlake, Oh., to complain that Obama had made Bush's anemic economic legacy "worse", which was a takeoff on Romney's  notion that "The economy is getting better but Obama made it worse."(I've sent that one to Rosetta Stone for a translation, but haven't heard back. Cognitive dissonance can be challenging.)





Monday, September 3, 2012

Romney-Ryan Comeback Team heading for Bush Country, not Sorrento

It seems only fitting that my fascination with  the businessman running for president that I should respond belatedly  to the Republican convention  that brought us the  Comeback Team of Mitt and Paul.  (Sorry, Rick and Newt, Michelle and Sarah - maybe next time.)

Did I say Comeback Team?    I did.  It was on everybody's mind for this star-crazed moment of redemption in Tampa for the future of America, if not necessarily its middle class.
It nagged me that I had heard of comebacks before, the Hollywood version.  Turning to the Web, I learned The Comebacks was a satirical  movie produced in 2007  that parodied the "cliches and plots of of the sports film genre."

Where else would you find a character named Jizminder Featherfoot?  C'mon.  Let's be fair about this.  He wasn't the fellow with the 10-gallon hat sitting in the third row of the Texas delegation.  And there was nobody in the cast playing Clint Eastwood or Cardinal Dolan.

One Web source did provide us with a few quotes from the film to give you some idea of its level of comedy. It liked the exchange between Michelle Fields and Lance Truman, two of the film's characters:
Michelle:  I was out catching some waves.
Lance: In the middle of Texas?
Michelle:  I told you I'm hard-core.
Or the one between Lambeau "Coach" Fields  and God:
Lambeau:  Yeah,this is great.  Middle of Podunk, nowhere. How am I gonna find an All-American quarterback?
God: If you build it he will come.  If you build it, he will come.
(God also told Lambeau his father was dead, and wouldn't be around to build it but Lambeau corrected Him that his father was very much alive.   But that's another story.)

Since the movie, like the convention, got only tepid reviews, I leaned toward calling the Comeback Team the Soggy Bottom Boys from the ornery film Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?   Or Willard and the Golden Fleece (job).

But there I go again, off the page. So I  think I'll b e content with calling it the Comeback to Bush Team.

Close enough.

In Dayton, time to return 2 Dems to Elections Board

Question for the legal minds, which I'm not:

In the Repubicans' bizarre attempts to restrict voting hours while being less than candid about their motives, Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted  fired two Montgomery County (Dayton) Democrats on the Board of Elections because they  decided to  go ahead with  early week- end voting - a practice followed in the 2008 presidential election that went smoothly.  If it wasn't broken, why did he try to fix it?

But now that a federal judge has ruled that Republican Husted's scheme was unconstitutional (except  not in the mind of Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, who is appealing it)  shouldn't Husted take the hint and restore Dennis Lieberman and Tom Ritchie Sr. to their board positions?

With the current state of the GOP, you are always missing something in the narrative.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Kasich lauded by Mitt: Not a lie if he believes it?

 Romney spent a little time in Cincinnati on Saturday, but it was long enough to tell the biggest fib of his campaign.  Maybe still euphoric over his friendly reception in Tampa, Mitt told a crowd in the Union Terminal train station that  unlike President Obama,  Ohio Gov. John Kasich knows how to create jobs. He said:

"This is a great state, and you've got a great governor in John Kasich.  He's showing the president - if he'd only listen - how to create jobs."

You'll be hearing a lot of that from the Romney forces to Election Day and, if true, it could be quite effective. But quite the opposite is true.   You probably know by now that the biggest help in Ohio's economy came from  the auto industry bail-out that Romney and Kasich opposed.  Do you recall Mitt's remedy for the ailing industry:  Let Detroit  go bankrupt.

Romney is given to saying nutty things, like his solution to immigration:  Self-deportation.  Or his cowardly reponse to Rush Limbaugh's reference to Sandra Fluke as a slut.  "That's not the language I would have u ded," Mitt meekly demurred.

All over the state, beginning with the recovery of a stricken area like Youngstown, there is growth.  GM, an industrial giant targeted for bankruptcy by Romney, has already announced it will build the 2015 Chevrolet Cruze there. And what about the smaller companies in the chain  that will now be able to supply a healthier auto industry?

I once thought that Mitt and  his Wingman,  Paul Ryan, were making all of  this up to win an election.  But now I keep recalling George Costanza's profound words on Seinfeld:
"It's not a lie if you believe it."
Mitt believes it.  That should worry all of us more than his flagrant  lies.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

In campaign mode: Pursuing the American Dream

With my computer down for a couple of days, I had plenty of time to think about Mitt Romney's businessman's approach in calling for  the "American Dream". It's the safe term that so often rises to a candidate's lips  when chauvinistic wholesomeness is necessary in the heat of a campaign.  In lands I've visited overseas, I can't say I've ever heard anybody else attach their country to a dream.  The Italian Dream?  The German Dream?  The Irish Dream?  Well, if you press them on the topic, the Irish do dream of Guinness flowing from their home faucets someday. In Italy, they will tell you about anchovies.  And a German's happiest moment is a well prepared schnitzel.

As I sat through larger-than-life moments of the convention, the American Dream became something we could all realize if we put our mind to it - or had a rich father. After all, it was a  spectacle of sworn honest discourse, soaring promises  and, of course, an empty chair.  Based on Clint  Eastwood's creaky comments, including a raunchy reference to President Obama, shouldn't  someone have rushed onstage to offer him a rocking chair instead?   (Mitt, the "we built it guy",  is said to have tumbled with laughter.  Didn't anybody first check to see whether the chair was built in China?)

Back to the American Dream.  The profile of the delegates was that they were white, male, and older.
I fully qualify.  So my dreaming took me back to my teenage days, when I wanted to be a professional baseball player. Then, a pianist for a small jazz group.  Then, as a journalism student, a successor to Edward R. Murrow.  Then a best-selling author. Finally, my own villa in Umbria.   Mitt:  I regretfully have to tell  you:  Except maybe for the villa,  I tried.  I really did.  And none of the dreams came true.

Maybe  I should have aspired to being a politician like you, standing before a big friendly audience, confidently  into yourself with that  Mona Lisa smile,  and insisting that the American Dream does include everybody  if you work at it - and have a very rich father.

My father's only dream for me was that I hang out in a small garage in a coal-miners town and run his business.  Since I was foolish enough to prefer reading Hemingway and Faulkner and engaging in other dead-end personal diversions instead of poring over General Motors parts catalogs,  I had to move on.  Folks, I'm not complaining about a lost family business opportunity, but a low-paying newspaper job in another state was  the least painful  way to get around my father's dream.

By the way, now that you mention it so often,  Mitt: What is the American Dream?