Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Stars and stripes - but hopefully not forever!

AS you may be aware, I'm not one to complain.  But as a life-long avid Steelers fan, I can only  respond with total horror  over the team's s throwback uniforms against the Redskins on Sunday.   Look for yourself.    When the team poured out of the tunnel  before the game, it looked like a jailbreak. How could  the costume department have so abused a team widely known for its decorum, gentility and  civility on the field? These guys have wives and mothers and children.  ESPN's poll said two-thirds of the respondents agree with me.  So for once, I am in the majority.  Hrrrummpphhh!!!

Ken Blackwell, now a Tea Party huckster

 Slate  Magazine reports that Ken Blackwell,  the former  Ohio Secretary of State who played  a less-than-illustrious official role in managing Ohio's elections, is appearing in a TV ad as the "titular head" of the  Tea Party Victory Fund.  Honest.

Blackwell's target is the so-called "Obama phone" video unearthed by the Drudge report.

According to Slate, Blackwell wrote the ad, which  once again rails at Democrats for literally buying off votes from people in need.

Rather than cherry-pick the message, here it is:

This is it --this is the October surprise.  We just need to get this ad on television today.  Will you help us?

This commercial  is a microcosm of the difference  between Republicans and Democrats.  Republicans want to create an environment where free people make their own choices and pursue their dreams. President Obama and Democrats want to create a dependency on government that ensures that Americans will continue to rely on Washington from cradle to grave.  
What this lady said is so offensive because it's so blatant  -  she finally comes out and says what we all know that the Democrats really think.  That's why this ad is so damaging to the president in Ohio. 
Let me tell you something.   I'm from Ohio.  I was elected statewide as the Secretary of State and Ohio State Treasurer - the ad is effective.  If swing voters in this state see this ad, they simply will not support President Obama, and he will lose Ohio.

There are too many weird  assumptions to address in the ad, which is supposed to run in Summit, Lucas and Mahoning Counties. But if Blackwell has cast his lot as a Tea Party huckster, he obviously is blind to the sort of racist stuff  that turns up on some of the signs at the teabagger rallies.

P.S..   The only October surprise , Ken, is that you probably got paid to write this.  

Christie: High praise for Obama's efforts in critical times

While New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie was praising President Obama's intense engagement  in  the post-Sandy devastation of Christie's state,  Mitt was doing photo-ops in Ohio on a day when he said he wouldn't be campaigning at all.  Christie emphatically described Obama's  quick action  to expedite FEMA's assistance as ''outstanding" and said he didn't care  if such  praise violated party loyalties in the presidential race.

Meantime, Romney was more circumspect about  FEMA, the agency that he has long dismissed as a drag on the federal budget,  having once said that critical disaster work could best be handled by the private sector!   He didn't say  how that would be fail-safe but it is a clue to his secret plan to end the deficit.   Does that make you feel more secure these days if your town is hit by another disaster with him in the Oval Office?

On Tuesday,  trapped by his past feeble notions, he ignored  all questions from reporters on  whether he  now felt that FEMA was necessary for the nation's domestic emergencies.  It was just Mitt being Mitt when he faces an unpleasant situation that can't be solved by metrics and IPOs.

Having watched this guy since the start of the primaries, I've concluded that his campaign is much like the Seinfeld series:  It's a campaign about nothing.

That being the case, the narrative must find a way to gain traction with lies.  Not that he nor his supporting cast worry much  that it all reflects on Romney's incurable waffling and dishonesty.   Indeed, any challenge to his plot devices is merely cause to repeat them.  When top Chrysler executives criticized his fictional  Jeeps-to-China  TV ads,  the trash talk continued to turn up on TV and radio, especially in the Toledo area where the auto industry has heavy impact  on the economy.

* * * * *

Poor John McCain.  He grows more erratic by the hour.  There he was in Ohio with Josh Mandel at his side - ya know, the old soldier and his young aide-de-camp -  asserting on TV that Obama was  "unqualified" to be America's commander-in-chief.  The only thing I  can figure is that McCain  is bored and needs to hug up to Romney for a possible appointment to Team Romney if Mitt lands  in the White House. I think he might be holding a pair of sixes against a full house.

* * * * *

The Columbus Dispatch today endorsed Sherrod Brown over Josh - the second conservative Republican paper forced to concede  the wide gulf that separates the two candidates.The other paper: The Cincinnati Enquirer.

* * * * *

My column on the Romney campaign's lies about Obama and the auto industry is posted on Plunderbund.

Monday, October 29, 2012

No cookies this week for Ben Stein from Mitt

From a reader comes this battlefield report that he  labeled "Friendly Fire", as told to 


Cohen: A divisive conflict among Jews in Cuyahoga County

 There's an online piece by New York  Times Columnist Roger Cohen that reports the fierce  mano- a-mano  dispute among Cuyahoga County Jews  that has ripened during the current presidential election campaign.  It has been long seeded by the distrust by some Jews that President Obama, of all things, is anti-Israel.

Cohen sets the stage for his report in the first paragraph, writing in the paper's Global Edition:
Things are getting ugly among the Jews of Cuyahoga County, with family splits and dinner   invitations declined.  "I have never seen the divisions this acute," said James Ratner, an executive of the Forest City real estate group.
Normally, the family argument would be just that:  a purely inside event with little more than passing attention from beyond its sphere.  However, in this case the implications are broader because any fallout from the traditionally progressive Jews  could determine the outcome of the Ohio election and therfore,  the U.S. election.  Not that Mitt Romney hasn't noticed its electoral possibilities with his constant pandering to Israeli interests on this side of the ocean.  (Obama has thrown Israel under the bus!, Mitt has quacked, as though all blessings of foreign policy, even such myths as these,  flow from his Bain cornucopia.)  

To heighten the intensity of the Jewish  combat in Cuyahoga County, the Ohio  Senate race has  devolved into the spectacle of Josh Mandel, a conservative Jewish Republican who has been on message since grade school.  He married into the influential Ratner family but today enjoys no more  than partial support from his in-laws.

Cohen  writes that Mandel's  anti-abortion stance included "calling the indiana Senate nominee Richard Mourdock a  'class act' [!] after Mourdock said pregnancy resulting from rape was 'something God intended to happen' and was 'always a gift from God.'"

Back to James Ratner:  Cohens reports that Ratner  emailed him with word that a Jewish womens' group, with 60 members attending a meeting  at Park Synagogue, unanimously supported  Obama.
"Those Jewish women," Cohen writes, "know exactly what Romney and Mandel represent: an obcurantist and invasive threat to their rights in the name of God whose wishes these men presume to know'.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Youngstown Vindicator offers words to Mandel

Today's recommended viewing of another Josh Mandel gem:

It's the film clip of Mandel's interview by the Youngstown Vindicator that is posted on-line by Daily Kos.    During a testy discussion of the auto bailout, which Mandel opposes, the Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate snapped at the paper's editorialists, "Please, sir, don't put words in my mouth." To which the editor replied:  "Somebody's gotta put words in your mouth because all you do is talk in circles."

It's also newsworthy that when a conservative newspaper like the Cincinnati Enquirer endorses  a liberal Democrat like U.S.Sen. Sherrod Brown over Mandel, the enthusaism for Mandel's candidacy continues to take a beating -  if ever there were any enthusiasm in the first place other than the right-wing high rollers who have put nearly $20 million into the Whiz Kid's campaign.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Sununu, the white man's candidate

Once again, John Sununu misfired a finger (it's supposed to be the middle one raised in defiance, John) when  he returned to his race-baiting ways against President Obama. No, we're not talking about your average redneck.  We're talking about the co-chair of Mitt Romney's campaign who made it a point to tell the voters that the only reason Gen. Colin  Powell endorsed President Obama was that they are fellow-African Americans.

It would therefore be  fair to ask Sununu whether the only reason he is siding with Mitt is that they are fellow-Caucasions.

 He's the same guy who once expressed his wish that President Obama  would learn to be an American. (We know what you were thinking, John,)

At other times he has described Obama as"lazy and disengaged".  (You  can filll in the blanks with "watermelon" and food stamps.)

The Washington Post noted that Sununu asserted that Obama's Southern accent was as  "phony as his jaunt".  That leads us to wonder when he will get around to Stepin Fetchit and Sambo.

Considering how much racists feed on these comments from the big man, you can reasonably  ask whether Sununu is as loose tongued as he sounds, or whether he knows exactly what he is doing.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Brown-Mandel debate: Josh just being Josh

Having just watched the final debate  between Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown and Republican challenger Josh Mandel,   there are a  few points that I want to get off my chest:

Mandel's repeated pledges (including the one he signed for mega-lobbyist Grover-Norquist)  that he would never raise taxes cherry-picked the old Republican theme that there are other ways to pay for the things that  Americans want, eliminate the deficit and sustain a healthy society. (On this score, we learned more about his grandparents and parents than we did on how he would replace the tax loss).
His cadence and mechanical gestures were stylistically perfect, indicating that he was still young enough at 35 to remember his lines for a class play without a flaw. My notes asked, Is this fellow the young Mitt Romney?

He stressed his opposition to the auto bailout without once acknowledging the huge number of jobs that it saved.

He also added a new spin, that polls show him to be one percentage point ahead (The latest average of several polls show Brown more than 4 points ahead.)

Finally, he enthusiastically talked of his future as a "bipartisan" problem solver in the Senate.

On that point, history is not on his side.    Most of his talking points are  clearly on the hard Right, as are the super-rich wealthy right-wing contributors who have dumped upward of $20 million into his campaign.  An important condition that he has yet to learn if he ever reaches the Senate floor is in the book of Ancient Political Realities :

                            You must dance with the  people who brung you there

Mitt's mini-Olympian fanfare for the common man

Mitt Romney, posing as the average commoner,  happily totes a grocery bag to the counter with Sen. Rob Portman at his side  during a campaign stop in Cincinnati.  Another photo-op for the archives to demonstrate Mitt's down-to-earth regular guy-ness. It's sort of self-flagellation with a smile for a guy who will  never have to suffer the awkward ordeal again after the election.

Still, the reports of his post-Richard Mourdock moments were less aglow.  He dodged all questions from the media  about how a man of his keen concern for at least half of America could still be supporting Mourdock with a TV ad in Indiana that suggests the Republican senatorial candidate will help him rid Capital Hill of Obama  evil.  (Mourdock, in case you haven't been paying  attention, says God wills rape victims to bear children.)

Mitt continually  rambles about in the farthest reach of the oddball Republican right.  As for Mourdock, the polls show him to be ahead of his Democratic opponent.    Albert Camus was so perceptive  when he  wrote in The Plague:
"Supidity  has a knack of getting its way; as we should see if we're not always so much wrapped up in ourselves."
UPDATE:  While wandering through the land of Nod, we came across this incredible  assessment of Mourdock from Josh Mandel, the  Republican candidate for senator:  "He's a class act!"  No, the Whiz Kid wasn't looking into the mirror this time.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Bombshell Trump is back on the stump

Donald Trump's  foolishly awaited "bombshell"  that would blow President Obama out of the race came and went today with the usual zero-sum results.  The billionaire wannabe game-changer and friend of Mitt Romney got the attention he sought after spending painful time in the shadows.  He offered $5 million to President Obama's  favorite charity if he released his college records and passport application.    How generous of Donald,  even if it was widely accepted as a meaningless stunt.  We should recall that he also spent a lot of money trying to prove, without success, that Obama was not an American.

As a youngster, I and the other kids in the neighborhood had a great time with a tongue-twister that seems quite appropriate in Trump World.  It goes like this:
A skunk sat on a stump.
The skunk thunk the stump stunk
and the stump thunk the skunk stunk.
But if the stump thunk  the skunk stunk
and the skunk thunk the stump stunk...
Who stunk?  The stump or....the Trump?
It works for me. folks.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Romney endorsement: the Dispatch's 96-year habit

 No one should have  been surprised that  Mitt Romney picked up an  endorsement from an Ohio newspaper long sworn to fealty to Republicans - the Columbus Dispatch.  As Plunderbund pointed out recently, the Dispatch hasn't endorsed a Democrat for president since 1916.   You would agree,  I'm sure, that 96 years is a long time for the needle to be stuck in the groove.

But the paper had an even greater inspiration to praise businessman CEO Romney, noting that Mitt's   "effect on business confidence would be dramatic and immediate."   Mitt, it glowed, "knows what he is doing"  in economic matters.

And what the paper anticipates he would be doing would be furthering the business empires of folks like the powerful Wolfe family, the Dispatch's owners, whose  sprawling outreach in the private sector includes The Ohio Company,  land owning  and TV-radio outlets WBNS-TV in Columbus (Wolfe Bank, Newspaper, Shoes. - got that?)  

If a Democratic presidential candidate ever ran unopposed, the Dispatch would find a way to invent an opponent.  

Monday, October 22, 2012

The Koch way of doing anti-environmental business brothers

The billionaire Koch Brothers have decided to flood  the   narrative of the  hysterical  campaign  against Sen. Sherrod Brown with a burst of anti-environmental crap onto the streets and into voters homes.  This  photo from a reader  shows three separate arrivals into a single home.  While walking in the neighborhood this afternoon I found another piece tossing about in the grass.  All of the pieces were paid for by Americans for Prosperity,  the royally financed propaganda machine founded by the Kochs.

The Kochs sit at the top of Koch Industries, a mammoth multi-purpose enterprise, which explains their  fierce animosity toward the Environmental Protection Agency, climate change and anything else that threatens to cost them a buck or two from liberal politicians like Sherrod Brown. On the other hand, they are friendly to Brown's Republican opponent Josh Mandel, who also believes, among other nonsensical things, that climate change is a hoax.  And that greater coal production is the wave of the energy future for a healthy economy.

There are times when I hear Mandel's utterances that I have to believe they came directly from the Koch's office suite.

So the voters will have to decide  whether they consider Kochs' mailers are  from people concerned solely with their welfare, or whether  we should avoid returning to the days of  Elizabethan England when the air could be inhaled with a spoon.

The Womens binders chronicles (cont'd)

From syndicated cartoonist Mike Luckovich


Husted: The federal courts are subversive

Thanks to Secretary of State Jon Husted, we've finally gotten to to the bottom of his maddening but  failed plans to restrict voting in Ohio.  It is based in the sort of hollow patriotic fervor that once affected the old House Un-American Activities Committee when we went to bed each night in fear of a Commie hand bursting through the mattress to seize our buttocks.

Like Republican Senate candidate Josh Mandel, who with straight face referred to Sen. Sherrod Brown as "un-American",  Husted spread the subversive field to include the several courts that turned down his appeals of an early-voting case filed against him by the Obama Administration.  ThinkProgress reports that Husted appeared at an election law symposium at the University of Toledo to denounce the courts (which included the U.S. Supreme Court)  as 'un-American".  He figured the courts had no business  imposing its ideas on Ohio's ability to run its own elections.  Take that Antonin Scalia!

The Toledo Blade, which first reported the event,  noted that Husted's opinion was "not shared by many who sttended the syposium."

That is a growing truth about many of Husted's opinions these days.  But embarrassing though it may be to reasonable  Ohioans, we're stuck with him at least until 2014.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

PD: For wealthy Ohio GOP donors, it's a case of regifting

In a remarkable example of investigative journalism,  Plain Dealer Washington Bureau Chief Stephen Koff has exposed the cutting-edge hypocrisy of Ohio's Republican businessmen who took the money and ran.

A must-read piece in the Sunday paper told of wealthy donors who accepted stimulus money from Uncle Sam and then forwarded some of it to Mitt Romney's campaign cash box while Mitt went around the country damning the program.

Among the ungrateful players were billionaire Les Wexner, chairman of Limited Brands, and retail designer Yaromir Steiner, the top guys associated with the Easton Town Center in northeast Columbus - a site that Koff described as a "paradise of a shopping Center" that reels in 21 million shoppers and others annually.

Wexner, the Easton developer, and Steiner sought and received a $911,356 grant from the Feds  to "install new, energy efficient lighting in its parking garages."  A dedicated supporter of Republicans,  Wexner handed over $250,000 to Restore our Future, a super PAC opposed to "reckless spending".     Steiner, Koff reported, also has given money to Josh Mandel, another Republican who noisily opposes the stimulus.

Among the others caught up in the same spirit of giving was the Timken Co., of Canton, which received $1.175 million in stimulus money.   The Timken family has long been a major Republican sugar daddy and along with Steiner this year has included Mandel in its political benevolence.

There are other businessmen and companies mentioned who expect a gift from their giving, hypocrisy be damned.  This much we can assure you: Some of them didn't build their enterprises  themselves.

Friday, October 19, 2012

With pants on fire, Mandel cries "Liar"

How do you  define insolence, chutzpah, impudence, effrontery, audacity et al?  The defining moment for Josh Mandel, the Republican senate candidate,  arrived in Columbus Thursday night when he called Sen. Sherrod Brown, his Democratic debate opponent, a "liar".

He said WHAT?  

Given Josh's well-deserved fact-checked reputation of being the GOP's Liar-in-Chief in this Ohio race, wouldn't you think that the Whiz Kid would sort of avoid the liar thing in his assault on Brown?  (He's  burned more pants than any candidate I can recall in a half-century.)  No sense reminding people, me included, of the shamefully superficial way he has evolved in this campaign.

The facts are simply this:  he is a commodity on the open market for big-time contributors who have spent $19 million  to oust the incumbent, whether they are laying up the cash for Mandel or, if it so served their  main objective,  Honey Boo Boo.

His ad hoc financiers include the usual suspects on the Dollared Right:  The American Petroleum Institute, U.S.Chamber  of Commerce, Ohio Right to Life, Karl Rove, Koch Brothers,  Sheldon Adelson, Republican Jewish Coalition.  The consequences are scary. But without these groups adding a pre-paid vote to the Senate, Josh Mandel and his lean-and-hungry look would be a mere blip on the radar screen.

Or as Ben Bradlee, the Washington Post's former executive editor, liked to say about inconsequential people,  "When the history of this day is written, you won't be in it."  And that's no lie.

To Dinesh, wife and fiancee are Christian values

For Dinesh D'Souza, it is the best of times and worst of times.  The iconic  right-wing guru has gained a fortune from his  "documentary"  film, 2016: Obama's America, which is said to draw and quarter the president several times over to the delight of those Obama-haters who laid out millions in cash to cheer.

But since nobody can be as perfect as he has been touted to be,  it was  also  reported this week that D'Souza was  forced out of his presidency of the The King's College, a small evangelical school in Manhattan,  because of an untidy personal life.

Actually, he said he resigned.  But you know how those things go.

His problem was his un-Christian  behavior  that led him to become engaged to a woman while he was still legally married to his estranged life.  Indeed, he even flaunted that  relationship by showing up with his fiancee at  one of those Christian values assemblies in South Carolina.  (Who knew?)

D'Souza has denied any wrongdoing but  said he decided to leave to protect the school.  Caught in an embarrassing mud hole,  King's Board Chairman Andy Mills tried to soften the narrative.

"God has a  mighty future for Dinesh,'" Mills said, "but there are some things he has to go through first."

In his documentary, D'Souza defied the Mayan calendar, which predicts the world will end on Dec. 21, 2012.    By D'Souza's calculation, the end of days will begin on November 6 if Obama is reelected.

Still, he shouldn't really care because it would a perfect fit for his own "mighty future".

 I've often said it:  You can't make this up.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

For Congressman Peter King, time doesn't fly

Appearing on CNN, Rep. Peter King of Long Island, slammed President Obama's imagined  tardiness in describing the Libyan attack as terrorism.  Here's what the 20 -year Republican congressman said:
"I'm going to use my words very carefully.  I think the president's conduct and his behavior on this issue has been shameful.  And - first of all, as far as it being an actor of terror, the president was almost four minutes into his statement on September 12th before he mentioned an act of terror."  King contradicted  Mitt Romney's assessment by a mile that it took Obama two weeks to call it terror."
Jeez.  Four minutes?  Congressman King obviously didn't choose his words carefully enough.  No choice but to give him one of my not-so-coveted Grumpy Abe Linguistic Lunacy (GALL) awards without the labor of choosing my words carefully.

UPDATE;  My column on Jon Husted's surrender on early voting is posted on Plunderbund.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Detente, at last, at Summit Board of Elections

The most  profound item on the Summit County Board of Elections agenda Wednesday was

                    #3) "approval to hold general election , November 6, 2012"

 Even with board member  Alex Arshinkoff back, the item was approved without debate.  See:  this board can agree on some things without 2-2 deadlocks.  Otherwise, Secretary of State Jon Husted had eliminated further tension by declaring that it was OK for voters to cast their ballots in the 3 days leading to the Nov. 6 election that the board approved in its brief meeting.

If you are an 11th hour voter, the elections board will offer you these early voting hours:

Saturday, Nov. 3,  8 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Sunday , Nov. 4, 1  - 5 p.m.
Monday, Nov. 5, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. 

Whew!  Why was  that so hard for Husted to finally accept?

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

With Ryan, the soup kitchen's brass got hot

How do you turn photo-ops into photo oops?  

Paul Ryan learned the hard way when he posed as a soup kitchen pot scrubber  in Youngstown the past week end.  It was humanizing for a vice presidential candidate to take time out from his busy schedule to don an apron in  the dining hall of St. Vincent de Paul to wash some pots whether they needed it or not.

It was clearly a political act  that backfired on any ideas that Ryan might have had about showing his affinity with the day jobs of ordinary folks.

From the Youngstown Vindicator, we are  told of the backlash from the intrusion into the lives of kitchen crews:
"The president of Mahoning County's St. Vincent de Paul  Society is 'shocked' and 'angry'  that Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan used the soup kitchen for a 'publicity stunt.'
"Bryan J. Antal, who runs the society said the campaign 'ramrodded themselves in there without getting proper permission for the visit."
The dining hall's coordinator, Juanita Sherba, said she had agreed at first to the visit, but now realizes it was a "mistake".

Shucks, the Ryan people said, the candidate simply wanted to call attention to the "Meaningful charitable contributions the St. Vincent de Paul Society makes to people in need."

And I might add, will have to do so with still greater effort if the brutal Ryan budget ever settles into our simple workaday lives..

Monday, October 15, 2012

Mandel tells it like it ain't at City Club debate

As I watched and listened (via electronic media)  to the Cleveland City Club debate between Sen. Sherrod Brown and his Republican challenger, Josh Mandel, I could only sigh that Josh was doing it again.  His  self-burnishing  moment arrived when he, as occurs  so often when he speaks,  wanted the audience  to know that he so loved the country that he volunteered to join the Marines to protect his homeland.  Or, as he put it, to say "thank you" for what America has done for his family.

He hasn't yet given us specific details of what he did while working in the protected Green Zone, and there is no reason to bring it up except he has cast himself as Sgt. York.  Or maybe Col. John Glenn.

His grandiose view of his patriotism didn't occur overnight. I would suggest that back in his teens (he's now 35) he realized that he had to radiate toughness in his anticipated political career,  given his boyish looks and schoolyard high-pitched sound. The Marines served his personal needs.

On Monday, he offered nothing new, but the speech was so constructed that I believe  he has been prepping for it since high school. After all, he is still a  whiz kid of a young man who has held four different political jobs in his quest to be well prepared for his next brattish leap into greatness.

Although I find nothing corrosive about being a liberal, particularly  after a "compassionate conservative"    like George Bush left behind such a mess when he went back to his vast acreage in Texas,   Josh accused Brown of being a do-nothing ultra liberal senator  who wants to blame everyone else.   No sense, I believe, in going over much of his  debate terrain from promising  to lower taxes "across the board"to opposing the auto bailout.  He even signed Grover Norquist's pledge not to raise taxes - Norquist, for God's sake, the  Gulliver lobbyist who rules over the Republican Party.  At times, his remarks were downright foolish.   I mean, here was Josh calling Brown a liar for reneging on his past promise to limit his political career.

Josh, indeed.  He hardly locates his new office's bathroom before he prepares for another job - including the current one in which he had promised  to serve for a full term.

But as he was asked by a Muslim in the audience why he chose to negatively characterize a former opponent as a Muslim,  (which, by the way he wasn't except  that he was dark-skinned) Josh could cnly ramble about why he wanted to stop radical Muslims from brutally harming their women.

Folks, the  Republicans allowed with open arms this foolish candidate to happen, so it's their problem now.  There was a time when they could boast of senators  Bill Saxbe, George Voinovich, and two Tafts who were family to the latest Bob Taft.   Not that I could always agree with them.   But Josh Mandel vanishes in their senatorial presence.

Frankly, Josh, I don't think you prepped nearly enough over the years for this job.  At your age, you still have plenty of time to prep for another one.  And  as an avowed advocate of the middle class, where would you be today without the $20 million from  the big right-wing oil, energy  and corporate power brokers?  If you should win,  they'll be expecting a huge return on their investment, don't you think?   Finally, Josh, for the big dollars, you da man!

Hey, the entire campaign is out of context

It happens quite often these days.  Every time Mitt Romney is criticized for saying something that clearly isn't true,  one of his cup-bearers steps up to declare that his comments were taken out of context.  But from where I come from - given  candidate Mitt vs. a previous Mitt on so many issues -   Mitt has taken his entire campaign out of context.  I would say that about Paul Ryan, too, but don't get me started.

(Remember the "new Nixon" vs. the "old Nixon"?   I do.  Nothing changed)

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Robart to Mitt: You electrified me

Beacon Journal Columnist Bob Dyer's paean to Mitt Romney on Sunday cast  the candidate as a guy who pays his bills - and President Obama as a cheapskate. It  also offered Cuyahoga Falls  Republican Mayor Don Robart  an opportunity to crow over his third choice (Romney)  for the GOP ticket, (after Santorum and Gingrich).   Dyer's Romney-Obama contrast was drawn from the candidates'  visits to the Akron area in which Mitt's campaign picked up the costs but the Obama campaign didn't.

For  his $7,050 tab,  Romney was rewarded with this praise from the mayor via Dyer:
"I think it's self-evident.  [It tells you] who is accountable for their deeds  who isn't, who's accountable   for their  actions and who keeps blaming everybody else."  Oh?  As in this historic self-evident  non-sequitur  from Mitt: "The economy is getting better but Obama made it worse."?  The mayor  said Mitt's visit was"just electric."  
But I should not be so harsh on the mayor, whose hometown we once shared for nearly a quarter-century.  We've  watched  a once moderate operative settle comfortably into the farthest reaches of the Republican Right (Tea Party) on his politically fail-safe suburban island.  It's a small field compared to Akron,  but, look, it does provide a living for the mayor and joy for the Summit County GOP brass,  including Republican Chairman Alex Arshinkoff.

But before I get out of the way, I would mention to Dyer:

"Bob, anybody who reads my stuff would have no problem identifying the candidate I'm voting for.  Would you allow us one guess as to your choice?

Meantime, did I hear the mayor say,  "I am  Don Robart and I approve Dyer's message."?

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Ryan hardly qualifies for the depth chart

Now that I think of it, watching Paul Ryan dance through his "debate" with Joe Biden with more than a dozen fact-challenged comments, it seems obvious that CEO Mitt Romney has an awfully thin depth chart.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Mitt spins health care; Josh visits us with robo-calls

When Mitt Romney dismissed the problems of those without health insurance by saying they can always call an ambulance to take them to an emergency room, it made  one wonder how far he has strayed from the struggles common to many Americans.

We got more evidence of that hollowness from his remarks to the Columbus Dispatch that people don't die from a lack of health insurance.  Would that this be true.  Indeed, as Talking Points Memo has noted, there have been several authoritative  studies that debunk Romney's cold-turkey opinion.

Let me refer to the 2009 study by the Harvard Medical School and Cambridge Health Alliance that said as many as 44,789 Americans die each year because they have no health insurance.  Furthermore, it  reported, "that alternative measures of access to medical care for the uninsured, such as community health centers, do not provide the protection of private health insurance."

Other studies have turned up similar results.

So, folks, I must ask: Will it take an emetic to find out where Mitt is getting his information these days?

* * * * *

Josh Mandel's field hands have now robo-called my home to complain about  Sen. Sherrod Brown's'  disposition to be less than thrilled by Josh's oft-repeated boots-on-the-ground tales of his tours in Iraq.    I would have been more tolerant if  Josh would simply tell us what he was doing all of that time in the Green Zone, a story commonly making the rounds today.   How about it, Josh?  Want to tell us?

Thursday, October 11, 2012

It's time for a Romney reflective flash button

My modest collection of political memorabilia includes one of those reflective  flash buttons from the 1968 presidential campaign. If you tilt it slightly one way or the other either Hubert Humphrey or Ed Muskie, the Democratic ticket, will appear.

I think there may be a growing market for a Romney flash button  that will show him in profile, facing one way or the other.    There is nothing sharply in focus on which way he is headed on many of the major issues, so it's up to you to decide which Romney is reflecting his true visceral  positions.

The latest word on his meandering positions on abortion supports that point.  Consider this:

Mitt, in Delaware, Oh. - "I think I've said time and again.  I'm a pro-life candidate and I'll be  pro-life president,"  His first bold move, he said,  would be to deny federal funding to Planned Parenthood.

Mitt, in Des Moines Iowa, a day earlier:  "There's no legislation with regards to abortion that I'm familiar with that would become part of my agenda."

Still earlier, he has said he would be delighted to sign  legislation as president to ban abortion.

Hold it right there, folks.  Isn't this the same Mitt Romney who as goverrnor  was vigorously pro-choice?

That's what I've been told.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

To Josh Mandel: Have you no decency, sir?

In case you are the curious type, my official one-person poll of the guy who works at my computer has elevated Josh Mandel to the title of Greatest  Liar on the Ohio Ballot.  (GLOB)  He worked hard to get  there with $19 million in out-of-state donations from people who couldn't care less about average Ohioans.  He's merely the convenient front man for the one per centers who want to rid the Senate of Sherrod Brown.

For awhile, Josh was running neck and neck with other Republicans like Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan for the GLOB title,  but as PolitiFact/Ohio  reminded me  in the Plain Dealer today,  Mandel's political ads accusing Brown of missing more than 350 official votes is pulled out of la-la land, although the official record shows Brown has missed only 21 in his entire first-term Senate career. When Brown was in Congress, he missed 83 votes during a hospital  stay after an  auto accident.  He's missed 3 in the past 3 years.

Still , the fact checkers note that Mandel accuses the incumbent  of "living by different rules than us".  I can't argue with that.  Brown has an honest and open accounting of his work as a senator - while Josh  doesn't hesitate to lie about it. They do play by different rules.  Which leads me to ask, How desperate must this Whiz Kid  be to run such  TV garbage like this? Very desperate, I'd say, even with a $19 million war chest.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Summit Board of Elections: Same old mess

Talk about panic.

 I am standing near the counter of the Summit County Board of Elections on a morning that the room was packed by folks who showed up to register on Tuesday's deadline day.  `

It  also was to have been the morning of the board’s regular meeting, but was postponed until Oct. 17 to accommodate a possible return by Summit County Republican Chairman Alex Arshinkoff, who was still inactive because of spinal injuries from an auto accident,  Board director  Joe Masich told Democrats. 

The GOP high command in Summit County figured it needed reinforcements pronto since the Board’s two Democratic members had voted at the last meeting to proceed with opening the polls for early voters the week end before the election.  You may recall that Republican member Ray Weber, all alone without Alex,  left his chair and declared the vote invalid because there was no quorum in his absence.

It all is a perfect fit for Secretary of State’s Jon Husted’s insistence  that the polls would be closed to potential early voters, all in the name of "uniformity". .

One could fairly wonder, however, why the citizens of Summit County won’t rise up someday and declare the guys who run the local party to be fake preachers of democracy.

Meantime, it will be a mess down at the Board.  When I asked Democrat Board member Tim Gorbach about his expectations for the next meeting with Arshinkoff on hand, he spoke from experience:  "It will be the usual barrel of monkeys". 

If you have $10,000 to bet , put the money on another 2-2 deadlock, with the issue then dispatched to Husted to break the tie.   He gave a strong indicationTuesday  he isn't giving up his crusade by announcing he will take the issue to the U.S.Supreme Court after losing his appeal to the 6th District Appellate  Court in Cincinnati.

Folks, at this rate it will  be 2016`before  the voter days are worked out to Husted's satisfaction.

PS:  I've gone into detail on Husted's antics in a column posted on Plunderbund.  

The new Mitt has a teasing smile

There've been  reports that Mitt Romney's handlers labored  many hours prepping his smile for his first debate, and finally settled on the one in the top photo. Their apparent goal was to give him benign personhood to replace his robotic style in earlier photo ops.    The previous authorized portrait, shown in the other  photo, was a bit too icy, too threatening, cosmetically speaking, when you are  trying to convince the 99 percenters that you're really a good guy looking out for their interests.

The Etch-a-Sketchers didn't make drastic changes,  leaving his head locked into an all-too- familiar tilted position.   But it did raise the corners of his lips a tiny bit to create the image of a friendly Dr. Welby.

This is hardly innovative for big shots  and may be traced all the way back to the pre-TV Renaissance, when great artists were hired to paint idealized portraits - at a price.  Costs were determined by how much of the King or Pope or any other VIP would appear in a pose in which the subject was always more fetching than he or she appeared in real life.  (A portrait with arms cost more, arms and legs still more, which produced the term, "it cost an arm and a leg).  Some generals wanted to be cast as powerful warriors, equestrians with swords and plumed hats to cast them as possessing   supreme powers. With the decline of the Hollywood westerns, we don't see much of that today. )

But I digress.  With Board Room Mitt, it was of great importance to have his smile teasingly relate to the common folks, even as he scrambled through his maze of non-facts.  Like Goldilocks' preferred soup, it wasn't too hot or too cold - just right.  Considering how much effort went into creating it, Mitt would  appreciate it if you remembered the smile and not the deceptions when you go to the polls.

Monday, October 8, 2012

The NY Times may be on to something

This war-like headline ran over half of the cover page of the New York Times Sunday  Review section.  It led me to check the Ohio situation before  resentful Republicans started quacking their age- old complaint about the liberal media. Would you be surprised  if I reported that four of Ohio's top political leaders had roots in towns with a total population of 16,804?

Here they are:

        Gov. Kasich, McKees Rocks, Pa., 6,118

        Secretary of State Jon Husted, Village of Montpelier, 4,071

        Senate majority leader, Tom Niehaus, New Richmond, 2,582

       Atty. Gen.. Mike Dewine, Cedarville, 4,033

(I purposely left out this list of small-town politicians House speaker  Bill Bachelder, who, compared to the others, arrived in Columbus from the megalopolis of Medina, pop. 26,827.)

                                                                  * * * *  *
As Mitt Romney continues to back away from his 47 percenters and other odd numbers, is it possible that he might be suffering from percentile dysfunction?  After all, as he has shown, percentages aren't for everyone.  If side effects  persist,  he should call his doctor, but only if he has coverage for pre-existing conditions.

                                                             * * * * *
The Sunday Plain Dealer reported at length that Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown has been hit b y a $19 million  avalanche of radio and TV  ads that have made the race closer than it deserves to be  against Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel.  The money is from outside groups , including Karl Rove's vault.  I haven''t heard much from Josh's cheering section, which says it's an up-and-down race about Brown by Super PACs  and corporate interests who care little about the challenger and would  be  satisified to replace Brown with Donald Duck without a pleasant nod to Mandel. If  Mandel's money machine happens to pull an upset - Good heavens, don't even think about it! -  will he stand up in the winner's circle  on Election night and declare that he built the victory himself.  He will because he has a very inventive mind when there is a need to say, "I am Josh Mandel and I approve this message."

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Another Summit elections board deadlock?

The Summit County  Board of Elections meeting on Tuesday could  provide one more chapter in the ongoing Theater of the Absurd for the early voting issue.  The 6th Circuit  Court of Appeals in Cincinnati set the stage for more pratfalls by the GOP contingent on the board when it  said that although early voting was OK, it was up to the local boards to decide whether they wanted to open their doors the week end before the election.

Given the state-leading deadlocks on the Summit Board, the appellate ruling  could very well provide the two  Republican members with just the excuse it wanted to block minorities from casting early ballots during that final critical  weekend.  A 2-2  tie would thrust the issue into the lap of the very person who created the problem in the first place, the Caesar-like Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted.

When Wayne Jones, a Democrat, recently called for a vote on the extended week end hours, Republican Ray Weber, County Republican boss Alex Arshinkoff's surrogate, walked away from the table, saying there was no quorum to vote on it in the absence of Arshinkoff, who is recovering from injuries sustained in an auto accident.

There's no certainty that Arshinkoff is well enough to return to the board on Tuesday, so Weber may again deliver the dagger to the Democrat's proposal.

Isn't  this fun?  Trouble is, folks, now that the Republicans'  guardians of democracy can no longer malinger in their insistence on wiping out fraud where none exists, they are hanging over the cliff with other con jobs  to win the presidential election.

C'mon, you vote purifiers.   I've played enough poker to know when somebody is bluffing to win the big pot.  Considering the guys sitting around the poker table  in my hometown, you fellows are no more than troublesome amateurs.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Welch concedes: No evidence for what he said

Jack Welch, the raspy Republican  businessman-warrior, checked into the presidential campaign  with a sort-of Trumpish snarl that the new positive employment statistics were rigged to help President Obama.  The former GE icon wanted us to know the whole scheme  was what you might expect from these "Chicago guys" who manipulated the figures. (Are there no Republicans who have anything good to say about  Chicago?)

On the same day, however, he later admitted to Chris Matthews that he had no evidence at all that the employment numbers had been cooked.  None.  He was, you know,  just raising a question, he said.

But the more socially significant question is, What is a multi-millionaire corporate titan doing tweeting comments these days like a kid at the shopping mall when all he would have to do is call Fox News or the Wall Street Journal to voice his slander? Is the old  guy just bored, or what?  Or am I just out of touch with my own age group as one who thinks the Windy City is a pretty neat place and has long believed that only birds tweet.  

Tale of two Americas, Romney style


From the June 12, 2012 New York Times quoting Mitt Romney on his notion that we don't need more cops, firefighters or teachers:
"[The president] wants another stimulus, he wants to hire more government workers.  He says we  need more firemen,  more policemen, more teachers.   Did he not get the message of Wisconsin? The American people did. It's time for us to cut back on government and help the American people." - Mitt Romney
From  the Oct. 5 Akron Beacon Journal, reporting the fire that destroyed  the Father's House Church in Norton:
"It was a small fire that had plenty of opportunity to grow before we could get there," Chief Mike Schultz said of the blaze that started about 11 p.m. ...Our efforts were pretty much hampered because we had a longer response time and no personnel."

Failed levies have forced the station to close without on-duty personnel from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.

Note to Mitt:  Got any other ideas on "helping the American people?

Thursday, October 4, 2012

A word from Grumpy

Now that the dust is starting to clear, I want to mention that my column ranging from the firing of Manny Acta to rumblings about the Plain Dealer's future is now posted on Plunderbund.

The Debate: a field goal with three quarters to go

I'll make this un-hysterically brief because I know you've read every media reaction to the the debate well past midnight:  I was surprised to see Obama  less aggressive in responding to Romney's rat-a-tat assault.  It was Mitt's way of disguising the fact that his math has yet to add up.  He talked of his plan, as if he had one for the economy - which he doesn't.  He's the most secretive of candidates that I've witnessed in the past half-century. After all, as the old saying goes with Mitt in his businessman's mode: "Does  Macy's tell Gimbel's?"  So I'll go along with election guru Nate Silver, who credited Mitt with kicking a field goal.   There are still three quarters to go - one veep debate and two more from Mitt and Barack.  Hang on, Sloopy.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

On Planet Romney, multi-choice percentages

We arrived at debate day tuckered out by the political gurus telling Obama and Romney what they "absolutely" must do to stave off Armageddon.    Some, in the case of Newt Gingrich, offered a multi-choice  list for Mitt.  Donald Trump was more bumper-stickerish:  Hit the president with the old birtherismo. Sarah Palin chipped in daring Mitt to be a determined magnum force..

As much as the pundits would have you believe, none of this amounts to anything more than self-absorbed navel gazing and will surely be ignored by the inner-circles before their last meals.

Obama has repeatedly said he is president of 100 pct.of the people. But it's a bit blurrier  in the enemy camp.  Mitt says 47 pct. is a solid number to describe the moochers in America that he can't worry about.

Ryan, however, scaled that down to 30 pct. without telling us what happened to the 17 pct. he stripped from Mitt's figure.  (It would probably take too much time.)

But hold it right  there .  Mitt said in Florida this week that he wants to represent 100 pct. of the people, which is 53 pct.  more than his earlier dismissal of the folks that he says live entirely off the government with no get-up-ad-go.

("My job ," he once harshly explained, "is not to worry about those people.")

Stand by, as we await a pollster to give us a  composite of Mitt's percentage averages, which, history tells us, would not come close to 100 pct.

Perez: Another outburst followed by gopher ball

May I interrupt the hysteria over the FIRST DEBATE to bring you a  message from  Cleveland Indians' closer Chris Perez?

Perez, who never wastes a teensy media opportunity to dump on his team's management and fans, complained to the Plain Dealer that "If a manager  has no activity on the field, if he doesn't argue calls or get upset, why would the team?"

Let me reply:  Shouldn't richly rewarded athletes always exert themselves at their highest level if they deserve to be called professionals?  The manager, Manny Acta, has been fired.  Where might you be going?

As the PD writer noted, shortly after his latest outburst, Perez gave up a  homer in the 9th inning that tied the game. May we assume that it was his highest level of exertion?


Tuesday, October 2, 2012

$10,000 thoughts about tomorrow night's DEBATE

As you diligently prepare to watch the GREAT DEBATE, at what point do you think Mitt will offer to bet the President $10,000 that Barack can't name the capital of the Cayman Islands? (Hint: Mitt's father's name is in it.)  And will Mitt take Donald Trump's advice to birther-ize the debate?  Finally,, don't you think the evening would be much more interesting if Stephen Colbert were the moderator?    Almost forgot:  Rush Limbaugh has already taped his show declaring Romney to be the overwhelming winner!

Monday, October 1, 2012

A billion dollars goes farther these days

How true! (Cartoon from the Center for Public Integrity)

In fairness, why not 3 hours for Ryan to explain tax plan?

I would like to begin the week by offering my thanks to Mitt Romney for choosing Paul Ryan as his running mate.   Even though most of us are suffering from fatigue from the numbing  drone of the campaign, Ryan does invite  our attention with wit, intrigue and irony. In his most  recent appearance on Fox News, which is where  the Comeback to Bush Team goes to have its gas tank filled, Ryan spun a question from host Chris Wallace, who asked for the math on how the Romney tax plan would remain revenue-neutral while cutting taxes.

Ryan was ready for it:   "I don't have the..It would take me too long to go through all of the math."

That item was posted by the Huffington Post  in a list of "most popular" notes telling us that Justin Bieber puked on stage;  a magazine ran a photo of Kate Middleton bottomless; and Arnie  Schwarzenegger admitted to an affair with Brigitte Nielsen.

That's pretty strong competition, don't you think, but Ryan proved to be worthy of the challenge.