Friday, November 30, 2012

What Obama offered Romney at lunch

Washington insiders, from the pols to the media, have buzzed for a  couple of days to figure out what  President Obama and Mitt Romney talked about during their  private lunch at the White House.  They should have asked me. My inside source at a little-known Washington diner says the President offered Mitt the ambassadorship to Kenya.  Trust me.  You don't make up things like this!   No word on whether Mitt accepted it.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Mitt won, but Barack made it worse

ln case you've been busy with the week-old leftovers from Thanksgiving, I should inform  you that  after deep reflection, the vanquished Republicans have now decided  that they won the November election.   It didn't really go into the history books that way, of course, because  the Obama Machine didn't play fair in its socialistic, fraudulent attempt  to  give every voter "stuff".   Cheating was particularly true in a crucial Ohio County (Wood) where Obama got 108 pct. of the vote.  Not even PolitiFact/Ohio could convince the crazy people that their math had gone awry.  The county was so important to the subversive  scheme  that the scandal became a perfect fit for  Aesop.

Now Mitt Romney's chief campaign advisor, Stuart Stevens  has raised a helluva brouhaha by pouring  more gasoline on Fox News' fire breathers insisting ...I want to be sure I have this right ...that  the final election count betrays what would amount to a moral victory  for the ex-governor.

In an Op-Ed column in the Washington Post this week, Stevens argued,
"In the debates and in sweeping [!] rallies across the country, Romney captured the imagination of millions of Americans.  He spoke for those who felt disconnected from the Obama vision of America.  He handled the unequaled[!]  pressures of a campaign with a natural grace and good humor that contrasted sharply with the angry  bitterness of his critics."
( Stevens didn't mention it,  but Romney also sang "America" off-key with the same tone deafness  in which he ignored the rising voices of those groups who were dead set on votitng against him.)

But about that 3.5 million popular vote Obama victory margin.

Undaunted by mere numbers, Stevens characterized the outcome as a moral victory for Mitt because he captured a majority of voters  who earn more than $50,,000 a year - as opposed to, well,  let's not go into that.

If Stevens had any regrets about the campaign, it was simply that the Romney side  got the message too late to reach out to the various subgroups of  the white guys.   Which I guess you might ask, what took them so long?

Still, Stevens concluded that the race came down to
 "Republican ideas vs. fundamental Democratic ideas.  It was about lower taxes or higher taxes, less government or more government, more freedom or less freedom.  And Republican ideals - Mitt Romney carried the day.
  "On Nov. 6, that wasn't enough to win.  But it was enough to make us proud and to build on the future."
Stevens is a film writer and ardent athletic adventurer who is said to have once skied the final 100 miles to the North Pole.  But in acrobatically declaring that Romney was a veritable winner who fought for the essential core of America, he may have been inspired by Sen. Henry Clay, who gave us the historic line:

"I'd rather be right than president."

Clay, a failed presidential candidate himself,  was referring to his abolitionist views on slavery.

Unlike Clay, there were times when it was impossible to know what Mitt was talking about.

The same can be said about his man Stuart Stevens.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Why Photo ID's are so important these days

President Obama with what we hope is Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer and not somebody even worse

Tom Niehaus, a Republican making sense

I spend so much yelling at Republicans that it is only fair to report that an ounce of sanity still exists in the Ohio Senate. His  name is Ohio Senate President Tom Niehaus, a Republican  who has removed from the legislative table the so-called heartbeat  abortion bill and another that would defund Planned Parenthood in Ohio.

He issued the following statement on Tuesday:
"From my  perspective, I think you have to look at the entirety of the work that's done by Planned Parenthood, and I believe that they offer much needed services that are not available other places, so I chose not to take up the bill in lame duck."
What a breath of fresh air from  the cave-like GOP!

NOTE:  My column on the GOP state candidates for 2014 has been posted on Plunderbund.  

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Kasich's silent jobs role in JobsOhio campaign

If you happened to see the full-page ad in Sunday's Beacon Journal  that trumpets a thriving economy  in Ohio, you can safely assume  that even though he wasn't mentioned, Gov. Kasich is off and running  for reelection.

The message appearing in a seven-figure campaign in newspapers and on TV  throughout the state is quite clearly a feel-good benefit for Kasich that is underwritten by the Kasich- inspired JobsOhio, the private non-profit outfit that now serves as the state's development department.

Not much else is known about JobsOhio inasmuch as its records remain in private hands and not available to public scrutiny.

In fact, JobsOhio is not even mentioned in the current ads.  Rather, readers and viewers  are referred to, which urges them  to respond with stories of business success that "changed your life" in the state.

"Right here in Ohio, we're making things better. Faster. Smarter," the ad boasts.

 "In the past year alone, Ohio businesses have created more jobs than almost every other state."

The timing is perfect  for Kasich's reelection launch.    Mitt Romney is no longer hanging around the swing state complaining about how much President Obama has destroyed the economy  - an annoyance for the governor who was offering  a much more optimistic outlook under his command.

Secondly, there's a better than average chance that as the economy continues to grow natioanally, the Obama Administration will upstage the governor on recovery in America.

At least one of Kasich's potential opponents is having none of such claims in the Ohio ads.  Democrat Ed FitzGerald, the Cuyahoga County Executive,  has challenged the jobs campaign as a "waste of taxpayer dollars" to elect Kasich.

For the guv's opponents, it's a start.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Black Friday: Now, but never then...

It appears that we have managed to survive Black Friday.  It's  the moment of epic madness that  somehow encourages us to believe that marketers are the only people in the know about curing whatever ails the economy. Even the New York Times felt secure in noting that the "annual shopping spree", played out  like a National Football League grudge match, was a sign of "rising consumer optimism".

Good for the consumers, I guess. Even the  woman quoted by the Times who said  she and her daughter  had arrived as early as possible to buy a 96-cent Samsung Galaxy S111 smartphone, which had already been sold, and settled for a 40-inch  Sanyo LED TV even though "I didn't even want it."

As for me, I go into denial for wanting "stuff"- as Bill O'Reilly demonized  the class beneath his pay scale.   With me, it's generational, I suppose, for someone whose ideas were formed in the b.i. era (before such i-things as, say iPads and iPhones)  with a first TV set that offered low-definition images that improved slightly if you wrapped a patch of aluminum foil around  one of the rabbit ears.  Today's newspapers are splashed  with i-things  to buy with help from the salesperson  to tell you what the gadget is without mentioning that it will be obsolete tomorrow.

Here's a sample of my own holiday shopping with my mother:

Having spent my early years in a very small town, the Christmas buying season began in early to mid-December with no discounts until the big after-Christmas sales - and maybe not even then.   Not even a fellow named Saloom, a friend of the family, would give us a price break at his modest one-room "department store".

My mother would lead me into the store past a few racks of clothing and shelves filled with boxes.

She advised Saloom that she wanted to buy me a  long-sleeved sport shirt that she couldn't put off until after Christmas because it got very cold in December  and her son needed a shirt to protect his arms from a chill.

Standing behind the counter, Saloom would turn and scan some boxes on a nearby shelf, grab one, and carefully open it on the counter.  It would contain 4 or 5 shirts, which he would  with surgical precision gently pull  out.

"Here, Helen," he would say, spreading the shirt on the counter and patting down the wrinkles. "This is
a little big for him now.  But he is a growing boy, God bless him.  He'll grow into  it.  You'll see."

Satisfied that Saloom was  an expert on shirt sizes, she'd buy it over my protests that I didn't like the color.

"Come on"' she tugged at me. "If you still don't like it when you put it on at  home, I'll give it to your  cousin George for Christmas.  He never complains."

Problem solved.  As I said, it was a very small town and the stores opened only during regular hours.  Nobody got hurt and  cousin George would have a long-sleeved sports shirt for Christmas whether he liked it not.  My mother knew he would not be a problem.

By the way, were you out in the mix on Cyber Monday?


Friday, November 23, 2012

Mitt emerging as the true 47 percenter

As if Mitt Romney doesn't have enough bad news about his election loss,  his historic   47 pct. notion about the folks who would never vote for him is returning to haunt him in reverse.  According to the Washington Post,  when the final votes are finally tallied, President Obama will likely receive 51 pct. and Mitt...47 pct.  Writer Greg Sargent is relying on a projection by the nonpartisan Cook Political Report.

Writes Sargent:  "At risk of piling on,  a 47 pct. finish would represent a perfect conclusion to the Romney political saga. If Romney ran a campaign of unprecedented  dishonesty and lack of transparency, virtually all of it was geared towards misleading  people about the true nature of his - and his party's - actual beliefs and governing agenda.

I'd say that 51 pct. of the voters would agree with that assessment.

To Sen. McCain: Trust me, Hillary was actually in Cairo!


No, not the two figures in the photo, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Egyptian Prime Minister Mohamed Kamel.

The mindless one contnues to be John McCain, current embittered ranter-in-chief against President Obama.

While  Clinton was tirelessly on board in Cairo working out a cease fire, McCain was of no mind to cease his own fire.  He sneered that although the U.S. once had Secretaries of State Henry Kissinger or James Baker at the scene of a crises,  Obama was merely in "Burma making phone calls",  clear  evidence, McCain huffed,  of a weak foreign policy by the re-elected president even though the leaders of the combatants  were praising Obama's  efforts for a cease-fire.

It should be clear evidence by now that Kissinger and Baker were not the president of their times  but held the same title as Hillary, who as we see in the photo was actually on the scene.    McCain is so off the page  that it's possible he may have forgotten Clinton's name.

A little history for this totally clueless loser to Obama in 2008:

After the elder Bush lost to Bill Clinton in 1992,  they later teamed up to raise millions of dollars to aid impoverished Haitians.

Following his loss to George W. Bush in 2000, despite the fact that he received a half-million more popular votes, Al Gore devoted his life to environmental projects.

John Kerry, loser to Dubya in 2004, stayed in the Senate to work for his constituents in Massachusetts without raising hell about Dubya  every other hour.

Ah, but John McCain, hopelessly  in a snivel?  Since his loss in 2008, he has pathetically devoted much  of his time to trashing Obama.  He's nowhere close to being the loyal opposition but rather a public figure who is so warped by hatred and despair  that he  needs a lot of help to get him through the day.

Among other things, McCain has pushed another's defined mid-life crises into his mid-70s.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Ending federal waste begins at home

Oklahoma, where the wind comes sweepin' down the plain            
                   And the wavin' wheat can sure smell sweet 
                              When the wind comes right behind the rain. 
               From Oklahoma, the Broadway musical 
Anyone caught up in the compelling four-hour two- episode Ken Burns PBS documentary, The Dust Bowl,   would quickly realize  that upbeat Broadway  musicals sometimes get it wrong.  Watching the towering black walls of dirt slam into the Oklahoma's panhandle and a wide expanse of the plains around it  could only draw us directly into the myths of humanity that we can win the battles with  nature by ignoring its power to destroy.

The gleaming wheat fields drew farmers and speculators to  recklessly plow up the soil for even greater profits,  skinning the land that turned into pulverized soil. Drought and the high winds across the plains soon conquered the  people, their crop lands and the livestock with sand dunes reaching above  the windows of the desperate homesteaders' meager homes.  An estimated 850 million tons of topsoil were blown away in 1935.  Next came the pitiful migration to California of  broken Okies.

As the film noted, the people were sturdy, independent folks who  had no use for government.  Any thought of calling upon Washington for aid was met by some critics as "socialistic".  But as a succession of dirt storms in the 1930s  battered the spirit of  the deeply troubled  residents, the federal government moved in to salvage whatever was still possible.  It was the driving determination of President Roosevelt,  while also battling the  Great Depression,  to deliver the goods, which he did with the creation of various agencies, the WPA, CCC and various other alphabet programs along with the Soil Conservation Service, all adding up to thousands of newly employed "responders" to
America's worst environmental tragedy.

Right. Socialism.  Sound familiar, particularly in such once-darkened "red" states that today are staunchly anti-government.

And what timing for Oklahoma's  Republican governor  Mary Fallin to declare her opposition to  Obamacare's expansion of health service to the poor,  while rejecting outright the creation of a health insurance exchange,  which has become a fashionable - if hypocritical - refusal by many Republican governors these days.

Her decision not  to obey the health-care rules flies directly into the face of the great amounts of federal farm subsidies to Oklahoma politicians.   A study by the the Tulsa World newspaper in 2011 revealed;
"Roughly two dozen state lawmakers - some who have railed against government spending - have collected  federal farm subsidies in recent years, either directly or through payments to spouses, a Tulsa World investigation found."
And who has collected $1.96 million  in federal farm subsidies since 1995?   Would it shock you to learn that her husband, Wade Christensen, an Oklahoma City lawyer,  was a the recipient?

The Tulsa World  quoted a couple of lines  from Gov. Fallin's  2011 State of the State speech in which she declared:
"When hard times hit, the public expects a leaner, more efficient government...I'm challenging our citizens and our government employes:  Help me find more places to save money and cut waste."    
Guv, I know where you can start.

NOTE: My column on where Josh Mandel can go from here has been posted on Plunderbund

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Remember the Elephant Walk from the 70s

Clearing out old files I found this gem from the cover of the January 15, 1977 New Republic,   one of the classics of the post-1976 presidential election.  Sorry, couldn't resist. Besides, we should give special  thanks this Thanksgiving week.   

Monday, November 19, 2012

The mindless reader vs. the "liberal media"

The reports of looming changes in the Plain Dealer's workaday world have ignited another round of attacks on liberal journalists as the culprits of the paper's troubles.

On cue, letter writers are  hissing that the  PD's "liberal" views drove away armies of subscribers.  To where?  They don't say.  But those of us who labored for many years in newspaper offices have forever heard complaints about the "liberal media"  from people in an endless snit about something or other.   The newspaper industry is in retreat these days for several reasons,  none of which can be traced to the liberal crowd in newsrooms.

I have twice worked for major newspapers owned by Republicans.  That's where the corporate world will take you if you want to work in the business.  No one was more conservative than Ben.Maidenberg, my boss at the Beacon Journal who found a way to tolerate me,  and I, him.   Otherwise,  we were argumentative friends.    Later, when my column was suspended at the Plain Dealer by a  new editor (no longer on the premises!),  I was told he considered it "too liberal".

So where's the liberal media?  I've  tired of asking.  But now  that the Plain Dealer, which tilts to corporate power over progressive pols and labor unions  -  unless a candidate  like Josh Mandel  gives them absolutely no room to endorse a Republican -  the boo-birds are at it again.

Whoops.  Almost forgot.  The PD also endorsed President Obama.   But also  Republican Gov. John Kasich.   Not that most readers pay that much attention to endorsements  anyway.  

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Black Friday: Learning from voter restrictions

With the growing  reports  of fanatic bargain hunters camping out at electronics stores a week before  Black Friday,  a couple of close family members are urging  Secretary of State Jon Husted to invoke his early  voting restrictions on early shopping. I couldn't persuade them that bargains being what they are supposed to be on Black Friday, there was little that Husted could do to prevent people from  being maimed when the doors open. Besides, his track record with early things is not that encouraging, particularly since Ohio went to Obama anyway.

Anyway, Nancy handed me a list of things that might work, and I'm dutifully prudent enough in a family situation to forward some of them to you, to wit:

Restrict early shopping on the week end before Christmas.
MasterCard or Visa can only be used if the sun is shining on a shopping day.
Gift cards for restaurants will require photo ID's and cannot be used for the purchase of Mexican foods or stuffed grape leaves and other ethnic foods ordered by strange-looking people.

All mall stores must purge their lists of credit card holders.

Any shopper errors in signing for charges will invalidate sales and three lawyers  and a police officer must appear with the buyer to advise him or her of their rights.
BestBuy credit cards can only be used on weekdays and never on Sundays unless the computer buyer is accompanied by a teenager.
Require  all early shoppers to  identify the president of Uzbekistan. 
Finally, under  penalty of self deportation, swear that you have never been convicted of     shopper fraud,  knocking down senior citizens in line or comparative shopping at Sam's Club.

Got that, Mr. Husted?

The Plain Dealer tells us more about change

The morning began with the Plain Dealer reporting  major changes in two front page stories about life in Northeast Ohio.  One piece, with a big photo, told of a change on the way for the lakefront parks.   The other informed us of something that we've been hearing about for months:  a  new way of life for the PD itself.

In a letter to readers signed by publisher Terry Egger and editor Debra Simmons, we were told in agonizingly reassuring terms that the paper will hit the  reset button after January 1. What does that mean?  From what I've heard from  insiders  plus the alarm expressed in the newspaper guild's big ad last week, the PD  will no longer be home-delivered 7 days a week.  One scenario making the rounds is that home delivery will be cut back to Wednesday,  Friday and Sunday with availability at news boxes the other four days.

To soften the blows to its readers and staff, the puffed-up preening letter about the PD's journalistic accomplishments promised to continue its high quality  with a decision "not based on cost-cutting".
As the Guild pointed out , a staff  that once reached 350 has been cut in half.

The paper is owned by Advance Publications, a Newhouse operation, which has already altered its other papers ways of reaching readers and advertisers in an electronic media world.

Oh, I should remind you that one of the letter-signers Terry Egger, recently   announced that he's leaving on January 1.  One step closer to that reset button.  

The anti-Obama crowd: poor post-election losers

If we've learned anything in the post-election days, it's that Republicans are poor losers.  Mitt Romney accuses the president of bribing voters.   John McCain pathetically  fumes that  there is a cover-up  in the investigation of Benghazi, and the worst incompetence  he has ever-ever  seen,  another botched Watergate.    A gun shop owner in Arizona says he will not do business with anybody who voted for Obama.  A Republican county party treasurer  in Texas refers to the Obama voters as "maggots". A Tea Partyer,  he is readying his friends to secede from the Union.  Bill O'Reilly sours that Obama won because people want, of all things, "stuff". We know who he's talking about, don't we?

About the secessionists:  They, too, are soreheads.  Tens of thousands across the land with nothing better to do with their time have signed petitions to secede.  Can whole states self-deport from America?
Quacks like Sean Hannity seem to be enjoying the secessionist uprising.  They're his people. This is the gift that will keep on giving for Fox News.  It's their Obama-caused Pompeii.

Their only problem is that Obama's victory shocked the hell out of Mitt's army, which had planned a major motorcade to his campaign headquarters on election night, a huge fireworks display and good ol' boys  conviviality for the 40 or so  wealthy friends - Donald Trump and that spooky billionaire Sheldon Adelson among them with overflowing piggy banks -- who flew into Boston in their private jets.

That's the awful news.  The good news is that Obama did, in fact, win,  because if he had lost,  Mitt and the Tea Partyers and the miscellaneous billionaires  would have been much more insufferable.


Friday, November 16, 2012

The sad public meltdown of John McCain

From CNN comes this sign-of-the-times testy response by John McCain to a CNN reporter who asked him why he missed a briefing on Benghazi:
"I have no comment about my schedule and I'm not going to comment on how I spend my time to the media," McCain said.
Asked why he wouldn't  comment, McCain grew agitated:  "Because I have the right as a senator to have no comment and who the hell are you to tell me I can or not?"
Sadly for the old soldier who insists on making a fool of himself with his bitter post-election rants  against the President, his meltdown continues in full view of the public.  Maybe it would help if his friends removed the mood ring from around his brain.  After all, no one has appeared more on TV as a guest than...McCain.

                                                                     * * * * *
Why do we need   to know that Paula Broadwell, Gen. Petraeus' paramour, has only 13 pct. body fat?
                                                                       * * * * *

Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, a Republican known for his colorful exercise of the English  language, insists the GOP ought to search seriously for answers to its defeat by beginning with a proctologist.  The party can use a few laughs these days in its darkest hour.

But Donald, he LOST!

I knew you could do it, President!

Columbus Dispatch to GOP: Lay off Planned Parenthood

Just a thought:  We're happy to report that the backlash against the GOP's fixation on right-wing social issues reached a new level in today's Columbus Dispatch.  The conservative paper, which endorsed Mitt Romney, began an editorial with the following assertion:
"Ohio lawmakers have no valid reason to steer Medicaid funding away from Planned Parenthood."  
Yep.  You read it right.  But read on.  It gets better later in the editorial:
"Ohioans want lawmakers to focus on restoring the state's economy and managing its budget wisely, yet Republican lawmakers persist in pushing divisive measures that pander to a minority  in the party's  base of support." 
The "Big D", as the Dispatch  has often been called as it rises across the street from the Statehouse,  is reacting, of course, to the Republican dominated House Health and Aging Committee's vote to deliver a proposed law to the House floor that would "reprioritize" the use of federal funds for  family planning  services in the state as a way to  curb  abortions.

One other incisive observation in the editorial:
"Beyond all of the ideological posturing, another fact remains:  Better access to contraception, including that provided by Planned Parenthood is the surest way to prevent abortions."
The editorial didn't got so far as to describe the GOP lawmakers as morons.  I will.

P.S. The results of the presidential election  has already forced some Republicans to reflect on their own wayward path.  Might the Dispatch now be thinking about the possible  damage that the right-wing antics might inflict on their friend, Gov. Kasich, when he seeks reelection?  Just a thought, folks.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Graham and McCain: The red, white and blue guys

And so we have another red, white and blue moment in the postbellum world of
Republican politicians - a couple of old white  guys from red states taking out their GOP election blues on UN Ambassador Susan Rice and President Obama.  The woman at the left is Sen. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire (these days Republicans are finding it prudent to have a woman in their photo-ops. It's a start, America. )

So McCain and Graham heigh-hoed  to the TV cameras to angrily revive the McConnell Mambo  in which Sen. Mitch McConnell pledged within nanoseconds of Obama's first election that he would do  everything possible to make damn sure that Obama would be a one-term president.  It was one of the few times that a Republican could be accused of thinking ahead.

Oh, the mambo?  You might recall that in West Side Story there was the wild scene in which the mambo was vigorously expressed with shouts and harsh fingerpointing.

Now we witness McCain, still  in a sulk over his own defeat by Obama in 2008, slamming Susan
 Rice as the potential presidential  nominee for secretary of state.  "She's not qualified!'' growled McCain, growing more erratic by the day.  "I don't trust her!" screeched Graham, McCain's buddy in all of those tours in Iraq when when they were still committed to proving the existence of weapons of mass destruction.  Their tour-group included a hawkish third senator, Zelig Joe Lieberman  who is finally leaving town in January.  One out of three is still better than none out of three.

Susan Rice is being accused of messing up the facts in the ongoing probe of the Benghazi bombing, scripted for her by the CIA since she had no connection to any of it.  The Washington Post's fact-checker gave the McCain-Graham hostility  to Rice two Pinocchios for "mischaracterization" in the case.  The two guys still haven't full explained how they so were charmed by  Condoleezza Rice,  who didn't deliver the goods in the lead-up to 9/ll.  They never will.

But Obama brought his gauntlet this time:  "If Senator McCain and Senator  Graham want to go after somebody, they should go after me," Obama asserted at his own news conference.  It was obvious from his tone that the nice guy was no longer at the podium.

Maybe this gang should have begun with C-A-T...

Upon witnessing this demonstration , the Vegas bookies increased the odds 1000-fold against the the secessionists'  hopes for success.  

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

More leftovers - and those diehard Republicans


How well this banner describes the Republicans' preoccupation with women's personal choices instead of unemployment and other economic matters.  These women were engaged in a protest in Columbus where a legislative committee was considering a bill to ban public money from  going to Planned Parenthood.  Being  Republicans-tilted, the committee ignored  the protest and voted 11-9 along strict party lines to send the bill to the House floor for further consideration and a vote.  News of President Obama's election that gave him the edge on social issues had apparently not found its way into the GOP cave in Columbus.

                                                                 * * * * *

Speaking of issues, how did Paul Ryan arrive at the conclusion that during the campaign his side was talking about the "popular" issues (i.e., the ones supported by the voters, I guess)?  Ryan also scoffs that Obama won a mandate from the voters because the House of Representatives remains in Republican hands.   That overlooks the math that told us a majority of America's voters supported Democratic congressional candidates, but gerrymandering  remained the decisive factor in electing Republicans. Case in point:  Although the president carried Ohio, Republicans won 12 of the 16 congressional districts.  Go figure.

                                                                 * * * * *

Let's stop talking about "mandates" - fuzzy references to the width of a winner's margin to carry out his or her plans.   A wise old politician once told me he didn't have much interest in mandates.  Rather, he said, a true leader looks at a situation and simply says to himself, "I gotta do what I gotta do".  Makes sense to me.

                                                               * * * * *

In case you felt overwhelmed by all of those TV political ads, there was a reason:  The New York Times reported 1.4 million ads were aired, estimated cost: $952 million.

                                                              * * * * *
Biggest  losers in Ohio were Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted and Atty Gen. Mike DeWine, both of whom traveled down dark paths by mistakenly ignoring  the potency of  those voters who had been  profiled  to lose .   DeWine  worked with Husted in trying to shrink the vote.  And U.S. District Judge Algenon Marbley in Columbus assailed Husted's late-campaign directive   to further alter the vote , declaring  it was "surreptitious" and a"flagrant violation of a state election law." Clear enough?

* * * * *
My column on Jon Husted's lashing by a federal judge and the GOP attacks on Planned Parenthood has been posted on Plunderbund

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Texas: If at first, it won't secede -

Have you noticed the secessionist  jag that's going on in Texas and  30 other states by people who are so unhappy about Tuesday's election that they want to take their ballot and ball and go home from America?  It's one way to try to work off a loser's frustration, but it is a fool's errand among the heated sagebrush and sandy plains deep in the heart of.

Having once been cruelly stationed in Texas for six weeks by the Air Force with only two sweaty fatigues,  I concede that more than once I asked why we didn't give up the place to Santa Anna at the Alamo forever and get on with the work of building the rest of the nation that was free of red dust and 10-gallon hats.

But there are reasons why secession is a maddening trajectory for the Lone Star State, even if more than 80,000 spoilsports have reportedly  signed petitions.

It might  occur the very same year that the  Houston Texans could finally wind up in the Super Bowl.   In an independent Texas,  the team would be denied any chance of playing in the NFL.

George W. Bush would not have been able to seek the presidency and win - twice. In those instances,  secession would have been a plus for the other 49 states.

Just last week, the state was honored when Texas A&M knocked off Alabama, thought to be America's preeminent college football team.   The Aggies would not have had that opportunity  had they been a foreign team.

Finally, the Dallas Cowboys could no longer be designated as "America's Team".  Secessionists, that's giving up too much of the state's ego to satisfy your revolutionary plans.  Take several deep breaths, have a cookout at the Alamo,  and then think it over some more.


The Plain Dealer Guild addresses a critical moment

The Newspaper Guild Local 1 of Cleveland ran this ad in Sunday's Plain Dealer in a plea for public support against a possible major cutback in the paper's publication frequency. There have been rumors  on the staff that significant changes are on the way - a reduction to a three-day-a-week arrival on your doorstep: Wednesday, Friday and Sunday.  With such warnings as this ad, you know that the situation  has reached the critical stage.

As one whose byline appeared in the PD during the 1990s,  I have witnessed the decline in newspapers in Cleveland, Akron and cities around the country.  Can't say I'm overjoyed by the print media's retreat at the hands of new communications media. . But it does hurt.

As the ad pointedly addresses the question:  "We're not afraid of change.  But we're afraid of disappearing." The staff has already been advised that unspecified changes are on the way in January. Many have already occurred. Since the 1990s, the PD has cut its staff in half from 350 to 175.

The paper is owned by Advance Publications,which has already turned to thrice-weekly publication in New Orleans and several other papers.  For whatever good it might do, the Guild calls upon readers to  contact Advance CEO Steven Newhouse at  718-981-1234,, or
Advance Publications,  950 Fingerboard Rd., Staten Island, NY10305.  Or go to Facebook  to sign a SaveThePlainDealer Petition.

Today's post is the least I can do for an institution that once provided me with grocery money and a lot of other things when newspapering was fun.  

Monday, November 12, 2012

Norquist's "poopy-head" reference is more genteel

Now that we  learned from the election that the tax-hating emperor  has no clothes, we should still keep Grover Norquist around for a few bizarre comments that manage to entertain us when he isn't getting elected Republicans to sign his anti-tax pledge.   His latest offering:  Obama won the election because he defined Mitt Romney as a "poopy-head".  It's obvious that he meant what we call in impolite society  a "s--t- head."  But Norquist was making his rounds on  national TV and decided to clean it up for the adults, if not their children.

The speculation continues: Portman? Kasich?

In Shakespeare's Hamlet, the long-suffering protagonist laments to his friend Horatio that his mother remarried so quickly after his father's death that the leftover "funeral bak'd meats" for his father's wake  were  served at his mother's wedding.  

Methinks there  is something Shakespearean  in the rush of speculation in the  wake of Mitt Romney's political death last week about what leftovers  will seek to succeed  him  four years hence. Alas, politics is forever impatient and doesn't provide for pauses or vacuums.

Amid all of the speculation, a case  in point arrived via the Columbus Dispatch that centered on an Ohio dream candidate featuring either leftover  Sen. Rob Portman or  Gov. John Kasich at the top of the heap.

Or as the Dispatch's Jack Torry wrote on Sunday:
"Less than one week after President Barack Obama defeated Mitt romney,  Kasich and Portman are being talked about as serious candidates in 2016.  If they run, they could provide that most prominent moment for Ohio politics since 1920, when Republican Warren. G. Harding of Marion defeated Democrat James Cox of Dayton for the  Presidency."
The article even quotes John Brabender, a senior advisor to  Rick Santorum's dead-end campaign (!),  as describing both guys as "certainly credible."  Some other Republicans gave pro-forma applause to both Ohioans.  That much alone could get the juice  flowing.  Are you ready for it, Iowa?

Oh, about Harding... He was dead-set against taxes, opposed America's entrance into the League of Nations and on other matters raised the generic Republican flag.   Some historians also suggested that his rise was clearly aided by the fact that he very much looked like a president.

Some familiar?  

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Husted: Romney by acclimation in Ohio?

Plunderbund and Ohio Public Radio have noted something  that seems to have fallen through the cracks of the  mainstream print media.  Not satisfied with the  notoriety he's already earned with his nationally reported efforts to restrict the Ohio vote  on Election Day, Secretary of State Jon Husted is now suggesting  that he would like to see a major change in the state's winner-take all electoral votes: dice them up according to congressional district results.  

His rationale - which is too kind a word -   is that Ohio draws too much attention as a swing state and would be less critical to the national outcome if each of  its congressional districts were awarded delegates based on their  votes.  Spoken  like a true Republican in the wake of Tuesday's results.

If Husted really wanted to dim the quadrennial glare on his state, maybe he should just  go about his business in a a less partisan way without being   mentioned in the national press so  often as  an elections officer  who by hook or crook tried to "swing" the state to Mitt Romney. Don't count on it.

(Note: Plunderbund has posted my column on Josh Mandel's plans for his political future which, as you are probably aware by now, could change by the day.)

The GOP elephants in the dark

It was that kind of silhouetted election night for Todd Akin,  Richard Mourdock, Joe Walsh, Allen
West, Mitt & Paul  - and friends Donald Trump, Sheldon Adelson, the Koch Brothers,  Karl Rove, Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Billy Graham,  Sean Hannity et al.  None of the elephants are running now - unless it's for cover. .  

Friday, November 9, 2012

News from the battlefield


There's nothing that would snap our brief euphoric holiday from the presidential election more than the  report in the Columbus Dispatch that Gov. Kasich was asked at a news conference whether he would consider running for president. Well, as the Dispatch, Kasich's adulatory voice in the capital city, recorded his response:

"I haven't announced this yet but I have full intentions of running for re-election and I have a great job here as the  governor."

Sort of a non-denial denial, don't you think?   At least that's how it was interpreted down there with the paper noting: "He didn't rule it out."

Good grief!

                                                         * * * * *

We clipped and saved Glenn Beck's pre-election communication with God in setting the stage for a presumed President Romney: "I believe Mr. Romney prays on his knees every day.  I believe he is being guided [and his election Tuesday] would be a sign from God."  Shouldn't Beck have checked first with Nate Silver?

                                                        * * * * *

The Economist recently quoted the late  Ronald Reagan's view of Latinos thusly:

"Latinos are Republicans," Ronald Reagan is supposed to have said.   "They still don't know it yet."

Update to the iconic Gipper after the Latinos massive turnout for President Obama on
Tuesday:  They still don't.

                                                      * * * * *
 The conservative gurus, apparently carried away by wishful thoughts,  simply crashed in  their predictions.  George Will forecast a 321-217 electoral vote victory for Romney.  And alleged  analyst Dick Morris predicted a landslide for Mitt.  For high-paid talking heads, this was worse than embarrassing.  It might even be considered a defining moment for their political insights.

                                                       * * * * *
Finally, a picture is worth...


Thursday, November 8, 2012

Mitt needed a lift from the pizza man

Back in September, Florida pizza shop owner Scott Van Duzer guaranteed himself a place in political photo-history with his impromptu bear hug of Barack Obama during the president's  unscheduled campaign stop in Ft. Pierce. Some onlookers were said to gasp at the sight.   It was all in fun and although it didn't seem so at the time,   you could  later look back on it to define  the differences  between the campaign souls  of the two presidential candidates:  Obama's easy spontaneity  in a crowd and Mitt Romney's herky-jerky body movements and unconvincing smiles. For all of the money spent on his campaign, you'd think they would have set aside a little to match the pizza owner's  spirited scene.

I, and apparently a lot of other people, couldn't quite get past the notion that Mitt was  unable to break  from the mold of a powerful  businessman who wanted to  incorporate every store front (and pizza shop, maybe) in America.  From body language to scripted repetition of thought-lines - "I've done it before and can do it again", he repeatedly pledged, as though we hadn't heard him the first thousand  times -  never convinced a majority of the 99 per centers that he could relate to our worlds.

By all previous notions of winning politics, he should have coasted to the White House. A slowly recovering  economy, the every-present racial undercurrents, a flood of more campaign money than could be restrained by Hoover Dam, or more succinctly, the three Rs of this year's campaign - racism, religion and Rovism.  Obama was undermined by the U.S.Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Republican Jewish Coalition, evangelicals and countless religious broadcasters, including Mike Huckabee, who loudly protested the nation's movement toward a more liberating  social gospel that accepted same-sex marriage, contraceptives   and other individual lifestyle choices.   "Sociocultural rot," cried Plain Dealer deputy editorial page editor Kevin O'Brien,  a fully accredited Hard Right thinker, in another weepy outburst on today's Op-Ed page labeled "It's twilight in America".

Clearly, even for the stubborn CEO like Romney, he ecountered more on his plate than he could handle and raced to the tall weeds in the Tea Party for cover.  Whether it was personal choice, health care,   climate change  or the auto industry, Mitt remained a Tea party captive and never deviated from the script - at least his current one, not the older one as governor  of Massachusetts.  On Tuesday, the same state rolled over him , with 61 pct. favoring Obama.

Now, the post-mortems are piling up from the right, declaring him to be a traitor to the conservatives' cause, that he wasn't really one of them.

Oh? Then who was he?

We may never know.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Life challenges on the white-guy track

There's been a lot of attention  given to white guys , the pejorative term for white males,  during this election season.  That's because the polls once again showed white guys strongly favoring Mitt Romney, a self-iconic success story,  over President Obama.  Political thinkers, sociologists and the producers of Romney lapel buttons have all checked into the long-running phenomenon of why white guys prefer Republicans.

Still unsatisfied with the GOP quarry, Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina went so far as to complain that "We're not generating enough angry  white guys to stay in business for the long term."  What he fears as a generic white Southern Republican is that minorities will become the majorities in the U.S.over the next decade and where will that leave the white guy party?  Well, where?

A number of theories are around.  The Economist recently reported a paper published in Psychological Science that suggests that muscles have something to do with the political profile of white guys.  Researchers Michael Petersen  (University of Aarthus in Denmark) and Daniel Sznycer (University of California, Santa Barbara) asked their subjects whether  resources should be redistributed to the poor.  Musculature identified those who opposed such redistribution.

The scholars didn't say so, but it does seem that one clue to the white guys'  preference for Mitt Romney could be their  desperate  remedy for erectile dysfunction against groups of rivals.

It comes down to fear of losing the dominance that only Republicans can offer in their campaign bombast about success in a rapidly changing marketplace.    Will, for example, the white guys'  traditional cookout role of grilling steaks  be diluted by pushy females who escape from the kitchen?  Or as Executive Chef Elisabeth Karmel asks: Is the grill the last bastion of masculinity?

As one who grew up in a family with many cousins of Republican toughs with Popeye arms,  I can say that yes, there is anger  and resentment over minorities and women's roles  that have been coming on for decades.  A college professor once complained to me that female professors were  getting too sassy around him.  And a former boss didn't know how he could survive  after his company had placed a woman executive above him.

Stricken by such thoughts of servitude to The Others, some fearful white guys still rely on holstered sidearms, barbells and hairy chests to prove they are not sissies.  How else can they disguise their resentfulness and insecurity over the threats to their masculinity?  To them, seeking refuge in the brave old world of Republicanism would at least give them a temporary  safety net.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Adelson tells all, or at least some of it

When you're one of the richest  guys in America, you don't have to be asked twice to share your views with the Wall Street Journal.  As a record contributor to Republican candidates against
President Obama,  here we have multi-multi-billionaire casino magnate Sheldon Adelson  stepping up to explain why he's a former Democrat who has staunchly supported the Republican team.

You may recall that it was Newt Gingrich, alas, the lone GOP candidate to promise that he would build  a permanent base on the moon, who got a political life preserver stuffed with $20 million from Adelson before  Newt, for all of his dreamy chutzpah,  landed on the dark side of the lunar landscape.  That was when Adelson switched his allegiance to Romney, with the explanation that he didn't leave the Democratic Party but rather, it left him.  Nice try, for a guy whose fortunes are amply inflated by his investments in Macau, his Chinese  Mecca for high rollers. (I keep waiting for a poor crossroads preacher to buck the uber wealthy class and stand up to  say that  Obama is a nice guy.)

Adelson,  a devoted advocate of Israel, said he doesn't trust Obama to defend that nation  and doesn't mind saying so. . On domestic matters,  he is not thrilled with unions, either,  and is said to own the only non-union casino in Vegas.   On that score, when he says he no longer shares Democrats' values, I'd say good for them.

A one-liner for Romney on how he sees himself

As we mercifully approach  the calling hours for the presidential election, allow me to wrap up the entire Romney campaign with a single line on how he appeared to me (as distilled from his many first-person opinions of himself as the new CEO in the Oval Office" :

                       "Trust me: Whatever I was is whatever I might be"

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Republican Rick Scott hacks the vote in Florida's hot sun

My question of the day: What the hell is Florida Gov. Rick Scott, one of the GOP's certified hacks, doing in a photo with the American flag?  They are mutually exclusive.  The flag is intended to signify the noble American spirit.  Scott signifies  that he is only one of the GOP's certified hacks.

He revived that title again this election season  with his directives  to shorten the hours of early voting in his state.  It led to lines at the polls that caused delays (in the Sunshine State)  of three to four hours - and longer.

But he doubtless was tutored by his  fellow-Republican vote shrinker, Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted, who repeatedly defended his shameless action  by declaring it to be "fair" and "honest".
So what has Scott had to say under the barrage of criticism that he is hacking the election in Florida?

'"I'm focussed on making sure that we have fair, honest elections," the Washington Post quoted Scott, who had an approval rating in the state of 39 pct. - even before he set out to shutter the election for his side.

Oh, another thing, now that Scott has got me started:  The cars of some of those who stood in line for hours were towed away.

This is how they do it in those countries that we say we hate.

Dubya returns - still much like The Shadow

The Cayman Islands are a rich man's offshore piggy bank nestled just south of Cuba. They are easily accessible by private jets that are met by limos at the airports.   They are  an escape by oppressed  folks who have so much money that   there's not much more they can do with it so they hide it from the tax collectors until something better comes along - which it won't.

For these miillion-billion-zillionaires, since it is not possible to get to heaven while they are still breathing, the Caymans are their  luxurious tax-free destination of choice. Smart money-guys like Mitt Romney would have it no other way.

The true Republican brand of the  party's moneyed achievers  was again disclosed a few days ago when reports filtered out of the Caymans that George W. Bush was on hand to be the keynote speaker at a global investment conferfence.  In the perfect fit of the Ritz-Carlton. On Grand Cayman Island.

But then  we lost the narrative of Dubya's sudden reappearance like Jacob Marley's ghost. Until then we had given up on seeing the former president again inasmuch as his party declared him to be a non-person in the current campaign.   We could be heard shouting, "George W. Bush LIVES!"

But no sooner  than we wanted to eavesdrop on his return, the entire trip was blacked out.  Reporters were banned from covering the speech and the participants who paid $4,000 to hear it were  told not to say a word about it. Conference spokesman Dan Kneipp said the restrictions were  imposed by Bush's staff.

As long as the topic is investment savvy, do you think that somebody might have asked Dubya about why he approved the trade of Sammy Sosa when he was a managing partner of the Texas Rangers?  Or how Texas oilmen rushed to his aid  to buy his cash-poor oil company?  "I'm all name and no money," he once said.  But now as his party is concerned, it's the other way around.


Friday, November 2, 2012

I am Grumpy Abe and I approve this ad:

As further public service we offer this alert:

An open letter to Josh Mandel from his cousins

To continue the narrative of the final days of the election season, you may find it interesting to read a letter, in its entirety from from members of the Mandel family to Josh Mandel, Republican candidate for the U.S.  Senate, forwarded  to me by a reader:


> Open Letter to Josh Mandel, Republican
> Candidate for U.S. Senator from Ohio
> Dear Josh,
> Four years ago you came into our family. We still remember the excitement
> surrounding your wedding, and how happy our family members were as they
> described it afterwards. So we were deeply saddened when you announced during
> your October 18th debate with Senator Sherrod Brown that you believe only some
> people should share this right to marry the person they love, while others should not.
> Your cousins, Ellen Ratner and Cholene Espinoza, are among the many wonderful
> couples whose rights you do not recognize. They were married almost eight years ago
> in Massachusetts, at a time when it was the only state in the nation to allow same-sex
> marriage. Their wedding, like yours, was a beautiful and happy occasion for all of us in
> our family. It hurts us that you would embrace discrimination against them and
> countless other loving couples in Ohio and around the country.
> We are equally distressed by your belief that gay men and women should not be
> allowed to serve openly in the military. Like you, Cholene spent many years in the
> armed forces. A graduate of the Air Force Academy and an accomplished pilot, she
> became the second woman in history to fly the U-2 reconnaissance plane. And yet,
> you have argued that she, like many gay and lesbian soldiers, should be forced to live
> a life of secrecy and lies.
> Josh, as you know, our roots are deep in the Cleveland area and we have friends and
> family we love throughout Ohio. This family is sprawling and diverse, but it has
> always believed strongly in the values of equality and inclusiveness. Your
> discriminatory stance violates these core values of our family. Nevertheless we hope
> that over time, as you advance in years and wisdom, you will come to embrace the
> values of inclusiveness and equality as well.
> Your cousins,
> Michael Ratner, Bruce Ratner, Karen Ranucci, Pamela Lipkin, Rebecca Ratner,
> Elizabeth Ratner, Patrick Markee, Jacob Ratner. Ana Ratner 

Score one for Husted, at the bottom of the wash

From today's pile of dirty laundry:

You can be sure that Secretary of State Jon Husted, Ohio'a vote suppressor- in - chief,  is feeling rather puffy today now that the appellate court in Cincinnati voted 2-1 to uphold his  heavy hand in denying provisional ballots to voters even if they were misled by poll workers on their valid polling places.

As has been widely reported throughout the long election season , Republican Husted has resorted to  various ploys  of restricting certain voters in a Frankenstein role  with the voice of a canary.  "The rules are clear, and we can now focus on a fair election, " Husted proudly chirped,  with a familiar reprise of intellectual dishonesty.

But the rules in this election have never  been clearly articulated by him ever since the Republican  preservationists  cynically  set out to  use voter "fraud" as their lame excuse for excising blacks,  the elderly  and other urbanites  from the rolls.  Mythical fraud, of course.   So Husted then inserted meaningless  terms like "uniformity" and "fairness" to gird GOP  hopes of winning the state.

Make me laugh. Never have the rules of electoral engagement - even recalling the messy handiwork of former Secretary of State Ken Blackwell - has anybody worked harder and more deliberately, expending taxpayer money and his own office's energy,  as Husted to game the system.  If you don't think so,  you also would agree to  accept a poll tax.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Some of the sewage stapled to anti-EPA trash

Crowded in the deluge of political emails and flyers that I've received was one that had an unusual symbiotic twist.  Stapled to a door-hanger attacking Sen. Sherrod Brown for supporting EPA regulations, courtesy of Dick Armey's right-wing  FreedomWorks, waa a more modestly produced assault on Brown that declared his EPA positions will raise the cost of sewer upgrades in Akron hundreds of  millions of dollars of taxpayers money. Since there are no precise figures for the costs over a 15-year period, we are reluctant  to reveal this handout's figure.

The stapled attachment was created by an outfit named the Summit County Citizens for Sewer Reform - and if you have the time to track down the sponsors, more power to you.   It's pure anti-Brown, anti-EPA political sewage referring to the issue of sewer  discharges into the city's system.  Interesting how Brown and other Democrats  are named as the sole perps in this saga.

As has been reported  often, there have been agreements between the Federal and State EPAs that seemed close enough to a solution to move on with the project, only to be rejected by Federal Judge John Adams, a Bush appointee who continues to insist that the work be concluded much sooner.   The long delays following his two rejections of the plan have naturally extended the period of completion.

The issue is back in Adams' court with all concerned waiting for a  consent decree by Adams.

Not that  it means  anything to  the anti-EPA crowd that in the same breath  mentions the good side   as Mitt Romney, Josh Mandel, Jim Renacci and Marsha Agana.

Think there's some political hatchets at work here?.

In case you still have doubts!

You might want to forward this to all of friends, assuming you have a few. If not, George Will and Rush Limbaugh will do.  

Groundskeeper Romney in a New Jersey allegory

Once upon a time - say, this week - a Republican presidential candidate  and savvy one-time groundskeeper boasted to a small gathering in Kettering, Oh., of his success in helping to clean up the debris from a football field.

It was another of candidate Mitt Romney's expressed can-do experiences while marooned in the Dayton suburb while Gov. Chris Christie and President Obama were taking care of business together in the destructive winds and tides of New Jersey in a mutually congratulatory  manner.

But as the can-do candidate has often asserted in his metallic utterances,  "I did it before and will do it again".  Yet,  perhaps saving the best of his tales for last in the closing days of his campaign,  there he was helping out with canned goods to be sent -  where? - "to New  Jersey, I think"-  while recalling his luminous business-like moment cleaning  up a football field.

Gather 'round.  Let the can-do candidate tell you how he solved the problem at his high school.

There had been a a big celebration at the field and some classmates were assigned to clean up the mess, "And I thought, 'how are we going to clean up all the mess on this football field?'" Remember,  class,  he was a mere teenager   already experiencing on-the-Bain-job can-do training.    (We are now deeply into the New Jersey allegory of man against nature spoken by a marooned presidential candidate who was not invited to the wedding on the eastern shores.)

 And it was determined that the cleaner-uppers would each take a different yard line "and just walk down and do your lane. And if everybody cleans their lanes, we'll get it done".

And so it happened that Obama and Christie and FEMA  and the other emergency crews were so busy they didn't find time to thank the can-do president when he said, "And so today, we're cleaning one lane if, you will."

You'd think that they could find a submerged high school football field  in Atlantic City (That's in New Jersey,  I think)  that would require a veteran like the can-do -president to clean it up.