Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013-2014: No beginning, middle nor end.

The year 2013 ended much as it began, with President Obama's clawing enemies digging in to nulllify his second term,  Tea Party and Bible-waving politicians stomping on the poor  - and the Cleveland Browns laboring for a new coach du jour .

Any thought that the loonies had exhausted  their absurdities in the earlier campaign to defeat Obama  at the polls has been painfully countered by the same absurdities throughout the year. Having foolishly held out  hope that American politics would find its way to grasp a common search for progress was demolished by the same ideological intrusions that led to a government shutdown.

And any thought that Rep. Louie Gohmert, once an unchallenged court jester, would remain the whackiest guy on Capitol Hill,  also frayed as other rubes  rose to stand shoulder to shoulder with him at the rear of the class.

There was the let-'em-eat-stale biscuits  group that  scorned unemployment insurance and food stamps as impure entitlements that are shunned in the New Testament.   Rep. Stephen Fincher of Tennessee elbowed into  his Book of Thessalonians to Biblically "reveal"  that if you want food to stave off starvation, it must be earned.

 Along came Rep. Jack Kingston , a Georgia Republican,  who wants hungry kids  to scrub floors or pay a dime before they are handed food in order to teach them that  (with the exception of lobbyist-chaperoned congressmen to the table ) there are no free lunches.

Unsurprisingly these Capitol Hill faux missionaries  didn't read the part in their Bibles about Jesus providing fishes and loaves to up to 5,000 people.

In the face-off between military and  social needs, the popular term to divide them was once known as "guns and butter" in the face-off today between social needs and  privately owned weapons.  Butter is seldom mentioned by the gun lobby.  So it's guns or bigger guns today. And will remain that way throughout 2014.

2013 also was the year of S-E-X, medieval,   explicitly spoken, peek-a-boo or officially curious about  female genitals.  For some  of the fogies who attacked abortions in TV commercials, it was a way of satisfying  their own moribund appetites like the school kids in my old neighborhood who giggled at the naughty pictures in big-little books. In Columbus, the down-state Republican  hoofbeaters   pressed for a "heartbeat"  bill in their crusade against abortion.

Gays were lumped with ax murderers, abominably so.  Rep.  John Becker,  a Clermont County Republican, continued to entertain his chorus by calling  for the impeachment of a Federal judge who recognized gay marriage on a death certificate. And no amateur at recognizing political opportunity, Gov. Kasich closed the circle by appointing the head of Ohio Right to Life to the State Medical Board.

Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann and Ted Cruz continued to disturb the peace and there are no signs they will head back to their caves in 2014.

And who can ignore Donald Trump's continuing adventure in terra incognito?   It would not surprise me to learn that he is spending most of his time in Kenya these days to dig up a 3,000- year- old  human carcass with Obama's DNA. 

The new year will weigh heavily upon us with the madness of mid-term elections. There's little hope that there will be improvement in air-quality standards. Sorry, there's no way you can ring out the old. (It's even possible that as I write this the Browns will have already hired and fired two coaches.)

I have a simple suggestion:  To the barricades!!!  

Monday, December 30, 2013

Surprise: Browns fire another coach

Well, the Browns' front office has gone and done it again. On cue, it fired its coach, Rob Chudzinski, just as we learned to spell his name.  And so the high command once again displayed its uncommon expertise in running an employment office for seasonal temps.  The announcement that Chud was gone arrived within  minutes after the  team ended another undistinguished season by getting thumped by the Pittsburgh Steelers.

I should remind you  that I am a  native of Western Pennsylvania and a rabid Steelers fan.  But in the end I was feeling a tad sorry for the Browns  fans after the players walked from the field Sunday, easily defeated by what appeared to be a bored Pittsburgh team.

But Chud's departure was foreordained when he was hired. You need only look at the record of comings and goings of coaches and quarterbacks to understand this alleged pro football franchise  that is perennially at its worst. In contrast, the Steelers under the seamless guidance of the Rooney family, have had no more  than three  coaches in 44 years. And there was something to be learned from their  tolerance of a losing season.  When Chuck Noll arrived in 1969, his team baptized the  new coach with a 1-13 record.  After that, Noll went on to coach four Super Bowl  victories.  

When Chud entered the dismal scene, the Beacon Journal reported "he's eager to bring excitement back to the lakefront". Didn't happen.  Nor will it next year as the Browns hunt for a replacement by a wary successor  who shouldn't count on buying a  house in Cleveland.  They may be forced to check out the mentor of a boarding school's intermural team.

When will the neckties who dwell on awful decisions ever learn? .  Until somebody can prove me wrong, never.  It recalls the moment when a fellow spotted a miserable guy bouncing his head against a wall.  "If it is so painful, why do you do it?"  the witness asked..

The reply: "It feels so good when I stop."

The Browns' deep thinkers aren't close to stopping.

Friday, December 27, 2013

For Summit GOP, three is worse than a crowd

Anyone who doubts that bad news occurs in threes might take a look at the fate of the Summit County Republican Party in recent weeks as 2013 limped through its final  days.

In quick succession, three of Chairman Alex Arshinkoff's few remaining groomed stalwarts plunged  from the party's honor role in unexpected defeat, resignation or a severe spanking by the Sixth Circuit  Court of Appeals.

Shall we begin on election day in November when Cuyahoga Falls Mayor Don
Robart, in his 28th year at City Hall and virtually having his own way in his Cuyahoga Falls fortress for nearly three decades, was defeated by City Council President Don Walters, a Democrat,  denying Robart  an  eighth term?

Four years earlier, Robart was unopposed by Democrats, which doubtless led to complacency  this time in which he was said by startled  allies to have all but abandoned campaigning, content with the endorsements of the Beacon Journal and the Cuyahoga Falls News-Press  and his own notion of invincibility.

But  in a working class suburb that leans Democratic  and has twice opted for President Obama at the polls, he hadn't left well enough alone.  He charged out of the gate in a state of the city address by describing the anti-union SB 5 on the ballot "unbelievably good".  There was some disagreement by the voters who defeated it  by more than 60 pct. of the vote.  The mayor slid farther to right by welcoming the Tea Party  rally in his town with  overwhelming praise, telling the Teepers that they were the "social, fiscal and moral conscious of America."

Finally, he became the center of attraction in opposing a family rate at the Natatorium for a wounded Iraqi veteran , a spouse in a same sex- marriage, arguing that it would be too costly. Huh?

All of these missteps  finally caught up with him to send him into overdue retirement.

Next is the saga of Arshinkoff favorite Bryan Williams, a member of  the State Education Board, who was outed as a determined  lobbyist for an anti-union construction group running a private charter school. Soon thereafter, including a call from Grumpy Abe that he resign, Williams resigned.

Finally,  there's the most recent  lashing of Federal Judge John Adams , another Arshinkoff career enabler, by a three-judge panel of the Sixth Circuit  Court of Appeals for his presiding role in a case involving a public defender. (Adams also was  engaged in a long delay of a Akron 's sewer plan, costing the city a fortune.).

Had any of these fellows been Democrats, we feel sure that the voluble chairman would have labeled them "scandals of Biblical proportion".  But. alas,  they are Republicans, which is the party's problems, not of anybody on the other side.


Saturday, December 21, 2013

Kasich decides to push up Ohio's image

Stopped by Victoria's Secret at the mall today.  No, not as a voyeur, for heaven's sake.  Rather,  I was curious about Gov. Kasich's Ohio Miracle 2 to make Ohio sexier to the world.

Sexier not my word.  It appeared in newspaper headlines, as in Sexier image sought for Ohio,  so it must be true.  As sort of a pun, it drew from the announcement that Gov. Kasich  had engaged his friend,  billionaire Les Wexner, whose retail empire includes Victoria's Secret and Bath & Body Works, to make the two "O's"  in Ohio stand for...um... Oomph!

Not that it isn't needed.  Except for the governor's publicists intent on energizing his re -election campaign, the news from Ohio has been pretty drab - and getting worse. Where else to turn than to Wexner, whom the governor rightly describes as a "brilliant marketer, " and the hundreds of Victoria's Secret stores that feature, amid other pruriant underwear, push-
up bras?

(A radio host once reported that he visited a Victoria's Secret store  to satisfy his curiosity but could only  report there were very few secrets stashed in the fetching merchandise.)

The new marketing plan also is a natural for the Kasich Administration, known for its secrecy long before any of the Statehouse females came to work in push-ups.

That could change big-time,  economically at least, for a state that has slumpe into a  flat-chested image.  As John Boehner recently responded to a reporter's question, "We'll see."

Meantime, we eagerly await the posting of the governor's fully clothed  picture in all of the Wexner stores. It wasn't there today. But I must confess that my visit  wasn't totally wasted.



Thursday, December 19, 2013

Ten more authentic reasons to be annoyed

A columnist for the Orange County (Ca.) Register has plunged into the annual December  best-worst mix by listing 2013's ten most annoying celebrities.

Although the idea was  a modest diversion to relieve the holiday stress, Barry Koltnow lost me in his top 10 selections because nine were Kardashians, a name I haven't yet been able to associate with  any life forms.   Kardashian is more of brand name, don't you think?

Miley Cyrus (sp.) topped the list.  I should admit that it took me weeks to discover it   was a girl's name.   As you can see, I've been away from pop culture longer than the Browns' last playoff appearance.

Anyway, if Koltnow can produce  a list of human annoyances, so can I, minus the Kardashians.  Please try to stay with me on this.  The columnist gets  paid. I don't.

1.Sarah Palin: She's now considering running for senator in Alaska, having chirped from a hot vice-presidential  soccer mom, to a silly public figure who seems to be skittering around with an overactive bladder.

2. Ted Cruz:  Just when we believed  that Rick Perry was a bad joke  in the traditional Texas slot on the presidential ballot, Cruz turned up, full of sound and fury signifying nothing.  Hollywood talent scouts are said to be looking  for a B-actor who looks like Joe McCarthy to play Cruz in a film.

3. Donald Trump: Maybe more of a nuisance than an annoyance after a mid-life crisis.    He's still spending dough in a hunt for the 3,000-year old man in Kenya with Barack Obama's DNA.

  4. The Rev. Pat Robertson:  OK, why does he have to keep telling us that gays and lesbians were never intended to inherit the earth while warning people never to allow a lesbian in our  home because the kids will grow up  abominably the same.

 5. John McCain: Not because he's a Republican or whatever but because he's so erratic about so many matters that he is now  proposing to kill Obamacare even after the House has failed to do so 46 times.

6. Ohio Atty. Gen. Mike DeWine: The state's very own Man of LaMancha who confuses his role as our top legal officer with that of a church busybody in fighting same-sex marriage. C'mon, Man.  Sooner or later, for all of your annoying efforts you're going to lose.  So don't bother.

7. Michele Bachmann:  She's  less an annoyance than a moron when she  screams that Obamacare will kill all signs of life on earth.  You know, women, children, bees, whales, the Minnesota Twins ad nauseam.

8. Ohio Rep. John Becker:  A freshman lawmaker from Clermont County, where Tea Partyers have a commanding presence.  The simplest way to explain Becker is to say that he's against everything.  Even called for the impeachment of a  federal judge who recognized the marriage of a gay couple.  He promises to be the leading court jester in the General Assembly in 2014 with plenty of competition.

9. Mark Kvamme: The former JobsOhio biggie,  accused by ProgressOhio of profiting $9 million from the cozy deal for a $50 million investment by Ohio State University.
Ordinary checkbook balancers, including me, simply aren't clever nor bold enough to  understand the fine print in such transactions, but we are more than annoyed by them.

10. Gov. Kasich: No single reason that he annoys us other than the pale jobs numbers in Ohio defy his exuberant promise of an "Ohio miracle".

Sorry, Kardashians, whoever you are!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

My favorite 4-letter word

Season's greetings from un-Grumpy...

Monday, December 16, 2013

Should Santa be drinking Diet Coke?

As we all know, 'tis the season of good cheer. So I want to talk to you about Santa Claus.

Let me begin by telling you that this charming mythical spirit of giving has been around longer than Fox's Megyn Kelly.  Megyn, who happens to be blonde and beardless with color-coordinated white skin as further stark evidence of her bona fides, bestirred the Santa Claus universe by insisting that he is...um...white. Contrary to much of Fox's  credentialed  hysteria these days, white, brown , middlin' has never been much of a problem for the rest of us. In fact, as a child, I forever wondered  why the rotund old guy's face,  given his mission, wasn't smudged with soot.

Megyn,  for more than one reason, deserved not only a ho-ho-ho but a Grumpy hurrummphhh!!!.

The jovial rosy-cheeked and white-bearded icon was around long before Megyn got to know him and will remain that way long after  she is exhausted by her protests that she is not, by God,  a  racist, Fox or no Fox!

Indeed, the Coca-Cola Santa that we all know and usually love was introduced in 1931 to assure us that the soda was the "pause that refreshes".  It has remained so ever since to become familiar to every sane person who has come to know him. The artist was Haddon Sundblom, who was hired for this advertising task and created many others of his jolly countenance.  (We show his first one of Santa.)

But about Santa's obesity.  It does occur to me that perhaps a skinny Coca-Cola Santa could be more appropriate in the company's pitches for, say...,Diet Coke. I mean, such a healthful initiative (except for maybe Rush Limbaugh, the GOP's big white whale),  has some potential as a contemporary ad, wouldn't you think? As the saying goes, we report, you decide.



Sunday, December 15, 2013

Is Jim Tressel's academic career on the goal line?

   Former OSU football coach Jim Tressel moved deeply into the red zone last week when the University of Akron board of trustees awarded  him a new title:  executive vice president. It is his third title since his arrival in 2011 as vice president of strategic engagement and later as the veep for student success.

The board's action spurred further speculation that his next title will  put him in the end zone:  president.

Not all of the speculation has met with  bravissimos in some faculty quarters,  where there are untidy questions about his lack of the doctorate so prized in academe for any  rise to the top administrative chair. 

Such talk among faculty and the school's boosters has been the subtext of his whirlwind career path since the school's president,  Luis Proenza, announced he was heading out in June from the position he's held for 15 years to engage in a  one-year sabbatical.  That would be followed by his return to the campus as a full time professor and president emeritus.

Since settling on the downtown campus, Tressel has been treated as a celebrity while busily engaged in motivational work with students as well as poetry reading to a UA creative-writing session and speaking at a Program Learn fund-raiser where attendees could get an autographed copy of his book,  The Winner's Manual.  

He's also considered to be an excellent fund-raiser at a time when the school is trying to find a way out of deep debt and a declining graduation rate.  With those elements in the equation, it might be reasonably asked how much is  a doctorate really worth in today's academic marketplace?   

Meantime, everyone directly involved in Tressel's future has been  quite guarded about his next move.  They have politely spun around media questions about his future,  particularly now that the formal search for Proenza's successor has begun.   But several sources  close to the scene have told me:  "It's a done deal."

Following this week's board meeting, the Beacon Journal noted that  Tressel "sidestepped" a question about his interest in the job.  Reporter Carol Biliczky quoted him as saying, "I think in fairness I'm interested in whatever role it is that our leadership wants of me".

Beyond that, the play calling remains in the brass'  huddle.  But when you are this close to the goal line it would certainly sound foolish to call for a Hail Mary.

(Re-posted from Plunderbund)

Thursday, December 12, 2013

The Little Flower: still current today

With  all of the starchy resistance by Republicans to extension of unemployment benefits,  I ran across this heartfelt blast  from Fiorella LaGuardia during the Depression as quoted in Arthur Mann's  lively portrait, La Guardia A Fighter against his times (1959).  Reacting in 1931 to President Hoover's opposition to government assistance, the Little Flower  boomed (as only he could): :

"Dole! Dole! Dole! ...That is all that one hears at every discussion of an unemployment insurance plan...What is there so novel and radical about it?'

 He added that if Americans can insure themselves against fire,  theft,  assault, hurricanes, death and the like, then why shouldn't they, like every advanced country in Europe, insure themselves against the hazards of industry?

"The needy," he said, "are not interested in words.  They want food, clothing and shelter."

Anybody want to argue with that?

Portman explains minimum wage to fast food worker

Imagine, if you can, that you are a fast-food worker catching sight of  Ohio Sen. Rob. Portman heading to an upscale restaurant  down the street.

"Senator," you call out.  "I need to talk to you."

Portman, always looking divinely benign, stops for a moment while you catch up.

"Senator," you say in an out-of-breath sort of way,"I really need your help. I have to hold three jobs on my minimum wage and I have a wife and two small children.  Can I count on you to support in increase in the minimum.?"

Looking divinely benign, the senator smiles, taps you on the shoulder and begins to explain  his reason for opposing an increase.

"My friend," he says knowingly in a trickle-down tone, which is how they like to open conversations with potential voters, "I can only tell you that I'm working to do what's best for you and our nation in the long term."

He then draws a cue sheet from his pocket, freshly prepared by the Club for Growth, and reads:
"The minimum wage mostly relates to young people. The best way to get the economy going again is by reforming  our complex, outdated tax code, making the tough choices needed to prevent  the record federal debt from smothering our eonomic growth and job creation and lifting the regulatory burdens that small businesses say are the single greatest threat from Washington today."
By now your eyes have glazed over as you try to decode the scholarly words  of  George W. Bush's former  budget director.  Bush, who left his successor with no budgetary drive-by.

You turn away in a daze. You hear the senator call to you:

"Hope that helps you connect the dots.  And I wish you and yours a very merry Christmas."

The senator, no longer dIvinely benign, is last seen rushing into the restaurant in hopes that his reservations were not cancelled by the delay from your ignorance of economic absolutes.

Update: Being a VIP, he got a nice table  anyway and ate well.   Not a tough choice for the maitre d'...

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Obama's "historic" handshake". Oh?

When are public figures going to learn  that their every move has been recorded on film and instantly available for any TV news host to make an unfriendly  point?

That much about the video trail  left behind from decades ago became quickly apparent again when vulturous Republicans, as is their wont, flapped at the chance of assailing  President Obama for shaking hands with Cuban leader Raul Castro at the memorial service for Nelson Mandela.

Sen. John McCain, who has a record of erratic public remarks, immediately likened Obama to Neville Chamberlain (not original on the Right since the Iran deal) clasping the hand of Adolph Hitler. That was quickly followed on MSNBC with a photo of McCain doing the same with Khadafi, no humanitarian by any means.  To put an even finer point on the Republican blather, other photos showed President Nixon greeting Mao with a handshake. (Nixon, in the spirit of world brotherhood when he was in China,  even raised a glass!)  

A widely published photo shows a seated President Roosevelt wedged between Churchill and Stalin (!) at Yalta in 1945 to figure out a plan for a post-war world.   (Even in less genteel football,   iconic coaches meet briefly  at midfield  after one has mercilessly trounced the other in the game.)

The Plain Dealer has now taken up the phony phenomenon of the "historic" handshake with a full-page spread offering a huge  photo of the Obama-Castro encounter and urging readers to comment on it.  The paper promises to print the comments later in the week. I can guess.

You'd think there is a better way to engage the reader's interest on slow news days when only person-of-the-year Pope Francis,  Mandella and the Browns' next quarterback are  commanding all of the attention.  

And to McCain I would only say:  Be careful when you sample an olive at the market.  Years from now it could show up on the network news when you blast a malingering Democrat for ordering a martini from  an undocumented bartender on the day the liberal pol called in  sick.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

A Christmas wish from Alex Arshinkoff

Although it has been one of Summit County Republican Party's worst years (see: Don Robart, Bryan Williams), Chairman Alex Arshinkoff has emerged from the gloom with a Christmas wish in the spirit of the GOP's brand of giving.  No, not to the rhythm of his brethren on Capitol Hill to deny food stamps, the extension of unemployment benefits, and health care for millions.   This one is fashionably clubbier, as you will see below without putting up $500. I should tell you in advance, however, that Bob Cratchit sent his regrets.

Summit County GOP Christmas Card Cover

Summit County GOP Christmas Party Invitation

Contact Summit County Republican Headquarters at 330-434-9151
for further information or to place your ticket order for this event.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Bryan Williams resigns!

Lobbyist Bryan Williams has resigned under fire for ethical questions from the State Board of Education.

His action was reported at mid-afternoon by Gongwer News Service in Columbus. It followed media and on-online reports in Grumpy Abe and Plunderbund that he was aggressively trying to influence educational policies favorable to his client, the non-union Associated Builders and Contractors for Ohio, which operates a charter school.

Gongwer reported this statement from Williams:

"Adherence to Ohio ethics laws and advisory opinions of the commission charged with interpreting state ethics laws is of utmost importance to me.  Therefore,  I conclude it my duty  to resign from the State of Ohio Board of Education,  district 5, effective immediatley so that a new board member may be appointed and serve unencumbered  by other simultaneous vocations ."

Unencumbered?  I should say so.  His decision followed word from the Ohio Ethics Commission alleging that he violated the law by wearing conflicting  hats and if  convicted could spend six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.

A week ago,  in Grumpy Abe and Plunderbund we called for his resignation, the first to do so.

May we have a truce in War on Christmas?

There's no letup by the gateway theologians who are making war on those accused of  making war on Christmas.  As the tinseled authors of seasonal books, they have made it to the top of the best-seller lists under the trade names of  Bill O'Reilly, Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin, among others, producing screeds in time to increase their own mass marketing  profits  before Santa arrives.

That's smart business practice.  Why would you complain about a war on Christmas in mid-summer when many Americans are preoccupied with making war on crabgrass?

The inspirational leader  of these entrepreneurial tests is O'Reilly, who has found his groove in titles that begin with "Killing..."  That, of course, thrusts his literary pursuits directly into America's passion for violence.  In another five years or so, O'Reilly will have killed  off more people than the Florentine plagues.

As a merciful writer, I have despaired of the war crimes associated with Christmas. So I chose my only option with a cue from O'Reilly.  In a few hours I will begin writing my own book titled "Killing Macy's"  and will have it on Amazon in 24 hours. Without apologies, my book will take it to the heart of the battlefront.

I hope the gateway theologians will accept my desperate enterprise in the spirit of the season with a holiday truce that  could begin to  fill my own Christmas stocking.

Fa la la la...

* * * * *

To digress:  After watching OSU 's loss to MSU, it seemed reasonable to conclude  that the Bucks stopped in Indy.

* * * * *

Let me close by assigning the Grumpy Abe Linguistic Lunacy Award (GALL)  to Sen. Rand Paul in the unholiest sense.  The Kentucky Republican  asserted that the extension of jobless benefits beyond the Dec. 28 expiration date would be a "disservice" to the unemployed.  Guys like Paul forever keep me guessing about their loose talk.  But he said it on Fox News so it must be true.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Dispatch adds another log to Bryan Williams fire

With the December weather icily projecting itself under foot, Bryan Williams' problems as a State Board of Education member attracted more heat Sunday, this time from the normally Republican-friendly Columbus Dispatch.

Here's how a staff-written news story began:
"A state school-board member apparently is breaking the law by lobbying the legislature and other state agencies at the same time he holds his elected post." 
As an aggressive lobbyist in behalf of his client, the Associated Builders and Contractors of Ohio,  the Dispatch reported he's applied his talent to attempting to influence a dozen bills, "including the $60 billion-plus state budget and an education bill on post secondary  enrollment."

I should pause here to report earlier notices that his client runs a private charter school .

Now comes the bounce for Williams' work.  Paul M. Nick, executive director of the Ohio Ethics Commission, told the paper:
 "The Ethics Laws prohibit an elected member of a state board or commission from receiving compensation for services  he or she performs personally  on a matter that is  before any state agency."  Without exception!
And if violated, it is a first degree misdemeanor punishable by a maximum of six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.

Williams is a well-known political activist  and insider of the Summit County Republican Party.  He's run unsuccessfully for Akron mayor, served in the legislature and as director of the county board of elections  - never at a loss for something to do politically. He was appointed to the state education board by Gov. Kasich and later elected to the seat.

The Dispatch noted that Williams didn't respond  to attempts to contact him.  But it did quote something that Williams told the Beacon  Journal in its lengthy reports  on the state education agency.  Williams then said conflicts are inevitable, adding: "There's no way around it.  People are to gravitate to the position that they have interest in."

But wasn't such  interest supposed to be public education?

Friday, December 6, 2013

The week's wash , with a surprise or two

Imagine my mild surprise when I read in my hometown paper this morning that a fellow who is the executive vice president of FreedomWorks, a national Tea Party enterprise, was the campaign manager of Bryan Willams' futile effort  to unseat Mayor Don Plusquellic in 2003. The name Adam Brandon was a faint memory, although I did recall that Plusquellic swamped Williams with 71 pct. of the vote.

Brandon, bred in the Akron area and now living in Washington, was  slated to speak at the Portage County Tea Party dinner on Thursday and told the Beacon Journal that the national group's priority was to take over the Republican Party!   That's hardly a stretch because the Teeps have already lassoed  much of the GOP today, scaring the hell out of people like John Boehner that if he's naughty and not nice, they will challenge him and other similarly situated Republicans in next year's primaries.

Williams has already made a name for himself, if not as a wannabe mayor, then as a Ohio Education Board member  influencing public education policy while lobbying for a non-union construction group operating a private charter school.

But in  promising a takeover by the Tea Party, Brandon is a tad late in Summit County, where all signs of the GOP under Chairfman Alex Arshinkoff have been shifting rightward beyond the margins of the page. If you need  confirmation, check the list of the Summit "Republican" party's dinner speakers...Well???

* * * * *

Now this one is sort of a surprise:  E. Gordon Gee heading to the Mountaineer state to serve as interim president of West Virginia University. Frankly, with his golden parachute upon leaving Ohio State University, he can afford to buy the entire state.  The real challenge for him is whether he can convert his new campus into the bow tie capital of America!    From the experience of growing up in a coal town just north of the WVA line, I don't remember the area  as being that fashion conscious.

* * * * *

There's not much more I dare add to the soaring global tributes to Nelson Mandela other than to yearn for somebody in the upper class of the Republican Party on Capital Hill to be as thoughtful in healing the problems of the less privileged in America.  The contrast, say, to John Boehner,  who defines leadership as being an obstructionist, is vividly merciless.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

BJ sees need for transparency that's already transparent

The Beacon Journal today took gentle editorial note of the "potential"  conflict of interest on the State Board of Education by observing that it reinforced the "need for board transparency in such dealings".

Hold it right there?  If there are in fact such dealings, and they were fully exposed by the paper's own reporting, so much for the potential, right?

If you read Doug Livingston's piercingly telling  reports on how some board members are registered lobbyists  for their own private school clients, there shouldn't be any doubt by now that the public interest is not their primary mission.

In this raw corruption of public education service,  the spotlight has turned to Bryan C. Williams, the Akron Republican  who lobbies for the non-union Central Ohio Associated Builders and Contractors, Inc.,  which operates the newly chartered Ohio Construction Academy.  Its tax-supported mission is apprenticeship.  It has a modest enrollment and operates outside of the oversight of public accountability.

One paragraph in Livingston's piece should awaken the BJ's editorial board of the problem that exists down in Columbus:
"Ohio Construction Academy has a strong connection in Bryan Williams, who sits on the state school board while lobbying for the builders and contractors, known as ABC.  Records show that he has advocated this year for favorable laws, funding and regulation  advantageous to his organization at the time  he also sits in an elected position on the board, which enacts regulations governing career programs and charter schools." (Italics mine)

Seems transparent enough to me.

The board's majority,  strongly influenced by charter school advocates,  is making policy for public education.  "There's no way to remedy that," one source close to the scene told me.  "They have the votes."

Regardless of the editorial writer's version,  I don't see any reason to regret my  impolite call for Williams to resign so he can spend even more  time with his client.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Limbaugh playing for bigger stakes against 'Marxist Pope'

Some time ago we discovered that Rush Limbaugh was the GOP's  Great White Whale with a blowhole as big as Grand Canyon.  He once spouted insanely that Sandra Fluke, a Georgetown law student,  was a " slut"  after she was denied an appearance  before a Republican House committee hearing on contraception and religious liberty.

But he may have topped that reckless remark  by referring to Pope Francis as a Marxist.  Rush was not at all pleased that the Pope had called unregulated  capitalism a "new tyranny"  in raising concerns about the poor.

"Somebody has either written this for him or gotten to him. This is just pure Marxism coming out of the mouth of the pope," Rush declared.

Well, we've heard the same things said about Jesus, which is where the Papacy all began.

With Limbaugh, a multi-millionaire  and then some, it's all about money and his Munchkins called dittoheads. He says he's considered becoming a Catholic.  But that's no longer in his future. Now he is playing on a world stage with his assault on Francis. Maybe he is seeking a still bigger audience - not a pun - to fill in a few more listeners for his show.

But with his money, you'd think the time has come at least for hiring  a new writer.  After all, Pope Francis does have  far more listeners.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Time for Bryan Williams to resign

Bryan Williams should resign from the State Board of Education.

As the lobbyist for a conflicting private entity,   he should end all doubts about his commitment to public education.

As the Beacon Journal so clearly reported,   Williams' true allegiance is to his better paying employer, the non-union Central Ohio Associated Builders and Contractors Inc.,   which, among other things, runs the Ohio Construction Academy in Columbus and on-line.  It has 24 students.  Unlike others in the field it gets $200,000 in state money for vocational training.

As the BJ reported, the money is sapped from the Columbus public school district's slice of state funds and sent to a charter school.

"Records show," the paper's Doug Livingston wrote, "that he [Williams]  has advocated this year for favorable laws, funding and regulation advantageous to his organization  at the time he also sits in an elected position on the board, which enacts regulations governing career programs and charter schools."

As we have long witnessed, charter schools, thanks to the financial wizardry of Akron businessman David Brennan, have become huge private cash pyramids with the considerable aid of taxpayer millions down at the Republican-controlled Statehouse.

Williams - the State Education Board member - is said to have lobbied in behalf of his private employer  for HB 168 that would deal with  state  money that could be flowed into private apprenticeship programs.  He also is involved with other committees where his influence could favor his client.

A conservative Republican, Williams has been a strong ally of Summit County GOP Chairman Alex Arshinkoff, who once recruited him for a failed candidacy against Akron  Mayor Don Plusquellic.

As you might expect, Williams dismissed criticism from N. Vic Goodman, the Columbus lawyer representing the unionized Ohio State Building & Construction Trades Council, which  pays for apprenticeship -  $50 million in fees and dues from workers in 2012.

"First of all," Williams told the paper, "his criticisms are asinine.  They are just typical union territorialism"

As in dual-role non-uinion territorialism?   Not good enough Mr. Williams.

Prove that you and your conscience are big enough.


Sunday, December 1, 2013

o,come all ye faithful!

Black Friday, but without teargas

Well, I made it to the mall as an observer on Black Friday. The place was the teeming boulevard of  hysterical bargain hunters.  30 pct. off!  50 pct. off! BOGOS!    Everything in the store half-price!  With long lines, Starbuck's was  gushing  coffee like Texas oil wells.

Nearby,  a sound system was blasting  "Grandma got run over by a reindeer." A downer, I know, in this maddening  most frantic day in the retail science of discounts for survival.  But I should warn you that a reindeer is far less perilous to grandma than the iPhone shoppers who dash in and out of stores dumbly oblivious of maiming living beings in their path.

iPhones are a relatively recent phenomenon of Planet Mall, increasing their intrusion into the old shopping spirit when people were content to carry a small list of things-to-buy for  grandma and family.  (The good news, I assume, is that she somehow survived the  encounter with antlers and hooves.)

As a small-town lad, unless there was a sooty coal mine eruption, I can report there was no thought of a Black Friday.  There was only a laid-back Main Street,  half the length of a mall, with Penney's,  a dime store, several shops  and a small enterprise that its owner, George Saloom, decided to call a department store.

My mother would drag me into the store and tell George (the use of surnames in small towns was not that common  except in police reports)  she wanted a shirt for me with such-and-such size and color.

George would wheel around to the shelves of boxes behind him,  carefully examine the labels and pull one out.  "Here, Helen," he would assure her, "this is nice." On some days, if your were lucky he might put on a fresh pot of coffee.

Grandma never went shopping, unless I walked her to Hagan's for her fully satisfying 25-cent lunch:  A hot dog and a Coke.  And that was how she managed in good health through Christmas Day.  She lived into what we guessed had to be her nineties.

My push through the mall on Friday also recalled memories of being tear-gassed by an unruly soccer crowd in Italy as I stepped out of a restaurant.   The revelers meant no harm  - to me, at least.  It was just my misfortune to step into the path of an Italian-style high-risk soccer celebration.

No teargas at the mall.  But after being bruised and spun a couple of times by hordes  with iPhones in one hand and plastic shopping bags in the other, I  can say that the teargas was no worse.

If it's true that life is just one learning experience after another, I can now return to the boulevard fully prepared for the melee with a helmet, chest protector and a pocket calculator to instantly tell me the bottom line of 30 pct. off  50 pct. To be honest about it, that's the hardest  part.


Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Browns to install hoops in end zone?

If the Cleveland Browns wanted to grab the attention of midweek sports buffs they couldn't have done it with more finesse than to earn delicious headlines for their latest quarterback   acquisition. Backup quarterback, that is.  He's Alex Tanney, who,  it says here, is a "trick shot artist" formerly of the Dallas Cowboys practice squad.

Not  experienced in being first in anything  else,  the Browns shouldn't be criticized for   adding intrigue to their playbook. Their new guy reportedly can throw a football from some distance into a basketball hoop.  (You'd think the Cavaliers would have bid on his talent first.)

Still, we confess to some doubt about Tanney's  potential on an open field.  Can he throw a football into the hands of  a friendly receiver with three or four pickup trucks  in his face?

But the Browns are hopeful.  As  Yogi Berra once explained why he liked baseball more than football:

"It ain't like football.You can't  make up no trick plays."

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Governor Kasich,the original Lima being?

Gov. Kasich, who has his mind and career set on being a Republican original, headed into the GOP heartland of Western Ohio again this week to sign a resolution calling for a federal balanced budget. It was in Lima, marking the spot of Kasich's  "makeshift capital" for his earlier state-of-the-state speech.

 He was joined by a platoon of his party's leaders in the Ohio General Assembly.  According to the event's chroniclers,  the sub-historic document (unless it was a first for Lima) will be sent to President Obama  and Congress.  In so doing,  he proved me wrong.  I had expected him to do it at the Ohio State-Michigan  game hovering over Ann Arbor in the Goodyear blimp.

I should remind the Guv,  however, that the balancing act,  like cutting food stamps to impress the penny savers,  is nothing new as a means to  flatter one's public image. The idea has been around since Henry VIII and has limped through a series of administrations in Washington  (including Reagan and the Bushes) without gaining an inch.

So where's the originality, the prescience , the nobility, of these charades to upgrade one's standing on the ballot?  Wanna bet this empty gesture will be DOA again?

Sunday, November 24, 2013

For the sports fan who knows everything...

If you want to impress your friends at the sports bar, lay this  one on them:

A newspaper reported after the Browns-Steelers game that it was  only the sixth time in NFL history that 27-11 was the final score!

My guess is that 101-2 would even be rarer, but life is much too short to look it up..

Issa's sleighbells ringing in red states

With the holiday season and all upon us, Rep. Darrell Issa has taken off to Deck the Halls in several red states with hearings reveling in heavily spiked Obamanog. As the chairman of House Oversight and Governmental Reform Committee, he has loaded up the sleigh for grandstand appearances in North Carolina, Georgia, Texas and Arizona.
Carefully selected for his road show, the audiences will doubtless be quite friendly as he rips President Obama and the Affordable Care Act without calling a single witness from the other side. With Issa’s tactics, matters must be settle by acclimation.
The hearings will be a Christmas present to himself. Issa, the richest fellow in Congress (ca. $400 million) still can’t get enough of tilted hearings where only his side can testify. You may recall that he staged an all-male witness panel when he took up the subject of contraception coverage required of insurers.
When Issa, a southern Californian from a red-hot conservative district, succeeded Henry Waxman as the committee chair, he demanded of his 7 subcommittees: “I want seven hearings a week – times 40. ” He then staged 280 hearings in one year; Waxman, 208 in two years. You must also remember that in his hatred of the president, Issa also told Rush Limbaugh that Obama was “One of the most corrupt presidents in modern times.”
Issa always impresses me as a guy who swallowed a horsefly in his soup before realizing it and never really got over the nausea.
He is a right-wing committee chairman with a darkly piercing glare and a ruthless agenda on how government should be exposed by his ongoing performance art… If only in the red states.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Nov. 22, for those of us who struggled through it...

On this day,  the memorable Bill Mauldin cartoon of a weeping Lincoln :

For Sen. McConnell, a really bad day at the office

My only comment to the walking dead in Congress who are having anxiety attacks over the Senate Democrats' action on filibusters:

"What don't you know about yes?  

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Walmart: Gifts that don't keep on giving

The latest heartfelt story fully making the rounds about Walmart is that bins have been  set up at the Canton store that urge Walmart associates to deposit  Thanksgiving food offerings for their needy fellow workers.  Comedian Stephen Colbert found a lot not to like about the idea.  With his finger always on the pulse, he noted that he  couldn't agree with those who accuse Walmart of not doing enough for its employes. "Wrong," he said. "They don't do anything."  

* * * * *

The table tops at the  Summit Mall food court have inset space for posting ads.  The current ones promote Roto-Rooter with the troubling message for fast-food customers:  "Complete plumbing and drain service."

* * * * *

MSNBC's Ed Schultz and Ohio Sen. Nina Turner joined for a Happy Hour assailing the State GOPs multi-pronged attacks on voting rights. Schultz complained that such tactics, with Republican Gov. Kasich at the helm, hardly reveal him as the  political moderate creeping into some national media stories about him as a presidential candidate so many years from now.  Turner is challenging Secretary of State Jon Husted and is making the voting stink a major issue in the campaign. That's an easy case to make.

* * * * *

Why do I get a  headache when Dick Cheney, a Cyborg with a pulseless mechanical  heart, turns up on TV with still more lies?  I thought those days were gone for the unchastened veep after he told us that the Iraq war would end in a matter of weeks - and not a year longer. He also guaranteed the skeptics that  the freedom-loving Iraqi greeters would shower our troops with candy and flowers from their balconies.  Try to remember.

* * * * *

In case you missed it, the U.S. House has now voted 46 times to abolish Obamacare.  At the same time latest poll figures report that Speaker John Boehner is the most unpopular politician in the universe. They needed a poll for that?

Beacon Journal: A hard look at State Board of Education

(Re-posted from Plunderbund)

Doug Livingston's excellent series in the Beacon Journal documenting the rightward ooze of the State Board of Education should be a primer on the private agendas  of those overseeing public education in Ohio today.   Much of it has occurred during Gov. Kasich's reign, who hastened the Tea Party/evangelical  take-over of what should be a  non-political non-sectarian approach to preparing students  for whatever greets them when they leave the classroom.

Nothing better illustrates the board's political  fault lines than its chairman, Debra Terhar, an avowed Tea Party member appointed by Kasich to the current 17 member panel. Her arrival from Montford Heights in Hamilton County was disputed by critics of  her right-wing mindset, but to no avail.

Terhar is one of eight appointees added to 11 elected members (currently: 2 vacancies) , which gave the governor a free hand  to stack the deck for the ultraconservative Kansas-style  direction  of the state's  education policies, where princely riches can be,  and are,  earned through Republican fondness for charter schools. It is packaged marketplace education for winners and losers, forever the ethos of the GOP.

Back in August, the governor also appointed David Hansen, whose chief merit badge was that he was a the ex-president of the conservative  Buckeye Institute in Circleville to look after the state's Charter School and Voucher programs - some of the very same schools that are getting grades of D or lower.  Among the strongest advocates on the board is former Summit County Elections Board chief Brian Williams, a Republican who fared so badly in a challenge to Akron Mayor Don Plusquellic. Williams is now a lobbyist for the non-union Associated Builders and Contractors of America.  Go ahead, call him the comeback kid.

The BJ quoted Williams on charters: "Choice to me is another word for competition, and competition is another word to me for eventual excellence."    Marketplace philsophy in education does prevail down to kindergarten economics.

Race and gender also raise questions.  The BJ reported:

  • Of the seven appointees seated today, all are white and one is female. 
  • Eight of nine board committees are chaired by white men, although board gender is is 9-8 male. Seven of the those committees are chaired by appointees.
  • The only African American board member,  Jeffrey Mims, who was elected, is retiring to return to a job in city government.   Almost all appointees are significant Republican donors,  organizers or fund-raisers.

This is just a fragment of the stuff you learn about the ABC's of the board's ideological descent, from religious fervor, to potential conflicts of interest to bare-faced servility by the governor to the intrusion by members committed to a medieval agenda.

Item:  When Terhar objected to Nobel and Pulitzer Prize winner Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye on the school reading list because it described a rape, Terhar was defended by board member Mark Smith, the Ohio Christian University president, who  told the Columbus Dispatch: "I see an underlying socialist-communist agenda...that is anti what the nation about."

And, if you didn't already know, Terhar satisfied the juices of gun lobbyists aftter the bloody Connecticut school massacre by displaying a photo of Hitler and asserting that   tyrants are the first to come after your guns.

Meantime, Bryan Williams also supports the makeup of the board, telling the BJ that it's good that the members are friendly to the governor.

"That helps," he assured everyone.  "That gets possible conflict out of the way."

You bet. Thanks for the teaching moment.

Monday, November 18, 2013

With Sen. LaRose, three's not an anti-vote crowd

Last August, State Sen. Frank LaRose of  Copley Twp., announced that he was planting seeds to introduce politicians to civility.  A Republican, he would join with former State Rep. Ted Celeste, a Democrat,  to pursue the noble bipartisan goal.  Considering the infusion of the Tea Party into the GOP's veins and thought processes, LaRose could be commended for what would require the hand of a brilliant alchemist.

I can't say preciesely whether he has inched forward. (My guess:  Not much.)   But a report in Plunderbund suggests that he is still hanging out with his family of lawmakers who keep looking for ways to shrink the vote because, well, they see that as the path to the reemergence of more victories in state and federal elections.

 (Or as Summit County Republican Chairman Alex Arshinkoff, an early  LaRose enthusiast, used to say,  bad weather would help his side because it encourages  some of the folks who supported the other side to stay home. Such logic, after all, could be a greater benefit than poll taxes.)

Back to LaRose:  the Plunderbund article noted that committee hearings will begin Tuesday on three Republican anti-voting bills.  One, by State Sen. Bill Coley, a hard-right freshman senator  from hard-right Liberty (!) Township in hard-right Butler County, that would offer  a crash landing for absentee balloting.  Coley would prevent  the Secretary of State from mailing absentee ballots in primary and special elections.  Absentee ballots mailed for general elections?  Only if the Republican-controlled General Assembly approved the funds!  Wanna bet?

A second Republican bill to be heard arrives from State Sen. Joe Uecker,  another winger who represents several counties down along the Ohio River.  He's looking for ways to reduce the number of voting machines. As Plunderbund notes, if Coley's bill to restrict absentee voters passes , more machines would be needed.

And now, I regret to say, Sen. LaRose joins in the hunt by  offering a bill to slice six more days from the early voting track.

Sorry to be so uncivil, senator, but this is partisan madness and I've already seen the game film too many times.

Friday, November 15, 2013

A sad good-bye to Sophie, a family treasure

As a personal note, I'll make this as brief as I can:  Son Mark's treasured dog, Sophie, was mutilated  by an illegal animal trap in her  Stow neighborhood - a brutal end to a small black-hair creature who had ingratiated herself deeply into  our extended family for a decade.  She was often our playful guest as her second family  while Mark's company sent him on the road on business trips  for several days.   We not only grieve but also grow still angrier  over the terrible finality of  Sophie's happy life.  No secret to how the still unnamed killer  can ghoulishly resort  to this monstrous device that  was covered by fallen leaves. Begin with bloody ignorance.   Is there an answer?

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Today's premature stars of the political mentionables

As one of the grouchier members of the overpopulated Blogger Corps, I do find a bit of useless humor in the national media's rush to add one more Scrabble letter to the 2016 presidential roster.  Russell Baker, the former New York Times columnist, and a keen one at that, described such folly as the "great mentioning game", which seasonably dealt with the eternal question of how many angels can dance on the head of a pin?

The roster of the mentionables was nearly filled out when Ted Cruz stormed the field with the fury of Morgan's raiders,  stomping over the whimpering bodies of other wannabes  like Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, Rick Perry, Sarah Palin (the crazy aunt in the attic) and - who knew? - John Kasich.  Another Buckeye, Rob Portman,  once nibbled at the idea, with kind credentials from the Columbus Dispatch, but he fell back to the practice squad with his endorsement of gay marriage, a no-no on what his side religiously considers as its indispensable power base.

As we all have known since many  pundits cast Hillary Clinton as the smartest money to be the next president long before  she restyled her hair, all of the attention must be limited to those dancing angels in the Tea Party since it dumped the GOP overboard in the Potomac and the creeks of Texas.

New Republic magazine guaranteed itself of being a pace-setter for the pundits' three-year itch by asking its readers: Will Elizabeth Warren challenge  Clinton for the Democratic nomination in 2016? Well, will she?  Doesn't really matter, folks,  because the magazine's delicious question will  send off a lot of Potomacati in tears, feverishly  wondering why they didn't think of it first. But they will be back with further grooming. I mean, Warren vs. Clinton?  You could retire after that one.

And when Kasich supported an expansion of Medicaid, there was a frenzy of national reports declaring him to be John the Bold by defying right-wing orthodoxy  that controls the national party.  So moved that a garden variety Republican had shot out of the bubble, even Paul Krugman bought into it.  It was the kind of story  in which people could be impressed that the conservative governor had reinvented not only himself but also a  new day for the party itself.

Salon 's Joan Walsh was less impressed and emailed  Kasich's overworked spokesperson Rob Nichols  to interview the guv.  He triumphantly emailed back: "Everyone on earth  wants to talk to him".    She said she would be patient.

 "He hasn't replied," she wrote in defeat.  Maybe it was because she wanted to mention that while expanding Medicaid - the Christian thing to do, he explained -  he also supported reductions in food stamps to more than 130,000 people.

"Kasich made the decision after his Medicaid move and it was entirely seen as a sop to  the right to make up for it. It didn't work; Tea Partyers are still blasting  him," Walsh wrote, complaining that the New York Times and other media road warriors "made Kasich a hero."

Kasich for president?  Put a a fat asterisk next to the name.

The other morning I passed by a TV set in which Cokie Roberts was saying in her prim George Will  voice, "Fifty-one percent of the American people..."  I didn't wait for the rest of it, but I figured that if she  mentioned anything minimally interesting about one  candidate or another, we'd all know about it in the Land of Punditry before midnight.


Monday, November 11, 2013

Buyer beware, especially of robo-calls

A reader sends along some cautionary advice on those disturbing robo-calls that seem too good to be true. (They aren't, of course.)  He referred to one in which the caller, in a foreign sounding voice, identified himself as representing Microsoft Security.  

"Several of our neighbors have gotten these calls," he wrote. "These people ask for passwords etc.  Total scam.   Our next-door neighbor bit on this scam yesterday and now her computer is is locked up and credit cards are at risk."

Fair warning.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Next unemployment report to include some Tea Partyers

 Plunderbund has posted a good-news report on  Tea Party setbacks in Springboro, Oh., near Dayton. Two Tea Party candidates for the school board, including the fellow adorned with  firearms whose picture appeared on this blog, were defeated on Tuesday by candidates who pledged they would not support creationism taught in the classrooms..

We also received word from a reader that four Tea Party incumbents lost  races for  the school board in Chester County, near Philadelphia.

It's a start. Please advise your congressman.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Post- election stuff from the other side of the universe


In an interview with WKSU's M.L. Schultze,  Republican Don Robart, who was defeated as Cuyahoga Falls mayor in  Tuesday's election,  seemed quite puzzled why some of us placed him in  the Tea Party's grasp, saying:
"I think they're (sic)  calling me the darling of the Tea Party was quite an exaggeration.  For the most part I don't even hardly know those people..."
For someone who doesn't hardly know ''those people", it does seem fair to ask how he could have excitedly praised the Tea Party throng  at their rally in his city as  the "moral, fiscal and social conscience of America?"  Who knew?

* * * * *

Are we witnessing the end of days?  I sensed that the human race may be preparing to cash it all in after reading Chairman Alex Arshinkoff's learned explanation in the Beacon Journal of why voters were in a mood to throw out a lot of incumbents.  "I think they're (voters) fed up with politicians," the combative Republican county boss opined. "They don't see an end to the bickering and the fighting."  Based on local experiences, I think I might know how we can begin to turn that around,  Alex.  But why bicker?

* * * * *

Throughout election night, NBC's Chuck Todd continued to remind the viewers that President Obama's approval ratings had fallen to a new low without once noting that  Obama is barred by law from seeking a third term.  So for any  non-candidate, such ratings are little more than table talk.  Iconic Ronald Reagan's disapproval rating (Gallup)  rose to 56 pct.  in January 1983 - one point higher than Obama's 55 pct. in August 2011.   We won't even mention that George W.Bush's highest  disapproval rating led all other presidents with 71 pct. in October, 2008. So to Chuck Todd, I ask:  What's the point?

* * * *  *
Finally, the Ohio Republican Party was out the morning-after with stunningly breaking (and overcooked) news.  Blared State GOP chairman Matt Borges:  Obamacare was a disaster and Democrats "will be held accountable in 2014."  Ummmmm....Careful, Matt,  that you don't peak too soon under that barn-and-silo logo  on your party's official media releases.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Summit GOP: A disastrous old drawing board

In the wake of Mayor Don Robart's off-the-page defeat by Democrat Don Walters on Tuesday, the leadership crises within the county Republican Party worsened exponentially.  Robart, after all, was a key veteran party soldier who could always count  on a preferred seat on the dais at the fancy GOP dinners.

With Robart out of the picture, and Kevin Coughlin back in the picture in Stow as  Alex Arshinkoff's nemesis, it would be foolhardy  for a moribund local party to return to a tattered old drawing board to regroup when such a board apparently  exists only in the minds of plantation owners.

If you followed  Robart's bizarre path at City Hall in recent years, you would have no trouble guessing that it was a Rube Goldberg production with him deeply involved with the Tea Party.  He doused the Teeps  at a rally with his official blessings. (I left the rally  thinking that if you talk like a duck and walk like a duck, then by God, you are a duck!)  Around the area the Falls became known as Tea Party Central. .

Having run unopposed the last time, Robart  was unprepared to face  strong competition this time until it was too late.  It was a working definition of chutzpah by a pol who after nearly three decades in office  never figured he could lose.

His dreamy Valhalla called Portage Crossing, a retail development that has been years in the making, simply didn't serve him well as one of his mayoral conceits. It lay with full exposure as a sprawling disheveled site featuring scattered hillocks of dirt instead of new buildings.

And he blew his cover as a caring executive by ignoring the opinions of some of his own people who saw no problems in granting a family discount at the Natatorium for a gay married couple, one of whose spouses was  wounded in Iraq.

Global warming? Only a myth of people who believed in Easter bunnies.

Labor unions?   They would destroy his vision of his city's healthy future.  (This was said despite his city's presence in a region with a rich union tradition!)

Don Robart, in his own elitist way, was perfectly content to run the city apart from any alliances with officials in other places, including Akron, a glaring disconnect that apparently escaped the newspapers that endorsed him this time.

Politics can  be cruel, but like pro football, you should know of the consequences of possible job-killing  injuries before you race onto the field.

Frankly, as one who has witnessed the rise of Arshinkoff  for decades, I'm not sure where he or the party goes from here. Like Robart, he has turned his property into a right-wing operation with  annual  speakers like Rick Santorum, Mike Huckabee and Ohio Rep.  Jim Jordan, a Tea Party-minded congressman.

But as the chairman pandered to the Hard Right to assure himself of winning the hearts and minds of the Teeps, it would have been a teaching moment if he  had  recalled the simple  question that a little girl asked her grandfather who had told her of a  military victory in Robert Southey's poem, The Battle of Blenheim:
  "But what good of it came at last?"

Monday, November 4, 2013

At Falls City Hall, little things can tell you a lot

Risking the wrath of Mayor Robart's Republican friends, his  fellow Tea Partyers,  evangelicals and County GOP Chairman Alex Arshinkoff,  I must  again question the sincerity of  his response to a certain earlier matter in his midst now that his huge campaign ads  so loudly boast of his uncommon expertise in serving as a watchdog  of his town's piggy banks.   "Without raising taxes," of course.

When the issue of whether to grant a family rate at the Natatorium to a same-sex married couple arose  in the spring of 2012, the mayor wiggled around  other opinions to resist the lower rate as a costly concession that the city could ill-afford. He coupled that silly notion with references to the state's ban on same-sex marriages even though the couple was married in Washington, D.C.

So that's one unseemly instance of how he's managed the city's finances? And although the rate change held the 6-5 Democratic majority on City Council, it would still have lost by a threatened veto by the mayor.

Even the city law director said a discounted rate would not  be a problem under state law.   It was already working in other places.  But that's how Robart saw it and he prevailed.

Should we be surprised  when such pathetic (biased?)  ways of governing  again turn up if he should win again on Tuesday. It is, after all, 2013.  Even in his cloistered suburban island.

Putting this single event in the context of a mayor's  many duties doesn't seem to be that important, you may say.  But you can learn a lot about the priorities of a  chief executive from it.

 It was the same Robart, after all, who put his faith in Rick Santorum's religious-based presidential fantasies.  Second choice:  Newt Gingrich, the dead-ender who wanted to fire all of the school janitors. With Robart, it's always possible that political options can exceed one's grasp.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

For Mayor Robart, federal money is only good for what it's good for

Excuse me. But didn't the headline above Mike Douglas' column in today's Beacon Journal say Gov. Kasich "is against federal spending until he's for it"?
Don't get me wrong.  I have nothing against criticism of the governor.  But in this instance of the old for-and-against sequence...Well....

On the very same page there was another reference to the BJ's endorsement of Cuyahoga Falls Tea Party associate Don Robart, the mayor.  As you well know, the Tea Party and others on the ding-a-ling hard right hate all things federal with a kind of anarchical spirit. The BJ editorials haven't  been hesitant about saying so.

So excuse me, again.  A few days ago, the Falls News-Press, the mayor's hometown weekly, also endorsed Robart, mentioning among other assets his eagerness to get federal money for some of his programs, which the paper referred to as "exciting".

So given Robart's record over  the years,  can we now say that he was FOR  federal money before he was FOR more federal money?

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Arshinkoff to drop the nuclear TV ad bomb in Falls mayoral race

Is Summit County Republican Chairman Alex Arshinkoff ready to drop the nuclear Cleveland  TV ad bomb on Tuesday's  mayoral race in Cuyahoga Falls?  A Republican source  tells me he is a little surprised that the boss hasn't spent more to prop up Tea Party mayor Don Robart and has saved the cash for the final week end assault on Democrats in several races that will doubtless include radio bursts.

There must be some anxiety in the Robart camp over polls showing he is in a tight race with Democrat Don Walters, the president of Falls City Council.  You may recall that Robart, now in his 27th year in the mayor's office, ran unopposed four years ago.

Robart continued his mystical hold on  the local media this year with odd endorsements from both the Beacon Journal and Cuyahoga Falls News Press, a weekly.  We say mystical because, as we've written, the mayor has never aspired to the BJ's goal of regional cooperation.  In fact, Robart has no bipartisan  ties with Akron Mayor Don Plusquellic and has preferred to administer a municipal island in the county.

As for the News Press, it complimented Robart for an "exciting vision for the the city's future."

Some of that, oddly, will depend on federal dollars, scorned by the hard right, to pay for the excitement.  (I tire of reporting  that I attended a Tea Party Rescue America Tax Day rally in the Falls in which he welcomed the throng as the social, moral and fiscal conscience of America.  Right. They also help shut down the government,  as we have since witnessed.

As the Falls Press noted in its endorsement, "He also hopes to use federal money to upgrade vacant homes,  secure federal  funds to improve the streetscape  from Chestnut Boulevard south to the city limits and work with the schools to possibly increase the city income tax to help pay for construction of a new high school/middle school  campus." (Lord.  New taxes? More excitement!)

By the way, let the record show that the BJ editorial writers never had anything good to say about Arshinkoff's often unruly political hijinks -  the same party financier who is said to be preparing the nuclear TV bomb.

As for me, why can't I dismiss the fact  that Robart played his socially conservative card by successfully opposing a discounted family rate at the Natatorium to a gay couple, one of whom was a wounded Iraqi veteran who wanted to rehab at the Nat?

Personal note:  We moved out of the Falls 14 years ago.  As we grew older, we couldn't take the excitement.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Repeat performances of wars of the worlds

The PBS American Experience documentary on Orson Welles' War of the Worlds was a strong reminder of how easily fooled many Americans were in 1938 - and apparently also  by today's entrenched  political fantasies on the hard right.  As  witnesses to the mass hysteria that struck the dupes of the broadcast of a Martian landing in New Jersey later noted:  "I couldn't understand how anyone would fall for this."   But folks, countless people did, in fact, even with scattered reports of suicides. Indeed, they did.

As a reporter for the Columbus Citizen-Journal during  the Cuban missile crises, I got a taste of mass fright in the newsroom as several colleagues hovered over the rattling wire service machines waiting for the latest word on the ominous approach of Russian ships to Cuba to dare  triggering a war between two atomic powers.  The young reporter sitting across from my desk  remained on the telephone to her mother with panicked instructions to rush food, water and medical supplies to the basement (as if that would have helped!).

Of course, the threat of annihilation was in this case real unless the confrontation was somehow resolved .

At night, I watched dirt flying from a lantern-lit hole in a neighbor's yard opposite  our place.  He had chosen to construct a fallout shelter, which was OK, I guess,  if perishing in a useless homemade shelter was preferable to atomic incineration.

But American ingenuity in the marketplace took hold the next day as ads appeared from construction companies that they could offer guaranteed family fallout shelters with no interest and six months or so to pay.

OK, the bomb be damned.  Everybody back to work!  I never asked my young colleague what her mother was going to do with all of the food and medical supplies in the basement.

Aeros to become a swimming team?

Rubber ducks?  C'mon man. For a baseball team?  And we thought the Lansing Lugnuts were at the end of the line!  ...How about the Polymer Polka Dots?...Drippy Zippies? ...Tired Tires?   Warning: Try calling a burly first baseman a Rubber Duck - and duck!

  Good grief. Is even baseball no longer sacred?

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

A teaching moment in 2013

Back for a repeat performance in case you missed it the first time: Tea Party-blessed David Bitner's campaign posture in his bid for a seat on the the Springboro, Oh., school board: 

Monday, October 28, 2013

Three not a crowd in OSU investment

Let us begin the week in Beautiful Ohio with a squinty look at the academic/political complex that is the pride of Gov. Kasich.   While public universities genuflect to the governor and legislature in hopes of squeezing out a few more public dollars for their campuses, Ohio State University and a private venture capital fund have worked out an investment scheme - private! -  that has been exposed by a couple of Plain Dealer reporters.

But only partly exposed because the major players in the deal aren't talking - enforced silence that Kasich honed from his days with the defunct Lehman Brothers.

Such ideas were seeded when Kasich replaced the state development department with a new office with the seductive  name of JobsOhio, a merger of two prized words in the governor's lexicon.  To protect the agency's virginity, it was guaranteed total secrecy in its stated workaday world  of creating new jobs in the Buckeye marketplace.

So now we are told that OSU has invested $50 million in the secret venture capital fund run by Mark Kvamme, who had directed JobsOhio until a a year ago when he left  to create his very own private fund. A close friend of Kasich, Kvamme isn't talking about the deal.  Nor is recently retired  OSU president  E.Gordon Gee, who surely knows a lot more about it as the widely reputed Wizard of Oz.

 And where will the invested money eventually land?  Only the privileged insiders to the flow know.  And given OSU's iconic position in the state's academic universe, it appears no one will find out soon.

As the PD's Brent Larkin observed  in a Sunday column,  OSU has long nurtured a bad habit of keeping blemished  episodes  under the radar.   He described the lastest stone-walling on major transfers of public money, as is this one, as an exercise in obfuscation". 

Meanwhile, Mike Douglas  called it "coziness" in Sunday's Beacon Journal  but more gently  dampened  concern by describing Kvamme as a credentialed operative with success in his past who "may prove to be a winner" in this instance.

Kasich,  Gee,  Kvamme.  Connecting the dots can raise dark suspicions.  Coziness?   While we're waiting for transparency, it looks more like crony capitalism under a rock in the governor's office.