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?