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.