Monday, April 29, 2013

Death knoll for boo-who and boo-whom?

Writers are tortured by grammatical challenges.  Subject-predicate agreement. Dangling participles.    Modal verbs. Collective nouns, and their derivational agreements. Sentence-ending prepositions.  Placement of commas, exclamation points (Inside or outside the closing quotation mark, and I'll let it go at that!)

Rules, Rules Rules.

The latest catalog from The Great Courses is offering a 36-lecture DVD course which (that?) apparently tries to answer its own question: "How did we get from one language to 6,000?" In Lecture 26, it tells us, "you examine the famous Sapir-Whorf hypotheses, which proposes that features of our grammars channel how we think."  I have long enjoyed the rewards of the Great Courses, but this is one I may postpone for awhile.

Hang on.  There is better news from the April issue of The Atlantic.  An essay by Megan Garber removes much of our guilt  about our confusion over who and whom  - a couple of words that have (has?) baffled me for a half-century.  Whom, she writes,  is headed for the graveyard . Good riddance!

Megan is a dedicated researcher who (of course!) has based her conclusion on the impending death of  whom  from a 400-million word Corpus of Historical  American English records.   Using Time magazine as the resource, she noted that the magazine used whom 3,352 times in the 1930s, 1,492 in the 1990s, and a mere 902 in the 2000s.  The way things are going, if she had waited another year or two she might have been able to report zero usage of the dying word  in Time -  or all of the other words that once appeared in a defunct magazine.

So if you have come this far in this exercise, I will take the opportunity to intrude upon the rules in a gender sensitive age that gave us Ms. when a woman's marital status was unknown.

Then we moved on to "he or she" in referring to a man or woman when both sides deserved equal rights to the thought.   But it was awkward  to make that point in such instances as, say, "There were times when he or she wondered whether it was a good investment."

I have a solution:  Replace he or she with (s)he, or s(he).

Time to evolve, folks, which seems to be what so many people are doing these days anyway.

Friday, April 26, 2013

With revisionists, Dubya was the anti-terrorist hero

Now that all of the celebrated dignitaries  were on their best behavior at the feel-good dedication of the George W. Bush library (somehow I don't associate libraries with Dubya), it was left to the revisionist gallery to slam President Obama for security breakdowns that his predecessor would never have experienced.

For example, Rep. Tom Cotton, a right-wing Arkansas Republican, screeched that "in the seven years after 9/11 how many terrorists reached the United States? NONE!"  Trouble is, on that deadly day 2,977 persons died at the hands of terrorists  and when I went back to check record, turns out that it happened on Bush's watch. Oh, I probably should mention that the young terrorists who staged the Marathon attacks were said to have been living in the U.S. for more than 10 years.  That would mean they arrived on our soil during the Bush years.

Then we encountered  columnist Charles Krauthammer's spin, in which he crowed about his man Bush.  "He did not just keep us safe, he created the entire antiterror infrastructure that continues to keep us safe."  Still, he couldn't resist blaming Obama fore letting it all "fall apart".

Folks, this is textbook revisionism.  You can find post 9/11 reports that said warnings of a possible attack from the air were largely ignored. You can access videos in which Bush later said he didn't know the whereabouts of bin Laden and didn't think it was all that important anyway.

But as it's often been said, Why let the details ruin a good story  - or in this case, awfully distorted history.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Next GOP chief: blessed or not a dime's difference?


Today's book-length profile of Tea  Partyer Tom Zawistowski in the Beacon Journal even overwhelmed the return of Mike Brown to the Cavaliers, who merited no more than a front-page blip directing the readers to the sports page.

The latest threat to the GOP establishment, Zawistowski has decided to offer himself up as a candidate for the chairmanship in a showdown with Matt Borges, whom the party's front office had projected as a replacement for Bob Bennett.  But new concerns about Borges arose among the Party's moral compasses when it was learned that their man owed more than $161,000 in federal taxes.

On the other hand, his challenger, who is from Portage County, said he was urged by local party officials to rescue  the older party from its certain fate.  He has the typical Tea Party profile, including his expressed opposition to the bailout of General Motors.

Enough of that.  I was more interested in the skittish responses to BJ inquiries from two  of the most prominent GOP locals regarding their preference in this historic clash.  County Chairman Alex Arshinkoff said he wants whatever Gov. Kasich and the four state officeholders want, whomever that may be.(Guess!)  And then Lauren LaRose, a Republican central committeewoman and wife of State Sen. Frank LaRose, offered still more perspective on the party's untidy situation.  She thought  the party was "blessed to have two good candidates for chaiman".   But she  thought the better of the blessed  would be Borges as "the best fit to lead our party".  Even with the tax lien.  

* * * * *

Speaking of Mike Brown, he was replaced by Byron Scott a couple of years ago for not winning a championship with LeBron James on the floor.   So now we have more to add to the Cleveland athletic teams' revolving doors, through which an endless number of coaches and managers come and go.  Mike Brown is now back to replace a fired coach (who replaced him when he was fired.)  Owner Dan Gilbert , however, says Brown, a former Coach of the Year  winner,  should not have been fired in the first place.   Go figure.

* * * * *

The fallout from some Republican senators who voted against the background check law is getting serious.  Sen. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire has seen her approval rating drop 15 points.  And Sen. Rob Portman is drawing a lot of heat in  the letters I've seen from his hometown area of Cincinnati..  Some of this miscalculation by the Ayottes and Portmans has the taint of  the Iraq invasion apologists like Dick Cheney , who declared the U.S. would  be recognized as saviors in a war that might not last more than a few monthe.  Portman, a positive thinker, says background checks are useless, which is what the NRA says,which is not what 90 pct. of the public says.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

On Party of Lincoln dinners and yada yada yada...

Every year, the Summit County Party of Lincoln sets  aside a special fund-raising dinner to honor its icon's birthday. Though quite belatedly, this year's Party of Lincoln event, otherwise known as a Lincoln Day dinner on  Saturday is no different.  As County Party of Lincoln Chairman Alex Arshinkoff declared in the invitation (posted on the Party of Lincoln's web site as "Republican headquarters"), this year's event is a "not-to-be-missed opportunity to celebrate our Republican heritage." Indeed.  He expects that to be accomplished through his two Party of Lincoln guests,  Reps. David Joyce and Jim Renacci.

One of the Party of Lincoln's' heritage dinner highlights is what the chairman has boasted over the years as a watershed poll of Republican Presidential  candidate support. Last year the crowd went overboard for the hapless Rick Santorum, who just happened to be the celebrity speaker for the evening. So there!

Having no presidential candidate that survived the November election, the Party of Lincoln settled on Joyce and Renacci, both of whom find gun control quite distasteful. Which leads me to offer a reasonable alternative to a presidential survey:
How do Alex and all of his guests think Abe Lincoln, felled by a bullet,  would have voted on the background check?  C'mon. Be honest. If possible. 

Monday, April 22, 2013

Brown and Portman: A tale of two senators

As we continue to plumb the depths of fear among Tea Party-NRA-bullied Republicans, you'll find no better contrast than in your Ohio.

Sen.  Sherrod Brown, a liberal Democrat, has cast the Tea Party and the NRA to the winds, twice winning his U.S.Senate seat against conservative Republicans - then incumbent Sen. Mike DeWine and again against Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel, who ran with King Midas, Karl Rove and Wayne LaPierre at this back.

Now we turn to Ohio Republican Sen. Rob Portman, among the most fearful of a Tea Party challenge, who joined the cavemen in the Senate in voting against the background check bill.

Now I ask you , on a scale of one to ten, where do you rank each of these guys on profiles in courage facing the same Ohio voters?

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Marathon: Best of times, worst of times

As I spent  hours pinned to the TV coverage of the horrific Marathon event, I  recalled Dickens' "best of times, worst of times'' description of his day.  (Also, "it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness." Also, appropriate!)

On one hand two young men  set out to kill and maim a mass of human beings,  the sort of dehumanized acts that have been  recorded in even greater numbers throughout history.  On the other hand, as the investigation  progressed with an army of law enforcement people risking their lives, it reflected the strength - and wisdom - of a nation with the profound ability to get it right.

A somber President Obama provided the defiant narrative when he said that we would finish the race.

Not everyone will be pleased, particularly those whose  anti-government fervor will  never be staunched.  Unimportant small minds that wanted to convert bloodshed  into their own off-humor;  senators who voted against the background checks supported by law enforcement agencies across the land.  Some of these officers were on the streets of Watertown for several nights trying to insure public safety.

Then, too, there were the politicians with their own personal elitest goals,  who immediately exploited the event to demonstrate the perils of immigration reforms.  No thanks to you in the post-Marathon benedictions,  Sen.  Grassley, as you and some of your colleagues look for a new ideological cave for your thoughts.

On the other hand we salute Adolphus Busch IV, the giant-distillery man who resigned  from the NRA board with a verbal firearm to the NRA:
"I am simply unable to comprehend how assault weapons and large capacity magazines have a role in your vision," he said.  "The NRA I see today has undermined the values upon which it was established.  Your current strategic focus places priority on the needs of gun and ammunition manufacturers, while disregarding the opinion of your 4 million individual  members." 
As for another heinous clue to the worst of times there was Arkansas State Rep. Nate Bell, a Republican, who tweeted: "I wonder how many Boston liberals spent the night cowering  in their homes wishing they had a AR-15 with a  hi-capacity magazine."

Cowering? As in some of  the NRA-bleached folks on Capitol Hill, Nate?

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Background vs. backbone: You name it

Now that the defeated background check bill has become an NRA trophy despite 90 pct. public support  and a 54-46 majority in the Senate (without Ohio Republican Sen. Rob Portman's support) , shouldn't we now stop referring to it as a background check and instead call it a "backbone check" for the senators  who voted against it?

The Ohio GOP Version of Cavalleria Rusticana

Oh, those Republicans in Columbus! Here they were sitting around sort of adult-like on  the House Finance Committee to come up with a state budget bill and along came an amendment on something called "gateway sex". Quick to avoid suspicion from the religionists  keeping watch, the Committee voted 20-9 along party  lines to accept the amendment.  The majority, of course, was the team of GOP Rustics who look after everybody's sex life but their own in offering their gateway to the distant past.  .

The amendment, which restricted any mention of  non authorized sex in a school's sex education classes, is even tougher than the one passed last year in Tennessee, where students at least are permitted to hear the word contraception in the classroom. No way would that be possible under the Ohio amendment. But the Tennessee law  does deny hand-holding to students (oh,  for the simpler days when we were all at liberty to play pattycake!)  Will we next  have separate classrooms for boys and girls?

That's not all.  the GOP panel also supported defunding Planned Parenthood.  The other side is outraged by the Rustic cavalry's  obsession with sex, subliminal, simulated or whatever.   Kellie Copeland, the executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice, accused the finance committee  of regressing to the 1950s.   She was being kind.  Actually, it regressed to the Middle Ages, when the church went out of its way to regulate reproductive sex.  Even condemned  masturbation, which is hardly enforceable, don't you think? .

My question, fellow Ohioans:  What the hell does sex education have to do with a state budget?  Nothing at all, I'd say, which is one more clue to how the Rustics are doing  their spring plowing on everything  these days in the Buckeye legislature.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Dolan owners do fine while Cablevision stock sinks

If you're feeling a little pinched on cash these days, you still might not want to sympathize with the owners of Cablevision, the giant Delaware-based  cable TV provider owned by the Dolan family. We all know of Larry Dolan, the owner of the Cleveland Indians.  But there are others in the family who did quite well for themselves last year at the top of the cable system's ownership pyramid while the stock was diving.

The New York Times reported on Sunday that although the company's shares fell to half of their  previous value during an otherwise  strong year for the market, two of the Dolan chieftains personally ended up far beyond the financial curve.

The Times noted that James Dolan, Cablevision's chief executive, "earned $16.9 million last year and  his father, Charles, earned $16.6 million as chairman - an unusually high amount for a chairman who is  not serving  as chief executive".

Furthermore, the Times said, both men received twice as much as they did the previous year while the company's stock plunged to about $16 from  more than $36. (A company source said  that its sale of Madison Square Garden  and AMC Networks  could add maybe $16 dollars to the share price.)

I guess I should add a few other amenities  for the Dolan brothers such as  a full-time chauffeur and car, and access to a  helicopter and jet for personal use.

For all that, you'd think they'd help out brother Larry and buy a team capable of finishing in the first division.

* * * * *

Considering how short Americans' interest span tends to be, don't you think Marco Rubio is pushing his envelope too far  in his four-year quest for the GOP presidential nomination  in 2016?  He's appearing  more often on TV than the weather reporters   with his advisories on how to guarantee clear skies ahead for the party. Nothing that he says these days is deeply engaging and grows even more boring as he robotically repeats his confusing message on immigration reform  and such.    Talk about overkill:  On Sunday he turned up on seven (!) network news shows, including Univision and Telemundo. If nothing else, thanks to TV's desperation to lamely offer  something politically  new and lively, Rubio may replace John McCain as the Sunday morning news talkers'  darling.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Batchelder: Sadly,the speaker has spoken

No matter how you spin them, these have not been the best of times for Ohio House  Speaker William Batchelder, although you would not know it by the grinning warrior's self-approval rating.  As you may have read, the veteran Repubican pol has taken it upon himself to stonewall  Gov. Kasich's (also a  Republican) proposal to expand medicaid  under Obamacare.

On Sunday, to continue a narrative that has taken hold  since Kasich announced his  budget, the Plain Dealer's two op-ed  political columnists lathered Batchelder's untidy obstruction to the boss in the governor's office.

Wrote Brent Larkin:  "Once again , House Speaker Bill Batchelder played Team Kasich for fools.  In terms of parceling out blame for what happened, Batchelder deserves a ton of it."

Under the headline "Hypocrisy drives House Republicans' opposition to expansion", columnist Thomas Suddes noted that 88 of the 99 House members have taxpayer supported medical insurance, but  "won't let the poor have it, too".
He added:  "Whether Batchelder , who could get Ronald Reagan on the phone, remains 100 pct. in Kasich's corner, is slyly bucking him via proxies, or , as Batchelder can, is out-scheming Machiavelli to vex 'wingers, are open questions."

The wingers, of course, are Tea Party-incarcerated House Republicans who will be up for reelection in 2014.  We suggest Hannibal Lecter is a better model of The Speaker.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Rob Portman has yet to evolve on gun control

Ohio's hybrid right-wing conservative/NRA Sen.Rob Portman ducked out on the overwhelming mood  of his home state Thursday by joining 30 other senators - all but two, Republicans - to support a potential filibuster that would have blocked a floor vote on background gun checks.

The Columbus Dispatch reported that in a conference call with  Ohio reporters, Portman lamely offered this towering Mt. Rushmore  posture in explaining his vote.   He bizarrely complained that the Senate proposal was strictly a Democratic bill that did not "have bipartisan support and does not exempt family transfers.  It even covers gifts of guns. It doesn't even exempt borrowing a gun."

Oh, c'mon, Rob.  The measure merely opened the way to the floor for debate and then an up or down vote. What's more, a recent Quinnipiac poll reported 90 pct. of Ohioans - Portman's constituents, for heaven's sake  - support universal background checks. Somewhere along the line, when he took office, Portman most certainly must have said that he went to Washington to represent the people of his state.  They always say things like that when you might not be paying attention.

He also once said he favored getting rid of tax "preferences" and "stuff that doesn't make sense."

Unlike his reversal on same-sex marriage in deference to his gay college son, Portman's views on gun control that don't  make sense have yet to evolve.

Plain Dealer Heads into Part-time Home Delivery

(Also posted on Plunderbund)

Not since LeBron James packed up his wallet and left town has anything bestirred  the Plain Dealer's readers more than the paper's official announcement that it would implode to a three-day-a-week delivery system this summer.   The angry letters to the editor and telephone calls to the downtown  offices were not unexpected as rumors circulated for weeks that the PD would suffer the same fate as other papers owned by Advance Publications that were abbreviated. "The readers are really upset about it," says Harlan Spector,the guild president and 22-year veteran of the paper's news staff. "They feel betrayed."

Although Spector has had the nearest view of the paper's plans as the union's representative, he admits there's not much more that he knows beyond what the paper's front office has reported.  "There are a lot of unanswered questions."

The readers' responses in letters have run the gamut from  disbelief  ("crappy, shortsighted, narrow-minded fat-out wrong'' ) to the old chestnut that liberalism  was the  culprit for the paper's decline. (The "endless, slavish drumbeat for Democratic ideas might just be the problem".)

Sorry to disengage anybody from that stale curse.  The PD has long been in league with the city's powerful conservative establishment that heads out to the eastern suburbs each evening after office hours.  But there's far more to the story. Try, for example the  crushing  blow of the social media that is draining the life blood from what we once took for granted as newsprint journalism.

Investor-conscious Wall Street owners of the corporate media have also eagerly sought ways to eliminate unions from their bottom lines.  In Cleveland,  the paper has negotiated the removal of 60 full-time company drivers and re-hired some of them on a part-time basis - a not-uncommon sleight-of-jobs by other big employers to erase  health-care and other benefits.

Finally, there have been strategic decisions that turned out to be false gods.  The Beacon  Journal, for example, once tried a full-court circulation press on Canton, only  to absorb  a lot of red ink before it called off a failed venture.

In Syracuse, where Advance Publications, converted the Post-Standard to a three-day delivery cycle,  the outcome has been pathetic.  Columbia Journalism Review reported this week that  the paper  is printing  no more than 12,000 newsstand  copies on the non-delivery days - less than a sixth of its daily circulation on the former home-delivery days.  At that, the newsstand   buyers are getting no more than a 16-page skeleton.

The PD and BJ were once such rivals that one seldom saw the other's name in the  local print.  That, too, has changed as the papers across the state now ride piggyback with each other's stories ,complete with bylines and attribution . It was interesting,  then,  to see a series  of ads in the BJ now promising seven-day home delivery. Just one more sign of the desperation rattling the papers these days.

Ryan Chittum, the writer of the CJR report, was hardly impressed with the Plain Dealer's message to its readers  that the paper was "Adapting to better serve our community".

"Saying the changes are to "'better serve our community' is insulting  to readers and the 53  journalists the paper is about to fire," Chittum wrote.

Actually, it had been 58,but five have already pulled out on their own.

The PD's guild contract  doesn't expire until 2019,  but as one reporter sighed: "By then there will be nobody left anyway".

Defeat is in the air.  And that's not news anymore.



Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Col. Umbus (Ret.) returns to the Ohio legislature

Back when  I was the editor of a small liberal magazine in Columbus, I created a character named Col. Umbus (Ret.)...(Got it?) The Colonel was a bumbling,   blustering bovine guy who could have been the early model for Louie Gohmert and all folks similarly situated on the fringe of American politics.

The colonel, flushed and fulminating, turned up in the midst of the civil rights revolution and deadly concern on the right that the U.S. was on the verge of a Red-inspired takeover. Either that or the supposed threat from  some soft-headed liberal professors at Ohio State U. You may have read about it  in the history books.

I had occasional conversations with ol'  Umbus as he ranted about liberals, government, communists, evil and whatever else was  in the news  that spoke of the death of decency, patriotism and the American way. I seldom found him to be happy.

My angel for the bi-weekly magazine (The Commentator) was Murray Lincoln, the progressive founder of Nationwide Insurance who regularly grew impatient  with the Dispatch's conservative meanderings and delivered  the cash through the company's broadcasting holdings to offer a fresh voice to the Capitol City.

Once the magazine was in print on a biweekly basis Lincoln never again mentioned it to me. I could only assume that he was satisfied after we won several awards, thanks to a colleague, Dave Hess, including a national  honor for our civil rights reporting.

It was pure David and Goliath combat. The Dispatch people were aghast that anybody would  be so brash to challenge it with so little. At one point, it even pointed out to its readers that I had given a dinner talk to the ACLU, which the paper said had endorsed the entry of Red China to the United Nations.  It solved nothing for me to mention that the Vatican had supported it, too.

I think a lot of Col.Umbus (Ret) today as the Ohio legislature parades one idiotic idea after another to advance its foolish idealogical mission in the public arena.  Here, in this  right-wing mass of fringe-a-lings, we have Speaker Bill Batchelder declaring his opposition to expanding Medicaid contained in Obamacare.  Once again a person of Batchelder's great wealth is coming down hard (read: inhumanely) on poor folks who don't have health insurance.

The guy says he doesn't have enough information for the plan (and doubtless never will have because that's how they dodge the game!).  It will continue to be tough on people who can't otherwise afford the monthly premiums for medical coverage.  That's not a condition any legislator would agree to personally live with.  Even the nomads of northern Afghanistan  find the lack of medical atttention a severe hardship.

Over the years as a political reporter I talked to Batchelder many times and found his disarming  good humor and widely spaced laugh a rare attribute of many ashen conservatives that I had covered.  Man, did he snooker me.  Col. Umbus (Ret.) would have been happy to contribute to his campaign.

As for The Commentator, shortly after Lincoln died, the less adventurous brass  on the seventh floor shut down the four-year-old magazine and I was out of work.

Sanford: sanitized by South Carolina's moral Republicans?

We all know that South Carolina is one of the most conservative states in America even though it does make  exceptions for those northern liberals in the mix who head to Myrtle Beach every summer. We also know that former Gov. Mark Sanford is one of the most conservative politicians running for a congressional seat this year.  Indeed, he  recently offered his plan to build a lively economy.  No, he isn't  recommending that somebody should again bomb Ft. Sumter.   Need I repeat  the Republicans' dynamic duo of remedies?  Cut taxes and governmental regulations.

Still, you have to wonder about the morally imperative voters whom we are always hearing about in the South who handed the Republican primary (57-43) to someone who admitted an  adulterous affair with a woman in Argentina while explaining his absences from the governor's office as his diversion  of "hiking the Appalachian trail".

With his Argentine fiancee at his side on election night, he thanked his supporters, and took the opportunity to thank God and his appreciation of God's grace (as well as that of Republicans) during his most troubling moments.

Now that a conveniently repentant (sort of)  Sanford has openly placed God in his ecosystem, the experts are saying he could win the new job on Capitol Hill.

Monday, April 8, 2013

McConnell politicking in the depths of Hell.

That's Mitch McConnell, of course, the leader of the 12  Hounding Fathers  who have decided to filibuster the background check vote rather than allow all of the other senators to vote on it.  If you want the most dramatic evidence of voter fraud that spiritually drives so many Republicans these days, this will do until something more nauseating  comes along.  Mitch is up for reelection in 2014 and he needs all of the Tea Partyers that he can appease, even if 80 to 90 pct. of Americans support background checks. I will b e kind and merely refer to him as a thoroughly disgusting human being.  Shouldn't all civilized people be rising and shouting:  "We want our country back!"?

Beacon Journal ad: Do three go into seven?

Have you noticed the Beacon Journal ads telling us
News.Delivered.7 days a week. 
What could that possibly mean, so soon after word was confirmed that the Plain Dealer will go to a 3-day-a-week delivery cycle this summer?

In the old days, we'd call that the beginning of a newspaper war.  In today's climate, probably little more than the BJ telling us that they deliver the paper 7 days a week, which we already know.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Rayburn House Office building in an expanding mood!

BULLETIN:  We've just gotten word that as part of the Republicans' fix-up,clean-up, move-up Spring cleaning chores, they have cleared space in the Rayburn House Office Building  to accommodate some very important new residents.

One of the new offices adjoining Speaker John Boehner's digs will go to the NRA's Wayne  LaPierre, a non-elected VIP who will be conveniently on hand to advise the troops on their  next move in the gun control debate.  Just down the hall will be an office for David Keene, the NRA's president. And a few paces beyond that will be the double office  of the Koch Brothers, a nice office for Grover Norquist, as well as smaller offices for Karl Rove, Donald Trump, Rush Limbaugh, and several bank and health insurance company lobbyists.

Boehner, who is in charge of the we-are-family overhaul, said it will be classified as another move by the GOP not only to satisfy its base but also to prove once again that the party is not ungrateful for the grassroots help it has received  from right-wing lobbyists.

"They will be closer than an e-mail away from the heart and soul of our business on Capitol Hill," Boehner said.

Some of the space will be sliced from Nancy Pelosi's office and that of a half dozen Democrats  who sit as a minority on House committees.  "They don't need the space anymore now,"  Bohner said, forcing a sly smile as he blew another smoke ring from his cigaret. "They don't have anything to do anyway."

The interview was interrupted by an aide who hurriedly advised the Speaker that Mr.LaPierre was on the phone and wanted to see him in the million-dollar gun lobbyist's office next door - without delay!"

Boehner rushed out without even asking what the call was all about.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

PD Three days a week...(From Poynter)

The PD will still be making news but delivering it less:

The Plain Dealer will end daily home delivery

The Plain Dealer | Save The Plain Dealer | Cleveland Magazine

The Cleveland Plain Dealer will deliver papers only three times per week, but it will print every day, the paper announced Thursday. The change will come this summer.
The company will also reorganize as the Northeast Ohio Media Group, which will handle “advertising sales and marketing for The Plain Dealer, and Sun newspapers,” the announcement says. “And, Northeast Ohio Media Group will provide content for all print and digital products.”
Plain Dealer science writer John Mangels described the changes as “bittersweet” in a phone call with Poynter. “It’s better than what we had expected,” he said. In a newsroom meeting announcing the changes, Mangels said, management said planned layoffs would be delayed until late summer.
Plain Dealer staffers launched a campaign this past November they hoped woud ward off a move to three-day-a-week printing, which the paper’s owner, Advance, has instituted at its papers in AlabamaNew OrleansSyracuse and Harrisburg, Pa.

“I think we and the thousands of people who supported the campaign can claim some credit,” Mangels said. “I’m glad Advance listened to the campaign’s message.”
We hear that PD call-center personnel have been told to expect long hoursand a high volume of subscriber calls soon,” a post on Save the Plain Dealer’s Facebook page Wednesday night said.
Also in November, Plain Dealer Editor Debra Adams Simmons and Publisher Terry Egger published a front-page letter to readers saying they foresaw a “significant reset of our business,” and that “We do not have a specific plan, timeline or structure for Cleveland. But we will — very soon.”
The Plain Dealer told the Guild there in December it intended to lay off 58 people. A subsequent deal between the Guild and the paper limited future layoffs and raised wages for those who remained. The Plain Dealer has Advance’s only unionized newsroom.
The company’s plans for print frequency were not subject to negotiation, Guild chair Harlan Spector told Poynter in December.
Last August Chairman Steven Newhouse told me “We’re looking at every market and trying to figure out what the right model is. We have local teams doing it because the conditions are different in different markets, but our goal everywhere is to come up with a formula where we can see a long-term future.”
Thursday afternoon the Save The Plain Dealer campaign issued a statement saying the reduced delivery “will prevent some, particularly the elderly, from having access to the paper.”
We also are saddened that the company intends to go forward with plans to let go more than one-third of The Plain Dealer’s newsroom staff. That will happen sometime later this summer, we learned today, rather than on May 1, which originally was the target date. Losing dozens of experienced, talented journalists inevitably will reduce the news coverage that Greater Clevelanders rely on.
We continue to believe that there are less-disruptive methods the paper’s owner and management could have undertaken as they shift to the digital delivery of news. We intend to keep the Save The Plain Dealer campaign active, and to serve as an ongoing watchdog for quality journalism in Northeast Ohio. To all of you who have written, emailed, called and attended meetings to show your support, we are profoundly grateful, and we’ll keep working on your behalf.

From today's news heap, Kasich pleads ignorance

Today's latest news, Hot off the Mess:

Leave it to our governor to produce another Kasich Kerfuffle in response to a question following his speech to the Cleveland City Club on Wednesday.  It occurred when a woman in the audience asked him whether he agreed with fellow-Republican Ohio Atty. Gen. Mike Dewine's fellowship with some other Republican AG's in a lawsuit involving employers and contraceptives insurance.

Dewine has never let anybody forget since the day he ran for the office that he wants to slay the Obamacare dragon and has channeled it with religious fervor into an assault on the legality of whether employers should include contraceptives in their employes' insurance coverage.

It's been in all  of the papers.  The governor, however, batted away the issue by saying he had not heard of the Dewine gambit and ducked the question.  Besides, as the governor has boasted, he never reads newspapers because sometimes they leave him unhappy.

* * * * *

Is it just me,  or do you find it a bit odd that two obstinate anti-gun control congressmen will be the featured guests at a dinner celebrating an  historic Republican icon?

Yep, that's a reference, folks,  to the annual Summit County Republican Lincoln Day dinner. L-I-N-C-O-L-N.  The anointed guests are Ohio Reps. Jim Renacci and  Dave Joyce,   sworn opponents of restrictions on guns.

Is this Lincolnian crowd, who will be dining quite well the night of the repast, April 27, aware of how Lincoln's life was abruptly ended?   Was it from the gun of John Wilkes Boothe, the Confederacy sympathizer?

Oh, to be fair, maybe they missed the movie.

* * * * *

We close with  this bit of gloomy insight into the American Century:

According to the respected Public Policy Polling (PPP), 20 pct. of registered Republicans believe President Obama is the Antichrist. ( 6 pct. of Democrats agree!)  37 pct. of Republicans believe global warming is a hoax; 7 pct. says the moon landing was a hoax.

In my poll of today's Plain Dealer op-ed page, one right-wing columnist (Kevin O'Brien), wrote that the Connecticut gun-control law was"ridiculously restrictive"  because nothing could have prevented the Newtown massacre.    He also threw in the notion  that "teaching children is a side job for public schools".

On the other hand, the Beacon Journal reported that charter schools - the answer by the governor  and his ilk to creating an enlightened nation - can expect a dismal report card from the Ohio Department of Education's new grading standards next year.   Get this: 89 pct. of tax-supported charter schools will get an"F" for their graduation rate; public schools, 7 pct. would receive an "F".  Who knew?  


Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Are schools ready for the Armies of the Right?

Let me see if I follow this:

Wayne LaPierre, the near-million-dollar a year megaphone for the NRA, first says schools should be armed against crazy gunmen.Then the NRA puts up another million for a task force headed by former Arkansas Republican congressman Asa Hutchinson to recommend ways to  confront the monstrous problem. Then Hutchinson appears at the National Press Club to declare,  "Eureka, we think we've found the answer!"

The envelope, please.  And the winner is...the NRA, which sponsored the study in the first place.  As Hutchinson went on to assert,  every school should have gun toters on the staff - the modern version, I assume,  of the well-regulated militia. But couldn't the NRA have saved its million  instead of purchasing an echo of its original idea?

When Hutchinson turned up on Lawrence O'Donnell's show Tuesday night, he dodged a number of questions embedded in the larger gun issues: less lethal weapons and magazines, mass killings beyond America's classrooms,  background checks et al.

He repeatedly reminded O'Donnell that his mission as the NRA's rising star was limited to school safety.  When O'Donnell asked him how much he was paid to produce an overlay on the NRA's position, Hutchinson snipped: "It's none of your business."

Nor, it's beginning to seem more likely every day, is the business of blood control that a great majority of Americans want.

* * * * *

Speaking of the Armies of the Right, Summit County Republicans will be able to greet two of Ohio's staunch opponents of gun control at  the party's Lincoln (!)  Day dinner on April 27 in Quaker Square: Reps. Jim Renacci and Dave Joyce, neither of whom have yet qualified as rising stars in the increasingly crowded firmament.

Renacci, in particular, has been singled out as a leading recipient of NRA money, and both guys arrive in County Chairman's Alex Arshinkoff's circle with the authorized version of the Party of No:  Whether it be Obamacare, gun control, abortion rights, gay marriage or a lot of other right-wing guff, you can guess the drill.

As for Arshinkoff, the message in the party invitation was customarily over-the-top with his well-recorded hyperbole - even for the political world.  His two honored guests, he promised,  would help lead Obamacare into the "dustbin of history", guarantee that America would again "Stand tall" in the world and join in other fights on Capitol hill, including sending Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid to the shadows of the unemployed. (The "stand tall" thing is worrisome.  Is he referring to a new invasion of Iraq?)

There was a time when Hillary Clinton, not Nancy Pelosi, was the Dragon Lady at these affairs.  Now she is leading all Republicans in the 2016 presidential sweeps.  Does that speak of a revival of Jane Fonda in these GOP klatches. And , by the way, whatever happened to Jane?

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Will spears and clubs replace guns?

I've read that archaeologists have discovered that the early humans (not the Ohio Republican caucus, for heaven's sake!) managed to defend the hearth against mammoths  by employing spears and clubs, and maybe a stone or two. What can we learn from these primitives in the current controversy over guns?

Will resourceful guys like  Rep. Jim Renacci and Wayne LaPierre, who tell us that the ill-use of protective armaments  arise from sick minds, next promote bedside spears and clubs as our last line of defense against intruders?  Are we on the verge of a new industry in America that will lead us all to the outdoor sportsman  spear-and-club range just to be on the safe side?

The military has been known to use excitably noisy guinea hens to alert the gate      guards  of intruders.  No research has turned up the effectiveness of a guinea hen alert system against prehistoric  mammoths.  With spears and clubs, we may have a breakthrough  on your safety and mine from our Republican friends. Be a spear carrier for the GOP.   Call your congressman today!

From Grumpy's other life...

Thanks to the Sun News, the Cleveland weekly, we recently got a glimpse of Ohio Rep. Jim Renacci in action at a Town Hall meeting in Fairview Park.  The dominant topic was guns, largely because a  group of pickets showed up to protest his standardized Republican opposition to gun control.
As you know, the multimillionaire  businessman (reported by Roll Call to be $35.8 million!)  is comfortably operating out of the  new Ohio 16th congressional district created just for him in northern Ohio.
Still, Renacci, now in his second term,  is taking no chances;  he’s not  slipping out of the right-wing mask  on this issue, and is  advising his  listeners that guns don’t kill people,  only the mentally ill do.   ” I believe that when it comes to guns, the biggest issue is the mental health issue,” the paper reported his comments to his restless audience.Renaci
Safe enough for the easily persuaded.  But it’s right out of Wayne LaPierre’s playbook.    The problem with it is,  nobody – particularly tight-fisted Republicans –  can tell us how, when, where and to whom does the country direct its attention on the mentally ill gun owners?  (When the late Republican Gov. Jim Rhodes was advised of complaints about the state’s shabby mental health system, he shrugged,  ”Those people [patients]  don’t vote anyway.”
No one can deny that the mentally ill need all of the attention that society can offer.  But it will  require a lot more money than the budget balancers would be willing to spend over endless time.  So when guys like Renacci try to divert attention from guns by addressing mental health, he should be asked:  Where do you go from here?  Specifics are never clearly offered and it becomes a talking points abstraction. On the other hand, simply limiting  the size of magazine rounds alone would be helpful.
Renacci, the former mayor of Wadsworth,  built his wealth with investments in nursing homes,  motorcycles and minor league baseball.  He  describes himself as a “common-sense congressman,” and denies that that he is  serving at the pleasure of the NRA – a group with which he was tied for first place nationally for  campaign support.  Renacci’s cut of the NRA pie was a mere $9,900, but when you have your very own safe district thanks to redistricting, you don’t need much more,
“You keep saying that I’m listening to the NRA,” Renacci protested to the Town Hall group, “but I’ve got to keep telling  you, the NRA has never come to my office and said anything.  I am a proponent of the Second Amendment.”
Can we then assume that the check was in the mail?
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