Friday, January 31, 2014

George Will: The Clintons squeeze the pockets of the rich

What's that?  George Will, the conservatives' incarnation of  Solomon, has dissed
Bill and Hillary Clinton as being the takers in a maker society.   Adding to the growing Republican alarm that Hillary might well be the Democrats' presidential nominee, the columnist  hissed that the Clintons are nothing more than career politicians who have borrowed  from the rich "all their entire life"  to sustain their quest for public office.

That profound insight,  of course, ignores President Obama's predecessor, George W.
Bush, who was repeatedly bailed out by rich oilmen as his investments went awry in Texas when  his father was president.

Will's snooty political scholarship continues to fail him as a denier of climate change and as the fellow who predicted a 10-point victory for Mitt Romney. Y'think he oughtta go back  to Oxford for a refresher course in credible punditry?  Either that, or write a book on how as a managing partner of the Texas Rangers he let Sammy Sosa get away.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Marcia Fudge: Much work to do, including voting rights

Reposted from Plunderbund:  

In her  recent talk at an Akron Press Club/ Bliss Institute program,  Rep.Marcia Fudge covered the entire spectrum of  the unfinished business of combatting racism in America.  A Democrat who chairs  the Congressional Black Caucus,  she represents Ohio's  new 11th District stretching south from Euclid to Fairlawn - graphic evidence of the liveried Republican map-drawers' free-wheeling ability to redefine the upside of hometown politics.

A compelling speaker, Fudge surveyed  the legacy of Martin Luther's King's  place in today's world that has met with no more than mixed results in a nation  that is more polarized than at  any  time in a  generation.

As we have mentioned many times, the seating of an African-American in the Oval Office has inspired his opponents to the excesses  not seen during the two terms served by George Bush.  From being the alleged peacemaker with the invasion of Iraq, to the amassing of public debt by a guy who had no inclination to cap it, we allowed Dubya  to comfortably enjoy his dream-swept environment.

The political right has been so traumatized, in Ohio and elsewhere,  by Obama's successive victories so soon after the Civil War, that it has spent a lot of its time determined to have Obama suffer a similar trauma rooted in a disgraceful legacy.

One of its biggest contracts  is  called voter repression.  And you'd think that by now the Republican public officials who are working deep into the night to purify the vote would at least confess the motives of the their scandalous schemes.

"Cutting back on our voting options has a disproportionate negative effect on certain populations,  among them communities of color, urban voters, students,  elderly and low income, not just minorities," Fudge told her audience.

There've been too many  attempts to stymie the voters  with the  clumsy efforts of people like Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted  to shape the electoral outcomes according to his party's needs. From cutting back early voting periods, to voter IDs, to shortening voting days to align with  business hours, to rearranging precincts - even the failed  attempt to blockl third-party candidacies to protect Gov.  Kasich in November . Etc. etc etc.

State Sen. Nina Turner, Husted's Democratic opponent this year, summed it up with one word: "Immoral."

Without being tempted to predict the outcome of the November balloting,  I can vouch for one absolute that will be a leading issue in the campaigns  It's the  various ploys, sometimes peddled as eradicating voter fraud (Huh!), that will be driven home on the stump from Cleveland to Cincinnati.

You can take it from there.

 Oh.  And let the honest votes fall where they may.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Shouldn't they first check the pulse?

In the lead-in to President Obama's State of the Union Speech, the tag on the  TV screen told us:

         U.S. House of Representatives

Since when?

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Away with those TV intestinal commercials!

Do you spend much time these days trying to figure out how you can survive the End Time of TV commercials?   As the  polar freeze drives us indoors for longer periods of
paid  advisories to ask my doctor about alleged remedies with names no one should have to pronounce, I have become particularly churlish about one invading the  privacy of my bowels.

C'mon.  You know the one.  It features a cheerful young woman popping up, say, on a bus, inquiring whether anyone uncomfortably  in her midst is constipated, or has gas or diarrhea.  Yep, on your TV screen, possibly just  before dinner.

Should that be in everybody-in-the-world's business?  It is as disagreeably intrusive as Mahatma Gandhi's obsessive interest  in whether his guests had a proper bowel movement.  Regularity, he believed, was not only a  matter of official business but the pathway to a cleaner bathroom,  which he considered to be a temple.

I guess I shouldn't be too harsh about the pop-up girl selling elixirs to a healthier life.  I do wonder, however, how she explains her day job to her friends during an after-hours  fast-food sitdown.  OK.  Yes, it helps pay the rent.


Saturday, January 25, 2014

At least, they're not being asked to beat up their wives

OK, guys.  It's time we muscled up and strong-armed  all of the media talk going around that  we live in a "feminized" culture  that denies  men from being, well... men.  And by men, I'm talking about  an old fashioned  free-swinging, snorting  hulk of masculinity, sort of the Marlboro  man before we learned that even tough guys can die of lung cancer.

There was the funereal  lament, for example, of  Brit Hume, the Fox news analyst,  who traced Chris Christie's problems not to the George Washington Bridge but to the decline  of hard-assed bullies like the governor  who find it more and more troublesome these days to operate effectively in a patsy-fied  culture.

Said Hume:  "In this sort of  feminized atmosphere in which we exist today, guys who are masculine and muscular like that in their private conduct, kind  of old-fashioned tough guys, run some risks." (Hardly as risky, I'd  say,  than  your people  closing down the lanes to that bridge.)

Next, we find Nick Adams, the Australian author who has written a primer on how cowering men have been demasculated by feminists. (That sort of takes care of the Viagra cure, don't you think?)

Real men , he believes,  shoot guns.  It gets worse.   In his interview on Fox  & Friends, Adams was even asked by a worried Elisabeth Hasselbeck whether feminism and  the endangered male was a serious threat  to our national security  and "strong presence globally". Adams said he was absolutely sure of that, without a doubt.

As one who spent  some time in my childhood  watching a couple of burly cousins  arm-wrestling on the kitchen table to total exhaustion as one of Saturday night's lighter moments,   I must say I now prefer a gentler, kinder role for my guys.  Being manly about it,  I'll take my chances on National Security.


Do only Democratic women have rampant libidos?

(Reposted from PLUNDERBUND:

 With a fresh batch of silly putty, the artisans  at the Ohio Republican Headquarters gave us a quick demonstration of how you can bravely attack a major national organization without actually naming it.  But it wouldn't take a savant to know  that  it was referring to Planned Parenthood, which has heard it many numbing times before.

In a terrible mood after the reproductive health counseling agency endorsed some state Democratic candidates, Ohio GOP Chairman Matt Borges completely lost it in a press release this week, hoping to morally tower above those Democrats who received the endorsements while, on the other hand, the anti-abortionists engaged in the March for Life. (As if anybody is bent up when, say, the Ohio Manufacturers  Assn. endorses friendly lawmakers  that protect the OMA's  rear.)

Get this:
"It is beyond the pale that on the day that thousands of Ohioans [!] and Americans[!] are participating in the March for Life that Ohio Democrats are being endorsed and holding an event with supporters of more abortions.  The Democratic ticket stood  with an organization [Wanna guess who?] that performs hundreds of thousands of abortions every year and advocates for late-term-abortions."  OUCH!  

Borges further accused Democrats of saying that "those who believe in life are not welcome in the Democratic Party or in a state they would govern."

The comedy shtick ended there, leaving the reader to wonder whether Borges believes Republicans would exclude every pro-choice voter from its ranks.   Or what the hell is he really saying to score points with his shrinking base?

Not elegantly stated, as Mitt Romney once said of his own verbal meandering.

Anyway, it wasn't a good week for the Republicans pledge to reach out to women and anyone else that would dare come to one of their bake sales.  A year ago, let me remind you,  no higher party savant than national chairman Reince Priebus was preaching as national policy the samaritan gospel of embracing racial minorities, women and gays in the party's hospitable carnival big top.

The past week also brought us the ubiquitous  preacher with another hopeless presidential candidacy on his mind, Mike Huckabee.   He virtually closed every lane to women voters when he denounced contraceptives as federal assistance as female weakness of the flesh. The former Arkansas governor  hotly attacked the notion of his party's War on Women   by declaring "It's not a war on them.  It's a war for them"  OK.   Shouldn't the party chieftains, for their own safety,  now  give him a free ride back to a gas station where old guys hang out for hours on the only chair?

Sorry, but Huck doesn't think women are clever or morally disciplined enough to control their libidos.

I suspect that if he should run again for the White House, we will witness  billboards with voluptuous women  sharing space with  lascivious men with the bold caption:

 Hey, girls. Only Slutty Democrats (sex class 101, per Limbaugh] suffer the agonies of   uncontrolled libidos. Vote Republican! 

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The Plain Dealer's new survival plan; Good luck on that

 Just received a spritely booklet from the University of Illinois College of Media in which  I learned that the old School of Journalism is now called the Department of Journalism.  If I remember correctly  I got a journalism degree from the school a long time ago.  So if I had a nostalgic twitch upon reading the pages (with a donor envelope tucked in!) I hope you'll understand.

Journalism is seldom mentioned as a profession these days in the tectonic shift from newspaper print to electronic conveyances of what you could unfold and read at the breakfast table.  Some schools are now boasting of studies in "electronic arts".  Besieged by drops in circulation and advertising, more and more papers (those that haven't already  expired) have  eliminated several home delivery days, many absent from wash-day Mondays.

But let's stick to that paper on the lake - the Plain Dealer - that Titanic-like has drastically rearranged itself with big cutbacks in staff,  shrinking its home deliveries and creating an   office maze that is as  challenging a weave as the maddening pattern of Venetian streets.

Columbia Journalism Review has  the gory details:
"As a major reorganization  of the Cleveland Plain Dealer takes shape, veteran reporters are adjusting to ' backpack journalism,'  the division of staff into two companies, a looming move to a new office, and demands to post stories more quickly."
The concept appears so bizarre to some reporters that one told CJR "this used to be a.... newsroom", adding,  "newsroom culture is gone".

While  scattering the staff to divided venues, CJR writer Anna Clark reports, the new PD will equip reporters and editors with  iPhones and laptops, "along with actual packpacks so they can work from home or cafes."

In the new setup, some staffers will work out of from the current Superior Ave. offices, some flung out to the paper's distribution center in the suburbs and another cadre in the Tower City Center  above the Cleveland Hard Rock Cafe.

One reporter told CJR:  "They are very much encouraging us to be mobile, to not claim particular place and not keep a lot stuff there," which sounds a lot like what the Browns must tell their prospective  head coaches.

Andrea Hogben, president of the Northeast Ohio Media Group, explained to  CJR that the rationale for the upheaval  is to  "showcase our digital capabilities and promote a culture of innovation  and creativity".

But never at my doorstep on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday. It will be darkly interesting over the next year or so to see how the survival plan by Advance Publications, the owners who are exercising the same concept at some of its other papers, works out. As I struggle from the murky deep to understand all of this, I must first decompress.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Can preachers be uncivil, too?

Apropos of my previous post on civility, Dallas megachurch pastor  Robert Jeffress  turned up on Bill O'Reilly's show to dismiss Christian concerns that President Obama is the Antichrist.  On the other hand, the preacher/author  did say that Obama's actions in the White House are making it much easier for the Antichrist to return,  which casts the president as an unwitting confederate of Satan.   Who knew? 

Monday, January 20, 2014

LaRose/Celeste civility crusade faces huge odds

Civility in  politics.  That's the laudable  goal of  two men who have engaged the subject with earnest hopes of  ending  the toxic trash talk by some politicians  and their dobermans within hearing range.

State Sen. Frank LaRose, the Copley Twp. Republican ,  and Ted Celeste, a Democrat who once served in the Ohio legislature, recently delivered  their ongoing bipartisan message to Akron Roundtable to lay out their vision of a gentler political class.

While commending them, I think the idea has as much chance of working in the real world as Rush Limbaugh confessing that he's a closet socialist.

Having worked the trenches of  political combat for more years than I care to remember, I bring to the witness stand no evidence that political discourse is anywhere near  the Sunday pulpit.  I can also report that it's  even worse in the back rooms and there's not a damn (Sorry!) thing anybody can do about it.  The stakes are too high, the partisan grievances too aflame. And since a black man entered the White House,  the notion that all men are created equal is too besieged to survive pervasive racism in the souls of some combatants who can't contain their primitive biases. I should add from all of that there are too few profiles in courage from wannabe achievers .

Has it ever been different?  Not really.  Should we  remind ourselves that in May 1856 Sen. Charles Sumner, Massachusetts Republican who opposed slavery, was savagely  caned on the Senate floor by Rep. Preston Brooks,  a  South Carolina  Democrat.

A half-century earlier in 1804, Aaron Burr fatally shot Alexander Hamilton in a duel (wouldn't TV have loved that one today?) In Fiorello LaGuardia's day, it was not uncommon to see his enemies quoted in the press assailing him as a "little Wop".   And much later, didn't Rep. Joe Wilson, the South Carolina Republican, erupt with a
"You lie!" as President Obama addressed a joint session of Congress?

Or how about Rep. Steve King's  reference to  Latino children with calves as  big as cantaloupes swollen with smuggled drugs.  Or Limbaugh calling a young woman a "Slut" because he knew he could.  Damn right he did.

Even as the congressional denizens refer to each other as "the distinguished senator  from...."  they  are already in gear to consign the colleague to hell.

You could fill a book.  And fill another book with  the incivility of politics that has become more than empty lore.

Now, up in Michigan,  the Republican national committeeman, Dave Agema, a nasty  human being to put it kindly,   continues to stir up his GOP nest with repeated sliming   of gays and Muslims, accusing gays of being "filthy" and the critics of Duck Dynasty's Phil Robertson's anti-gay remarks "LBGT Gestapo speech police."

Michigan's GOP National Committeeman said that?  

If LaRose/Celeste really want to dig into the problem with a living  target,  do you think they should invite Agema to lunch?  A very long lunch.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

When a story didn't make it to BJ's crossword puzzle

Saturday's Plain Dealer ran a story and photo across the top of the front page that reported Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ed FitzGerald had chosen a running mate: Sharen Neuhardt, a lawyer from the Dayton area .

On the other hand, readers of the Beacon Journal didn't see a word of it unless it might have been a clue in the crossword puzzle.  FitzGerald's action  had been making the media rounds by early Friday afternoon.

Oh, I see.  The story arrived on the BJ's online page by late afternoon. Sorry, I'm still trying to get used to the idea that news really isn't  printworthy until it appears on my computer.  Maybe  I had better first double-check the crossword puzzle.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

On the Browns, sewers, Koch brothers and Ted Cruz coloring book

As we've occasionally noted, the Browns always seem to make more news off the field than on the field.  Today it was team  owner Jimmy Haslam's turn with an open letter to the fans assuring them that  the  front office  knows exactly  what it's doing, by God,  despite  the long delay in hiring a new coach.   Responding to critics who wonder why seven other teams that fired coaches have now replaced them, Haslam declared that the recruiters are taking a methodical approach to make sure they get it right this time.

May I speculate that Haslam may be creating a new title for  Chudzinski's successor.  It will be called the "interim-interim coach" that will allow the team to hire and fire an interim coach - which is the way it has been for years albeit with the title of permanent one-year coaches.  The title change is believed to be a first for the NFL.  If that confuses you, you have a lot of company.

* * * * *

Speaking of delays, it is  now  reported that the environmental expert hired at great cost by Federal Judge John Adams to assess Akron's court-delayed sewer plan has approved the  city's plan, which had been approved by the U.S. and Ohio EPAs.    Which is where some of us came in.  If you want to connect the dots, you shouldn't have too much trouble. In this matter, the dots are bigger than pie plates.

* * * * *

The Koch brothers, the billionaire industrial sugar daddies of the Tea Party, have  already taken a major stride forward in converting America into the land of the free and home of the fringe.    The New York Times reported that they have injected $20 million into congressional campaigns in a bid to buy the U.S. House and Senate. Some of the money will also doubtless show up in Ohio Gov. John Kasich's reelection  campaign. The Kochs' targets are progressive  candidates who support Obamacare. The game plan also attacks any political move supporting environmental upgrades.  By now you surely know the drill on the right.  If not, fair warning.

* * * * *
You can be sure that nothing worse can happen all day after an adult  son shows up in a playful spirit to give you two slick coloring  books - "Cruz to the Future" and "The Tea Party Coloring Book for Kids".   Any mention of the Tea Party, of course, is self revealing, so here's a quick account of the one lovingly dedicated to Sen. Rafael Edward "Ted" Cruz.

As you might expect, you can color an imposing sketch of Cruz holding a rifle (Second
amendment story line) to show off  the right to bear arms,  and other pages  dedicated to Cruz's patriotic themes and politically correct conservative positions.  Told you.  Even the Times' Sunday Puzzle seemed less painful  after that.  

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

For Christie , the cavalry is arriving...

Have you been following the anxiety attacks of  some Republicans who want to spin the bridge crises away from Gov. Christie's shadow?  Benghazi and Obama have fallen from the lips of the president's enemies. So have reprises of the IRS story. Anything to distract from the Fort Lee quake.

Some samples:

 Haley Barbour, the former GOP national chairman,  blamed Christie's woes on the "liberal media elite who continue to treat this like Lincoln's assassination."  (Shocking that right-wing Republicans from Mississippi even mention Lincoln these days.)

Reince Priebus, the current GOP chairman who is always good for a laugh, described Christie as a "smart person" and unlikely to know anything about his staff's involvement.  Not a "single link to Chris Christie  has been found," Reince protested.

But the runaway winner of the Grumpy Abe Linguistic Lunacy Award (GALL)  goes to Fox News panelist Brit Hume, who framed Christie's troubles as the consequence of a gender bias that denigrates macho men:

"I would have to say that in this sort of feminized   atmosphere in which we exist today, guys who are masculine and muscular like that in their private conduct, kind of old fashion tough guys run some risk...This guy is very much an old fashioned masculine, muscular guy  and there are political risks associated with that.  Maybe it shouldn't be, but that's how it is."


Christie: Kasich and I have similar approached to governing

As Custer learned at Little Big Horn and Christie at Fort  Lee, there are no certainties in war and politics. The Custer story has long been assigned to the archives.  The Christie story, past, present and future, is still unfolding. In its wake will be the love-in between the New Jersey and Ohio governors at the Republican Governors Association meeting in Arizona last November.

It was there on the widely reported stage that drew trend-conscience reporters from everywhere that Chris Christie giddily declared, "I love John Kasich".  (Please don't read sex!)

According to reporting by Kasich Chronicler Joe Vardon of the Columbus Dispatch, our governor had already heartily commended Christie the day before by declaring :  "Chris and I are friends.  He texts me, we laugh, we bust each other's chops."

Want to hear more from  the Ohio man?  Kasich, Vardon wrote,   predicted great success"  for his friend, noting that Christie had "celebrity" working for him, an important asset in politics. (He was even elected chairman of the Republican association in Scottsdale. )

"Christie is going to do great out there," Vardon  quoted  Kasich.  " Are you kidding?  He is like a a force now.  People want to be around  Kasich. He came out to Ohio during my last campaign, people just love him.   He said if you don't elect this guy I am coming back New Jersey style.  They like it."

New Jersey style?

Christie returned the accolade , pointing out that he and Kasich "get along very well because we have very similar approaches to governing."

Well, now,  similar approaches to governing?

Kasich will probably call me  an idiot and bust my chops (!) for bringing up ancient history, but I don't mind.  I'm not running for reelection - a campaign that he had once hoped would be supercharged by his celebrated friend from New Jersey.

PS:  On the plus side for Kasich in the Dispatch report  was that Kasich was "kind of a magnet in Scottsdale for national reporters looking for insight."  Hope that they didn't take that one too seriously.)

Saturday, January 11, 2014

What's in a name? A plugged bridge!

 OK, gang.  Was there an ominous forewarning that was encoded in the name of the woman responsible for Bridgegate? (See Gail Collins)  Why did it take weeks after Gov. Christie's loyal team had plugged  the George Washington Bridge to connect the dots with Christie's deputy chief of staff, Bridget Anne Kelly?   Who knew?

As one who has never been confused with Abe Lincoln or Abe Vigoda I have not  been  overly sensitive about name association and for the large part gotten away with it.

But in this instance, do you think Bridget was trying to tell us something all along for weeks?

Gail Collins wrapped up the mess this way:
"This is very big.  Voters have been known to overlook financial chicanery or stuffed ballot boxes.  They might continue to love a guy who screwed up the local bond rating  or got evicted from the governor's mansion by an irate wife.  But could you ever trust a politician who was implicated in a deliberate  effort to ruin rush hour?"
Well said.  But even Collins overlooked the portent in Bridget's name.

Yes, congressman, there ARE free lunches

Civilized people have always been expected to know that the only certainties in life are death, taxes and the myth of free lunches.  As Republican conservative Rep. Jack Kingston of Georgia recently addressed the question of school lunches, poor kids should have to mop floors or  pay a dime  for such traditional entitlements to teach them ...umm... "there are no free lunches."

Way to go, congressman!  But a nosy Savannah TV station, WSAV 3,  has now reported that Kingston hasn't practiced what he now preaches during his three years in Congress.  He and his staff expensed $4,182 for "business" meals and received $4,289.33 in free meals from special interests that included the Georgia Bankers Assn.

Kingston's  campaign also expensed more than $145,000 for meals and catering.

As you might suspect, the  congressman was annoyed that he was even asked about this disconnect, saying he grew up with a "good work ethic" but  "it's hard in today's society to have a discussion where you want to challenge the status quo because of today's 'I gotcha'  politics."

From what I can tell, the only status quo that he challenged was the free lunch program for the kids.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Browns search: Rebuilding sand castles at high tide

The Browns have interviewed -  or will interview - so many prospects on their list to hire a new coach that it wasn't until this morning that an office janitor in Berea happened to see a calendar scheduling  an interview next week with a coach they just fired -   Rod Chudzinski.

When reporters asked Team CEO Joe Banner about the odd entry on the calendar, he  said there may have been some things "on the upside" about Chud that have since turned up after he left.  "If nothing else," Banner explained, "it's entirely possible that Chud has now had plenty of experience to be the perfect transitional coach for 2014 until we find someone else for 2015."

Meantime, the great media mentioning game has now turned to Jim Tressel, who needs no introduction at this point in his career. He's widely mentioned  now in the media's   Department of Contagious Speculation as a candidate for the Browns, which have earnestly  - if clumsily - tried to rebuild sand castles at high tide.  But he's been teasingly coy about his next move, whether as University of Akron  President or Browns coach.

In fairness to Chud, as well as the team's choice for 2015, it would be charitable if
Tressel announced something soon enough to cancel further interviews with Chud,who is out of work with no unemployment insurance. .

P.S.  You heard it here first: neither Sam Rutigliano nor Knute Rockne has come up in any of the conversations.  

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Renacci's 16th District: a gerrymandered fortress

It now appears that two-term Rep. Jim Renacci, the oh-so conservative Republican congressman from Wadsworth , will get a free ride in the 2014 congressional election. That, at least, is the concession of Democratic leaders in Summit  and Stark counties.  At best, they say it would be a costly uphill battle against Renacci  in the 16th district that might also be labeled Gerrymander Central.

A glance at the district's disheveled boxy boundaries would convince some people that it was stuck together with Lego blocks connecting  awkwardly from the farms of Wayne  County through part of Summit County on the way to the urban shores of
Lake Erie - the Republican nod to diversity.  Folks, Chile has a sleeker form.

A second look might also suggest its contours resemble a holdup man pointing  a gun at Youngstown.  It was all in the interest, of course, of herding as many Republican voters into Renacci's District as the law would allow while granting voting privileges to  possible GOP dogs and cats from good homes.

 Gerrymandering has been around  for a long time for both parties; but the 16th may have lowered the bar beyond further partisan imagination. For Renacci, it was as though he arrived on an elevator equipped with a hammock.

All of which has left Summit County Democratic Chairman Wayne Jones without much hope of challenging Renacci. He has a terse  answer:  He has found no candidates.

Renacci went to Capitol Hill by defeating   Democratic incumbent John Boccieri in 2010 and later beat Incumbent Betty Sutton (2012) when both were dropped into the same redrawn base friendly to him.  One of the wealthiest guys on Capitol Hill (est. $35-  to $100 million) , earning his keep with nursing homes and as the owner of the arena football team, the  Columbus Dragons, Renacci can now relax in the luxury of knowing the plantation belongs entirely to him.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

He should have been playing golf that day...


"Bombings of bus stations, cafes, restaurants and even mosques have become part of everyday life.
"More than 400 people have been killed in attacks in Iraq this month alone, mostly in the Capital. And 
the figures do not include those who may die later of their injuries." 

* * * *


Monday, January 6, 2014

Whatever happened to El Nino?

Polar vortex, did someone call it?  The icy burden of zero-dipping weather, I mean.  In America, where we must have names and explanations for everything, the term was just one more blank in the pre-millennial dictionary in my head. And we had long thought that with El Nino, we had heard  everything there was to know about crazy weather.

(Along with the thousands of flight cancellations and dead batteries, PV aIso will lead to friendly approaches by folks blithely asking: "Is it cold enough for you?"  I have yet to figure out an appropriate response.)

The media loves freaky weather.  Headline writers can top stories with "Brrrr..."  or "city digs out"  - observations that do not require advanced journalism degrees. And then there was the news  editor across the room from me who who lived for the moment that we would get a photo of  an old woman, head scarf flat out and a twisted umbrella,  bent forward against the wind!

The interesting  non-confrontational thing about freaky weather is that nobody can trace it to the liberal media.  Can't happen when nature takes over. No risks that anybody will turn off the TV or cancel a newspaper subscription over sub-zero reports. And although the TV meteorologist  commands the screen with weird looking maps (a benefit I never enjoyed growing up in a frigid hill town)  their boasts of being first with the stories lose some credibility when you consider that all of the reports arrive from the same  National Weather Service.

At the same time, we've noticed that the climate deniers are stomping with finger-pointing delight to the minus-30s in some northern states.  Numbing evidence, they'll  tell you, with anecdotal science to satisfy their spinning.The Plain Dealer's Kevin O'Brien, the very conservative editorial page columnist, went to great, if fog-bound, lengths to satirically link an ice-trapped ship in Anarctica to the myth of climate change.

In my old town, they closed the mile-long east-west Main Street in snowy weather so we kids could belly slam our sleds at the top of the hill and burst all the way down  to the other end below.   If we had only known about polar vortex as the source of our pleasure!    But now that we've mentioned Newt Gingrich's attempt to be cool with soy latte, I wonder if the TV millennials with their weather maps will  accept me as a senior  observer if I mention polar vortex to them with a  wind chill factor thrown in to be even cooler. Better yet, frozen.  

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Newt trying to be hip with soy latte

How long, would you guess, would it take the conservative gag team to ridicule New York City's new liberal mayor Bill de Blasio?  After all, the new guy at City Hall  could be  a  Democratic presidential candidate against  Sarah Palin  as early as 2028. These days you damn well can't  take a chance.

So it was left to Newt Gingrich who, like the dust on a curio shelf that never goes away, to turn up on CNN's "Crossfire" with some  props to convince us that de Blasio was a   soy latte phony.  I can't believe I wrote  soy latte, having never heard of it before my received wisdom from Newt, who forever impresses me as a latter-day Crazy Guggenheim.   And, folks, I drink a lot of coffee.

To illustrate his point, whatever it was, Newt lined up three Starbucks cups to suggest that de Blasio's support of a tax increase for the rich would amount to no more than a cup of, um,  soy latte.    When you stretch that far to show how hip you are to modern trends,   it still is sort of phony by itself, don't you think, for an old-timer like Newt trying to be cool.

As Republicans go, it resets the terms used by his brethren, like Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel, who is remarkably still comfortable referring to "limousine liberals"  in his press releases.

Modifiers for liberals have been around a long time.  Spiro Agnew put much stock in "pointy-headed liberals". He was a coffee drinker of sorts and when he was offered a cup during a sit-down visit to our newspaper office, he jiggled the cup  and tipped out a little into the saucer. None of us, of course, pretended to notice it.  Maybe as his host we should have settled on his unflattering nattering nabobs  and left the care of coffee to others.

As for Newt, I promise to think of him the next time  I'm standing in a mile-long line at the Starbucks counter at the mall.  When my turn finally arrives, I will order two cups of straight, espresso-power coffee, one for me... and one for Newt. I know.  It would have been spiteful for me to order soy latte for him.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Naming names: The James A. Rhodes Arena, a.k.a. JAR

The clamor hereabouts over building a new sports arena to replace the James A. Rhodes hardwood is another example  of faded athletic crowd-keeping. In this instance, the JAR, the  acronym quickly assigned to the place by the sports crowd who thought it a cute substitute,   turned 30 in 2013.  That meant by today's standards, it's  a relic with too few seats (and other modern conveniences), regardless of whether they were ever fully filled.

For the proposed modern  structure claimed by the University of Akron,  the name was offered  as a kind of  honorific for the sitting governor in the early 80s. Among the  witnesses to a  a pre-arena meeting between then-UA President Dominic Guzzetta and Rhodes was Guzzetta's aide, Dick Wright.

"Before leaving for Columbus to meet  with  the governor with an appeal for his support,  I urged Guzzetta not to begin by promising Rhodes that the  arena would be named  after him, " Wright told me years later. A veteran of the give and take of state politics, Wright figured the official flattery  would only be useful as a last resort to win the governor's support.

"So what do you think happened?",  Wright said.   "As soon as we sat down in the governor's office, Dom  eagerly assured Rhodes that the University  would put the governor's name on it."

So much for Wright's counseling.  And that, dear reader, is how it proclaimed  James A. Rhodes for the ages before it became the JAR.

We can only  consider the consequences if a later governor, Robert Alphonso Taft II  had been in the office.

But given our addiction to acronyms, best that we not go there.