Thursday, May 29, 2014

Gays to be barred from Rubio's ark

To those wondering whether same-sex married couples will be permitted to board  Republican Sen. Marco Rubio's ark (see previous post) we checked his office of Universal Biblical Purity and the response was instant:  NO! A robotic voice on the phone declared: "This is a Republican boat, fella , to secure the future of mankind. It's not the Good Ship Lollipop!"

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Will climate-change denier Rubio build an ark for Florida?

In their voluminous history of civilization, much of which I read years ago while immobilized with a painful ankle, historians Will and Ariel Durant  told us that although the 14th Century papacy  believed that God was protectively on its side against all enemies,  it couldn't hurt to move from Rome to a fortress in Avignon.  Just in case.

There may be some of that going on in Florida today, where climate  change experts are warning  that it remains the most vulnerable state to rising sea levels.  There are already  rumors that Sen. Marco Rubio, a staunch climate-change denier,  has  quietly scouted the shoreline of Biscayne Bay for a possible haven for a Noah-inspired ark.

The Republican aspirant for the mix of White House seekers in 2016 is said to consider the ark as having  more than a single purpose.  The word on the street is that he will  also confirm his interest in immigration reform by  having a pair  of  non-documented Cubans chosen by lottery to  board his boat.

It couldn't hurt.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Obama's monumental gift to Boehner

(Re-posted from Plunderbund )

Capitol Hill insiders say President Obama will celebrate Memorial Day  by designating  John Boehner as a medieval  national monument.  They say the president has reacted sharply to the Speaker's jack-in-the-box oppostion to Obama's designation of the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks in New Mexico as a national monument.  Although the border control says  otherwise, Boehner says Obama's action will threaten security while many others in the area applaud the decision as a boon for tourism.

Obama reportedly will classify Boehner's office on Capitol Hill as a tourist site open even to those without birth certificates and photo ID's.  But the Republicans in Boehner's house  scorned the  Boehner National Monument as nothing more than a political stunt and voted against funding a gift shop.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Vardon arrives in Akron with a Dispatch mission

Joe Vardon, the Columbus Dispatch's poliltics and government writer, turned up at a news conference Wednesday following Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ed FitzGerald's luncheon speech at the Quaker Square Inn.  Actually, it wasn't so much a news conference as we have come to know them.  With notebook and pencil in hand, Vardon turned it into an inquisition of the candidate regarding questions raised by the other side of the Cuyahoga county inspector general who has been accused of doing  campaign work on  public time.

In fact, State GOP Chairman Matt Borges has called for  the inspector's resignation, which was a little odd inasmuch as he once paid a $1,000 fine after he admitted "misusing public office".

That aside, Vardon was on a mission, determinedly consuming most the news  coference with  his repeated refusal to accept FitzGerald's reponse as several reporters stood around waiting for turns that never came. Way to go, Joe. The event was about you.

As we have commented in past posts,  Vardon is the apparent designated hitter for a paper that will unsurprisingly endorse Gov. Kasich's re-election  He has written glowingly  about Kasich's ubiquitous out of state appearances, which only counts if your paper is hoping to stage his rise to the Oval Office someday.

But my point today, having covered one or two or these things in a half century of political reporting, is that there are some unwritten rules of courtesies to your colleagues that exclude boorishly pigging out on the candidates.   Say, a question and a follow-up. In Vardon's case, he was the transparent story, not FitzGerald.    Tsk. Tsk.

I gave up and left the room as he was asking still another question.  But I was later told the Beacon Journal reporter did manage a single question as time was running out.

Vardon did write a piece about the inquisition in which he dwelled on inspector general  Nailah  Byrd,  leading his  report with Borge's call for her resignation. Vardon obviously didn't come to report the speech itself, because there wasn't a word in the story about the Democrat's questioning references to  Gov. Kasich.

P.S. I didn't plan to ask a question anyway, so no sour grapes here. Over the years, my questions too often turned up on TV with the camera showing the station's own reporter.  So I stopped asking questions.

Renacci, Mandel: about your friend Suarez

 In case you haven't heard, this isn't the best of times for Ben Suarez, the Canton big- businessman whose  multi-tasking enterprises  range far and wide and include a couple of well- known Ohio Republican pols.

OK.  His company is embroiled in a deepening scandal.

It has reached  the critical point where he must appear in the federal court in Cleveland in a couple of weeks under indictment  to explain why his top company man, Mike Giorgio, has  accused his boss of complicity in a money laundering  scheme  that would reward Ohio Treasurer  Josh Mandel  and U.S. Rep. Jim Renacci, who represents Suarez's home district, with generous campaign contributions (say, $l00,000 each) if they would intervene in his behalf  in a matter to benefit the company.

In fact, Mandel agreed to intervene and wrote to California treasurer Bill Lockyer  threatening a suit against that state for investigating Suarez for mislabeling supplements  that contained high levels of lead.

Serious?  Giorgio, the chief financial officer of Suarez Corp. Industries,  has already pleaded guilty in the political version of the fair trade act and is awaiting the court's decision on the length of his jail term and the amount of his fine, which could reach six figures.

In a plea deal, Giorgio has accused Suarez of one of the oldest exchanges of political fund-raising,which  had  company employes  apportion donations to Mandel and Renacci and then be reimbursed for  those amounts by Suarez, thus disguising the actual  donor  in the shadows.

That ain't legal.

The SCI lawyers  merely expressed "disappointment" that Giorgio would foul his own nest and insisted in a statement that the company proudly conducts business  with "integrity at all times."

As  for Mandel and Renacci, they quickly scampered to the weed patch and returned the contributions. from the employes.

 Game on.

Monday, May 19, 2014

PD offers special splash on Johnny Governor.

With Johnny Football's  arrival as the biggest gorilla in the media room, the Plain Dealer seems to have decided to double the pleasure with a six-page special section on Sunday about Johnny Governor.

John Kasich, of course.  The paper tells us, avalanche-like, that the Guv "is on a mission to reshape conservatism". But then teasingly  asks, "Will it get him where he wants to go?"

If you, like me, are thinking White House, with his November re-election campaign nothing  more than an overnight stay at  Holiday Inn somewhere on the trail, you could take  that to the bank.  Along the way, you find a guy who is mercurial, an elusive target, cliche-ridden, snappish but, as he would have it,  a compassionate conservative. Remember?

For those of us who spent much of Sunday ridding our swampy  yard of stricken  bushes,  and branches and dead bamboo, we could only scan the section while wondering whether there must be more to the story in publishing it now rather  than in the fall. As for Kasich, he must have loved it, particularly that big photo of Frank Jackson,
Cleveland's Aftrican-American  mayor, hugging him.  Hmmmm...

I will await evidence proving me wrong, but the PD, like other major papers in the state, is prepared to endorse him over Democrat Ed FitzGerald.

At this point, however, the Kasich Klatch is a reminder of Democratic Gov. John Gilligan's re-election campaign defeat by  Jim Rhodes in 1974. . Gilligan's top advisors were so sure of his re-election that his chief of staff even showed me a road map on how his boss would sweep the Democratic convention for the presidential nomination.

History will show that Rhodes shattered the playbook by upsetting Gilligan.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Nebraska GOP zealot: Religion trumps any law

Recommended reading:  A signs-of-our- times capsule from Thinkprogress:

“[O]ur right to the free exercise of religion is co-equal to our right to life,” according to the campaign website of Ben Sasse, a Nebraska Republican who won his party’s nomination to the United States Senate on Tuesday. Nebraska is a solid red state that preferred Romney to Obama by a massive 21 point margin in 2012, so Sasse is now all but certain to succeed retiring Sen. Mike Johanns (R) this November. If he does, Sasse promises to promote an almost anarchistic vision of religious liberty as a member of the Senate. According to Sasse’s website, “[g]overnment cannot force citizens to violate their religious beliefs under any circumstances.”
Read the whole piece on thinkprogress. Another step backward by a theocratic zealot and the Cornhusker Republicans.    

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

So long, Mike.. We hardly got to know you this time

Nothing captures  the sorrowful history of Cleveland's professional sports teams than the latest firing of Cavaliers coach Mike Brown.  We say "latest" because the same owner of the same team fired the same Brown once before, thereby affirming my opinion that in Cleveland, there are a lot more moving parts in the upper levels of the food chain than there are in the starting lineups.

To begin our brief narrative that splashed across all of the papers, owner Dan Gilbert fired Brown in 2010 after the latter had coached five winning seasons.

Gilbert then hired Bryon Scott for a year before firing him.

He then re-hired Brown,saying the first ouster was a mistake. He is now paying the remainder of fat contracts with two coaches while hunting for a third.

In nine years, as it has been noted in the annals more than once, Gilbert has now gone through three general managers and four coaches in the nine years that he has been the owner.

Although the cheerless Indians and Browns have yet to fire and  rehire a manager or coach,  they have led the fans through a dizzying succession of field boss-lings  and quarterbacks.  A complete set of sports trading cards with their names might bring some money on Ebay.

Meantime, somebody said they saw a person who looked exactly like Mike Brown, with millions left to be paid in his contract, laughing all the way to the bank.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

A lament on living with ants

We've been invaded by ants.  Just when we think we are winning, more show up in the dishwasher, in the  kitchen sink,  in cabinet  drawers, on the back of my hand. Out of nowhere!

In late March, we sprayed the entire perimeter of our house.  Guaranteed control, the label on the big  plastic container  said. Good for a year. Whoopee. Which meant we resprayed in mid-April.  And again a week ago.

At this point, my late mother would have been hysterical.  No damned ant was going to coexist with the family.  Damned was her word.  And often worse. Especially when her house was under siege.

Though born in America shortly after her parents arrived from the Old Country,  she sustained their dutiful work ethic.  She kept an extra supply of Chlorox on hand, and remained a willful threat to any uninvited intruder, and ants were high on her enemies list.   Spiders didn't get off easily, either.  On hands and knees, and with a strong bristle brush  she scoured the kitchen floor.  On one occasion when she visited us, I caught her doing the same thing in the basement.

I don't think it made any difference, but she was strong-willed, and wouldn't hear any of it.   No way would she give up if there were a couple of drops of Chlorox at her fingertips.

Well, Mom, they're back.  Wish you were, too. At least it would be a fair fight.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Be happy that the big carved Indian didn't go anywhere..

It's been a busy week of comings and goings around here.  Despite being groomed for the University of Akron  job, Jim Tressel  is headed to Youngstown State University,  and University of Toledo provost Scott Scarborough is coming to UA. Then, in case you strangely missed it, a young man roaringly celebrated  as Johnny Football, a.k.a, Manziel, was grabbed by the Browns to rise to the heights of a franchise quarterback beginning with pre-season ticket and T-shirt sales.

Virtually unnoticed in the area media has been the frenzied uprising by  GOP House members with certificates of excellence from the Philadelphia School of Circus Arts.  That may include at least half of the Republican  reps who want a seat on Speaker John Boehner's Select House (kangaroo) committee to damn well get to the bottom of Benghazi by the next presidential election.  There's probably no  group on Capitol Hill more qualified  to investigate the ad hoc scandal than this fishy gang of bottom feeders.

Also  going away were six more Beacon Journal staffers who accepted buyouts, including Jim Carney, Jewell Cardwell and Dave Scott. That reduced the size of the staff, reported the BJ Retirees blog,  to 30 pct. of what it was in 1991.

 And coming to Akron was Rick Santorum to sell his books and non-existent presidential credentials to an Ohio Christian Alliance lunch crowd.  But I think I already mentioned that earlier, didn't I?

Gone, too, for at least a year is Browns' star wide receiver Josh Gordon, who was suspended for drug violations.  The Browns couldn't even get through 24 hours of Manziel madness without a  cloudburst on their parade.  You have to wonder what they ever did to offend the gods.

That left the big carved Indian on West Market Street as the only  figure of interest in place.



Friday, May 9, 2014

And he was the 22nd pick!

As Chris Matthews would wonder..."Your thoughts?"  ( Fortunately there was no start of WWIII to compete with it.)

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Tressel tackled in the backfield at UA

The epic search to replace retiring President Luis Proenza  at the University of Akron ended Thursday with the Board of Trustees' announcement that it had chosen Scott Scarborough, the University of Toledo provost,  to fill the job. That ended volumes of speculation that Jim Tressel, UA's controversial  executive vice president,   would be named.  Scarborough and Tressel were among the three finalists, although the former OSU football coach had also applied for the presidency at Youngstown State University.

What a relief!  It appeared throughout the hunt that Tressel was in the mix without a doctorate and with OSU baggage simply because , among other things, he was a "motivator".    But  in the final week, there was so much speculation over the long exercise, I was prepared to recomend that the two schools be hauled onto the court for a jump ball.

Santorum arrives in Akron to conduct another service

I'm beginning to feel that unless I run for president, my new novel will never get published.  That occurred to me  again this week when  I read a blurb that Rick Santorum  will  be hustling his latest book in Fairlawn on Friday at an Ohio Christian Alliance luncheon. It's another stop along his campaigning book tour in Ohio.

As you may be well aware, Santorum is a multitasking Republican political preacher  who has warned that America will be destroyed by a hellish revolution if we misfits don't mend our ways.  As a professed expert in the field of salvation -  for both country and soul - Santorum has found his niche audiences wherever they turn up for a fire and brimstone  book-signing lunch.

The book's pulsating title is Blue Collar Conservatives, which sort of grabs you with what has become a political cliche much like "hard-working taxpayers" .  There are countless taxpayers, however, who don't work nearly as hard as the politicians who run around the country telling them that they are working too hard to pay taxes.

But having sought the presidency in 2012, Santorum may consider Akron to be fertile ground for his sermonesque thoughts.  So convinced that the former Pennsylvania senator would carry Ohio, Atty. Gen. Mike DeWine startled some of the GOP brethren  by cold-turkey switching his loyalty  from Mitt Romney to Santorum.  DeWine has always shown an interest in  presumed God particles.

You may also recall that Summit County Republican Chairman Alex Arshinkoff apparently agreed that Santorum would be the perfect pulpiteering man at the county GOP dinner, which packed the house with Santorum believers (and dollars) , who went on to crown him with a meaningless overwhelming straw vote victory.

About the blue collars:  In my hometown I watched the coal miners trudge past our house with empty lunch  pails after a day in the nearby Standard Shaft mines. Their collars were black with coal dust. And "shaft" by the mine owners, from company houses to the company store, had a special meaning for us.

If it would help my presidential campaign, maybe  I'll stick that in the novel.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Mercifully, NFL draft day is upon us

We thought the day would never arrive.  The first day of the NFL draft, that is.  After an eternity of speculation and rumors by the self-appointed experts, America will pause for a glimpse of the college  grid stars who will be anxiously awaiting to learn whether they will cash in on a handsome professional life as the picks of the herd.

Virtually every day leading up to the big day, we have witnessed the advisories from the sports analysts telling the teams' front office scouts and coaches who they have to draft in order to win - as if the scouts and coaches haven't already figured out their shopping list.  And every day the winds change direction.

You can't  take this stuff seriously.   The guy you think about drafting may be long gone by the time your turn arrives.  And even if you  get Mr. Wonderful,  there's no guarantee that he will be Mr. Wonderful. He might turn out to be a dud, or on the disabled list for a year. Teams  like the Cleveland Browns have been drafting highly-touted Mr. Wonderfuls for ages only to finish with another dismal season.

There could be a game-changer for the Browns'  narrative this year.  Name: Johnny Manziel, a quarterback and pre-draft legend  guaranteed  to solve  the quarterback problems on the lake.

But wait!  Terry Pluto told us in the Plain Dealer today that it would be wise for the Browns to avoid  the legend.  That's as far as I usually get in the cascading pre-draft expertise.

To which we can only say, "Holy Colt McCoy!"  Or am I thinking of Brady Quinn, Charlie Frye, and what's-his-name who once bestirred the fans to pre-season delirium?

The draft will be over in three days in case you have other plans on hold.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Benghazi: Another round of Issametrics by a half-percenter

The flash mob of Republican alligators has assembled once again in a modern version of "remember the Alamo".  In this instance, "Remember Benghazi''.  Got that. Hillary?

The leader of this bloodthirsty onslaught is our old friend Rep. Darrell Issa,  the toothy sinister-looking  fellow who is one of the wealthiest egos on Capitol Hill, so rich in fact that he may qualify as a half-percenter.  In case you've spent the week end spraying dandelion,  you should be aware that Issa is the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee who, in  earlier Republican times, would be an embarrassment to his party.

Forever preoccupied with investigating something or other, he has now in Issametric terms announced that he has subpoenaed  Secretary of State John Kerry to appear before his committee to answer to Issa's glares.

This is the same Darrell Issa who in 2007 opposed subpoenaing then-Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice for a tete-a-tete on the Bush Administration's invasion of Iraq. And the same Darrell Issa who conducted an  all-male inquiry into contraception insurance without permitting a single woman, including Sandra Fluke, to testify. (By the way:  Kerry was a U.S. senator and not the secretary of state when Benghazi blew up.  Hillary was, which is what this fracas is all about.  What a kluttzy way to run a business!)

But there was no shortage of alligators for the Benghazi reprise.  Speaker John Boehner, who usually seems to be out of the loop when his colleagues start acting up, quickly announced that he will call for a select committee to investigate Benghazi.  Boehnerghazi?  And Sen.John McCain, still hoping to become relevant, has charged the Obamans of a cover-up.

But there's hope.  Republican Rep. Buck McKeon, of California, chairman of the Armed Services Committee, said the multimillion-dollar probe by his GOP colleagues and his own committee has turned up no evidence that the State Department acted improperly. He said what?

Time to get back to the dandelion.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Hey, John. Look in the mirror!

For our foolish quote of the week we have nominated  John Cornyn of
Texas, the Republican second-in-command in the Senate.  Hopeful of explaining why the Republicans blocked a Democratic effort  to increase the minimum wage, Cornyn  asserted:  "This [the D's proposal]  is about trying to make this side of the aisle look bad and hard-hearted to  try to rescue the mid-term election."

For heaven's sake, John.  Where have you been?  It's not the Dems that make you look bad.  You're doing a pretty good job of it yourself.  And for that, we must  give you the Grumpy Abe Linguistic Lunacy (GALL)  award without bothering to check Sarah Palin's  latest gibberish.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

A frustrated LaTourette passes baton to Joyce

When former Ohio Rep. Steve LaTourette  arrived in Akron recently for a luncheon talk sponsored by the Akron Press Club and Bliss Instititute he recounted his frustration with trying to get anything done against the right-wing Tea Party fringe contrrolling the fate of most legislation.

They represent 40  or more House members  who come to the office each day, vote no, and go home praising themselves for a job well done.  It was left to  the memory of Groucho Marx to describe such heinous resistance:   "Whatever it is, I'm against it."

LaTourette faulted the Republican Party for failing to invite minorities, women, gays and others to come aboard. And as a reputed moderate Republican from Lake County, he decided to  give up his seat in 2012 after 18 years in the House.  He is now pacing a group, Main Street Partnership, which is supporting GOP moderates against the sweep of Tea Party insanity.  While a noble cause, it does seem to be an attempt to build a sand castle in a windstorm.

LaTourette has also had nice things to say about his Republican successor, Rep. David Joyce, who is being challenged in the GOP primary.  Here, we have shadings of where moderation ends and the ancient GOP texts arise again.  For example, Joyce has put out campaign ads saying he wants to cut taxes and repeal Obamacare.   And ,of course, he  wants the voters to know that he opposes abortion while favoring family, guns and prayers. the Plain Dealer noted in endorsing him.

The  paper had little choice  against Joyce's Tea Party primary opponent, State Rep. Matt Lynch.  It described  Joyce, the former Geauga County Prosecutor,  as "less combative."

But there's nothing in Joyce's campaign spiel to suggest that he is moderate..

Eliminate Lynch from the equation, and you still have a garden variety version of a modern Republican conservative that's not likely change much of the resistance movement in Congress.

Kaisich recasts himself in ad overture on YouTube

Re-posted from Plunderbund:

While surfing on YouTube for Steve Martin 's bluegrass banjo duet with the masterly Earl Scruggs, I skidded past Gov. Kasich's latest TV ad with his just-plain-folks bio,  catching no more than a glimpse of our leader's pro tem unbuttoned style.

The  ad  ambled into the Martin-Scruggs   Foggy Mountain Breakdown, the rousing bluegrass classic that easily qualifies as the Appalachian anthem.

But here was Kasich in his casual New Norm style assuring us in that fleeting moment that he was one of us -  after nearly four years in office, folks,   in which he preferred to hang out with plutocrats (think Sheldon Adelson) lobbyists and friendly editors.

Forget that.  He reminded us in blue collar terms that his father was a postman who told him to "stand on my own two feet" and his mother was "outspoken". So?

It should be obvious that the governor's handlers  have noticed that their  client is rough around the edges, temperamental and quick to criticize whatever clashes with his own set ways.  He needed  some soft touches from Hollywood casting, right?  

Politics can remove the warts and  reshape the negatives.  More so in Kasich's case as he redistributes the gold mine from his backers to the TV ads that precede a finger-picking duo on YouTube,  insisting that  he's just like the NRA guy next door.

We're eager to see what they do with, say,  You Are My Sunshine.