Sunday, June 29, 2014

Johnny Football: Get over it. I ain't changing

Has there ever  been a rookie professional athlete  like Johnny Manziel who burst onto the stage with less aplomb and more defiance of his critics?  After five fun-loving weekends away from the field, dutifuly recorded in the media,  Manziel drew a line in the mythical sand to reporters at the Browns' site in Berea, telling them that he has absolutely no thought of changing his lifestyle, no matter what anybody else thinks.

"I am not going to change who I am for anybody," he declared,  adding that he didn't want to live in a shell.

As we all know, professional football is a brutal sport, and as a quarterback, Manziel's  moment of further reflection on his life may come  with the arrival in his face  of a crushing defensive end who gets paid to ruin the other guy's week end.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Johnny Football upstaged by LeBron Basketball

No sooner had people started to raise eyebrows about supernova Johnny Football's (a.k.a.Manziel} off-the-field revelries than along came LeBron Basketball (a.k.a. James) to upstage him in the media.   Unless you have been  engaged in a life-and-death personal emergency the past few days, you will know  that LeBron has decided to end his ties with the Miami Heat to pursue his claim as the NBA's greatest player for wherever it will take him - physically and financially..

For the moment at least,  the sports crowd, particularly in northern Ohio, may find less distracting  Johnny Football's' repeated weekend escapades that have shown him riding an inflated swan or swigging champagne from bottle to lips. As we've learned from our livelihood  in LeBron's hometown of Akron, there isn't much on the planet that will distract  the media from reporting his minute- by-minute existence.

Ever since he ceremoniously left the Cavaliers four years ago to take up with the Heat, LeBron has been the source of wistful yearning among the Cavs fans (even those who may have scorned him for leaving) that he would make a MacArthur-like return to bring an elusive championship to a Cleveland sports franchise.

Until  LeBron's  next move is determined, the scribes and broadcast commentators  will drench themselves in  speculation that could encourage the Plain Dealer to spread Terry Pluto over six full pages in a Sunday edition, building on the four that  his voluminous sports profundity was given recently.  (If you're looking for an excessive  first in urban journalism, you need look no farther.)

As for Johnny Football, he may have to ask what a guy has to do to match LeBron's celebrity.    For starters, he  might play his first minute in an actual NFL game.

Even Cheney needs a break from his heavenly chores

Re-posted from Plunderbund

A wave of frantic concern surged through the hawkish  Neocon community of sunshine soldiers Sunday when Dick Cheney  failed to appear on the Fox News Impeach Obama marathon.  Did his bionic heart fail him?    His daughter Liz quickly  stepped up to reassure everyone that  the heart was working fine, explaining his absence to the faithful:  "On the seventh Day, Daddy rests."

Monday, June 23, 2014

Dick Cheney for president? Will lunacy triumph?

Re-posted from Plunderbund

Like Mack the Knife, Dick Cheney is back in town.  He and his daughter Liz have announced a new non-profit group called Alliance for a Strong America to shame Barack  Obama's presidency.   And if your thing is the Theater of the Absurd then you have to believe that every rich Obama hater in the land with some loose change will drop a few coins  in his cup.

And if anything is deserving of a Saturday Night Live schtick, you could spread the rumor that Cheney, so full of sound and fury,  is again stirring up media coverage because he's actually running for president to restore our unique position as the global sheriff. Sounds silly, I know.  But with  the former veep who always operates beyond the limits of reality, silliness has no meaning.  We  can even envision a scenario in which he attaches Liz to his ticket as his running-daughter. It would dispel the notion among anyone who shudders at his name that he is a cold-blooded lunatic.  Instead, he would come across as a tender loving family guy who merely wants to see his daughter get ahead.

Karl Rove  would immediately predict a landslide victory for Cheney.  And Donald Trump would be thrilled that we finally had a white guy in the Oval Office who was born in America.

 And in swing-state Ohio. the projected turnout  for our new hero on Election Day would be so large in even the smallest counties  that Secretary of State Jon Husted would alert all of the local election boards to remain open around the clock by Labor Day for early voting.

If I all of this sounds too crazy for words, you can't say I didn't warn you.  Did I mention that a lunatic is on the loose again?

Friday, June 20, 2014

And with Cheney, it's even harder!

Secretary of State John Hay to President Theodore Roosevelt re the difficulty of solving a certain foreign policy matter:
"Dealing with people to whom  mendacity  is a science is no easy thing."

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Those who ignore history are back...

With Cheney and his cast of Ninjas leading the call for another assault on Iraq, it seems the right time to reprise this Feb. 9, 2004 Newsweek cover:

That's Dick in the top right corner, next to another hawkish  draft dodger.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

With Husted challenged, BJ's Douglas to the rescue

Secretary of State Jon Husted has been flitting around the state in search of a safe harbor  for his besieged voting "reforms", and he couldn't have found a more hospitable port   than Mike Douglas' Sunday column in the Beacon Journal.  In a piece that asks teasingly  "How hard is it to vote in Ohio?'  the BJ  editorial page editor solemnly went on and on to cast Husted as the Wizard of Oz in cleaning up an election system that has been  victimized by long lines, shfting polling places, shortened voting hours  and - I pause - the Zombie cheaters. Douglas concludes that it  isn't that hard to vote. Problem solved.  

Indeed, that has been Husted's rallying cry as he seeks reelection against a fiery Democratic opponent, Sen. Nina Turner.  The secretary prides himself in creating a new culture that makes it "easier to vote and harder to cheat".  On Sunday, Douglas oddly  bought into the  argument that is being scorned by some other newspapers as well as ordinary folks like you and me.  (A columnist in the Toledo Blade booed the Husted Hustle (my noun ) in  a piece headlined  ''Why Ohio's GOP is strangling voters' access to the polls."

On that point, I think I know why. It's the grand design by the Republican deep thinkers that emerged at the start of the Obama era as the party nervously sought ways to resist  voting trends that threatened its survival forever.  (Years earlier, a Republican county chairman expressed hope that it would rain on Election Day to lower the turnout in certain politically unfriendly urban precincts.)

The Republicans decided the whole idea could be sold as a  Boy Scout effort to eliminate wholesale voter fraud.  When none surfaced in studies, they turned to other  ploys.

Besides piling voter turnout on voter turnout that he compared  favorably with Husted's efforts, Douglas also lashed the New York Times - which is really too big to fail  - for an editorial that accused the Ohio GOP of rigging the election system to hurt the Democrats.  After a couple of Republican officials unwisely said  the so-called reforms were intended to help Mitt Romney, I can only respond:  Well?

Rather than deal with the numbers, I prefer to look at the nefarious ways that Husted and the hoofbeat Republican legislature   have carried out their game plan. The victims of two losses in presidential elections, they have been frantically rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

I am cynical enough to dismiss voter turnouts in past elections as the sole measure of the merit of Husted's handiwork. I prefer to look at the  wide pool of the carefully nurtured Republican efforts to close some doors in urban polling places. Shorter voting hours, the elimination (now restored) of Golden Week for same-day registration and voting, Republican attempts to bar universities from issuing residency IDs, and,  the measure that would make it quite difficult for a third party to appear on the ballot. It's not a playbook that inspires confidence in the party's  moves to purify the vote.

You might want to know, too,  that Republican Sen.Frank LaRose from Akron's back yard sponsored the measure to end Golden Week.

The issue has generated  a suit by the ACLU, League of Women Voters and NAACP. And not so incidentally, a federal judge in Cincinnati has ordered Husted to restore the early voting hours of the three days leading to the election.

Wherever you land on this, I believe this much is certain: Husted will be a key figure in one of the state's liveliest issues up to Election Day.  It has already cut to the quick the folks who will be most deeply affected. You know  who they are, even if Husted's side won't tell you.  

Saturday, June 14, 2014

McCain meltdown into revisionist history

In another meltdown, Warrior John McCain said Bush administration WON  Iraq and President Obama LOST it.  How many more do you want to add to the list below, John?  

Casualties in Iraq

The Human Cost of Occupation
Edited by Margaret Griffis :: Contact
American Military Casualties in Iraq 
In Combat
American Deaths 
Since war began (3/19/03):44893528
Since "Mission Accomplished" (5/1/03) (the list)
Since Handover (6/29/04):36272899
Since Obama Inauguration (1/20/09):256128
Since Operation New Dawn:6639
American WoundedOfficialEstimated
Total Wounded:32021Over 100000
Page last updated 06/5/14 10:57 pm EDT
U.S. Wounded

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Suarez, Kasich: Back to the log cabins

I see that the defense lawyers in the Benjamin Suarez trial  have made a point of tellng the jury that the millionaire Republican businessman has risen mightily from  a lean childhood in an epic  rags-to-riches testament to his  personal work ethic. He was, after all, gathering up trash at a drive-in theater when he was only 8 years old.
I don't question that  was the case.

Don't question that at all. what? The adult was charged. Not the kid.  

Then we have the similar pitch as told by  the anti-union  Gov.Kasich in his reelection campaign that he sprang from childhood  blue collar roots to his lofty position today. Blue collar, yes, which somehow prepared him to engage the white collar corporate executives like Sheldon Adelson in his comfort zone. (Dare I describe the new John Kasich as the compassionate conservative  of George W. Bush's fantasies?)

Again, so what? 

Allow me a peek into my own childhood, in which I grew up in a house facing a battered outhouse across the street  used as the privy for a hobbled old black woman who lived by candlelight in a shed-like  hovel.  Somebody might even mention it if I were running for governor.  So what? 

People born with silver spoons may offer something positive to humanity.  Othere wind up in bankruptcy.

The point is, you must be judged on who you are today, not who you were many years ago.

With Suarez as well as Kasich we are still  talking about log cabins.   True or not, so what?

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

But we'd really prefer a doctor in the house, John

Ohio Rep. John Becker, a Clermont County Republican,  has entered the pro-life honor roll with  his own version of how a proper woman should conduct her sex life.  He has introduced a bill in the Ohio legislature that bans coverage for  IUDs even though he has made allowances for birth control pills,

When asked about this strange separation of means to prevent pregnancy, he has earned the coveted Grumpy Abe Linguistic Lunacy (GALL) award by telling us:

"This is just a personal view.  I'm not a medical doctor."

P.S.  The runner-up was a distant second.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Germ warfare without soap and shampoo

The New York Times, which boldly inquires where others fear to ask, has given us an entirely new perspective on germ warfare. It arrived via an essay by  radio producer and essayist Julia Scott in the paper's May 22  magazine in which she said she went 22 days without showering with soap or shampoo.  Something about checking out bacteria in the human skin. She said she also wanted to find out what she smelled like when the test ended.  

What a cue for folks who are trying everything short of sandpaper to clean up the germs.  Here are what some readers told the Times:

Eat a vegan diet to minimize body odor; sit in a Dead Sea salt bath weekly; only rinse in warm water; wash with spring water; use natural salts; use organic soaps ,"like Dr.Bronner's".

One reader commented on the importance of washing hands, noting that "soap saves lives".

Wrote another: "Yes, the hands carry bad germs, but plain old soap and water or  ethyl alcohol take care of that."

Even in his day, King Louis X1V was quite aware of the evils of dirty skin.  He is said to have rubbed spirits and   alcohol on his body.   Of course, body odor was around in epidemic proportion in those days, which drove the upper classes to soak up extraordinary amounts of perfume.

Next, we have been told that billionaire Howard Hughes was so obsessive about germs that he even wore tissue boxes on his feet to ward off the evil germs. A former University of Alabama psychology professor, Raymond D.  Fowler, wrote that Hughes  was  phobic about germs throughout his life.   Fowler said Hughes wrote a staff manual on how to open a can of peaches - including directions for  removing the label, scrubbing the can down until it was bare metal, washing it again and pouring the content without touching the can to the bowl."

Maybe nobody had told Hughes about the miracle of Lysol.

I prefer the Roman remedies to healthier skin.  Their engineers created the remarkable Baths of Caracalla, an enormous five-year project.  It had hot and cold water and attracted 6,000 Romans a day.   Problem solved.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

McCain:it's time for the old soldier to fade away

Television will come of age when it retires John McCain's number.  Oddly, no one has enjoyed more TV attention  than the bitter  finger-pointing Republican senator as he travels the Potomac adrift in a lumbering barge in his pursuit of another go at the Obama Administration.

Of late, it's  the epic of the prisoner exchange for Sgt.Bowe Bergdahl, which is still in the earliest stage of high-level  investigation.  But like so many other Republicans these days, McCain has already decided  that it was a bad deal even though there was a time not that many moons ago that he was calling for  the soldier's return, even if it meant some kind of an exchange.

Seeing  McCain repeatedly standing before a TV camera and complaining about President Obama's weakness you are reminded that as hard-ass guys go,  the Arizona    senator sold out to the right-wing forces in the 2008 presidential campaign by adding Sarah Palin to his bid for the White House.   If you want to talk about scandals of Biblical proportions, you can imagine what a disaster it would have been to have a giddy madwoman dealing with worldly issues.

 (Update on the presidential scale:  Palin has expressed her preference to have Duck Dynasty commander Phil Robertson in the Oval Office.  She said he is a "self-made entrepreneur, educator and church elder.")

Meantime, it doesn't strengthen the narrative of an old war  hero like McCain to be making a bumbling fool of himself in front of a TV camera.  Nor does it say much about the maturity of the TV people to  be hunting him down for one more absurd performance.  Hey,  folks.  He has nothing more to add to the conversation.

FOOTNOTE:  While we're at it, I should mention that Plunderbund has crunched the tweets and discovered that Rep. Jim Renacci has made a strategic retreat by removing one of his own tweets that expressed his joy  that Bergdahl was "coming home safely.  He's a true American hero."  Renacci has scrubbed it and replaced it with a deep-thinking  comment about Obamacare.

Gov. Kasich also removed a tweet that urged us to pray for the soldier's safe return,  mistakenly referring to him as an Ohioan instead of an Idahoan.  But in fairness to the guv, the odds were 50-to-1 against him to get it right.

Friday, June 6, 2014

In election year, Husted returns to false slogans

Re-posted from Plunderbund 

By Grumpy Abe

There is nothing in Secretary of State Jon Husted's clean-cut boyish appearance, demeanor and voice to suggest that he is a threat to  anybody.  Not only is he a Republican  poster politician from southwestern Ohio, he also was a small-college  all-American football player, which is packed with style points.

So when he stands before a microphone to assure everyone that he has made it easier to vote and harder to cheat, you want to give him the good-guy benefit of the doubt.  Even when you know that in neither case is it true..

That was his essential message to an Akron luncheon audience  of about 60, anchored by  a couple of tables bearing dutiful members of the Summit County Republican Party who sat transfixed by his report of good work in behalf  of all Ohioans.  The program was sponsored by the Akron Press Club and Bliss  Institute.

Husted claimed so much progress in fixing and cleaning up and Ohio's irregular voting system that it was easy to wonder whether he had hired an army of Molly Maids to mop up the debris during his watch.  It's an election year and Husted faces a Democratic challenger, State Sen. Nina Turner of Cleveland,  who has been unforgiving in her attacks on his central role in early voting restrictions that have their greatest downside in Democrat-rich  urban areas. So, yes, you can expect him to be quite active in promoting his own morphing of the system.

Easier to vote,  did he say? With fewer opportunities to vote because of restrictions, including the ending of same-day registration and voting, the so-called "Golden Week"?
According to a lawsuit filed by the ACLU, NAACP and League of Women Voters, "more than 157,000 Ohioans voted on days that have now been cut...disproportionately low-income and African Americans."

Harder to cheat, did he say? That was the governing term  during the 2012 presidential election when Republican  do-gooders decided that the very mention or fraud would jolt Ohio voters to a call for action.  But now that study after study has shown that fraud in Ohio was nothing more than a Scrabble word, you don't hear much about it anymore, except in empty slogans.  Even Husted concedes that voter fraud is rare.   So what's the  fuss about?

Oh, he did tell his audience that his election "reforms" were supported by the non-partisan Ohio Association  of Election Officials.  That front office is composed of  three Republicans and two Democrats; hence, non-partisan.  More to the point, all are from rural counties  that are a breed apart  from the voter mass of urban areas,

Husted has been busy  in several  areas as the state's top election official. But on the other hand, he walked away from opposing a legislative plan that would raise barriers to  discourage voting by college students living on campus.  The issue, his office said,  "is  not a priority  for Secretary Husted."

Plunderbund reported in 2012 that Husted hired an out-of-state attorney with a history of  voter suppression work to represent his office against a Federal judge's ruling that would sustain early voting three days before an election.

Husted's talk this week in Akron lasted less than an hour. The paper trail of his office  goes back several years.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

To Matt Drudge: Here's why you are always wearing a hat

In their  furious effort to show that Hillary Clinton isn't much more mentally or physically fit than a turnip, her opponents have found still one more way to serve their flash mob.  Remember that they have already questioned her mental balance (Karl Rove) and age.

Now they have found  "evidence" that she is hobbled and holding on to a walker.
 It appears on the cover of People Magazine, which inspired Matt Drudge to ask whether the metal bar she's gripping is the  handle bar of a walker.

The idea spread so quickly among Bonkers Unlimited that a senior vice president of Time, Inc., which owns People, explained that the suspected handle bar was really a lawn chair in Hillary's back yard.

Sorry, Matt.   Just for that, I will start a rumor that the reason you're never seen without a hat is that you have a gaping hole in the top of your head which causes you to live with delusion.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

In Suarez case, two Ohio GOP politicians are an uneasy crowd

 A funny thing happened to Treasurer Josh Mandel and U.S. Rep.Jim Renacci  on their way to November's elections.  The two Ohio Republicans find themselves mired in a messy case involving  indicted  Canton businessman  Benjamin Suarez,  who will stand trial in U.S. District Court in Cleveland, beginning Monday, on money laundering charges.

The basic scheme, as revealed by Suarez's convicted treasurer Michael Giorgio, who blabbed in a a plea deal,  turned on having a couple of dozen company employees  drop  in $5,000 each to fill the political pot,  with assurances from Suarez that their "gifts" would be reimbursed.  Nothing very imaginative, really.

Although Mandel and Renacci have not been charged and claim they eventually returned the money to the employes, they have been subpoenaed to appear as key figures in the case.  Moreover, it can't help either candidate to have their dealings with Suarez  taking up so much inglorious space in the media.

 Each received $100,000  from Suarez to intervene in a California civil suit against Suarez  Corp. Industries (SCI) that accused the company of violating  consumer protection laws.

Mandel is up against a tough Democratic opponent, state Rep. Connie Pillich.  Among other things, she's a former Air Force captain who served during Desert Storm  which, for this campaign, could put a dent in Mandel's conceits about his own military service that turned up so often  during his loss to Sen. Sherrod Brown, a Democrat, in 2012.

The paper trail in the Suarez case tells us Mandel came on strong for Suarez, threatening to sue the state of Calilfornia and urging Renacci to support new federal law that would soften  damages  awarded in deceptive advertising. (Suarez's company operated on a global scale as a marketer.)

Renacci appeared safe enough in a bizarrely drawn  house district created as his own plantation.  His Democratic opponent  is Pete Crossland, former state lawmaker, county councilman and  political science professor who threw his body into the race when nobody else dared challenge Renacci.

When we saw him  week or so ago,  he was smiling.