Thursday, October 30, 2014

Hey, Guv. Where are Ohio's wackadoodles?

Broken news for Gov. Kasich:  Did you notice that the team from the state that you have scorned as the home of "wackadoodles"  won the World Series for the third time in five years?  Yep, the San Francisco Giants claimed the high honor while you were probably busy trying to convince the voters that you should be re-elected by acclimation.   I'm only sorry that Ohio's wackadoodles  aren't ever able to thrust the Indians into the playoffs.    Wouldn't that be  a more convincing affirmation of your "Ohio Miracle"?

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

update: corrected version Pepper for Turner

Can we talk?
As some of you surely know, much of my professional career plunged me into the printed word - newspapers, magazines, books, some crabby letters to editors and now the digital offspring, blogs.  I say this only because some of you may be wondering why I' ve been picking on newspapers so much during this dreadful election year for which they must accept some of the responsibility for its odor.

I do want to say that the decline of newspapers, which is now  past the point of no return, gives me no joy. Still too much printer's ink in me.    Nor would I deny that newspapers have their rights to  endorsing  whatever candidate they find in their comfort zones.  But this year they seem intent on dwelling in conflicts of interest with themselves, thus costing them more  ounces of credibility. That hurts.

The most blatant recent example derives from a story in the Columbus Dispatch,  in which Republican endorsements  have been grandfathered  since Gutenberg. (Good grief!  Josh Mandel won the paper's approval?  )

Still the Dispatch published a piece reporting that during Atty. Gen. Mike DeWine's four years in office, Ohio has filed 53 amicus curae (friend of the court) briefs, at taxpayers expense,  with the  U.S. Supreme Court on out-of-state  cases.  Unsurprisingly, many of them satisfy his need to demonstrate his support of social conservative issues -  his long-held opposition to same-sex marriage, abortion, gun control, ObamaCare.etc.

You might say, as others have pointed out, that he has converted his office into a chapel.
The defining paragraph in the Dispatch story confirms that.

He was asked about  his defense of Hobby Lobby 's denial to employes of health insurance coverage that  includes  birth control.

Did he base his decision on these matters  simply on his opinion or what's best for the state?

"It's both, really," DeWine replied. "Do my principles, do my beliefs in what is right, impact it?  Well, sure."

OK, he's made it clear on women's issues.  Not only in the Dispatch but whenever he has been asked about the access to hospitals  by abortion clinics.

But about the time that the Dispatch was parsing his positions, the BJ's editorial page, a pro-choice advocate, bore a column  by Michael Douglas, the editorial page editor, pointedly  complaining  about the anti-abortion obstructionists.

Douglas wrote: "Gov. John Kasich  and the Republican legislature have embarked on a mission to all but eliiminate abortion rights in the state" -   without mentioning DeWine as one of the perps.

 He  concludes by disapprovingly asserting:

"The fight over abortion in the courts and elsewhere won't end soon.  Yet, for now, one thing stands:  Abortion is a right, and those exercising that right deserves to be treated accordingly."

But shouldn't the treatment be applied accordingly to DeWine, too?  The paper has maintained a cozy attitude with the AG and even endorsed him despite his closed-fist activism against abortion.  In so doing,  it rejected DeWine's opponent,
David Pepper,  a pro-choice Democrat and aggressive campaigner.

Don't spend too much time trying to follow the bouncing ball, folks.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Plunderbund threatened with suit by Plain Dealer

Plunderbund  reports that the Plain Dealer/Northeast Ohio Media Group has threatened to sue the blog for publishing a short clip of a 40-minute video that the  paper had shown online - and then removed.

The flap involved the PD 's editorial board's  group interview of Gov. Kasich, Democratic candidate Ed FitzGerald  and Green Party candidate Anita Rios.

Plunderbund reported a letter from Chris Quinn, vice president of content of the Northeast Ohio Media Group, demanding the removal of the clip from the blog, accusing it of " illegal use" that "entitles us to statutory damages,  which can be quite steep".  In other words, criminal copyright infringement.

I saw a few stray (?) clips that found their way to  Cleveland TV telling me that Kasich was not taking the interview with aplomb.  With FitzGerald trying to say something, the governor turned his head  away and laughed.

(His dodge-em campaign  mode recalls the TV commercial in which a car makes crazy   turns while a squib warns the viewer that it is  a " professional driver on a closed course. Do not attempt".)

Plunderbund said the governor "slumped in his chair, refused to acknowledge the other candidates and ignored repeated attempts by the PD staff to answer even basic questions about his policies and programs."

That insufferable imperious attitude  convinced me that  he should satisfy his ego  and run for president, as he did once before.  Unshielded by the friendly Ohio media, he would find a much different reaction (and distraction) from a national media that would soon become impatient with his bullying style  and short temper.

So guv, as you have said, this is halftime in the governor's office so go for the big one in
Washington.  That would be painful to watch.  But we're getting used to painful politics in Ohio.

GOP's new class of "i'm-nots..."

Re-posted from Plunderbund

Republican strategists  reportedly are ecstatic over their new fail-safe response to critics of the party's climate-change deniers.  Their candidates have now resorted to "I'm not a scientist" to shrug off  questions about their dismissal of environmental issues.

  We can now look for the same pattern of self-denials on other issues as their gang backs away from such  delicate matters as ebola.  Chris Christie, who is coming to Ohio to campaign for his buddy John Kasich as the comic relief,   is already dodging a flap over quarantining ebola victims.   "I''m not a doctor," he booms.  Atty Gen Mike DeWine  might choose "I'm not a gynecologist" to reject his pro-life defense.

Any day now, we expect Secretary of State Jon Husted to defend his voting restrictions that effectively  reduce  the number of minority voters with  "I'm not a mathematician."
Neither is the governor,  despite his Wall  Street references to "metrics" to define his positions.    But you can bet that he is already counting the days until he can leap into the national presidential wars.

Do you think the  seeds were planted when Richard Nixon faced the TV cameras and pleaded, , "I am not a crook"?

Saturday, October 25, 2014

To the BJ: What's that you say about DeVitis?

When the Beacon Journal endorsed Republican Anthony DeVitis over Paula  Prentice, his Democratic opponent for the 36th Ohio House District, it conceded that it agreed more often with Prentice on policies.  But it turned to DeVitis anyway because it believed he was a moderate who could have an influence on  the conservative (or Hoofbeat Republicans  - my word) in the House.

The paper ignored his loyal support of his side of the aisle on key issues in its erroneous vision of him as a potential game changer.  Folks,  it's only a two-hour trip down I-77 from downtown Akron to the spooky legislative chambers in Columbus, but still long enough for an Akron-area Republican to change political style and tone from a local editorial board interview upon his arrival among his political caretakers.

As a reporter who once  hung out with the pols  before and long after legislative business, I saw it happen more than once.

That brings me to Friday's follow-up editorial from the BJ tower that sounded more like regret from a teachable moment than considered re-approval, of the endorsee. Clearly, the paper's voice rose to a shout in condemning the ugly TV commercials   -  bought and paid for  lies, really - under the headline: DeVitis and pals, again.

A couple of points raised by the editorial: A commercial acidly accuses Prentice, a Summit County councilwoman, of not filing campaign contributions.  But the paper noted:  "Technically she did not fail to report contributions because she didn't receive any - none."

Or how about this whopper from a mailer by the Ohio Republican Party, which the paper said "grossly" inflated DeVitis' "record of pulling Ohio's economy out of a hole, quite a feat for a guy in his first full term".

Oh, did I mention  that the Devitis, temporarily the moderate, says he doesn't condone negative campaigning, but silently accepts the benefits? "Tarnished his image", the BJ concludes.

Not quite a conclusion, I'd say.   When a paper can post a political rap sheet like this one, the next logical  step would be to withdraw its endorsement. Other disillusioned  papers have been known over the years to do so.

Scroll down in the  redemptive teachable moment. You should find it somewhere.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

When these pols prove to be dumb and dumber

The following squawk probably won't go down well with some of my Republican acquaintances but, by golly,  I know my First Amendment rights! So you can quote me as saying that ...

Many Republican politicians are either  intellectually corrupt - or dumb. Or maybe even both.  

Two late entries for your consideration arrive from GOPers with homes on the range.

Of particularly density is Rep. Jason Chaffetz, of Utah.  He  raised hell because President Obama didn't, as he put it, choose the surgeon general to serve as ebola czar instead of Ron Klain, who had gained respect in managing the stimulas.  Pure hackery, Republicans declared.  But David Gergen, a Republican analyst, described him as "strong and very tough".

In his meltdown, Chaffetz overlooked an undeniable fact.  There is no surgeon general.   Republicans have blocked Obama's nominee, Dr. Vivek Murthy, since February because the NRA objected to Murthy's support of  expanding background checks.   Hey, Jason.  Pay attention.

The other late entry is Republican Sen. John Barrasso, of Wyoming, who assailed Obama for discussing  ebola with the World Health Organization and not doing enough on our own  to protect Americans from the virus. Are you aware that Ebola is solely an American calamity that spares the rest of the planet?

Yep.  Intellectually corrupt and ignorant. Or both.

The Hawkeye State alreeady beckoning the wannabes

Rick Santorum has been running for president for at least  50 or 60 years and is back to the lodestone of such candidates:  Iowa.  This time he's out there campaigning arm-in-arm with Rep. Steve King, the sociopathic Hawkeye congressman-of-faith  who will  forever   be remembered for identifying immigrant kids  because their calves bulge like cantaloupes from smuggling drugs across our border. He's assailed  Planned Parenthood for promoting "ghoulish, ghastly and gruesome" practices! His latest: He said that if he gets to Heaven he doesn't expect to meet gays.

Once  again, Santorum isn't reluctant to cast stones against his own perceived villains despite his holiest avowal  to be true to his purified faith by joining guys like Steve King.  It's the divisive religion of whatever works  suits him just fine.

And once again, as Republican politicians, from Gov. Kasich to  the other  anti-unionists  who campaign in work clothes  to prove  their everyman's ties, there's Santorum  bumping around Iowa's 99 counties in his " Chuck Truck" - a Ram 1500 pickup. We must assume that it is the rough-rider's image of choice to secure his role as a circuit rider in a common dirt farmer machine.

Iowa is the Valhalla for a lot of pols who see the 2016 presidential election as occurring tomorrow.  Along with Santorum, Texas Rep.Louie Gohmert, always a challenge to linguists, will be joining the parade before the GOP altar.  Oh, and Donald Trump, too.  And Chris Christie, all of them approving of Steve King as the man who  represents the core values best suited for their party.

Kasich made it to Iowa as a presidential candidate in 2000. And although some media people are trying to hoist him into the 2016 campaign, he left a muddy footprint on a comment to the Youngstown Vindicator  editorial board that would not sit well  in that state.

"Honestly, I just don't see it," he said to the board of any plan to go for it again. "I tried  it once.  You come with me.  You can go with me out to Iowa.  You wouldn't believe it.  You'd never go there again...I don't expect anything.  I don't even think about it."

(As an aside:  Kasich  is so sensitive to events he can't control, he refused the paper's request to vidoetape the interview - which the Vindy said was the first time a candidate had rejected such a request.)  

As for Santorum and King:   I'll just turn them him over to the Roman poet Petrarch, the father of humanism, who wrote for the ages:

"The climax of all evils is when a man rooted in some false opinion, grows fatally persuaded that his cause is right."

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The inexpert ebola experts take over

Were you surprised to learn that  there were so many ebola experts living in our midst?
 Hardly a moment passed that one or more of them weren't hustled to a TV camera to tell us that everybody was badly out of step in responding to the plague; everybody, that is, except the one doing the scolding.   Even George Will, the forever ponderous pundit, scolded the medical professionals who assured us that the virus was not transmitted by air.  With his usual sober profundity of a cleric performing last rites,  Will asserted they were all wrong, that you can indeed breathe ebola killers. So there!

 There were long discussions by the same newly minted experts of whether a travel ban would relieve the perils.  That's how I was again reminded that I'm not an expert - on travel bans, breathing or a lot of other things that go bump morning and night  these days.   But we  live at a time when expertise is cheap,  when TV beams it into your living room because that's what  it does to stay current, amid the heavy traffic of auto commercials.  A  New York Times article described the free-for-all as, "wild misinformation, political opportunism and  garden variety panic".

I would also add that it represented flock strife among the peacocks.  For all of the give- and-take, some of it not amounting to much more than loose talk,  nobody really knew for sure what the hell was going on - and you don't  have to be an expert to suggest that they still don't.


  .   .  

Monday, October 20, 2014

Mandel playing pattycake with Tea Party founder

How do you define political desperation?  .  Well, with Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel, it's warding off evil spirits with a  homophobic Tea Party guy who believes same-sex marriage will produce wedding cakes  adorned with  phallic symbols and genitalia.

From Joseph at Plunderbund comes  notice that Mandel will be joined at rallies across the state with Tea Party Nation Founder Judson Phillips on Thursday. .
It was Phillips, Joseph writes, who warned all of us  that 'small business owners would be  required to create a cake for a homosexual wedding that has a giant phallic symbol on it'  or to 'create pastries for a homosexual wedding in the shape of genitallia [sic].'"

Good grief!  Penis cakes?  Are there no limits  on  how Republican candidates like Mandel are trying to screw the public?

Sunday, October 19, 2014

What's with all of the missing nicknames?

In a fit of nostalgia I googled my childhood hometown weekly, the Mt. Pleasant (Pa.) Journal,  for reassurance that it has survived the world's catastrophic problems, not to mention the Pittsburgh Steelers.  It's now in its 141st year  as the paper of record for the townsfolk who were dutifully reported in its chatty columns to have "traveled over hard-surfaced roads" to visit friends,  or of  families whose kids were off to college.  The paper had a calming spirit about it upon its arrival at our house, reporting all that was not libelous, prurient  or seriously divisive in the town that  bordered the Standard Shaft coal mines within walking distance of our back door.

But the mines are down now and other changes have taken over, including the replacement of the  high school football team's nickname of Bobcats with Vikings.  The team, we learned, must be a powerhouse, having most recently destroyed Charleroi 71-14.  But more interesting to  this visiting reader were the names of some of the players.   Shockingly to me,  their first names were Trevor, Josh,  Brian and Aaron.

A long time ago, those  would have sounded quite bizarre.  The boys were best known, for starters,   as Peck,  Cheesie, Bib, Hicker, Toomek, Kushbug,  Fuszju, Scroogie,  Peeny, Scratchy, Isher,  Ziggy and, brutally, Shakey.  Some of my contemporaries mockingly  referred to me as Boozite in homage to a  disheveled geeezer  who sat on his stoop and glared at us  as we passed his way edto school.

That said, I've always wondered why none of the girls had nicknames. They remained Mary, and Evelyn, and Peggy and Thelma from sunup to bedtime.  A couple of the girls who were kicked out of summer camp for misbehaving after hours  soon earned names that you couldn't repeat in front of your mother.

As for Boozite, I never complained.  Most of the other kids were bigger than I, and the nickname was sort of a rite of safe passage to their club.


Friday, October 17, 2014

From Kasich's Wackadoodles to National League pennant

We're confident that you've  heard by now that the San Francisco Giants  won the National League pennant with one of those walkoff things -  a 9th inning  home run on Friday after a walkoff error a game before.

If you don't understand the joys and heartbreaks of walkoffs, it's not the purpose of this blog to explain them.  Rather, I'm also confident that many of you learned in grade school that San Francisco  is in California.  That's the West Coast state that our Gov. Kasich, in one of his trademark moments of hubris, knocked  as the  "wackadoodle Californians".

If so, shouldn't the Cleveland Indians spend more time wackadoodling instead of hopelessly trying to upgrade their  players into better fielders, Guv?

Thursday, October 16, 2014

The PD's home run for Nina Turner over Husted

Re-Posted from Plunderbund

Even in these shrinking days before the November election there are still a few surprises left in the media world.  I refer to the Plain Dealer's full-page endorsement of
Democrat Nina Turner over her Republican opponent, Secretary of
State Jon Husted.   The paper's statement was more than an act of altruism for a hometown candidate, although her residency in Cuyahoga County couldn't hurt.

No, Turner is an aggressive, extremely savvy  state senator - the kind of spirited person you would  want to have on your side in any confrontation with the enemy.  In a state buttoned down by a Republican dynasty, she represents a healthy start toward the political equilibrium that the state so desperately needs.

The issue that the PD recognized but eludes the Beacon Journal's editorial page  is what I've called the Husted Hustle for his tactics of talking one game plan while executing another.   For too long he's been a leader in stirring the GOP witch's brew with a Boy Scout's honor to make voting easier and eliminate (non-existent) cheating.  Amazing how many of Husted's media cheerleaders have bought into that notion at the expense of their own credibility.

But the PD knows something about the demographics of  Cuyahoga County, whose population is nearly one-third African American. It is obviously aware that Husted's mythical protection of every voter's rights  is at the expense of the minorities. Two federal courts have ruled his scheme unconstitutional despite the Ivory Towers who were inexplicably offended by their decisions.

As the PD asserted:

"Husted, 47, strongly defends his decision on early, in-person voting as stemming from a 'bipartisan' consensus  of the state's election professionals.  But the state's chief election officer must protect all Ohioans'  voting rights and not narrow those rights unequally.  Under Husted, those rights have frayed,   including through his directives to restrict hours and days for early in-person voting an to deny local boards the right to set their own hours."

By now Cleveland has had plenty  of experience with the wreckage of past elections, from the purchase by elections officials of voting machines that didn't work, to tabulating  errors to the general torture  of citizens trying to vote.   This time it wants  to begin  with a clean slate in Columbus and not an illusionist.  Hometowner Turner's spirited attention to the system's inglorious flaws as proposed by Husted was convincing.

Come to think of it, maybe the PD's choice  wasn't surprising after all.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Must read: Dyer's sizzling series on Angley

Shall we all raise a glass to Beacon Journal reporter Bob Dyer for his  sizzling X-rated series exposing Ernest Angley, the cultist tactile preacher with a fascination for hands-on   (HEAL! for God's sake)  salvation, leeches and the size

Angley,  slicked coal-black wig  and all,  has been  the mega-star attraction for 20 years at Grace Cathedral, the huge saucer shaped man-made  hillock  in Cuyahoga Falls with an unfinished  tower that was to serve as the modern version of Jacob's ladder topped with a restaurant.

What is it  about televangelists who claim to render unto God what is God's and to  themselves what is royally theirs?  Several teleministries, as enriched as they were, have seen their leaders dismissed in sex-related scandals.  Jimmy Swaggert comes to mind.  And there was Jim Bakker, whose significant other ended up in full unclothed view of Playboy scanners.  There have been others of more recent vintage.

Bakker is a narrative worthy of a how-to manual.    He recently returned to public scrutiny for his venture in "End of the World Biscuits" - and please don't think I'm kidding.   He is asking TV viewers to prepare  themselves for  the Apocalypse  by laying in survival kits that include  heavy clothing for sunless days.

Maybe he and Angley  can crack a deal that would sell the critical end-of-days foodstuffs at the top of that tower. With this preacher, as Bob Dyer has forcefully reminded us,   anything is possible.


Monday, October 13, 2014

Ohio newspapers launch their creative endorsements

re-posted from Plunderbund

It's been a dreary election season, folks.  No  debates that invited the public to see the contestants going at it eye-to-eye. No gubernatorial contest.   Gov. Kasich shoveling soil in his confident high definition mode as though he were needlessly digging up more campaign cash.   The  media  in Cleveland, Akron and Columbus tacking, as always,  to Republican candidates.  Inventive endorsements that  pardon their choices for glaring flaws.  Not a good election season all around.

A prime exhibit  was the odd word salad in which  the Beacon Journal endorsed  Republican Ohio House member Anthony DeVitis over his Democratic opponent, Paula Prentice, a  veteran Summit County Council member.

The paper opined that although the "editorial page agrees more often on policy matters"  with Prentice,  it  believed that DeVitis was a moderate (which he isn't) who might be able to influence the nutty Republican hoof-beaters in the legislature on key issues.  Fat chance.  The R's are mired so deeply under water that one could not reach them in a bathysphere. You'd think that people who write editorials would know that by now.

Then there is the bewitching  stuff  that both the Beacon Journal and Plain Dealer conjured up to make nice for Atty. Gen. Mike DeWine, a deeply entrenched social conservative on all counts.  Not that they agree with him on such matters as  women's issues, same-sex marriage, abortion, charter schools and such.  Nor spending taxpayer money charging off to other states to join those who share his gospel.

I've written several times that when you think of Mike DeWine, you think of his version of warm and fuzzy goodness. But it does work in editorial offices and on the stump even when he's scandalizing the idea of the Affordable Care Act with promises to get rid of it.

The disconnect between the attorney general's active policies and the papers' own year-round gospel  does make the friendly editorialists  uncomfortable and forces them to concede that Mike is a million-dollar pay-to-play artist.  A recent example is the word that he replaced a veteran debt collection agency with one that literally  walked into his office with the seal of approval of Summit County GOP boss Alex Arshinkoff, a former DeWine payroller,  and walked out with a lucrative contract.

And what did the  BJ say  about Mike's widely reported cookie jar  schemes?

 "No question, DeWine has stumbled at times," the editorial noted.  "He talked about a system for bringing transparency and accountability to awarding contracts, only to find himself struggling to explain a local episode that carried the odor of pay to  play."

Odor?  That alone would have qualified DeWine's Democratic   opponent, David Pepper,whom the paper credited with running a "pointed, vigorous and worthy [!]  campaign.

 The PD pattered over the same problem

These papers have a lot of transparency after  they sit down to make endorsements.   You have to have  quite a problem  as a Republican to lose their support.  Sadly, creative writing is one of their few remaining claims to relevance.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

With Kasich, tax cuts, real or imagined, never end

Re-posted from Plunderbund

When somebody mentions that John Kasich wants to cut the income tax rate, let's try to remember  that a more forthright governor, Democrat Jack Gilligan, daringly laid a new income tax at the wallet of every  Ohio voter.

"If you don't want an income tax," Gilligan warned during his  1970 campaign, "vote for the other guy."  He won anyway, defeating Roger Cloud,  and forcefully promoted the 1971 measure that earned him the title of "Father of the Ohio Income Tax".  The voters upheld the tax in a 1972 referendum, proving there are things that concern them  more than Republican guff about the evil of taxes. (Even when Republicans  get their way, it has been repeatedly shown that the benefits of such cuts generously trickle up and not down  to the so-called "hard-working" breadwinners.

Gilligan was a man of cool college-classroom-honed intelligence, refreshing honesty, Irish wit  and commitment to civilized governance for the people and probably overqualified to be the head of state.

Indeed his  disregard for political caution led to his defeat by No-Tax Jim Rhodes by 11,000 votes in 1974 while some of his advisors were busily  trying to offer him for a Democratic presidential nomination in 1976! (A few days before his loss in Ohio, his chief of staff sat in a hotel booth in Cleveland and showed me a carefully guarded roadmap to storm the 1974 Democratic mini-convention.)

It became an oft-repeated gag among statehouse reporters that although Rhodes had exploited his anti-tax scheme, he went to bed each night thanking Gilligan for the revenue and did nothing as governor to eliminate the tax.   No dummy,  Rhodes knew well enough that he needed the revenue to run his own shop.

For Kasich, his anti-tax charms, carefully framed for the election season, will be a subject of news stories and speculation on whether an income tax cut would be just what the doctor ordered as Ohio limps  its way behind many other  states from the dreadful GOP recession years.

It's the usual GOP fantasy that will pass after election day when lame-duck Kasich's thoughts will turn to a spot on the national ticket as a spectacular fund-raiser that his wealthy friends have anted up to $15 million.

On that score, I can only wonder - but not for long - how that much money arrived in his pot for a campaign that has seen his opponent declassified.   What could they possibly want in return from Kasich that cost them so much?

The Shadow knows.  And so does everyone else paying the slightest attention.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Anything for a laugh? Kasich loves labor unions

Need a laugh?  Try this gag from the governor:

  • When John Kasich accepted the endorsement of a Cleveland operating Engineers Local amid heavy construction equipment,  he wanted everybody to know that he was quite appreciative of its support.  Meeting  with the union leaders , the Blue Collar Kid from Western Pennsylvania  sustained that image with casual open collar and both hands in pockets as he humbly said that labor unions are deeply implanted in his DNA. Since his childhood, he said.  Coming from a guy who supported the failed union restrictive  Senate Bill 5, his memory is growing shorter each day.   He said he wasn't surprised by the endorsement because results are more important than labels. Are you laughing yet?  

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Re DeWine: Shall we not pass the collection plate?

Re-posted from Plunderbund

When I am trying to absorb a monotonal speech by Ohio Atty. Gen.  Mike DeWine why do I feel I should  be sitting in a pew?  As I've noted in the past, DeWine comes across as bottled goodness. He's the people's lawyer, the righteous guy to defend the law, the go-to family man to protect all that is wholesome in American life.  Still,  Biblical scholars will tell you that there is nothing specific in the Book about modern pay-to-play.

There is nothing in his words to lead you to believe that this 67-year-old  social conservative is  the same wheeler-dealer who handed out a lucrative contract for debt collection to a close friend and contributor of   the Summit County Republican Party chairman who once worked for him. The contrast in his public profile is stunning.

So there he was at  the podium as a Akron Press Club/Bliss speaker explaining why he is sworn to uphold the sanctity of traditional marriage, his refusal to debate his opponent,  Democrat David Pepper,  and his objection to Federal court rulings that declared Ohio's newly minted voter restrictions  unconstitutional.

About the debt collection contract:  He's asking prospective clients to sign a written form. Problem solved.

About the voting system  placed in abeyance by the U.S. Supreme Court:  He doesn't think the law is unconstitutional.  Problem solved.

About same-sex marriage: Ohio law bans it, regardless of the court decisions, and he dutifuilly must support it.  That says nothng about the taxpayers' money his office has spent skipping around the country filing amicus  briefs to uphold of such bans in their states.  Look, his opposition to gay marriage is in his genes, not the law.

About his refusal to debate:  "My  opponent is not qualified to be attorney general."  The cheapest of shots.    Pepper is a Yale law school graduate with a string of student honors - Phi Beta Kappa, Summa Cum Laude, managing editor of Yale Daily News, etc. etc. etc. (Should I also mention that when DeWine was in the Senate he could not practice law for 10 year because his license was inactive?)

More on the non-debates:  DeWine argued that he's already crossed paths in an unofficial "debate" with Pepper in a room interacting with Gannett Ohio editors.  In contrast, Sen. Sherrod Brown, then a congressman, debated then Sen.DeWine four times and creamed him by winning a 56 pct. majority vote as a liberal Democrat.

As a personal note, if I may:  I once interviewed DeWine for a half-hour TV program.    It was painful.  People who watched it said he froze on me.   And I didn't even  try to debate him!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Look closely, all of you individual freedom lovers

This photo from the Idaho Statesman should be posted  on the door of every office housing a politician actively opposed to same sex marriage (Gov. Kasich, Atty. Gen.  DeWine, for starters.) This gay woman  has been devastated by an irrational  rejection of the request  for a marriage license, the victim of one group's religion over another - or none - in the land of the free.  Not a poster for the freedoms that social conservatives say they want to preserve.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

The blame bag: is it shrinking for the GOP?

With only two years remaining for the Obama presidency,  I wonder whether there's some truth to the rumors that  the Republicans now fear they will soon run out of things to blame him for.

True,  they have yet to play their California drought card or assail him for the disappearance of passenger pigeons.

Even the report that the economy is improving drew anti-Obama scowls from GOP National Committee chairman Reince Priebus and House Speaker John Boehner.  Insisting the Republicans "can do better,"  Priebus asserted that "we can't lose sight of the fact that we should have been at this point years ago."  Like 2008, at the height of the Bush recession?

Meantime, scowler-in-chief Boehner accused Obama and his fellow Democrats of presiding "over a new  normal of  flat wages, higher prices, and too many part-time jobs."  (The speaker obviously is influenced by his nightly dinners at McDonald's!)

Speaking of scowlers:  Might as well add Sens. John McCain and his alter ego,   Lindsey Graham,  to the list, although  the latter is more of a whiner than a scowler, don't you think? On foreign policy, McCain hissed  words like "feckless" and "intellectually dishonest"- but it's possible that he could
 have been absently  describing Bush and Iraq.

In fairness, McCain has yet to shake off his nightmare of having lost to Obama.  Nor can I shake off the nightmare of his choice of Sarah Palin as a heartbeat from the presidency.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Have I missed anything, Josh?

Re-posted from Plunderbund;

 When the Beacon Journal endorsed Democrat Connie Pillich for Ohio treasurer over incumbent Republican Josh Mandel on Sunday , it told us  that even a centrist newspaper might only accept so much mischief from Josh.  Referring to Pillich, the BJ said "she has proved an effective legislator, engaged, knowledgable  and capable of reaching across the aisle".

As for Josh, his exposed back-channel fund-filled moments comporting with Canton businessman Ben Suarez and other big donors were simply too much to earn him a reprieve  from the paper.

After  Mandel burst onto the state political scene he created his own parallel universe of Mitty-like references to himself as super patriot, soldier, family man (with online emails of new-born and TV ads with pregnant wife) and,  above all,  lord protector of the American dream.   And therein lay the curdling problem.  Small wonder that ever  since, he has been the victim of self-inflicted thorns in his side.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Ohio media's split decision on Supremes' early voting ruling

The October full-court press is steaming into endorsements for the November election,  but last week's output was particularly interesting for the fractured response to the Republican-dominated U.S.Supreme Court's ruling to delay the new early-voting plan in Ohio.

Of four urban dailies, the Plain Dealer and Toledo Blade  both disputed the Supremes' action; the Beacon Journal, a reverential supporter of Secretary of State Jon Husted, joined the right-wing Columbus Dispatch in praising  the ruling.  Brief  excerpts:

Toledo Blade:   "The 11th-hour Supreme Court ruling has created  confusion and hardship among some Ohio voters.  The fact that the order was the initial decision of the   high court's new term offers little reason for optimism about what will follow."

Beacon Journal: (Praising the Supremes)   "It has been dismaying to watch federal  judge Peter Economus, who was upheld  by a panel of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals take a misguided path in his insistence on no cutbacks to early voting."

Plain Dealer:  "Highly disappointing, even grotesque...The  high court has done both the law and the voters of Ohio a grave disservice with its stay."

Columbus Dispatch: "Monday's decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to allow Ohio to follow its own election laws in the Nov. 4 election is a victory for common sense in a legal battle that has seen lower federal courts turn common sense inside out."

Grumpy Abe:  Can't resist casting my lot with the Plain Dealer and Blade to tip the  balance of this group in favor of the lower courts.  Question: After dispelling the original claims that a new system would protect us from voter fraud which doesn't exist, why did the Husted Hustle continue to boast of increasing voter ease as Republicans took up their cause during the Obama era.   Must we remind ourselves that published reports from some Republican officials conceded that they  had wanted to help Mitt Romney win?

Saturday, October 4, 2014

To McConnell, the Woeful Walrus Award

To memorialize   the  35,000 walrus who moved to the Alaskan shore for safe ground from their melting off-shore ice base, we are urging friends of these forlorn creatures to join us in awarding Senate minority  leader and climate change denier Mitch McConnell the first Grumpy Abe WOEFUL WALRUS award.

McConnell conceded that "I'm not a scientist", which is the preamble to many deniers' responses to questions about global warming before they damn the idea altogether. The senator needs an asterisk in history, and this would be a good start.  As Lewis Carroll once quoted the Walrus:

"The time has come to talk of many things: Of shoes -  and ships - and sealing-wax - of cabbages and kings - and why the sea is boiling hot - And whether pigs have wings."

Nonsensical, of course.  But a perfect fit for Mitch, (although the sea is not yet boiling hot) who says a lot of nonsensical things.   Bottom photo is the one with the senator.     

Friday, October 3, 2014

35,000 walrus need no 'proven proof'

It may offer small consolation but  I did want this entry to let you know that  humans are not the only stressed-out creatures on the planet today. Thanks to this remarkable AP photo that arrived via ThinkProgress, we learned that some 35,000  walrus sought solid ground  on a beach in northwest Alaska, driven landward as rising temperatures melted their ice base offshore. (Note the inland bulge from the sea)

Probably won't convince Alaska's Sarah Palin, the state's leading climate change denier that worrisome things are happening that are easily viewed from her front porch. After all, as she has reminded us, it snowed in Alaska last year, so where's the proof of global warming?

There was some of that gibberish in a debate involving the Republican Senate candidate in Iowa, Joni Ernst.  She did fuzz up her thoughts by saying she believed climate was changing but added that she was at a  loss to know what caused it, or whether human beings had anything to do with it.

As she noted earlier,  "I have not seen proven proof".

Good grief.  What is "proven  proof"?  Is it the same as "true facts"?  

As I have written before, when this generation of pols passes on, it  will leave no intellectual history behind for all of those who come later.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Debates: Mike DeWine,the people's lawyer who isn't there

Re-posted from Plunderbund 

Ever since Atty. Gen. Mike DeWine put on his reelection campaign game face, he's been drifting across the masses like a UFO with the best wishes of a forgiving  press  and a looming Republican year at  the polls.

Now you see him, now you don't.  He prefers to cast his attention to his other interests that gives him a Deep South spiritual coating as a social conservative - nay, as a blessed Medievalist opposed to abortion, same-sex marriage, raising the minimum wage, defending  Hobby Lobby, opposing gun control  and above all, the Affordable Care Act.  On that point, he has long made his rounds outside the state to wherever he could pitch in to help defeat ObamaCare.

Of late, he has taken up the cause of restricting Ohio's new voter system, the one that a right-wing Supreme Court just delayed after two lower federal courts had ruled it unconstitutional. The Supremes would have overruled tfhe lower courts 5-4 anyway  if DeWine had gone fishing.  Or spent a little more time facing his opponent, David Pepper, a Cincinnati Democrat, in at least a debate or two.

Pepper put the debate issue in the right context when he spoke  at the Akron Press Club this week.    As a lawyer himself, Pepper gamely questioned DeWine's  rejection of any debate, including the invitation  from the Cleveland City Club. Some newspapers gently  questioned the UFO's decision, too, but for too many voters,  debates are best left to molecular physicists.

Pepper,  however,  squarely defined DeWine's posture as unbecoming of a guy who must serve  as the people's lawyer and be  never fearful of airing differences with opponents in courts or anywhere else.      "If you're afraid to debate as the attorney general,"  Pepper declared, "something must be  wrong."

Indeed,  it is.  And that should include the many reports of how DeWine has converted his office into a pay-to-play cash cow, hauling in campaign cash from those who stand to sweeten their own pots in return.   In one recent exposed case, DeWine replaced a company that had ably served several  different governors in debt collections, giving the lucrative contract to a pal of Summit County Republican Chairman Alex Arshinkoff, despite the recipient's admission that he had little experience in that line of work. (Over the years, Alex has smelled money like a shark  attracted to blood. He was once on DeWine's payroll as the AG's liaison in northern Ohio. )

Still there is strong feeling that Mike DeWine towers so high in ballot strength that he is unbeatable.  That hasn't always been true.  Sen. Sherrod Brown, a liberal Democrat,  no less,  thumped DeWine out of the. U.S. Senate in 2006 with room to spare. (56 pct. landslide.)   On that occasion DeWine had no more than an approval rating in the 30s, putting him just above Rick Santorum as the most unpopular  senator on Capitol Hill.

But DeWine has the ability to hover in politics.  In 2012 he was a Santorum supporter in the presidential.  He then startled the experts with a  mid-campaign switch to Mitt Romney when  it became increasingly clear that Ol' Rick wouldn't win the Ohio Republican  primary. Call his retreat from Santorum as a "course correction".

Four more years for this mercurial UFO?    You decide.

P.S. Pepper did speak to the Cleveland City Club luncheon this week, sans DeWine.