Sunday, November 30, 2014

The rightwing era of the NoBamans

Reposted from Plnderbund

As we're sure you're  aware of by now,   the White House is in the merciless throes of  the NoBama plague that has had everyone on edge.  For six years, the president has faced assaults from the NoBama GOP that will feverishly  grow  for another couple of years.  Even the party's newly minted African-American Democrat-turned-Republican , Ben Carson, a doctor from South Carolina of all places, has added to his  conservative star power  by accusing Obama of presiding over worsening race relations,which takes a lot of white guys off the hook, right?

Keep an eye on him.  He's an author, essayist and opponent of Obamacare who figures to get royal treatment  by his party.  There's already a "Run, Ben, Run" national presidential  draft movement under way .

But if you've been too busy to notice the rise of the NoBama phenomenon,  the right-wing pundits will hammer it into your consciousness.  Up in Cleveland, for example, a VIP Plain Dealer  editor/columnist showers NoBama thunderbolts from his aerie high atop the Ivory Tower.

Oddly enough, NoBama Kevin O'Brien's  column this week  led the reader over a path of direct orders to the NoBamans in Congress to stonewall the president's proposed appointments unless he cancels  his immigration plans (as if this crowd hasn't thought of it already!).  He wanted to punish Obama for "posterity".  I'm sure he knows his own choir well.

But wait, he is only warming up, and what comes next is an astonishing leap of  logic from a guy who is  offended by a president trying to execute  immigration reforms that have long been stalled in the Republican  Tea Party House.  For this disconnect, he singles out Congresswoman Marcia  Fudge, Democrat    from  Northeastern Ohio, archly accusing her of being "irresponsible"   for saying that Ferguson was a "miscarriage of justice".

From his perch, he didn't know how Fudge could possibly reach that conclusion from  her district 500 miles from Ferguson.

But since we're only talking about distance here and not of the right or wrong of the grand jury decision, I suspect your draconian dictates to Congress, Kevin,  have little force inasmuch as you live 363 driving miles from Washington.  So I am a tad impressed by such Palin-like  powers that enable you to see Capitol Hill from your front porch.

'Tis the season to be hustled

If you happen to be reading this, it means you have survived Black Friday in precious time for Cyber Monday.  That means some lucky retailers can celebrate Phenomenal Tuesday,   and all that follows. Humongous  Wednesday? Happy-Go-Lucky Thursday? Friggin' Friday?

'Tis that time of the year, so we ought not to crab  about the annual madness to inspire folks to line up in frigid pre-dawn queues to achieve the Golden Bargain.  At least, that's what I've been told.

Personally, I  have never outgrown  my small-town's  modest seasonal awakening when the handful of shop owners  on Main Street strung tinsel and lights on their windows and  then laid out their goods as if it were still July.

But then, we didn't have Santa showing up in TV commercials to sell cars in November  nor shopping malls piping the air with  Rudolph and his  red nose.  I'm jolly well ready to scream.

Life in a Retail/Master Card Society has been in overdrive this year.  Some stores eagerly opened Thanksgiving  night, a thankless task  for the workers that I once suffered with a morning newspaper.

Meantime the media reported such frenetic  hustling as...jingle cash,  BOGO, sale of a lifetime, doorbusters, sale to end all sales, bonus savings, three-days-only offers, special financing, instant savings, and the inducement  that required pocket calculators: 30 pct.  off  50 pct. off original ticket,  and second purchase half-off. Most of these were stressed with exclamation points! )  You tell me.

Naively, I only wanted an Italian ice cream cone with no down payment and 30 years to pay.  Come to think of it, I loved by hometown.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

GOP congressmen to respond to Obama with room and... board

Reposted from Plunderbund

My unimpeachable Republican underground source at the next table at  Wendy's discreetly told me of a new GOP scheme to shatter  President Obama's "royalty" before   millions of American TV viewers.   "They're calling it the gold standard of character  destruction," he said as he washed  down a cheekful of cheeseburger as well as every other syllable.

It would happen at Obama's State of the Union Address in January.  Here is the  plan:

Seated behind him with tall pointed hats, Mitch McConnell and John Boehner, both stone faced,  will link their cones  with a wire that suspends the U.S. Constitution.

All of the other Republicans in the magisterial chamber will arrive  student-style in fixed  pace to  Pomp and Circumstance,  each crowned with a mortarboard clearly  inscribed with  words trashing  the president.  Some random examples my friend mentioned to me follow:

Sen. Lindsey Graham's will be "Garbage" which is how he described the Republican House Committee report that cleared the Obama Administration of wrongdoing in the Benghazi attack.

Rep. Louie Gohmert, often blankly nodding to the gallery,  settled on  "Impriesh"  (He didn't know how to spell impeach.)

On Rep. Mo Brooks'  board:  "FELON"  to support his call for Obama to be jailed for five years.

You'll identify Sen. Ted Cruz  easily with his satanic smile and "Varmint" on his board.

Rep Steve King will feature a cantaloupe with the words  "Illegal alien."

Taking a cue from Gov. Kasich's quaint reference to Obamacare,  Rep. Jim Renacci will show "Hillarycare" upside down on his board.

Scattered among the proud innovators  in the chamber will be boards that read "Kenya," "socialist',  "traitor",   "monarch." "dog-eared," "Watermelon,"  and "Uppity" with a rapt gallery and TV audience looking on.

Oh, not to be disrespectful to the King of Ohio (after LeBron),  the GOP caucus will tap     Kasich, a self-described evangelical Christian, as chaplain pro tem  to give the invocation as well as the benediction.

After some agitated discussion,  a congressman from Mississippi will  be denied  a place in the somber procession after showing up with his board containing  the N-word.)

So mark your calendar:  These marvels want you to have a cameo classroom view of the White House occupant, complete with  the words that point to all of the country's ills In an hour or so.   Better than a month  at Harvard, you might agree!

Almost forgot to mention:  The R's will be pretending to twitter and remain silent when Obama arrives.   It will be a further contribution to their inglorious history.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Let me have a word with you, Mr. Speaker


Dear John:

Permit me to interrupt your howling at President Obama for his action on immigration reform. Your darkest views on releasing millions  of illegal immigrants from the bondage of practiced anonymity have reached into my own ancestry.  And as the President reminded us, they didn't all cross borders but came by planes and ships, too.

Mine came on ships from the Mediterranean (that's the enormous freshwater sea, John, that provided some of the routes for the tidal waves of  immigrants seeking a better life on our shores - although many were deceived by the cynical transporters and debarked instead in the West Indies and South America!).

My parents were born in a relatively short span  after their parents arrived from a small town near Beirut.  To be perfectly up front about it, I was too young to learn whether they ever became American citizens, nor did I care much about it  as I grew older  and they had passed on.   In fact, I only got to know my by dear siti, my father's mother.  My paternal grandfather, Abe - surprised that he and my father had the name that Dad passed on to me? - was a burly bald man who  died when I was quite young.   He opened a small fruit market in the tiny coal-mining town of Mt. Pleasant, Pa.

Dad said he didn't know why they chose to finally settle there, and it really didn't seem important enough to the family to find out.  On my mother's side, her parents took root in Conemaugh, a gritty attachment to Johnstown (where I was born).  They died before I met them.

So that left siti, a gracious woman who never learned to read nor write English, but managed to speak enough  to get by while she read her Arabic newspapers and burned tiny pyramids of incense.  We lived a block away and on Saturday nights  I would escort   her to a nearby restaurant  for her favorite treats: a hotdog and a Coke for a quarter. She would smile with each bite and say, "Good".

I also shopped for her groceries, careful that the canned goods had pictures of peas or beans on the wrappers so she would know what the can contained.

So here's the best part of the story, John.  She  had five sons and a daughter. Dad and his brother George  opened a small garage where they sold a few cars each month but spent most of their time as grease monkeys .  Together  they built our  house 25 feet from the garage, separated only by a small side yard and a slick path where they dumped drained crankcase oil. (An outhouse across the street from our house absorbed the awful smell of the oil.)

As life  and wallets improved, the brothers became pool sharks and opened a dingy smoky pool room in a dungeon-like setting under a food market  and took on all drifters bearing  cuesticks. It was not the type of ordered existence that would impress most  of your donors, John. But it did work out  reasonably well for Dad and Uncle George.

Two other sons, one with  assistance from  Uncle Sam, went on to become quite successful surgeons. Aunt Della and Uncle Dan each ran small restaurants and did quite well. Aunt Della's husband George (there were at least six Georges in the family)  began in Altoona with a hotdog grille facing his sidewalk window where passersby  couldn't  resist stopping in for a 10-minute  lunch and maybe an hour's worth of fussing.

That was a long, long time ago, John,  and what I've told you is as best as I can remember it. Attention to the details of family history was not something any member  of this tribe cared about.

But these folks were all success stories, Mr. Speaker.  And I unapologetically remind you again that whether the grandparents became citizens, which I doubt, they produced the American dream without being familiar with that overused term.

Successful in America, John!  Wouldn't it have been a bloody injustice  if my grandparents had been deported?   So I ask:  How cold-blooded can you be in the interest of your own political schemes?

Abe Zaidan, grandson

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Benghazi: Bipartisan House committee said what?

Not a good day  for all of those  conservative Facebookers who stuck "Benghazi" on their names to scandalize the Obama Administration, particularly Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, on the hollow charges that she was at fault (cover-up conspiracy!)  in the bloody 2012 attack on the U. S. diplomatic mission.   Republicans had already filled several silos with fodder to diminish Hilary on the trail to 2016.

But I see in the Plain Dealer  (Benghazi theories debunked) an  Associated Press report  that, well, here is the opening paragraph to tell you where this is going:

A two-year investigation to the Republican controlled House Intelligence Committee has found that the CIA and the military acted properly{in its response} and asserted no wrongdoing by Obama administration appointees.

Game, set, match?  Not quite.  Superhawk Sen. Lindsey Graham  still has doubts and is pushing the idea that the Senate ought to investigate, too.  And Fox News  suggests it isn't satisfied that all of the facts were turned up in the long bi-partisan House study.

For these fringies, they will have to delay  their  schemes to blame Obama for  the six-foot snowfall in Buffalo.

P.S. Why wasn't the  Benghazi story in the BJ, too,  for the benefit of those folks who read nothing else?   Hurrrummmppph!

Friday, November 21, 2014

Roll in the U-Haul for these GOP crocks

You needed a U-Haul to deliver all of the crocks that  Republicans have exported to the public to slander President Obama for one reason or another, especially after his immigration rollout.  Both Lords of the Fleas - McConnell and Boehner - were at the top of the batting order in swinging wildly at Obama's decision to rescue millions of illegal  immigrants from non-personhood.   As if they hadn't already  done enough to cripple the government that pays their salaries anyway.

The anti-Obama Republicans in Congress have already filed costly suits savaging Obamacare.  Rep. Steve King of Iowa wants to impeach Obama. Rep. Mo Brooks of Alabama proposes to jail the president for five years, vaguely referring to authority in a federal statute that he can't cite.  Joe Arpaio , the nototorius Arizona sheriff , sued the president before Friday sunrise.

Etc.etc.  Folks, these guys are so much smaller than their shadows. It's awful  to realize that the dumbed-down version of the Laurel and Hardy hijinks, McConnell and Boehner, will plague us for two more years.
Although I seldom find much reason to agree with John McCain, I do think of his snarky assessment of Republicans that was reported in Game Change, the virtual diary of the 2006 presidential  campaign by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin.

In one of his darker moments on the trail, McCain blurted:

"Why would I want to be the leader of a party of such assholes?"

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Fussy McCain trusts next congress to do something

 John MCain, the dyspeptic senator from Arizona, had another bad day on Wednesday in his response to President Obama's immigration plan.  Why, he fussed , couldn't Obama have waited until the new session of congress next year to see what it planned to do?


What Congress would do?  History tells us that group would have as much positive force as simulated sex.

McCain has  never gotten over the fact that he was vanquished by Obama in 2008.  And I have never gotten over the fact that he placed this country at awful risk when he chose  Sarah Palin, a woman he hardly knew,  as his running mate.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Kasich may be heading for his own megachurch

The frequent photos of Gov. Kasich with outstretched arms suggest that he might consider one of those megachurch arenas for his base before he wanders into the wilderness of a presidential campaign.  Voters would be expected to respond not only to the  preachy profile but also to  his recurring references to how he and the Lord  get along so well.  As he told us on election night, God had put his hand on him. 

In the old days, ii was called mysticism, a one-on-one conversation with God.    Today it woudn't be a stretrch to say that more politicians than ever are finding it quite convenient to bring their God into the reverential sphere with voters.

Several presidential candidates  in the last election tried to convince us that they were running with the best wishes of the Lord as well as the Tea Party.  Texas Gov. Rick Perry of Texas even went so far as to claim that God told him to run.  So did Michelle Bachman, Rick Santorum and Herman Cain. Earlier,  George W. Bush was certain that God had wanted him to be the commander-in-chief.

And so there he was, of all things,  on the aircraft carrier decked out as a military pilot, declaring MISSION ACCOMPLISHED.

Today's practitioners of the religious art are so much less imaginative than the days of dog rentals as props for the candidates.  Edwin O'Connor  gave us a lively account in The Last Hurrah of the role of a rented Irish setter as a homey prop by Kevin McCluskey against Mayor Frank Skeffington to complement the billboard and   painting  of the Pope for the eyes of the Catholic electorate.

There.  Religious outreach as well as that big irish setter. Oh, and the infancy of TV ads that captured the warm relationship between the candidate and the hired  Irish setter.   He won!

Have yet to see Kasich with a rented dog.  But it's early.

(Re-posted from Plunderbund )

Monday, November 17, 2014

Ohio's two Republican apostates on same-sex marriage

If you've heard of situation ethics, allow me to add a slight twist:  Situation morality.  That occurs when a member of one's family is the decisive element in shaping the moral code of, say, a prominent politician against the restrictive social universe of conservatism. As in same-sex marriage.

Ohio Supreme Court Justice Paul Pfeifer, for example, a Republican, has nothing good to say about the state's ban on same-sex nuptials. Oh?  Well, he has a lesbian daughter   who, with her partner,  have two children.  In an interview with the Associated Press, Pfeifer clearly explained the dilemma imposed on his daughter and all others by his party, asserting:

"Gay and lesbian couples who sit down,  plan to take on the awesome responsibility of having or adopting children,  go see a lawyer and draft up all of the documents you can think of,  they still don't  establish parenthood and they can't because of the constitutional prohibition."

He's the second Ohio Republican, where most social guidelines are  defined for political convenience.  You have to take a deep breath in the false hope that the party still is tolerant enough to forgive an apostate or two.

Sen. Rob Portman, who describes his ideology as "constructive conservatism," has broken faith with his party on same-sex-marriage, explaining that he has a gay son. Good for Dad!

Interesting don't you think,  when so-called moral choices come down to the personal level of familial concerns?   Situation morality?        

Friday, November 14, 2014

The electorate didn't rise to morning in America

When America's electorate finally awakens from its slumber, it may be surprised  to discover what it left to the historically low turnout to decide for all of us.

No later than the fading hours of Election Day did the wingnuts in control of the Senate and House  gather as though it was Walpurgis Night to whoop it up.  With both chambers and the committee chairmen in their hands, there will be no limits to their misguided arrogance of power.  What seemed painful before the polls opened is now confirmed to be an irreparable paralysis all the way to 2016.

The Affordable Care Act, environmental concerns, immigration - you name the issues for which the Koch brothers spent nearly $40 million to protect their interests in both houses.   Can you imagine guys like Mitch McConnell or John Boehner, the two soulless old Republican warhorses,  changing their gait  in 2015?

The first signs of their servility to Big Money  arrived  virtually within the hour of President Obama's  announcement of a climate change agreement with China.

Boehner quickly denounced it as "job crushing"    - his standby cliche without ever rolling out his own jobs plan during Obama's tenure. He charged that it was another  example of the "president's crusade against affordable, reliable energy that is already hurting jobs and squeezing middle class families."

As for McConnell, he growled that it was  Obama's latest move in his "war on coal".

And how about Sen. Jim Inhofe. who will turn 80 on Monday, being seated as the new chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee.  He's on record as describing climate change as a "hoax" and said it's a deception of  " environmental-liberal conspiracy."  That's a perfect fit for his oil-rich state of Oklahoma.  Like McConnell and other climate change deniers, Inhofe  warned  he won't sit still until his side kills the EPA.  McConnell couldn't agree more.

When the GOP now speaks of creating jobs, the mixture of their wheezing hot air with other pollutants  will be the  growth industry  for those masks  that the Chinese are already  wearing.

Reposted from Plunderbund

Thursday, November 13, 2014

The newer universe of billion-dollar transactions

Did you ever think that the day would arrive when "billion" became a common household word?

...When an Oklahoma oilman would pay a nearly  $1  billion settlement to his ex-wife in a divorce case?

... When five global banks would be fined $4.25  billion for deceptive practices?

...When Warren Buffett would buy  Duracell  batteries from Proctor & Gamble for $4.7 billion?

These lofty Midas-like  events are regularly showing up as just  another day at the office.

But when Harold Hamm, the  CEO of  a big oil company, Continental Resources Inc.,  lays out his golden fleece to settle  a  divorce, even  People magazine decided to put it in context, noting that  Donald Trump only paid Ivana $25 million to send her on her way.  Tiger Woods' divorce cost him $100 million. In today's business world, beer money.

In an email to People magazine, Hamm, who is said to be worth $14 billion (as of this afternoon, commented, seemed quite pleased with how it all turned out.   "This is a fair and equitable  outcome to the case, " he wrote.  "Out of respect for my family we have no further comment on the matter."

So drill, baby,  drill!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

GOP: Remembrances of things that never happened

The latest Smithsonian magazine tells us of the ongoing research into the implanting in your brain  memories of things that never happened.  At MIT,  a pair of neuroscientists prompted a fearful reaction by a terrorized mouse to a false memory of electrical shock. The key to this was the manipulation of the brain to cause the poor rodent to wrongly remember the pain of a similar event that never happened.


With all due respect to  MIT and another laboratories working on these experiments,  the past election proved that it's possible to manipulate the voters in the same way. The Republicans made you believe that President Obama was the villain who prevented unemployment from dropping to zero.  Keen practitioners of Plato's noble lie, they made up a lot of traumatic things that  led the voters to blame the president for inspiring President Bush to cause a serious recession.

Candidate Mitt Romney said it very well when he contended that the economy was improving but Obama made it worse. Even if it weren't true, never happened, it sank into the  voter's memory lanes so that a worker  at a plant gate could fume that he would have had a job today  if Obama hadn't single-handedly bailed out the auto industry.

And when Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor, an out-of-the-starting-gate critic of the Affordable Care Act predicted that it would soon bloat health care costs by 41 pct.,   it had a worse than chilling  effect on many voters.

There is even existing today  a False Memory Syndrome Foundation in Philadelphia that tries to be helpful in these matters, telling its online readers that "the professional organizations agree: the only ways to distinguish between true and false memories is by external corroboration."

We think a remedy lies well beyond that.  As  John Hay,  Teddy Roosevelt's secretary of state. once glumly advised his boss:  "Dealing with people to whom mendacity is a science is no easy thing."

Monday, November 10, 2014

Fourth down and many yards to go


America's claim to democratic ideals will only proudly enjoy maturity when the old confederacy, to which Ohio drifts ever closer, accepts ordinary blacks with the zeal that it recruits African American  college athletes to win football games on Saturday afternoons.

Figures don't lie for GOP goals: Fewer voters, fewer cases of voter fraud

Ohio Republicans are effusively claiming success in several ways following last week's election.  Among the achievements, they say, is the low turnout by voters.  A source in  Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted's office, which strongly supported restrictions  on voting rights; said:  "I'm not a mathematician, but with fewer voters casting ballots,   the better the chance to reduce the opportunities for  voter fraud, which is something we've been  trying to accomplish all along."

(Reposted from Plunderbund)

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Crime writer Dan Moldea back home for a lecture

Although I seldom use Grumpy Abe to post  events around town, I am obligated to mention an important date  to recognize an appearance in Akron by an old friend who once volunteered to paint our house.  Free!

That can only  be Dan Moldea -  Akron native, fearless investigative crime author, rebel  and  in younger days,  Viet Nam war protestor, and all around pain  not only to the mob but also to the genteel class in polite society.  I can relate.

He will be speaking in the Author! Author!  series at Our Lady of the Elms High School on Nov. 25 about his latest work, Confessions of a Guerrilla Writer: Adventures in the Jungles of Crime, Politics and Journalism.  

There will be a reception at 6 p.m. before his lecture and book signing afterward.  Tickets are $20 per person and $10 per student  and he will contribute his fees to the school.   Call Peggy Smith, 330-752-2509.  

We have since moved to another place since Dan's offer of a paintbrush, but might use this occasion to mention that a section of our basement wall is flaking.

Friday, November 7, 2014

More on the case of that NEOMG disappearing video

The Plain Dealer finally took an official but less than persuasive  step toward  explaining why  it pulled a video of the gubernatorial candidates' group meeting with the editorial board of the Plain Dealer and the Northeast Ohio Media Group.(NEOMG)

In a long and painful la nostra culpa today, Ted Diadiun, NEOMG's reader representative,   courageously led the reader along a  bumpy path to the cut-and run    decision that lay squarely in the hands of Chris Quinn, NEOMG's vice president of content.  But soon after the video's brief appearance on, Quinn turned to damage control as  the shameful inexplicable  maneuver went virile on social media as well as that of Columbia Journalism Review.

That produced some panic, as though  someone had been caught with his hand in the news jar.  Panic?  Quinn even harshly threatened to sue Plunderbund   from  posting some clips  from the original video.  (A Cleveland TV station even flashed the quips, which is where I saw our casually attired govcrnor  turning his head away from Ed FitzGerald and Green candidate Anita Rios with a satanic laugh.

We later learned that he never bothered to answer the board's questions nor fully acknowledge the other two candidates.  That, my friends, was the full, nasty Kasich that we have come to know as a guy entirely without  social skills.  Even a football coach whose team has been thrashed by the other guys will push onto the field to meet the victorious coach.

According to Diadiun,  Quinn, now the veep of discontent,  had realized that he hadn't  informed  the candidates that the session would be released for public consumption.

"When the governor's staff saw the video on, they were chagrined, and contacted NEOMG,"  Diadiun wrote.  Quinn's explanation:  He had "gotten busy as the candidates and board members arrived in staggered groups, and he never followed through."

Diadiun said Quinn's reasons for pulling the video were a matter of fairness and defensible.  But he did write that Quinn's delay in explaining it were "indefensible."

The reaction to the messy wake was guaranteed.   Diadiun  noted that the mystery  led people - including me - to believe ''something more sinister was  afoot than the obvious,   people began advancing crazy ideas, such as that  Kasich had ordered the video to be deleted, or that it was taken down because it made the endorsed candidate look bad."

Quinn said  nobody had asked him to remove the video.  Oh?

I am among those who believe  that Kasich played a role  in the disappearing act. As one who organized and moderated Akron Press Club debates for several years, I can tell you that the  panelists always wanted to know all of the rules, which were either sent to them or explained at the site.   That's how you do these things.  There were never to be any surprises.

I simply can't - and won't - believe that Kasich, who spent  much of his  campaign dodging reporters and refusing debates, didn't know all of the rules well ahead of arriving at the PD and demanded that the PD cool it, or words to that effect.   The rest of the details have the appearance of Reddi Wip.  .

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Dispatch rapid-response team fuels presidential speculation


Well, it was just a matter of hours before the Columbus Dispatch set all of us on the right track for the 2016 presidential election with whoopie speculation about  two of its favorite Republican Buckeye politicians, Gov.John  Kasich and Sen. Rob Portman.

In a long front- page piece, the story began by describing Kasich's "smashing" win and Portman's "key role in helping the GOP take control of the Senate".

Smashing?  But only if you merely consider the raw numbers  after the governor ran up the score against  Ed FitzGerald's  posthumous  campaign to a cheering section filled with huge donors, media accolades and those practiced in convenient references to the Lord.  You may recall that Kasich went to Nevada and cast God's blessing on casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, in a blatant appeal for Big Money.  On Election night, caught up in the reverance of the moment, Kasich told us that God had placed a hand on him. That doesn't leave much hope for Portman.

To speculation about his future,  Kasich stayed in form by coyly dismissing  the question. He said  he's not "thinking about the future''.  As for Portman, his chief of staff told the Dispatch that the senator is "going to meet with his family about this issue over the coming weeks" and then with "trusted advisors",  a process that could take  months. That has always impressed me as Portman's normal speed.

Meantime, let the speculation roll.

Political experts quoted in the story  agreed that both would make "viable" candidates - but as President Obama once said, "You can only have one president at a time" in deference to the fact that George Bush still had a few weeks left  in his tenure following the 2008 election.

 A cautionary footnote:  The Dispatch poured out its heart to elect Mitt Romney and its home county of Franklin  went for Obama.

* * * * *

More Grumpy style Meet the Press: The  Beacon Journal, as is its wont to be kind to   spoiled victors, described Kasich as '" governing from the center". Oh?  With hefty right-wing pals like Adelson and the Koch Brothers looking over his shoulder?

* * * * *
While we're at it, might as well note that Armond Budish, a Democrat, defeated  his Republican opponent, Jack Schron,  for Cuyahoga County Executive rather handily despite the paper's endorsement of Schron.  The paper accused Budish of being " too partisan".     And for years I thought that partisanship  was high up on the to-do list of a politician!

* * * * *
Finally, we turned to Huey Long's immortal words for the benediction on Tuesday's nightmare:  "One of these days  the people of Louisiana are going to get good government and they aren't going to like it.":


Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Democrats woefully surrender any hope of sharing morning in America

When I got up this morning I had to tell myself that the polls were right.  It wasn't morning in America.  And for that dismal condition, both parties must share the blame.

As I sifted through the debris of the Democrats' train wreck, I jotted down the big winners of midnight in America, namely:

The Koch Brothers, Fox News,  climate deniers, George Will, Big Oil, Big Pharma, health insurance companies, Wall Streeters, closet racists, pro-lifers,   David Brennan's charter schools, gun enthusiasts, GOP stonewallers in Congress,  one percenters with wallets as fat as Rep. Steve King's cantaloupes, corporate lobbyists, anti-gays, religious fanatics, older white guys  in  baseball caps.

I may have missed a few, but these were enough with a compliant press to convince the electorate that America could resolve all of its problems if Barack Obama  would just go back to where they believe he came from. Never in my many years in the political trenches have I witnessed a greater operating fantasy by either party.  

Among the losers were those fearful Democratic candidates who distanced themselves from the president to please  their audiences, many of them losing anyway.   They might have stood up and proudly cited the positive things  that Obama has done:  Turned the Bush recession around into a recovering  economy, lowering unemployment, providing  against all odds millions of people with health insurance coverage, showing humanity  where people were in desperate need, supporting a hike in the minimum wage (and  strongly supported in states where it was on the ballot) trying to be the good guy against the terrorists  in the GOP caucus.

The passive Democrats in these instances acted disgracefully,  as did Alison Lundergan Grimes in Kentucky who refused to say whether she voted for Obama.  She was destroyed by Mitch McConnell.  The object lesson: Running and hiding doesn't pay off, so you might as well show some courage.

In earlier days when I was the guest speaker  to various groups around the area that paid me with a coffee mug and maybe a light lunch,  I had a line that I used repeatedly: "Republicans have no conscience and Democrats  have no guts."

That was especially true in this election when we were continually told that the voters were angry.  The economy was on their minds; others sadly let out their subtext of the color of Obama's skin, a major catalyst in how they perceived some of his faults that didn't exist.

 Republicans are rejoicing in Ohio, too, with a clean sweep.  But an electorate that can return Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel to office can't be taken too seriously. Meantime, every Democratic office, headquarters and hangout should post a sign from Pogo:

"We have met the enemy and he is us." 

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Anybody know what really happened to PD video?

If further proof of the media's loss of credibility  with disjointed editorial endorsements during this  election season was needed, the Plain Dealer's shameful stunt in removing a video from its online page will serve nicely. Since the video of Gov. Kasich's abysmal  true-to-life performance with two challengers seated before the NEOMG/Plain Dealer editors was inexplicably pulled,  the story has traveled widely.  Columbia Journalism Review associate editor  Greg Marx filled the blank darkly by describing it as "weird".

Still worse has a been the stonewalling of the decision as inquiries, including mine , were flagged to others on editors' row, where it's possible that the janitors were told to close  all of the blinds.   Calls and  emails  from a number of news outlets were  ignored, or  shoved up the ladder to Chris Quinn, vice president of content.  Nick Castele of WCPN reported that Quinn "politely declined" to explain the story behind the story.

My hunch is that the decision was made to protect Kasich, who made such a mess of himself  with his casual campaign slouch, ignoring Ed FitzGerald and Anita Ruiz and shunting  editors' questions. It was Quinn, after all, who threatened a lawsuit against Plunderbund, which posted some clips before the video vanished.  (Next day, the PD endorsed Kasich.)

But here again was Kasich's M.O. throughout the campaign, and with considerable help from FitzGerald's missteps,  friendly newspapers and millions in campaign money, we will have to live with him for a while longer.

 When he arrived in office four years ago he dismissed the press - said he never read newspapers and seemed to be the perfect model for former iconic  film critic, Pauline Kael,   who once twitted  the  New Yorker's debonair critics for being "so superior to the subject that they never dealt with it".

Hardly debonair,  Kasich,  rough edges and all, still seems to fit that description quite well.

What's that? She's too busy to answer a question?

The closing days of the election madness concluded with a stark reminder that  those who play for your votes may be too busy to answer a few important questons.  The Republican state ticket, from Gov. Kasich down,  waved off any effort to  bring them into the consciousness of the voter  (excluding the Betty Crocker type TV ads fashioned to sweeten your palate).

A survey by NewsOutlet/Beacon Journal, a collaborative operation,  on whether charter school assets belong to the  private owners or to the public that paid for them, enjoyed only partial success. .

Rep. Marilyn Slaby, a Summit County Republican challenged by Democrat Tim Crawford, was among the majority of Republicans who didn't respond.  She  said she was too busy to answer the question. She said what?

The reluctance of some politicians to step up on a question about charter schools can be traced to the fact that they are well maintained in the White Hat  Management charter kingdom of its founder, David Brennan.  As we all know, he's a major GOP political financier who leaves no legislative vote that would affect his  enterprises unguarded.

And it works!   The state has channeled more than $900 million into charter schools, nearly $775 million to the Brennan domain.  The Plain Dealer reported  that Brennan has "poured more than $4 million into  the coffers of Republican candidates in Ohio during the last decade."

You won't need a calculator to see that $775 million for a $4 million investment is a damn good return.

 Not that these schools have served as  a White Hat  cure for  the ills of the public school system.  There are loads of dropouts from the charters -  more than the number of students who showed up on a average day. Indeed, there is nothing in any of the studies that would confirm charter success.

And, of course, the state's generous charter funding has to come from somewhere.  Yep.  Stretched-out  public education,  which could stand a few more dollars in its budgets.

But for now, the prophetic  words of Simon Cameron, Abe Lincoln's Secretary of War, are very much current today:

"An honest politician is one who , when he is bought, will stay bought.".

Monday, November 3, 2014

When an Ohio Supreme Court justice turns partisan

For all of the alarm over government spying,  the fear is  obviously  less than  skull deep for those politicians who have yet to pick up on the modern digital age. In short, there is always somebody  listening... somebody recording... somebody filming - and they're not the nosy government. The whole scheme to hold you foolishly accountable largely derives from a small device with James Bond potential  that many people grip in one hand in shopping malls, football games, political meetings and anywhere else where the "real" you could be exposed.

Let's call it the Romney Matter-over-Mind Moment  when - you still remember, don't you? - he was secretly recorded and filmed by a bartender as he spoke at a fund-raiser in Boca Raton.  Yep, his awkward 47 pct.  theory about the electorate! A forever vigilant  media cried "yippee!" and soon shot it across the nation's tv screens, providing  his opponents  with more riches-to-rags contrasts from the GOP warehouse.

Fast forward to the current nightmarish campaign season and an example  of how loose lips might sink judgeships. It was produced in  an appearance by Ohio Supreme Court Justice Judith French in her introduction to Gov. Kasich before a friendly Republican group.

Here  are the comforting partisan words that  the Republican justice, supposedly a non-partisan candidate  to return to the bench, had to say, as widely reported:

"Whatever the governor does, whatever your state representative, your state senator does, whatever they do we're the ones that will decide whether it's constitutional.  We decide whether it's lawful. We decide what it means, and we decide how to implement it in a given case.

"So forget  all those other votes if you don't keep the Ohio Supreme Court conservative."

Heavens! Does it sound like a call to  support  a justice who arrived on the bench  after she was nominated by Gov. Kasich to fill a vacancy and now faces formidable oppposition from Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge John O'Donnell, a Democrat?

Oh. she said her  remarks were misinterpreted  and not what she had in mind. But the political universe is filled with reports that the speaker didn't mean to say it the way it sounded. But you know how those things go.

On those occasions when Romney's words came out wrong, he said he hadn't spoken elegantly.  I would think a Supreme Court Justice would also know better.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

McConnell steps up to ban sexual intercourse

In an 11th hour move to seal his hold on Kentucky celibates, a beleaguered Sen.  Mitch McConnell reportedly will announce on Monday that his first step if he is re-elected will be to declare a one-year moratorium on sexual intercourse in his state, except for horses and cows.  "I'm not a gynecologist," McConnell says, "but there is no better way to reduce the scandalous number of abortions than to attack the problem at its source by eliminating sex altogether for at least a trial period."

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Bluff and Gruff Kasich headed for second term - for awhile

Re-posted from Plunderbund

Gov. Kasich's boorish behavior during  his so-called appearance before an editorial board collection from the Plain Dealer and NEO Media Group emphasized once again  that his ego has placed strict  limits on even mildly deferring to the media and his political opponents.  He likes his own rigid vision of governance in an open society.

Sort of name, rank and serial number. He even felt it was unworthy of his unique status to return a questionnaire  from the League of Women Voters of Greater  Cleveland as he slouches toward Election Day.

From video clips, I caught a few glimpses of his shadowy performance with the editorial board on  Cleveland TV with  Ed FitzGerald, the Democratic candidate,  and Green Party candidate Anita Rios. With his huge lead in the polls, he should have led the discussion while extending gentlemanly courtesies to FitzGerald and Rios.   But not even a fist bump.

That has always been the governor's raffish disposition.  As the self-anointed Blue Collar Kid, he remains in his old schoolyard stance daring the other kids to annoy him.

Although his rise in politics has been well documented, it still is interesting to see how his various career tasks have shaped  the odds and ends of his political bravado, from earlier elected offices to his works as a Fox News host and as managing director of Lehman Brothers in Columbus,  the Wall Street outfit that collapsed in 2008.

He began to lay the foundation of his career with a 3-year hitch  as the administrative assistant to   then state Sen.  Donald E. Buz Lukens in 1975.  Lukens, a poster child for hard-right conservatism, died in 2010  in disgrace with a rap sheet that sent him to jail for propositioning a young elevator operator n Washington; he  also was  later convicted of bribery involving two Ohio businessmen.  The New York Times' obit  described him as a "scandal-tainted lawmaker".

A modern Machiavellian,  the guy never knew when or where to stop. A dashingly handsome operative  from Middletown, Oh., he left a trail of questions, many unanswered,  about his public and private moves that spanned his campaign expenditures and other wrong turns.

But his biggest political gambit  came against Gov. Rhodes,  who was going to run for the U.S. Senate,   a job that Lukens also coveted.  Life magazine entered the Ohio landscape with a piece that accused Rhodes of misusing campaign money.

When I wrote a long story in the Beacon Journal shifting some of the curse to Lukens' hand in the piece, he blew up, held a press conference in D.C. and referred to me as a liar and a "kid" (Didn't I wish!).  But my repertorial equilibrium was  restored by a Lukens aide who later confided to me that Buz  was furious that the story was so accurate  that it clearly was leaked to me by somebody  on his staff.

So now I won't insist that with Kasich hanging out earlier - from 1975 to 1978 -  with then State Sen. Lukens as his administrative assistant,  he learned all of his  current bad habits. But at the least, some seeds  could have been planted in an easily ipressed  young man with his own soaring career goals being etched in stone.

Although the governor's current spate of comericials have rebranded him as a born-again Mr. Nice Guy,  there has been little evidence of that beyond his carefully honed TV claims.

Ohio, we have a problem.