Sunday, November 29, 2015

At KSU: A vision with a healthier outlook

November did produce a happier note  from a nearby university campus with Kent State President Beverly Warren's  asserted goal to  make her school "America's healthiest university".  She devoted a lot of her first State of the University speech  to her vision of a place where physical fitness counts.

For me it was a refreshing departure from the flood of defensive metrics that have  been pouring from the lips of the management team that's running the University of Akron these days.   Sorry, Ohio's Polytechnic University.  How could I have forgotten?

In case you missed the report in the Beacon Journal,   Warren's fitness landscape ranged from concerns about processed food,  to fuller exercise routines to  health insurance discounts for those who participate in the programs.

She also talked of encouraging students to have a positive mission in life that could lead, say,  a geology student working toward society's "access to clean water" and other "positive impacts on the environment".

I haven't heard much of that kind of talk from the upper reaches of higher education  of late.    But who would disagree that a learning experience must embrace  all of those who enter the outside world from the campus with a diploma in one hand as well as a grip by the other hand on the critical  issues we all face today.

So, thank you, President Warren.  There are some of us in these parts who needed that  lift from a titled educator.

The lull after Black Friday...

I'll have Dom Perignon, please...

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Thanks, guys. I fully agree!

I never thought I'd find myself agreeing with both George Will and Bill O'Reilly
in the same contentious moment but after seeing a video  clip of their recent TV encounter, it left me with no choice but to praise the wisdom of both guys.  Billo was in his worst snit because of Will's attack on his latest book (Killing Reagan) and called the columnist a "hack". That was after George had pointedly described the Fox  News senior commander as a "liar".

With the fear that a fertile moment like that might not  occur again in  a lifetime I decided to  press it to my breast.  There's something spiritually nourishing when
prominent conservatives talk dirty to each other.  Couldn't have said it better myself.

* * * * *

Our enlightened-comment -of- the- month award must go to Louisiana Gov. and former Republican presidential candidate Bobby Jindal who, upon withdrawing from the race,  explained:  "I've come to the realization that this is not my time."

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Some matters you may be troubled to find in Ohio

We spent a few moments following up on the state's new motto, "Ohio, find it here."

Our curiosity was  aroused by Tourism Director Mary Cusick's  comment that the
Buckeye State was not reaching as many adventurous far-flung tourists as,  we'd add, Virginia's boast of "lovers".   So now we will  have a $6 million blitz of TV and other advertising channeling  the things you would find within our borders if you only looked.

We figured that might include the Ohio legislature, a rather medieval rural oriented body centrally located between Circleville and Sunbury, that clearly needs  rebranding if it is what President Scott Scarborough is trying to shoulder at the University of Akron to attract more students.

So as a public service we set out to find something that you may have missed while the plan to lure out-of- state tourists and college students took shape in the pre-Black Friday days  that began last spring:

Republican State Rep. Barbara Sears (Monclova Twp.) introduced a measure to "reform" the insolvent unemployment compensation fund on the backs of the unemployed despite its already Draconian restrictions.

Rep. Nino Vitale, the Urbana Republican, is fully supportive of a "Pastors Protection Act" to protect the cloth from retaliation for not adhering to the U.S. Supreme Court's
ruling that same-sex marriages are constitutional. Opines Vitale: "It is an issue of  protection; protection  for those who have committed their lives to the service of God and their community."

The Ohio House, by a party-line tally of 62-30, voted to defund Planned Parenthood, one of the GOP's favorite pinatas.

And Rep. Ron  Maag,  Lebanon Republican, introduced a measure to broaden the number of  "unarmed victim zones"  for people who carry concealed weapons.  That includes school zones, places of worship and day care centers.  But not the legislative chambers. Maag said he merely wants to protect folks who exercise their Second Amendment rights.

If you still want to visit the state, we could invite you to some of our wonderful parklands, including the Cuyahoga Valley national park.   But a word of caution:  25 pct. of the state's more than 27,000 bridges are in disrepair,  even if you ignore the ones that have fallen down.  We doubt that those figures are of top priority with the Columbus hoofbeat pols  so dedicated to guns , assaults on Planned Parenthood and resisting gay marriage.

Monday, November 23, 2015

A friend for all who are in need;

Let's start  the week on a happier note:

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Should Johnny come marching home?

If Gov. Kasich's presidential campaign had been a light comedy  with a Broadway stage in mind,  the warmup production would have closed in Boston long before heading for the Big Apple. The reviews have been uniformly awful.

From his snappish behavior in the last debate to his most recent goof that he would create a federal agency to beam Judeo-Christian values around the world, he has lost ground.  The agency notion drew so many boos that within 24 hours he said never mind. He conceded it wasn't necessary after all.  There were other ways to reach pagan countries, Kasich said, with,  say, the Voice of America, which  reaches 188 million people a week around the world, but wasn't really getting the story of American values across.

He doubtless had kicked up a fuss with conservatives who weren't buying the idea,  Judeo-Christian values or not.  For them, another government agency was an unspeakable  sin in itself.  On the liberal side, columnist Joe Conason referred to  Kasich as a "useful idiot".

It didn't help him to knock  a rival who is leading Kasich in New Hampshire by 20 points and with far more than enough millions in campaign cash.  Donald Trump, no slouch at bombast himself, huffed that Kasich was "irrelevant"   and not worth wasting money on TV ads to point that out. So fancy that, Guv.

In all of this,  you have to wonder how Kasich,   who  brags  that (figuratively) he can  land an airplane to show his skill at leadership, decides  on his talking points each day.  Do his advisors caution him that for a guy who was in Congress a couple of decades ago, there are some things that don't work in the modern era of politics.  Or is it possible  that he is so brashly confident of his own brilliance that he doesn't need calm advice?

From all appearances, he is running a theocratic tough guy  campaign with a disposition that glowers but seldom glows. He doesn't consume his daily bread with nuance.

I would think that from all of this, the  time has arrived  to lower the curtain on his road show,  pack up the scenery and head back to Columbus  to manage some  lingering odds and ends: The disgraceful cheating and  mismanagement of Charter schools that have already led to the resignation of  the husband of your campaign manager; your fumbling of a plan to control  carbon emissions; your non-Judeo-Christian  outburst to deny admission of Syrian migrants to Ohio.

Don't get me started.


Saturday, November 21, 2015

We should all feel safer


Friday, November 20, 2015

Rubio spin: welders vs philosophers

We should all be grateful that Marco Rubio has offered us some fresh insight into the  exercise that we once called presidential politics.  The Florida Republican informed us that welders make more money than philosophers.  I'm not sure where that fits into the  grand narrative of leading America, as Donald  Trump puts it, to greatness again.  But there it is:   welders vs philosophers. What an exciting thought!  Never heard anybody
of a lesser mind put  it quite that way.  The pace is quickening.

For those of us  who have never encountered  the thought after many years in the partisan foxholes,  we had no choice but to leave  it to the metrics of the welders and philosophers to tell us of the relative merits of  their chosen  life's work.  Having been neither, I can only say that several reliable sources quickly dug into their volumes of scholarly research and concluded  that Rubio's reach may have exceeded his grasp in the opaque world of, say, Hegel  or Schopenhauer, both of whom I joylessly encountered in a single college level philosophy class.

Besides, both have expired and are not here to defend themselves.

So I looked for parallel comparisons to challenge the senator.  Do welders make more money than,  say, U.S. senators?  It may be argued that  politicians who weld hollow  ideas on the campaign trail  or wherever there is a TV camera in their face should be considered for a pay raise and  better parking spots to inflate  their  own prestige  as engaged representatives of the people.

That much would be required if they spent  24 hours a day to deliver themselves from such public menaces to civilization as Ben Carson, who has likened migrants to "mad dogs"  and Trump, who roars that the  only way to defeat ISIS is  to "bomb the shit out of them" leaving only a moonscape  behind.

With the phalanx of Republican presidential candidates groping to pick up cues to counter Rubio, must we consider whether pizza twirlers have a brighter future than the whirling windmill of current GOP aspirants for the Oval office?  We can only guess where this is going.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Scarborough alters program with same message

 University of Akron President Scott Scarborough's talk to a swollen Akron Press Club audience  of 150 at Quaker Station on Wednesday  was packaged in a new format without PowerPoint and included an odd  geography lesson to explain the rebranding of his school's name.

The tag of "Ohio's Polytechnic University", he said, referenced  Ohio for all of the out-of-towners who don't know where Akron is on the globe. Who knew?

Working from a series of topics suggested by the audience  that  was heavily laced with faculty and  students, he posted each with grease pencil on two white boards  - and checked them off with his replies  with the ease of a  scripted delivery that suggested a heavy layer of Teflon.

The responses were familiar to anyone who has heard his talks around town.  Yes, change is difficult when you are trying to reduce $40 million debt, he said. .  And if there are critics of his administration's policies, they are the result of misunderstanding and miscommunication in what he's trying to accomplish.

Scarborough,   part academic and part bank  auditor with some preacherly hints of  his southern Baptist  background, seems untroubled by the swirl of controversy, major donor tropouts  and messy rollout of his plans since arriving in July 2014 from the University of Toledo.  He's glibly self-confident that he's rising to his calling and victimized by people who don't understand the job he's been asked to do.  With the servile politically appointed Board of Trustees that hired him, and the Creator on his side, he's now on an  assured  fail-safe course.

To the question of how he has surrounded himself with a clutch of highly  paid managers  in his comfort zone,  he responded that in order to convert UA into a national monument of higher education you faced  supply and demand in recruiting the most gifted people for the job.

He summed up any missteps  by his team as a natural  flaw in laying out a new course of action,  adding the chestnut that leaders  are only mistake-free when they are not doing anything to move forward.

 The pro forma speech drew only light applause when he finished.

So maybe now's the time to turn the page for  some TV ads emphasizing that Akron is in Ohio.   By his standards, it couldn't hurt.

P.S. Akron is in northern Ohio, just south of Cleveland.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Cruz: Only migrant Christians should be admitted

A woman in a doctor's office in our area was heard to  say she was happy  to know that any effort to keep out refugees would  stop all of those  "Sicilians" from landing on our shores.  That was a head-turner as various nations desperately try to figure out what to do with massive war-driven migration  across European borders.  It once again  alerted us  to the unwashed views of many folks   about the staggering reality of a horrific world that defies  solutions.

So you can forgive the woman's error about  the terrorist peril and paralysis the past few days that even the right-wing presidential candidates and their playmates insist belonged in the lap of President Obama.

From the breast-pounding fringe has come calls that he resign, blaming him for not mentioning  "Islam" in his responses; Columnist Michelle Malkin  referred to Obama as the "Nobel Prize-winning workplace violence whitewasher," a  cheek-swelling  mouthful, if moronic.

Some of the Pavlovian candidates, their hearts pounding in feverish anticipation,  rushed off to Fox News to vent their shopworn political violence on the president with glib accusations but absolutely no solutions of their own. No one was more defiant than Sen.Ted Cruz, who asserted  that any admission of refugees should be limited to Christians because  they do not "commit acts of terror".  (Hitler, a Catholic Christian, rehabbed).

And  unsurprisingly, Jeb! challenged our short-term memory by accusing Obama of creating the "quagmire" in the Middle East.

His dysfunctionally hawkish brother - can we mention that?  - at least was inventive enough to don a pilot's uniform and land on an aircraft carrier to declare "Mission Accomplished". It was one of history's greatest theatrical allegories of presidential chutzpah  in action.

(His supporting cast  wasn't much more persuasive as Dick Cheney batted away questions about the duration of the Iraq war by assuring the audience that it wasn't likely to last more than several weeks and that Iraqi oil would pay for the high cost of the American invasion.)

Frustration and uncertainty  - that's what the whole civilized world faces.  You'd think that in these days of need, the fringe would try to understand that there are no bumper-sticker solutions. None.  For the superhawks, sending tens of thousands of American soldiers to Syria would satisfy the critics' needs to say something,  but what would we do about terrorists scattered around the globe? And even in Belgium,where the pot was stirred for the bloodshed in Paris.

If we decide to bomb Brussels, should we first drop warning leaflets, as they did  with Monte Cassino in WW11  with little  success?  The bombs killed more than 200 Italian civilians;  the Germans had abandoned the hilltop abbey without a single casualty. .

The Bush-Cheney class  now pretends that it is methodically in control and knows all of the answers.  So Belgium, beware.  And non-Christians, better fly business class.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Turning back the clock on Big Ben

As Cleveland Browns fans mourned another lost week end to the Steelers, Bill Hershey, a former Beacon Journal colle├ągue, recalled an earlier piece in Sports Illustrated  that told of Ben Rothlisberger's youthful rise to super-stardom while  playing  at Findlay High School his senior year.  I offer it to Browns fans not as a gloating Steelers fan (that would be a cheap gloat  these days!)  but rather as a vignette from an earlier day when Big Ben didn't get to start as a quarterback until his senior year. Notice how he took advantage of that opportunity to throw for a record 4041 yards and 54 touchdowns. (Cliff Hite, his high school coach at the time, is today a Republican state senator from Findlay.)

Here's the word from Hershey:
At Findlay High School, Rothlisberger was  captain of the football, basketball and baseball teams.  He did not play quarterback until his senior year, giving way to the coach's son, Ryan Hite.  Instead, Roethlisberger played wide receiver because as Coach Cliff Hite  explained to the Toledo Blade, "My son  throwing to Ben was a better combination" He said the reason for passing over Ben as the QB could be simply explained:  "I'm a nationally known knucklehead."
At the same time, Ryan Hite was a talented athlete, too. As far as knuckleheads go, it's a serviceable word for the Browns front office,  which didn't see the point of drafting Big Ben.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

People who damn the media should be careful about what they wish for

Although life hasn't been going well in the media world with the decline of newspapers, it's getting even worse these days with  deranged presidential campaign rhetoric  delivered as applause lines for a mindless right-wing audience.

  Donald Trump, America's first multi-billion-dollar demagogue, hysterically refers to journalists as "scum and garbage'" while his dreamy rival, Ben Carson, insists that without Fox News, "America would be Cuba".

The vituperative pile-on by all of the "Republican" candidates after the CNBC-sponsored debate merely contributed to the national delusion that we would all be better off watching geezer-friendly old TV movies than reading printed words (except Bibles and NRA newsletters).

As a long-time journalist who has been known to be at odds at times  with the modern TV and print media, I have a few words for the critics of the so-called "liberal media". It's called the First Amendment.  It includes, you know,  Freedom of the press", a durable concept  hundreds of years old  that has survived royalty, tyrants and colonial governors.  Moreover, it  doesn't exclude media that you, nor I,  might not  happen to like.

Even a panicky University of Missouri commnications professor, who should have known better, ignored the roots of her profession by shouting for more "muscle" to prevent a  student journalist from doing his job during the  campus protests.  Melissa Click,  who was on courtesy assignment to the staff of the respected  School of Journalism showed such little regard for  press freedom that she later withdrew from the journalism school program with an apology.

Always an apology these days when things go wrong to your disadvantage.  Her troubles may just be beginning.   Another student is seeking action for a charge to  be filed against her for obstructing his presence at the site. She should have learned about such misbehavior  in Journalism 101.

Well, here I go again appearing to be an apologist for my profession when in fact the more relevant issue is whether the political fringe will find its  way to tolerate a free press in a free society in a not- so- free world, even as  Carson finds it political convenient to warn his crowd about Cuba.

Timothy Egan wrote in the New York Times that more than 20,000 newsroom jobs have been lost in America since 2001 - a work force drop of 42 pct.

The problem today is not the press,  but rather its rising death toll.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Akron native Gary Pinkel heads off the field

Gary Pinkel, the Kenmore High School-KSU alum and one of college football's most successful coaches, is ending his distinguished gridiron career after the current season at the University of Missouri.  He announced his resignation following the  chaotic week at the school in which he defended the successful decision by black members of the Tigers football team  to boycott  this week's game   unless the school president resigned.

Pinkel, 63, has been treated for non-Hodgkins lymphoma, and said he had been cleared by doctors to continue his long coaching  career.  Still, although the treatment would not interfere with his coaching job,  he said he wanted to spend more time with his family.

During his 15 years at Missouri, he was the winningest coach in that school's history.  (117-71) His teams went to bowls in ten of those years.    He was  equally successful as the coach at Toledo University.  In 1995,  the Rockets were undefeated  (one tie), and won the Las Vegas bowl.

He added to his laurels off the field when he stepped up to support his players in the racial  protests.

No better time to wind up a career than when you are ahead  - way ahead. During the game,  and otherwise.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Kasich mauled after Wisconsin debate

Contrary to his soaring campaign rhetoric,  John Kasich failed to land his plane  at the Republcan debate in Milwaukee. Maybe his Ground Controlled Approach system that he's been trying to perfect in New Hampshire sent him back to Marysville or Lima instead.   He didn't even enjoy a celebratory flyover.

Once again, our agitated guv kept bursting into the conversation (eight times) to the point where one of the others could have fairly called for a restraining order.   GCA landings  notwithstanding, he managed to get few kind words from his political and media critics.   Oh, the non-partisan Associated Press did shelter him from further abuse by simply reporting in the last paragraph that he was "also on the stage".

On the other hand, polling guru Nate Silver likened him to Hensley "Bam'Bam" Meulans.  It's OK if you don't know that Meulans  was a baseball player of sorts who is now the hitting coach of the San Francisco Giants.   Few people know the name, but that seems also to be the lot of Kasich's csmpaign.   (In Iowa, 0 pct.  in the polls)

National Review conservative Jonah Goldberg  said Kasich is "done.  He came across angry, condescending and uprincipled."  It gets worse, but if there are any kids reading this, I'll stop right there.

His problem, as we've noted early in his first term, is his harsh, snappish, rough edges that presents him badly to people beyond the reach of the Columbus Dispatch as a school yard bully.  There had been words that he's  become the "New Kasich", with Biblical references on his lips and expressed concern for the underclass.  Didn't last long because it didn't give his poll numbers a lift.  So it was back to "no more Mr. Nice Guy", which we  already knew he wasn't anyway.

Even in Ohio, his protective media custody has begun  to falter.  The Plain Dealer's Henry Gomez  began his report with "Maybe  John Kasich would have been better off at the kiddie table."  And the Columbus Dispatch, his leading chaperone in Ohio,  headlined: "Kasich heads back to New Hampshire amid unfavorable reviews."

But a Republican Party  that was hospitable to the Tea Party and evangelicals when the latter began to invade it en masse years ago must now contend with the reality so vivified by Kasich's  demolition by the hard right that doubts his conservative purity. No longer is the GOP the only party separated from Democrats.  It must contend with being in third place, at least what's left of it, behind  the fringe that encourages Ben Carson to blatantly lie about so many things and Donald Trump to make history with nonsense about shipping 11 million illegals back to Mexico.

Kasich's empty boast that he knows how to land an airplane (which qualifies him to handle government's course!)  seems so trivial in comparison.

That much the Kasich campaign, as frivolous as it has been at times,  has shown us with his mauling by the current proprietors of the old Republican Party.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

UA leadership facing a critical test of confidence.

They're turning the page at the University of Akron for the next chapter in the somber tale of the rebranded House of Scarborough.  In a rare process that  could take several months, the Faculty Senate may be asked to deliver a no-confidence vote against the school's president, Scott Scarborough.

Small wonder.  Reaction to Scarborough has been growing for months on the downtown Akron campus among critics of his plan to eliminate a $40 million debt - a  plan that has creaked with notable errors, tactical reversals and questionable remedies. If  the University had been Rome, the Coliseum's beasts would have shattered it in their path.

It will be no simple task for the critics who want to resolve a long list of faculty grievances against Team Scarborough.  The situation worsened this week after  UA's Vice President of Advancement Lawrence Burns, who should have known better,  suggested that the faculty initiative may only be a bargaining  club  during current union negotiations.  His cold response was regarded as just one more example of how the school's top managers were indifferent to the general decline of UA's delivery system to student and faculty since the Scarborough team arrived on cmpus in June 2015.

"Not true! '" said Daniel Coffey, the  associate political science professor who inspired the direct-action idea of a head-on clash with the school's leadership, told me.  He noted  that the no-confidence measure was a reaction against  a number of academic problems caused by faculty and staff cutbacks and other shifts that are making life miserable for everyone affected.

Folks, this is not simply a question of the comfy paychecks that Scarborough and his imported cabinet  are receiving these days in their bizarre attack on UA debt.  Instead it's the kind of harsh stuff that seldom surfaces for the public that is paying the bills. Coffey has the list:

Class schedules on short notice that cramp a working student's efforts to safely take an outside job;   the replacement  of faculty openings with adjuncts (only  18 of 55 new hires are tenure- track level, says Coffey); unavailability of classes required of students even though their tuition is rising;  the departure of qualified professors who find the environment no longer acceptable; the replacement of ongoing faculty instruction with outside companies;  the absence of shared governance with the administration.

"We're not at all happy with this situation," Coffey says, now firmly daring the lion's den. It's easy to see why.

As for the steps that would lead to a Faculty Senate vote,  Senate president Bill Rich said it might not occur until February.

The Senate meets monthly, but none is scheduled for December because of the holidays. Next, it will have to consider a no-confidence proposal from an ad hoc senate committee.  Coffey is confident the measure will have the votes for approval by the entire senate.  Polling by the Akron AAUP indicated strong disfavor with the administration.

At that point, a powerful message could be sent to Scarborough and the fox-holed
Board of  Trustees that changes greater than debt-cutting are immediately necessary to create a healthier university that is now in disarray.

Presidents have been known to resign.  Right,  Missouri?

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

That cup: Starbucks at the gates of hell?

Time out from the   perilous unsettled issues of the world for a vicarious scandal of  Biblical proportion:

We refer,  of course, to the hoopla in  religious quarters over the new  Starbucks cup that has been accused of being a sinful denial of Christmas.  Some folks, including Bill O'Reilly,  have been crying out that we moderns are generating a pagan war on Christmas.  And now Starbucks, no pushover in the java business, has  presented its millions of customers a coffee cup with all of the Christmas symbols removed.

As Larry David exclaimed on Saturday Night Live in his brilliant impression of Bernie Sanders:  "We're doomed!"

Evangelical broadcaster  Joshua Feuerstein  went so far as to declare that Starbucks "hates Jesus".  That should tell you how far piety has gotten out of hand in our alleged pluralistic society.

I will leave Starbucks' decision up to the company that made it.  But war on Christmas, people?  If you walk the long indoor lanes at Summit Mall and other retailing giants,  you can't miss all of the new seasonal  kiosks already aimed at sending you home with an item for the holidays.

And there are lit Christmas trees, holiday music, swags, and a place where the kids can meet Santa any day now. All of this, mind you,  seven weeks before the Big Day.

So to the Christian critics of Starbucks new cups, I can only say be careful not to trip over the stray tinsel along the way. .

When a student talks, shouldn't Scarborough pay attention?

 Although many important  voices have been raised against the University of Akron's messy implosion, none should have more impact than the lament  of a student.

President Scarborough, meet Grant Morgan.

Without Grant Morgan and all of the other students who set foot on the campus hoping for a decent education of choice,  you wouldn't have a job.

I've never met Morgan, only through his words in a  letter a few days ago in the Beacon Journal.

The line that stood out beyond all of Scarborough's PowerPoint, pulpeteering, metrics  and assurances that the sun will again rise on the campus was Morgan's no-frills statement:

"Reading about UA's plight is painful; experiencing it is even more so. I sincerely  hope other students are not in the same dilemma of being mandated  to take courses, then denied the opportunity to take them."

The letter recounted his own problems of attempting to enroll in a course offered only once, late at night,  that interfered with his off-campus  outside work schedule.

He noted that during registration as a student he quickly felt the impact of a school with  "too little faculty, too many adjuncts and too little care for either."

Mr. Scarborough, there you have the entire issue wrapped up in the experience of  a student whose tuition is helping  to pay for your costly  upkeep.  What are you going to do about it? After all, even you refer to it as a " university"   and all that the word  should  promise  to a student!  

Monday, November 9, 2015

Portman: the 'jobs-seeking' hardhat senator

Somehow I just don't associate Sen. Rob Portman with a hardhat. With his blandness as a "commonsense conservative" - a tepid term itself that is meaningless - he's now turning up  in TV commercials with a  hardhat and a sincere message that he's "fighting for Ohio jobs".  Fighting?  Hardhat. Jobs. Get it?

We haven't seen much of the Cincinnati Republican up in our part of the Buckeye Woods, but he's  being challenged in the 2016 senate race by former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland and probably is anxious to get his campaign going before it's too late.
To that end, Karl Rove has already chipped in $1.12 million for the TV campaign.  But  can we all agree that another  million or so doesn't go as far as it used to?

Portman, George W. Bush's budget advisor, has been a blur  since the 2112  presidential campaign when not a pictorial moment flew by that didn't show him tagging along in jeans and work shirt at Mitt Romney's side. The gurus were sure that Mitt had swing-state Portman in mind for  his running mate.

Gurus, however, can be very impressionable and conventional thinkers, even those who seemed to think that a guy who votes with his party nearly all of the time is a "moderate".  (A persistent voice against funding Planned Parenthood. One of 47 Republican senators who signed Sen. Tom Cotton's  letter opposing the Iran deal.)   But with Mitt back on the shelf, Portman had to be satisfied with simply being the commonsense conservative in a borrowed hardhat.

So for the remainder of the campaign,   the most important job that he will be  fighting for is his own.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

A letter from Louise Harvey, friend of University of Akron

You are receiving this message because I think you may be concerned
about the direction of The University of Akron.

Under President Scott Scarborough and the Board of Trustees, 
questionable decisions have been made regarding hiring, job 
eliminations, contracts, budget and program changes, to name a few. A 
faculty survey showed 71% of the faculty lacked confidence in the 
President's ability to lead and participate in shared governance. Alumni 
and friends have begun withholding financial support.  The future of 
E.J. Thomas Hall is at risk.  The very identity of the university is 
threatened with renaming it "Ohio Polytechnic University."  The 
administration and Board of Trustees react to all concerns by denying 
they are problematic asserting that the questions "will go away."

If you share my opposition to what is happening, please take action.  
For more information go to the website of the AAUP and learn in depth 
what has been done:  Talk with your friends and family.

Send an email to the Board of Trustees
to President Scott Scarborough
to Vice President Larry Burns         
to the Alumni Office
to the Development Office

Or write to the Board of Trustees mailing address:  Board of Trustees, 
The University of Akron, Akron, OH 44325-4705. 

Or write a letter to the editor of either the Akron Beacon Journal or the Plain Dealer.

Let your voice be heard.

Finally, forward this email to others you think care about The 
University of Akron.  It has been built into a great research and 
teaching institution, and it is now at risk.

Friend of The University of Akron, 
Louise Harvey
(Louise Harvey is president of the University of Akron Women's Committee)

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Kasich says he's the most flawed in the room

The current issue  of the New Yorker (Nov. 9)  has a long piece  by George Packer of the Republicans' painful beauty contest that we used to call a presidential campaign.   While reviewing the entire landscape titled "The Republican Class War", Packer gets to  Gov. Kasich  in the New Hampshire precincts with some delicious paragraphs about the Ohio Traveler.

Some of the Kasich stuff we're heard many times before.  He boasts that he knows how to land a plane, a metaphor of his skill when he gets to the Oval Office .  There's his   Sunday morning sermon in his dismissal of his own importance as a live primate among lesser primates:  "We need  to live a life bigger than ourselves.  Life is not just  about me, me, me, me, me."

He's just getting warmed up to the Good Book,  Packer reports.   "I am the most flawed in this room, but I at least know  I give grace and every day I can start over and try to to something positive."

Kasich also  returns to his family album by referring to his late father as a  mailman.  But now he introduces us to his late mother, too, saying: "My  dad carried mail on his back.  My mother was a blue-collar housewife.   I understand anxieties about losing jobs."

And how would he chill those anxieties?   Chapter one , bold face, in the Republican Playbook:  The way to end anxiety  is to cut the budget and deregulate business.

But, as Packer writes, Kasich "offerered no  policy proposals to help the middle class."

Packer also stuck a an asterisk on Kasich's soaring boasts that he balanced the federal budget as a congressman.  The writer  noted that most of the credit "belonged to a booming economy."

If we're lucky, Kasich will drop out before he claims the ancient  Egyptian Travel Bureau  built the mighty pyramids to encourage tourism by the Assyrians.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Ben Carson an amateur doomed to rough landing

Latest word from the front arrived from Ben Carson as he defended himself against  critics who insist that he is unqualified to seek the presidency because he has no experience.  Whispered Carson:  The ark was built by amateurs; the Titanic was built by professionals. Ha. Ha.

Nice try, Doc.  So may we assume that you would get on an airplane built by amateurs?

Carson also spent some extra campaign time trying to explain why he had  been saying that he had turned down an invitation  to enroll at West Point when the Academy said it had no record of him ever being asked.  

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Morning Joe "characterizes" Ben Carson

Joe Scarborough says  Ben Carson has "character".

It's another glance at Morning Joe's's "severe  cognitive collapse" described by Daily Kos.  Character has several meanings, most of them positive, which is  how the MSNBC  morning host used it.

So now, is it fair to ask whether that measure of character  may be applied to  Carson, who is currently on a book-signing tour with a secondary  notion that he will be the president someday?

The retired neurosurgeon, whose  self-satisfied  smile and  hypnotic talking points are so  beguiling his audiences,  says  Obamacare is the "worst" thing that has happened to America since slavery.  That will send the country's  preeminent  thinkers  back to the history books for a second opinion.

 Remember 9/11,  the Great Depression, Dubya and in Texas, at least, the Alamo? (Sarah Palin would have been right up there, too, but mercifully didn't win.)

And, Joe, how about Carson's insistence  that the Egyptologists  got it all wrong,  the great pyramids were only convenient grain silos.

Or: Jews would have vanquished the Nazis if they all had guns.   And that Americans  should all have guns to defend their homes  against Islamic militants.

Hey, Joe, you've been wrong before.  You've now ranted  that the  problem with TV networks is that they've all  excluded conservatives.   But as Daily Kos recently pointed out, Fox TV's  Chris Wallace once hosted  NBC's  Meet the Press and former Nixon press aide  Diana Sawyer was an ABC news anchor.    There have been others.

Scarborough may not be satisfied until Rush Limbaugh has his own morning show on CBS.   And we all know that Joe himself is a former Florida Republican congressman. Some of us believe Rushbo is a character, too.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Surprise, surprise; Horrigan wins a landslide

Democrat Dan Horrigan's runaway victory in Akron's mayoral race was as predictable  as another  quarterback controversy for the Browns.  Eddie Sippien, a Republican lawyer, never had a chance, even as  Acme supermarket chief Steve Albrecht strangely  cast himself into Sippien's  life as his campaign manager.  (to help him with yard signs, among other things!)

GOP county chairman Alex Arshinkoff will  likely distance  himself from  his party's dismal mayoral outcome on Tuesday by excusing  the result  as the  quadrennial victim of the city's overwhelming Democratic numbers.    But some of us will keep in mind that the city elected two Republican mayors - Roy Ray and John Ballard -  at the height of the union power  of the United Rubber Workers.

For another reality check, consider that in recent years the GOP has lost it hold on several county offices,  including probate judge and prosecutor.  You might also add  that even in Cuyahoga Falls, Arshinkoff's favorite long-time mayor, Don Robart, was convincingly  upset in 2013 and repeated his  downward spiral in the X-rated Stow clerk's race, finishing dead last behind Arshinkoff nemesis Kevin Coughlin and the winner, Democrat Diana Colavecchio.

If I were still at my desk at the Beacon Journal, Jack Knight would have had me in his office once again to question the sorry state of the county Republican Party.  Write about it! he insisted , even though there was nothing new to report from my last party obit.

Even if Arshinkoff finally retires after nearly four  decades in the job,  he is likely to be succeeded by his cupbearer, Bryan  Williams.  That  couldn't help very much to rein in straying Republicans.   The reason, of course, is that...guess!

* * * * *

Interim Democratic Mayor Jeff Fusco, who held up well under trying circumstances after the unexpected resignation of Don Plusquellic, will return to his role as the county party chairman as well as to his seat as at-large city councilman. It was a challenge to step up from council president  - as required by the next-in-line rule of ascendancy  - into  the role of acting mayor.   But we didn't hear of any problems from the abrupt transition. When he called the next afternoon,  it immediately became obvious that he was not enjoying his victory.  He was hoarse and feeling awful from a sinus infection.
The good news for him was that the election was now  entered in the history books.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

UA's speechless merry-go-round

I have once again found that there are precincts  of the University of Akron that are on lockdown.  As in the case of the Multicultural Center, once believed to have been a victim of  the Scarborough administration's summer housecleaning. Sort of.

My curiosity was aroused by a private  top-level meeting the past Friday at City Hall between Mayor Jeff Fusco and UA President  Scott Scarborough, each flanked by his  own confederates.

Fusco had arranged the session in what at first  seemed to me to be a way of leveling the playing field on Scarborough's strictly controlled game plan for the  downtown campus.  The mayor was joined by City Planning Director  Marco Sommerville and two black ministers; in Scarborough's corner were Board of Trustees chairman and the CEO's first responder, Jonathan Pavloff,  as well as African-American trustees Olivia Demas  and Warren Woolford.

Something else apparently on the table:  the topsy-turvy  reports from last July that the Multicultural Center, which is serving minorities  and international students, was headed in a different direction that has yet to be defined by the front office.  From all that we could determine, the minority ministers had wanted a clearer focus on where that was ending up. Alas, in the end, Sommerville  told  me,  the session  didn't accomplish very much.

In July, word that the Center would be closed (its three staff members were dispatched)   was officially denied by the leadership. Or as spokesman Wayne Hill put it at the time,  "the programming and services will be supported in different ways."

The situation remains fluid in November to the concern of the students.

I tried to shake out an update on Tuesday on whether the Center was still functioning.   John Alvarez Turner, an associate director, said he wasn't authorized to talk to me.  He said that only the  Center's director, Lee Gill,was authorized to talk to a reporter. And Gill is now a cabinet member  on the Scarborough team.

I innocently asked Turner whether his office had been moved to new quarters but he responded by telling me to call Gill. I did , left a message, and didn't get a reply.

The situation, a disgraceful lockdown directed by Scarborough's desk, leaves many of us  to fill in the blanks.   And  in the face of so much criticism, the new UA Polytechnic fantasy is trying to play by its own fail-safe rules.  That's  false royalty for you.

Oh, I did hear from Wayne Hill, who e-mailed  an authorized response by late afternoon, which is as far I've gotten so far:
"Yes, the Multicultural Center is still functioning.  We are finalizing comprehensive plans to increase the impact of UA's inclusive excellence commitment and better coordinate the provision of services in a more convenient manner.  As previously reported, The Office of Inclusion &  Equity/Chief Diversity office, headed by Lee Gill, now reports directly to the President of the University.  The more comprehensive  plans will be communicated in in the days and weeks ahead."

Or not. Sounds more like a statement put together by a committee.


Kasich flailing on: Not a year soon

John Kasich is flailing.

He is driven to be more kinetic as a gimicky attention-getter to improve his awful polls.  His campaign is selling "limited edition" lapel buttons for $25 each.  He is running a  lottery  for a free trip to Milwaukee for the next Republican debate.  There are his  for-profit Kasich coffee mugs.  But hurry.

To his doubting right-wing hackers who scorn his support of Medicaid,  he insists he's been a conservative all of his life.  He invites us to read the Bible , which he reports has a "new part" and an "old part" to define his human outreach.   And, in his passion to do good for his fellow primates, he promises to buy a  Bible for anyone who doesn't have one.

Sometimes, he said on TV, "you just have to lead".  Who knew?

Heavens. I can't imagine where he'll take us on the home stretch clogged with Wall  Street metrics, Bible verses and proud references to his blue-collar youth.  And not a year too soon!

Actually there's nothing new about a candidate who chooses to flail. Over the many years of writing about the political class, I've witnessed more than one trailing candidate seeking new  and often ridiculous blast-offs for a desperate moon shot.  Kasich is even boasting of an endorsement from Arnold Schwarznegger, the muscle man from California.  That's  the state that Kasich once referred to as the home of wackadoodles.

So, Dear Readers, we must suffer our man Kasich for a while longer because, without adding a Biblical verse to his often profound insights about his alleged prospering days in Ohio:

"What is there not to like?"

Monday, November 2, 2015

Scarborough file adds new critical voice

We can now add the Beacon Journal's  editorial page editor Mike Douglas to critics of  UA President Scott Scarborough's bleak performance since his sceptered arrival from Toledo University.  For many months, Douglas offered his readers a virtual politically correct touch-and go job rating.

Not this time.  From the tone of the Douglas piece, the prez  has fallen more deeply into the mire of a badly scripted promise to  ease the school's $60 million debt.

Moreover, for the first time, the question appeared from a top row of the ivory
tower of whether Scarborough is professionally fit to manage the school.  Douglas wrote, in what can ony be a desperate shot across the bow:

''Is Scarborough, for all the promising ambition for the university, the right person to get the school there?   Jonathan Pavloff, the chairman of the university board of trustees,  describes the  president as possessing the 'precise talents' for the job.  Actually that isn't clear..."

Since the new Maestro took over the university with the sound of silence from the cowering trustees, it's been one thing after another as he  ignored critics and insisted that only those who don't understand his format for change  are now complaining.  He  was the model of the right way, some of it even shaped by his deeply religious Texas background that has referenced church people as the ones who stooped to pick up trash.

His campus culture was to be one of discipline, discipline,  discipline - an "organization engaged in disciplined thought and action."  He even initiated a new uniformed Corps of Cadets as a campus role model.  Meantime, he became embroiled in a badly executed name change for the school, which soured more people than he cared to acknowledge.

Throughout the upheaveal on the campus, he seemed to be conducting the thunderous Ride of the Valkyries as a lilting Strauss waltz.

Things are finally catching up.  From Douglas to mega-philanthropist Eileen Burg to the UA Women's Committee to the AAUP and to those of us who questioned his muddled game plan, the clock is ticking faster. At least we  are having more reason to hope .

I once worked for an editor who defended an unpopular decision by shrugging that if you want to make an omelet, you have to break an egg..  In the editor's case, his own egg was finally broken as he headed out the door.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Kasich lands in Doonesbury,but not safely

Did you happen to see that Gov. Kasich's starship made it to the Sunday comics pages.    But it's doubtful that he would be comfortable spreading the word.   We meet him in Doonesbury in which two guys are talking about the presidential election.  One of the characters said he was still undecided, but "John Kasich is growing on me."  The discussion goes nowhere until his shocked friend says in the last frame:  "Dude!  Do you LOOK at the ratings? Nobody knows who freakin' Kasich is."

Maybe we can help.  He's the guy that New York Magazine described as a "fidgeting neurotic"  in the Boulder debate.

To Priebus, even one strike and you're out

Reince Priebus,  the Republican National Committee chairman,  always reminds me of the ballplayer who strikes  out on three swings and blames the pitcher for not throwing a ball that he could hit.

So in an obvious pique following the Republican "debate"  in Boulder he blamed CNBC's panel for  screwing everything up for two hours by resorting to "gotcha" questions for the candidates - a group that he once described as "exciting".

The  event was another of the glorified pop quizzes to showcase the wisdom of  his crowd. But it didn't turn out that way with, for example, Ted Cruz saying a debate panel should include Rush Limbaugh as the others piled on with their own grievances.

Priebus saw the opening and took a giant step further than the eternal anti-media  complaints against the "liberal" press.    (Trust me. I frequently heard the charge  about the Beacon Journal  even though the paper's owner was a  Republican named John S. Knight.)

He was left with no option but to assert that NBC would be barred from all further party debates.  It doesn't get much dumber than that. The biggest applause line for Republican candidates  comes when they attack the media.  Apart from locking out NBC, the party also is tramping all  over press freedom to a network that, like it or not,  has been a part of the media-driven round-the-clock coverage that has made  these candidates larger than life.

Maybe Priebus should stop watching the Benghazi hearings where a bunch of surly  Republican congressmen have taken turns to make mindless speeches and assail Hillary
Clinton with "gotchas" that she has no trouble drilling out of the park.

As the late Yogi Berra once said of baseball, "Ninety percent of the game is  half mental."

The viewers got a strong reminder of that verity  from the last debate.

Sorry, Chairman Priebus.  Gotcha!