Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Trump a threat to major league baseball?

From one of our unimpeachable insiders of Major League baseball comes word of growing fears that  the 2016 presidential election could produce the greatest catastrophe  for the national pastime since the Black Sox scandal a century ago.  The source said that if Donald Trump is elected, he would first buy the American League outright and deport all of the Latin American players to their original countries.

After all, with Trump, all things are plausible.  Such apocalyptic action,  the source said,  is at  the very top of his agenda to make America great again by  removing "American" from the league's official  name until all of the Latin players are sent  home before some commit more low-life crimes, including rape.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Kasich says he's surging from the pack

As Gov. Kasich takes a deep breath and another gulp of he-man supplements for his 2016 stretch run to the New Hampshire primary,  the reports arriving from the front tell us that he's preparing to wind up  his $11.5 million TV ad campaign in the Granite State with a $5 million blitz from his piggy bank.

Kasich gleefully told ABC's This Week ''I''m surging,  as you know." But like so many of his claims that we didn't know,  it's the exhuberant side of him that leaves us wondering what his political fortune-telling  is all about as the polls tell us otherwise.  Again praising himself for his alleged historic success story in Ohio (to make the state great again?) he credited his ground game with  being the best among  all of the others'  campaigns,  adding that he has provided specific solutions to problems in the state.  "We just don't pontificate and have a bunch of rhetoric," he says of what he has called his Ohio Miracle.

Although money is supposed to solve most campaign challenges, he's counting on the final splurge of $5 million to put him across with the voters.  But there's evidence that a candidate must also have plenty  of curb appeal to give the money any chance to work.

Try these numbers: As history tells us, Rudy Giuliani spent more than $50 million per delegate.  John McCain bought each of his for $57,000.   And who can forget that John Connally, a Democrat who turned Republican, didn't earn more than one for  the $11 million he spent per  delegate in his failed 1980 presidential campaign?

OK, guv.  Splash your cash in a so-called decisive state where there are only 767,400 registered voters, no more than 30 pct. of whom are Republicans.      The only guaranteed investment benefit is that it will feed  the TV ad producers a lot more than the candidate ,  whether you pontificate or not.

That's one way of looking at it

                  Cartoonist: Mike Lynch

Monday, December 28, 2015

Stumping the Trump

When I was a kid in small-town Pennsylvania, I and my pals  would meet  in the field next  to my parents' home to roast potatoes until they were charred by the fire we had created  in a small hole.  Exciting, huh?

To make life more interesting when one of the boys didn't bring along his big-little book with naughty pictures, we entertained ourselves with tongue-twisters.   The one that has survived the ages with me is shown below, with a modern  update that substitutes the word  "skunk"  with "Trump".

A Trump sat on a stump.The Trump thunk the stump stunk and the  stump thunk the Trump stunk.
If the Trump thunk the stump  stunk and the stump thunk the Trump stunk, who stunk?  The Trump or the stump?

That's kind of how it's being going on the stump in the presidential campaign, don't you think?

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

At UA, classroom history may be something else

In this moment of  good cheer, I don't want to be the grump who mashed a potato or two.  But when I see a front page  headline in my hometown paper describing a bowl  victory by the Akron  Zips as making history in Idaho, the only thing that quickly comes to mind is the school's shrinking  history department.  There, the playing field is considerably  smaller in the new universe of Ohio's Polytechnic University .

I am told by a respectable campus source that the department  faculty is now down to 16 from a level of 24 - a one -third decline.     Deck  the halls!

Can you imagine the shrieks if the football team fielded only nine players instead of 11? That would be historic.  

I know it's blasphemous  for a casual college football fan like me, or anyody else,  to raise such  rhetorical non-academic questions . Maybe that small group of businessmen will   explain it in their next ad.  

Merry Christmas

Season's greetings with considerable help from Nancy's dedication to a bird-adorned 
Christmas tree whose many feathered occupants, unfortunately, you can't see in the photo.   From me, I can only offer thanks to all of you whose support has encouraged me to plow on editor-less,  typos et al ,  since 2008.  Make 2016 your best!     

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

The full frontal Donald Trump

When Donald Trump berated Hillary Clinton for being a minute late  from a potty break during the recent Democratic debate, he not only described her as "disgusting" but also injected  a word that sent many of us to the dictionary.   He said she was "schlonged" by the Democratic Party in 2008.

I discovered that schlong was as a vulgar Yiddish word, and you can take it from there.  But it should surprise nobody that Trump resorted to barracks talk in his latest assessment of Hillary and her bathroom needs.  His  entire off-the-page presidential spectacle has been a full frontal public schlong.  Folks, we are seeing Donald  Trump as the new abnormal of national  politics.

Season's greetings

Did anyone remember to bring
  the milk bones to the party?

Monday, December 21, 2015

UA gets a boost,sort of, from some business people

Shortly after my Sunday ABJ arrived with a full page tribute  to the University of Akron, I received an email from a reader with the alert that "The Empire Strikes Back". It  was  satirically linked  to the current frenzy over a new episode of Star Wars, which is sort of how I feel about the belated reclamation project  for the school's reputation  by a relative handful of Akron business  people who signed the FirstEnergy-paid ad.

Unfortunately the ad repeated  the chestnuts that have been put out by  the beleaguered UA administration under President Scott Scarborough,  as in "accepting change is difficult" while his playbook is leading  the school into mediocrity  with fumbled cutbacks,  failed recognition by his new team of hometown loyalties to the downtown campus, dysfunctional   and incoherent initiatives (think: E.J.  Thomas hall et al) , and fattened salaries for  Scarborough's imported executives.

Scarborough's preacherly view  of the landscape has come across more as hubris than sensitivity to the climate hereabouts.    It was startling to hear him  explain  at  an Akron Press Club speech  that the reason the UA's  new rebranding title is "Ohio's Polytechnic University" (rather than  Akron's) was to tell people where Akron is.
So much for today's geography lesson.

So now the school's development department is said to have  reached into the  business column  for custodial  help to solve  Team Scarborough's image problem rather than the  school's debt. You would think that with his half-million  salary and perks he could have managed himself.

In  the ad's last breath, the text said:

"We recognize that the benefits of such change and natural evolution are critical to the growth of the University,  our businesses and our entire region.  In a quickly changing world  we either keep up with change  or risk  being left behind."  That's doubtless what was said at Chipotle's  latest board meeting.

Among the 'we' who signed the ad are companies  who do business with UA as well as other interests.

Nowhere does the ad mention Scarborough, nor, for that matter, the trustees - the gatekeepers who should  not have let the damage occur in the first place.

They should paste Yogi Berra's wisdom  on their office walls:  "We made too many wrong mistakes."

Friday, December 18, 2015

Chris Christie's tale from the crypt

I humbly offer this vignette as an example of the infinite incoherence on the stage of the latest Republican debate with Chris Christie showing off his chest-pounding grip on foreign policy . (There were many examples of his rivals' dumber moments, but we sort of like the Christie photo and will stick with the New Jersey governor for this sampling  from a home-state  medium  that knows him best, N.J.Com,  to wit:
"On ISIS let's be clear.  The president needs to be a force that's trusted in the world" Christie said. "This president's not trusted...but I'll tell you this.  When I stand across from  King  Hussein of Jordan, and I say to him, 'You have a friend again, sir, who will stand with you to fight this fight,' he'll   change his mind."
As NJ.Com quickly noted:

King Hussein of Jordan died in 1999.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Trump: 25 years ago in PLAYBOY

The one on the right is Donald Trump, who was already  trying to make America great on the cover of a March 1990 PLAYBOY. He sat for a interview in which he revealed the full self-satisfied  human catastrophe that is the blustering 2015 version:
 On presidential ambition?  "I don't want the presidency.  But if I ever ran for office, I'd do better as a Democrat than  as  a  Republican - and that's not because I'd be more liberal, I'm conservative.  But the working guy would elect me. He likes me.   When I walk  down the street those cabbies start yelling out their windows."

On foreign policy:   He wouldn't trust anyone, allies or enemies.  For him as a super hawk the only things that works is "extreme military strength".

On flaunting wealth:  ''A display is a good thing.  It shows people you can be successful. It can show you a way of life."

Throughout the interview,a remarkable insight into  the earlier man,  his ego is never restrained, because as he puts it: "Every successful person has a large ego."

  And now, 25 year later, he in fact wants to be your president. But first you should make an effort to read the entire interview. Poke around online and you may find it.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

GOP muscles up in another scary Demolition Derby

 Takeaways that would be best left on stage from the Republicans frantic moon shots in Sin City:
  • Our Gov. Kasich's  pugnacious boast that he would  "punch Putin in the nose."  It was one of his notable "guy" things to demonstrate our fearless foreign policy.  That struck a rousing note at Ohio Republican headquarters, which promptly issued a puffy press  release about the governor 's vision of a "clear" solution to defeat ISIS.    Oh, the statement then  requested a $25 contribution to the campaign. 

  • Ted Cruz's satanic endorsement of carpet bombing Syria to destroy ISIS, regardless of whether  it would kill a lot of innocent Syrian adults and children.  I think Ben Carson , a neurosurgeon, agreed with  Cruz, noting that brain surgery is painful to the patient, too.  

  • All of the world's troubles  have been caused by President Obama, to whom Hillary was hyphenated in every reference.Most of the candidates sneakily endorsed an ISIS plan that the U.S. is already carrying out.

  • Donald Trump, with the mugging hubris of a carefree billionaire, argued that  America should hang out the No Admission  sign to Muslims and, if elected, he guaranteed that he would keep us safe.
  • .
  • Carley Fiorina, the exiled corporate CEO, asserted that America could solve its internet  crisis over enemy encryption by inviting corporate America to take over the challenge.  "But it hasn't been asked," supposed Carley.  (A personal note:  I've just gone through many painful hours on the phone with a major internet provider in the wake of a browser update on my computer to resolve the ensuing issues.  Finally, a new voice on the phone corrected the original problem in a couple of minutes simply by leading me to an on-screen icon we hadn't visited before! And I wasn't encrypted.)

  • Kasich boasted  that he balanced the budget in Ohio (an act of mercy  required by the Ohio Constitution).  

  • Trump, a white collar terrorist engaged in a hostile takeover of the Republican Party, was put  off  by the nature of the hostile  questions directed to him.

  • Jeb! was feistier and the least scary of the herd as he worked on a new liftoff for his distant campaign.

  • When  the wannabes mercifully ended their cranky self-serving busiwork in chaos,  the two principal demonic characters - Trump and Cruz - left me in a panic that I might have to endure  either one for four years.  

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

On the other hand, shipping is free!

Our nomination for the most ill-timed ad of the year goes to SHARPER IMAGE for this numbing sales pitch in the the New York Times.  It's hustling a $399 Hover Board  as THIS YEAR'S HOTTEST gift . That much is the highest truth in advertising after  reports that these two-wheeled New World  conveyors have caught fire more than 11 times and some riders have fallen.  Serious enough for Amazon to withdraw them from its  online markets and airlines have banned them.  

Monday, December 14, 2015

On maniacs: Takes one to know one

The week's wash:

We knew that if we hung around long enough the Republican  presidential candidates would give us all a stronger sense of reality.  That occurred when Donald Trump referred to Ted Cruz as a "little bit of a maniac".  That makes two of them.

* * *

In spite of the dire reports about the panicky free-for-all in the Republican Party (see above),   Rob Portman is  much more upbeat about his party  these days as he campaigns for reelection. The Cincinnati senator described the party as "strong"  and is getting stronger  as voters turn to the GOP to destroy ISIS.  On Bloomberg TV he said that "probably based on the polling I've seen, what I heard, it [ISIS] probably helps the Republican Party."   The downside for the senator:  "Does the meaning of IRAQ change if your party spelled it backwards?"

* * *

Gov. Katich  says he can explain why he is running so far behind in the polls in the presidential  race.    It's the news media, that's why.  He told USA Today:  "Well, look, when the media just constantly drools over [Trump] and when he's - if I were on television as much as he was, I'd probably have 50 percent  of the vote. "

Well, look, as the guv often prefaces his remarks,   viewer preferences for some old TV reruns over yours  may have a lot to do with it.

* * *      
 As the faith-based anti-science climate deniers check in on the historic Paris accords I'll turn to a statement in National Geographic by astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson:

"I don't know if science can save us.   What I do know is that  the absence of science will kill us."

Saturday, December 12, 2015

The Kid can also run back punts

Enthroned in an affirmative action case, Justice Antonin Scalia suggested that some minority students should be detoured to a  "less advanced school, a slower-track school  where they do well."  May we guess that he whispered to Justice Clarence Thomas, an affirmative action  recipient himself for the Supreme Court seat,  that his remarks were in no way  intended to refer
to an all-state African American high school quarterback eagerly sought by Harvard?

Friday, December 11, 2015

UA: Why can't we all be friends?

May we assume that the big ad in Friday's Beacon Journal critical of the University of Akron's  top leadership may  have at least been scanned by President Scott Scarborough over  his morning coffee while also interrupting the long sleepover by the school's trustees?

I mean, a sharply targeted reminder by more than 325 concerned campus and around-town UA supporters sent a graphically clear message: lot of folks are quite fearful that the school is going to hell under Scarborough's teflon management.  It wasn't the first time that the anger and frustration  have erupted on the campus.

The best that the front office could offer in its official porous defense was forwarded to the ABJ readers by UA spokesman Wayne Hill, who responded with an authorized version from on high:

"We believe that what is best for the University of Akron and the greater Akron community is for those who care about both to work together to  ensure  the university's long-term success and continued positive impact on the community."

Nice try.

 It should be obvious by now that from the time Scarborough settled into the job some 18 months ago, he was driven by his own ideas on how to attack the school's $40 million shortfall - ideas that were rejected by the faculty   at the University of Toledo where he once worked - and God help those  who declared,  "Whoa there, pony."  He arrived with a sense of entitlement that shaped the tone and execution of his mission.

Work together with his critics?  As he once put it, his critics simply didn't understand what he was trying to accomplish .By his narrow standard, it takes only one to tango.

And the trustees who sat quietly in the wings as the school's debt grew under Scarborough's predecessor Luis Proenza?    There appears to be a sacred   board rule that only chairman Jonathan Pavloff  can speak for the other political appointees.  It's fair to ask what do the trustees really do beyond showing up for meetings for a public university. You tell me.

So the bow is bent.  More arrows will  fly in the paper on Saturday and Sunday with ads  2 and 3.  

Thursday, December 10, 2015

A season not ready to be merry

When Timothy McVeigh, a Catholic white  guy who was described as a  "strong Christian,"  blew up the federal building in Oklahoma City  on April 19, 1995,  the blast killed 168 people.

But there wasn't - and should not have been - an outcry to ban all  Catholic white guys from our shores.  That poisonous  notion was reserved  for another group over the years for Donald Trump's heated attacks on Muslims and now  sustained by more than 25 pct. of those identified  as Republicans.

At the same time, the panicky flock of   other GOP  candidates  who talk so fearlessly   about destroying ISIS have yet to show the rest of  us how they intend to  destroy
America's first billionaire demagogue whose rhetoric is  the equivalent of shouting fire in thousands of crowded theaters.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

With Trump around , hold your breath

This Reuters photo of masked Chinese in smog-bound Beijing should remind us that with Donald Trump polluting the air with his deranged  campaign spiel , we will all be forced to don masks sometime soon.  

P.S.With the first team of Republican pols agonizing  over Trump's lead in the polls, I must confess to  enjoying moments of schadenfreude in my delight over their misery.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Put this one on the tab

The seasonal bar is getting crowded already..

Monday, December 7, 2015

WealthTrust demands a retraction

We have received a letter from Kenneth J. Coleman. managing partner of Fairport Asset Management of Cleveland.  a  WealthTrust company,  demanding a retraction of my statement in a recent column regarding the hiring of startup company Trust Navigator by the University of Akron trustees.

I had erroneously written that Richard Pogue, former UA board chairman, and Sandra Pianalto, an advisory trustee of the board, were board members of WealthTrust.

Here is the heart of the Coleman letter:

'"We have no idea where you obtained your information, but these statements  are 100 pct. false.  In reality, neither Richard Pogue nor Sandra Pianalto has ever been  a board member (or any type of employee or contractor for that matter) of WealthTrust Fairport, LLC or any company affiliated with WealthTrust.  As an experienced journalist and writer, you are certainly well aware that free speech rights do not protect speech containing lies or unfair untrue statements that are defamatory and  libelous.

"We have already consulted our legal counsel on this matter.  Upon advice of counsel, we request that you publish a retraction of the untrue statements  referred to above.  Such retraction should be published in the same forum where the false and libelous statements were originally made.  Further we are advising you to immediately cease and desist from making any further false statements  about WealthTrust Fairport LLC.  Our counsel stands ready to take legal action as necessary , and  such legal action will seek recovery  from you not only the damage to our business reputation but also for our legal fees, court costs of enforcing protective orders  and other costs that are necessary to enforce  our rights.

"We look forward to your expedient attention to these  very important matters".

As I have done on the infrequent occasions  of professional error in more than a half-century,  I   hereby retract.  It appears that I went off the road from a report in BloombergBusiness  that listed Heather Roulston Ettinger,  as a "managing partner" which I misread as referring to WealthTrust when in fact she has that position with Fairport  Asset Management, a WealthTrust company.

The same report lists both Pogue and Pianalto as "board  members affiliated  with Heather Ralston Ettinger".   I also wrote that she is the sister of Tom Roulston III, the founder of  Trust Navigator, which indeed she is.

But I missed the point that such affiliation didn't mean WealthTrust, or possibly for that matter, Fairport Asset,  board membership. Did I get that right?


Sunday, December 6, 2015

Ready, choir?

Boo- hoo.  I can't find my baton.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Portman and other GOPers pamper the base

 As the presidential winter Olympics move  closer to the Big Year, the candidates and their confederates are showing no signs that they  are prepared to abandon their  caregivers in pursuit of Barack  Obama. From the wilds of New Hampshire to the Disneyland on Capitol Hill, the past week 's events have been glued to discrediting the term-limited president who won't be on the ballot.

Confusion was rampant. What, you might ask, did the GOP missionaries have in mind when they voted to block EPA rules limiting greenhouse gas  emissions.  Being nasty was their way of telling the world that they strongly objected to Obama's climate change initiative in the wake of his meetings in Paris with others to  give us cleaner air to breathe. It was the Republicans'  monstrously crude way to demonstrate, first things first, their mad strategy  to undercut the president.

Next, in the wake of the San Bernardino massacre,   Senate Republicans voted against a couple of attempts to tighten the control of guns.  Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, d.b.a. the NRA, joined 9 other Republicans in fighting off stricter gun measures

Portman, you may recall , is a candidate for reelection against Democrat Ted Strickland and describes himself as a "common sense" conservative.  But as we've mentioned before, he's a tag-along conservative who prefers to do only those horrible things to please the party's base

Base? Are we talking about the current state of the party in which nearly half  believe that Obama is a Muslim?  Or a chorus line   of meek presidential candidates  who carefully sidled past  San Bernardino offering little more to the conversation than their "thoughts and prayers".  Ted Cruz, a man of no known conscience  and even less respect for the newly dead,    acknowledged the moment by appearing at a gun show of unity.  Can you remember a more tasteless display of insensitivity?

Get used to it, folks.  This group of outliers is seeking allegiance from Tea Partiers, frantic religious conservative, racists and haters of anything with a government stamp on it, which would include the workers who clear your street after a snowstorm and the ones who come to your mailbox every day  with your social security checks.

Led by Donald Trump, who now seems to be caricaturing himself for comic effects,  they all claim to have the answers.  We know they don't.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

What does arrival of advisory group say about Scarborough's ability?

If you have felt some heavy winds in the weather around the University of Akron campus  in recent days, they may very well have been produced by the rush of the city's business community to offer its services to the troubled school.

In short order, a full page Beacon Journal ad called for a detente between the opposing forces to allow  more time for the UA leadership's poorly  executed  rebranding and debt reduction plans to work. Under the headline COME TOGETHER, the ad bore the names of seven heavyweight CEOs.  That was quickly followed up with a UA annnouncement that another ad hoc group of businessmen had formed a "University of Akron  Business Executive Advisory Council"  to work  - on call - with President Scott Scarborough and the reclusive board of trustees to resolve issues that have swept the campus.

Interesting.  As one who has been trying to piece together the  palpable fallout in the wake of the new administration that arrived a year and half ago on the downtown campus, I can only conclude that with so many business leaders now on tap, there is  real panic motivating the guardians of the school's. reputation.   One source mentioned to me  that it looked more like a receivership in the works.

Some history:

For starters, it might be helpful if Scarborough was a little less stuffy about his management skills and widened his vision to include the surrounding off-campus territory.  When Team Scarborough settled in with a ringing fanfare,  the school was already deeply in debt, an untidy situation left by his predecessor,  Luis Proenza and  a napping board of trustees who dared not question  the red ink that was flowing from a multimillion-dollar building plan that included a a new $60 million football stadium.

Unfortunately, Scarborough, a  man with no lack of self-confidence, simply took a bad situation and made it institutionally worse as he surrounded himself with a bunch of highly paid executives for his unchallenged command-and-control  changes to the school's name (Ohio's Polytechnic  University) and other initiatives to reach out farther for enrollment.   Keep in mind that among the target models was Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, which showed a 5.34 pct.decline  in enrollment this year.

Among the UA victims was the downsizing of E.J. Thomas Hall, the  iconic performing arts fountain that has extended UA's reputation far and wide. Various disciplines were raided.  Faculty found other campuses.  On the other hand, Scarborough's obsession with personal behavior led to the creation of a student cadet corps with the same mission as the ROTC already active on campus.

But now it is fair to ask: Why does a guy hired by the trustees and paid around a half-million dollars with princely perks in return for his touted management ability now need a squad of businessmen to bail him out? And where have the reclusive trustees been idling for so long as the royal debt piled up?

The business force will find there is much to do, starting at the top.  Frankly, I don't have a clue where this will end up.  I do know that one of the businessmen mantioned in the ad  isn't shy  about talking about it.  That's Joe Kanfer the CEO  of GOJO Industries ,  who was honored this year as the recipient of  the  Akron Community Foundation Bert A. Polsky Humanitarian Award. He is a former outspoken UA trustee who isn't cut out to let anything be swept under the textbooks.

Kanfer gave me a brief preview of his mission to return UA to a peaceful and honorable existence.  But he doesn't want anybody to think he's just coming along for the ride.

"The university of Akron is an important part of the area.," he says in his usual hurried voice.  '"And I want it to come together again."

He also  offered a word of caution to everyone involved:  "I won't be a rubber stamp."

I've seen Kanfer in action before and can assure you that he's far from being a rubber stamp. I believe you will be hearing more from Joe before this epic tale of woe ends.