Saturday, May 30, 2015

Dispatch's Kasich boom-boom machine without a brake pedal.

If anybody needed any further evidence that the Columbus Dispatch  is committed to sending Gov. Kasich to the White House,   a single day's effort the  past week captured the spirit of the paper's cravings.   The paper ran six items about their candidate in one political package.

The items ran from his hiring a "veteran political pollster,"  to tapping a veteran  New Hampshire pollster as his state director.  He also was seen building toward a presidential run and  qualifying for the Fox News debate in Cleveland, whose DeMille bloated cast of candidates was headed by five - five! - frontrunners , each with a thundering  10 percent rating.  Kasich  had 2 percent in the same poll, at this point still good enough to be included in the group.

But with so many other GOP bounty hunters still unannounced, Kasich could come in as number 12 or  15 and be out of contention.

For now, there are some risks involved in the Dispatch's game plan:  Can a newspaper peak too soon?

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Have you noticed that the old John Kasich is now the new John Kasich? Right.

The snap and bite in his words have disappeared. So have the swagger and metallic self-confidence. No more “bustin’ chops” with his friend Chris Christie before the awful bridgework. No more ill-humor that led to a blistering attack on a cop in a traffic stop. No more warnings to lobbyists that if they’re not on his bus they will be run over. No more assaults on unions (he says he’s only against those unions that “don’t make things.”) He doesn’t ‘even feature his loony balance-budget talk scorned by experts. The hard edge, folks, is gone.

Instead, thanks to careful grooming by his image-makers for his current “presidential maybe” campaign, he is a good guy with an ear-to-ear grin, even a big laugh, with neatly combed hair and a neighborly goodwill that cheerfully reveals him as South Pacific’s “Cockeyed Optimist”. As he glowed to ABC’s Jonathan Karl, “I’m increasingly optimistic”. He said he was “very pleased” with what he ”found on the ground’ in New Hampshire, South Carolina and Michigan on his missionary visits. And he truly loves New Hampshire.

(Mitt Romney only mentioned that he loved the trees in Michigan because they are “just right height.”)

Optimism? Of course. The Oval Office requires deep experience, he says, and he has it like nobody else. Foreign policy: Can the problems of the Middle East be solved? “Absolutely,” he says, with a coalition of allies, that included American boots on the ground.

Meantime, he’s not going to fuss with those Republican candidates who want a more direct approach with U.S. troops. He says he loves Marco Rubio and is not going to go after him. Nor will he settle for veep. “Forget it. Forget it. Forget it,” he crackles, the old chutzpah returning. He simply won’t settle for second place.

But wait. As Plunderbund just reported, the big Koch Brothers outfit Americans for Prosperity will stage its American Dream Summit in Kasich’s base of Columbus in August with a galaxy of conservative headliners. Kasich wasn’t invited. That could only mean that the Kochs don’t believe our governor will be much of a draw by then.

Maybe the guv should have said something nice about the trees in New Hampshire.

Reposted from Plunderbund 

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

But he left out Zoroastrians and radical Cathars

In a bizarre reference to American colleges and universities, presidential candidate Rand Paul declared: "You and I shouldn't leave the next  generation of leaders to  be brainwashed by America[-hating socialists and Marxists.  Noting it in his New York Times column, Andrew Rosenthal  labeled it  as "just right-wing propaganda."   Still, Mr. Paul our coveted Grumpy Abe Linguistic Lunacy (GALL) award,  just eking out such recognition from all of the other GOP presidentials.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Revere attacks charters' huge red schoolhouse.

We should all be enormously grateful that the five-member  Revere Board of Education is taking the charter schools issue directly to Gov. Kasich and the Ohio General Assembly.    Joining other charter critics, the Board unanimously passed a resolution signaling its deep concern about the threat to public education by the charter behemoth that is cutting into state revenues with the billion-dollar  tax supported private charter industry in Ohio.

Evidence abounds for the indictment of the charters,. The board called for the end of the proliferation of  charter schools, certainly including the under-performing ones .   One figure noted by the board is sufficient to tell the story:  The state sends to Revere $398 for each  student.  a charter school receives $6,099  for each Revere equivalent.

Although there have been  more or less pantomimed moves by the governor and lawmakers for greater charter accountability, I wouldn't rely on the outcomes. For happier results, the Revere Board  must attach a check to the governor 's or lawmaker's treasury along with the resolution.

That's  how the charters  grew, and grew,  and grew... right out of the White Hat owners playbook.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

GOP hawks playing Selfie, Selfie in their mirror on the wall

As we headed into  Memorial Day to honor the dead of our countless wars,  the mournful  moment -  if we stepped back from the patio grills  and mall sales counters to  think about it -  didn't discourage those prominent  Republican Rambos who  crazily called for America to send another 10,000 troops to Iraq, some of whom would be remembered next year among the dead.

It 's largely a guy thing in which nothing of conscience will shut them up. After all, Barack Obama is still the president and didn't he mess up foreign policy to  create ISIS when he wasn't screwing up everything else for the country?  Seasonly adjusted, they awkwardly towed their ideas into the public arena, often self-conflicted.

Well, no he didn't.

But ever since Obama moved into the office, his Republican critics, particularly the garden variety presidential candidates, have desperately tried to scandalize him.  Regarding the Middle East nightmare,  he was their  only safe  option  for disgraced failure  since the record will show that George W. Bush was  the perp who was one of them with Dick Cheney at his side. .

So now as we look ahead to the 2016 plague,  chest-pounding Rambos like Sen. Lindsey Graham, the impossible dreamer, is reaching for a  higher altitude by asserting: "I believe
I'm the best qualified of anybody on our side of the aisle to offer an alternative to a failed  foreign policy of Barack Obama."

 As evidence of his godly insights, he proposed sending 10,000 troops to Iraq and Syria.

 Next came Rick Santorum, who declared: "There isn't anybody else considering running for president that has the experience that I have."  We could only take that silly thought to mean his experience in forever running for president. Blah. Blah. Blah.

Meantime, the Columbus Dispatch reported that its probable candidate of choice,
Gov. Kasich, backed away from the troops issue, saying he wouldn't have supported the Bush invasion  "KNOWING WHAT WE KNOW NOW" for God's sake. (He's still waiting for word from God on his next move.)

Dubya based his rationale for the war on weapons of mass destruction.   Not much mention of that now, unless the GOPers decide to hold their first  presidential debate in
Baghdad, themselves appearing as living and breathing WMDs aimed at America.

(P.S. Other than those 10,000 troops, not one of the Rambos has expressed a clue to how to carry out their plans.)

Friday, May 22, 2015

Life on the polytechnic fast track...




of, relating to, or offering instruction in a variety of industrial arts, applied sciences, or technical subjects;  A polytechnic institute.  

Now that the University of Akron is already redefining  itself in its ads  (See West Side Leader Akron Roundtable  ad) as "The University of Akron /Ohio's Polytechnic University", it left us with no choice but to pitch out the nine old-fashioned dictionaries in our house and wait for the new updated ones issued by UA. 

Thursday, May 21, 2015

From UA: Take that, John S. Knight

OK, class.  Whose dumb idea  was it for the University of Akron, a public enterprise, to withhold information from the media (read: public info)  about  the rebranding studies by four consultants  paid from  an unrestricted   foundation grant bearing the name of the late John S. Knight?

For the enlightenment of the campus newcomers on the block, no one was more  aggressive about press freedom than Knight, but  the $111,000 from the grant did just the opposite.  How ironic.  How dumb. (And we didn't even mention those four presidents of northern Ohio public universities who strongly criticized  new UA president Scott Scarborough for references to Ohio State University and Miami University of Ohio as the the standards to achieve  his lone wolf  "repositioning"  plan!)

Let the symposium begin.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Baseball, politics work well for Plusquellic

So there, dominating the BJ's front page this morning,  was a smiling Mayor Don Plusquellic shaking hands with Ken Babby, the owner of the AA RubberDucks, as they announced that the Eastern League all-star game would be played this summer at Canal Park in downtown Akron.

Great news for business, right? And it firmly caps his history of promoting the construction of the new stadium and bringing a new team to the city.  Not the first  good deed for the mayor as he navigated enough rough moments  by local pols  and armchair critics, the latter of whom saw the man not as an honest  cheerleader and doer for his city but one who had "cooked up" a reason for retiring this year.

On the other hand,  some of the town's achievers thought the positive upside deserved far more attention.  In full-page ads, folks like Babby and Elizabeth Bartz sought to emphasize the mayor's great value  during his 28 years in office.   In all of those years covering the mayor, we've had some disagreements, but  I've never  known him to cook up anything.  And it was possible for the truth to hurt.

But that was then.  Print journalism wasn't performed from a foxhole but on the sidewalks, the union halls, the restaurants and watering counters where the local pols had lunch,  and in the crowds at the Labor Day parades without benefit of cell phones. I'm well aware that it's another world today,  but hardly a better one.

Plusquellic's departure is already causing alarm among  his hometown  Democratic friends.   Although they see positives in Council President Garry Moneypenny's rise to fill out Plusquellic's unexpired term,  they are also concerned  about the sort of candidate who might emerge to oppose him in the party primary.  Councilman Mike Williams, for example, who ran against Plusquellic before, reportedly is telling people that if he becomes mayor he would fire everybody at City Hall and only accept legislation advanced by his own faction on City Council.

There will be no end to reprisal politics in the stretch to the November election  (primary on September 8).   If Democrats are running scared today, they should be.  As for the Republicans,  Chairman Alex Arshinkoff may be working out a name in his meetings at the Diamond Grill  with his  wealthy cronies at the University of Akron.  Either that, or finding a way to gossip that Moneypenny will be indicted for some unknown  crime, as  the GOP Boss foolishly did so often  in trying to take down Plusquellic.

To end the nonsense, do you think Moneypenny should invite Arshinkoff to throw out the first ball at a RubberDucks game  in Canal Park this summer?

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Scarborough: Technology serves the humanities, too

Technology  has become such a schoolyard word  at  the University of  Akron that it led me to the Mirriam-Webster dictionary, a usually reliable resource, to check out my long  indifference to what it means.  Being a humanities kind of guy, I had never  before looked up the meaning, figuring that I wouldn't understand it anyway.  But since I went  to the trouble, here's what I can report from Mirriam-W:
"The use of science, engineering, etc. to invent useful things or to solve problems. (2)A machine, piece of equipment, method, etc., that is created by  technology."
My stiffly postured Victorian novel Professor Secord, who precisely timed every session with a pocket watch, doubtless would have  been offended to be called a technocrat (except for that damned watch!)   But that's where they're headed these days at UA., which historically has largely appeared as a passive community in deference to   the more refined society that  dined at Portage Country Club.

The school's new president, Scott  Scarborough, made a valiant effort in his Cleveland City Club speech to defend his plan to send off the school in a new direction by affixing the idea of a polytechnic institute  to the formal name.   He referred to it as "respositioning",  a rebranded  public university to meet  its modern challenges.  And challenges they will be as the new CEO on the block attempts to prepare for whatever was left undone by the old CEO.

Think: $487 million debt,  declining enrollment, a surging Architectural Age  plan since the early 2,000s that sprang up 24 new buildings  to re-face the campus.  And sagging faculty morale in the neighborhood of the humanities.    Add to all of this the  state-of-mind of  cost-cutting legislators,  many  of whom are overfed hacks and dead-enders.  Gov.Kasich issued the order of the day: Cut the fat, which serves more as another  terse budgetary threat from Columbus than  a serious problem solver.

Yes, Scarborogh's presence has already met with the approval of the establishment as well as the Beacon Journal, who always kindly welcomes a new prez in UA's revolving door.("The name won't' change, but much will," the hometown paper advised us on the editorial page. The paper itself has already repositioned its type face for headlines, a cosmetic facial to attract more readers.  But that's another story.)

It would be a labor of love to parse Scarborough explanation of the symbiotic   relationship between  technology and the humanities.  My hunch is there won't be many people on Main Street who don't think that refers solely to UA's strength in polymer research.

Meantime, the loneliest faculty members will be waiting for more shoes to drop in the humanities classrooms  no matter what the new fellow tells us.  Departments have already  been depleted or abandoned and its costly new football stadium to lure fans and well-paid celebrity coaches still  has the look of a ghost-grid.

But that, too, is another story.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Jeb Bush, the multiple-choice candidate

In case you've been distracted by  less critical matters, I should tell you that the national media are reporting that George Pataki may run for president.

George Pataki?  As Gail Collins scolded her readers in the New York Times, how could you not remember the guy who was New York's Republican  governor for 12 years, though not the last eight? He says he will announce his plans on May 28.  That would be the day after Rick Santorum, a quadrennial candidate who's never been governor of New York, reveals what he says will be a "major" announcement.  May we guess?

Still more dramatic will be  Donald  Trump's "exciting" announcement in June. After all, he says, the country is going to Hell.

And even still more dramatic, Lousiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, a presidential wannabe,  brashly called on the Pope to keep his nose out of politics.  Sadly for him, Bobby has yet to regain his focus since he fizzled in his response to President Obama's State of the Union address.

But the most consuming news these days has been about the Brothers Bush. Jeb, media-projected as the chosen one by the GOP establishment because he was the least craziest in the field,  has emerged as the multiple-choice candidate for giving us four answers about whether he woud have, as did his brother, ordered America into the Iraq war. Jeb's family-values response was that was had great respect for Dubya and wasn't about to throw him under the bus.

Well, how about dispatching some of his brother's hawkish advisors who are now working for Jeb.    He can begin with Paul Wolfowitz, who was quite comfortable with the war and even predicted that Iraq's enormous oil profits would pay  for the country's reconstruction within three years.  That would be the financial payoff  from Dick Cheney's prediction that Americans would be greeted as liberators.

For now, we must live with Jeb's multiple choice responses. (Will No. 5 be, "None of the above"?)  They recall my days as a freshman in a world history class at the University of Pittsburgh.  I had filled all 12 pages in answering the single essay question. But when the professor returned it a few days later, it was graded with an  "F".  I confronted him and argued that I had filled all 12 pages.

 "I know",  he said, calmly.  "The correct answer was in there somewhere, but you obviously didn't know what it was."

Friday, May 15, 2015

Former White Hat takes important reins at UA

As if matters weren't edgy enough on the University of Akron campus under a new president on the block, there's even more faculty concerns for a campus in some sort of transition.  It's the appointment of a new vice provost and executive dean of the College of Applied Science and Technology to oversee President Scott Scarborough's. "repositioning'" the school from a traditional academic mission that allows for the humanities  as well as technology. As the question arose on whether  the school would change its name - which Scarborough  finally dismissed as nothing more than rumors - some faculty members figured he would at least see to it that UA would have "Technical Institute" attached to its legal name.

But the new science and technology guy who will doubtless work  in close quarters with the president is  Todd Rickel, who brings a resume that notes he was once the "Chief Learning Officer"  of White Hat Management.

You haven't been around these parts   very long to not recognize White Hat as David Brennan's charter school behemoth.  Which leads us to wonder  how his self-appended expertise as an "education futurist" will play on a  campus where departments are either being eliminated or downsized in what Scarborough refers to as "disinvestment.".

That  futurist stuff  is also how Brennan has seen himself .  Years ago he invited me to a private breakfast to hear a fellow, whose name I've long forgotten, who predicted the imminent demise of universities.

As Steve Dyer of Innovation Ohio, a progressive issues group,  wrote:  "While I'm not opposed to changing things, I deeply question how [Scarborough] could put so much faith in Todd Rickel'' while telling us that Rickel also has served as the Executive  Vice president  of the White Hat's  Distance Education Group - ''overseeing Ohio's worst online school..."

While Rickel was at White Hat,  Dyer wrote, " the company was receiving $110  million a year, on average, from Ohio taxpayers.  Meanwhile the school's performance - for which Rickel was directly resposible - was dreadful."

For those of us who see UA as a significant partner in the city's future,  we can only hope  that things don't turn out the same way on the downtown campus.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

A cartoon worth a thousand words

This cartoon by Craig Marks in the West Side Leader nicely says it all;

Hedrick Smith calls for citizen action to restore American dream

Most people, at best, get their news in disjointed fragments that the columnist Walter Lippmann once described as a "pseudo-environment" that betrayed reality.  No one can know the whole story, he argued, because there is too much to know.

He wrote about it in a book titled "Public Opinion" long before  digital excitement began feeding our senses  much faster than most people can rationally absorb issues in their entirety. Nowhere is that more apparent than in politics where enormous amounts of money attempt to lead us to pseudo-evidence with which to sustain a preferred public opinion. (One exception to the political palaver:   I care not whether a batter hit a homerun off a two-seamer or slider, no matter what I am told by the announcer.)

A towering example today is how we've arrived at the sinfully created gulf  between the very rich and the middle-  and under classes. Reports of the billionaires who are now replacing millionaires  while everyone else's income is trapped at a constant level  may be squeezed into 90-second report on the network TV news,  and we are quickly shifted into the weather and sports. And then forgotten , unquestioned, for another day.

In his April column, Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter offered a tell-tale sign of the modern money tree:
"Back in 1982, when Forbes magazine published its First Forbes Four Hundred, only 13 of the people on the list were billionaires.    Today everyone on the Forbes Four Hundred  is a billionaire..."
Well, now.  What can we make of this?

One writer who is attempting to connect all of the fragments of immense wealth in a national campaign against a deplorable trend in income disparity is Hedrick Smith, the former Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter who makes a  fail-safe case  in his book "Who Stole the American Dream?"

In short, the Feds, banks, investment houses, Wall Street At Large, deregulation, sour home mortgages issued with the most rapacious motives, even ex-Federal Reserve icon who was supposed to be looking after all of our financial survival, Alan Greenspan - that's who.

Here are some of things you'll find in  Smith's book about the missing American dream in the New Economy:

     "Few trends could so thoroughly undermine the very foundations of our free society as the acceptance by corporate officials of a social responsibility other than to make as much money for the stockholders as possible" - conservative economist Milton Friedman.

      A poster model  for the corporate mentality after cutting 11,000 employes , a "slew of senior managers", company charities, research and development, CEO Al Dunlap orchestrated a doubling of the Scott Paper Company stock,while pocketing $166,000 a day during his 18 months at the company. As he sliced  company divisions, he earned the title of "Chainsaw Al."  Never mind, sayeth Al. As one of his lieutenants asserted, "Al did not worry or care about people.  He cared about stockholders.  He cared about stock price.''

     "The economic elite of this country has performed the biggest rip-off of the middle class in the history of the universe" - Former Wisconsin Democratic congressman David Obey.
      From 1973 to 20ll the productivity of the U.S. workforce rose 80.1 percent  but the wages of the average worker rose only 4.2 percent.

       A study by  Emmanuel Suez of the University of California at Berkeley and French economist Thomas Piketty, reported that the "top one percent of the super-rich with incomes over $352,000 a year made $1.35 trillion in 2007 - more than entire countries like France, Italy or Canada.

Particularly inciteful in the shattering of the dream were the words of financial experts Gretchen Morgenson and Joshua Rosner, who wrote: "The American people realize they've been robbed. They're  just not sure by whom."

The  biggest gorilla in the room, of course,  was the housing collapse in which we learned  of junk mortgages that drove home owners into  inescapable debt.   Writes Smith:  "Homeowners lost nearly a 30 pct. stake in what had been the nation's $20 trillion  housing stock - a collective loss of about $6 trillion primarily through equity stripping...For the first time in decades, banks owned more of the cumulative value of American homes than so-called owners."

(Banks as perps, did he say?  Today the New York Times reported  five of the largest banks will plead guilty to an "array of fraud charges"  next week.  They include Barclays, JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, UBS and the Royal Bank of Scotland.)

The massive greed will be a difficult challenge, but Smith is undaunted.

"The most powerful action that average Americans can take is to organize  at the grass roots, as the Tea Party did...Show up at town meetings with members of Congress...Get out on Main Street and demonstrate  for jobs and homes..."

That's what he's been saying to folks as he moves around the country to spark citizen action.  Tough assignment.  Very tough. But he's a warrior talking about your money and mine. The financial elite need not apply.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Akron GOP to offer a "pleasant" candidate for mayor?

As the dust of Mayor Don Plusquellic's decision to retire filters through the local paper, there remains the current state of the county Republican Party's effort to find a worthy candidate for the November election once they stop dancing in the aisles at party headquarters.

The only published clue so far has been party official  Bryan Williams' assurance to the voters that his side will have a "first -class" candidate who will be a "pleasant alternative"  to the departing Democratic mayor.  Your pleasant guess is as good as mine.

As a witness to the party's off-stage existence for at least the four decades that I can remember,  the local GOP has fallen on harder times since the passing of hometowner Ray Bliss. In more recent times, Chairman Alex Arshinkoff has showcased a swing to the right at his coming-out annual dinners.  The latest featured Lincoln Day speaker was Rep. Jim Jordan, a four-time high school wrestling champion from Urbana , Oh., who is generallly regarded as  one of the most conservative  hombres on Capitol Hill.

Others who preceded him at Alex's annual  shindigs were such right-wing luminaries as Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee.  You can include Bryan Williams, recently of the State Board of Education who was forced out as a lobbyist for a company running a charter school.  How pleasant must that have been?

So will the GOP candidate be an ideologue with a fringe social media agenda?  Whatever else you might think of Plusquellic, he was always committed to a stable city with an improving economy, stronger public school system, clean hands at City Hall  and all of the amenities from sports to the performance arts that made a city livable.  His popularity  and noteworthy successes led to more than one thought from the state Democrats for him to run for governor.  Sorry, Akron was his home forever.

But as one source put it, Plusquellic simply burned out from life at the crazy front. Will the local Republicans foolishly try to pour gasoline on their long-smoldering Plusquellic fire, or will they face up to what it takes to manage a modern city with their choice  for a successor?    It will take more than pleasantries.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Mr. Mayor, you will be missed; but we understand

After 28 years, they're going to retire Don Plusquellic's number at City Hall.  His age (65), frustration and apparent fatigue from the long grinding hours as Akron's mayor persuaded him to retire this month, a decision he so guarded that even some of his closest allies appeared to be surprised when he announced it.

The political sharks that have been circling him for years with psychotic gossip at the highest levels of the county Republican Party even metastacized into Plusquellic's own Democratic Party as evidenced by a failed  recall effort and a gathering on City Council of a heated faction dedicated to making a tough job even more insufferable  in conducting the city's critical business. So in their victory chants,  who among them will step out  to take a bow from the footnotes of the Akron's recent history?

So I come today to flip Brutus' words by saying I am here to praise Plusquellic, not to bury him as his longtime hollow critics made jackasses of themselves. Aggressive, a workaholic, ill-tempered - he was all of that.  But he also was an outstanding CEO who cared very much about his city. .

The Beacon Journal carried a long list of positive responses from organization folks  - the city's first team of leadership who praised his dedicated service in making the town better. None said it more clearly  than Ken Babby, the owner of the the AA minor league Rubber Ducks.  In a full-page "thank you" ad in the BJ,  Babby  praised  the mayor for not only delivering the team and a new downtown  stadium but also a number of other pluses with the mayor's fingerprints all over them:  Lock 3, the Civic Theater, John S. Knight Center, for starters.

One negative response did catch my eye.  It was from Bryan Williams, who was vanquished by Plusquellic in a mayoral contestg in 2003..  Williams, the chairman of the county   Republican executive committee and the current voice of the party,  declared that the "long national nightmare is over."  What did we miss when a northern Ohio city's mayor  became a national nightmare?

It would be safe to suppose. however, that we will be hearing so much more  from Mr.Williams, a beneficiary of Arshinkoff's fading party dynasty. Hhe may very well be his party's man of the hour to run for the job again. Arshinkoff,  incidentally,  has held his title longer than Plusquellic. (How long is 28 years?  When Plusquellic's first day in the mayor's office arrived in 1987, postage stamps were 24 cents and a gallon of gas, 89 cents.)

But Williams' airborne  comment reflected a new fire that has been lit now that Plusquellic is leaving the scene on his own, choosing his time and reason, something that that the party run by his nemesis, Arshinkoff, failed to do in his effort to defeat him at the polls.

So yes,to acknowledge the critics, Plusquellic had a terrible temper  at times that didn't serve him well.  But it could pale in comparison  with what's in store for the city in his absence.

The question now is:  Is Akron in  better shape now than when Don Plusquellic was sworn in nearly three decades ago?



 rising factions within his Democratic Party have finally taken their toll l  ed succeded

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Deep in the Mart of Texas?

The epidemic lunacy that is consuming Texas with dark tales of a U.S. military invasion of the Longhorn State has, of all things,  forced Walmart to issue a reassuring denial  that the rumors are true.

Walmart?  Well, it was reported the the Feds were building tunnels under some of the giant retailer's closed stores as the staging area for an assault on the La La land of sagebrush and oil wells.   Even La La Texas Gov. Greg Abbott - a Republican by trade - went so far as to order the state guard to monitor the boots under the ground in Jade Helm 15 - the lingo  for a training operation that includes burrowing passageways.
AP photo

One  of the conspiracy theories asserted that Walmart's abandoned stores would actually serve  as food disribution centers for Chinese troops who engaged in the operation.  Yes, the logic escapes  me, too.

You should remember, however, that Texas has never been comfortable in the embrace of the federal government.  In 1861, it even voted to secede from the union and join the confederacy.  And the place has never been the same with secessionist talk  right up to former Gov. Rick perry, who didn't discount its possibility.

Come to think of it, with George W. Bush and Louie Gohmert in mind, wouldn't we have been a lot better off if the state had retained its mission to  go its own way in 1861?

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Kasich on clock as dance marathon does turkey trot

Re-posted from Plunderbund

Back in the 1920s, the age of dance marathons was consuming every American without bunions.  The winners were chosen on endurance.  But not everybody was impressed by the sweeping  mania.   "Of all the crazy competitions ever invented", growled the New York World, "the dancing marathon wins by a considerable margin of lunacy."

Yeah. As a witness to the  flash mob of candidates who hope to be still around for the last dance in November 2016, we can relate. The past few days brought to our attention  several more  "hopefuls"  who officially entered the crowded dance floor, figuring that with the frenzied NFL draft  past, the average citizen would have more time to consider less serious matters.

With Republicans like Ben Carson, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, Scott Walker  et al, the New York Times is calling the current version the "Empathy Primary".  It notes that Walker, a Baptist preacher's son,  is making much of his frugality, boasting of his  $1 Kohl's sweater.  Swell.  But the paper also reports that the Wisconsin governor owes  tens of thousands of dollars on his credit cards.

Ben Carson, who once blamed same-sex marriage for pedophilia, reportedly waltzed up at the conservative  Heritage Foundation for five hours of tutoring on domestic and foreign policy. You can never be too prepared for the home stretch.

Our favorite,  however,  was the official arrival of Carly Fiorina. "Yes,"  she said at her epic announcement, on Good Morning America, "I think  I'm the best person for the job because I understand how the economy actually works.  I understand the world; who's in it."

Why didn't she know that much when she was forced out of her job as the CEO of Hewlett-Packard because its stock went into the tank after her fail-safe  merger with Compaq was a disaster. Mother Jones scorecard:   It cost up to 18,000 jobs. but her reward:  a golden parachute of $21 million!

Still on the clock is Gov. John Kasich, waiting for word from God and maybe his next-in-line friend,  Sheldon Adelson.

Whew! Did I mention that  Mike Huckabee just announced for president?  .