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Political commentary from Andrew Malcolm

Category: Ohio

Ohio Republican candidate John Kasich caught telling a true story in governor's debate

You know how politicians often tell stories about the precocious thing their young daughter said about the economy when no other witnesses were around? Or the unfortunate woman they happened to meet who needs precisely the kind of program the pol is selling to his audience that very night?

And if you're like most Americans, you take that convenient yarn with maybe three ounces of salt, despite Michelle Obama's healthy food warnings about too much of that substance.

Well, here's a delightful news gem called to our attention by a loyal Ticket reader, Ohio's Jon Keeling, one of the nation's top local politics bloggers over at Third Base Politics.

It concerns this week's Ohio gubernatorial debate between former Republican Rep. John Kasich and the Democrat incumbent, Ted Strickland. As is the case in many races all across the country for the Nov. 2 elections, polls show the Democrat is currently trailing the Republican.

But that's not the fun story. The fun story is that during the Tuesday debate Kasich began to wax on about, you know, an older couple he'd recently talked with in a Bob Evans restaurant and how they had a pad out and were going over their challenged budget because of the bad economy that hasn't been stimulated by you-know-whose hundreds of billions of you-know-what.

Now, that story is obviously as phony as an assertion that some healthcare legislation will cover more people for less money. So a Democratic blogger in Ohio called Kasich on it. He wrote: "Someone please send me a photo of the Ohio couple in the Bob Evans with the napkin and I'll personally apologize to Congressman Kasich the next time I'm at his country club."

Well, order up some humble pie while you're there, Anthony, because CNN's John King did better than that. He produced a film clip of Honest John Kasich talking to that very couple. (See video below.) And, look! There's the pad on the table.

Would you like ice cream on that piece of pie?

And thanks again, Jon!

--Andrew Malcolm

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As seen on TV: Obama's new and improved economic plan speech

Democrat president Barack Obama speaks at an Illinois Caterpillar plant in 2009

As Tropical Storm Igor began moving its way westward across the Atlantic, President Obama flew into the crucial battleground state of Ohio again Wednesday. It had been 48 hours since he or the vice president had been in the state and their concern obviously had nothing to do with a 2012 election.

Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland, who favored Hillary Clinton in 2008 until he saw the light, is in reelection trouble, like one or two other Democrats across the country who've tied their political fortunes to the Real Good Talker and his aggressive spending and legislative agenda these last 20 months when their party has so dominated both houses of Congress. Unemployment in Ohio remains higher than the national average despite the Obama-Biden administration's promises of a rollicking Recovery Summer.

And now in only 55 days comes rookie Obama's first midterm elections when, according to history's schedule and a plurality of polls and prognostications, many of his congressional party members will be laid off by voters and join the unemployment roles.

It had been fully 48 hours since the president's last speech on the....

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So, if Obama was like a dog, what kind would he be?

Air Force personnel stand at attention as First Dog Bo Obama Debarks Air Force One 8-15-10

The peripatetic President Obama, who's off again today to Ohio of all places to talk more personally about spending even more billions to help the economy, may have made an unintentionally revealing personal comment during his last speech on the subject. (Listen for him to cite the same grandparents he brought up in last year's healthcare townhalls.)

On Labor Day in Milwaukee, having doffed his coat and tie just like a real working guy, the Democrat tried to launch the fall election campaign by listing his many accomplishments and his fights for real Americans. (See full Milwaukee text here.)

And as is the Democratic party line between now and Judgment Day Nov. 2, the chief executive who promised before the last election to take us all beyond the old-style partisan politics, warned....

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Voters to both parties in both houses: Drop Dead!

Good thing the ballot choices for Nov. 2's national midterm elections don't include "None of the Above."

Or voters would turn Congress upside down.

That's because a new Gallup Poll out this morning finds barely one-in-three Americans approves of the job being done in Congress by either party -- 32% approval for Republicans and 33% for Democrats.

Gallup finds the parties' ratings near the low end of what they've been historically -- the 30% bottom for Democrats in December of 2007 11 months after they took control of both houses and the 25% for Republicans in December of 2008 at the end of you-know-who's eight years of policies.

Since the start of Obama's term in early 2009, the Democratic ratings have been sliding downward while the usually lower GOP ratings have remained low but steady.

According to Gallup's analysis, this new poll should temper GOP joy over its recent rise on the generic congressional ballot. This is not because voters have become fond of Republican policies, whatever they are.

But because voters don't like what Democrats have been doing -- and if you don't like McDonald's in American politics, there's only Burger King to choose from. Not counting those who opt for the Librarian Party. (Just checking if you're reading closely; we meant Libertarian.)

Nor are voters liking much of what any incumbent is doing.

So might this broad bipartisan disaffection smother the turnout come Nov. 2?

On Tuesday, a Gallup Poll on the generic congressional ballot found the two parties tied, in marked contrast to other recent polls showing a widening Republican lead in party preference. (See Related Items below.)

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-- Andrew Malcolm

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Photo: The U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. Credit: Saul Loeb AFP/Getty Images

John Boehner calls for firing of Obama's entire economic team; time 'to put grownups in charge'

Here is the text, as prepared for delivery, of House Republican leader John Boehner's remarks Tuesday at Cleveland's City Club. This speech was the subject of an earlier Tuesday morning Ticket post showing how the communications strategies of the the two parties jostle around the clock.

In this case, the GOP team lured the Democrats into a trap, causing them to help publicize Boehner's dramatic call for President Obama to fire his entire economic team, a step that gets Tuesday's debate back on to the economy, the hardest part of the Democrats' record to defend these days.

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-- Andrew Malcolm

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Text of remarks by House Republican leader John Boehner on jobs and the economy, as provided by his office.

Thank you for being here.  I know this is the beginning of another long day for you – trying to make heads or tails of this economy, trying to make decisions without knowing what the next week, or even the next day, will bring.  

Working at my dad’s bar in Reading, mopping floors and waiting tables, I watched him and....

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Ah, Washington. Democrats and the GOP spar over a John Boehner speech that hasn't even been given yet

Members of Congress enjoy their summer break

Here's how far we've not come into the post-partisan era of the Obama-Biden administration:

Representatives of political parties once used to wait for opponents to speak before countering with their own set of contradictory talking points.

But now those few Americans who are paying attention to national politics in these fading few days of summer are being treated to what's being honestly called "prebuttals." So eager are they to fight, that U.S. political opponents are pre-reacting a day in advance to what they think the other guy is going to say. Prompting a pre-response to the prebuttal.

Knowing that Republican House Leader John Boehner has scheduled a major speech on the economy for Tuesday morning at Cleveland's City Club, the Democratic....

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What Barack Obama's really saying at all these cross-country stops to collect money

Democrat president Barack Obama arrives in Los Angeles 8-16-10 on Air Force One

If any president's supporters knew what they were going to hear for their $30,400 fundraiser admission ticket, few would likely shell out even $30. (Groans.)

Which is why so many Hollywood liberal luminaries like Jeffrey Katzenberg and Barbra Streisand bought the tickets and then completely skipped Barack Obama's speech, the one that raised $1 million for Democratic House campaigns along with the ire of thousands of L.A. commuters who paid nothing and got no canapes for the privilege of sitting a couple of hours in stubborn security traffic jams around the entire neighborhood of mansions. (Boos.)

Obama's giving Air Force One a real workout. He was rasing money in Milwaukee on Monday, then L.A. Tuesday he started in L.A., dashed up to Seattle and then back to Ohio. Next up is Florida.

Fundraisers are, after all, about celebrity anyway, being in the presence -- even the distant presence -- of the main person, among other like-minded rich people who must also be pretty important --r ight? -- or how else could they be there with you? (Cheers.) The savvy politician points toward the eager crowd and 30 people wave back, certain that he was acknowledging them.

But fundraiser spDemocrat president Barack Obama arrives at LAX on Marine One 8-17-10eeches, like campaign stump speeches, can be revealing indicators of political priorities, concerns and contemporary talking points.

They all start with acknowledgments by name of local allies and pleas for endless rounds of applause. Having your name come out of a presidential mouth is a big deal in that world. (Applause.)

One of Obama's several fundraiser speeches for embattled Golden State Sen. Barbara Boxer last spring (full text in Related Items below) was about bragging rights, providing supporters with a long laundry list of things  accomplished by the Democratic administration since Jan. 20, 2009 (not including closing Guantanamo or ending "don't ask, don't tell").

This week's fundraising speeches across the nation have a shorter brag list and a more stridently ....

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Joe Biden update: About that guarantee that LeBron James would stay in Cleveland

Democrat vice president Joe Biden celebrates his promise that LeBron James would stay with the Cleveland Cavaliers

Fortunately for Vice President Joe Biden, he was not in Ohio on Thursday night raising political money.

Biden was in California raising political money.

Biden's Buckeye problem would be that last week at a political fundraiser for Lee Fisher, a Democrat Senate candidate, Biden assured his Cleveland audience that Fisher was bound for Washington and that city's top NBA star would choose to stay with the Cavaliers:


"LeBron James is coming back," Biden promised.

On Thursday evening in a rather strange TV spectacle, free agent LeBron James announced in absentia from his once-adoring Ohio fans that he would sign to play with the Miami Heat. As in Florida. Not Ohio.

With the oil spill and jobs situation obviously under full control now, President Obama was in Nevada raising political money Thursday. He's displayed somewhat more wisdom than Biden in recent weeks. A Chicago Bulls fan, Obama said he'd personally prefer that James stay in Cleveland, Illinois not being a state in presidential political play anytime soon.

Thursday Biden was campaigning in California for a Democrat senator, Barbara Boxer, the eighth fundraiser either he or his boss Obama have done for her this cycle. That's the most they've done for anyone. She must be in real trouble against Republican Carly Fiorina.

In his endless remarks Thursday, Biden did not acknowledge his dead-wrong Ohio sports prediction or expand on his Senate prediction there. But speaking for nearly 40 minutes to some 200 Boxer fans in an Atherton backyard, Biden proclaimed:

“I never say anything I don’t mean. I sometimes say more than I should.” 

Another reason Biden will not be on the Democrats' 2012 ticket.

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-- Andrew Malcolm

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Photos: Associated Press (file).

Social nets roundup: Even SPF 800 won't protect you from the feds' new tanning tax, started at sunrise


It sparked a blistering Twitter exchange between Snooki and John McCain, but now a federal tax on Americans who prefer to get their sun in the salon rather than on the sand is, like an endless summer, here to stay.

Some 28 million sun-bed enthusiasts on Thursday face a 10% tax on tanning goods and services, thanks to a measure slipped late into the $940-billion healthcare overhaul. 

From Arizona to the Jersey Shore,  many of the nation's more than 18,000 salons are warning of a drop-off in business as a result of a measure that’s projected to gain the federal government $2.7 billion over 10 years.

Ohio Congressman Jim Jordan got our attention with his tweet: “Take cover -- the $2.7 billion Obamacare 'tanning tax' goes into effect tomorrow!

While the Heritage Foundation warned:   “Tan while you can! Obama's tanning tax hits TOMORROW. And small businesses are getting burned. #tcot"

And the RepublicanStudy adds for context:   @WMRepublicans First of $569,000,000,000 of taxes in Dems Health Bill in effect tom hurting small biz owners #hcr

Reality TV series "Jersey Shore" star Snooki earlier this month tweeted that she no longer uses tanning beds after "Obama put a 10% tax on tanning." You can read the whole Snooki-McCain exchange here.

Tanning salon customers will face increased rates per session that currently cost between $10 and $25 for a  typical 10-minute session that equals about a half-hour in natural sunlight (or perhaps three days’ grilling in front of the Senate). The tax does not apply to spray-tan services. Salons will have to pay more for each sun lamp and significantly reconfigure their tax filings.

And while we can sense the outrage from many concerned parties -- including that the tax disproportionally affects women, as most salon owners and customers are women -- we also can’t help but think it’s all a nanny-state plot to get sun-bed users out of the house and into the great outdoors. All while reaping future healthcare savings on treatment of skin cancer.  Could it also be a back-door climate change tax (cap-and-shade vs cap-and-trade)? 

Another bright idea for a better future? So bright, we’ve got to wear shades?

--- Craig Howie

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Photo: Associated Press

Joe Biden update: He safely escapes Hurricane Alex

Democrat vice president joe Biden arrives or departs safely once agaion

After a day of braving distant waves and winds, Vice President Joe Biden is safe and sound after escaping from the Gulf coast area just in time as Hurricane Alex, formerly known as Tropical Storm Alex, bears down on Texas and Mexico.

Biden spent all of Tuesday sort of near the path of the possibly killer but-no-one-really-knows storm to demonstrate the Democratic Obama administration's continuing commitment to continuing to visit the continuing oil spill.

More than two months after the deadly explosion and fire on an offshore BP oil rig, some 60,000 barrels a day continue to escape subterranean confinement a mile beneath the gulf surface, despite a continuing series of White House meetings, daily briefings, phone calls and a continuing flow of news releases.

President Obama has already visited the area four times for briefings, photo ops and to examine the sand. So Biden has some serious visit-catching-up to do.

Tuesday the man, who was senator when Obama was just in sixth grade, visited New Orleans and was photographed with residents who have suffered damages from the spill.

"That $20-billion fund, that's not a ceiling," Biden told the cameras. "BP is required to pay whatever it is [that] falls under their responsibility, whether it ends up being $25, $30, $40 or $50 billion." Biden is also trying to make sense of conflicting federal regulations that permit some commercial fishing but not the sale of the catches.

Oil recovery operations were suspended due to high wind and wave conditions caused, not by Biden's visit but by the passing storm. According to the White House, National Incident Commander Admiral Thad Allen, Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, NOAA Administrator Dr. Jane Lubchenco, Federal On-Scene Coordinator Rear Admiral James Watson, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and Rep. Anh “Joseph” Cao were on hand to watch Biden talk about the spill, which continued anyway.

Later, Biden visited the Naval Air Station in Pensacola, Fla. and then on to a very nice dinner near Tampa in the home of Gen. David Petraeus, who Obama named the new troop commander last week in Afghanistan after a different kind of leak.

Concern for Biden's schedule mounted throughout the day because Wednesday his entire public workload involves flying to Ohio for a Cleveland fundraiser to help Democrat candidate Lee Fisher. He's in a continuing tight race with the GOP's former Rep. Rob Portman for the Senate seat being vacated by George Voinivich.

Obama will also flee Washington on Wednesday for a visit to Racine, Wis., of all places.

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Photo: Getty Images (file).


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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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