Welcome to Buster's Blog

Irregular commentary on whatever's on my mind -- politics, sports, current events, and life in general. After twenty years of writing business and community newsletters, fifteen years of fantasy baseball newsletters, and two years of email "columns", this is, I suppose, the inevitable result: the awful conceit that someone might actually care to read what I have to say. Posts may be added often, rarely, or never again. As always, my mood and motivation are unpredictable.

Buster Gammons

Monday, February 28, 2011

Kasich, Ohio Republicans Says A Little Poison Is Good For Us

(I keep telling myself I should lay off John-John for awhile, but then the Guv or one of his lackeys comes up with yet another gem, and I can't help myself.)

John Kasich declared Ohio "open for business", and he told his state EPA director to be "friendlier to business" and consider the business costs of environmental regulations. In fact, there are a couple of bills in the Ohio assembly right now which would require satisfactory cost-benefit analysis before any implementation. They call it "common sense."

State Senator Jim Hughes (R, Columbus) puts it this way: "If we don't change the way we do business, we are going to continue to lose jobs to those states that have [reformed] excessive and burdensome regulatory rules."

Not so fast, boys! Now you're tellin' me it's our stringent environmental rules that make businesses run for Ohio's exits. I thought it was that exorbitantly costly, budget-breaking collective bargaining for public employees that spelled our certain doom. Probably both, huh? Matter of fact, if I bought what you were selling, I'd have to believe that any company still located in Ohio was being run by abject idiots. I mean, why stay here when you could move to any other state, completely avoid unionized labor, pollute with carefree abandon, and really maximize the old bottom line?

Total bullshit, and another proof of who bought the last election and just how stupid they think we all are.

I'm in business, where cost-benefit analyses occur daily. Indeed, they go on for all us all the time, business or not. Is it worth it? Money well-spent? Enough value/return for my dollar? In many ways, life is nothing but a bunch of cost-benefit evaluations.

However, examining issues such as pollution and environmental safety solely through the lens of business-style cost-benefit analysis is just flat-out fucking foolish! Because business will always find rules to be too costly. Business will give us poison and tell us it's healthy; they'll blithely spew toxic carcinogens right out in the middle of the street all day every day unless we make them stop. So, we make them stop. And if that costs more, so be it.

Kasich, Hughes and the other dimbulbs don't see it that way. From their 19th century viewpoint, public safety must take a back seat to corporate profit. Welcome to the jungle.

"Hey, boys and girls! Wanna try try a yummy new breakfast cereal? Then ask Mom to bring home a big box of Brutus Buckeye's Ohio Asbestos Flakes -- lightly sweetened, crunchy, and loaded with fiber! You'll want two bowls!"

Caveat emptor.

Catbert's Evil Cable Shakedown

(Note -- ComCast has done this already. WOW is doing it now. Time Warner will do it soon.)

I got a letter the other day from my cable TV carrier, WOW. It told me how "excited" they were about their latest scheme to make me pay more while giving me less. Like all the other cable companies, they're converting to an all-digital delivery system. WOW starts their conversion in March. On the plus side, I'll soon get 42 additional Hi-Def channels, for an HD total of 78, the large majority of which I never watch.

On the negative side, the all-digital transition will increase costs for almost all subscribers. Any TV with an HD receiver or DVR will be OK, but those without either will now require a digital adapter (DTA) for continued reception of your full cable lineup. Without installing a digital adapter, all you'll get is very limited, very basic local channels. So if you want to continue receiving what you're paying for, you'll need adapters for every TV not already attached to digital equipment.

WOW will send me two DTA's and they'll be free until 2013. That's nice. (And you can bet your ass they won't be free after that.) But realistically, most households have more TV's than that. Additional adapters are available, but only by renting them from your cable company. You cannot buy one from them, and they're not otherwise available to the consumer market. So they gotcha: You'll probably need a couple additional DTA's, and the only place to get 'em is your cable company.

These adapters are simple and small. Each DTA package includes a slim plastic box (the adapter) roughly the size of a checkbook, with a short coaxial cable, a power cord (yes, they need to be plugged in), and its own cheap Chinese remote (another goddam remote!). Its cost of manufacture might be $10. WOW will rent additional DTA's to me for $2 a month, each. (Until they decide to make it $3 or $4 or $5.)

True confessions: Here at the Buster Gammons estate we have 11 TV's hooked up to cable. Excessive? Probably. A choice? Certainly. Getting rid of a few? Certainly not!

Of the 11, we have one on an HD receiver. On that TV, we get the full digital cable lineup of 2837 mostly useless channels, including HD, music, pay-per-view, on-demand, etc., etc. The other 10 TV's don't get all that, but they still get plenty, say, 80-90 channels. But if I want to watch any of those channels, I'm gonna need 10 total adapters. Right now, I'm paying almost $100 a month. For me, the adapters will be another $20.

And there's this -- Four of those TV's are digital and HD capable, meaning we get our local channels in HD on those 4 even without the HD receiver. That will no longer be true after installing the DTA's. The cheap-ass little boxes do not "support" HD and completely override the TV itself. The only way to get any HD at all is to rent additional HD boxes from the company. Gotcha again.

To summarize my lengthy rant on the digital transition:

For my situation, I will get more HD channels on one of my 11 TV's. Finally, I'll be able to enjoy C-SPAN in HD. Can't wait.

Unless I pay for 10 adapters, I'll lose virtually all the cable programming I'm paying for on all the other TV's.

With the adapters, I'll pay an additional $20 a month. I'll lose local HD on 4 of my TV's. I'll pay the cost of additional electricity to power those 10 adapters. I'll get 10 more remotes to misplace, lose and buy batteries for.

I, for one, am so happy we deregulated the cable companies a couple decades ago. It was gonna give us lots of choices and drive down prices, remember? Did I miss it?

Sunday, February 27, 2011

"Hello," He Lied

In a front-page article in today's Dispatch, Gov. John Kasich is quoted as saying, "I'm not anti-union."

In a wide-ranging conversation, Kasich also told the paper that:

Ohio teachers do a great job and deserve a big raise.

Ohio police officers are highly intelligent and he has the utmost respect for them.

He wants to be known as the Green Governor for his tireless efforts in conservation and environmental protection.

He understands that corporate tax breaks are not a cure-all, and do nothing to balance the budget.

He'll do more to promote a regulatory climate which ensures fairness and safety.

Kasich said he chose to do the interview with the Dispatch because of their "reputation for impartiality," and in his final comment, he "guaranteed" that the Cleveland Indians would win the World Series this year.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Michelle's Dietary Advice For Rush

"It doesn't look like Michelle Obama follows her own nutritionary, dietary advice." So said Rush Limbaugh accusing the First Lady -- who's leading a nationwide anti-obesity campaign -- of being a hypocrite after seeing a photo of her eating BBQ ribs.

Michelle replied with some personalized dietary advice for Limbaugh, telling him to "EAT SHIT!"

Compromise on Ohio's Senate Bill 5?

At the last minute, some of Ohio's hard-line Republicans have shown a softer side on one the most contentious elements of the union-busting SB 5. They now say they might agree to "faith-based collective bargaining."

Minority Democrats immediately countered with a proposal that henceforth Governor Kasich be subject to merit pay.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Bill O'Reilly's Many Mysteries Of Life

Last month, Fox News host and amateur theologian Bill O’Reilly stepped into instant Internet infamy when he attempted to prove the existence of God by citing the mystery of the tides: “I’ll tell you why [religion is] not a scam, in my opinion. Tide goes in, tide goes out. Never a miscommunication. You can’t explain that. You can’t explain why the tide goes in.” Only one problem: There’s this thing called the Moon which might have a little to do with tides. Oh, Bill!

Obama Says "To Each His Own, Or Her Own, Or Whatever You're Into Is OK By Me"

Yesterday, President Obama and Attorney General Holder announced that the so-called "Defense Of Marriage Act" is, in fact, indefensible, and they would no longer waste time or resources trying to defend the piece of shit in federal courts. DOMA is/was unconstitutional, and Cousin Barry's decision was both wise and overdue.

So, go for it, everybody! As Buster has said before, the American Association of Divorce Lawyers awaits your future business.

Governor Scotty's Phone Friends

As I hope you heard, yesterday Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker fell hard for an obvious prank phone call. A liberal New York blogger posing as right-wing gajillionaire David Koch was able to engage Scotty-boy in a 15 minute conversation in which the fake Koch expressed support for Walker's anti-union efforts. The impostor talked about "crushing those unions", "using a baseball bat", "not talking to those goddam Democrats", offered his opinion that MSNBC's Mika Brzynski was a "real piece of ass", and told Walker that "when all this is over, I'll fly you out to Cali and show you a real good time." Walker said that would be great. While chatting with the fake Koch, Walker compared himself with Ronald Reagan, said he would not negotiate anything, would try to trick the runaway Democrats into returning, and said the people of Madison "are all '60s liberals -- let 'em protest all they want."

Scotty-Boy appears to be a mean, boastful, gullible prick. Lovely combination.

Through his vast network of contacts, Buster was able to get the transcripts of more recent phone messages left for Scotty, the Wonder-Guv. Punk'd or not? You decide.

"Yo, Scott, bro! Kasich here. Listen man, do me a favor and quit droppin' my name all over the place. I'm havin' a tough enough time with this shit over here in Ohio. Thanks. Peace, out."
"Governor Walker, this is Rush Limbaugh. Sorry I missed you. I just want to let you know that you make me proud to be a citizen of this great country, and I think you're doing exactly what has to be done to keep it great, unlike that fascist Muslim racist Kenyan President of ours. Good day, sir."
"Hello, Scott. John Boehner calling. I want to thank you for your strong pro-management message coming from up there in Wisconsin. You know, it's what the American people want and . . . and when I think about it and our children, uh, I just can't help . . . oh, excuse me . . . (the voice breaks down into unintelligible sniffling and sobbing.)"
"Hi Scott. Sarah Palin calling. I'll just leave a message 'cause I guess you're out roundin' up all those Grizzly Mamas who sure don't need any gosh-darn union, 'cause they're like you and me and our proud forefathers who brought forth upon these shores under God a patriotic work ethic to build this land in His image and gave us, as George Washington said, from sea to shining sea a Declaration of Independence and a Constitution and the Bible for which it stands which says there's no right to collective bargaining. See ya!"
"Well, hello there, Scott. This is Ronald Reagan. Really. I'm 100, but I'm not dead. We just ran that story to throw the media off my trail. Anyway, I just want to thank you for your kind words about me and how I busted the Air Traffic Controllers union. That's worked out really well, hasn't it? You know, I was once a Democrat and the president of a union, the Screen Actors Guild. Then I fell off a horse and hit my head. Speaking of my head, I'm late for a hair-coloring, so I'll say goodbye now. Oh Mommy, have you seen my jelly beans?"
"Scott? Richard Nixon here. No, I'm not a crook and I'm not dead. That was just a story for the media. I'm calling with some advice. Your situation reminds me of the days of the Watergate hearings. Scott, there were people making fun of me and attacking me everyday. Wanted to impeach me, for Chrissakes! Goddam Jews, mostly. But I decided I had to stand firm, have a backbone, not give an inch. I think you've got that same stuff in you, Scott, my boy. You hang in there. By the way, I wouldn't recommend taping anything."
"Hallo? Herr Governor Walker? Guten tag. This is Adolph. Ja, that Adolph! Nein, I'm not dead. Just a media story. You're too young to remember, but back in the early days of the Reich, I had to do away with unions. Just made them completely illegal. You must do the same, Herr Governor. No half-steps. Complete elimination! You'll see, it will make it much easier for you to rule the world! Umm, I mean Wisconsin. And if those left-wing senators refuse to return to work, mobilize your National Guard and invade Illinois! Blitz-krieg!!"

Union Wars

This could get interesting! Today's updates from the front lines of the union wars:

This morning's Dispatch ran yet another anti-union editorial, this one ripping former Governor Ted Strickland for showing up at the anti-SB 5 rally at the Statehouse on Tuesday. The Dispatch said this was bad form and Ted showed obvious partisanship. Our local editors believe that ex-Governors should find a rocking chair and quietly fade away (like Bob Taft, who cannot speak a complete sentence without the aid of a teleprompter). What bullshit! SB 5 is a big-ass hairy important deal, and Ted's entitled to express his opinion like anyone else. And if you want to see some truly obvious partisanship and blatant bias, look no further than the supposedly neutral (hah!) Columbus-goddam-Dispatch!

More and more, John Kasich reminds me of the fictional Governor Willie Stark in All The King's Men. On Tuesday, his toadies locked the doors of the Statehouse to keep out all the SB 5 protesters. Today, his administration has shut down all email access to state senators. How Orwellian. Fuck those pesky constituents!

This morning, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker ordered State Police to go to the homes of the 14 absent Democratic Senators, hoping to find one or two of them. No dice. They're all still over the line in Illinois. If you look to the east, Scotty, you can see 'em mooning you and flippin' the bird.

All the Democratic members of the Indiana state senate have likewise removed themselves to Illinois. This sudden influx of legislators on the lam has given an unexpected boost to the hotel and restaurant business in the Land of Lincoln. The Illinois Chamber of Commerce is hard at work on a new ad campaign touting the states's hospitality services. Early working tagline: "Our beer is cold, Our food is great, So don't debate, Evacuate!"

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Buster's Blog Is One Year Old Today

Today marks the first anniversary of Buster's Blog (which ought to tell you something about the weather and my workload in February). True, some of the early postings were actually written in the mid-1990's for the old NUMB News fantasy baseball newsletter. But the blog itself is one.

What an amusing and self-indulgent year I've had! If you're reading, thanks!

You Can Always Count On The Columbus Dispatch . . .

. . . to write the dumbest, dimmest, dip-shittiest editorials in the world! "Ohio's Greatest Home Newspaper" had already come out in favor of Senate Bill 5 (ooh, I nearly keeled over from the shock!), but that wasn't enough for Ben Marrison, Glenn Sheller, and the rest of John Wolfe's lackeys.

Today, they pried their lips off his ass long enough to write an editorial column that claimed that public employees are not representative of the middle class. The Dispatch says they're pretty much upper class. They claim that these workers have income and benefits and economic security far superior to private sector workers, and their opposition to SB 5 is simply to protect their own elite "priveleged status".

You can't judge a book by its cover, but I was at the Statehouse yesterday, and I didn't see anybody who looked to be a member of the priveleged upper class elite. Saw a lot of Wolverine boots and Carhartt overalls.

And I bet any one of those caviar-eating, champagne-sipping, upper-crust public-sector workers would trade checkbooks and retirement accounts with the Dispatch editors in a New York second.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Kill The Bill, Kill The Bill . . .

You'll never guess what I did today. Well, maybe you will. I went down to the Statehouse to join in the protests against Senate Bill 5.

Just like the Obama rally last fall at OSU, once again I grossly underestimated the crowd. I actually thought I'd get into the rotunda and I didn't want to be too hot, so I wore just a light jacket. Oops.

The Senate was going to have another hearing about SB 5 around 3:30. I got there about 1:30 and it was instantly clear I wasn't getting in, nor were the thousands of others crowding the grounds. The observation area of the Senate floor and the rotunda were already filled, the State Police weren't letting anybody else in, and that was that.

But that was OK. It was still a hoot, and a big, boisterous crowd -- workers of all sorts and teachers and police and firefighters from around the state. There were charter buses and TV trucks from Cleveland and Cincinnati. Every so often someone would ascend the steps and address the crowd through a bull horn. We heard from several labor leaders (all unknown to me), Tracy Heard and Kevin Boyce from City Council, and Ted Strickland. Also saw Dennis (The Menace) Kucinich. There was not a Tea Bagger in sight, and King John had conveniently scheduled himself to be out of town.

By 4:00, my toes wuz froze, so I split for the warmth of home. (As Robert Benchley once said, "I must get out of these wet clothes and into a dry martini.")

It was a good experience, even though I never got inside. If the R's insist on cramming this shit down our throats, Buster smells lawsuit!!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Scott Walker's Final Solution

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker was all over morning TV today, stubbornly insisting that the only way to balance the budget in Dairyland is to bust public employee unions by making collective bargaining illegal.

Repeatedly, Walker was asked about compromises. What if state employees agreed, on a temporary basis, to make the wage and benefit concessions you want but still retain their long-term rights to collective bargaining? If these concessions actually help, you could ask them to do it again next year. Would you agree to something like that?

Repeatedly, Scotty said no. That's just a short-run band-aid. Collective bargaining agreements are the problem and what Wisconsin needs is the Final Solution -- er, no that was Hitler -- a permanent solution.

Jawohl, mein Fuhrer -- Arbeit Macht Frei.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Everything's Bigger In Texas -- Especially The A-Holes

On the right is Big Rick Perry. He's the current Governor of Texas. On the left is Big Charles Whitman. He's the former University of Texas student who in 1966 climbed the school's bell tower with a rifle and killed 16 people before being killed himself.

What do they have in common? Somehow, they both think it makes perfect sense to bring guns onto a college campus.

You see, Texas is ready to allow concealed carry of firearms on all its campuses. Most of their state senators have signed onto a bill which would make it legal, and their belligerent blow-hard of a governor is all for it (as if you couldn't tell).

"It's strictly a matter of self-defense," said state senator Jeff Wentworth. "I don't want what happened at Virginia Tech, where some madman is able to pick off totally defenseless kids like sitting ducks."

I don't want that either, Senator. Nobody does. But when your self-defense butts up against my personal safety, I believe you have to check your six-shooters at the bar, pardner. There's a direct correlation between the number of guns per capita and the frequency of gun violence. And a campus-full of sparked-up, liquored-up college kids packin' heat does not make me feel safer! Quite the contrary.

But Texas being Texas, it'll probably pass. Crazy assholes.

Friday, February 18, 2011

"I Can Whip Any Woman In This Place!"

An Iowa schoolboy wrestler made the news yesterday when he refused to wrestle a girl in the state tournament. She won by default.

The boy's name is Joel Northrup and he's home-schooled. (Red flag!) According to Joel, wrestling is a "combat sport" (Hey Joel, women are in the military these days, or don't they teach you that at home?) and he just couldn't wrestle a girl "as a matter of faith". (WWJW -- Who would Jesus wrestle?)

Now, if this kid is really some sort of conscientious objector, OK and good for him. But in Buster's humble opinion, he's just toeing the God-squad parental line. Joel, grow a set, channel your inner Andy Kaufman, and slam that bee-yotch to the mat!

Labor Unrest in Ohio and Wisconsin

In deciding to go after long-established labor laws, right-wing Republicans and Tea Baggers may have bitten off more than they can chew. Yesterday in Ohio, 3500 demonstrators showed up at the Statehouse, most of them opponents of proposed Senate Bill 5. A similar bill has been introduced in Wisconsin, and yesterday the Democratic minority simply walked out and left Madison.

Some of the more reasonable and fair-minded Ohio Republicans (yes, they exist, although they're an endangered species) have said they feel SB 5 goes too far. No such luck in Wisconsin. Today the Cheesehead Republican leader asked the Highway Patrol to arrest his Democratic counterpart and throw him in jail. Oh, that'll help!

For the record, Buster has never been a member of a union nor has any family member, but I have nothing against unions. I can also understand how, in tough economic times, something might have to give. But we already have a good system in place to address and negotiate those sticky issues. It's called collective bargaining, and it's precisely what the Tea Baggers want to do away with.

Basically what those in favor of these bills are saying is, "We don't want to go to the time or trouble to sit down and renegotiate labor contracts and pay scales and benefits and seniority and pensions and all that stuff, because it's too hard and we don't always get everything we want and an arbitrator might rule against us. It would be quicker and easier to take all those sticky issues and just legislate them out of existence. Then we'll rewrite the law and codify lower pay, less benefits, and lots of anti-union rules."

And that's why these bills are so wrong; that's why it's union-busting. It removes the very possibility of negotiation, and with it the possibility of compromise and even union concessions. (It happens, you know.) These bills say, "Fuck it, we're not even interested in trying -- now or ever again."

I wrote a letter to my state senator Jim Hughes and told that if he truly believed that SB 5 was the way to go then he was a very poor student of history. I suggested that if he and other Republicans wanted more favorable outcomes in collective bargaining, they should learn to make their case more persuasively and learn how to be better negotiators.

So much of this shit is motivated by an odd sour-grapes sentiment expressed by many who support SB 5. Goes like this: "Those damn public employees make more money than I do, have better benefits than I do, and pay less for those benefits than I do. I'm envious. If I could get their deal, I'd shut up and be a happy camper. But because I can't, I'm angry. And my solution is to drag everybody down to my level."

These bills would be bad law. There's gotta be a better way.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Kasich Given Speeding Ticket: Cited For Running His Mouth Too Fast

Our new Guv is quite the extemporaneous speaker, isn't he? Whether he's talking about exploiting our natural resources or telling state workers they're lucky to have a job, King John has so far been a steady source of "interesting" comments.

His latest just popped on YouTube. In a January speech to Ohio EPA employees, John-Boy jumped the tracks and went off on a tangent about the police. (What this had to do with the EPA, no one knows.)

Out of nowhere, John-Boy asked, "Have you ever been stopped by a policeman who's an idiot? I had this idiot pull me over on Rt. 315."

Kasich was stopped because there was an emergency vehicle on the berm and he didn't slow down or move left. Evidently, John-Boy couldn't sweet-talk his way out of a ticket, which made him angry. So the cop told him he could pay the fine or show up in court to contest it, and if he did neither, an arrest warrant would be issued.

Kasich briefly described the stop to his audience then said, again, "He's an IDIOT!" (If you saw the video, he's literally screaming at this point.) "You just can't act that way!"

A couple quick observations:

In the space of roughly one minute, Kasich used the word "idiot" three times. It's a fine word, Johnny, but don't wear it out.

His EPA speech was three years after he got the ticket, and he was obviously still seething mad about it. Looks like our little Johnny is prone to temper tantrums.

His timing on this is right out of the Sarah Palin playbook. Kasich's already done away with one state agency, has made very clear his desire to gut labor laws applicable to public employees, and now he calls a public safety employee an idiot. Who's the idiot?

Any fool knows that if you're pulled over in a traffic stop, you don't argue or get surly with the cop. Never. It's an $85 moving violation, Guv. Shut up and pay it.

At a press conference yesterday, the Governor's spin-meister said that the point of Kasich's EPA speech was "that all public employees must provide better, more responsive service." In attendance, Kasich chimed in, adding, "Yeah, that's right, and I think a great way to be better and more responsive would be to make sure I don't get any more goddam traffic tickets! All you out there in the donut brigade -- you got that? Ten-four!"

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Krugman on Government Spending

(Paul Krugman is a Nobel winning economist, a columnist for the NY Times, and one of Buster's favorites. Here are a couple excerpts from his latest column.)

Voters don't have the time or the incentive to study the federal budget, let alone state budgets. So they rely on what they hear from seemingly authoritative figures.

And what they've been hearing since Ronald Reagan is that their hard-earned dollars are going to waste, paying for vast armies of useless bureaucrats (payroll is only 5 percent of federal spending), and welfare queens driving Cadillacs. How can we expect voters to appreciate fiscal reality when politicians consistently misrepresent that reality?

In a better world, politicians would talk to voters as if they were adults. They would then explain that solving that long-run problem [imbalance between spending and revenues] requires two main things: reining in health-care costs and, realistically, increasing taxes to pay for the programs Americans really want.

But Republican leaders can't do that, of course. They refuse to admit that taxes ever need to rise, and they spent much of the past two years screaming "death panels!" in response to even the most modest, sensible efforts to ensure that Medicare dollars are well spent.

Paul, you are so right!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Pitchers And Catchers Report

Some say those are the four most beautiful words in the English language, signalling as they do the start of spring training and another baseball season. I won't argue with that, but if spring's right around the corner, it's hard to tell from where I sit.

The roads may be clear but the ground is still blanketed in white everywhere you look. After our recent ice storm, my backyard resembles a hockey rink. Underneath all the ice are a million sticks and twigs that came down during the storm; on top are frozen dog turds.

But enough of that. Spring will come, and indeed pitchers and catchers do report tomorrow, followed soon enough by the full squads. Roughly half the teams have spring training camps in Florida (The Grapefruit League) while the rest of them head to Arizona (The Cactus League). Both are fine, warm places to be right about now.

This year, both the Reds and the Indians will be in Arizona. Buster has just one piece of advice: "Please try not to get shot!"

Other than that, play ball!

Is Our Goose Being "Koch-ed"?

Can Two Multi-Billionaires Buy Off The Legal System?

Do you recognize the dapper duo? Probably not, but you should. They are Charles and David Koch, brothers who own one of the largest private oil and chemical conglomerates in the world, Koch Industries of Wichita, KS. The company was founded by their father Fred, a honcho in the John Birch Society. Today the brothers are worth over $20 billion each. They have a radical far-right wing-nut agenda and are willing to spend many hundreds of millions of dollars to get their way. Thanks to the Supreme Court's dreadful Citizens United v. FEC decision, the Koch boys bankrolled most of the TEA Party activity and plan to do more than ever before to influence the 2012 elections.

In the recent past, Supreme Court Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas have attended Koch-sponsored events for conservative eggheads. The purpose of these secretive little soirees is to discuss ways and means to eliminate business regulations and grease the financial skids for maximum corporate thievery. They wave flags and tell themselves it's all in the service of "freedom".

Both Scalia and Thomas insist there's no conflict of interest in their presence at such affairs. Scalia said he was there merely to remind the assembled patriots that the U.S. Constitution is immaculate in its original construction and therefore all legal time effectively stopped somewhere in the early 1800's. Thomas said he was there because he'd heard they'd be showing some really good porn videos.

Thomas has another conflict of interest problem involving his awful wedded wife Ginni, who's a big-time conservative lobbyist. For years, he somehow forgot to mention on his financial disclosure forms that Mrs. Thomas was being paid $686,000 as a consultant to the Heritage Foundation, a right-wing activist group. These days, Ginni is CEO of Liberty Central, a conservative PAC which advocates getting rid of Obama-Care one way or another. Most analysts believe that the health reform law will eventually come before the Supreme Court. Gosh, I wonder which way Clarence will vote?

An interesting article in the NY Times reports that Justice Thomas has not uttered a word in open court arguments in five years. Not a peep. That's a lot of silence! (Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said that the last time Thomas spoke in any court-related matter was during a lunch break in chambers in 2004, when he was clearly heard to say, "Pepperoni.")

Why so quiet? Clarence is keeping his trap shut to avoid saying anything which would confirm his conflicts of interest or might land his sorry ass in jail. Many people are now calling on Thomas to recuse himself from deliberations on the constitutionality of the health care reform law.

To hell with recusal. The fucker ought to resign!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Premature Burial?

Stop the funeral. There's a sign of life in the Cadaver! Yes indeed. Making headline news from coast to coast, the Cleveland Cadavers -- er, Cavaliers -- won a basketball game last night. After losing an NBA record 26 in a row, the Cavs finally picked up a win, topping the LA Clippers 126-119. Yippee. Cleveland still owns the league's worst record by far, so I wouldn't order champagne and playoff tickets just yet.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Kasich To Public Employees: "You Vill Verk Or Ve Vill Make You Pay!"

Hardly a day goes by without some new attack on organized labor coming out of the Kasich administration. Now, just in case you had any doubt (and you shouldn't have), Gov. Kasich has made his position plain: He intends to not merely reduce union influence, he's gonna be a union-buster. Not only does he dislike public employee unions, he dislikes public employees!

John-Boy said that if the Jones Bill (SB 5) doesn't give him everything he wants, he'll just make up his own draconian labor rules and slip them into the state budget. (Well then, fuck, King John! Why bother with the House & Senate? Save time and money, send 'em home, and do whatever you like. His hubris simply astounding!)

The royal words of King John regarding public employees:

"We would outlaw strikes, and the penalties would be either firing or docked wages."

Any recourse for dissatisfied union workers? Nope. "They have a job. Try to come up with something."

The King also said he'd eliminate Ohio laws requiring binding arbitration and prevailing wages.

It's shit like this that makes me want to puke. It's mean, punitive, and pure conservative ideology -- it's a "fix" of a non-existent problem, with no demonstrable social or financial benefit. Just throwin' a bone to the anti-union dogs.

In the historical big picture, it's people like John Kasich who make necessary people like Eugene V. Debs, Samuel Gompers, John L. Lewis, and Walter Reuther. (If you don't know who those guys are, do a Google search right now.)

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Mubarak Departs For Film Career

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has announced that he will step down in order to play the lead role in the latest instalment of the Blacula movie series.

At his final press conference Mubarak said, "I love Egypt and I've had a great run as your Pharoah Dictator, but 32 years is plenty. So farewell and good luck. I'm going to Hollywood! See ya, suckers!"