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

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Jon Stewart Mocks The Koch Brothers New TV Ad

Buster blogged about the Koch's image make-over ad a couple days ago, but Jon Stewart and Daily Show just skewered the Koch Brothers righteously.  I know reposting a video isn't very creative, and I'm sure some of you saw this bit last night, but it's definitely worth watching (or re-watching).  The hilarious parody of the Koch Industries TV ad comes at 2:55, but the entire 4:12 is quite funny.


If you vote for candidates with R's after their names, you're doing exactly what the Koch brothers want you to do.  It's their party and you're supporting their agenda.  They just hope you don't notice.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

If You're In Doubt, Just Look At Your Gearshift

If, for some strange reason, at this late date, you're still undecided about how to vote on November 4th, just look at your car's gearshift and remember:

D to go forward, R to go backward.

Warm Fuzzies From Koch Industries?

Koch Industries is a privately held conglomerate of companies run by Charles and David, the infamous Koch brothers.  Their empire is a toxic testament to dirty money derived from dirty oil and all its various byproducts.  Each of the brothers is personally worth over $40 billion, but that's not enough.  They want more.

They've spent over $700 million on the 2012 and 2014 elections.  They effectively own the Republican party.  At a private gathering of Koch donors back in June, sycophantic Sen. Mitch McConnell told the brothers, "I don't know where we'd be without you."

The Kochs detest playing by the rules and have lobbied long and hard for regulatory rollbacks.  What to do about government regulations?  Charles Koch says, "Resist in the name of justice."

Koch Industries puts profits above people as a matter of company policy.  Their record on compliance and safety and maintenance is appalling.  They do as little as possible and dare the authorities to catch them.  And they're often caught.  The company has been sued and convicted countless times for EPA violations, fraud, negligence, theft, and more.  It has paid record amounts -- hundreds upon hundreds of millions of dollars -- in fines, penalties and reparations.  To the Koch brothers, this is little more than a nuisance; the cost of doing business, not a deterrent.

But now they've launched a PR campaign to try to persuade us that Koch Industries is simply wonderful and committed to creating value for society.  (Society being defined as Charles and David Koch, that is.)  It's a laughably self-serving piece of shit.  When you need to try this hard to appear lovable, you must be despicable indeed.

For a somewhat different take on the Kochs and their history, try this link:


Saturday, October 25, 2014

Rye Bread

I'm just curious.  Have you ever had a loaf of rye bread packaged like the one shown here?  With the tiny, useless little slices at the open end of the bag, and all the proper slices at the bottom?  What's up with that?  Why can't they put the loaf in there the other way around?  What are those mini-slices good for?  Sandwiches for elves?  Who eats them?  I know I don't.  Do you?

I bet George Carlin never ate them either.

"When you make a sandwich at home, do you reach down past the first few slices to get to the really good bread?  It's a survival thing:  'Let my family eat the rotten bread.  I'll take care of Numero Uno!'  And sometimes the issue isn't freshness but the size of the slice you're after.  Everyone knows the wider ones are somewhere near the middle.  So down you go past six inferior slices to reach the ones you want."

"You're gorgeous!  I love you madly!  Madly!
Come to my room in half an hour . . .  and bring some rye bread."

Jimmy Durante to Mary Wickes in The Man Who Came To Dinner

Might Makes Right?

A friend and I were what-iffing last night.  Wouldn't it be nice, we said to ourselves, if all candidates for elective office were subject to limited, fixed and equal amounts of campaign cash and time?  Literally the same for everyone.  Fair and square.

Jeez, were we ever in a dream world!  (Yes, some alcohol was involved.)

The depressing realities of our money-driven political system can easily lead to such fantasies.  The reality is that across Ohio, incumbent Republicans have over twice as much campaign cash as their the Democratic challengers.  Republican incumbents in the top five state-wide races have $11.9 million cash on hand, while their opponents have $2.3 million.  It's pretty much the same deal any place you go in the U.S.

It's just another reminder that although the D's have the numbers, the R's have the money.  And in their perversion of the Golden Rule, he with the gold rules.  Oh, ha-ha.

Most of corporate America donates heavily to the GOP, believing the party will reward them by turning back the clock and allowing to pollute and engage in unfair labor practices while enjoying lower taxes.

The Supreme Court says corporations are people and money is speech.  The Koch brothers are trying to buy the entire Republican party.  Unions, a reliable source of Democratic funding, are less influential than ever and still come under constant existential attack from the right.



In politics, money is power, money is might.  And Republicans are telling us, in no uncertain terms, that might makes right -- an idiom most often associated with totalitarian regimes.

Just sayin'.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Campaign Ads: Where Truth And Dignity Go To Die

She's running for Ohio Secretary of State.  She's an out-spoken black woman.  She appears all by herself in grainy black and white, with horror-movie music in the background, while the voice-over speaks in deep, ominous tones of her supposed issues with taxes, texts and turds, as if she's Evil Incarnate.  She's Nina Turner, and "she can't be trusted."

Then the voice-over brightens, angels are singing, sun is shining, and "a better choice" -- incumbent Secretary of State Jon Husted together with his wife and kids -- suddenly appears in full living color.  (The color white, that is.)

It's Vote Suppressor Jon Husted's latest campaign ad, and it pretty much pushes all the shitty buttons we've come to know and loathe.

(Sorry I can't find the ad on YouTube, but some of you have seen it anyway.)

Not all campaign ads play the race card, but almost all adhere to a few tried-and-true rules of political posturing:

  • Black and white is bad.  Color is good.
  • Something is always "broken" -- the city, state, country, Congress, economy, etc.  My opponent broke it and only I can fix it.
  • My opponent "raised our taxes."  This is never, ever allowed, no matter what.  It's a fatal fucking flaw.  I will cut taxes, no matter what.
  • "Veteran."  No disrespect, but it doesn't mean much.  Some use their military service like a first name -- "Marine veteran Josh Mandel."  There are tens of thousands of veterans in this country.  It's not, in and of itself, a qualification to hold public office.  What else ya got?
  • "Fighter."  So says every candidate. But what do they fight for?
  • "Wrong for our state."  However, my opponent would be fine for, say, Idaho, and should move there immediately.
  • "We can't afford . . . [my opponent]."  Myself, I come dirt cheap.
  • "You just can't trust . . . [my opponent]."  As for me, I am above reproach.  Ooh, look --lobbyist!!
  • "Family man."  Two, four, six, eight!  I can sure inseminate!!!

Logic Of The Hot-Head Red-Neck Jock

As Infante rounds third, Strickland yells homeward
at Perez, who had just scored.
The Kansas City Royals won Game 2 of the World Series last night, defeating the San Francisco Giants 7-2.  The Royals scored 5 runs in the 6th inning, and the two teams almost had a bench-clearing brawl.

With one out in the 6th, Giants reliever Hunter Strickland, good ol' boy from Georgia, gave up a two-run double to the Royals' Salvador Perez.  Omar Infante was next up for the Royals and promptly jacked a two-run home run off Strickland.

At this point, mad as hell about the world and everything in it, Strickland inexplicably began to yell at Perez, not Infante, who had hit the homer.  Perez shrugged, but Strickland screamed at him to get back in the dugout or come out to the mound for an ass-kicking.

That's when both benches emptied and there was group yelling and mass finger-pointing, but happily no fighting.  The San Francisco manager pulled Strickland and put in a different pitcher.

In the Giants locker room after the game, reporters asked Strickland why he was yelling at Perez.

"My emotions got to me," Strickland replied.  "I thought he said something."

What did he say?

"I don't know.  I don't speak Spanish.  But I'm not going to back down from anything."  (Even if I don't understand a word of it.)

Hunter, you are so smrt.  D'oh!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Ruth Bader Ginsburg Getting Tired Of Writing Scathing Dissents

(From Reductress.com)

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote a scathing dissent last Wednesday, stating her growing exhaustion for constantly having to write such scathing dissents for recent decisions made in the court.
After her most recent scathing dissent on the Texas Voter ID law, Ginsburg noted that she's feeling "depressed" and "tired" after making yet another legally sound argument in dissent to the majority opinion. "I still had some pep in me after the first few," she adds. "But the old fucks are finally starting to wear me down."
The 81-year-old Supreme Court judge credits "being in a room full of mostly white men who are usually wrong" as the primary cause of her decline.
"I may not change any discriminatory voting laws," Ginsburg concludes resignedly, "but at least I'm giving people something to blog about."
She then retired to her office to take a nap and catch up on The Good Wife.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The Implacable Cool Of Barack Obama

While voting in Chicago, President Obama was surprised by a kiss from another voter, followed by a comment from her "jealous" boyfriend.

My cousin Barry is just too cool!  He doesn't even look up -- just keeps up the banter and keeps voting.

Grandma Was Kinda Green And She Didn't Even Know It

This old world of ours needs to wake up and smell the high-sulfur coal-fired power plant emissions before it's too late.  Of course, it's much, much more than coal.  So many of our take-for-granted modern conveniences leave a nasty carbon footprint and an enduring waste disposal problem.

Not that long ago, it was a little different.  Then vs. now:

Returnable bottles

Brown paper bags



Kid going to a ballgame

Kids going to a ballgame

Multi-use cloth diaper

Single-use disposable diapers

Clothes on a line
(Wind and solar!)


Crumpled newspaper packing

Styrofoam packing peanuts

Refillable fountain pen

Disposable ballpoint pen

Metal "safety" razor and blade
(Keep the razor, throw away the blade)

Plastic disposable razors
(Throw away the whole damn thing!)

I'm all for being as green and environmentally conscious as is reasonable and practical.  So I gotta say, as a been-there done-that parent, and with apologies to the landfill, I draw the line at cloth diapers.  ;)

Play The New "Conservative Jeopardy" Quiz Game

The game show Jeopardy was taken to task by some folks for a recent category, "What Women Want", which featured correct questions like, "What is Sleepy Time herbal tea?" and "What is a vacuum cleaner?"  Some on the left wondered if host and avowed liberal Alex Trebek had suddenly flipped and joined proud wing-nut Pat Sajak on the dark side.

It's possible.  Buster's sources have obtained five sample answers from a proposed new quiz show, "Conservative Jeopardy."  Click the link, play the game, and decide for yourself if Trebek has gone Tea Bag!


Sunday, October 19, 2014

An Historical Perspective On Today's Political Divide (Long Attention Span Theatre)

(Excerpted from the 10/19/14 NY Times Book Review of Landslide -- LBJ and Ronald Reagan at the Dawn of a New America, by Jonathan Darman.  The review was written by Sean Wilentz, history professor at Princeton University.)

In October 1964, following a long hot summer of riots in Northern cities, a Gallup poll found that 73% of Americans agreed that blacks should stop their protests "now that they have made their point."  But the rioting continued in 1965 and 1966, arising from local conflicts about the police, over which President Johnson had as little control as President Obama has had over the events in Ferguson, Mo.  Seized upon by Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and others, white reaction to the disturbances, and the associated fear of urban crime, became for the Republicans the perfect weapon for blasting big government liberalism as the cause, not the solution, of the nation's problems.

Although they claim the mantle of Reaganism, today's conservative Republicans would have considered President Reagan -- who, after all, raised taxes no fewer than 11 times and tripled the deficit -- a crypto-liberal heretic, a RINO.   

Short Attention Span Theatre

Voters of all political persuasions can often be forgetful, even of fairly recent events and facts.  No one has profited more from our short attention spans than the GOP.  They rely on it, and are seldom let down.

In a classic local example, a headline in today's Columbus Dispatch says that the "SB 5 Battle Isn't Hurting Gov. Kasich".  The article touches on two Ohioans who voted against Kasich's union-busting Senate Bill 5 in a referendum three years ago.  Both people are from union households, and their votes helped kill SB 5.

And who are both of them voting for on November 4th?  John Kasich!

Are you fucking kidding me?  How do you get through to people like that?  How do you overcome that special kind of stupid?

I got nuthin.'  Help!

If You're Afraid Of Ebola, Don't Worry -- The GOP IS Here To Help

At a time like this, when all of humankind is on the brink of extinction due to a death virus found in West African anal leakage, it's critical that government has top-flight public health officials on the job to guide us through this medical crisis.  Thank god the Republican party is here to help:

The U.S. has had no Surgeon General for the past eleven months!  That's because the Senate Republicans refuse to confirm President Obama's highly qualified appointee.  No good reason -- just pure spite, just because.  And maybe because he believes gun violence is a public health problem.


"Let us cater your next
deadly virus event!"

Here in Ohio Gov. Kaysuck ousted a real doctor who was head of the Ohio Dept. of Health and replaced him with a Republican former state rep who's not a doctor and has no background in public health.  Our new ODH leader was working as a lobbyist and an "event planner."


(Thanks to a faithful reader for the Kasich link.)

Friday, October 17, 2014


Ebola ebola ebola ebola.  Ebola ebola ebola, ebola ebola ebola.  Ebola ebola, ebola ebola ebola, ebola ebola.  Ebola ebola:

"Ebola ebola ebola ebola, ebola ebola?" Ebola Ebola (R-Ebola) ebola.

Ebola Ebola ebola, "Ebola ebola ebola.  Ebola ebola?  Ebola."

"Ebola ebola ebola ebola?" Ebola Ebola (D-Ebola) ebola ebola.

"Ebola!"  Ebola ebola, "Ebola ebola, ebola ebola."

Ebola ebola ebola ebola ebola, ebola ebola ebola ebola.  (Ebola ebola ebola.)  Ebola ebola ebola ebola.  Ebola ebola, ebola ebola ebola ebola.  Ebola ebola, ebola?

Ebola!  Ebola, ebola.  Ebola ebola ebola ebola.


It Ought To Be An Automatic Disqualification

Josh Mandel -- enter his name in the Buster's Blog search window if you need to know how I really feel about this unqualified little shit-heel liar.  He was somehow elected State Treasurer in 2010, and immediately began his unsuccessful 2012 campaign for the U.S. Senate.  Now he's trying for another term as Treasurer.

His new TV ad is full of the same manipulative truthiness that marked his prior campaigns, but this adds a new twist.  It seems to show a Cleveland Plain Dealer headline stating that Joshie-Boy has kept Ohio's finances "safe and in order."  The four words are actually an out-of-context excerpt taken from a Plain Dealer editorial endorsing Mandel's opponent, Connie Pillich!

That's hilariously pathetic.  Who's bright idea was that?  When you're that desperate, that low, when there is so little to recommend you that you try to spin your opponent's endorsement into an ad for yourself, it ought to be an automatic disqualification from holding any elective office.

"We're Losing Money, But We're Making Up For It In Volume!"

Sam Brownback (R) was elected Kansas governor in 2010.  He's a Bible-thumping social conservative and a Tea Bag true believer.

When he took office, he wanted to create a Reaganomic utopia in his state.  He was dying to prove his ideas that cutting taxes and slashing government services would achieve a dramatic and lasting prosperity.  He wanted Kansas to serve as an economic success story that other right-wingers could point to as a model of how to git 'er dun.

His signature moves were drastic tax cuts for the wealthy, and the elimination of all income taxes on Kansas businesses.

The results are in:

Kansas' state revenues are down almost $700 million.  (That's a bunch for Kansas.)
The state will run a deficit through 2019.
It's credit rating has been downgraded by Moody's and S&P.
There has been none of the huge job growth Brownback predicted.  Kansas' "job creators" just put the tax cut in their pockets.
Public schools have seen building closures, larger class sizes, fees for Kindergarten, elimination of arts education, and staff layoffs.
The transportation budget has been slashed.  Highway maintenance is virtually non-existent.

It's bad enough that many in the Kansas GOP are in open rebellion, publicly supporting Brownback's Democratic challenger in the upcoming election.

His trickle-down experiment has been a calamitous failure.  So what does Sam the Sham prescribe as a fix?  More of the same:

"We need to hit the accelerator on what we're doing."
"These tax cuts take a little bit of time."
"This is going to work and we're going to stick with it."

Whatever.  Brownback is living proof that stubborn ideology is a poor substitute for 3rd-grade math proficiency.  In a couple weeks, he may very well be out on his ass.  Do they still have unemployment insurance in Kansas, or did he get rid of it?

Thursday, October 16, 2014

In Defense Of Obama

That's the title of the great article in the current issue of Rolling Stone by Nobel-winning economist Paul Krugman.  It's been receiving a lot of attention.  His assessment is sober, even-handed, and non-ass-kissing, and dispels much of the fashionable criticism.  Krugman calmly makes the case that the Obama presidency has been, on the whole, clearly successful.  I couldn't agree more.  

In case you don't regularly read the Rolling Stone (which these day features some top-notch journalism) some excerpts follow, with the link to the full article at the end.  Check it out.

"Obama faces trash talk left, right and center -- literally -- and doesn't  deserve it.  Despite bitter opposition, he has emerged as one of the most consequential and, yes, successful presidents in American history.  His health reform is imperfect but still a huge step forward -- and it's working better than anyone expected.  Financial reform fell far short of what should have happened, but it's much more effective than you'd think.  Economic management has been half-crippled by Republican obstruction, but nonetheless has been much better than in other advanced countries.  And environmental policy is starting to look like it could be a major legacy."

"Polls, even elections, are not the measure of a president.  High office shouldn't be about putting points on the electoral scoreboard, it should be about changing the country for the better.  Has Obama done that?  Do his achievements look likely to endure?  The answer to both questions is yes."

"The conservative narrative that portrays his policies as a simple failure is all wrong."

"This is what a successful presidency looks like.  No president gets to do everything his supporters expected him to do.  When all is said and done, Obama has achieved a lot.  That is, as Joe Biden put it, a big fucking deal." 


Let Them Eat Cake

Charter schools are designed to take the "public" out of public education.  They're an invention of union-hating Republicans, and function as taxpayer-funded private schools run by for-profit corporations.  There are some exceptions, but as a class, the academic track record of charter schools is spotty at best.  Money is the main thing, and all else is secondary.

You may have heard the story of one of our local charter schools, Imagine Columbus Primary Academy.  They lease their school building from their corporate owner/manager, Imagine Schools Inc.  The academy's annual rent paid to Imagine Inc. is $700,000, which amounts to a predatory 54% of the school's revenues.  A rent factor that high is simply unworkable -- you can't pay for teachers, books, supplies, utilities, etc.

Yesterday the school's board members asked/begged Imagine Schools Inc. to re-do the lease and reduce the rent.  Rather than cut the exorbitant rent to pay teacher salaries, company officials instead suggested the board "celebrate" teachers in other ways, such as having cake for them at the next board meeting. 

Who needs a paycheck when you've got a slice of cake?

You can't make this stuff up!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Ebola Is Obama's Fault

"Why did Ronald Reagan let the AIDS virus into the U.S.?" asked no Republican ever!

Note To Automakers: Use Your Words, Please

I've had my car for four years and I still can't figure it out.  There are more buttons on the dashboard display than stars in the sky, and most of 'em are too small to see without my reading glasses.  (And with my reading glasses on, I can't see to drive.)  Even worse, many of these buttons have symbols only -- no words, no numbers, just mysterious little icons.  No surprise, I don't know what half of these damn buttons do.

Case in point:  Although I'd recently changed the oil, for the past few days the main digital display on the dash read "CHANGE ENGINE OIL SOON."  This message has nothing to do with reality.  It's an idiot light tied strictly to the odometer miles since the last time the message was reset.  So no big deal, the mechanic forgot to reset it after the last oil change, but it's sort of annoying.  It was time to reset the stupid thing and clear that message.

OK, how in the hell do you do that?  There's not one button or dial or anything on the dash that's the slightest bit intuitive.  Gotta check the 500-page manual.  

In the Index, under "O", I find "Oil Messages", 5-34.  Flipping to that page, I learn that the "CHANGE ENGINE OIL SOON" message means I need to change the oil.  Really?  It further advises that I "see Engine Oil Life System on on page 10-10 for information on how to reset the message."

From page 10-10:  "To reset the Engine Oil Life System, press the vehicle information button until "Oil Life Remaining" appears."

Well, which button would that be, pray tell?  There's no button which says "VEH INFO", nothing even close.  So I dive back into the thick manual.

There is nothing in the manual under "V" about "Vehicle Information" or any such button.  Nothing!

Now I'm reduced to perusing the entire Index, hoping to find a hint, a clue.  Under "I", how about "Instruments and Controls", 5-1?  The Instruments and Controls Chapter is a mere 52 pages long and has its very own Index.  

Let's try "Information Displays", 5-25.  Aha!  The "Vehicle Info" button is the second from the right in the 4-button array.  It's about a half-inch square, with a meaningless little symbol on it.  To my tired old eyes, it resembles a car beside either a standing person or a gas pump.  What's it look like to you?

(It's a car and a lower-case letter "i" -- i for info.  Jesus!)

Anyway, I found the friggin' elusive thing and pressed it until the display read "0% OIL LIFE REMAINING."

OK, now what?  Back to page 10-10, which continued:  "Then press and hold the set/reset button until 100% is displayed and three chimes sound."  Where's the goddam "Set/Reset" button??

Nothing in the Index under "S," of course.  Back to "Information Displays", 5-25.  Aha again!!  The first one on the left, the check mark?  That's the "Set/Reset" button.  (Slightly intuitive, but only slightly.)

Finally, I pressed the check mark, got my "100%" and my three chimes, and tossed the manual back in the glove box.

Who designs this shit?  Four small, inscrutable buttons -- a check mark, a smaller check mark in a box above an unchecked box, a car and an i, and a roadway disappearing into the horizon.  No word labels, no abbreviations.  What do these buttons do?  What do their icons mean?  How are you supposed to know?

There's a single page somewhere in a 500-page manual that explains their functions, and absolutely nothing in the index that makes it easy to find that one page.

Good luck!