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

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

"Clarification" Won't Cut It

Numerous big businesses across the country are condemning Indiana's anti-gay, anti-civil rights "Religious Freedom Restoration Act."  So are various Chambers of Commerce.  The Republican mayor of Indianapolis says that his state's GOP lawmakers don't realize what they've done and are not dealing with reality.  The NCAA is considering pulling future events in the state.  Wilco has cancelled an upcoming performance.  The states of Connecticut and Washington, as well as the cities of Seattle and San Francisco, have banned official government travel to Indiana.  The headline in the Indianapolis Star:  "Fix This Now!"

Clueless Republicans in the Indiana legislature are "shocked" at the uproar.  They just can't understand why everyone is angry with them.  Gov. Pence says he'll "clarify" the law, but also says he has no interest in providing any specific protections to LGBT people in Indiana.

Two points for Pence and his pinheads:

1.  If your brand-new law needs instant clarification, that's a sure sign the law is a loser.
2.  People are upset with you because, regardless of what you claim, your RFRA is driven by homophobia and is designed to give broad legal cover to anti-gay discriminatory practices.

Indiana's RFRA was pushed by conservative Christian activists rallying to the "cause" of a bakery owner who refused to make rainbow cupcakes for a gay wedding.  ("I ain't puttin' no fag frosting on a queer cupcake!"  The baker didn't really say that, but he may as well have.)

Apologists point out that 19 other states have "similar" laws, but that's not entirely true.  All the others are narrowly limited to fairly benign proceedings involving a government entity.  (e.g. a Muslim or Amish prisoner may keep his beard; a church may feed the homeless in a city park.)  Indiana's law applies across the board -- "religious freedom" is a defense for individuals, corporations, religious "societies", for anything and everything.

And even if the laws in other states were identical to Indiana's, it wouldn't make it right.  Bad law is bad law, so "one more state on the bad law bandwagon" is an awfully flimsy defense.  Bad laws should be overturned, not rationalized with examples of more bad laws.

It's become a litmus test.  Should it be legal to discriminate against gay people?  Yes or no?  What do you say?  Mike Pence won't give a straight answer.  Neither will most of the 2016 GOP presidential hopefuls.  Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Ben Carson and Bobby Jindal all piped up to defend Indiana's idiocy.  (Bobby Jindal -- why is he still a thing?)  Arkansas is ready to pass its own version of the Indiana law.

Poor Republicans.  Just when you thought they'd learned something, they go all troglodyte again.  They can't help themselves -- they're addicted to gay-bashing, and to all the rest of their favorite old fear-mongering, pandering tactics.

Forward is a direction with which they are unfamiliar.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Everything Is Against My Religion!

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R) has just signed the "Religious Freedom Restoration Act."  This euphemistic bullshit law does not say exactly where Indiana's religious freedom went, but now it's back, it's restored!  Big-time.

The law provides that any corporation or individual can cite "religious beliefs" as a legal defense against all manner of blatant prejudice, bias and discriminatory practices.

Indiana is bracing for a huge increase in population as bigots from all over flock to the Hoosier state, anxious to celebrate their rights more fully.  Early polling in the state shows the following are the most frequently mentioned things that are "against my religion": 
  • Paying taxes
  • Black people
  • Mexicans
  • Asians
  • Jews
  • Muslims
  • People wearing funny clothes
  • Gays
  • Lesbians
  • Feminists
  • Barack Obama
  • Vaccinations
  • Math
  • Imported beer 
  • Broccoli
As you can see, this is going to be a very handy law indeed for Indiana residents.  They can now do anything they want to do, and chalk it all up to red-white-and-blue Religious Freedom!  This could be an even better excuse than the "Best Excuse Ever."  (Link below.)


The Party Of "Limited" Government

It happens about once a year, and it just happened again.  The Ohio House of Representatives, led by a gang of Republican crazies, passed HB 69.  It's yet another of their draconian "heartbeat" bills prohibiting abortions after a fetal heartbeat is detectable, effectively banning most procedures.  The rule is ridiculously restrictive, clearly unconstitutional, won't pass the Ohio Senate, and will never stand a chance of ever actually being signed into law, even by Gov. Kay-suck.

But guaranteed failure doesn't bother the GOP's gyno-tician wing.  This is their one issue, the only thing they really care about, and so they keep bringing it up over and over again, despite the futility.  They're wasting everyone's time and resources, and they do not give a shit.  They are too busy being superior beings and evangelical crusaders, praying for the souls of the "unborn."  They disgust me.

I'm with Sarah Silverman, who said,

"I'm praying for the billions of teeny tiny Republicans that die every single year in hookers' assholes."

"Sure, some Democrats have butt sex with prostitutes, but they're not the one trying to take away my rights."


Monday, March 23, 2015

Liberty, And Cruz For All

Tea-Bag Senator Ted Cruz  (R-Tex) announced earlier today that he's a candidate for President.  Good luck!  Cruz is offensive and unelectable.  As much as I'd love to to see the GOP nominate his crazy, wing-nut ass, even they are not that stupid.  But Teddy should provide months of amusement with his cartoonish arrogance, fear-mongering, obstruction and religious douchebaggery.

He made the announcement at Liberty University in Lynchburg, VA.  Liberty U. was founded by the late evangelical charlatan and Moral Majority founder, Jerry Falwell.

I bring this up because the University's administration required -- required! -- that the student body attend Cruz's announcement speech.  Liberty has over 13,000 resident students, and evidently Ted Cruz 101 is mandatory coursework for every single one of them.  Unbelievable!

Colleges, universities and institutions of higher learning simply do not endorse political candidates, ever.  Until now.  Liberty's Christian conservatives are shameless tools.  What if Hillary Clinton or Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders were to speak at Liberty?  Would the students be required to attend?  More likely, they'd be forbidden!

WWJVF?  Who would Jesus vote for?  Ted Cruz?  I seriously doubt it.

Basketball On My Mind

Seems like every year around this time, there's a nostalgic post about college hoops.  March Madness can do that to a guy.

Mike Gminski
Jim Spanarkel

This year, two of the better TV announcers working the early rounds of the NCAA tournament were Mike Gminski and Jim Spanarkel.  Both are ex-NBA players who now call NBA games as well as college games.

Gminski and Spanarkel didn't broadcast any games together, but 37 years ago they were All-American teammates on a great Duke team.  The 1977-78 Blue Devils were a thing to behold, back in the days before Coach K.  (Yes, there was once such a time.)  Although I have no real affinity for Duke or the ACC, this squad captured my attention.  Gminski played center and Spanarkel was the point guard, and they were the two top scorers.  They were ably assisted by a pair of slashing forwards, Gene Banks and Kenny Dennard.  Together, they were a fast, smart team that was fun to watch.  They made it to the NCAA championship game, losing a close, high-scoring final to Kentucky.  (Friggin' Kentucky!)



Dennard & Banks
The following season, they all came back and were the pre-season #1 team in America.  They were undefeated when they met Ohio State on December 29, 1978 in the ECAC Holiday Tournament in Madison Square Garden.  I remember because the game would be a real test for the unranked Buckeyes, who were pretty good themselves with Kelvin Ransey, Herb Williams, Jim Smith and Carter Scott.  I remember it also because, unbelievably, this big game was not televised.  I vividly recall sitting in the kitchen of my dinky apartment, listening on the AM radio.  In those pre-ESPN days, that's the way things went.  Anyway, I was thrilled when the Buckeyes pulled out an overtime win over big, bad, #1 Duke!

So, did Ohio State build on that important victory and have a kick-ass season?  No.  We finished the year 19-12 and unranked.  It was Magic Johnson's year.

Bill Foster
Who was Duke's coach way back then, the one who preceded Mike Krzyzewski?  Bill Foster.  He later coached South Carolina and Northwestern.

This concludes another trip down my hoops memory lane.

Who am I pulling for is this year's NCAA tourney?  Well, OSU beat VCU but bowed out against Arizona, so now I'm for ABK -- Anybody But Kentucky!!

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Not Big Numbers

Taking a moment to toot my own horn . . .

Buster's Blog is approximately five years old, debuting in February 2010.  So far, I've barfed up 1561 posts and counting.  That's 312 per year on average, not quite one a day.

They've received just over 218,000 page-views, or 43,600 per year, 3600 per month.

In case you're thinking those are big numbers, they're not.  Websites like reddit.com and YouTube do that about every ten seconds.  Many personal blogs get far more traffic than this one.

Still, 218,000 hits ain't bad for a little ol' flyspeck like Buster's Blog, and it makes me wonder -- who are all those people?  I know it's essentially nothing, but it feels like a little bit of something to me.

For whatever they're worth, the two most popular posts (most page-views all-time) are Half Nelson, Full Nelson, Father Nelson (very short) and Buster Gammons' History of Religion (very long).


Anyway, thanks for reading, whoever you are.  You're welcome to share Buster's Blog on your Facebook page, emails, etc., either individual posts or the website link:


We now return you to our regularly scheduled programming.

Driving Conservatively

Not to be confused with driving defensively.

Here in Ohio, our state government is dominated by Republicans.  When not busying themselves with slashing revenue and services, trying to outlaw abortion, and fracking every square inch of the state, these stalwart conservatives spend the rest of their time speeding and running red lights.

They effectively banned remote traffic light cameras by requiring a uniformed police officer at each camera (kinda defeats the concept of remote, doesn't it?).  Now the state legislature's R's are now hot to trot for increasing the speed limit to 75 MPH on Ohio's highways.

The GOP may be hopelessly lost, but they're making great time and they won't stop for anything!

Friday, March 20, 2015

Jeb's Position On The Minimum Wage

In South Carolina on Tuesday, Jeb Bush was asked if he supported the federal minimum wage or believed it should be left to the private sector.  Quoth the Jebster:

"We need to leave it to the private sector.  I think state minimum wages are fine.  The federal government shouldn't be doing this.  The federal government doing this will make it harder and harder for the first rung of the ladder to be reached, particularly for young people, particularly for people with less education."

To paraphrase Ann Richard's great line:  Poor Jeb.  He was born with a silver foot in his mouth.

Listen up, Jeb, and learn something.  The federal minimum wage serves as the national baseline.  Some states have higher minimums, some don't, but the federal minimum is the minimum minimum.   Corporate America would pay 12 cents an hour if we let them.  And if you removed the federal minimum, some goofy states would be happy to let them.  Oh, and just as an operational concept, the first rung of a ladder is the lowest.

The idea that there are gajillions of unfilled first-rung jobs lurking out there, but businesses just can't hire the necessary workers because wages are not low enough is uniquely Republican thinking and a complete crock of shit.

Remember The GOP Email Scandal?

Many of the people now screaming for Hillary Clinton to turn over her server and make all her emails public (even the private ones) are the same freedom-protectors who went absolutely apeshit when Edward Snowdon publicly leaked NSA documents and shattered our notions of information privacy.

I'm not suggesting that the Clinton and Snowdon situations are the same, but in one case they demand bright sunshine, and in the other they're appalled when the curtain is pulled open.  Having it both ways?

Even though I'd like to see her flip 'em all off and tell 'em it's none of their friggin' business, maybe Hillary should just cough up the server, clear the air and be done with it.  (A friend says she'll do just that, as soon as all of Bill's porn can be removed!)

Are the FUD-mongers being unfair to Hillary?  Well, there was that time in 2007 when it was discovered that Karl Rove and and other presidential staffers had deleted 22 million White House emails on a private, non-government Republican National Committee server, which Rove and crew used almost exclusively for official communications.  This email-deletion revelation came about as Congressional Democrats started asking questions about the Bush administration's sudden firing of eight U.S. Attorneys for political reasons.  (All eight were Republican, but not Republican enough.)  So the D's poke around a little and -- poof! -- 22 million emails vanished.

Do you remember the indignant public uproar that resulted from this scandalous disclosure?  Me neither, because there wasn't one.

Goddam liberal media!


Thursday, March 19, 2015

Another Dozen Of The Best Things Anybody Ever Said

"He has all the virtues I dislike and none of the vices I admire." -- Winston Churchill

"You can't buy love, but you can pay heavily for it." -- Henny Youngman 

"They say such nice things about people at their funerals that it makes me sad to realize I'm going to miss mine by just a few days." -- Garrison Keillor

"When speaking, be sincere, be brief, and be seated." -- Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"If you think nobody cares if you're alive, try missing a couple of car payments." -- Flip Wilson

"He has no enemies, but is intensely disliked by his friends." -- Oscar Wilde

"Those who believe in telekinetics, raise my hand." -- Kurt Vonnegut

"If you can't be kind, at least be vague." -- Judith Martin

"One nice thing about egotists -- they don't talk about other people."  -- George Carlin

"Almost every wise saying has an opposite one, no less wise, to balance it." -- George Santayana

"A lie is an abomination unto the Lord and a very present help in time of trouble." -- Adlai Stevenson

"I'm not afraid to die.  I just don't want to be there when it happens." -- Woody Allen


Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Grand Old Pen Pals

Happy Saint Patrick's Day

"What Do You Mean, We Can't Shoot Unarmed People? They Told Us At The Academy We Could!"

"It's a . . . umm . . . a certain
community that's . . . uh, you know . . .
out there, if you catch my drift."
Our Wonder Guv has established the Task Force For Community-Police Relations.  It's made up of legislators, law enforcement and community leaders, and they've been holding public hearings around Ohio.  At least one cop in the group seems to have learned something.

Michael Navarre, representing the Ohio Association of Chiefs of Police, had this to say:

"There's a huge gap between what law enforcement wants and the community wants.  There's a community out there that doesn't want unarmed people shot."

Well, duh, yeah!

This genius makes it sound like police want and need to shoot unarmed citizens, and he's been shocked -- shocked! -- to discover that some folks* might object to that.

*("A community out there."  Golly-gosh, who could he be referring to?)

Monday, March 16, 2015

In Defense Of Unions

[I have a couple friends I've known for years.  Both are great guys, I love 'em both and see them regularly.  We talk about all sorts of stuff, across the spectrum.  And sometimes our little chats provide me with blog material.  My friends don't always agree with me, but luckily they have a good sense of humor and read my shit anyway.]

Recently I found myself discussing organized labor with a couple friends.  I've never been a member of any employee union and neither have they.  I support unions.  They do not.

I support unions for all the positive things organized labor and collective bargaining have brought to the advanced nations of the world -- reduced worker exploitation, improved wages and wage protection, workplace safety, employee benefits, workers compensation insurance, unemployment insurance, etc.

My friends acknowledge these things, but are still opposed to unions on general principles which they find rather difficult to express -- pretty much it's the automatic assumption that unions are always "bad" and management is always "good," that unions do nothing but add anti-competitive costs to employers.  At best, they said, public-sector unions might be OK, but private-sector unions were no good.  I didn't ask why they drew this dubious distinction.  I'll bet autoworkers, steelworkers, communications workers, miners, railroad workers, longshoremen, textile workers, etc. would love to hear the explanation.

Perhaps my buddies are fans of union-busting Scott Walker, who just signed a "Right To Work" law in Wisconsin.  Right-to-work weakens private-sector unions and is a dishonest euphemism for "right to work for less." 

Walker and others claim that unless they have right-to-work laws, they'll be unable to attract new business, and current business will leave their state for a right-to-work state.  By that logic, (a.) All businesses should already be clustered in whatever the first state was to pass right-to-work, and/or (b.) Since it's such a great idea, soon every state will be right-to-work with no competitive advantage for any state.

Perhaps they don't realize that American organized labor has less influence today than at any point in the last 70 years.

Per the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 11.2% of U.S. employees were union members in 2014.  The rate was 20.1% in 1983, and 28.3% in 1954.  Of all public-sector workers, 35.7% are in unions.  In the private sector, it's just 6.6%.  If you're anti-union, where's the problem?  What's your bitch, exactly?  That unions still exist at all?  That membership isn't zero?  That may sound good to a wanker like Walker, but it would be a bad idea for all of us.

When unions were at their peak, our economy was robust, income variation/inequality was far less severe than today, and the mythical "American Dream" was within reach for a much larger portion of the population than today. 

Back in the 1970's, I knew a man many years my senior who worked at the steel mill as a shift worker, a laborer.  He'd worked there for decades and would eventually retire from there.  He was, forgive me, an uneducated bumpkin, but his career at the mill afforded him the opportunity to buy a home in a suburban subdivision, own two cars, have medical and dental insurance, enjoy paid vacations, pay for his child to attend parochial school and college, and retire with a good pension and a wife who never worked a day in her life.  Yet until the day he died, he complained bitterly about the steelworkers union of which he was a member -- never had a good word to say, convinced his union dues were nothing but legalized theft.

Some people just can't recognize a good thing even while they're personally benefiting from it.  So I guess it's understandable that those who've never been part of a union (and that's most of us) find it so easy to piss all over organized labor -- it's unlikely you'll pee on anyone you know.

It's easy to believe that lazy union workers are getting away with murder -- doing less and getting more than others doing the same work, and adding huge costs for all the rest of us hard-working, honest Americans.  Anti-union ideologues encourage this "unfairness" angle every day.

Maybe my buddies think that way.  To Dr. Buster, it sounds like a clear case of union envy.  My prescription is that they form unions at their own workplaces and get a piece of the action.  And if they really hold the strong belief that no one should get more than another for a given task, that equal pay and benefits should attach to equal work, then maybe my pals are -- aha! -- secret Communists!

Just kidding!  Dosvedanya, comrades.  And look for the union label.

Friday, March 13, 2015

More Chins Than A Chinese Phonebook

The Big Ten men's basketball tournament is being telecast on ESPN.  Last night, I watched the Buckeyes beat the Gophers.  Yay.

The announcers for the entire tournament are Mike Tirico and Dan Dakich.  They're both pretty good.  Dakich is a former player and coach who's now best-known for his pet catch-phrase:  "Chin on the rim."  I've mentioned it before, and I'm not alone.  Dan even had his own little segment in last night's game to explain that it means, essentially, when you're down low in the paint, keep your head up, your eyes on the basket and go up strong.

Dakich is so in love with saying "keep your chin on the rim," he finds a way to say it 10-12 times a game.  By the time the tournament is over, he'll have dropped more "chins" than a Chinese phonebook! 

Perhaps realizing we've had about all the chins we can stand, last night Dakich tried out a new bit of inscrutable color commentary:  "Big possums walk late."  Huh?


A Low Bar

Have you heard?  (I'm being facetious.)

As Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton "intentionally" used a private email account.  What exactly was her "intent" in using -- OMG! -- private email?

Personally, I don't care, and no one really knows, but conservatives are thoroughly convinced that, despite zero evidence, her motivations are untrustworthy, devious, crooked, criminal and even unpatriotic.  That's the right wing's favorite old story line about the Clintons, and they've gotten a lot of mileage from it.  They take something small and insignificant, and whip it up into an overblown, paranoid frenzy -- a scandal!  An email scandal!!  Email-ghazi!!!

Total waste-of-time bullshit, but it plays in Peoria.

It's a low, low bar for "scandal" these days.


In related news, Rep. Trey Gowdy is Chairman of the House Oversight Committee and the Select Committee on Benghazi.  As such, he functions as the GOP's Grand Inquisitor and he has demanded that Hillary Clinton turn over her private email server and "appear at least twice" before his kangaroo committee.  Why?  Because that's just the FUD*-mongering way they roll.

"We have no evidence of crime or guilt, but can you prove you're innocent?"

It's like drowning someone to prove she's not a witch.

[*FUD = Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt]

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Helpful Hints For Ohio Motorists

It's March and the Big Thaw is finally underway.  And that means it's pothole season all across our fair Buckeye State.  The Ohio Department of Transportation offers these helpful hints for drivers at this time of year:

1.  When driving, try to avoid hitting potholes if possible.

2.  If you do hit a pothole, climb out of the pothole using any nearby ladder.

3.  Have your car towed to the junkyard.

4.  Call ODOT at 1-800-ATE-A-CAR to report the pothole.  ODOT will fill the pothole within 6 months (unless Kasich eliminates ODOT first).

Sneaky, But Not Very Convincing

Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex) is sponsoring the Justice For Victims of Trafficking Act, which creates a special fund to help victims of human trafficking.  It's that rare piece of bipartisan legislation, a "we like puppies " bill, and it sailed through the Senate Judiciary Committee on its way to the Senate floor for slam-dunk passage.

Here's a slightly uncomfortable truth -- very seldom do our members of Congress actually read the bills they vote on.  It's impractical.  The 113th Congress of 2013-14 introduced 10,637 bills and resolutions.  Many bills are hundreds of pages in length, some are thousands.  (That much reading would take too much time away from crucial fundraising dinners!)

But seriously, they have staff for that.  Staff members wade through all the bill's verbiage, and distill it down to a pithy summary easily digestible by almost anyone, even elected officials.  Those summaries are what's discussed in committee.  Right, wrong or indifferent, it's just the way things are.

Now, after Committee approval, suddenly every Democrat on the Judiciary committee is crying foul because, post-committee, some Republican somewhere (Cornyn's staff? Another?  Who knows?) slipped some Hyde Amendment anti-abortion rights language into the trafficking bill without really telling anyone.  The R's feebly claim it was in there all along, but the D's furiously and unanimously disagree and say the bill will die unless the R's take that anti-abortion shit out of there.

The Republicans are, in this case, like Sylvester with feathers on his lips.  "Tweety Bird?  No, haven't seen him.  Why do ask?"  Not very convincing.

More importantly, human trafficking means prostitution and the sex slave trade.  And the Republicans see nothing wrong with tying abortion restrictions to a human trafficking victims bill.


Tuesday, March 10, 2015

They're Way, Way Out Of Line

What these 47 Senators have done with their open letter to Iranian officials undermining President Obama's diplomacy is truly ill-advised and out of line.  Imagine if, in October 1962, a group of U.S. Senators decided to write a letter to Nikita Kruschev saying, in essence, "Hey Nikita, don't deal with that Kennedy guy.  Deal with us." How would that have gone over back then?  That's essentially what's going on now.

[Paraphrased comments from Sen. Angus King (I-Maine)]

Senator King

Frumious Bandersnatches* Write Treacherous Letter

First, it was Boehner insulting Obama by having Bellicose Bibi speak to Congress without Presidential invitation.  Now it's McTurtle's turn, and the Senate Republicans are behaving outrageously.

Forty-seven GOP Senators have signed a poison-pen open letter written to the leaders of Iran
warning them against (against!) any agreement with Obama on limiting their nuclear program in exchange for easing economic sanctions.  Do the R's really want Iran to have unlimited nuclear enrichment?  No, but these idiots are willing to do anything to fuck things up for Obama, even if it means playing into the hands of Iran's hard-core mullahs.

Their letter is blatant sabotage, an appalling and deliberate attempt to undermine our official diplomatic efforts, which is not their job.  It's unprecedented and damn-near treasonous.

In the letter, they condescendingly assert that Iran doesn't understand our "system" and suggest, incorrectly, that any deal signed by Obama wouldn't be constitutionally binding unless "ratified" by the Senate.

(Iran's current Cabinet has more members with U.S. college doctorates than our own Cabinet does.  They understand plenty.  And although any agreement may not last into the next administration, Senate ratification is not required.  Iran's foreign minister retorted that instead of lecturing his country on the U.S. system, the letter-writers might want to study up on international law.)

The letter was conceived and written by Tom Cotton, a 37 year-old brand-new Tea-Bag Senator from Arkansas.  Despite being on the job just two months, he was allowed to pull this shitty stunt.  Cotton is hugely ambitious, a bonafide extremist nut case, and the worst kind of conservative:

Cotton believes Iraq had a role in the 9/11 attacks.
He said ISIS has joined up with Mexican drug cartels for a joint attack on Arkansas, invading through the defenseless Mexican border.  (Arkansas has no Mexican border.)
He supports "personhood" -- life begins at the moment of conception -- legislation.
He voted against renewing the Violence Against Women Act.
He voted against paycheck fairness for women.
He said divorce is always the woman's fault.
He called for the imprisonment of two NY Times reporters who wrote an article he didn't like.
He said people on food stamps are "addicted" to government subsidies.
Etc., etc., etc.

Tom Cotton.  Two months in the Senate.
Ready to 'splain some shit to Iran!
Cotton has been hailed as one of the leading lights of the new Republican majority, and that really says something, doesn't it?

Buster would say it's time to remind the frumious bandersnatches in the House and Senate GOP that their job is to legislate, not usurp Executive responsibilities by injecting themselves into active diplomatic negotiations.


[*"Shun the frumious Bandersnatch!" -- from Jabberwocky, by Lewis Carroll, 1871]

Monday, March 9, 2015


Shame on me for forgetting her name, but I'll always remember my college economics professor.  She was articulate, witty and distinguished, with prematurely white hair.  She gave a great lecture.  She was also in the U.S. Navy Reserves and would occasionally teach in her dress blues, which really added to her impact.  But I digress.

What lingers in my memory are her opening comments to us in our very first class.  Her first words were, "Don't take any of this too seriously."  She went on to explain that there's a reason why economics is called the Dismal Science, that it's really more art than science -- just educated guesswork, that an economic policy action often takes several years to show results (if any), and therefore government officials generally take too much credit and get too much blame for the economic conditions on their watch.  That's a hell of a way to begin Economics 101.  I loved it!

Our current American economy keeps coming back after the devastating Crash of 2008.  There has been much good national economic news lately -- unemployment is still falling, new hiring ("job creation") is rising, the stock market is healthy, interest rates remain low, etc.  The so-called experts agree that most trends are positive.

Here in Ohio, Jawhnny Kasich has claimed credit for it.  The Wonder Guv says that since he took office in 2011, Ohio has regained 425,000 jobs in the private sector, calling it a "full recovery" from the Recession.  He says that he and his privatized development agency, JobsOhio, did it with tax cuts (what else?).  Jawhnny says a lot of things.

What he doesn't say is:
  • Even with a host of previous tax cuts, Ohio had been steadily shedding jobs since 2000.
  • Following the worst financial collapse since the Great Depression, there was nowhere to go but up and the recovery was already underway when he was elected.
  • Ohio's changing fortunes are a reflection of the steady national trend and he, Kasich, is mainly a beneficiary of good timing.
  • Employment in Ohio is still 240,000 jobs below the 2000 level.
  • Our private sector gains have yet to translate into higher incomes for workers.
  • While the private sector in our state was recovering, Kasich oversaw the loss of 43,000 government jobs in the same time period, and the January monthly report shows Ohio lost another 8,200 public-sector jobs.
So when Kasich boasts about how this proves he's a trickle-down economic genius, remember the words of my old prof:  Don't take any of this too seriously.