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, May 28, 2015

The Return Of Icky Ricky

But really, has he ever left us?

"Because, well . . . Jesus!"
Rick Santorum, former Republican Senator from Pennsylvania, is back for another try at the presidency.  This will make three in a row, I think -- '08, '12, and now '16.  Icky Ricky is the gift that keeps on giving.  A quick search of Buster's Blog spits up the following selected Santorum references (some are direct quotes, others just my comments):

  • "Pre-natal testing leads directly to abortion."
  • Rick believes, literally, in demons.
  • Wants to outlaw contraception.
  • "Separation of church and state makes me want to throw up."
  • Racist family-values dumbfuckery.
  • Santorum has left Puritanville and is speeding straight to Torquemada Town.
  • "We will never have the smart people on our side."
  • Today, Rick Santorum said his campaign has been suspended, but he refused to terminate it until it had undergone an ultrasound, watched a video, and had been sent home for a 48 hour waiting period.

I look forward to resuming regular Santorum floggings.  #IckyRicky2016!

For my conservative friends who are not quite clinically insane, there's always George Pataki.  You remember him, don't you?  No?  Oh well.

Palin's Pain

Bristol Palin, that is.  The daughter of the Wasilla-billy Sarah Palin, Bristol was set to be married again this past weekend, but the nuptials were cancelled at the last minute.  Oh, no!  Woe is her!  Alas and alack!

Her intended, it turns out, already had a wife.  Oops!  He was a former "reality" show contestant, as was Bristol herself.  When two such ego-maniacal attention addicts get together, some problems should be expected.  And when the thing implodes and dies virtually on the church steps, sharing one's heartbreak on Facebook is the only way to go.  (I mean, I would.  Wouldn't you?)

Poor Bristol asked us to feel her pain in a FB post, "The Wedding That Wasn't," wherein she asked all her FB "friends" to send her their prayers.

Prayers?  LOL!  Given her maternal heritage, she should have begged for brains.    

The Philosopher's Corner Blows It Again

The Old Philosopher has sent us the results of a Washington Post limerick contest.  Real submissions, clever and funny, but not for the prudish.  (Does Buster have any prudish readers?  Nah!)

Maintain your sense of humor.  Here you go:

Subject: A Blown Limerick
Lewinsky and Kaczynski

The Washington Post runs a weekly contest in its Style section called
the 'Style Invitational'.
The requirements this week were to use the two words'Lewinsky' (the
Intern) and 'Kaczynski' (the Unabomber) in the same limerick.
Now, remember, the following winning entries were actually printed
verbatim in the newspaper, no bleeps or xxxs:


Third place:

There once was a girl named Lewinsky
Who played on a flute like Stravinsky
'Twas 'Hail to the Chief'
On this flute made of beef
That stole the front page from Kaczynski.

Second place:

Said Clinton to young Ms. Lewinsky,
We don't want to leave clues like Kaczynski,
Since you made such a mess,
Use the hem of your dress
And please wipe that stuff off your chinsky.

And the winning entry:

Lewinsky and Clinton have shown
What Kaczynski must surely have known,
That an intern is better
Than a bomb in a letter,
When deciding how best to be blown

Thanks, Old Philosopher!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

A Friend Indeed

"His aptitude for silence made him a most agreeable companion."

-- Sherlock Holmes on his friend Dr. John Watson

"I Wanna Kill People,Too!"

"I'm so excited by the death penalty!"
Last week, Nebraska state legislators easily approved a bipartisan bill to repeal the state's death penalty.  Their decision reflects growing public opinion on this issue across the country.  Yesterday, Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts (R - of course) vetoed the bill.

Ricketts claimed the death penalty was a matter of "public safety" (but could offer no evidence that capital punishment makes anyone safer).  He said that repeal of the death penalty would make Nebraska appear "soft on crime".   (Yeah, can't have that.  Hordes of previously-deterred wanna-be murderers were ready to flock to the newly-squishy Cornhusker State until Ricketts got tough.)

What a crock!  Ricketts just wants to kill some people legally.  Believes it gives him gubernatorial gravitas:  "We've been executing people in Nebraska since 1867, and goddam it, I want my turn!"  What a bastard.

The state legislature will now try to come up with enough votes to overturn the governor's veto.  We shall see.    

Monday, May 25, 2015

Fetuses In Charge!

In one of the more outrageous, unfair, unscientific and altogether idiotic actions in recent memory, Ohio State Rep. Sarah LaTourette (R-Bainbridge Twp.) has introduced HB 135, which would legally prohibit abortions of any fetus with a prenatal Downs Syndrome diagnosis.

Seriously, what the fuck?  It was not that long ago that medical science developed the prenatal testing techniques that allowed parents-to-be, for the first time ever, to know of birth defects in advance.  Now Ms. LaTourette would like to make such testing and knowledge a moot point.  Her bill would force women to carry and give birth to known Downs babies, no matter what.  The wishes of the mother and her partner would count for nothing.  

She wants us to believe that her HB 135 is intended to reduce "discrimination."  Discrimination against who?  An embryonic bit of protoplasm with a genetic kink, or the living, breathing, sentient human being carrying said embryo?

Whenever you give legal rights to eggs, sperm, and little bits of fertilized whatever, you are simultaneously taking away rights from actual people.  Fetuses are in charge.

It's not just misguided, it's insane.  HB 135 has no chance, but this is how conserva-bots like LaTourette occupy themselves and waste our time.      

Sunday, May 24, 2015

I Don't Get It. #137.

In 2012, mentally unstable crack addicts Timothy Russell and Malissa Williams drove by a Cleveland police station.  Their piece-of-crap car backfired, which the police mistook for a gunshot.  The cops took off in hot, angry pursuit.  During a 20-mile chase involving 60+ police cars, Russell refused to pull over even though the cops had opened fire on his vehicle.  When his bullet-riddled old Chevy finally rolled to a stop, Russell had been wounded multiple times, as had Williams.  At that point, Officer Michael Brelo hopped up onto the Chevy's hood and finished them off by firing 15 shots through the windshield.

Officer Brelo is white.  Russell and Williams were black and unarmed.  In total, 137 shots were fired at them and their vehicle.  One hundred and thirty seven.  A crack pipe was on the front seat.

Yesterday, Brelo was found innocent of voluntary manslaughter, even though he emptied his weapon at point-blank range upon two unarmed, grievously wounded people who posed no threat or danger to anyone at that point.  Brelo took it upon himself to make sure they were good and dead, on the off chance they weren't already.  Because they . . . didn't pull over?  

And for that, he's innocent of all criminal charges.  I just don't get it.  Either the prosecutor brought the wrong charges, or the judge made the wrong decision, or the law itself is wrong.  Something is wrong.  It's wrong in Cleveland.  And it's wrong in plenty of other cities.


Want To Know More About Trade Agreements Like TPP? Read This.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership.  TPP.  It's an American free-trade deal with a number of Asian/Pacific Rim nations.  What does it all mean?  Probably a lot more cheap Asian shit on U.S. retail shelves.  But it's hard to say, since Pres. Obama wants to "fast-track" it (yes or no Congressional OK, no changes) without any meaningful public disclosure or debate beforehand.

Obama wants it to be part of his economic legacy.  Republicans and Chamber of Commerce types are all for it.  Ultimately, TPP will probably pass, even though labor unions and most Democrats smell a NAFTA-like rat. (In cases like this, I find it useful to consider who's for it and who's opposed.)

Someone benefits from trade deals like these.  You?  Me?  Almost certainly not.

Columnist Tom Suddes had a great editorial about it in today's Ohio papers, in which he notes that poverty rates in Ohio have increased significantly since Congress passed NAFTA in 1993.


Executive Pay: Is That Enough For Ya?

A recent survey of 200 large, publicly-held American companies found that the average CEO compensation package was $22.6 million per year.  Local Columbus yokel Les Wexner of L Brands (The Limited, Victoria's Secret, etc.) was just a touch above average at $23.6 million.  Former Nationwide head and current JP Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon makes due with a bit more -- $27.6 million -- while his shareholders eat government fines for mortgage lending/securities fraud and currency manipulation.

"Reality programming is cheap and profitable
opium for the masses.  Cha-ching!"
But those two pale in comparison to Numero Uno, one David M. Zaslav, head-Fred of Discovery Communications, aka the Discovery Channel.  CEO Zaslav is ultimately responsible for inflicting upon us such "reality entertainment" as Alaskan Bush People, Cake Boss, Moonshiners, and Naked and Afraid.  

And for that, he scrapes by on the astonishingly obscene compensation of $156 million.  Per year.  For Cake Boss.  OMFG!

Can you not understand why many Americans are concerned and angry about income inequality?  In this area, we need what the stock market analysts would call a "correction."

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

A Refusal To Remember

Ask a Republican presidential wanna-be how they feel about the Iraq invasion and watch them tie themselves in knots.

The semi-presumptive nominee, non-candidate Jeb Bush, was at first his own man, then would've done exactly what brother George did, then maybe not, then would have definitely not gone into Iraq.  Fellow fluctuating Floridian and actual candidate Marco Rubio gave a similar variety of tortured, baloney-slicing answers.  What the GOP contenders would like to do is pretend it's all ancient history, just bad intel, all hypothetical, not important now, and any current Middle East problems are all Obama's fault.  (Really?)  It's a damn near party-wide, willful refusal to remember accurately.  "We wanna fuh-getta-bout-it!"

What horseshit!  Few political decisions of our generation have had more disastrous and long-lasting effects than Dubya's Iraq War.  We destroyed a country, killed a quarter-million of its citizens, plus a bunch of our own troops, and destabilized an entire region for the foreseeable future.  Iraq was America's defining moment, our signature move of the 21st century (so far).  This legacy is about a million times more important than Hillary Clinton's email habits or who contributes to the Clinton Foundation.  Gimme a break!

Yes, damn near everyone (including Hillary) voted to invade Iraq, but they were lied to, repeatedly and heinously.  In her column "He's Heavy. He's My Brother.", NY Times columnist Maureen Dowd remembers accurately:


It isn't about what we know now.  It's about what we knew then.

It's simply not true, as Republican presidential aspirant Scott Walker said, that "any president would have likely taken the same action Bush did with the information he had."

That's not giving enough credit to Dubya and his frothing band of Reservoir Dogs.

It took a Herculean effort of imagination, manipulation and deception to concoct "the information" that propelled the invasion, occupation and destruction of a country that had nothing to do with 9/11.

It took a 19-year-old college student to explain to the 62-year-old Jeb that ISIS is not the virulent spawn of Obama's policies, but of his brother's.  
And consider:  Jeb hasn't even been asked any questions yet about Dubya's dark contributions on waterboarding, the deficit, and the near-total collapse of the American economy.

Will Jeb and his GOP cohorts refuse to remember those things as well?

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Does It Work From Inside The Coyote?

In the real world outside the blogosphere, I'm the electronic gatekeeper for our subdivision:  I maintain a list of roughly 300 email addresses for residents of our neighborhood's homeowners association.  We use the list to share neighborhood info, newsletters, service referrals, etc.  (No, I do not send Buster's Blog to all of them, although sometimes I think I should.  Some of 'em need it.  Only a select and enlightened few receive this high-grade blather from Buster.)

Quite often, I send out lost pet alerts.  Had one the other day for a cat which had been missing for almost two days.  I forwarded a photo of the cat, his name, the owner's name and number, and the fact that the cat did not wear a collar but did have a microchip. 

So I hit "send" and walked out to check my mail, where I encountered my neighbor, a wise and funny fellow and a regular Buster's reader.  He said he saw the email and had just one question:

"Does the cat's chip still work from inside the coyote?"

I almost fell down laughing.

The owner reported that the cat returned home safely later that day, silent as to his whereabouts.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Toni Morrison: Citizen or Taxpayer?

One of our best living American writers shows us why she's so good in a short essay for today's Huffington Post:

Remember when we used to be called "citizens"? There were levels of citizenship, certainly, but we were citizens nonetheless. "I am an American citizen" was our proud boast. Then, following World War II, the prosperous decades began, and we were called "consumers." The American consumer wants; the American consumer needs -- and consume we did. Items that were once luxuries became necessities, and, unlike our great-grandparents, we were ashamed to have only one pair of shoes or one Sunday dress. Being a consumer is not without pleasure or comfort. Yet now we are identified by a brand-new label, one that floods political speech, pundit themes, and media headlines: "taxpayer." It seems that that definition is all we are.
The difference between understanding oneself as a citizen and understanding oneself as a taxpayer is not merely wide; it is antagonistic. A citizen thinks primarily about his or her community and is preoccupied with the safety of the neighborhood, the health of the elderly and disabled, the well-being of the young. A taxpayer thinks mostly about himself or herself, about who or what is taxing -- that is to say "taking" -- his hard-earned money to give to some undeserving body or some other distant, wasteful thing.
The Progressive Agenda (NYC Mayor Bill deBlasio's "Progressive Agenda to Combat Income Inequality"seeks to return us to citizenship, the happily adult responsibility of being citizens to each other. It's concerned with how to ensure a livable wage for all of us; how to improve schools in all our neighborhoods; how to protect working-class jobs and pensions from predators who rely on exploitation and selfish behavior; how to welcome the immigrant, the "huddled masses" we all (except for Native Americans and slaves) once were.
This new Progressive Agenda re-imagines citizenship and is far, far more than worthy; it is crucial.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Funny Video -- "Poo-Pourri"

Please forgive the bathroom humor, but it features a British girl, so it's classy bathroom humor.

Funny Video -- "What Kind Of Asian Are You?"

When You Find Yourself In A Hole, Stop Digging

The TNT Academy is a Georgia charter high school.  During the graduation ceremony on Friday, principal and founder Nancy Gordeuk mistakenly dismissed the assembly too early, then tried to call everyone back to their seats.  Didn't work.  Many people headed for the doors.

At the podium, Gordeuk said, "You people are being so rude."  (You people?)  "Oh, look who's leaving -- all the black people."  (Ah, those people!)  That prompted a real mass exodus.

Earlier in the evening's program, she had advised the crowd that "If your baby's crying, you need to tape their mouth."  She's a real charmer, an articulate educator.

On Saturday, she "apologized" by email, claiming the devil made her do it:  "The devil was in the house and came out from my mouth."  And her son Travis hopped to her defense on Facebook:  "Y'all niggers aren't talking about shit so if u got something to say come see me face to face."  A true gentleman and scholar. 

During a Monday TV interview, Gordeuk tried to sound contrite.  It didn't go well.  She insisted she's not a racist (don't they always?) and offered proof:  "I didn't say the N-word."   She said she didn't think calling people "black" was racist.  "What am I supposed to call them?  African-Americans?  Were they born in Africa?  No, they're Americans!"

At that very moment, someone handed Ms. Gordeuk a big, steaming cup of shut-the-fuck-up, but too late.  The redneck soon-to-be-former principal dug her own grave.

Cop Doesn't Shoot, Gets Criticized Anyway

You probably saw this.   New Richmond, Ohio police officer Jess Kidder has just pulled over a murder suspect, who gets out of his car and charges at the officer, yelling "Shoot me!"  Despite the tension and fear of the moment, Kidder, who had drawn his gun and was wearing a body camera by his own choice, does not shoot and the suspect gives up.  (For now, let's set aside the fact that the suspect in this instance was white.)

After being widely praised for keeping his cool, Officer Kidder is now being criticized by some hard-asses in law enforcement.  They say his actions were inconsistent with his training, that he potentially put others at risk, and that, by the book, Kidder should have shot that motherf***er dead.

Who came up with that sort of "training"?  Evidently, The Book says when in doubt, whip it out and fire away 'til they drop.  Police need a new book.  Perhaps Kidder will share his book with all the other cops in America.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Everything's Bigger In Texas

Including the paranoid conspiracy theories.  And asshole governors.  You'd think it would be impossible to go more moronic than Rick Perry, but Texans may have accomplished just that by electing Gov. Greg Abbott.  He's just called out the National Guard to protect against a federal takeover of Texas.  Really.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               I don't believe the feds should take over Texas.  I think we should just give it back to Mexico.

Whole Paycheck

Whole Foods, home of artisanal tofu and $35 per pound Chilean sea bass, is feeling some competitive pressure on its ridiculously high-priced items.  The grocery chain has announced it will launch a spin-off with lower cost organic products.

They're targeting the younger hipster demographic -- those who really want to impress their friends by buying vegan cane sugar or vanilla-almond flax milk, but just can't afford the $112.98 price tag.

No name has been chosen yet for the new stores, but leading contenders are "Partial Foods" and "Half Paycheck."

A Multiple Choice Question

Which scandal is least important to the Future of the Free World, our American Way of Life, and our Life, Liberty and Pursuit of Happiness?  

a.  The New England Patriots may have deflated their footballs by 3 or 4 psi, and QB Tom Brady may or may not have been complicit in softening his balls.  (Ooh!)

b.  As Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton used private email to conduct some official government business.

c.  Foreign (i.e. not Americans, OMG!) donors have contributed to the non-profit charitable Clinton Foundation.

d.  All of the above.

The correct answer is d.  All of the above.  None are "scandals", none are important, and none of them matter in the slightest.  They do not deserve our attention.  (Of course, I've just given them some attention, haven't I?)

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

The Philosopher's Corner: One Nation Under God

Now that Preacher Huck has decided to treat us to another presidential bid, I'm recalling a few previous Bible-thumpers with political ambitions.

William Jennings Bryan was a 3-time loser as the Democratic presidential nominee before settling for Secretary of State.  Billy Graham never ran for office but was influential as the self-described "Pastor to Presidents."  Billy was an unofficial Cabinet member for Ike, LBJ, Nixon and Ronnie.  Televangelist Pat Robertson failed miserably in his run for the Republican nomination.  Kinda like Mike Huckabee, who wants a Mulligan in 2016.

So I think it's appropriate to share another missive from The Old Philosopher.  This one takes the form of a book review.

We're often told that the United States is, was, and always has been a Christian nation.  But in One Nation Under God:  How Corporate America Invented Christian America, historian Kevin M. Kruse explains that the idea of "Christian America" is an invention -- and a relatively recent one at that.

As Kruse argues, the belief that America is fundamentally and formally a Christian nation originated in the 1930's when businessmen enlisted religious activists in their fight against FDR's New Deal.  Corporations from General Motors to Hilton Hotels bankrolled conservative clergymen, encouraging them to attack the New Deal programs as "pagan state-ism" that perverted the central principle of Christianity:  the sanctity and salvation of the individual.  Their campaign for "freedom under God" culminated in the election of their close ally Dwight Eisenhower in 1952.

But this apparent triumph had an ironic twist.  In Eisenhower's hands, a religious movement born in opposition to the government was transformed into one that fused faith and the federal government as never before.  During the 1950's, Eisenhower revolutionized the role of religion in American political culture, inventing new "traditions" from inaugural prayers to the National Prayer Breakfast.  Meanwhile, Congress added the phrase "under God" to the Pledge of Allegiance and made "In God We Trust" the country's first official motto.  With private groups joining in, church membership soared to an all-time high of 69%.  For the first time, Americans began thinking of their country as an officially Christian nation.

During this moment, virtually all Americans -- across the religious and political spectrum -- believed that their country was in fact "one nation under God."  But as the country moved from broad generalities to the details of issues like school prayer, cracks began to appear.  Religious leaders rejected this "lowest common denominator" public religion, leaving conservative political activists to champion it alone.  Once in Richard Nixon's hands, politics that conflated piety and patriotism became the sole property of the right.

Provocative and authoritative, One Nation Under God reveals how the unholy alliance of money, religion and politics created a false origin story that continues to define and divide American politics to this day.

 "The Old Philosopher"

Buster's note:  Religious affiliation has been falling steadily for decades.  These days, the percentage of us who claim to attend church services regularly is just 37% and declining.  The percentage who say we never go to church is 29% and rising.

So good luck to Preacher Huck!

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

GOP 2016: The Hits Just Keep On Comin'!

More accurately, the shits keep coming.  Three more no-chance conserva-turds entered the Republican presidential fray in the past couple days.  Here's all you need to know about the newbies:

Dr. Ben Carson.  Retired surgeon.  No political experience, no elective office.  (Aim high, dude!)  Homophobe, Tea Bagger, and rigid opponent of Obamacare, although he offers no alternative, just a return to the past.  Prone to stupid pronouncements like, "Obamacare is like slavery."  He's the Herman Cain of 2016.

Carly Fiorina.  Former business executive.  No political experience, no elective office.  Ran unsuccessfully for U.S. Senate seat from California.  Says her background has allowed her to "understand the economy and executive decision-making."  In her tenure as CEO of Hewlett-Packard, she decided on an ill-advised merger with Compaq which  led to 30,000 layoffs and cut HP's stock price in half.  She was forced out and retired in 2005.  With her "understanding," she failed to register the domain name carlyfiorina.org, which now shows 30,000  :(  unhappy faces representing those she laid off.  Hates the Clintons.  Will serve as the 2016 campaign's unofficial attack dog.

Mike Huckabee.  Former Baptist preacher.  Former Arkansas governor.  Former presidential candidate.  Former Fox News host.  Lots of "former" going on with Huck.  "Current" and "future" are in serious doubt.  Has written a book titled God, Guns, Grits and Gravy.  He's vehemently anti-abortion and anti-gay.  Has called Jay-Z a pimp and Beyonce trash.  Thinks Jews could have prevented the Holocaust if only they had more guns.  Huck is full of holy bat-shit.  His natural and only constituency is old, white evangelicals.  And thank god, there aren't enough of them to put his crazy ass in the Oval Office.  Huckabee 2016 will be Huckabee 2008 redux.

Cruz, Paul, Rubio, Carson, Fiorina, Huckabee.  More to come.  The GOP is really reinventing itself, isn't it?  Good grief!   

Friday, May 1, 2015

Who's The Thug?

Let's recap.  The Maryland State's Attorney has found that Freddie Gray committed no crime.  She has also brought charges of 2nd degree homicide, manslaughter, assault and negligence against the six police officers involved in his arrest.

These six cops rousted Mr. Gray for no reason, broke his neck, and gave him a "rough ride" in the police van just for the sadistic "fun" of it.  When they were finished, Mr. Gray wasn't breathing.  Later, he was dead.

Now tell me again.  Who's the thug?

(All 6 of the cops have turned themselves in and are in custody.  Baltimore is still under curfew rules.  Here's hoping for a calm and quiet night.)

The List Of People Who Will Die In The Revolution

From comedian Hari Kondabolu.  Very funny!  "There will be electric guitar!"

(Just couldn't get the embed code to work.  Gotta click the old-school link.)