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

Friday, July 31, 2015

There's No Need For This Shit, Part One

Another day, another black person senselessly killed by the police.

Dubose holding his car door 
In this case, it was a college cop, Ray Tensing of the University of Cincinnati campus P.D.  You've heard the story:  He pulled over Samuel Dubose, a black man who was pretty clearly not a UC student.  His violation?  No front license plate.  Dubose didn't have his drivers license with him, and suggested Tensing just run his plate number, but Tensing kept asking Dubose to produce his drivers license.  When Tensing tried to open the car door, Dubose held it shut and started the engine.  Without a word, Tensing drew his weapon and shot Dubose in the head at point-blank range.

Tensing's version of events was a pack of lies about being dragged by Dubose's vehicle and needing to shoot to make him stop the car.  Another officer who arrived on the scene after the fact even backed up Tensing's fabrications.  Pretty amazing, since the second officer got there too late to see anything.  I guess both cops forgot they were wearing body cameras.

The link is the video from Tensing's body camera:


Joe Deters
After the murder indictment against Officer Tensing, Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters, a Republican who was once Treasurer of the State of Ohio, spoke to the press.  Before showing the video to the assembled media, Deters spoke forthrightly about the incident.  Excerpts:

"Asinine."  "Totally unwarranted."  "An absolute tragedy."  "Senseless."  "He purposely killed him."  "[Tensing] never should have been a police officer."  "Mr. Dubose did nothing violent at all."  "This is without question a murder."  "[Tensing] was not dragged."  "You will not believe how quickly he pulls his gun and shoots him in the head.  It's maybe a second."  "This was a chicken-crap stop."

This may have been Joe Deters finest hour.  For him, a prosecutor, to speak with such honesty and candor about a police-initiated shooting of an innocent citizen is pretty unusual these days.  Deters skipped all the euphemistic bullshit and simply told the truth.  He should be commended.

It's proof that Republicans can indeed do the right thing.  They just don't do it enough.

Now we hear of data which shows that campus cops use force more frequently than municipal cops, and that more colleges are arming their officers.  Deters says he believes that all college police departments should be abolished.  He may have a point.  Certainly at smaller schools, it's hard to see the need.  I started college 43 years ago at a small liberal arts college in a small town.  The college had no campus police whatsoever.  A few years ago, my son went to the same place.  There was now a campus police department with a chief and four or five officers, all heavily armed and dressed in SWAT-style, bad-ass black.  Really?

Jurisdiction is an issue for college PD's.  Generally, college cops hold sway over anything and anybody on campus, passing through campus, or fleeing from campus.  And contiguous areas?  It gets fuzzy.  And some urban colleges -- UC is a good example -- are so embedded in the city itself that the very concept of "campus" is debatable.

And think about the sort of person who works as a college police officer.  No one with aspirations of a law enforcement career envisions themselves patrolling the campus of, say, Otterbein College.  By and large, campus cops are those who couldn't get hired anywhere else.  But today's Barney Fifes have a small arsenal of military-grade weapons, not just the single bullet in the shirt pocket.

Growing up, my best friend and I often debated the issues of the day, in our mid-1960's, twelve year-old way.  He skewed right.  I went the other way (usually by conviction but sometimes just to piss him off!).  He always said he wanted to be a policeman, and I always told him he was nuts and that he watched too much TV.  I was sure he was just dazzled by all the trappings -- flashing lights, sirens, uniforms, badges -- and enticed by the instant authority of the sidearm and the nightstick.  Dreams of growing up to be a cop are all about high-speed chases and getting the bad guys  -- "Freeze, turkey!" -- not mundane stuff like directing traffic.

Despite my nay-saying, my friend followed his dream.  He worked for a couple small town police departments before spending his entire career in the Ohio State University Police Department.  He did his share of the mundane stuff, rose to lieutenant, and became a desk-jockey.  At some point, it must have occurred to him that reality was nothing like Dragnet or Adam-12.  He was OK with that and just did his job.  He never shot anyone, and retired a couple years ago.

I wonder what he'd say about all this?  I'll have to ask him.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

There's No Need For This Shit, Part Two

Don't whine at me about how I'm being so PC.  If I'm telling you that coffee is hot, or I'm banning the sale of large soft drinks, maybe I'm being PC.  This has nothing to do with that.  This is one of those tipping points, those straws which break the camel's back.

An American dentist went to Africa and paid a huge fee for the "privilege" of bagging a trophy lion.  His guide disregarded all law and protocol, and used bait to lure a distinctive, black-maned lion -- "Cecil", radio-collared, part of a study, and popular among the locals -- away from his protected preserve so said dentist could easily kill him.  Which he did.  Cecil was fish in a barrel.

All involved are in deep trouble, as they should be.  Which is sort of beside the point.

The point is, why, in this day and age, is this sort of activity permitted at all?  Why is it allowed, anywhere, under any set of "rules"?  "Big-game" hunting, "trophy" hunting serves no purpose other than barbaric blood lust and macho posturing.  It's an anachronism, and there's no need for it.  Minnesota dentists are not killing African lions for food.

Years ago, mid-1960's, my grade-school basketball team went to a team party at the country estate of a guy who was a friend of our coach.  This guy was a high-roller, with his own nine-hole golf course, complete with carts for us to drive around.  There was a barbecue and swimming.  We had a blast.

But what I remember most was this man's house, especially his large "trophy" room.  He was a big-game hunter who'd been around the world, and the proof was all over the place: stuffed exotic animals -- some heads, some whole -- antlers, pelts, bear-skin rugs, tiger-skin rugs, bones, tusks, big fish, you name it.  There was even, I shit you not, an elephant-foot trash basket and a gorilla-hand ashtray.

At the time, as a young boy, I was fascinated, impressed.  Over time, though, I realized this man's "hobby" was hideous.

There's no need for this shit, especially today.  Trophy hunting is a gruesome, masturbatory ego-massage, and should be completely banned worldwide.  If the tables were turned, would you want your head mounted on a wall?   

Candidate? Yes. President? Probably Not. Righteous Dude? Without A Doubt.

As much as I'd like to believe Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders could be elected, it probably boils down to the old political truism:  You can back a candidate, or you can back a President.

Even so, Bernie is a righteous dude:

"The evolution of politics has resulted in a multibillion-dollar effort to tell the American people the government can't do anything for you, and you should pin all your hope and faith on corporate America and Wall Street.  

"Think about why the Koch brothers are going to spend a billion dollars in this campaign.  If they think politics is pretty important, maybe you should as well."

-- Bernie Sanders 

It's Hard To Out-Trump Trump

There's not much time left until the GOP Broadcasting Network, a.k.a. Fox News, announces which candidates will qualify to take the stage at the first Republican presidential primary "debate".  Among the infinite number of announced wanna-be's, only the Top Ten will be invited, and the tension is building as the borderline candidates try to make the cut.  Their task is to "out-crazy" the front-runner, Donald Trump.

This gets tough.  Trying to out-crazy Trump is like trying to out-shoe Imelda Marcos, out-sink the Titanic, or out-death penalty Texas.

It's hard to do.

Oh Yes, I Can Tell You A Little Bit About John Kasich

Since John Kasich is running for the GOP presidential nomination, I recently received an email from the Democratic National Committee group known as the "Factivists".  They had a question for me and other like-minded Ohioans:

Can you tell us a little bit about John Kasich?

Here's what I told them (and now you, too):

Oh, yes, I can tell you a little bit about John Kasich.

He has a long-held, often-expressed ideological dream:  to eliminate the state income tax in Ohio.  Can’t do it completely, but he’d like to.  He’s a classic regressive tax policy guy – slash income tax rates, increase sales tax rates, cut spending on public education.

As a state rep, Kasich was a member of ALEC, the GOP law-writing machine funded by and doing the bidding of right-wing billionaires.

Worked for the disgraced Wall St. firm Lehman Brothers, but bugged out just before Lehman failed in the Great Crash of ’08.  Kasich claimed he knew nothing about Lehman’s troubles and had nothing to do with it.  He took temporary shelter as a Fox News host until his campaign for governor.

As governor, Kasich’s signature legislative move was his disastrous “get tough” attempt to bust public employee unions in Ohio via Senate Bill 5.  SB 5 sailed through the legislature and was signed into law by Kasich in February 2011.  This ignited huge public outcry and protest demonstrations.  SB 5 was repealed by referendum in November 2011.  Kasich’s pet project was a horrible misreading of the tea leaves and a miserable failure.

Kasich has staunchly opposed gay marriage and LGBT rights.  He ordered the state’s AG to defend Ohio’s constitutional ban on gay marriage.  That ban was overturned in the recent Supreme Court decision in the Obergefell case.

He is a voter-suppression advocate.  He favors less absentee voting and less in-person early voting.  He opposes same-day voter registration.  He supported a failed photo-ID bill.

His Cabinet appointments are completely Caucasian.  Kasich is our Honky-In-Chief.

As governor-elect, said he was anxious to “exploit the wonders” of our state’s natural resources.  (2010)

As governor-elect, told the sitting governor to stop all work on a high-speed rail project which would have provided Ohio with $400 million in federal funds.  Kasich had the nerve to ask the feds if Ohio could just keep the $400 mil and skip the high-speed rail thing.  They said no.  Kasich also refused another $450 million in federal education funding.  (2010)

At a 2010 press conference:  “We have so many stupid rules and regulations that prevent us from getting the best people to work in government.  And I blame it on all of you (the media), all this ‘transparency’ and ‘conflicts’ and all this other stuff.  I want to just tell you, it’s a problem.”

“I find myself tripping over anthills on the way to the pyramids.”  (Same press conference, 2010)

Told Ohio teachers unions they’d have “zero access” to his administration unless they ran state-wide ads apologizing for their criticism of him in the 2010 gubernatorial campaign.

Appointed a former utility company executive and current operator of a Dubai oil and gas company to be Director of the Ohio Dept. of Natural Resources.  (2010)

Appointed a former executive at Perdue Foods, one of the largest commercial poultry operations in the world and creators of mega-tons of chicken shit, to be the head of the Ohio EPA.  (2010)

His first head of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio was a pro-coal climate-change denier.  (2010)

His first proposed budget in 2011 cut funding to Ohio’s nursing homes by half a billion dollars.

Quadrupled tuition vouchers for charter schools.  (2011)

His 2011 budget not only slashed funding for the [now defunct] Ohio Consumers Council, it also contained a sentence prohibiting the OCC from making any derogatory comment about deregulation of the natural gas industry.

Wanted to throw $400 million in tax abatements at Sears to get them to locate some operations in Ohio.  Sears?  Who goes to Sears anymore?  (2011)

Eliminated the Ohio Dept. of Economic Development and replaced it with a “privatized” entity, JobsOhio, which was funded by $7.5 million in state grants and appropriations, plus the “lease” of $100 billion per year in state liquor sale profits.  This is “privatized”? (2011)

Launched his union-busting effort, SB 5, by telling state workers they were “lucky to have a job.”  (2011)

Regarding Ohio’s public employees, said:  “We would outlaw strikes, and the penalties would be either firing or docked wages.”
Any recourse for dissatisfied workers?  Nope.  “They have a job.  Try to come up with something.”
Kasich also said he’d eliminate Ohio labor laws requiring binding arbitration and prevailing wages.  (all 2011)

On the day in February 2011 when the legislature passed SB 5, the Kasich administration locked the doors of the statehouse to keep out all the protesters.  (I was there.)  The next, Kasich shut down all email access to state senators.

Said that “a waitress at Bob Evans doesn’t have a pension, and has health care that is shabby at best,” so SB 5’s gutting of public employee benefits and rights was “fairness”.  (2011)

At a 2011 GOP event, Kasich said public employees “don’t pay a dime” toward their pensions and health insurance.  (False.)  “We are at war with these people.”  He said that if SB 5 is repealed (it was), “we’ll ram it through anyway” with piece-meal legislation.  (They did not.)

Gave his first State of the State address in 2011 in the midst of his SB 5 debacle.  His speech was drowned out by raucous, booing protesters who filled the Columbus statehouse and the Capitol grounds.  (Kasich decided to give his 2012 speech out of town, 100 miles in Steubenville.)

While continuing his SB 5 effort to destroy Ohio’s public unions, Kasich displayed audacity and total lack of irony when he declared the week of May 1, 2011 “Public Service Appreciation Week.”

In August 2011, announced a sudden willingness to renegotiate and compromise on SB 5, if only the opposition would first pull its repeal referendum off the fall ballot.  Kasich’s offer was refused and SB 5 was repealed.

In a 2011 speech to the Ohio EPA, Kasich went off on a rant about a 3 year-old traffic stop:  “Have you ever been stopped by a policeman who’s an idiot?  I had this idiot pull me over on Route 315.  . . .  He’s an IDIOT!!”

Told the Ohio EPA Director to be “friendlier to business.”  (2011)

“Raising taxes at the local level is not an option.”  (2011, ignoring the fact that local tax decisions are none of his business.)

While speaking in Cleveland, Kasich, the governor of Ohio, proudly called himself “a Pittsburgh boy.”  Someone groaned and Kasich shot back, “Yeah, well, when you win a Super Bowl, let me know.”  (2011)

In his second State of the State address in 2012, Kasich rambled extemporaneously and bizarrely about such things as blue-tongue cows going to Turkey, a dream about Jerry Seinfeld in the backseat of a car, and deep brain massage.  He called Californians “a bunch of wackadoodles.”

Kasich refused to set up a state-run health insurance exchange under the ACA/Obamacare.  (2012)

Kasich’s president of the Ohio Board of Education had Facebook posts comparing Obama to Hitler.  (2012)

Kasich appointed an utterly unqualified former lobbyist and non-doctor to be the Director of the Ohio Dept. of Health.  (2012)

Three private citizen consumers, along with nine doctors, are appointed by the governor to sit on the State Medical Board.  Two of Kasich’s “consumer” appointments were the president of Ohio Right to Life and a trustee of that same outfit.  Both are rabid anti-abortion zealots.  (2012) 

Kasich’s Ohio Dept. of Natural Resources fired a division chief, a 39-year employee, for denying permits to allow the coal industry to violate state and federal law.  (2013)

After Kasich touted a supposed budget increase in state education spending, the actual figures revealed that 60% of Ohio school districts would receive no increase at all, or would be dealt a funding decrease.  When asked if he had actually reviewed any of the data on his school funding scheme, Kasich said, “No, I don’t look at those because it’s the philosophy that matters.”  (2013)

He signed a budget bill restricting access to abortion in Ohio, and reducing funding for it.  (2014)

He instructed the Ohio Dept. of Natural Resources to devise a “marketing plan” to promote and sell fracking in our state parks and forests.  (2014)

“He upset a lot of working people.”  From Kasich’s own 2014 reelection campaign ad, a reference to his doomed SB 5.

“Taxes should have the least impact on the private economy.”  (2015)

“Income taxes punish success.”  (2015)

Kasich opposes Planned Parenthood and supports the work of Center for Medical Progress, the slimy hidden-video makers.   (2015)

Although he has green-lighted every conceivable fracking endeavor, after almost 6 years in office Kasich still can’t manage to pass an increase in Ohio’s oil/gas severance tax.  There’s money to be made, but the State of Ohio is not making any of it.  (2015)

Despite the recent spin-efforts to soften his image, John Kasich remains a standard-issue conservative Republican -- a real SOB at heart.  In my humble opinion, he's a shoot-from-the-lip, arrogant, hot head of below-average intelligence who’s never met a piece of bait he wouldn’t rise to.  He would be a dangerous and divisive president. 

Thursday, July 23, 2015

"F**k Off, I Like Guns!"

Just in the past week, a couple people recommended this video bit to me.  Kept meaning to find it, never did, then -- poof! -- there it was on Facebook.  (Thanks, LB.)

Jim Jeffries is hilariously, brutally honest in his assessment of our special American gun nut-iness.  It's a 15 minute video, but well worth your time.  Cuts through all the crap.  Great stuff, even if you love the NRA's Wayne Lapierre.  Especially if you do.

The Last Word On This, And The Last Image

OK, OK, beating a dead horse, I know.

Sunday in Columbia, South Carolina:

Are these lovely specimens neo-Nazi racists taunting a crowd of black protesters at a KKK rally on the statehouse steps?

No, they're just proud historians celebrating their heritage.

No Such Thing As Bad Publicity

The Donald.  Living proof there's no such thing as bad publicity.  (I'm sure Bill Cosby would beg to differ.)

The Donald is also proof there's no such thing as a bad candidate for the Republican party.  Trump is trying hard to be the most outrageous asshole in a crowded field of them, and it's paying off for him in the short run.  On the "strength" of being as offensive as humanly possible, he's on top of the GOP polls -- which says something about the state of today's Republicans.  Doesn't say anything good, but it says it anyway.

Case in point:  We were out with some friends the other night at a fairly conservative watering hole, when someone brought up Donald Trump.  Oh, jeez!  I cringed, but another of the few liberal denizens of this haunt quickly rode to the rescue by loudly proclaiming that he, of all people, loved Donald Trump, loved watching him, loved what he was saying.  He was being facetious, which sailed right over most heads.  His "love" was the comedy value, but the right-leaners promptly chimed in with the Amen Chorus:  "Oh, me too.  Trump is my kind of guy.  I like his message."

Message?  That's pretty funny.  His screaming message is "I have more money than you do, which means I'm better and smarter than you, and I hate Mexicans and John McCain and anyone who disagrees with me!"  I guess some 'Muricans find that appealing.

I'm with the Huffington Post on this.  Last week they announced they would no longer give serious coverage to Trump's "campaign" in their political section.  Instead, all things Trump will now be relegated to the HuffPo's entertainment/pop culture/humor section, right there with the Duggars, cat videos, and Kim Kardashian's ass.  


Monday, July 20, 2015

Anti-EPA "Journalism", Plus Free Ads For Kasich

The Columbus Dispatch may be under new ownership, but not much has changed.  In fact, the content may be even worse.  We get daily doses of free campaign advertising for John Kasich, posing as journalism.  ("We'll follow Kasich every step of the way," wrote our new editor in a fan-boy  rationalization column.  Goody.  Wouldn't want to miss a moment.)

And on Sunday, the Dispatch ran a big article on the new federal clean-water rules which are soon to take effect.  But the piece boiled down to a 700-word attack on the EPA, as expressed by several Republican farmers and commissioners in Delaware County, as well the Ohio AG's office.

What's their bitch?  Well, the old EPA clean-water rules applied only to "navigable waterways" -- rivers, lakes, and reservoirs large enough for boats.  In essence, the old rule said, "Hey, industry and agri-business!  You can't dump your crap directly into the river."

But time marches on and we learn things about stuff like run-off and how watersheds work.  We learn about fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides.  So the new clean-water rules will apply to smaller elements, including tributaries, streams, and dry creek beds.  The new rule says, "Hey, industry and agri-business!  You can't dump your crap there either."

The Dispatch went up to Delaware County and found some folks who feel it's their right to dump their crap wherever they please, and resent the EPA's over-reaching attempt to regulate "puddles on my property," and gleefully printed all their half-baked complaints.

The article exactly two short sentences of support for the new rules.  It concluded by quoting a farmer who claimed the new EPA rules would "do away with the American spirit." 

When the wind is blowing just right, you can smell that "spirit."  It's the same American spirit, exemplified by Love Canal, mercury-filled fish, and the flaming Cuyahoga River, that led to the necessity for and creation of the EPA in the first place.


The original Gerry-mander, Massachusetts, 1812
This November, we can vote on an amendment to the Ohio Constitution which would change the way we draw House and Senate districts for the Ohio legislature.  In our current set-up, the majority party can draw ten-year redistricitng maps to suit itself, and the minority party can pound salt.

The amendment would give the minority party some small leverage.  It would establish a seven-member Redistricitng Commission which would have at least two minority party members.  If all seven would agree to a new map, the districts would be good for ten years.  But if it were not unanimous, the map would last just four years.

It would be a minor improvement, but an improvement nonetheless -- an outrageously partisan gerrymandering job (like what we have now) would be up for review in four years, not ten.  (Unfortunately, it's not the big-idea, genuine reform of the 12-appointed-member, non-partisan, judicially-supervised commission stupidly rejected by Ohio voters in 2012.)

It's baby steps, but we should approve the amendment, I guess.  Such is politics.  Believe it or not, it has a lot of bipartisan support.

I still like Buster's simple approach for federal redistricitng, suggested in this post from 2011:


Last Hurrah For Pete Rose, American

We could forgive the Herb Tarlek white shoes
and the Rev. Leroy Jenkins jet black hair.
But all the rest of it??
Pete Rose, age 74 and banned from baseball since 1989, was honored on the field at last week's All-Star game in Cincinnati, with the official blessing of Major League Baseball.  It was probably the last bit of blessing he'll ever get from MLB.

If one could separate the Hit King's on-field accomplishments from all the rest of his considerable baggage, Pete would be in the Hall of Fame, no doubt about it.  But Rose comes with more baggage than Samsonite.  He committed baseball's cardinal sin, and is such a puffed-up, serial liar about it that he just can't get out of his own way.  After decades of denying he bet on baseball, he eventually admitted that he had while managing the Reds.  But he swore he never did as a player.  Now comes the news, all these years later, that -- oops! -- yes, he did bet on baseball as a player.  That ought to seal the deal.

"The Outsider" is a great article on Rose by Tom Verducci in the current issue of Sports Illustrated.
A few excerpts, then the link:

Loved or loathed, Pete Rose is a uniquely American institution, not unlike Mount Rushmore or the Grand Canyon, but more like Branson, Mo., Coney Island, the Cadillac Ranch, the World's Largest Ball of Twine, and yes, Vegas, baby!

Hucksterism, roguishness, commercialism and deceit were part of the Rose playbook.  That's America, too.

"Fuck the other guy.  That's a trait you should take to the grave," he says.  "Take no fucking prisoners."


Designating Drivers

Saturday, July 18, 2015

The Republican Idea Of Compromise

Republican:  May I burn down your house?

Democrat:  No.

R:  Just the 2nd floor?

D:  No.

R:  Garage?

D:  No.

R:  Let's talk about what I can burn down.

D:  No.


(Tweet from Judd Legum of ThinkProgress)

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Hooray For Planned Parenthood! Support Them!

I am for abortion.  (There -- I've said it, bluntly.  I am also a male, so my opinion is second-rate.  My apologies.)  I am disgusted by the hidden-camera smear video attacking Planned Parenthood.

Parenthood should happen by plan, not by accident.  No child should be unwanted.  Sex education should be mandatory.  Contraceptive products should be free.

Nothing positive results from forcing women to give birth to unwanted children.  In that regard, abortion is a social good.

Since the dawn of time, women have sought ways to terminate unwanted pregnancies.  Making abortion ridiculously difficult to obtain, or outright illegal, will not change that.

One in three adult American women have had an abortion.

Abortion is a safe, legal medical procedure.  It must remain safe, legal, and -- like other forms of health care -- affordable.  A little bit of government funding for Planned Parenthood and other providers to low-income individuals is appropriate and inexpensive.  (Federal funding of Planned Parenthood averages $2.22 per taxpayer, per year.)  If abortion is turned into a strictly financial proposition, rich women have abortions and poor women have unwanted babies.

No woman "wants" an abortion because it's fun or easy.  She wants it like a trapped animal wants to chew off its own leg.

This is an extremely personal and individual issue.  Think of abortion rights like gay rights at its most basic:  If you're opposed to gay marriage, don't marry a gay person.  If you're morally outraged by abortion and find yourself pregnant with an unwanted baby, don't have an abortion.  If others decide to do things differently, shut up, it's none of your fucking business! 

The disreputable group behind the undercover sting video -- the "Center For Medical Progress" (not medical, not progressive) -- are total slime.  They've done this shit before, and will again.  Sell-out right-wing pols like Scott Walker, John Kasich and all the rest who've come out in instant, shrieking, ignorant support of this pack of lies are slimy poop-smears themselves, and they're horribly wrong.

Long live Planned Parenthood!  They do good work, and we wouldn't want a world without them.  I made a small donation today.  Maybe you might do the same.

Here's a short video from Cecile Richards, head of Planned Parenthood (and daughter of the late, great Governor Ann Richards).  There's a a donation link at the top of the screen.


Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Major Garrett Should Stay In The Shower

I hope you saw President Obama's news conference today.  Cousin Barry was at the top of his game, adroitly dealing with all the bullshit questions about the Iran deal, and even asking and answering a few of his own when the press corps ran out and was speechless.

The highlight was when CBS's Major Garrett went intentionally provocative, antagonistic and grandiose as he suggested he, Major Garrett, was speaking for "the conscience of the nation" and asked the president to justify the agreement in light of four Americans still held in Iran.  Obama ripped him a well-deserved new butthole:


Major Garrett (who names their kid Major?) was a Fox News TV "reporter" for years.  Inexplicably, CBS hired him a couple years ago.  Today, CBS may regret that hire.

It takes a whole lot of showers to wash off the stink of Fox News.  Major Garrett needs to stay in the shower for a long, long time.  He'll towel off and still be an unimportant, forgettable media hack.

Barack Hussein Obama is an historic and transformative American leader.  He'll be remembered as one of our best presidents, and I'm proud to call him a relative (albeit distant).

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

The Iran Deal

The Iran nuclear arms deal announced this morning is the result of a multi-party negotiation, including the European Union, the International Atomic Energy Agency, and the U.N., not just Iran and the U.S.

It boils down to an arms limitation agreement.  It may not be a panacea, but it beats any other alternative, including the status quo of economic sanctions.  Such is the nature of a negotiation -- there are never any iron-clad guarantees (any promise can be broken), just steps in the right direction.  This deal limits Iran's nuclear weapons capability, and that's a good thing.

The GOP and Fox News will predictably howl that the sky is falling, and they'll try to pick the fly shit out of the pepper.  "The deal's not perfect!" they'll cry.  "Look at this!  And that!  We insist on Utopia or nothing!"  John McCain will start singing "Bomb-Bomb Iran" again, and his personal remora, Lindsey Graham, may join him.  Over in Israel, Bibi will turn purple with rage.

The critics will be loud but wrong.  They'll conveniently forget that many U.S. presidents, including Nixon and Reagan, succesfully negotiated arms reductions with the Soviet Union, at the time our sworn enemy.  Those deals weren't perfect either, but they made us safer by degrees.  The critics will fail to recall that even George Dubya Bush wanted to negotiate a nuclear arms deal with Iran -- part of his "Axis of Evil" -- and offered to do so, but Iran refused to talk.

Of course, the conservatives' real issue with today's Iran deal is they didn't do it.  It's just plain old sour grapes.  If this agreement had been reached by a Republican president, they'd be lovin' it!

But because they wouldn't do it, couldn't do it, didn't do it, because it was Obama who pulled it off, because Obama is their real enemy even more than Iran is, well, they're just gonna have to do everything they can to destroy the agreement and the president.

They've had plenty of practice over the past six and a half years.  Good luck with that.

Time To Sue Some Judges

I guess it figures.  In a few backward outposts, local dimwit authorities believe they've found a slick way around the need to officiate at those awful gay weddings -- they just won't perform any weddings at all.  None.

There are only three county judges in Guernsey County, Ohio.  After years and years of presiding at civil marriage services, they're suddenly getting out of the marrying game completely.  It's got nothing to do with gay marriage.  No, of course not.  Same for the mayor of Cambridge, Ohio.  He's just not gonna hitch anybody anymore.  He finds himself swamped with other duties.

Judge Gammons
in a recent photo
I don't know if this cutesy little end-run is legal, but it surely shouldn't be.  Therefore, in the Universal Court of the Blogoshpere, Judge Buster Gammons rules:

"Refusing service in this case isn't religious liberty; it's an act of intolerance, discrimination, and bigotry.  I find these judges and mayors guilty of willful non-performance, and I sentence them to get off their asses and do their duty in full, for the benefit of all.  Failure to do so will result in lawsuits and large fines for the individuals, counties and towns involved.  Case closed."

What a twisted thing it is when judges may need to be sued to force them to comply with the law.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

The Anthropocene -- The Age Of Man

Geologic history has many eras, epochs, and ages:  the Cambrian, the Jurassic, the Pleistocene, et al.

Here's a new one:  The Anthropocene -- The Age of Man.

Human beings are the new geologic age.  We homo sapiens have had more impact in a very short time than all the multi-millenia of Big Bangs, amoebas, trilobytes, dinosaurs, lower mammals and Neanderthals combined.

Since 1950 on Planet Earth:

  • Energy use has tripled.
  • Atmospheric carbon dioxide has tripled.
  • The number of motor vehicles has increased from 177 million to 1.3 billion.
  • The decline in both the number of species and the tropical forest area has doubled.
  • And the biggie -- human population has increased from 2.5 billion to 6.9 billion.  At the current rate, there will be 9.6 billion by 2050.

Virtually every crucial problem of today and tomorrow is linked to over-population.  Dr. Paul Ehrlich was right -- we are a population bomb, and our procreational proclivities may be a terminal condition.

The Old Philosopher, D.W., has said he fears we humans may be just another failed species.  Hope not, but time will tell.  I thank him for sending the link below, We Blew It:  A Timeline of Human Impact on the Planet.


Jeb!'s "Person In A Garage" Magical-Thinking Environmental Solution

Good news, everyone!  Jeb! Bush has acknowledged that climate change actually exists, claims he has no idea what causes it, but he knows, in his divine and borderline mystical way, how it will be fixed.  It's classic Republican magical-thinking.  Oh, do tell!  Please share with us, Jeb!, what exactly will save our troubled planet:

"Right?  Maybe?"
"There will be a person in a garage somewhere that's going to come up with a disruptive technology that's going to solve these problems, and I think the markets need to be respected in this regard."

Well, that certainly is good news, isn't it?  No worries.  Just wait around until the garage person pulls the disruptive tech rabbit out of his hat.  But ya gotta make sure the markets are ready to enrich the garage person, because we sure wouldn't want to do anything environmentally sensible unless someone can make a shit-pot of money.

Until then.    


Thursday, July 9, 2015

I Am A Modern Man

I text and email, tweet and blog.

I build a Facebook for my dog.

I speak no words, I shake no hands.

I am at last a modern man.

Bush Family Economic Policy: Get To Work, You Lazy Poor People!

The special insight on work and success that comes only from a sheltered, privileged, prep school, Ivy League, multi-millionaire upbringing:

Dubya, circa 2004:
"You work three jobs?  Uniquely American, isn't it?  I mean, that is fantastic you're doing that!" 
-- to a divorced mother of three 

Jeb!, 2015:
"Workforce participation has to rise.  People need to work longer hours, and through their productivity, gain more income for their families."
-- his solution to what he says is our economic "rut"

Paula Deen's No Rebel Flag, But She's Not Worth It Either

A good friend has taken to Facebook to stand up for Paula Deen and her son Jimmy, after an ill-advised costume-party photo was posted on her Twitter account.  My buddy and others think Paula Deen's many critics are just bunch of stupid, thin-skinned, over-reacting PC police who need to get a life, leave poor Paula alone and stop being so darn sensitive.

I will respectfully disagree with that viewpoint.  (And instead of an FB flame-fest, I'll settle for doing it here.)

The ambitious, attention-craving Mrs. Deen has taken herself, and us, down this path before.  With her, it's not media "negativism", it's not "hyper-sensitivity", and it's not a "who's offended next" contest.  It most definitely has nothing to do with being a "proud American."  It's that Paula Deen still doesn't get it.  She still has a blind spot -- at least to the extent that her idiot social media media manager saw fit to tweet out the photo of mother and son as Lucy and Ricky.  (Yes, the photo was a couple years old, but given Paula's history of racism, what the hell was this guy thinking?  And given her history, why wasn't Paula monitoring her own Twitter feed with more scrutiny?)

That Paula Deen and her son and others still believe that this sort of casual, "fun" racism is acceptable and reasonable serves only to illustrate that we have a long way to go.

There's been no huge outcry against her, no undeserved "attacks",  just a weary disappointment that her brand of doltishness still exists.  If anything is hyper-sensitive, it's the reaction of the folks who feel the need to defend Paula Deen.  If anyone is stupid, it's the Deens.  They've had way more than their 15 minutes.  Now they're the past, not the future.  Paula Deen isn't worth it -- let her fade away now and we'll all be just fine.  Just hang onto her recipes!

Note to my white-people readers:  Al Jolson is dead, and dressing up in blackface (or brownface, redface or yellowface) is just not cool anymore.  If you're thinking of being Mr. Bojangles this Halloween, think again.  And note to Jimmy Deen:  Desi Arnaz was not a dark-skinned person.  Not even close.  So WTF?  You look like the Oompa-Loompa version of Ricky Ricardo.  Why?       


Monday, July 6, 2015

A Little Algebra Humor

A classic "Pogo" cartoon by Walt Kelly, circa 1969


Today, they began debates in the South Carolina legislature to decide if they should remove the Confederate battle flag from atop the statehouse.  If they have any sense at all, that nasty rag is coming down quickly and for good.

In related news, the TV Land cable network has pulled reruns of "The Dukes of Hazzard".  And for some people, oddly, this is the move they felt went too far.  The actor who played "Cooter" the mechanic on the decades-old series said, "Our precious symbol is under attack."  Precious?  (Turns out the guy who played Cooter is the national spokesman for the Sons of the Confederacy.  Great.)

Friends and acqauintances took to Facebook (uh-oh) with comments such as:
"Might as well ban the song 'I Wish I Was In Dixie.' "
"People need to quit blaming objects."
"These symbols are history, and we must be willing to study our history."
"This is stupid."

For the record, the well-known "Dixie" song was the de facto anthem of the Confederacy.  It was traditionally performed by blackface mistrels, with the main singer's voice that of a freed slave now in the north, but supposedly homesick for his former slave life back on the plantation.  Oh yes, who wouldn't long for the good old slave life?  Catchy little tune, but c'mon -- these days, who needs it?

No one is "blaming" a flag for anything.  It's just piece of cloth.  It didn't do anything.  But it stood for something.  It is indeed a symbol of a part of our history -- an ugly, hateful part.  Just like Germany doesn't need the swastika to remember the Nazi era, the U.S. doesn't need the Confederate flag appearing every-damn-where to "study" and understand our history.  The image and the history will linger, no matter what.  But we can learn about that history in any number of ways besides a sit-com stunt car with the Stars and Bars on it.

Learning history by watching "The Dukes of Hazzard"?  Now that's what would be really stupid.  Because that show sucked!  All you're learning is the history of bad TV.

It's way past time to pull the rebel flag from all government buildings, and stop profiting from it via TV and merchandising.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

They Don't Understand Law Or Religious "Freedom"

After the Supremes legalized gay marriage (not full equal rights, mind you, just marriage), conservative Christian right-tards got all confused and started bitching about how this was somehow an assault on their First Amendment rights of religious freedom and free speech.

Let me tell you something -- all these southern AG's and pinhead county clerks and Bible-beating blockheads at various bakeries, hardware stores and pizza parlors have it all wrong.  The law impacts civil servants and public places.  It does not dictate what churches must do.  Your precious religious "rights" are still right there where you left them.  A virulently homophobic preacher can still refuse to perform a gay marriage at his church without fear of consequence.  (But really, who except for a very few devout crazoids would want to be married by such an asshole in the first place?)  A county clerk, however, must issue the license and the judge or the justice of the peace must perform the civil ceremony.  Their personal, private religious beliefs are immaterial and simply do not trump the law, and they could be held legally liable for failure to follow the law.  Similarly, a retail business owner operates a public establishment, not a church, not a club.  Refusal to serve the public -- all of the public -- could easily be found to be illegal discrimination.

We are all welcome to our individual religious beliefs, or lack thereof, but religious "freedom" does not mean we live in a theocracy.  And it does not mean you can break the law in the service of your religion.

This seems an opportune time to remind everyone of a timeless truth:


Cost-Benefit Analysis

Not too long ago, after much study, the EPA issued a new rule to reduce (not eliminate) toxic mercury emissions at our nation's coal-fired utility power plants.  Seems like a pretty good idea to me -- myself, I'm not keen on inhaling or ingesting too much mercury, but that can happen when you burn shit-tons of fossil fuels like coal.

True to form, the utility industry sued the EPA in an attempt to reverse the ruling.  The power company plaintiffs claimed that the EPA did not "initially" consider compliance costs to utility companies when making it's decision.  Their suit made it all the way to the Supreme Court.  In a 5-4 call, The Robes agreed with the utility companies -- before reducing the poisonous pollution power plants are allowed to spew into the air, we must first ask what it costs.

As Justice Kagan pointed out, the EPA certainly did consider costs, initially and for many years after, until it rendered its ruling.  More to the point, what is the cost of inaction?  What's the cost of the status quo?  Is cost really more important than public health?  I'm real sorry, utility companies, but you're the ones who built these coal-burning plants ages ago.  If your technology is outdated and toxic, that's your problem.  Stop acting like you have a right to poison us just so you can burn cheap, dirty coal for a while longer.

"Hey, Vern!  It's your ol' buddy Earnest.  You care about pollution, and smog, and burning coal, and the EPA and all that, Vern?  Me neither, ol' buddy.  Cost is all I care about.  Long as my bills don't go up too much, the future can go piss up a rope.  Can I offer ya some more mercury, Vern?"            

Sounds like a whole bunch of jiggery-pokery to me.

Three More Stooges

Attack of the governors!  Christie has just announced, Kasich and Walker will follow suit shortly.  There are so many GOP presidential candidates, I can't possibly make fun of all of them.  But these three stooges will have to do for today.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich is seen by some as a sort of kinder, gentler Republican.  Those people need to check their prescriptions.  Kasich is a typical right-wing ideologue:  He cuts public education, privatizes state agencies and property, supports unconstitutional abortion restrictions, has regressive tax policies, thinks fracking is wonderful, and famously tried -- unsuccessfully -- to break Ohio's public employee unions.  He concedes that gay people are probably here to stay, which makes him a "moderate" Republican.  Sure it does.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is a younger Kasich clone, a winking, pointing, frat boy dick without any pretense of moderation.  He holds all the same positions as Kasich, and then some.  Walker adds the preacher's-kid fake piety on top of the usual GOP greed and malice.  He is an obvious puppet of billionaire business interests.  Also famously tried and succeeded in breaking Wisconsin's public employee unions.  Barely survived a recall.    

New Jersey Gov. Chris "Caldera" Christie is a scandal-plagued bully with anger-management issues.  Showed one brief moment of mensch-hood by hugging Obama in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, but is an otherwise hot-tempered, caustic, confrontational, belligerent, abrasive SOB.  His Heftiness is a smoldering volcanic eruption waiting to happen.  Christie's bluster is almost the equal of Trump's.  Funny -- they're both from New Jersey.  Coincidence?  I think not.

These are three candidates born to be slaughtered in a general election.  Why do they bother, and how many more clowns will there be in the GOP circus?

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Faithful Reader Calls B.S. On Ohio Legislature

A faithful reader vents his spleen about the weed legalization movement and calls B.S. on the Ohio legislature.  Indeed, his email to me arrived under the subject of:  Bullshit!  Good call, my friend.  Happy to share your thoughts on Buster's Blog.

Background in a nutshell:

Responsible Ohio is a group which advocates for legal marijuana in Ohio.  They just turned in almost 700,000 signed petitions from all over the state.  Their Constitutional amendment initiative will appear on the November ballot.  If passed, it will establish a taxed, for-profit system, with investors and about 1100 retail and medical outlets across Ohio.

Our gerrymandered, jury-rigged Republican-dominated state legislature is living in the past and still fighting Richard Nixon's War on Drugs.  They hate the idea of legal weed, so they've come up with their own Constitutional amendment to legally ban such a system, which Senate president Keith Faber calls a"monopoly." (Puh-leeze!)

Both amendments will appear on the November ballot.  You can vote for the marijuana legalization issue and vote for Faber's B.S. anti-monopoly issue.  If you do, here's the kicker:  Our state R's, in keeping with their most devious traditions, have inserted a clause into their amendment which will invalidate the weed issue if both should pass.

That's when my faithful reader friend blew up:

This is one of those things where I feel compelled to write a letter to the Douchepatch or an FB post, but I dare not.

This Ohio legislature is so full of crap. If the representatives & senators cared so much protecting Ohio's constitution why didn't they pursue a legislative ballot issue after the casino initiative passed?  'Cause they didn't!  Only when Responsible Ohio presented a cannabis initiative did these so called forthright outstanding representatives of the people take the pen to hand primarily to block this attempt to legalize cannabis!  This is clearly an attempt to continue the criminalization of cannabis, and against the public's will!  If they're so interested in protecting the public from abusive substances they should unwrap their hands from their alcohol-filled glasses!  I'm convinced cannabis is no more dangerous, and maybe less so, than the real gateway drug, alcohol.
Ohio Senate President
and heinous ass-hat
Keith Faber (R-Celina)

When Keith Faber makes his run for Govenor, I will actively campaign against him!  Have said that for years, starting back when --  of all things -- he made the ODNR & OEPA come up with a way to allow condos be built at the dam at Grand Lake St. Marys!  Can you imagine?!

Phew, got that of off my chest, kind of.

Your pal, . . . 

So the only reasonable solution is to vote for the marijuana ballot issue and against Faber's ridiculous alternative.  That will fix his wagon.