Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Things are not perfect, but the economy is slowly but surely improving. Still, unemployment is too high. There are far too many who've been out of work for far too long.
Starting today, federal unemployment benefits will begin to expire for many thousands of people, with many more thousands to follow suit unless the governement acts to extend emergency benefits. Our official unemployment rate is still near 10%. In many such previous cases of hardship, our elected officials in Washington have never failed to act, have never before denied an extension of emergency benefits to those in need.
That was then, this is now. Merry Christmas from Mitch and John and all their big-hearted friends. Here's your lump of coal. Happy fuckin' New Year.
Responding to both dwindling ratings and viewer requests, the cable network TLC recently announced that the TV show Sarah Palin's Alaska will henceforth be available with English subtitles. Viewers should use the "Menu" function on their remote control, then select "SAP".
Like all Boomers, I grew up in the nuclear age (or as Dubya would say, "nuke-you-ler"). I remember the Civil Defense Agency, backyard bomb shelters, the Cuban missile crisis, and the Berlin Wall. We were just gonna crawl under our desks and everything would be OK. From my college days, there was the gallows humor of the popular poster shown at left.
Yet even in the darkest days of the Cold War, the U.S. and Russia still managed to work together to reduce nuclear weapons. The first treaties were in 1963. The START (Strategic Arms Reduction Talks) Treaties began in 1972 and have been periodically renewed ever since. It's been a mutual no-brainer, and on our side, Senate ratifications of each new START Treaty have always been pretty much automatic and virtually unanimous, no matter the politics of the moment.
Until now. Obama and Medvedev negotiated the current START Treaty and they're both cool with it. But Senate Republicans, led by John Kyl of Arizona (that goddam state again!), are ready to throw a wrench into the works by refusing to ratify the treaty in the lame duck session. Why? Merely to saddle Obama with a "defeat". He wants it ratified now, so therefore they're against it. No other real reason. Just another opportunity to fuck with him.
This is political gamesmanship of the most disgusting and dangerous sort, and is sadly typical of current breed of Republican. The START Treaty will expire and will need to be renegotiated all over again. How long will that take? World security takes a big step backwards, and we send a strange message of uncertainty to Russia, China, and those crazy North Koreans! But our Senate Republicans flat don't give a shit, as long as they can prevent an Obama "victory".
Are there enough reasonable Republicans left to cut through this nonsense and do the right thing, or will childish petulance rule the day? We're about to find out.
Sunday, November 28, 2010
President Obama is a basketball aficionado and during a recent pick-up game at the White House he took an elbow to his mouth. The resulting gash to his lip was closed with 12 stitches. The guy who threw the elbow was Rey Decerega of the Congressional Hispanic Institute. Decerega apologized to the President immediately and profusely.
Obama said there were "absolutely no hard feelings. It was unintentional and Rey's a good man. Of course, he can fuckin' forget about any immigration reform as long as I'm in office."
Obama also said the incident gave him new insight about dealing effectively with Congressional Republicans.
Saturday, November 27, 2010
The referees at today's annual ass-kicking of Michigan were among the most priggish Puritans I've ever seen. Twice Ohio State players were flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct/excessive celebration in the end zone just after a Buckeye touchdown. Their sin? Making the Block "O" with their hands (while wearing Nike gloves made for just that purpose). Had never seen such a weenie penalty before.
After the game, Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany said the zebras were simply enforcing a little-known rule which prohibits on-field players from "making letters, spelling, or conjugating verbs."
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
In a stunning reversal of policy, Pope Benedict XVI recently endorsed the use of condoms, albeit in a limited set of circumstances. The Vatican had previously opposed condom usage for any purpose, but His Holiness has now granted exceptions for "cases of health and life-saving, and other special cases." The Pope's ruling means rubbers are now green-lighted for devout Catholic prostitutes and promiscuous gay men, and of course for pedophile priests.
However, the Church continues to oppose the use of any prophylactic as a form of birth control. The Pope said it is still God's will that Catholic women get knocked up as often as humanly possible.
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
Seasonal sentiments from Bloom County (above) and Tom Lehrer (below):
We gather together to ask the lord's blessing
For turkey and dressing and cranberry sauce.
It was slightly distressing but now we're convalescing
So sing praises to his name and forget not to floss.
Our nearest and dearest we don't want confessing
It's sort of depressing to have them so near.
Our feelings supressing for lightly acquiescing
And perfectly professing we're glad they were here.
We gathered together and got the lord's blessing
Of course we're just guessing 'cause how can you tell?
Our stomach's are bloating
Our kidneys nearly floating
Hellos are very nice but goodbyes can be swell.
Monday, November 22, 2010
Yes, I know the Democrats got their butts kicked in the November mid-terms. I know they lost their majority in the House of Representatives and I know that weepy obstructionist John Boehner will soon be Speaker of the House.
But did you know that Barack Obama received 69,500,000 votes in the 2008 election? That total is the most votes cast for any American President ever. In contrast, Boehner got 181,000 votes in 2008 and 139,000 just a couple weeks ago.
National vs. local, I know, but keep those numbers in mind when the Speaker speaks. Orange John of tiny West Chester is very fond of telling us about "what the American people want." How the fuck would he know what America wants?
As you know, the Transportation Safety Administration has adopted new screening rules aimed at boosting air travel security. Ticket holders must agree to either a full-body scan (like an X-ray that makes your clothes invisible), or a full-body pat down (wherein they thoroughly feel you up and "touch your junk"). The TSA says if you refuse both, you will not be permitted to board the plane.
Some people are up in arms over this policy. They claim the body scans amount to nude photos of passengers, and the pat-downs are a form of molestation. There are rumblings about a passenger boycott.
Buster personally doesn't give a shit about appearing "naked" on an airport body scan (nuthin' to get excited about, believe me, and going downhill fast!), but can understand why some people are fearful of the "perv factor" and might not want security personnel to see them in their virtual birthday suit. So for those folks, the TSA needs to make the pat-downs a more attractive alternative.
The TSA just needs to hire a bunch of Hooters girls and Chippendale guys, and give each passenger a choice as to who administers the pat-down. Most men would queue up in the Hooters line, most women would opt for the Chippendales, and the gay/lesbian segment could flip a coin.
It'd be great. I can see it now: "NO! Body scans are UNCONSTITUTIONAL! I will NOT let you look at me naked! This is a violation of my RIGHTS!! I am NOT a terrorist and I will NOT put up with this government TYRANNY!!! But I'd really like to be frisked by that blonde girl over there."
Friday, November 19, 2010
Sarah Palin has written a book. (OK, stop right there! Better make that "written". Sarah Palin is a writer in the same way Milli Vanilli were singers. Sarah Palin has so much trouble with English, you can't even say it's her second language -- it's like she has no first language! Somebody else wrote her fucking book for her. The only writing she's gonna do is autographing copies of it on her book tour.) It's titled America By Heart: Reflections on Family, Faith, and Flag.
In this literary masterpiece, she somehow feels compelled to "reflect" negatively on the Fox TV show American Idol. (Does American Idol get filed under "family", "faith", or "flag"?) Sister Sarah says the show has "talent-deprived" contestants suffering from "the cult of self-esteem." "No one they've encountered in their lives -- from their parents to their teachers to their president -- wanted them to feel bad by hearing the truth [about themselves], so they grew up convinced they could become big pop stars like Michael Jackson."
This is Caribou Barbie at her tone-deaf best (or worst, if you prefer). First, her own daughter, the talent-deprived chunky monkey Bristol Palin, is currently making a fool of herself on Dancing With The Stars. (President Obama was going to advise Bristol not to do this, but he refrained because he didn't want to make her feel bad.) Second, there are some with real talent on American Idol, while the others like early-round reject William Hung have no delusions about being the next Michael Jackson or Frank Sinatra or whoever. And third, apparently no one ever told Sarah the truth about herself: that she's a cut-rate beauty queen who's long on legs but short on intellect, who was once the mayor of a town smaller than my subdivision, who was somehow elected governor of the least populous state in the union, who as a failed Vice Presidential candidate was revealed to be a complete moron, who subsequently quit as governor just two years into her term, and who now is convinced she could be the next President.
Puh-leeze! You can't be a pageant princess forever, and Palin's ridden her looks just about as far as they're likely to take her. If she was double-bag ugly, she couldn't get elected dog-catcher!
Did I miss something? Didn't President Obama announce just a few months ago that American troops would start to leave Afghanistan in 2011? Now he's saying we're just gonna start to start leaving in 2011, and we'll actually remain there until 2014, so we can help the Afghans learn how to provide their own security.
Well, good fucking luck with that. Our little Afghan "war" is already our longest, and it won't matter if we stay there 10 years or 13 years or 23 years. Afghanistan is a black hole, a giant Dyson with no off switch endlessly sucking money and lives. The place is the very definition of lawless insecurity, and no amount of training the local boys will help. (Please recall "Vietnamization", a euphemism for the ages.)
Basically, Obama got duped again by the generals. He bought their bullshit about "conditions on the ground." Like a surgeon believes surgery fixes everything, a general thinks all problems have a military solution. It's his job.
Afghanistan will never be what we want it to be. At best, it might be kinda sorta maybe "good enough". We're already there. I love ya, Cousin Barry, but we gotta get outta that place! Let's call it "good enough" and vamoose. Yesterday.
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
Our new Guv-Elect John Kasich doesn't take office until January, but he's acting like he's in charge already.
First, he asked Gov. Strickland to stop all research and groundwork on the high-speed rail project. Ohio will receive $400 million in federal stimulus funds for this purpose. John-Boy has told the Feds that he just doesn't want their choo-choo train, but asked if he could have the $400 mil anyway. The Feds told him the money was for the rail project, and if he didn't like it, he could go shit in his hat. And Strickland has said that prep work for the project will continue through the end of his term. Good boy, Ted!
Kasich recently threatened Ohio's teachers unions, stating they'd have "zero access" to his administration unless and until they paid for state-wide ads apologizing for their criticism of him during the campaign. Then he declared he'd completely scrap Strickland's plan for distributing $400 million in "Race To The Top" federal education funds. The U.S. Dept. of Education replied that Ohio qualifies for the money based on the already-approved plans, and if he changed those plans, he could go piss up a rope for that money.
Said John-Boy, "Fuck the Feds! If we need $800 million, I'll just do what I always do. I'll get it from my daddy -- I mean my boss -- I mean my good friend -- Rupert Murdoch."
Should be an interesting four years. Is there any way we can get a Mulligan on that governor election thing?
In Buster's ongoing contest to determine The Stupidest State In the Union, the Commonwealth of Kentucky has recently injected itself into the mix and must now be considered among the front-runners, right up there with the congenital racists of South Carolina and the intractable xenophobes of Arizona.
With Daniel Boone as their last elected Democrat, Kentucky has long been a deep red state. They just can't seem to help themselves. And now they may have outdone themselves by electing the Libertarian Tea-Bagger Rand Paul to the U.S. Senate. Paul is possibly the only person around who's meaner and more conservative than the guy he's replacing, Jim Bunning. During his acceptance speech, Paul said "I'm not going to Washington to enact legislation. I'm going there to repeal it!"
(It's amusing when some douchebag crank running on an anti-government platform actually wins. Guess what? You are now what you were running against! Enjoy!)
Add Paul to the state's other Senator, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, and you've got one of the all-time dinosaur duos -- an anti-progressive pair for the ages. The reptilian McConnell is a classic just-say-no obstructionist. He's recently been quoted as saying that his only job is to make sure Obama is a one-term President. What an ass!
Now, Buster does not normally harbor ill will against anyone, but if it should someday happen that the Kentucky Senate delegation were to be together at the same place and same time, and if it should then further happen that some accident or natural disaster were to occur, Ol' Buster might just have to consider that to be a useful thinning of the herd.
A couple days ago, in a surprise move, ESPN announced it would not renew the contracts of baseball announcers Jon Miller and Joe Morgan. The pair had worked together for 21 years on ESPN's Sunday night prime time game.
Miller, known for his gleaming bald head and loud neckties, is well-respected for his many years of good work behind the mike for the Baltimore Orioles and, currently, the San Francisco Giants. He's already in the broadcaster's wing of the baseball Hall Of Fame.
Morgan's an HOF'er too. He was the catalyst for the Big Red Machine teams in Cincinnati, and also played for the Astros and the Giants. A great player, as an announcer Joe's known for being stubbornly opinionated and for occasionally mangling the English language. Some fans don't care for him. For years, there has been a website called FireJoeMorgan.com. Personally, I always liked him. He knows baseball.
ESPN gave no particular reason for their decision. Just the usual -- time for a change, for new perspectives, blah blah blah. Whatever. As always, the game's the thing, and whoever the new anouncers are, I'm sure they'll be fine.
But Old Jon and Old Joe were an institution on Sunday nights. I'll miss 'em.
Sunday, November 7, 2010
Faithful readers will recall one of our more bizarrely aberrant local individuals, Alan Patton, the Piss Drinker. (For a refresher, go to the Blog Archive, click on February 2010, then "The Piss Drinker" 3/09.)
Last week, he was arrested while hanging around the boys restroom at a Burger King. Authorities recovered his "collection materials" (Dixie cups and wads of toilet paper in the urinals -- yuk!!!!) and hauled his perverted ass off to jail once again. But now things are different because we have a new law in Ohio which prohibits the "taking or collecting of another person's bodily fluids without permission". Really. Seriously. So this time it looks like our sicko might actually do a year or so in prison. I'm sure the other prisoners will give him a really warm welcome.
Think he'll be "rehabilitated" when he gets out? Neither do I. Clearly he's developed a taste for the stuff. And drinking little-boy piss (a.k.a. urophagia) is legal. It's his method of obtaining it that's unlawful. He's got a problem with the permission thing.
He needs a whole new approach. Instead of sneaking around public toilets, Piss Alan should be up-front about it. Say what he wants and get the necessary permission. Put an ad in the paper or on Craig's List: "Fresh urine wanted. Will pay all shipping COD." Or maybe he could open a reverse lemonade stand, with authorization forms, of course. Instead of little kids trying to sell yellow liquid to passing adults, you'd have an adult trying to buy yellow liquid from passing kids. He'd probably have to pay a lot more than 25 cents a cup!
Buster is quite happy that the 2010 mid-term elections are over, although not so happy with most of the results. The Republicans shouldn't kid themselves -- they received no mandate. They simply benefitted from low turnout, a weak economy and the stupid, fickle flip-flopping of the so-called independent voter. (Essentially, "independents" are lazy. They can't be bothered to inform themselves on issues, candidates, or parties, so they just bounce around like farts in a skillet.)
These voters punished Obama and the Democrats for actually doing things rather than doing nothing. And they punished Obama for economic woes not of his own making.
I heard a post-election analysis piece on the radio about a woman in Indiana. She talked about how scared she was in 2008 -- huge stock market declines; the subprime mortgage mess; failures and bailouts of banks, insurance companies, and auto manufacturers. Our economy looked like a train wreck. This woman, who identified herself as an independent, said her decision in November 2008 to vote for Obama and many Democrats was "a no-brainer". Then in 2009, she lost her job at a mortgage company, lost her health insurance, and emptied what was left of her 401K. Still unemployed, she naturally voted a straight Republican ticket in November 2010.
Alrighty then! I've said it before: Ignorance can be fixed, but stupid is forever.
Monday, November 1, 2010
(Courtesy of my neighbor Tom, a.k.a. Gunther Shagmaster)
"I haven't left my house in days. I watch the news channels incessantly. All the news stories are about the election; all the commercials are Viagra and Cialis.
Election, erection, election, erection . . .
Either way we're screwed!" -- Bette Midler
You might remember David Stockman as Reagan's budget director and the architect of Ronnie's huge tax cuts. Stockman, a staunch supply-side theorist, justified it by coining the phrase "trickle down". You might also remember the Reagan Recession which followed in 1982-1983, featuring 10%+ unemployment. (Obviously, not enough people remember.)
Last night's 60 Minutes on CBS had a segment featuring Stockman talking not about cutting taxes, but raising them. Seems the one-time Wunderkind has had a change of heart. Said Stockman:
"Tax cuts are a religion for Republicans -- an absolute, the gospel, something which can't be questioned.
"We've demonized taxes, turned them into a metaphysical evil. It's rank demogoguery. To always rub raw this anti-tax sentiment, the Republicans should be ashamed of themselves.
"Both parties are telling a Big Lie, that we can have all our programs and not tax ourselves appropriately to pay for them. It's delusional.
"Neither party would cut more than $50 billion, and the problem is $1.3 trillion."
Stockman actually agrees with Buster (see the 9/24/10 post, "Tackling the Deficit") that all the George W. Bush tax cuts should be allowed to expire at year-end. He then goes a step further, wanting to whack the shit out of the national debt with a one-time 15% surcharge/surtax on the wealthiest Americans. Dude!
Really good ideas. Don't hold your breath.