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

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Buster's 2011 In Twelve Sentences

A twisted distillation of the year that was, in twelve easy pieces. Happy New Year to all!_____________________________________________________________________________________

Let's start by making John Kasich's property support itself by drilling a bunch of wells in his backyard! (Oil Wells In State Parks? -- January 18th)

Out of nowhere, John-Boy asked, "Have you ever been stopped by a policeman who's an idiot?" (Kasich Gets Speeding Ticket: Cited For Running His Mouth Too Fast -- February 17th)

Buster does not condone violent intimidation, but I can't help wishing that the moment those pissed-off Teamsters started hollering, Niehaus and Bacon started squirting wet farts into their BVD's. (SB 5 Passes By A Dirty Hair; Niehaus & Bacon May Need A Change Of Shorts -- March 4th,)

A spokesman explained that "The Senator's statement was not intended to be factual." (The Best Excuse Ever! -- April 16th)

Nevertheless, our Bad King John, with a straight face and no apparent sense of irony, has declared this to be "Public Service Appreciation Week". (Kasich Issues Irony-Free Proclamation Re Public Workers! -- May 5th)

The real problem, of course, was that Tressel knew about all of it but pretended he didn't. ("O" No! Part III -- End Of An Era. Can We End The NCAA Too? -- June 15th)

If the question is why are Congressional Republicans acting like complete assholes over a mundane bit of governmental housekeeping, the answer is because Grover Norquist has 'em by the short hairs. ("I Pledge Allegiance To Grover Norquist" -- July 18th)

So am I saying that the big-money R's would stage-manage a faux crisis over a non-issue and enlist sluts like Standard & Poor's to do their down-grade bidding and intentionally trash the economy in a bald-faced attempt to unseat a black Democrat President and install a friendly, white, look-the-other-way Republican in the Oval Office? (Standard & Poor's Can Eat My Shorts! -- August 7th)

The R's are ready to defend their class, ready to do battle on behalf of those oppressed, long-suffering millionaires and billionaires. (Class Warfare? -- September 20th)

These are not unreasonable things to be pissed off about, and if nothing else, it frightens the right people: Romney, Cain, Perry and Bachmann all made disparaging remarks. (The "Occupy" Movement -- October 24th)

Governor Katshit's Issue 2 has been defeated, Senate Bill 5 is now repealed, and to help maintain the momentum, Buster offers some lyrical inspiration, set to the old My Fair Lady tune "Just You Wait, Henry Higgins": (Just You Wait, Johnny Kasich! -- November 8th)

For the first 50 minutes of the game, Tebow looks like shit, but then Popeye finds his spinach and for the last 10 minutes, he can do no wrong. (God's Quarterback? -- December 13th)

Good Ol' Southern Chicken-Fried Brain

I heard a piece on the radio the other day which illustrated the fact that, in America, we are increasingly becoming two separate countries -- two distinctly opposed groups, both of whom can look at the same set of facts and circumstances and yet draw completely different conclusions.

The piece was about the lingering unemployment problem. In this instance, the focus was South Carolina, which has lost 78,000 jobs from its peak in 2007. Most of this loss was in home construction jobs. A custom-home builder from York County, SC was interviewed. York County is just across the state line from Charlotte and in recent years enjoyed tremendous growth. Now it deals with persistent 12% unemployment, among the highest in the state.

The custom-home builder noted that he had ten employees in 2008, and now he has just one -- his wife. And at the moment, he is building zero homes.

I seem to recall the housing bubble of the Bush years with its ever-escalating home values, driven mainly by a bizarre financial instrument called the collateralerized debt obligation, a collection of shitty fraudulently represented mortgages that was oversold and underinsured, such instrument made possible by deregulation and lax oversight, and fueled by Wall Street greed, predatory lending, and the prostitution of Moody's and Standard & Poor's. And I seem to recall that this all blew up in the fall of 2008, in the last month's of Dubya's reign, and I recall it as the largest economic collapse since 1929, costing us all bajillions in lost assets and leaving a blast radius we now call the Great Recession, the effects of which we all deal with to this day.

And yeah, if you're a custom-home builder, that's the sort of shit that'll really cramp your style.

The builder was asked who he blames for the downturn in his business. His answer? You already guessed it -- that's right, Barack Obama. Of course.

I think this douchebag just woke up and noticed -- yikes! -- there's a black man in the White House.

Cable Sucks!

Yesterday, I read that the average American cable TV subscriber is now paying $128 a month. In 2001, the average was $48, so the cost has almost tripled in 10 years. I also see that Time Warner cable and our local CBS affiliate are in an 11th hour stare-down over fees (Warner wants to cut its fee to the local) and the station may be pulled from Warner tonight. And a good old friend of many years went to Facebook to share his frustrations over service from his cable provider, Insight.

All of which leads me to say, Cable really sucks! Remember how the Great Cable TV Deregulation of the 1980's was going to lower costs, improve service, and increase competition? P.T. Barnum saw us coming on that one! The exact opposite has occurred.

It's a case study in free market unintended consequences. Certain cable programming is very popular. A good example is ESPN (and its offspring ESPN 2, 3, U, News, Classic, etc.) ESPN is on every cable system and in every bar and hotel in the land. And they charge a pretty penny to cable providers, and raise their rates to them regularly. The cable companies pass this on directly to us (plus a little extra) and justify it by adding more and more half-assed (and cheap) programming. "Prices are going up next month, but look -- you get 25 more channels! Isn't that wonderful?"

Bruce Springsteen once sang about "57 Channels And Nuthin' On". These days, it's more like 357 channels of nothing. It is way, way more than anyone could possibly watch, TiVo, or DVR.

I don't know whether this calls for re-regulation of the industry, but I do know that we subscribers need a cafeteria-style option in what we sign up for and pay for. Not everyone wants ESPN. If you don't want it, you should be able to drop ESPN and save yourself some money. As for me, I must have ESPN, but I do not give a flying fuck about Fox News, the Oprah Channel, or the Home Shopping Network. Why should I pay for them?

With today's technology, giving us a pick-and-choose programming menu would be a snap. But cable companies have nothing but lame excuses about why it can't be done. Obviously, their existing model is more profitable.

Maybe we need that re-regulation after all.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Passages (a la Buster)

'Tis the time when media make lists of notables who died during the year. Many of these lists are quite long, and are filled with dignitaries who, in one way or another, helped make this world a better place.

I offer just two remembrances. Both passed recently. One good, one bad.

North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il, age 69.
Possessor of ridiculous hair, bug-eye specs, and semi-scary Junior Achievment nuclear warheads. ("Yes, Yankee dog, we got A-bomb! And we got crazy rockets -- go up, down, sideways, we never sure! How you rike us now?") Kim Jong Il was also an "incredible" athlete. State-run media reported that in his first attempt at bowling, he rolled a perfect game, and in his first round of golf, he had five holes-in-one.

The "Dear Leader" has been dead a couple weeks, and yesterday they finally got around to planting his carcass, as thousands of citizens looked on in sorrow. ("OK, comrades, at count of three, you may begin to mourn spontaneously. Ready? One, two, . . .)

Just like John Kennedy's, his grave will feature an "eternal flame". This will, all by itself, double the average nighttime illumination in all of North Korea.

Cheetah the Chimpanzee, age 80.
Acclaimed film star of the 1930's and 1940's. Cheetah saved Tarzan, Jane and Boy from countless jungle dangers, always pointing, jumping, and screeching his warning in the nick of time. He also added comic relief in the form of flipping, tumbling, banana theft and all-around horseplay.

Cheetah died yesterday. The under-appreciated actor had been quietly retired in California, and reportedly kept himself busy with finger-painting and flinging his own feces.

Cheetah lived longer than Kim Jong Il, and it's only fitting. He was the better person.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Another Reason Why I Love My Cousin Barry. And Michelle Too!

Even with all today's technology and YouTube and TiVo and WiFi this and that and I don't know what all, the vast majority of my video consumption remains in three broad categories -- live sports, news and news-like stuff, and old movies.

In a minor exception to my general rule, tonight I watched "The Kennedy Center Honors", from the Performing Arts Center in NYC. Was well aware of these annual awards, but can't say I ever watched 'em before. One of tonight's honoree's was old jazzman sax player Sonny Rollins.

The Kennedy winners do not perform; they sit and let others do it in their honor. As a pair of righteous combos played their respects to the ancient Mr. Rollins, who could be seen in the box seats head-bobbin' and groovin' and gettin' right down in the rhythm? Our Prez and the First Woman. They were clearly into it. Just like me.

Can you seriously imagine Dubya and Laura catchin' a little jazz fever? Mitt Romney? Newt? Bachmann? Ron Paul bustin' a move??!! Santorum? -- he'd have to kill himself in the name family values.

Gimme Barack and Michelle any day. Every day.

"Make Mine Plain Cheese, Please"

We have a new promotion from Papa John's Pizza here in big ol' C'Bus. Every Monday, Papa John's will give us a free pizza topping for every goal scored by the Columbus Blue Jackets in their most recent game. As the Blue Jackets are very likey the worst team in the entire NHL, I hope you Papa John's fan's like plain cheese pizza.

Thank You, Dear!

The morning of December 18th, a Sunday, I stepped out onto my doorstep like I do every day to pick up my newspaper, the Columbus Dispatch. To my surprise, lying there beside the local rag was another Sunday paper, the New York Times. The Grey Lady. All The News That's Fit To Print. "Cool!" I thought to myself. "A delivery mistake, but it's mine now." And I quickly stepped back inside, hoping its rightful owner hadn't noticed me.

Per usual, I finished the few worthwhile parts of the Dispatch in about 10 minutes, then spent a couple hours perusing the Sunday Times, all the while enthusing to my wife about how great it was, compared to my shitty local. "The articles! The columns! And look -- the Times Sunday Crossword!" (At this point, I very well may have been drinking, but I was still pretty pumped up about a friggin' newspaper.)

Mrs. Gammons told me she was glad I liked it, or words to that effect. But her tone of voice was saying, "You are an easily amused, simple sumbitch, aren't you?" Well, yeah, maybe, but I'm gonna enjoy this happy mistake.

This Sunday, Christmas morning, there it was again -- another NY Times. How strange. Another mistake? Is the delivery guy blind? Illiterate? Maybe it's a promotion. Maybe it's . . .

No time to ponder because it was time to open our handful of presents. The wife handed me a small box and insisted I open it first. It would, she said, "explain something." So I opened it, unaware of anything requiring explanation. Inside the box was a printout of her gift to me -- of course! -- a subscription for home delivery of the Sunday Times. (You probably saw that coming. I did not.)

She had tried to arrange for delivery to begin -- surprise! -- on Christmas morning, but the first one came a week early. Not to worry. Buster is reliably oblivious to such clues, so it was still very much a surprise. A great newspaper, and a very thoughtful gift. Thank you, dear! I love you.

David Sedaris Reads "Six To Eight Black Men". Merry Christmas!

[Sent by a faithful reader. Thank you, Faithful Reader!]

Buster may have been the only person in America who hadn't seen this already, so please forgive me if, for you, this is so thirty seconds ago. It may be from Sedaris' one-man show, Santa Diaries, which has been around for awhile. I don't now. In any event, it's excellent, and worth the time. Watch all three in order.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Bloated, Crassly Commercial, And All But Meaningless

At this time of year, do these names mean anything to you -- Famous Idaho Potato, BBVA Compass, Fight Hunger, Pinstripe, TicketCity? No? How about these garden spots -- Shreveport, Albuquerque, Detroit, Birmingham, the Bronx? Still nothing?

They're the official names of some of college football's bowl games, and some of their fabulous locations. "Great season, guys! Now we're going to Detroit! Yee-ha!!"

This year, there are thirty-five (thirty-five!) bowl games, running from December 17th through January 9th, culminating in the supposed BCS National Championship Rematch game between LSU and Alabama.

Although I'm sure I'll watch a few of these contests, my interest will be half-hearted. The excessive number of games waters down the quality of the whole thing, almost all of them mean nothing, and it's much too obviously all about the money. If the organizers could figure out a way to get enough sucker sponsors, they'd have 100 fuckin' bowl games. Hell, 200. Who'd watch all those mediocre games? As long as the bowl checks didn't bounce, the colleges sure wouldn't care.

After all this time and all this contrived BCS/computer rankings/umpteen polls beauty pageant bullshit, are we not finally ready for a real playoff? I know I am, and there are ways to do it and make just as money for most of these schools, if not more.

In this glorious football post-season, I already have one regret. I totally missed last night's Beef O'Brady's Bowl. Damn! I understand Marshall defeated Florida International.

One question: Does anyone know who or what a "Beef O'Brady" is? No, wait, on second thought, I'd rather not know.

The One Percent Strikes Back

Funny Captions - Look, poor people.
see more Funny Captions

[from "The Balance Sheet", by The American Prospect, sent by a faithful reader. Thank you, Faithful Reader.]


It's not a joke. In response to the Occupy Wall Street movement, a band of one-percenters -- including JP Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, who made $23 million in 2012; and John A. Allison IV, a director of BB&T Corp. -- has started a campaign to rescue rich CEOs' tattered image. Calling themselves the "Job Creators Alliance", the group plans media appearances, pens op-eds, and comes up with talking points to defend executives from the 99 percent who, at least in terms of wages, have seen little trickle down from Wall Street for the last two decades. Bernard Marcus, a founding member of the alliance, isn't worried about Occupiers being offended by his organization's mission. “Who gives a crap about some imbecile? Are you kidding me?” he told Businessweek. “If I hear a politician use the term ‘paying your fair share’ one more time, I’m going to vomit," chimed in billionaire Tom Golisano.

They've come parroting the standard defense: That they deserve the money they get and that they create jobs. Problem is, as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said, “Millionaire job-creators are like unicorns: they’re impossible to find, and they don't exist." Economists, in a rare instance of consensus, agree that there is little evidence to support the claim that a change in tax rates prompts a real response from the economy, as reported by Mother Jones. Other millionaires have even objected to this one-percenter denialism. Warren Buffett is a well-known advocate for higher taxes on the wealthy, and venture capitalist Nick Hanauer wrote in a Businessweek op-ed, "When businesspeople take credit for creating jobs, it is like squirrels taking credit for creating evolution."

Deck The Halls With DC Gridlock

Pictured here are the two biggest assholes in the House of Representatives. After way too much drama, late last week the Senate overwhelmingly passed a two-month (two pissy little months!) extension of the temporary 2 point cut in Social Security withholding. Politically popular, fiscally silly. Popularity wins.

Anyway, douchebag Speaker John Boehner said he supported it, would vote for it, and so would the House, so let's all go home and chug some egg nog. Two months is kinda weenie, but what the hell, everyone lives to fight another day, and right now we have presents to wrap.

In the words of Coach Lee Corso, "Not so fast, my friend!"

Orange Man forgot to check with House Whip and de facto Top Cat Tea Bagger Eric Cantor. Eric's Band of Buttholes suddenly won't agree to the Senate bill, and without their agreement there is no two month extension, and again nothing will happen. Brilliant!

So Boner has lost control his wacko faction, and now he says the House R's want a one year extension, so as to "provide certainty to the nation's job-creators." Hilarious! Two days ago he said something completely different. They just want the opposite of whatever Obama wants. It's Groucho Marx singing Whatever It Is, I'm Against It.

Who are these "job creators"? Point one out to me. You believe they really give a shit about this? FICA of 6.2% vs. 4.2% means no hiring? The payroll tax cuts at issue are on the employee side, not the employer. And what about all the doctrinaire GOP squawking about deficit reduction? You're for cutting the deficit AND a lengthier (yet still temporary) cut in income? It's Mystery Math! And a load of 100% Grade-A bullshit!!

This really doesn't play well in Peoria. I mean, it's frickin' Christmas! Even Murdoch's Wall Street Journal panned Boehner and Cantor on this one. The Republicans have driven themselves down a blind dead-end alley, and they're stuck.

Who looks good by comparison? Obama and the Dems. Good!

Monday, December 19, 2011

God Took This Sunday Off . . .

. . . and His quarterback was jacked, smacked, sacked and defeated. Yes, Tim Tebow and the Blessed Broncos were beaten by the Patriots, and beaten pretty badly. Apparently, the Lord was otherwise occupied.

I begrudge no one his or her sincere beliefs. To each his own. Most of us choose to keep such beliefs, or lack thereof, to ourselves. Public displays are unseemly and draw unwanted attention. Unless one actually wants the attention.

Tebow does. NFL Films had him miked for the Bears game, and 10-15 minutes of his witty repartee ran on ESPN. Maybe you saw it too. Some of it was standard jock-speak: "Good hit, man!" "Oh, it's a good day for football!" Etc., etc. But some of it was Timmy in the role his parents groomed him for -- God's Gridiron Emissary. He devoted a lot of time singing to himself: "My God is an awesome God!" And after big plays/scoring plays, he yelled: "Yes!! Thank you, God! Thank you!"

Long ago, as a kid on the playing fields, there were many asshole opponents, but we especially despised two types -- the look-at-me hot dog (think Pete Rose), and the goody-two-shoes constantly crossing himself, pointing to the sky, and kneeling in mid-game private prayer. That's our boy Tebow.

The Broncos will probably still make the playoffs, but all Buster can say is, Timmy better win, win big, and win for a long goddam time, or else his heathen teammates will quickly tire of his Holy Hi-Jinks. Not to mention the other team.

Newt, You're A Hoot

The "Former Speaker" (resigned, disgraced) and nominal Republican front-runner may have a short run at the front. Romney's deep pockets (lined with $10 K wagering money) are buying a barrage of attack ads in Iowa, but the expense may be unnecessary. True to form, Gingrich may very well hang himself with his own rope, and soon.

In the last debate, the Newtster was on his best behavior -- he did not indulge his innate desire to display, at length, his intellectual superiority. He was instead strangely brief, gentle, and well-mannered. Neutered Newt?

But yesterday, trying to suck up to the hard right, Gingrich went on TV and complained about the "steady encroachment of secularism through the courts to redefine America as a nonreligious country and the encroachment of the courts on the president's commander-in-chief powers, which is enormously dangerous."

Newton, Newton, Newton! I thought you were a historian. We are in fact a secular country, founded as such, despite the blue-nose Mayflower Puritans. We respect all religions and permit their free practice, but America has no official religion. There's nothing in the Constitution that says we are this, that, or the other. That's "secular", pretty much by definition.

More historical, Constitutional definitions: Three branches of government. Legislative, judicial, executive. Separate and equal power. Checks and balances. Newt -- Mr. History! -- I learned all that shit in junior-high social studies. Where were you? And now you say that, as president, you'd flip off the Supreme Court and do whatever you please. You're a dangerous little fuck, aren't you?

Gingrich's handlers say that such pronouncements are always Newt's biggest "applause lines." Which proves only that his fans and supporters are idiots who clap their hands for no good reason.

And it's further evidence that Obama will win again in 2012. He always wins the "Reasonable Man" competition -- put Barack and all the various Republican contenders and pretenders together in the same room. Question, listen, observe, and report back to me.

Who's the most reasonable person in the room?

One Down, One To Go

It's officially "End of Mission" in Iraq and we are outta there! Essentially. For the most part. In any event -- Good! Thank you, Cousin Barry! You kept your word, and we be gone.

Thus ends one of our more bizarre military misadventures, a false war against a false enemy on false pretenses.

We will always respect, honor and remember all those who served there, and will do the same for those whose country it is. For nine years, too many suffered and died. Ultimately, what was accomplished? Was it worth it?

History will be the judge, and probably a harsh one. While we're waiting for judgment, let's get the fuck out of Afghanistan too!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

"An Amusing Vintage; Bold But Not Aggressive"

The lovely Mrs. Gammons and your humble correspondent just whipped up and polished off a delicious dinner -- shrimp and scallops mornay with savory rice and a decent, affordable bottle of chardonnay. The wine label touted its contents as having tones of "light oak, soft citrus, and LINGERING PEAR." (Their screaming caps, not mine.)

The vinter was not screaming for nothing. It was very pear-y. And it did linger. As a matter of fact, it's lingering still and refuses to leave. I enjoyed the wine, but it's time for the pears to go home now.

(For the record, said bottle was from the Revelry Winery of Walla Walla, Wash.)

The Many Vs. The Money

Per the census, almost half of our fellow citizens are officially "low income" or live in poverty.

Six members of the Walton family have more income and assets than the bottom 30% of all Americans.

Newt Gingrich proposes a new income tax code giving us a choice of the current handful of brackets with a top end of 35% (would be 39% if the Bush cuts had expired on schedule) or a flat 15% (with a few less deductions). Gosh, what should I choose? It, of course, amounts to a big tax break for high income earners.

Robbie Portman wants to cut the corporate tax rate from 35% to 25%, even though many huge companies find ways to pay no corporate income tax whatsoever.

Completely impromptu, Mitt Romney offers Rick Perry a $10,000 bet, like he has it in his pants pocket (which he very well might).

To use the lexicon of the moment, all of this is a "disconnect" of epic proportions. It's populism vs. privilege. While so many -- too many -- struggle, there are those well-to-do few (one percent, perhaps?) who demand even more of the unfair advantages which they clearly do not need. And they seem to be blind to it all.

There have been moments in times past when certain societies have experienced similarly extreme concentrations of wealth and power in the hands of a tiny, unsympathetic minority. Faced with such aristocratic oligarchs, the historical remedy for this serious malady has been . . . Lexington and Concord, 1775; Paris, 1789; Moscow, 1917 . . . and so on and so forth.

I'm not saying we're gonna have another American Revolution, or that we should, or that I want one. But I'm just sayin' . . .

Season's Greetings From The Three Scrooges

They do it every year.

The good old GOP is once again displaying its patented combination of cockiness and cold-heartedness, just in time for the holidays. We're about a day away from a government shutdown, and a couple weeks away from an increase in everyone's Social Security tax and millions of Americans losing long-term unemployment benefits. These are immediate and pressings needs, but the R's want to play chicken while we dance on the brink.

Mitch, Eric and Sir John of Orange say they'd just love to discuss these things and might actually vote for them if only President Obama would agree to fast-track the crazy Keystone XL pipeline project. What the hell does that have to do with the problem at hand? Not a goddam thing. Just a shameless attempt to extract a pound of flesh before they do the right thing -- maybe.

Who knows what the R's will do? But their seasonal sentiment remains unchanged: Merry fuckin' Christmas from the GOP! Bah, humbug!

Jesus Refutes Rick Perry

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary

Joe Biden is the Vice President of the United State. How would it be if we also made him, say, Chairman of the Federal Trade Commission? Andrew Ginther is President of the Columbus City Council. What say we make him Chief of Police while he's at it?

Ridiculous? Consider Mary Taylor, Ohio's Lieutenant Governor. Simultaneously, she also serves as the Director of the Ohio Department of Insurance. It's like two, two, two jobs in one!

Insurance Director is a political appointment. Taylor is an accountant by trade, and not particularly insurance savvy. It shows. In the Kay-suck administration, her main role as Director seems to be head cheerleader for the repeal of healthcare reform. For a year, she's travelled the state bad-mouthing what she always refers to as "Obamacare", saying she'll do all she can to get rid of "this catastrophic law" which, she always claims (wrongly) "will kill jobs, reduce choices, and increase costs."

She wrote an op-ed piece appearing in many newspapers in which she criticized the Affordable Care Act for requiring people to purchase coverage for things they may not want or need, "like maternity and pediatric coverage for those with no children."

Well, duh, Mary! By its very nature and design, that's the way all health insurance works. We're all covered for lots of stuff we may never use. Health insurance is not some sort of a la carte menu. What a stupid thing for the Insurance Director to say. My health plan covers me for hospitalization. The fact that I have not been hospitalized recently does not make me angry.

More importantly, the ACA requires that states pass a law by June 30, 2012 establishing health insurance exchanges -- so-called "marketplaces" for small business and the uninsured. The reason for the June deadline is that the ACA requires the exchanges be up and running by 2014, and to do that, things must be put in motion now.

Mary is in charge of all this and has, of course, done absolutely nothing, and intentionally so. She won't even discuss it with anyone. State Rep. John P. Carney has asked Gov. Kasich to testify before the House and tell us about the progress he's making toward setting up the exchanges. Kasich has tossed the hot potato back to do-nothing Taylor, saying it's her responsibility. (Ultimately it's yours, John-Boy.)

Either we get ourselves a real Insurance Director, or someone needs to put a candle under Mary Taylor's ass!

Lowe's Goes Low

Ever heard of The Florida Family Association? Me neither. Evidently, they are conservative Christian wing-nuts who watch a lot of TV. And a TLC show, All-American Muslim, really pisses 'em off.

The program follows a normal extended family -- husbands, wives, children, grandparents, aunts, uncles. They own homes and cars. They go to work and to school. They are U.S. citizens. And they happen to be Islamic, to one degree or another. The show chronicles the prejudice, profiling, and stereotyping they cope with as they go about their lives.

They aren't white and they don't believe in Jesus. The Florida Family Association believes this "sends the wrong message". They launched a letter-writing campaign to get Lowe's to pull its ads and sponsorship from the show. And unbelievably, Lowe's caved in and complied.

Fuck Lowe's! Go to Home Depot.

God's Quarterback?

Second-year Denver Bronco quarterback Tim Tebow is famously and publicly religious. He's a devout evangelical fundamentalist. At the University of Florida, he filmed an anti-abortion TV commercial, and would adorn his eye-black strips with Biblical chapter-and-verse inscriptions. As a pro, he now favors a prayerful, kneeling pose which has become known as "Tebowing". He does not curse, smoke, drink or fuck, and is nauseatingly wholesome. The religious right adores him, and has anointed him the Figurehead of Christianity in Sports. On the other hand, retired Bronco QB Jake Plummer has said he wishes Tebow would just shut the fuck up.

On the field, Tebow has never exhibited classic quarterbacking skills, and probably never will. But he's big, strong, fast, and very athletic. And successful. At Florida, he was on two national championship teams and he won the Heisman. Denver began this season 1-4 before making Tebow their starter. Since then, Denver has gone 7-1 and now leads its division. What's remarkable is that the Bronco offense has been consistently awful during these 8 games, but 7 times, late in the game, they've managed to somehow pull out dramatic victories. For the first 50 minutes of the game, Tebow looks like shit. Then Popeye finds his spinach and for the last 10 minutes, he can do no wrong.

All this sends the Christian crowd into spasms of ecstasy. They speak of miracles and righteousness and the power of true belief. And it all makes me wanna puke! God is rigging NFL games? Puh-leeze! Their opponents have been mediocre, the Denver defense has kept the games close, and, late in those games, Tebow has been both good and very lucky.

He reminds me of old QB's like Billy Kilmer, Joe Kapp, Greg Landry, and Steve Grogan. All ran the ball frequently. They were seldom pretty but they were usually winners. Kilmer, Kapp and Grogan took their teams to Super Bowls. Tebow just might have the same stuff in him. Of course, Kilmer and Kapp were two of the drinking-est, cussing-est, rowdiest SOB's to ever play the game, so there are some differences.

This Sunday, the mighty New England Patriots come to Denver. "Tom Terrific" vs. "Holy Tim." Will God's quarterback be blessed with another miraculous victory? Or, it being the Sabbath, will the Almighty take the day off, grab a beer, and just watch the game on TV like the rest of us?

Sunday, December 11, 2011

As For Me, I'd Rather Blog

When Monty Williams, head coach of the NBA's Charlotte Hornets was asked about trade rumors involving his star player, Chris Paul, he replied:

"It's just a lot of speculation and blogging and tweeting. I'd rather tongue-kiss a maggot than tweet or blog."

Mitt's Many Moods

"A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of a small mind." -- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Old Ralph Waldo would have no worries with Mitt Romney. We all know that politicians are often pilloried for flip-flopping, and most of us understand it's often an unfair criticism. None of us, politicians included, can be unfailingly, 100% consistent in all matters, nor should we be. But Mitt's inconsistencies are not a function of natural growth, learning, or honest change of heart.

No, with Mitt it's all calculation and expediency. He will hold any opinion, based on what he believes will sound best and benefit him most at this precise moment. As a result of his constant triangulation, Mitt has changed his position on a multitude of issues, and frequently -- he contradicts himself month to month and week to week and sometimes even on the same day. It's pretty funny, if you can forget that he wants to be president.

Regarding the temporary cut in Social Security payroll tax, Mitt's been firmly on both sides of the fence. He was for it in August, against it in October, and now he's for it again.

While campaigning in Michigan, he was supportive of the federal loans to General Motors and Chrysler. Anywhere else, his soundbite was "Let Detroit go broke."

In 2007, he supported the "path to citizenship" immigration reform proposed by Ted Kennedy and John McCain. Now he says he'd deport all undocumented immigrants.

Not long ago he proposed privatizing health care for veterans. Some veterans groups complained, and today Mitt says he "made no proposal of that nature."

He has stated that he both "has" and "has never" hired an illegal alien.

In 2008, Romney said his Massachusetts health insurance plan reduced costs and increased coverage, and that a similar plan would "help the entire nation." In 2011, he said, "It would be wrong to adopt this as a nation," and "I'll repeal Obamacare."

1994 Mitt: "Roe vs. Wade has been law for 20 years. I support it and the right of women to make that choice." 2011 Mitt: "As a pro-life Republican, I'm in favor of overturning Roe vs. Wade."

Speaking in 2009 about the American Recovery Act, he said, "There's a need for economic stimulus. We've lost $11 trillion in net worth. Government can help in a very difficult time." This year, he said, "I have never supported the President's Recovery Act. No time, nowhere, no how!"

1994 Mitt: "I'm not trying to return to Reagan/Bush." 2007 Mitt: "The right way for America is to pursue the strategy Reagan pursued."

On August 8th of this year, Romney said, "I don't agree with flat taxes because they end up being huge breaks for the highest-income Americans." Later that same day -- same day! -- he said, "I love a flat tax!"

Romney on October 25, 2011: "I am not terribly familiar with the Ohio ballot initiatives. Those are up to the people of Ohio." The next day, October 26th, he said, "With regard to collective bargaining, I am 110 percent behind Gov. Kasich."

In June of this year, Mitt said, "I believe the world's getting warmer. And I believe that humans contribute to that." In October, he said, "My view is we don't know what is causing climate change."

I wonder what Emerson would have said about a foolish inconsistency!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

"Like A Blender With The Lid Off"

That's how one wag described supposed brainiac Newt Gingrich. Another said, "There are ten filing cabinets in Newt's office. Nine are labelled 'Newt's Ideas.' The other one says 'Newt's Good Ideas.'"

Suddenly and inexplicably the Republican front-runner, Newt Gingrich is an inside-the-Beltway opportunist who is chronically undisciplined and unethical. He comes with enough baggage for an army of Red Caps. Yet he is also "highly intelligent" (just ask him!) and "articulate" (meaning all sorts of strange shit may escape his lips!)

He was paid $1.6 million by Freddie Mac, but he wasn't a lobbyist. No, no, he was just a simple "historian". (Did I hear Doris Kearns Goodwin laughing her ass off?)

He has proposed zapping North Korea with lasers. ("Paging Dr. Evil.")

He has explained his extramarital affairs by saying he was "driven by how passionately I felt about this country." (Patriotic adultery?)

He denigrated Paul Ryan's Medicare-killing budget proposal, calling it "radical, right-wing social engineering." Then two days later, he did a 180 and said would indeed have voted for the Ryan plan, and that "Any ad that quotes what I said [two days ago] is a falsehood." ("Two days ago was a Sunday, and everybody knows I never tell the truth on Sundays.")

He suggested "a mirror system in space could provide the light equivalent of many full moons so that there would be no need for nighttime lighting of the highways."

He has called for "a massive new program to build a permanent lunar colony to exploit the moon's resources." (Got a moon thing, don't you, Newt?)

He said that Barack Obama "is so outside our comprehension that only if you understand Kenyan, anti-colonial behavior can begin to [understand Obama]." Newt called this a "most profound insight." (The Kenyans rebelled at being a British colony. Profound indeed. But nothing to do with Obama.)

He recently called child labor laws "truly stupid." He said, "I believe kids could mop the floor and clean up the bathroom [at their schools] and get paid for it, and it would be OK." He's in favor of employing these children "as early as is reasonable and practical," suggesting age 9 as a starting point. He went on to say, "Really poor children in really poor neighborhoods have no habits of working and nobody around them who works. So they literally have no habit of showing up on Monday. They have no habit of staying all day. They have no habit of 'I do this and you give me cash', unless it's illegal." (Wow, Newt! Just fuckin' . . . wow!)

He once described himself as an "advocate of civilization, defender of civilization, teacher of the rules of civilization, arouser of those who form civilization, organizer of pro-civilization activists, and leader, possibly, of the civilizing forces." (Just a teeny bit egotistical, are we?)

"Some people have decided it's time for Newt Gingrich." The speaker? Newt Gingrich, of course.

Rick Perry's Revised TV Ad

Rick Perry is campaigning directly to his core constituency -- idiotic Christian conservatives, a.k.a. "values voters" (if you consider intolerance, persecution, homophobia, xenophobia, jingoism, and forcing women to give birth to unwanted babies to be "values".)

In his latest TV ad, he declares himself an unabashed Christian and complains that "we allow gays to openly serve in the military, but our children can't openly celebrate Christmas or openly pray in public schools." Rick says that when he's president, he'll "put an end to Obama's war against religion, and restore our religious heritage."

When he was reminded by his handlers that not everyone is Christian and was told that this 30 second spot made him appear to be a real gay-bashing, Bible-beating, paranoid asshole, Perry replied, "Yeah? What's your point?" But he relented and agreed to shoot a revised version. Here it is:

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Email to Robbie Portman

(I doubt he'll even read it, but what the hell -- I enjoy rattling his cage!)

Senator Portman:

By all accounts, today you will stubbornly stick to your incorrect position and vote against the confirmation of Ohio Democrat Richard Cordray to lead the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Cordray is well-qualified and well-respected by everyone, even by you. But instead of confirming his appointment as you know you should, you want to turn the vote into a referendum on the agency itself. You tell us the CFPB will have too much authority and lacks “accountability” – meaning simply that you Republicans hate the very idea of the CFPB and if it can’t be made to disappear, then you’d like Congress to be able to control it, hamstring it, and de-fang it to the point of uselessness.

Rob, that’s not your job. The CFPB is a legitimate federal agency. It was designed to have a high degree of independence and authority over the financial sector for a very good reason – it was the deregulated, no-oversight environment favored by you Republicans and your patrons that created the Crash of 2008 and the Great Recession with which we still live. The CFPB will offer us some safeguards against a repeat performance. The fact that you and your backers are so vehemently opposed to the CFPB gives strong proof as to the need for its existence.

But like I said, you’re missing the point. Your task now is not to debate the need for the agency or the conditions under which it will operate. That’s already been done. The agency exists whether you like it or not. Your job is to just vote yes or no on Rich Cordray. If you understand who you’re really working for, then I don’t see how you can vote no.

We’ll be watching.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Football Fans -- Do You Know This Man?

I hope you know Matt Taibbi as one of the best, brightest, and funniest political writers around. But you probably didn't know he also writes an irregular column on pro football. In his latest, entitled "Twilight of the Running Back", he laments how the NFL's passer-friendly rule changes and 390-pound defensive linemen have reduced the role and the public recognition of today's ball carriers. Pigskin or politics, Taibbi can turn a phrase with the best of 'em. Here's an excerpt:

Back in the league's glory years, the game's biggest stars were running backs. Long before his days of stalking and double homicides, O.J. Simpson was the icon of the NFL, hurtling through cheering airport crowds with the league's most recognizable face. But today, none of the top running backs is a household name. If the Tennessee Titans' Chris Johnson ran through an airport, even a Tennessee airport, he'd be gang-tackled by vigilant Tea Partiers who wouldn't know him from the next young black dude with dreads and gold teeth. (The modern-day Chris Johnson Hertz commercial would probably end with him seizing on the gate floor after being tased, while a TSA agent looks down and barks, "Where'd you get the briefcase, son?").

Mount Rushmore Speaks

“I hold that while man exists it is his duty to improve not only his own condition, but to assist in ameliorating mankind.” -- Abraham Lincoln

“The absence of effective State, and, especially, national, restraint upon unfair money-getting has tended to create a small class of enormously wealthy and economically powerful men, whose chief object is to hold and increase their power. The prime need to is to change the conditions which enable these men to accumulate power which it is not for the general welfare that they should hold or exercise. We grudge no man a fortune which represents his own power and sagacity, when exercised with entire regard to the welfare of his fellows.” -- Theodore Roosevelt

Both Abe and Teddy were moral, righteous, incorruptible Republicans . . . a long time ago.

Fox-Wads Go All McCarthy On The Muppets

The video runs a little long, but just watch the first minute or two and you'll get the gist: Fox News Business believes the Muppets are subversive leftie radicals and the new Muppets movie intends to brainwash our nation's impressionable youth. The Muppets? Really? Just watch a bit:

Simply classic wing-nut dumbfuckery!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Cain Waxes Poetic

Surprise, surprise! Herman Cain, horn-dog serial diddler and purveyor of pizza so shitty my kid won't eat it, has officially ended ("suspended") his quest for the GOP presidential nomination. To his credit, Herman went out classy, quoting "a poet":

Life can be a challenge.
Life can seem impossible.
It's never easy when there's so much on the line.
But you and I can make a difference.

Fuckin' deep, dude. The poet? Pikachu's good buddy, Ash, from Pokemon: The Movie 2000. Herman, we had no idea you were so well-versed in lame, old Japanese animation. You crazy old bastard, we'll miss you. 9-9-9, over and out!

Lies, Damn Lies, And Political Ads -- Part IV


These aren't campaign ads per se, but they're thoroughly political spin jobs, and too numerous to keep track of. It's a public relations full-court press from the oil, gas, and coal industries.

Exxon Mobil, Conoco Phillips, BP, Shell. The American Petroleum Institute. The Ohio Oil and Gas Association. The American Coalition for Clean Coal Energy. America's Natural Gas Alliance. So many others of their ilk. And they are all spending large -- Large! -- to convince us that they are simply wonderful!

With minor variations, the common themes of this PR blitzkrieg are:

We are safe, safe, ever so safe! No spills, no leaks, no nuthin'! (BP Deepwater Horizon? Massey Energy's Upper Big Branch Mine? And that "fracking fluid" -- thousands of undisclosed toxic chemicals buried in the ground?)

We are clean, clean, squeaky clean! No pollution goin' on here! No sir! (Clean coal? Oxymoron!)

Horrible regulations are killing our margins, and we always pass these costs straight on to you (plus a little extra, just for fun). So if you want lower energy costs, please make the EPA go away. (And get yourself a gas mask.)

If you let us have our way, more people will have jobs sucking every last bit of carbon-based fuel out of Mother Earth (using ever more risky methods). And everybody knows we need more jobs. You want your kid to have job, don't you?

You should vote for Republicans, because we've paid them off and they've promised to do whatever we want. ("Call Robbie Portman and thank him for standing up against job-killing energy taxes. Then call Sherrod Brown and tell him he's a fuckin' Communist.")

OK, OK, I totally understand that we're not gonna wean ourselves off fossil fuels next week. I have a big car that sucks the gasoline, a natural gas furnace, and AEP burns mountains of coal so I can send you this crap I typed on my computer while the lights are on. None of this will go away anytime soon. Not in my lifetime. But it will, inevitably, sooner or later, and sooner will be better than later.

We must quit fucking around and move decisively in the direction of cleaner, more sustainable energy. We need a new and different model, which will take time, but we gotta pull the trigger and make some sort of big move. The only thing holding us back is our collective, spineless lack of will. And our fear of paying more, but pay we must, I believe.

So, yeah, we'll keep doing things as we have been in the short run, but we must take a clear, hard look at the ongoing oil/gas/coal PR campaign, and compare it with what our world needs for the long run. Like people, businesses have a natural life cycle -- birth, growth, maturity, decline. The fossil fuel industry is in decline, and it's OK, it's natural, but they're spending shitloads to persuade us they're actually still growing. And if we look the other way, we just might believe it.

Don't. Businesses in decline typically resort to ever more ethically ambiguous, risky, dangerous behaviors to maintain their market position and some return for their investors. When you feel you must drill for oil further out to sea or deeper into wildlife refuges and national forests; when you need to actively flaunt safety regulations in order to more profitably run your coal mine; when inefficiently cooking tar sands to extract oil which will be pumped across two countries in a giant 1700 mile pipeline seems like a good idea; when you inject god-knows-what-all sorts of shit into the bedrock trying to get gas from shale or blood from turnips; when environmental laws are your enemy; when all this occurs, you are desperate, venal and grasping at straws.

The last thing we should do is suspend rules, regulations and common sense so oil/gas/coal can squeeze out some additional bucks. They make plenty of bucks with things the way they are. More "help" is not required, and not desired.

Oil/gas/coal can play out the string, but they must do it responsibly. And we must make some hard decisions and figure out what comes next. Probably not for us, but for future generations.

Kasich's Idea Of Boosting Ohio's Economy

Employing all the business acumen he picked up while working at Lehman Brothers, John-Boy the Wonder Guv has proudly announced his latest bright idea: He'd like to throw $400 million in tax abatements at Sears to get them to locate some operations here in Ohio.

Sears? Really? Who goes to Sears anymore? Who ever did? (In the words of Frank Zappa, "Is that a real poncho or a Sears poncho?") Right now, without Google Maps, I couldn't find a Sears store if you paid me. Great idea to spend our money on them!

Kasich swears it's not corporate welfare, but a brilliant masterstroke that will reinvigorate the state. He says the deal passes his special secret return-on-investment test. He also says he'll soon be dangling similar "Come To Ohio" tax deals to a major incandescent light bulb manufacturer, the apparel company that produces uniforms for the U.S. Postal Service, and Tata Industries, the Indian automaker of a $2000 cardboard car.

Lies, Damn Lies, And Political Ads -- Part III


It's never been easier to twist, distort, cut, paste, colorize, misrepresent, manipulate and spin. Once, this was known as lying. Today, it's the way the Dark Side plays the game: SOP for the GOP.

Rick Perry runs an ad in which Obama says "America has gotten a bit lazy." But Obama isn't talking about you and me, he's talking about American business not strongly promoting its global trade capabilities.

Mitt Romney airs a spot with Obama talking about the need to avoid discussing the economy during the campaign. Except Obama is quoting John McCain from 2008.

Neither Perry nor Romney sees anything wrong with this. They have not apologized and they haven't pulled their ads. And they won't.

And below we have a doozy from Karl Rove, the king of sleazy misinformation. His Crossroads GPS.org has been carpet-bombing me for weeks with this piece of shit:

Once you get past Clinton-out-of-context, the fake news anchor, and the amateurish editing which makes Obama repeatedly say, "taxes", what the Rovians would have us believe is that the President's proposed American Jobs Act is "a political stunt -- a $447 billion bill full of tax increases." That's some stunt! And some lie!

In truth, it would be a package of tax cuts ($240 billion from continuing the 2 point cut in Social Security payroll tax) and $207 billion in federal spending, most of it on infrastructure improvements. Almost all of the bill ($400 billion) would be funded by new limits on itemized deductions for high-income earners ($250 K+ per year). The rest is funded by reducing subsidies and deductions for oil and gas companies, hedge funds, and corporate jets.

Only in the GOP's official Grover Norquist one-page dictionary is any of this defined as a tax "increase".