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

Monday, January 30, 2012

Doing Your Duty

Most of us have done it several times, at least as a marital duty. Some of us do it regularly. Once in a while, it's very good. Sometimes it's awful. Usually, it's just sort of meh. Alcohol always helps.

I refer, of course, to the company party. (What did you think I was talking about?) We've all had our share of these more-or-less obligatory events. Every now and then, it can fun, but most often it's about endurance.

Saturday night, Buster escorted the lovely Mrs. Gammons to her employer's "Winter Party". That's what it said on the PowerPoint slide, and it was a semi-factual statement. Calendar-wise, it was winter.

The dear wife works for a credit union group, and let me tell you, those credit union employees really know how to raise the roof and pump up the volume! Not. In essence, it was a cattle-call -- a mass feeding on the company dime.

The chosen venue was Dave & Buster's (no relation). It was my first time at the establishment. Now I know why I stayed away so long -- it's a big-ass "kid-friendly" arcade. Dave & Buster's has the same ambience and clientele as your average Chuck E. Cheese. Excellent if you're eight years old. Not so hot for two hundred middle-age adults. It's a nice company gesture, but I'm just sayin' . . .

The food was inedible. Two buffet lines of giant chafing dishes filled with once-hot-but-now-cold delicacies like shrivelled, droopy french fries and small mystery-meat slider sandwiches. The only condiments were ranch dressing and taco sauce. They also served us lots of shit-on-a-stick -- chicken, shrimp, or steak (and I use the terms loosely.) I opted for the steak-like substance, pronounced it a "meat-sicle", and took a bite. One bite was enough.

On the plus side, cold beer was available and, as previously noted, it helped.

After this sumptuous repast, there were a few company recognition awards, a couple of prize drawings, and a blessedly brief speech from the CEO. And that was it. We had done our duty. We endured. We went home.

With Friends Like These . . .

The Newt Who Would Be King is gettin' by with a little help from his friends.

Pokemon-quoting Herman Cain had previously said that he would not endorse any Republican presidential candidate but would instead make the "unconventional" move of endorsing "the people". (All of us?) But last week Cain changed course and endorsed Newt Gingrich. So I guess this means that Gingrich is the people. We are he and he is we? (We're all a bit like Newt, and there's a little bit of Newt in everyone -- especially some of you women, if you know what I mean.)

Also last week the High Priestess of WTF, Sarah Palin, said she'd hate to see a Romney landslide in the Florida primary (the Glove being not nearly nutty enough for her tastes). Sister Sarah wants the GOP primaries to drag on and on in the hope that a "true conservative" might topple the mighty Mitt. Her suggestion to the Florida GOP: "Annoy a liberal, vote Newt."

And there you have it -- two of the right wing's leading lights come out in favor of Gingrich. Having their endorsement really means a lot, you know, because Cain and Palin are super-influential, both of them having recently sought national office. I wonder why neither of them is on the ballot right now? Oh yeah, now I remember -- they're fucking crazy!!

(Side note to Sister Sarah and her wing-nut legions -- a vote for Newt is not annoying, it's deliciously self-defeating. So yes, please, tie yourself to the Tea Bag anchor and jump overboard. Vote Newt!)

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Tarnished Idea of "Leave It To The Markets" Capitalism

(Excerpted in Time Magazine from Power Inc.: The Epic Rivalry Between Big Business and Government, and the Reckoning That Lies Ahead, by David Rothkopf.)

"We have also lost sight of the philosophical ideas that historically gave national governments their authority. The current argument that larger government impinges on rather than protects or advances individual liberties is a far cry from the ideas that fueled England's Glorious Revolution and the American Revolution. It ignores the fact that the void created by smaller government is often not filled by liberty. When matters like the global environment or regulation of derivatives trading are left entirely to market forces, for instance, outcomes tend to serve the most powerful, because markets neither have a conscience nor do they ensure opportunity. Rather, they seek efficiency, and efficiency loves scale, and enterprises that grow to scale become elephants stamping out opportunities around them."

From Today's Headlines . . . ?

There is a loosely-defined but popular group in our country. They talk a lot about patriotism and "taking our country back", but mostly they deal in hate speech, bigotry, intolerance and, sometimes, violence. They have a special antipathy for black people, foreigners, Jews and Catholics.

Somewhere in middle America there is an ambitious man who heads up this nasty outfit in his state. His bright idea is to re-package and re-position this organization as a religious and political advocate for conservative Christian Republicans. Naturally, he himself will lead the effort.

He is successful beyond his wildest dreams. Almost half a million citizens of his state -- one third of the white males -- join his family values group. He gets most of the Republican politicians in his state to sign a pledge -- his group will support them if they, in turn, will support his group.

His organization and the pledge-signing Republicans enjoy near-absolute control of that state's politics for years. Though he never runs for office, he boasts, "In my state, I am the law."

Sound familiar? Remind you of present-day people and situations?

It should, but it isn't current events. The man described is one D.C. Stephenson. The state was Indiana. The era was the early 1920's. The organization was the Ku Klux Klan, and Stephenson was the KKK's Grand Dragon.

Food for thought, isn't it? The more things change . . .

By the way, Stephenson was convicted of murder and spent much of his adult life in prison.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Tim Thomas, Douchebag Deluxe

Do you recognize the guy pictured here? Unless you're a real hockey nut, you probably don't. It's Tim Thomas, goalie for the Boston Bruins. The Bruins won the Stanley Cup and like all championship teams, they get an invitation to come to the White House. This is a decades-old tradition, and a pretty nice one. You go to D.C. and have a photo-op meet-and-greet with the President. You give him a jersey, shake his hand, have a special memory to last you the rest of your life, and some pretty cool pix to pass on to the kids.

Yesterday was the Bruins turn to visit the White House and they all showed up except one -- Tim Thomas. Seems that Mr. Thomas is a far-right conservative who boycotted the event in protest. Protest of what, I don't know (probably in protest of a black man as president), but here is part of his statement:

"The federal government has grown out of control, threatening the Rights, Liberties, and Property of the People. This is in direct opposition to the Constitution and the Founding Fathers vision." (His caps, not mine.)

That's just friggin' fantastic, Puck-face! Way to take a nice team moment and make it all about you and your stupid non-team, non-sports personal beliefs.

What's in a name? Suddenly, I'm suspicious of athletes named Tim. We have the faith-healing minister under center in Denver, and the Tea Party wingnut in the net in Boston. I hope I get over my Tim-phobia soon.

Gotta Cover My Ass

DISCLAIMER: This article, including any and all images, is for the sole use of the author and may contain confidential and/or over-privileged information, pertaining to writing/reporting conducted under the supervision and influence of the author and/or Boodle’s British Gin, is the property of the author and his late mother, and is otherwise protected from disclosure. This article does not represent in any way the policies, positions or opinions of blogger.com, myself, my homeowners association, my wife, my sister, my friends, my neighbors, my lawyer or my dog. Don’t quote me on that. Don’t quote me on anything. Ever. For external use only. For a limited time only. Unauthorized review, tweeting, blogging, re-blogging, tumblring, liking, redistributing, of any such information contained within this article and/or its image(s) for profit and without written permission is strictly prohibited. Violators will be executed. This article is void where prohibited. Sentences are limited while words last. Author is not liable for damages arising from use or misuse. I claim no responsibility if sniffling, sneezing, coughing, aching, stuffy head, fever, excessive nose hair, crying spells, slurred speech, or the condition known as hotdog fingers develops. If this story begins to smoke, step away immediately. That is not normal. You are on fire. Read only with proper ventilation. Do not operate a motor vehicle or heavy machinery after reading. Avoid extreme temperatures and store in a cool, dry place. Text may contain explicit materials some readers may find objectionable. Keep away from pets and small children. Are you really still reading this? Thanks, dear. I love you. All rights reserved. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is unintentional and purely coincidental. Please read at your own risk. Do not bend, fold, spindle or mutilate. Text is provided as-is without any warranties. Reader assumes full responsibility. This is an equal opportunity story. Avoid contact with eyes and skin, and avoid inhaling fumes. Safety goggles may be required during use. Smoking this story could be hazardous to your health. This story is gluten-free. If ingested and the aroma of burnt cheese results, consult a physician. If you are still reading this story after four hours, consult a physician immediately. Contents may settle during shipment. Use only as directed. Freshest if read before expiration date. Contains a substantial amount of non-active ingredients. No animals were harmed during the making of this article. Except one and that was a terrible tragedy. R.I.P., Mr. Pickles. Colors may fade in time. All rights still reserved. Other restrictions may apply. Do not remove this disclaimer under penalty of law. Terms and conditions are subject to change without notice.

(More or less stolen from Jennifer Daniel, NY Times, 1/22/12)

Monday, January 23, 2012

That Boston Sense Of Humor

The highlight of yesterday's AFC Championship game between the Patriots and the Ravens was the pre-game singing of The Star Spangled Banner by none other than Boston native Steven Tyler. An interesting choice. Tyler was in his finest painted nails, feather boa, raspy shrieking Aerosmith form. It had a certain Roseanne quality to it, minus the crotch-grab and the spitting.

Can the NFL top this for the Super Bowl? Let's try. Who could they get to sing the national anthem that would make an even more bizarre pick?

Newt Elected President Of South Carolina

With an improbable come-from-behind rally, Newt Gingrich won Saturday's election in South Carolina. In his victory speech, Newt said that Rick Perry was right, that South Carolina was indeed at war against the federal government, and that he, Newt, saw it as his patriotic duty to lead the Palmetto State as it again seceded from the Union.

Gingrich said that, based on the election results, he was proclaiming himself President of the True Conservative Republic of South Carolina. In his first official act, he appointed Rick Perry as a four-star general and leader of the Army, Navy, and Air Forces of South Carolina. Newt said that Perry had already established his command center at Fort Sumter. Next, Gingrich announced that all Hispanics in the break-away state must leave immediately or face forced deportation. He said that all black citizens must carry a birth certificate, a driver's license, and a college degree with them at all times, or face similar consequences. He also said that in keeping with his "Paychecks, Not Food Stamps" campaign rhetoric, black South Carolinians would be entitled to five minutes of unemployment compensation, after which they must immediately begin washing cars at minimum wage.

He ended by announcing that his Vice President would be South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley. Gingrich remarked that he and Haley would promptly commence a sexual relationship because he and current wife Callista had always wanted an open marriage. "Callista doesn't care," said Gingrich, "and besides, she's an android. I mean, just look at her."

Friday, January 20, 2012

Cojones? Hell, Yes! And He Can Sing Too.

This is good! At a fundraiser at Harlem's Apollo Theater, President Barack Obama shared a little classic 70's soul, a capella style:

Pretty nice pipes, Cuz! Rock on.

Driver's Ed, Remedial Course

[Pictured at left is what did not happen.]

An amazing and true personal story:

Yesterday, my wife's car was in the shop overnight. She had some calls to make, so she drove her old car, a.k.a. our son's car. Coming home, it began to snow and she decided to park the old ride in our garage to keep it semi-clean. (Normally this car sits out, and her regular car goes in the garage.)

She pulled into our driveway and pressed the garage door opener button in the car. Nothing happened. The opener's battery was dead. On that side of our two-door garage, we don't have an exterior keypad. So, with the engine running, she got out of the car, came in the house, opened the inside door to the garage and pressed the opener button on the garage wall.

As the garage door began to rise, she noticed, to her horror, that the car was slowly moving into the garage -- all by itself! When she got out of the car, she didn't put it in park! And the driver's door was open, soon to hit the center post!!

There was no time to safely re-enter the moving car, but she managed to quickly close the car door. And then, there was nothing to do but stand back and watch the inevitable impending wreckage.

Except there was no wreck. Somehow, the damn thing rolled straight into the garage at idle speed without touching anything on either side, and stopped when the front bumper made contact with the back wall of the garage. There was absolutely no damage to vehicle or building. None. Which is the amazing thing -- I doubt you could duplicate it in a hundred tries. It's best not to try.

Remedial Driver's Ed: When you get out of the car, remember -- P is for park. Use it!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

What $6 Million Will Buy

What it will buy is a heavy rotation anti-Obama attack ad, accusing him of unethical behavior in the Solyndra affair (or, if you're a Tea-Bagger, the Solyndra "scandal"). You've probably seen the ad.

Begun in 2005, Solyndra made commercial solar panels. In 2007 it applied for a Dept. of Energy loan, available to certain qualifying companies. In 2009 the new Obama administration, anxious to spotlight a model of government investment in green technology, gave Solyndra a $535 million construction loan, even though some in the DOE cautioned against it. The company built its plant, but by August 2011, Solyndra went bankrupt, shut down, and laid off its workers. Soon after, the FBI released some company emails where officials essentially acknowledge that their business has failed, and they are just rearranging the Titanic's deck chairs.

The supposed ethics issue is that Solyndra's largest shareholder is George Kaiser, of the Kaiser Family Foundation. He was also a big contributor to Obama's 2008 campaign. Did Kaiser's donation grease the skids for obtaining the DOE loan? Maybe. But Solyndra's second-largest shareholder is the Walton Family Trust, who are major contributors to Republican candidates and causes. The company's big backers were spreading their wealth around evenly.

Bottom line: Hold on to your socks, people, because -- OMG! -- politics played a role in the decision to lend money to Solyndra. Big surprise, huh? Government investment in certain industries is long-standing practice, and not a bad one. In the case of Solyndra, they bet on the wrong horse. It's happened before. We'll get some of our money back in the liquidation process.

And the best the Rightards can come up with is their impersonation of Police Captain Louis Renault in Casablanca: They are shocked -- shocked! -- to find this sort of thing happening in Washington D.C.!

The ad closes with a moralistic harrumph: "President Obama -- American workers aren't pawns in your political games." And then we can read, quickly, that this one-minute manipulation was brought to us by Americans For Prosperity, the Koch brothers front group. The Koch brothers are multi-billionaire oil magnates and financial supporters of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and Ohio Gov. John Kasich.

What bullshit then for AFP to profess concern about "workers". AFP is, in fact, strongly opposed to labor unions, workers rights, environmental protections, cap and trade legislation, healthcare reform, stimulus spending, and Democrats in general.

Their attack ad boils down to selfish pissing and moaning because the government invested in somebody else's energy industry, not theirs. Waaah!

Who has the ethical problem?

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

What Would Warren Do?

(From the January 23, 2012 issue of Time magazine.)

The words and wisdom of Warren Buffett:

"The idea that American business is at a big disadvantage against the rest of the world because of high corporate taxes is baloney."

Buffett would like to see people who earn their money from investing pay more than those who earn it through labor.

Allowing companies to repatriate profits tax-free from overseas creates moral hazard.

The idea that you can hold a stock for 10 seconds and have 60% of your gains taxed as "long term" is nuts, according to Buffett.

They should forfeit five years' pay if their firms have to be bailed out; CEOs and their spouses should be on the hook for their personal net worth.

He says (only half-jokingly) if there were fewer of them, more rich rich families would invest in public K-12 education.

It's "a tapeworm in America", one that cuts competitiveness far more than taxes do.

Mr. Buffett, you sir, are a righteous dude!

Obama's Cojones -- Part II

My cousin Barry's pair grows larger!

Today, President Obama said no to the Keystone XL project, a Rube Goldberg concept straight from the energy industry fantasy wish-list -- a tar sands mine/processing facility in Alberta, Canada with a 1700-mile intercontinental above-ground pipeline bisecting the Ogalalla Aquifer and terminating in two refineries in Texas.

Good job, Cousin Barry! Keystone is the usual conservative hostage-taking hogwash, and we cannot succumb to this sort of "jobs at any cost" blackmail. If that's the only thing that counts, why don't we all rob banks for a living?

The petrochemical industry is in decline, and is thrashing about wildly in its death throes. It's the past, not the future. Better we should invest in emerging energy technologies than this old smokestack shit. There may yet be some net benefit in tar sands, fracking, and drilling in the Arctic, but we must slow down, study it carefully with with our best science, and ignore the industry propaganda until we know more. (The American Petroleum Institute swears it's all "safe and responsible", and if we do everything their way it means "one million new jobs." A million? Methinks they doth hyperbolize a touch-eth.)

There will be hell to pay for Obama, starting now. This will be a prime-time battle until November. The GOP will turn this into a contrived "Sophie's Choice": Jobs or tree-hugging -- either/or, no in between. Already, we have Romney: "Obama is just pandering to his political base." (Maybe. You're not?) And Boehner: "The president has chosen the environment over the economy." (That's not the true choice, but if it was, what's the point of an economy if we're all poisoned?) And Gingrich: "It's stupid." (No, you are! And I said it first, so there!)

Do you really trust oil/gas/coal companies to have your best interests in mind? Has industry ever really self-regulated in any meaningful way? Just one illustration: Cleveland, 1969, the Cuyahoga River in flames.

Did the river catch on fire because of big government and too damn many safety regulations? Did it ignite because of the EPA and the Clean Air Act?

Quite the opposite. This whole Keystone thing will be a bitch, but I believe Obama occupies the high ground and can make it work to his advantage.

Obama's First 2012 Campaign Ad

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

RuPaul, Ron Paul -- Know The Difference

Hey, boys and girls! Try this quick and fun pop culture quiz! Identify the two people pictured here. Take your time and look closely before you answer.

A. Wig-wearing apolitical black drag queen with absolutely fabulous make-up.
WRITE YOUR ANSWER HERE_____________________

B. Wigged-out old white semi-racist libertarian who thinks he should be president. Not making this up.
WRITE YOUR ANSWER HERE____________________

Oh, boys and girls, you are too clever for Buster! You're right, it's A. RuPaul and B. Ron Paul. You're so smrt!

Euro-Phobia? Oui!

Here in the good ol' USA, the bottom line of our so-called American "heritage" is that we're all immigrants -- almost all of us are descended from non-native Americans, with the vast majority having European background.

Nevertheless, trashing Europe is the latest thing in GOP presidential politics. According to the campaigning R's, all of Europe is amoral, lazy, bankrupt, Marxist, and an abject failure. Anything European is to be avoided and feared.

Mitt Romney sounds the alarm: "President Obama wants us to turn into a European-style welfare state. This would poison the very spirit of America."

Rick Santorum says, "Obama is trying to impose some sort of European Socialism on the United States."

Newt Gingrich has an anti-Romney attack ad which shows a snippet of Romney speaking a bit of French. The apocalyptic voice-over tells us, "Just like John Kerry, he speaks French!"

Mon Dieu! C'est horrible, oui?

Non! How about we permanently deport these Rightards to Switzerland? Newt would look cute in lederhosen.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Today's NFL Is A Passing League

This is not your grandfather's NFL -- today, quarterbacks rule. From yesterday's playoff games, a few numbers for your consideration:

Drew Brees, 40 of 63, 462 yards, 4 TD's.
Alex Smith, 24 0f 42, 299 yards, 3 TD's.
Tom Brady, 26 of 34, 363 yards, 6 TD's.
Tim Tebow, 9 of 26, 136 yards, 0 TD's.

(Just one last little poke to conclude my season of Tebow-bashing!)

Unintentional Humorists At The Dispatch

(My email to Darrell Rowland and Jack Torry, Columbus Dispatch reporters who wrote a January 15th article about how primary candidates pander to their political bases.)


FROM: Bustergammons.blogspot.com
TO: drowland@dispatch.com, jtorry@dispatch.com
RE: "Primary Extremism Can Sting Later" article


Had to chuckle at one sentence in your piece today where you mention a certain Republican spin/position and write that it "has drawn support from sources as varied as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Rush Limbaugh."

Varied? That's a good one! The Chamber and Limbaugh are about as far from "varied" as you can get. They are peas in the hard-right pod.

Keep up your good work in political satire.

Friday, January 13, 2012

The Implied Warranty Of Sports

In our world, lots of things come with implied warranties of intended use and purpose, which are essentially simple, common-sense expectations of consumer products and services, e.g. a hair dryer will dry hair, a lawn mower will cut grass, etc.

You could apply the same concept to the field of entertainment. As consumers, we have a reasonable expectation that a dancer will dance, a guitarist will play guitar, and basketball player will play some hoops.

An article in today's Dispatch discussed the polarizing effect of Tim Tebow and his very public displays of religious "faith". A sportswriter who knows Tebow said this:

"He uses this stage to espouse his faith in the hopes he can impact others. This is his ministry."

His ministry? This pisses me off and always has. This is where Timmy voids the implied warranty of being an NFL football player. When he and other Christian soldiers like him morph into "ministers", it's a hijacking of our intended use and purpose. When I tune into the NFL, whether it's pre-game, post-game, or mid-game, I expect football. I do not expect or want a seminar on real estate, a time-share tour, or a prayer meeting.

Buster would venture to say that the single most famous, most influential American athlete of all time is Babe Ruth. Still to this day, just about everybody knows a little something about the Bambino -- baseball player, New York Yankee, big home-run hitter, beer drinker, hotdog eater, etc. Was Babe Ruth a man of "faith"? Was he religious? We don't know, and he didn't say. And that's the way it should be. Tebow could take a lesson

Romney To America: "You're Just Jealous. Now Go To Your Room And Be Quiet!"

Mitt Romney says that President Obama uses "the politics of envy" and is "encouraging the idea of dividing America based on the 99% versus the 1%, and those people who have been most successful will be in the one percent. It's fine to talk about those things in quiet rooms. But the president has made it part of his campaign. Everywhere he goes we hear him talking about millionaires and billionaires and executives and Wall Street. It's a very envy-oriented, attack-oriented approach."

It's not envy. What you have, Mitt, I do not want. And I'm not a dreamy idealist -- I don't expect a world with perfect equality. But I don't see how it's divisive to want an economy, a society, that works a little better for the masses, not just the super-wealthy few.

Apparently, this thought offends the billionaires. I'm sorry. I'll go to my quiet room and shut up.

Mitt's Business Background

For years, Mitt Romney ran Bain Capital, one of the largest private equity companies in the world. The Glove says this makes him a successful "businessman", and we need a businessman in the White House to improve the economy, reduce unemployment, and make everything hunky-dory.

Maybe he's right. As President, we've had generals, farmers, engineers, academics, actors, and a lot of lawyers. I'm not sure, but I don't know that we've ever had a businessman. We probably have, I just don't know who.

Certainly, there's nothing at all wrong with a background in business, but neither is it a guarantee of a great president. As always, it's best to examine the person and the track record, case by case.

So, what exactly is a "private equity firm"? A private equity firm provides working capital to a target company, in exchange for management fees and portions of future income/profits. The bottom-line purpose is to reposition the target company in such a way as to turn a profit for the equity company and its investors, not the target company. The target company is merely a vehicle, a means to an end. The equity firm has identified the target as an "opportunity". Maybe that means the equity firm helps the target expand or develop new products. Maybe it means restructuring, outsourcing, layoffs and closures. Either way, the equity firm comes out OK, and the success or failure of the target company is completely beside the point. Win some, lose some. Nothing personal, just business. Next!

Private equity firms sometimes go by other names, like venture capitalist, vulture capitalist, and corporate raider.

We all have to earn a living one way or another, and a lot of us are in business. But Mitt and the Bain Capital "businessmen" operated in some rarefied air, making money with other people's businesses and, sometimes, from other people's misfortunes. This approach has a lot more in common with Wall Street's mortgage-backed CDO shenanigans than it does with the average American business person simply trying to offer a product or service to meet a need.

Do we really need a Romney-style businessman as President? None of us would want to see, say, Lloyd Blankfein in the White House. Is The Glove that much different?

Thursday, January 12, 2012

She Was Carded At The IHOP

Earlier today, the lovely Mrs. Gammons was out and about making business calls and stopped for lunch at a local International House of Pancakes. (International? Is there really an IHOP in Paris? Bangkok?) Feeling herself to be both cheap and only semi-hungry, she ordered a less-expensive and smaller omelet from the Senior's Menu (age 55 and up).

In a pleasant little surprise, the waitress did not believe that the astonishingly youthful Missus in fact qualified for the skin-flint chiseler Senior discount omelet. The Missus offered to produce her newly-issued pink-background Ohio drivers license. (I thought He-Man Kasich was gonna get rid of those sissy things.) The skeptical waitress suggested that she do just that. So she did.

And that's how you get carded at the IHOP. "Don't you dare order from our blue-hair cheapskate old fart menu unless you can prove you're a genuine cheapskate old fart!"

When I was 19 we still had paper drivers licenses with no photo. I managed to procure a blank one and instantly turned 21. Beers are on me!

These days, the IHOP waitresses are worried you might use a fake ID to turn younger and score yourself some senior-priced pancakes!

Mystery Solved -- No Hackers, Just Pilot Error

Whenever I add some new posts, I usually send an email to those on the Buster's Blog list, and include in it a link to the site. But the link in my last email was a little different. When you clicked it, you were redirected to "The Mega-Site For Biblical Studies". Seriously. And given the nature of this blog, sending would-be readers to a religious website is both cute and ironic.

At first, I thought I'd somehow been hacked by God-Squaders with a sense of humor, or maybe by disciples of St. Timothy the Virgin. Nope. I hacked myself with my own fat fingers. The correct link is to "blogspot.com". Evidently, I managed to drop the "s" and so had it as "blogpot". And just like that, you're off to the Biblical Mega-Site.

Strange, huh? Blogpot. Do Christian fundamentalists have something against the letter S? Wait, I think I hear the Church Lady:

"Whose name begins with a big letter S? Could it be . . . Satan??

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Bill Moyers Nails It

On last night's Colbert Report, Bill Moyers had a great line. He said:

"I'll believe that corporations are people when Texas executes one."

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Ohio HB 194: "Heartbeat" Again?

Ohio House Bill 194 is the "Heartbeat Bill", sponsored by Rep. Lynn Wachtmann (male, R, Napoleon). Like so much GOP legislation, it would provide an ideological "fix" to a non-existant problem. HB 194 would prohibit abortion if a fetal heartbeat is detected. Such a stipulation would effectively ban all abortions and give Ohio the most restrictive anti-abortion law in America. It passed the Ohio House last summer, but was never taken up in the state Senate. (Cooler heads, maybe?)

But now the bill's supporters are again pushing hard for hearings and a Senate vote. If passed by the Senate and signed by Kay-suck, it would almost surely be struck down on constitutional grounds, given that Roe v. Wade is still the law of the land. But with or without Roe, the Heartbeat Bill is an extremist piece of crap that would make a purely awful law.

(It should be noted that since the topic is abortion, and I am of the male gender, my opinions are strictly that of a second-class citizen. Nevertheless, here goes.)

No one is literally "pro"-abortion. No one is "for" it, nobody promotes it, and women do not use it as after-the-fact contraception. It has nothing to do with morality. But history teaches that abortion has always occured and will always occur, at least to some small degree. Attempts to legislate it out of existence are cruel, dangerous, expensive, and ultimately futile. Whatever the circumstances, a strongly motivated woman will not be deterred by some stupid law. The law may force her to another city, state, or country. Her procedure may be legal or illegal, done by a doctor or not. She may willingly accept risks to her health or to her life. She may even take her own life. But any attempt to legally force a woman to give birth to a baby she really, truly does not want is sheer folly. And if she does in fact give birth, it's an unwanted child. Not good. It's true enough -- it's her body, her choice. So we simply must keep abortion as a safe and legal option. We must.

Specifically regarding HB 194, I must take exception to the proposition that human life begins at the instant of conception. It does not. Nor does it begin at the first (amplified) audible heartbeat. Those conditions do not represent actual life, but potential life. They are not sustainable, at that point, outside the womb.

Let's say you go into your kitchen, get all the necessary ingredients to make a cake, mix 'em all up and pour it into cake pan. That's the moment of cake conception, but is it an actual cake? No, it's just a puddle of wet flour -- a potential cake. Only when you put it in the oven and bake it at the proper temperature for the proper duration will you produce a real cake.

At the earliest stages of gestation, we're protoplasm, not teddy bears.

Big picture, contemplating an abortion is the most personal, private decision imaginable. It should be, and it's sure as hell none of Lynn Fucking Wachtmann's business. Some folks see it one way, some the other, and both will act accordingly. It's OK. We have room for both.

Can We Get A Fracking Moratorium, Please?

How in the hell did hydraulic fracturing ever come to be regarded as sensible? Other than oil and gas companies, who ever said fracking was a good idea?

Consider the process. A mixture of sand, water and god-knows-how-many toxic chemicals is injected under pressure into the bedrock, making the rock fracture and give up any trapped oil/gas. (And if there isn't any oil/gas, oh well, next hole!) Afterward, the injection fluid (known by the industry euphemism "brine") is pumped out and "safely" stored in underground tanks, or pumped miles down into the earth and stored in the "porous rock" at a different site. Forever. (Porous rock?) In the case of Pennsylvania, they send some of their chemical soup over to us here in Ohio. Goody!

Consider the results. Yes, oil and gas are often recovered, which makes money for the oil companies, which is their purpose. But it doesn't do much for you and me. The fracking techniques fuck with Mother Nature in a big way. The bedrock is broken and unstable, and it will not mend. Northeast Ohio recently endured eleven earthquakes. In Ohio. (This area is not exactly "The Ring Of Fire" -- the quakes were fracking-related.) The brine cannot be stored safely. Tanks break and leak. The fluid leaches into the water table, into streams and rivers, and into the supply of public water. Fish, livestock and crops die. Tap water is stinky, undrinkable and, in some cases, flammable.

All of this seems, oh, I don't know -- crazy!! If this is the price we pay to add a relatively few jobs, then the price is too high. If this is what we must do to temporarily save a nickel at the gas pump, then let's stop doing it, and let's stop it now! Let's hit "pause", at least until we know much more about the long-term impact of fracking.

GOP Primaries

The early primaries don't mean much, but it's still good sport to watch all the Republican candidates cannibalize themselves. Pawlenty, Cain and Bachmann have already been devoured. Maybe they'll gobble up one or two more tonight in New Hampshire.

Let's go all snarky on those who remain:

Mitt Romney -- The Glove is stiff, awkward and plastic. (Try to imagine him telling a joke.) He's tone-deaf. ("I love being able to fire people." A little out of context, I know. So, how about "Corporations are people too.") He's a bad BS'er. ("There were times when I was worried about getting the pink slip." Sure you were, Mitt.) The Glove is just another rich kid trying to buy the Presidency. He's also the probable nominee.

Newt Gingrich -- Just too much nutty Newtiness. He can't help it -- it's his nature.

Rick Santorum -- He's at his best when it comes to ultra-religious social conservative dumbfuckery. Rick spends way too much time worried about sex: Who's doing it? How are they doing it? Is it opposite sex or same sex? How many are involved? Any farm animals? Are the farm animals married?

Ron Paul -- His limited-military, anti-war positions are OK. But the rest of it? No way. Libertarianism can seem good in principle, but as public policy it would be awful in practice.

Rick Perry -- Get real. We already had one Texas dumbass, and it was quite enough, thank you very much.

Jon Huntsman -- A semi-reasonable Mormon who was in the Obama administration as Ambassador to China. No wonder he often sounds like a Democrat. He's probably the best of the bunch, with probably very little chance.

Obama Does Too Have Cojones!

Proving that he does in fact possess a set of at least medium ones, President Obama appointed Richard Cordray as Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. It was a so-called "recess appointment" --the president has the authority to make certain appointments while the Senate is not in session, and such appointments are not subject to an immediate confirmation process. The appointed individual takes office immediately, and Cordray did.

Many Senate Republicans howled in protest: "We were in session! We were not adjourned!" They were referring to a bit of procedural baloney know as the "pro-forma session", where everyone has left town except for one flunky Senator who shows up every day to gavel an empty chamber into open session . . . of nothing-ness. "We're in session, but nobody's here. Hah!"

Both sides have pulled this pro-forma trick, but it's utter horseshit, and it really needs to stop. The Cordray appointment may be the thing that finally stops it. The R's scream "Unconstitutional!" and threaten to sue. Frankly, Obama would welcome such a fight.

The GOP is rigidly opposed to the CFPB itself, and had promised to prevent the confirmation of any director until the agency was changed and weakened to their liking. So then, what's a president supposed to do? Faced with such intransigent obstructionism, Obama did what he had to do, the only thing he could do. And he did the right thing.

Here's what's kind of bizarre about the R's position on this: Everyone agrees that the Crash of 2008 and subsequent Great Recession was the result of the Republicans' pet policies of deregulation and laissez faire oversight. But instead of humbly acquiescing to the rather modest watchdog powers of the CPFB, they go all in for even less oversight. Incredible! According to them, the best way to prevent a recurrence of greedy, stupid Wall Street schemes is to let the financial industry self-regulate to an even greater extent. "Just get Big Government out of our hair and we'll make everything wonderful in a jiffy."

They watch the boats sail away and disappear over the horizon, and conclude that the earth must be flat.

Barry Larkin Is In

Former Cincinnati Reds shortstop Barry Larkin was elected yesterday to baseball's Hall of Fame. He's certainly deserving of the honor -- World Series Champ, MVP, Gold Glover, good hitter, and Cincinnati native who spent his entire career with his hometown team. And by all accounts, he's a genuinely good guy, too. So, congrats to Barry Larkin!

Mean old SOB pitcher Jack Morris finished second, with not quite enough votes to get in this year. But he was a good one for the Tigers, Twins and Blue Jays, and really ought to get in one of these years.

Way back in the pack, with still nowhere near enough support to come close to election, was former HR king Mark McGwire. The taint of steroids is hard to shake, and it's sticking to him and a bunch of others. An entire generation of juiced-up players may be effectively "banned" from the Hall.

Saint Timothy

On Sunday, another angel flew out of the ass of Saint Timothy The Virgin* as the Broncos pulled out an O.T. win over the old and beat-up Steelers. Oh yippee.

At the post-game news conference, here's what Tebow said as he stepped up to the microphones: "First thing, thanks go to God." C'mon, Timmy, let's get over that shit. You are not standing on that podium because you're such a famous and public Christian, you're there because you're a fucking football player. Go to church on your own time.

Suppose there was an NFL quarterback who was a very publicly preachy Muslim, and after a big win, suppose he addressed the media like so: "First of all, Allah Aqbar! Praise be to Allah!"

Or better still, how about an atheist quarterback who might say, "First off, I'd like to thank my teammates and coaches for a great win today, and I'd like to remind everyone that God had absolutely nothing to do with it."

Nobody wants to hear that sort of stuff on ESPN. If I want religion, there are other channels. You're a jock, so be a jock. Shut up, play ball, and keep your personal beliefs to yourself.

And, Go Patriots!!

(* I stole "Saint Timothy The Virgin" from a faithful reader. Thank you, faithful reader.)

The Fabulous BCS National Championship Rematch Game

Did you watch last night's National Championship game between Alabama and LSU? If you missed it, you didn't miss much. Basically, the game sucked. Two good defenses, true, but also a pair of Neanderthal offenses. Alabama could manage some field goals. LSU couldn't manage a damn thing. And these were the two best teams in the land?

While I'm at it, the whole BCS bowl system sucks! Division I NCAA football is the one and only sport, at any level, that does not have a playoff. And that is just preposterous. Playoffs, please. Now!

The NCAA sucks too! Big-time college football and basketball generate mega-bucks for everyone involved, except the players themselves, who are pure amateur student-athletes. And if such an amateur should trade a trinket for tattoo, well, there goes your purity, and we just can't have that, and the NCAA will protect us all with penalties and sanctions. What bullshit! Let's drop the charade and pay the players in the big-money sports. Then let's disband the NCAA and start over.

And one more thing -- Brent Musberger sucks worse than ever! He's become the Dick Vitale of college football.

Monday, January 2, 2012

What Fantasy Baseball Taught Me About Presidential Elections

The Iowa Republican caucuses will be January 3rd. It'll be the first "official" step in the 2012 national election. Ooh, ah! The national media are swarming in Iowa, breathlessly reporting the latest polls and surveys. They'd have us believe this caucus is something, like, significant.

It's not. And the soon-to-follow New Hampshire primary won't be, either. A couple of small-population states yielding non-representative results (especially that weird caucus thing). Maybe they "pick a winner", maybe they don't. One way or the other, it's not particularly predictive.

It reminds me of my years playing fantasy baseball and the annual drafting of players. That experience taught me to (1.) not get too excited about the reigning champion (although many analysts will pick the World Series winner to do it again), and (2.) try to ignore spring training (despite all the media hype about the pre-season exploits of the latest, greatest phenom). The previous winner has no guarantee of repeating, and six weeks of exhibition play is not like six months of the real thing.

In this election analogy, the incumbent, Barack Obama, is the St. Louis Cardinals, and the Republican primaries are spring training.

One important difference is this: To repeat as World Series champs, the Cards must beat the 14 other National League teams, then beat the American League winner. To be reelected President, all Obama has to do is defeat a single Republican Rightard. Probably Romney.

Can do? Can do!