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

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

What The Frack Is Going On?

The oil and gas industry has long known it was possible to extract natural gas from certain underground rock formations, but historically the industry was ambivalent about pursuing it.  In 2005, George W. Bush signed an order exempting the process known as "fracking" from federal Clean Water Act rules.  Since then, shale gas production has grown at about 50% per year.  What should this tell us?

It should tell us that fracking pollutes, that it's risky business, and that without the official blessing to violate federal law, the method would not be widespread.

But fracking is already widespread and we're likely to see much more of it.  Over the next quarter-century, frack gas is projected to be a $250 to $500 billion gold mine, if the only those pesky enviro-nerds would just shut up.  That's why the industry will continue pummeling us with PR and spin ads -- to persuade us that what's dirty is clean, what's dangerous is safe.

Ohio, led by John "The Wonder Guv" Kasich, is hell-bent on getting its slice of the pie.  After a brief informal moratorium for study of the relationship between earthquakes and deep injection wells for disposal of fracking waste water (the official, industry-assisted finding is "no correlation"), the ODNR is again issuing drilling permits, and plenty of them.

This fracking thing is a "hole-y" process -- you need a hole for your gas well, into which you pump pressurized water, sand and chemicals.  Then you need another hole for a disposal well to hold your contaminated waste water.  And now it seems you may need yet another hole, a plain old water well to extract more fresh water so you can keep shooting it into your ever-increasing number of gas wells and keep the process rolling along.  Soon, we'll be thoroughly perforated.

Nat-gas fracking wells

If nothing else, fracking is wet -- a very water-intensive method.  An article is today's Dispatch described the problem, using Carroll County as an example.  In 2010, Carrol County residents used 378 million gallons of water.  The county's mineral extraction businesses used 3.5 million gallons.  Today, if every fracking well in Carroll County is drilled, the industry will use 805 million gallons -- more than double the current level.  You can't just magically increase the water supply, so the industry is lining up every water source imaginable, from Lake Erie to rivers to ground water to your kid's backyard baby pool.

What if we run dry?  An ODNR spokesperson helpfully explains that "30 trillion gallons of precipitation falls on Ohio each year."  So you're telling us that it rains?  Does all that rain fall directly into these friggin' frackin' wells?  I didn't think so.

Property owners are entitled to "reasonable" use of water running across their land.  What if a fracking company's insatiable thirst leads it to syphon off a bunch of upstream water, and leave just a trickle downstream?  Another helpful ODNR spokesperson offers this suggestion:  "If companies damage someone downstream, they can be sued."  So they can't be stopped, just sued.  How convenient!

The same spokesperson wants us to know "There's enough water to go around."

Water for whom, he did not say.  I'm so comforted that the State of Ohio is on top of this issue.

We need energy.  That's a fact that will never change.  Big picture, we're gonna need new sources of energy, and soon, and preferably renewable sources.  That's not fracked natural gas.  Fracking is a gold rush.  It prolongs our fossil fuel fantasy.  It's an inefficient Rube Goldberg method that may give us a cheap price in the short run, while it also generates hazardous waste byproducts for us to deal with in the long run.  It's a classic case of ends justify the means

The industry geniuses tell us to trust them, it's all good, it's all safe.  I hope they're right.  But we've never fracked to this extent before.  So really, how would they know?  How would anyone?

Can He Get In The HOF Now, Please?

Almost two years ago (12/17/10, to be precise), I wrote a post titled "Marvin Miller Should Be In The Baseball Hall Of Fame" Miller was the former head of the baseball players union who led the successful fight to secure free agency and labor rights for those athletes.  As such, he was one the most influential people in all of pro sports, not just baseball.  A genuine historic figure.

In his day, Miller was despised by ownership and management.  After his retirement, he was for decades unfairly denied enshrinement in the Hall of Fame by the Hall's anti-union, good old boy Veteran's Committee. 

But in 2010, he was just a couple votes short of induction, with his next opportunity not until 2013*.  In my post back then, I wrote, "I hope he makes it then, and I hope he's still around to see it."

Marvin Miller died today at age 95.  If there's any justice, he'll finally be inducted into the Hall -- albeit posthumously -- as part of the class of 2013*.  Here's to you, Marvin!

(*Correction -- Miller will again be eligible in 2014, not 2013.)

The Oracle Speaks

(From a recent editorial written by Warren Buffett for the New York Times.  Full article is linked below.)

Suppose that an investor you admire and trust comes to you with an investment idea. “This is a good one,” he says enthusiastically. “I’m in it, and I think you should be, too.”
Would your reply possibly be this? “Well, it all depends on what my tax rate will be on the gain you’re saying we’re going to make. If the taxes are too high, I would rather leave the money in my savings account, earning a quarter of 1 percent.” Only in Grover Norquist’s imagination does such a response exist.



Saturday, November 24, 2012

How Good Were The 2012 Buckeyes?

The Buckeyes just beat Michigan 26-21 to complete an unusal undefeated season.  OSU is bowl ineligible, so we're done.  We looked less-than-great all year:  undisplined, mistake-prone, poor tackling, talented but inconsistent quarterback, mediocre wide receivers.  Yet we benefitted from a weak schedule and a lot of luck and somehow wound up 12-0.  If Notre Dame chokes and loses to USC tonight, we could be the last remaining unbeaten team, and even though we're going nowhere, it's conceivable that the AP could still vote us the #1 team in the land.  Wouldn't that be bizarre?

All season long, Urban Meyer kept saying this was not a very good team, and it was easy to agree with him.  After today's win, he said it was a "great team", one the all-time best in OSU history.  Whatever we were, good, great, or in between, we were for a fact undefeated, which is no easy task and special under any circumstances.

And since we'll have no postseason, the 2012 Buckeyes will remain undefeated forever.  How good were we really?  Let the debates begin! 

It Was A "Blue Steel" Thanksgiving

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!


Fish In A Barrel

It's 139 square miles in a sunny desert climate.  Its western border is a beautiful blue-green sea.  There is a university, an amusement park, a couple hotels and many beaches.  Sounds nice, right?

It's the Gaza Strip, on the Mediterranean in southwest Israel.  At the moment, it's anything but nice.

Since 1948, Gaza has functioned as a virtual refugee camp for displaced Palestinians.  Israel controls its borders, airspace and waters, and tries to control the 1.7 million people cooped up in Gaza.

But the pigeons have never really enjoyed the coop.  Understandably, they feel ripped-off and fenced in.  From time to time, they lash out at their perceived captors and shoot unguided mortars and rockets into the less-populated areas of Israel which surround Gaza.  Occasionally, these glorified Roman candles do damage to property and maim and kill people. 

Understandably, the Israelis don't have a sense of humor about this.  They get angry and retaliate.  Their retaliation is not with hit-or-miss short-range light stuff.  No, the Israelis fire back with high-tech, precision-guided heavy ordnance.  And guidance is pretty much unnecessary.  The Palestinians are so packed in, if you lob something into the Strip, you'll almost surely hit something or somebody everytime.  It's fish in a barrel.  Too easy.

In the current flare-up, the score so far is:  1000 Palestinian random rocket launches, 5 Israeli casualties; 1500 Israeli targeted missile strikes, 135 Palestinian dead.  

Hilary's in Tel Aviv now, the latest would-be American peacemaker.  Hard-ass Bibi's being typically bellicose. Unless all this craziness finally results in the Grail of the two-state solution, this latest violence will be of no consequence and nothing will change.  Perpetually depressing futility.

"Every night we fuss and fight like Arabs and like Jews.
"I guess love is just monkey-see, monkey-do."
-- Michael Franks

Susan & Colin & Lindsey & John

Susan Rice is our U.N. Ambassador.  President Obama would like her to be our next Secretary State.  She's a well-qualified career diplomat.  A couple days after the attacks against the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, the administration sent Rice to the Sunday morning news shows.  She said that the violence was not pre-planned, but was a Libyan reaction to earlier Egyptian protests over an anti-Islam video.  We now know that it was more or less premeditated, but Rice was repeating the CIA intelligence that was given to her.

In early 2003, Colin Powell was our Secretary of State.  Just prior to our invasion of Iraq, the administration sent Powell to address the U.N. Security Council to make the case for war.  He said Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, nuclear capabilities, vast stores of chemical weapons, and had plans to use them very soon.  We now know that none of this was even close to the truth, but Powell was repeating the CIA intelligence that was given to him.  Dubya, Cheney, Rummy and the other neo-cons had loaded his lips.  

Presently, a pair of Republican Senators, Lindsey Graham and John McCain, are giving Rice a raft of shit for not saying Benghazi was a terrorist action.  They say that, as a result, they couldn't possibly vote for her confirmation as Secretary State if Obama nominates her.  (The appearance of old white men once again being petty and obstinate with our black president and his black ambassador is completely lost on these two.)

Susan Rice may or may not have fibbed a bit when she mischaracterized the brief surprise attack which killed four Americans.

Colin Powell definitely told a big fuckin' whopper when he tried to justify engaging in an unjustified war that lasted 8 years, killed 4500 Americans and 160,000 Iraqis, and cost us a trillion dollars.  

And what did Graham and McCain say at the time about Powell's fiction?  Nothin'!  Not a damn thing.  They were all for the invasion.  It was a wonderful idea.  And to this day, they've never changed their tune.

Great job, dipsticks!  Just brilliant.  You boys missed a friggin' forrest, but now you want to cut down a tree.

Friday, November 16, 2012

"Dozens Of Black People! How Did That Happen?"

Karl Rove blamed Obama's reelection on "the cities".  Paul Ryan called it the "urban vote".  The Glove said Obama won because of "legislative gifts" to minorities.

No such euphemisms for the chairman of the Maine GOP, some chowderhead named Charlie Webster.  He knows it's voter fraud, he knows who's doing it, and he's willing to speak plainly about it:

And don't you love his method of proving the "problem"?  He's gonna mail a post card to these alleged rural black people "to see if it comes back."  Whatever you say, Charlie.

He Who Laughs Last?

Bibi's ready to start World War III.

The Orange Man is playing chicken on the brink of the fiscal cliff.

Congressional Republicans are uselessly obsessed, picking the the fly shit out of the pepper over the Petraeus affair and whether we did or did not call the Benghazi attack "terrorism".

What a stupid freakin' world.

At this very moment, kicked back in his magic garments at one of his mansions, surrounded by show horses, car elevators and off-shore bank statements, Mitt might very well be saying to himself, "Jesus, I'm glad I lost!"

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Secessionist's Pie Chart

The redneck religious right is all "het up" about my Cousin Barry's reelection, and so some of their leading "thinkers" are trying to circulate petitions in 30 states to secede from the USA.  Their reasons are charted below.  Good luck with that ain't-ever-gonna-happen shit.  But we have no objection if you simply leave our country.  Please do.  I hear Syria is beautiful right now.  Bon voyage! 


Monday, November 12, 2012

My Letter To Tiberi, Boehner, and Portman

November 12, 2012
Rep. Pat Tiberi                                                  
106 Cannon House Ofc. Bldg.
Washington, D.C. 20515

Rep. John Boehner
1011 Longworth House Ofc. Bldg.
Washington, D.C. 20515

Sen. Rob Portman
338 Russell Senate Ofc. Bldg.
Washington, D.C.

“I told them to go jump in a lake.  I think anybody that takes his pledge violates his oath of office.”
-- George Voinovich, on Grover Norquist’s Taxpayer Protection Pledge                


Do you agree with your former Governor and Senator?  I do, and so do the majority of Americans.  It’s vitally important for you to understand this and act accordingly, which means dropping your party’s obstructionism of the past few years.  It’s time for you to behave responsibly and cooperatively, and do what needs to be done to avoid undesirable “fiscal cliff” consequences.

I’m an Ohioan.  You represent me.  You’ve signed the Norquist Pledge to never, ever raise any sort of taxes, no matter what.  It’s an absurd concept, always has been, and we all know it.  Unsign it, now!

Until you personally and publically repudiate your Norquist commitment, you have zero credibility in any discussion of national debt/deficit reduction.  If you allow yourself to continue to be held hostage by his untenable position, you will continue to look silly.

Our budget surplus of 2001 (the last time we had one) was projected to grow over the next 10 years.  Instead, it turned into a $6 trillion deficit.  How?  Primarily via spending increases by President Bush on the military, wars, and Medicare Part D (all of which you supported); revenue decreases as a result of President Bush’s income tax cuts (which you supported), and revenue decreases resulting from the Great Recession of 2007-2009.

It’s obvious you must work on the revenue side as well as the expense side, and you must do it seriously.  So please stop telling us that tax cuts equate to revenue increases and therefore tax cuts pay for themselves.  They don’t, and that’s not a serious approach.  Trickle-down is dead.  It has never worked and we all know it.

Conservative icons William Kristol and David Stockman both favor higher income tax rates.  Kristol thinks a return to the pre-Bush higher rates on top earners would be OK.  Stockman, the original trickle-down wunderkind, believes we should return to the pre-Bush rates for all incomes, and further suggests a one-time 15% surcharge on the top bracket.  If you want to get serious, gentlemen, that’s a serious revenue approach.

Medicare is another challenge.  This critical benefit program can be made sustainable with an honest and serious plan to address both Medicare FICA-HI premiums (revenue) and payments to Medicare physicians (spending): 

The last increase in employer/employee Medicare premium was 1986.  A premium increase is long overdue.  Raise the rates, make us all pay a little bit more, and you’ll be moving the program toward stability.  You’ll get support from most of the public, unless you go full-Norquist and reject this as a “tax increase”.

Then get serious on Medicare expenditures.  Since 2003, you’ve ignored the law’s Sustainable Growth Rate cost-control mechanism.  Every year, you’ve overridden the scheduled cuts called for by the SGR and have instead allowed for increases in payments to providers.  Trying to make frozen income cover rising costs is unworkable, and really bad math.  You must stop the overrides and do what’s necessary to bring down costs.  The medical industry may object, but the public will be with you.

Please understand that the public is adamantly opposed to your past attempts to privatize, voucher-ize and otherwise dismantle Medicare and Social Security.  We simply want you to ensure these programs remain viable for future generations, and we know it can be done.  Do it.

(Of course, for deficit discussions, Social Security is a separate issue that doesn’t enter into the calculation.  Let’s save that for another day.)

In summary, as your constituent, I call on you to reverse your position on the Norquist Pledge, increase income tax rates on higher incomes (if not all incomes), increase Medicare rates to both employers and employees, and use the SGR or other cost-control measures to responsibly reduce Medicare payments to providers as quickly as possible.

Thanks for reading this.


Robert G. Jacobsen (a.k.a. Buster Gammons)

cc: Sen. Sherrod Brown, 713 Hart Sen. Ofc. Bldg., Washington, D.C. 20510

The Street Reacts To Romney's Defeat -- Sesame Street, That Is

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Understanding Contractor Terminology

Sooner or later, we all have need of a contractor.  It might be a home remodeler, a roofer, a landscaper, or whatever.  While most of us engage in a little light bullshit from time to time, contractors are true professional BS'ers.  Because our need for their services is inevitable, Buster has put together this handy guide for translating what contractors say:

What the contractor says                                      What the contractor means
"When"                                                                 "If"
"Now"                                                                   "Later"
"30 or 40 minutes"                                                "4 hours"
"A couple hours"                                                   "A couple days"
"A couple days"                                                    "A month, minimum"
"Yes"                                                                   "Maybe"
"Maybe"                                                               "No"
"No"                                                                     "You're an idiot for even asking"
"I promise/I guarantee"                                        "I hope/I wish"
"I need to show you something"                             "This will cost you $500 extra"
"Here's what we ran into"                                      "$1000 extra"
"You've got a problem"                                          "$2500"
"Oh, shit!"                                                             "$5000"                       


Friday, November 9, 2012

What To Do With Old Campaign Items

Is this in poor taste?  Very possibly, but I don't care.  Made me laugh!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Our 45th President?

The Black Man in the White House remains our 44th President, and some Right-tards just can't stand it.  They were certain -- certain! -- that Mitt would win.  And he did win, with old white people, but he lost with everyone else.

Distraught conservatives are all over the social media -- they're crying, praying, whining, and bad-mouthing the winners; they say the election makes them mad, disgusted, embarassed, ashamed; I've seen some crazy talk about tyranny and freedom and guns and revolution.

Gimme a fuckin' break!  These dolts just can't get over the fact that old white Republican men are no longer the majority in this country.  They can't believe that although money has influence, money doesn't always decide.

It's all quite delightful!

So let's continue with this natural progression and demographic trend as we contemplate who should appropriately be next, and become our 45th President.  Hmmmm . . .

Buster declares that in 2016 the time will be right for our first female Hispanic- Asian- Jewish- American Democratic President!  That'd make Karl Rove shit his britches for sure.

I like it!  Consuelo Wong-Goldfarb, wherever you are, come on down!! 

Mitch McConnell's Alternate Reality

My favorite Kentucky turtle, Sen. Mitch McConnell, had this to say yesterday on President Obama's reelection:

"It's time for the President to propose solutions that actually have a chance of passing the Republican-controlled House."

What weird universe is this?  Has Mitch gone through a wormhole?  Shell-shock from the losses absorbed by Republicans?  A Democrat was reelected as President, Democrats added a couple seats in the Senate, and the Dems will add seats in the House, too, perhaps 6 or 7.  And the Senate Minority leader says, essentially, that "since we R's just took a whuppin', it's obviously time to compromise, and compromise means go screw yourself, Mr. President, and just do everything we want."

The good people of Kentucky can do better than this obstructionist asshole.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

So Much Money, It Doesn't Matter -- And It Didn't Matter

Karl Rove, the Koch brothers, Sheldon Adelson, Foster Friesse, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and who knows how many undisclosed corporate "dark money" sources -- the ultra-rich righties spent very large, larger than any prior election, upwards of $6 billion according to some estimates.  Obviously, money was no object to these forces, and it bought them some of the most sophomoric, cynical, dishonest ads ever aired, and all the dirty tricks and horseshit they could think of.   

And ultimately, it didn't work, it didn't matter -- which is both hilarious and fitting.  Serves 'em right.  Flush it, fellas!  Hah!

Hope they got a goddam receipt!

Corporations are NOT people.  Money is NOT speech.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Hooray For America!

As Joe Biden famously put it, this was a BFD!  Whether you're happy or sad, let's try to appreciate the moment . . . for at least a moment.


(Well, poopy-darn!  The moment may be brief.  Every media outlet has called it for Obama, even Fox News, but now the Romney people are refusing to concede, and Rove and the Fox anchor-bots claim Ohio is still in play.  Are you fuckin' serious?  I guess the big money interests don't like it when they're unable to possess what they believe they paid for.) 

Driving Miss Lana

Yesterday evening I got a call from the local OFA Obama field office asking if I'd drive someone to her voting location on Tuesday morning.  Sure, no problem.  They gave me her info.  Both her apartment and polling place were nearby.  Her name was Lana, and I was to pick her up at 7 a.m.

Being a veteran of the god-awful election day of 2004 --Dubya's "war on terrorism" (in the wrong country), the Ohio GOP getting the morons all riled up with a gay marriage ballot issue, Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell doing all he could to suppress voter turnout and slow down in-person voting, and waiting outdoors for hours on a miserable rainy day -- I made preparations for the worst.  I loaded the car with an umbrella, hats and gloves, granola bars, water, a blanket and a folding chair.  (When they called, they told me Lana was post-operative and frail, which is why she needed a ride.)

At 7 a.m., I pulled into the apartment complex and immediately noticed a problem.  Lana was supposed to be in # 914, but every single unit had a four-digit address.  In true Democratic fashion, the field organizer had given me the wrong friggin' address.  Great.  As I took a pointless lap of the parking lot, the OFA guy called.  Lana was waiting, wondering where I was.  He didn't have her address with him.  Why don't I call her?  I did.  She told me that, from Apt. # 2914, she had watched me drive by twice.  We found each other quickly enough.  (I was disappointed she bore no resemblance to Lana Turner, but I digress.)

Her polling place was the gymnasium of a rec center -- a big place with plenty of voting machines.  Good thing, because there were plenty of people too.  At 7:15 in the morning, there were probably 150 people in a line which had already snaked down a long hallway and back up it again.  But everyone was inside, warm and dry.  And Lana may have been slow-moving, but she didn't want my folding chair.  She got in the queue, and I took a seat on a bench by the door.

All things considered, the long line moved along nicely.  A couple dummies showed up without ID, a few complained about the wait, a few already in line had to leave before voting, and a few new arrivals took a look at the line and decided they'd try later.  But this location clearly had enough equipment and staff to handle the crowd efficiently.  In '04, it would have been a 2-3-4 hour ordeal.  I had Lana back home by 8 a.m.  Less than an hour.  Not bad at all.

I was glad to be her chaffeur, but I'm tellin' ya, absentee-ballot early voting by mail is the only way to fly.

And hey, Lana babe, whoever you are, we voted proper and we got it done!  Good for us. 

Friday, November 2, 2012

My Best Friends, Until Wednesday

Man, we're so damn important here in Ohio it's painful.  More campaign ad buys than anywhere else -- over 330 political TV spots every day.

Here's my line of defense against the bullshit barrage:

Almost zero political ads
Literally no commercials of any sort, ever

Solves many problems

Solves any remaining problems

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Sandy Does A Number On Brooklyn

It's a mess all over the eastern seaboard.  Click the link for a bunch of great photos of the storm damage from another blog I follow.  The blogger is a resident of Brooklyn, NY and a community leader in the Carroll Gardens neighborhood.

Will Mitt show up with a bucket and a sponge?


What Can Steroids Teach Us About Global Warming?