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

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Wisdom Of Buster Junior

The average under-30 American young adult listens to all this Prop 8/DOMA/Supreme Court crapola and says, "WTF?  I can't believe we need to go to these lengths.  This is so stupid!"

One of those young adults is my son, John.  (I shouldn't tag him with "Buster Jr."  He is most definitely his own person.)  Here is what he just posted on Facebook: 

"While it is very refreshing to see so many of my Facebook friends supporting our gay buddies, I'm also seeing a lot of personal friends of mine posting really ignorant and repugnant shit.  These people need to grow up and realize that in 40 or 50 years, the issue of gay marriage will be looked at exactly like the issue of desegregation.  Marriage is just as much of a right to the gay person as it is to the straight person.  Get your heads out of your asses (and the 1950's) and freshen up to the changing culture of America.  I promise you that gay people are not here to hurt you or take over America -- they just wanna get married, man!"

Well said, Boy-O!  You make me proud.  You've also inherited, for better or worse (probably worse), your old man's potty-mouth.  One thing, though.  Your timeline is probably long.  Pollster and numbers guru Nate Silver says that, in less than seven years, gay marriage and full gay rights will be completely acceptable in 44 of our 50 states.

Perhaps the Supremes ought to take a hint from Nate and John just get on with it now.

Mark Kelly Clocks In At 5:36

It took Mark Kelly all of 5 minutes and 36 seconds to complete Arizona's "background check" and buy a gun at a licensed dealer.  Mark and Gabby are reasonable people.  They own guns.  Their position is simple and very reasonable:

1.  This particular background check is painless, quick and easy.  So what's the NRA's fucking problem?

2.  This 5 minute cupcake exercise does not occur at "private" gun shows, where 40% of all firearms are purchased.

3.  So-called universal background checks, which would include gun shows, will help us to better deal with this public health and safety problem.

No one can, in good conscience, argue with any of these points.  Buster merely suggests that clearing the official hurdle to obtain any gun ought to take a bit longer than 5 minutes.  How about 5 days?  Five weeks?  What's your hurry, big boy?

And as you may know, after the videotaped purchase shown here, Kelly went back to the same store to buy an assault rifle.  They wrote him up, took his money, then saw this video, cancelled Kelly's transaction and refused to give him the gun, because he was in favor of, you know, like, reasonable gun controls.  And we can't have that.

Yes, we can!


Kindred Spirits

A pair of serpents in their Seventies suits.

Yep, that's 18-year old John Kasich with Tricky Dick Nixon at the White House.  I wonder if Nixon taped this encounter.  "Young man, let me give you some advice on being in politics:  Do whatever it takes, then claim executive privelege."

And what is that in John-Boy's hand?  Did our governor swipe something from the Oval Office?

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

There Is No Chocolate In A Martini !!

I've covered this ground before, and do so again as a public service. 

The business section of today's Douchepatch had a big spread on a new Houlihan's (yawn) restaurant.  The article showed the photo shown here, described as Houlihan's "martini" flight -- a sampler of "Key Lime, guava, and chocolate Martinis."    

Just like there is no crying in baseball, there is no goddam chocolate in a martini!!!  Putting some nouveau concoction in an up martini glass does not, repeat NOT, make it a martini.

One more time.  An authentic martini is 2-3 oz. of chilled gin or vodka, served up or on the rocks.  It may include a little dry vermouth, if you insist, but just a little.  It is garnished with a twist of lemon, or an olive.  That's a martini.  Under no circumstances does it involve a wedge of fruit or sugar on the rim.

Guava.  Jesus!

Prop 8 and DOMA? Toast.

At least they oughta be! 

Right now, the U.S. Supreme Court is hearing arguments that challenge the legality of California's Proposition 8 and the federal Defense Of Marriage Act, both of which prohibit gay marriage.  In so doing, these measures do not extend the benefits of marriage (in taxes, estates, insurance, employment, etc.) equally to all people.  "Justice Buster" finds them in violation of the 14th Amendment's "equal protection under the law" provision, and orders that both Prop 8 and DOMA be overturned.  They are toast.

Will the real Supremes agree with pretend-Justice Buster?  Who knows?  But they really should, because the worm has turned on this issue, society has progressed, and the majority of Americans now support gay marriage.

Opponents argue that "legitimate" marriage hinges on procreation.  And they argue (in the Prop 8 case) that it's a state sovereignty/states rights issue.  Wrong on both counts.

The desire or ability to produce offspring has never, ever been a pre-condition to marriage.  And states rights are fine, until a state does something really stupid (like, say, slavery and secession, just to give an obvious example).  That's when the feds have to step in with their trump card and stop the nonsense.

Bottom line?  Legal fine hairs notwithstanding, change is coming (it always does) and the social conservatives will be passed by (they always are).  The issue is about civil rights and equal rights, and dear readers, equal means equal.

Monday, March 25, 2013

NRA's Wayne Lapierre: Stupid And Nervous

The NRA's CEO (Chief Evil Obfuscator) Wayne Lapierre is in full-panic mode, which makes him reflexively spew his own patented brand of fog and circular logic.  At the moment, he's all panties-in-a-bunch about the possibility of proposed "universal background checks".

Wayne says any such checks would be a waste of time, "dishonest" and a "myth", because they wouldn't be truly universal -- meaning some people could still evade or avoid a background check.  According to Wayne, the mass killers of Tucson, Aurora and Newtown would be "unrecognizable" by any background check system.

Pretty sure Wayne is wrong about that, but anyway, let's roll with his half-baked point:  He says that because there is a possibility that some bad actors could escape detection, we should not bother trying to detect any of them.


As always, Wayne Lapierre is a special kind of stupid.


And right now, Wayne is also of nervous about NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg and his PAC, Mayors Against Illegal Guns, which has begun to run pro-background check ads in certain markets.  Bloomberg is a very wealthy man willing to spend very large amounts of his own money to fight the NRA's campaign of lies.  It's about time somebody did.  And the best response the NRA can muster is to denigrate his money ("Pot, meet kettle.") and try to equate his anti-Big Gulp policy to his gun control efforts.  Sorry, but soda and Sig-Sauer are apples and oranges. 

The NRA doesn't give a shit if people die slowly from high-fructose corn syrup, or instantly from a couple AR-15 rounds.  Just as long as the living morons keep buying more guns and ammo.

Please share your thoughts with your elected representatives and ask them to fully support common-sense gun legislation and reform.

Charles Barkley Can Bite Me, And Other Hoops Reflections

My eyes are still blurry from watching all the basketball this past weekend.  That first long Thursday-through-Sunday weekend when the NCAA field is trimmed from 64 teams to 16 is always one of my favorite times of the sporting year.  The lovely Mrs. Gammons says that during that weekend I'm obsessed, unresponsive, anti-social, and useless.  Yeah?  So what's your point?

The Buckeyes won their first two games and are on to the Sweet Sixteen.  Yesterday's match against Iowa State was a classic, decided on Aaron Craft's last-second shot.  In the post-game studio, analyst Charles Barkley said, "I don't mean to be hatin' on Ohio State . . . ," then proceeded to do just that for the rest of the day.

Chuck's boggle was that, with about a minute to go and the Bucks down a point, Craft took a charge with that wiped out an Iowa State basket, and Craft's heel may have been above the restricted area.  Barkley said it should have been a foul on Craft, and the refs clearly blew it -- "a turrrible call" -- and their bad call cost the Cyclones the game.  All afternoon, he reiterated his point.

Buster reminds Sir Charles that basketball is a frantically fast game and the refs make calls at game speed, not slo-mo.  Applying the rules in the game of basketball is arguably the most subjective task in all of sports officiating, and the charging call is exceptionally subjective.  Beyond that, there are bad calls throughout every game, and a bad call in the last minute doesn't impact the outcome any more or less than the bad call in the first minute.  With the late-game tension of a very close contest, it just feels that way.

Charles should also remember that Iowa State had plenty of opportunities before Craft took the charge, and had opportunities after.  The Cyclones didn't cash 'em in.  The Buckeyes did.  End of story.  So bite me, Charles Barkley!  And Go Bucks!


This year marks 30 years since Jim Valvano's North Carolina State Wolfpack really put the mad in March Madness.  In 1983, N.C. State had only a so-so regular season.  The made the NCAA tourney only by winning the ACC tournament, which was considered a fluke.  In the NCAA's, they somehow kept winning and found themselves in the championship game.  Their starting five were Thurl Bailey, Sidney Lowe, Dereck Whittenburg, Lorenzo Charles and Cozell McQueen.  Terry Gannon came off the bench.  They may have been hot and lucky, but still no one gave them a chance in the final.

That's because their opponent was Phi Slamma Jamma, the mighty Houston Cougars.  The Cougars were big, strong, fast and played with a bad attitude.  In the national semi-final, they demolished a very good Louisville team.  Houston looked unbeatable and they were the prohibitive favorites.  Their starters were Clyde Drexler, Akeem Olajuwon, Larry Michaux, Michael Young and Alvin Franklin.  Benny Anders was the instant-offense sixth man.

And we all know the fairy-tale ending:  Improbably, David hung in there against Goliath.  Down one point with just seconds left, the Wolfpack's Whittenburg launched a 35-foot prayer, which fell short . . . but into the hands of teammate Lorenzo Charles who dunked it through for the win as the horn sounded.  Impossible.  Pandemonium.  Valvano running around.  Wonderful, unforgettable stuff!

My recollection of this was sparked by a Sports Illustrated article on the reclusive/missing Benny Anders, #32 above. 

Here are two video links of Benny Anders viciously throwing down in the semi against Louisville.


Permit me one more basketball story.  ("Buster takes the pass at the top of the key, crosses over, shakes the defender and drives hard into memory lane . . . ")
It was late March of 1992.  The wife and I were in Cincinnati for a wedding.  One of her high-school girlfriends was getting married on Saturday.  The lovely Mrs. Gammons was in the wedding party, so we arrived on Friday for the rehearsal dinner.  This concerned me because later that night Ohio State was playing Dean Smith's North Carolina Tar Heels in the NCAA round of 16.  If we could get through this rehearsal stuff quickly, I could make it back to our hotel in time to watch most of the game.
We were at the church on time.  We were the only ones.  Everyone else was late, to one degree or another.  Nothing had been arranged or decided.  It was a chaotic clusterfuck and at the rate it was going, we'd never get out of there. 
I pulled my wife aside and politely told her I was going to go back to the hotel to watch the Bucks.  She was politely displeased.  I pointed out that I was not in the wedding and therefore my presence was unnecessary.  She reminded me that the bride-to-be had already paid for my dinner.  I suggested the bride-to-be could send me a bill.  The dear wife relented (thank you, dear!), and off I went. 
Back at the hotel bar, I had dinner and drinks with a couple like-minded souls, and we cheered the Buckeyes on to victory over legendary North Carolina.  This was a great Ohio State team -- Jim Jackson, Chris Jent, Mark Baker, Jamaal Brown and Lawrence Funderburke -- and they beat the vaunted Tar Heels convincingly.  I was thrilled.
The following afternoon, the wedding went off without a hitch, much to my amazement.  The reception was held at a VFW hall, with another full dinner and drinks and dancing.  Shortly after finishing my meal, I noticed that the male contingent in the hall had dwindled considerably.  Where could all the guys have gone?
Aha!  I found most of them in the hall's adjacent bar-room, which held the building's only TV.  And what was on TV that Saturday night?  It was Kentucky vs. Duke in the Elite 8.  Wives and girlfriends kept trying to get us to come out and dance, to no avail.  We were addicts in our opium den, transfixed by a great game, a never-to-be-forgotten all-time classic -- Duke's Christian Laettner catches a 70-foot in-bound pass, and sinks a turnaround jumper at the buzzer to win it.  Yeah, that one.  The roar from the bar was so loud the wedding band stopped playing.  What a game! And the wedding was decent, too.  
Then came Sunday, and the Buckeyes matchup against Michigan in Elite 8.  I didn't want to miss any of it while driving home, so we stayed on in Cincinnati to watch it there.  And it was yet another tremendous game.  This was the Fab Five Michigan team, and they were really good.  But so were we.  Nearing the end of regulation, tie game, our ball, just a couple seconds left, Chris Jent puts up a little 8-footer in the lane, for the win, to advance to the Final Four . . . and it bonks off the rim, no good.  Horn.  Overtime.  We lose in overtime.  Damn! 
Jent, who's now an OSU assistant coach, was one of my favorite players back then.  He always played hard and gave it his all.  If there was any justice, his shot would've dropped.
Just some March Madness memories.  Now why would my wife think I'm ant-social and useless this time of year?

Friday, March 22, 2013

Crazy/Scary Good

Who is this crazy/scary-looking guy?  A psycho killer fessin' up to a fart?  No, it's Marshall Henderson, madman guard for the Ole Miss  Rebels, doing what he calls "The Landshark".  He's the sort of person who'd look just as natural in an orange jumpsuit and handcuffs as he does in a basketball uniform, but for now, his home is on the hardwood, and he's been hot.  Last weekend, Henderson led Mississippi to the SEC championship, upsetting Florida.  Today, he led them to a first-round upset of a talented Wisconsin team.

He may look like he needs a full-time shrink, but on the court he's been crazy/scary good.  And Mississippi is in the Buckeyes regional bracket.  We could meet in the West final.  Don't know if I'd like that.  Maybe he can go off his meds before then.

Conservative "Thought", Parts One & Two

Part One. 

128990 600 GOP Makeover cartoonsThe Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus says that a recent study of the party's troubles shows that "Our principles are strong but our message was weak."  The study recommends more GOP "outreach" to women and minorities.

Oh, lordy, you're killin' me!  What a hoot!  Reach out with what?  More attacks on equal pay and women's reproductive rights?  Self-deportation and Arizona-style immigration policy?  More voter suppression?  Outlawing affirmative action?  Opposing equal rights for gay people?  You're telling me the Republican party will make a conscious effort to turn itself into, you know, the Democratic party?  You think Michelle Bachmann, Ted Cruz and Rand Paul are gonna let that happen?  Nice thought.  LOL!

GOP outreach is a contradiction in terms.  It is a scam, a con, a bald-faced attempt to sucker gullible people into believing the leopard has changed its spots.


Part Two.

"According to my figures, you're fucked."
Wonder-Guv John Kasich has always been a true believer in the conservative orthodoxy.  You'll recall that, not so long ago, Kasich advocated the complete elimination of Ohio's income tax.  Once in office, he modified his stance -- an income tax cut would have to suffice.  And nothing shows a Republican's true conservative credentials like a tax cut -- no rhyme or reason required.

John-Boy's bright idea was to replace the lost revenue of his income tax cut with increased sales tax revenue -- essentially taking money out of one pocket just to put it back in another.  This begs the question:  Why bother?  (Maybe because replacing progressive income taxes with regressive sales taxes benefits higher incomes while burdening lower incomes.)

Well, it turns out that there is very little support for his sales tax expansion idea, and that part of the Kasich budget is dead.  Looks like our haircuts and movie tickets will be safe from sales tax, for now.  But guess what stays?  The income tax cut, of course.  All of our Statehouse R's agree it's a splendid idea! 

And how will we replace the loss of $4.3 billion ($3.1 B individual, $1.2 B corporate) in state tax revenue ????  Damned if we know.  We'll figure that out later.  Maybe.  Or not.

Absolutely brilliant GOP thinking! 

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Devils We Know

Oh, those rascals at the History Channel!  As a semi-high brow alternative to "Swamp People", the programming geniuses are offering "The Bible" mini-series.  And guess who plays the Devil?  It's President Barack Obama!  Well, har-de-har-har, you assholes.

The History people say it's just an unintended coincidence and they mean no disrespect.  Right!  Like nobody ever noticed.  Maybe.  Whatever.  I'm not watching no matter what.  But I will suggest a handful of more-believable Devils for future episodes:


The "Public" Private Sector. Or Is It The "Private" Public Sector?

Upon taking office in 2011, Ohio's Republican Wonder-Guv John Kasich immediately seized upon the brilliant idea of eliminating the Ohio Dept. of Economic Development and replacing it with a "privatized" entity called JobsOhio.

Why?  ('Cause private is always better, right?)  Kasich said the former state agency was "slow and old."  What did it do?  Not much that anyone could tell.  And what does the new JobsOhio do?  Not much, but it does it faster and in a modern way.

The "private" JobsOhio was initially funded by $6.5 million in state grants and a $1 million start-up appropriation from the state legislature.  It's now funded by "leasing" the profits on Ohio's liquor sales, which is worth about $100 million a year. 

There were objections immediately.  A lawsuit filed by Democrats claimed it was unconstitutional to fund a private company with public money.  A few days ago, State Auditor David Yost (also a Republican) demanded that JobsOhio turnover its records for audit.  Kasich and other R's were really pissed at Yost, but after some foot-dragging and whining that he lacked authority, JobsOhio presented the documents to him yesterday, along with a check for $7.5 million.

A JobsOhio spokesperson said this settles the issue --  JobsOhio is now a totally private company and "there will be no more public money in JobsOhio" . . .  well, except for that $100 million a year in liquor revenue.

Rep. John Patrick Carney (D-Columbus) had the best line: 
"The idea of paying back public money with public money and saying we've made everybody whole is one of the more ridiculous statements I've ever heard."

Amen, bro!

John Boehner's "Spending Problem" Spin

"The President got his revenue.  Now let's get serious about our spending problem." 

John Boehner repeats that spin-message constantly.  If we turned it into a drinking game based on him saying "spending problem", we'd all get three or four snorts every day.

Orange John has a child-like belief that if he repeats a lie often enough, it'll somehow become the truth (or at least close enough to truthiness to convince the Fox-bots and the Tea Baggers).   The Weeper of the House would have us believe that we have plenty of revenue, we're swimmin' in it, and that the real cause of our budget deficit is our "spending problem" (take a drink) -- we're just spoiled children who refuse to live within our means.

Oh John, you're always so full of shit!  Our budget deficit is a Republican monster created by Republican's pet policies, designed to benefit certain predictable Republican constituents.  What do all real Republicans really like?  Military spending and tax cuts.  And in the past 10-12 years, we've had 'em in spades!

We've had two lengthy and unnecessary wars.  They are Republican spending programs.  Our current Defense budget is $700 billion, almost all of it discretionary and the large majority of it spent in Afghanistan and Iraq.  The sequester and our Afghan withdrawal will bring it down significantly, but our military budget still exceeds the budgets of the next ten highest nations combined.  It bears no relationship to any actual threat level.  Plenty of room to trim spending in the DOD, but most Republicans simply will not hear of it.

In 2001, George W. Bush pushed through a "temporary" ten-year package of income tax cuts.  We haven't had a balanced budget since.  Even with the recent slight tax increase on the top 1% of earners ("Obama's revenue"), the Bush cuts continue to cost us $350-$360 billion a year in lost revenue compared to the old rates.

Our current annual budget deficit -- which is somehow all Obama's fault, right? -- is about $1 trillion.  We have $700 billion in annual military spending thanks mainly to the GOP's two wars.  And we have $350 billion less in annual tax revenue thanks to the GOP's tax cuts.  Do the math.  (An over-simplification, I know, but not much of one.)

And as the NY Times pointed out a couple days ago, tax giveaways cost the government more than anythingOur combined tax deductions, credits, subsidies, etc. are worth $1.1 trillion a year -- more than Medicare and Medicaid, more than Social Security, more than Defense (the top 3 government outlays).     

Included in that figure is the value of the very popular home mortgage interest deduction.  Some say it should be eliminated.  If it were (and it won't be), the impact would be insignificant.  According to the OMB, the lost tax revenue via the mortgage interest deduction runs $75-$100 billion a year, a mere drop in the bucket.  Maybe a little tightening of the deduction for high-value homes or high incomes, but that's about it.

The vast majority of the tax breaks are enjoyed by corporations, which is exactly the way Republicans like it.  In our current federal budget, only 9.5% of all revenue comes from corporate income tax, versus 47% of revenue from personal income tax.

Republicans love to bitch about our 35% corporate income tax rate, "the highest in the world."  Yet the average corporation pays an effective average rate of 10-12%, and many pay 0% or even less. 

The industries receiving the most in tax subsidies and other giveaways are energy and utilities, banking and financial, telecommunications, and oil and gas.

In 2010, thirty U.S. corporations paid less than 0% in federal income tax via rebates, refunds and subsidies.  These 30 included GE, NiSource (Columbia Gas), AEP, Duke Energy, Verizon, DuPont, Boeing, Wells Fargo and Honeywell.  The 30 companies reported a total of $160.3 billion in profits and received $10.7 billion in total tax refunds -- an average effective rate of -6.7%.

We have a ton of work to do in this area.

But John Boehner says it's just a spending problem?  And Paul Ryan wants to fix our budget deficit by whacking Granny's Medicare.  WTF??

Gun Violence: To Speed Our Snail's Pace Progress, We Need To See

Very often, the wheels of progress turn slowly, with gains coming in small pieces rather than large chunks.  Regretably, this seems to be the case for common-sense gun legislation.  In the wake of the Sandy Hook slaughter, there are, incredibly, not enough votes in the U.S. Senate to pass Sen. Diane Feinstein's bill to reinstate an assault weapons ban.

Majority leader Harry Reid said there are 40 votes for it.  None, of course, are among the 45 Republicans.  But Reid's count means there are also 15 Democrats who oppose an assault weapons ban.  Reid himself is one of them.

Shame on all these chicken-shit, sell-out Senators who pretend to look in the other direction!  Little children are blown to bits by machine guns, but that's the price we have to pay for our goddam precious 2nd Amendment "rights"?  These thumb-twiddling Senators have mush between their ears and blood on the hands.

But progress is progress, however slow and frustrating.  The prospects still look good for universal background checks and improved anti-gun-trafficking efforts.  Small steps, but we'll take 'em . . . for now, but not for long.  We've got to do more, we've got to do better, and we've got to do it sooner, not later.

(What follows is paraphrased and inspired by a recent article written by filmmaker Michael Moore.  It appeared in the Huffington Post.)

At the end of World War II, General Eisenhower ordered thousands of German civilians to walk through the numerous concentration camps that so many of them claimed did not exist.  Eisenhower knew they needed to see.

In America in the 1960's and 1970's, beyond all the printed and spoken words, there were nationally published photos of young Emmett Till's mutilated body, of lynchings, of civil rights protestors beaten and attacked by dogs, of all the terrible realities of the Viet Nam War.

The images were god-awful, but as Emmett Till's mother said, we needed to see.  It sunk in.  The horror became less abstract, more tangible, and as a nation, we acted.

So far, none of us in the general public has seen a single crime scene/forensic photo from Columbine, or Virginia Tech, or Aurora, or Newtown.  But such photos exist, in police and coroners files.  Similar photos will exist after the next gun massacre, and the next, and the next, and the next.

But one of these days, a parent or a cop or a doctor will decide that we need to see.  They'll release photos to show us the immediate aftermath of an AR-15 attack in a school or a theater, photos to show us what a little kid's body looks like after being hit with high-velocity rounds from an assault rifle.

The images will be sickening, horrific.  I hope we don't look away (like too many Senators are doing right now), because we need to see.

When at last we really see, then we'll also see the 2nd Amendment for what it really is, and not for the NRA perversion we've allowed it to become.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Amateur Advice On Filling Out Your NCAA Bracket

March Madness!  It's again that time of year when millions of us waste time and money trying to pick winners in the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament.  It's a tough task.  With a field of 68 teams, there are over 9 quint-trillion possible outcomes.

Always picking the higher seed is probably the best strategy, but also the most boring.  So here are a handful of alternate strategies designed to provide a little fun, if not victories, as you fill out your bracket.

1.  Go Presidential, aka Barack My World, aka Obama-Rama.  Just use President Obama's picks.  Historically, he's been pretty good.  If you're a Tea Bagger, just pick all the opposite teams.

2.  Go for shorter coaches.  Forget our supposed societal preference for taller men.  In big-time college hoops, shorter is better.  Duke's Mike Kryzewski, Louisville's Rick Pitino, Florida's Billy Donavan, and VCU's Shaka Smart have all had recent tournament success.

3.  Go alphabetical.  Using A-to-Z order, we'll get a Final Four of Akron, Albany, Arizona and Bucknell.  Akron will defeat Albany in the championship game.

4.  Go reverse-alphabetical.  Z-to-A order yields a Final Four of Wisconsin, Western Kentucky, Virginia Commonwealth and Valparaiso.  Wisconsin beats WKU to win it all.

5.  Go Garanimals.  Color-coordinate your picks by uniform color.  Red favorites, by region,  are Louisville, Indiana, Ohio State, and San Diego State.  Blue favorites are Gonzaga, Kansas, Duke, and Marquette.  Green leaders are Miami, Michigan State, Notre Dame, and Oregon.

6.  Go for funny mascot names.  Long Island-Brooklyn Blackbirds, Iona Gaels, St. Louis Billikens, Akron Zips, and South Dakota State Jack Rabbits.

7.  Pick a #16 seed to beat a #1 seed.  Hey, it's gotta happen sometime!

8.  Or . . . just do everything exactly like you did it last year when you also didn't win.

Comment On "My Gun Is Cute" And My Reply

A comment received on Buster's "My Gun Is Cute, Sexy, Feminine and Fun" (my post of  3/11/13 in which I decry the sleazy marketing of firearms), and my reply:

  1. Speaking of think pink, my sister just bought a pink handgun... How chic!

  2. Dear BM -- Oh, ha-ha.  Your sister is not chic, she is an idiot. Statistics conclusively show that guns in the home add to violence and danger, they don't prevent it. Guns in the home are far more likely to be used in anger than in self-defense. I hope your sister doesn't accidentally shoot her own tits off!
Note to readers: "BM" (what an appropriate acronym!) does not have a sister.  "BM" is not a human being, but is instead a website for a company engaged in the despicable practice of selling handguns and accessories specifically to women. Their marketing is a combination of fear and fashion, a pastel-colored lie.

These sort of website robo-replies are oddly interesting, and Buster gets them every now and then. I wonder what they're trying to accomplish.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

"Gun Talk", With Your Host, The Glib Sociopath

Portman's Epiphany X 2

Lucky readers, today you get a two-fer: 

Both Buster and Dave Girves offer similar takes and ask similar questions about Portman's shift on gay marriage.  I was ready to post my comments when I got an email from Dave with one of his blog posts on the same topic.  So you get both, Buster first, then Dave.  (You can find more of Dave's stuff in "Buster's Links")   

Even though his new position is a carefully crafted arms-length embrace, Sen. Rob Portman is getting praise for publicly renouncing his anti-gay views.  He deserves the kudos, because he did the right thing.  (Of course, he could still do more.)

But here's a good and fair question to askWould Portman have changed his tune if he didn't have a gay son?  Obviously, the answer is no.
Left to themselves, Republicans/conservatives seem incapable of developing empathy.  Just can't get there on their own.  They have an epiphany only when some inconvenient personal truth pops up and smacks them right in the face:  "Today I 'discovered' my son is gay.  Rocked my world, dude!  Had to change my thinking."  But unless and until something personal like that occurs, there's very little thinking at all about other people, about fellow human beings.
Since that's the way they roll, I believe we could create a batch of more caring, empathetic Republicans if we could somehow arrange for them to wake up tomorrow and suddenly "discover" that one of their children is, say, poor.  Or hungry.  Or homeless.  Or on Medicaid.
I guess that's not very likely to happen to the offspring of the average Republican senator.  But it would be a real eye-opener if it did.  Right, Robbie?
Letters to the Editor
Columbus Dispatch,

I applaud Senator Rob Portman for taking the time to rethink his position and now support gay marriage.

I’m disappointed that he waited until he found out that one of his own children is gay to develop enough empathy to seriously consider his position on the issue.

Yet, as I understand it, his new position is “the government shouldn’t deny gay couples the opportunity to get married” . . . the federal government, that is. He wants his son to be able “to lead a happy meaningful life with the person he loves and to have the same opportunities to pursue happiness and fulfillment as his brother and sister,” but only if his son is living in one of the nine states that sanction same sex marriage. Perhaps he should think some more.

I wish the Senator could summon that empathy and imagine how he would feel if his son had been brutally murdered at the age of six, at school, by a gunman holding an assault rifle.

Would he still be against banning assault weapons?

Do our elected officials have to be affected personally before they give serious consideration to the things that effect ordinary citizens every day?

Dave Girves

Friday, March 15, 2013

Farewell To The Big East, With An Old, Obscure Memory

This weekend will wrap up the last basketball tournament for the Big East Conference.  So much has already been said about all the great teams, players, coaches, games, etc.  Begun in 1979 as a 7-school pure basketball conference, the Big East hooked up immediately with another newbie, ESPN.  In an era of mostly local telecasts, they quickly found a national audience with "Big Monday" games on ESPN.

I was often part of that audience.  The original Big East teams played high-quality, fast-paced basketball.  Those early days of the 1980's Big East hoops were its best days. Eventually, the member colleges succumbed to the lure of expansion for the sake of football schools and football money. Now, in a couple days, the bloated 16-school, revolving door conference will cease to exist, at least we knew it.

But way back in the 1980-81 season, for some reason I developed an affection for the Big East's Syracuse team.  My first love was and still is Ohio State, but that year's Buckeyes underperformed badly.  In their senior year, the great class of Herb Williams, Jim Smith, Carter Scott, Marquis Miller and Todd Penn went out with a whimper, and so I somehow landed on the Orangemen.  They must have been on TV a lot.

Syracuse that year was good, not great, but I thought they were a bunch of fun to watch.  They were middle-of-the-conference-pack, but they rode a hot streak to win the second-ever Big East Conference tournament at Madison Square Garden.  They were snubbed by the NCAA tourney, but kept up their winnng ways in NIT, until bowing in the finals with a 2-point loss to Tulsa. 

That's my old, really obscure Big East memory -- a fast, fun Syracuse team from 32 years ago.  They finished 22-12.  I had to look that up.  I did not have to look up their starting five.  Anybody except me remember these guys?  Probably not.

Tony 'Red' Bruin, guard
Marty Headd, guard

Erich Santifer, forward


Leo Rautins, forward

Danny Schayes, center


Senator Portman's "Brave" Baby Step

Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) today announced that he had reversed his long-held position of opposition to gay marriage.  Portman was an original sponsor of the 1996 federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) which makes gay marriage illegal.  (The Obama administration has not enforced the stupid law for a couple years, and next week the Supreme Court hears arguments that DOMA is unconstitutional.) 

Portman's change of heart was motivated by the revelation that one of his sons is gay.  The senator's new official position is still quite the half-assed cop-out -- he's opposed to a federal ban on gay marriage and thinks the question is best left to the states -- but for a GOP'er like him, thoroughly stewed in the conservative juices of Cincinnati, coming out against DOMA qualifies as "courageous".

It may be a small step, but at least it's one in the right direction.  So, attaboy Rob!  Good job.

Now, if Robbie would just reverse his positions on . . .

Gay adoption rights, abortion rights, gun control legislation, his support of the NRA, environmental protection, cap and trade, a carbon tax, investment in renewable energy, immigration policy, labor rights, minimum wage, women's rights, equal pay, additional tax revenue, the ridiculous Grover Norquist pledge, Obamacare, further health care reform, protecting Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid benefits, public education, separation of church and state, banking and Wall Street reforms, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and the confirmation of Rich Cordray as its chairman . . .

. . . well, then we'd really have ourselves something:  a more complete human being, a mensch, and a much better Senator!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Another Low-Tech Device Still In Use Today

(A good one sent by a faithful reader.  Thank you, faithful reader!)


News you can use.

The tobacco smoke enema, an insufflation of tobacco smoke into the rectum by enema, was a medical treatment employed by European physicians for a range of ailments.  Now used by politicians for blowing smoke up your A...

Adding To The Oxymoron List

Aah, the classics!  Holy war.  Airline food.  Uninvited guest.  Business ethics.  Non-dairy creamer.  Legally drunk.  Freezer burn.  Resident alien.  Jumbo shrimp.  Military intelligence.

Sadly, it's time to add another the list:  Military justice.

In our armed services, when a sexual assault is reported, verified by investigators, and a suspect is charged, the next step is known as "command discretion" -- the case is reviewed by the accused's commander.

Commanders refer sexual assault cases to court-martial less than one-third of the time.  The rest are simply dismissed, not by an expert or a judge -- by the accused's immediate supervisor. 

Even if the case is referred to court-martial, the accused can opt for "resignation in lieu" -- you admit guilt, quit the service, all charges are dropped and -- poof! -- you're a civilian again.  It's like a confessed bank robber getting an immediate pardon if he says he's sorry and promises to move out of town.

Last year, according to the Dept. of Defense, there were 3192 confirmed/verified reports of sexual assault in the military.  If unreported assaults are included, some put last year's number as high as 19,000.  From that, only 191 cases ended in a conviction.  That's pretty damn lame.

And incredibly, in some cases that end in a trial conviction, the soldier's commanding general can simply overturn the guilty verdict.  The guilty-a-minute-ago party can even remain in the service.

It's all very military, but justice it ain't!  It's like Groucho said:  "Military justice is to real justice as military music is to real music."

For an excellent article on the topic, click the link.


The New Pope: The More Things Change, . . .

Earth-shattering news on the Catholic beat:

A new old-white-guy-in-a-dress has replaced the old old-white-guy-in-a-dress.  No other changes to report.