Welcome to Buster's Blog

Irregular commentary on whatever's on my mind -- politics, sports, current events, and life in general. After twenty years of writing business and community newsletters, fifteen years of fantasy baseball newsletters, and two years of email "columns", this is, I suppose, the inevitable result: the awful conceit that someone might actually care to read what I have to say. Posts may be added often, rarely, or never again. As always, my mood and motivation are unpredictable.

Buster Gammons

Saturday, August 31, 2013

A-Hole Of The Week

Ohio Rep. Debbie Phillips (D-Athens) asked the Kasich administration for more information on the firing of Ohio EPA Division Chief George Elmaraghy.  Her request was ignored.  Gov. Kasich's press secretary/droogie Rob Nichols explained, saying that Phillips always opposes "job creators", and "If she had her way, we'd all be living on a collective farm cooking organic quinoa over a dung fire.  So we'll take her views in context."

Let's check your context, Rob:  Ohio's coal companies are righteous job creators who can do no wrong.  Phillips is a Communist.  You don't respect farmers, and you don't like organic grains.  Does that about sum it up?

Elmaraghy was unceremoniously dumped because he wouldn't kneel to Kasich's pro-coal pressure.  Phillips public records request is entirely reasonable.

And the next time we want a dung fire, all we need to do is put a match to Rob Nichols.  What an asshole!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

John J. Gilligan

The former Ohio Governor and U.S. Representative John J. Gilligan died yesterday at age 92.  He was a liberal lion.  Of all the comments marking his passing, my favorite is:

"He comforted the afflicted, and afflicted the comfortable."

Not a bad epitaph!

Which Road To Take?

Tomorrow is the 50th Anniversary of The March on Washington.  It's sadly ironic that as we remember and celebrate that historic turning point, we're also contemplating military action against the regime of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad.  Dr. King stood steadfastly against violence, no matter what.  The bastard Assad gassed his own people as a show of strength, to maintain power and control.  Two distinctly different methods of conflict resolution.

The pressure is on America to "do something".  A line has been crossed.  Many say U.S. military action against Syria is inevitable.  Our warships are in  place, missiles ready to strike.  Which road to take?  Is there anything resembling a good option?

What Assad did is barbaric, inhumane, cowardly.  He should hang by his balls in the pit of hell.  But while launching a few rockets at Syria might feel good, it will only make things worse.  It won't kill Assad, it won't make him leave, and it won't destroy all their chemical weapons.  It will only incite violence and extremism in the most unstable region in the world.  The spill-over possibilities are frightening.  It's highly risky business.

America cannot be a super-hero enforcer.  We are not the world's cop.  We cannot right every wrong, and there are endless wrongs to choose from.  We must be judicious.  Is military intervention in Syria, now, worth the downside risk?  What do we possibly hope to accomplish?  Are there any alternatives?  Any?

What do you think Dr. King would do?  I think he'd counsel patience, perseverance, and massive doses of diplomacy, sanctions, embargoes and blockades -- the sanctions for Syria and a global diplomatic full-court press aimed squarely at Russia and China, Syria's only remaining "allies", and even they cannot defend the indefensible.    

Martin would push a peaceful solution, not the "launch" button.  We should not lose sight of the man's message and his legacy.

A New Trend In Corporate Sponsorship

Here's a new trend.  Corporate naming rights are not just for ballparks and arenas anymore.  The OSU Medical Center is thinking of calling its ER the "Abercrombie & Fitch Emergency Center".  Seriously.  (Would it be just for fashion emergencies?)

Also under consideration at the OSU hospital:

The Jack Daniels Alcohol Rehabilitation Center
The Brown & Williamson Lung Cancer Wing
The Frederick's of Hollywood Breast Implant Clinic
The Barry White Maternity Ward

It's Fifty Years Old, But Wisdom Has No Expiration Date

(Stolen from a friend's FB page)

A Far Too Serious OSU Football Fan

They Had A Michigan Wolverines Flag Hanging From Their Porch, Not Anymore

Go Bucks! ('cause the little girl says so.)

(Stolen from a friend's FB page)

Sunday, August 25, 2013

On Marriage

"We need each other.  This is why we enter into matrimony.  Even though we see a lot of cars in the ditch, we still drive down that road.  Because we need each other."
-- Garrison Keillor

Great Comment On "John Kasich's Black Heart"

Buster doesn't normally re-post comments (except to make fun of them).  Comments are always available to be read by anyone.  But this one deserves a little of its own time in the spotlight, not in the off-stage shadows of "comments".  The writer is responding to my 8/22/13 post  "Kasich's Black Heart" about the firing of George Elmaraghy.

Over the years, I worked with George and his staff on numerous occasions. While I found 'some' members of his staff to be unreasonable obstructionists (others were doggone good people to work with), I found George to be a straight shooter, organized, willing to listen and generally good at interacting/working with others. I liked him and feared him at the same time 'cause his agency held the keys to the cars we needed to drive in order to achieve our mandate. Being a sister agency, it might be thought that our projects got off easy. That wasn't the case. We were held to the same standards. Of course, we always said, if we expected the public (industry or others) to do it right, we certainly needed to do it right! So we always tired to hit the bullseye, but sometimes we didn't and the OEPA would challenge us to do better.
It needs to be noted that OEPA Director Scott Nally didn't get fired. He kept his feet clean, and evidently wouldn't step in the mess. Obviously, he wasn't willing to stick his own neck in the guillotine. George could say, "Thanks for having my back, Scott."
Give Kasich kudos on a couple of items (I know, a stopped clock is right twice a day). He's right on medicaid expansion and oil & gas taxes.
You know who

Great points!  Hatchet man EPA Director Scott Nally is an utterly political appointee on the job since just 2011.  Yes, that's baseball -- it happens, but it's still not right.  And although I wouldn't exactly give "kudos" to Kasich, he's on the right path with Medicaid and gas/oil severance tax.  Medicaid expansion is very low cost to Ohio, the right thing to do, and a net benefit to the state.  It should happen and is, I think, inevitable.  And damn right the frackers ought to pay a reasonable amount for extracting fossil fuels while turning us into a pin cushion.  Ohio's severance taxes are virtually nothing compared to other states.  Unfortunately, Kasich's proposal direct's just 25% of revenue toward frack-damaged eastern Ohio, with the rest going toward his Holy Grail an income tax cut.
But for now, it's all moot.  Both Medicaid expansion and sensible severance taxes have been scuttled by intransigent Republicans in the Ohio House.
But well said, Mr. "Anonymous".  And I do know who!  Thanks for reading. 

Thursday, August 22, 2013

A Lack Of History

One illustration of the dumbing down of America is that way too many people know far too little of history.  Forget the obvious cases – Tea Baggers and children, for example.  I’m talking about regular adults, grown-ass men and women who are willfully ignorant of almost everything other than their own momentary existence.

I’ve been witness to this lack of historical knowledge for some time.  Let me explain.

For over 30 years, I’ve conducted group training seminars for certain employees in the automotive industry.  In those seminars, I always use an amusing little thing called The Brain Test as an interlude – a break between training segments.  It’s a list of 20-or-so questions that seem simple and straightforward, but aren’t.  Example:

Seven months have 31 days.  April, June, September and November have 30.  How many have 28?
Most people will answer one.  The correct answer, of course, is all of them.

The final question is always about the U.S. President.  The current wording of the question is:

What was the name of the President of the United States in 1965?
(Clue – over 30 years, I’ve had to change the year from 1940 to 1955 to 1965.)

Invariably, this question brings howls of protest:  “Ancient history!”  “That’s before I was born!  How am I supposed to know that?”

They feel no responsibility to know anything which may have occurred prior to their own arrival on this earth.  They literally know so little history they can’t even take a bad guess about a past President.  The attitude is, Whatever happened before me doesn’t affect me today, so I don’t care.  And the equally depressing, selfish corollary is, Whatever may happen after I’m dead won’t affect me either, so I don’t care.     
If the question is read as to be asking who held the office in 1965, it was Lyndon Johnson.  In 1955 it was Dwight Eisenhower, and in 1940 it was Franklin Roosevelt.  But the question doesn’t really ask who the President was.  It asks what was the name of the President in 1965?

And the correct answer is, Barack Obama, same as his name is today.  (The President’s name is Barack Obama, and that was his name in 1965 as well.)   The other correct answers during my 30 years of seminars have been, in order, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush.

Ha!  Trick question.  You may groan now.

BP Still Sucks

We're the fossil fuel industry, and we're here to help!  Don't think of us as miners and drillers and frackers -- call us "energy investors."  Yeah, that's it!

[Actual transcript, snarkified ala Buster]

When we made our commitment to the Gulf (because we were legally obliged to clean up our mess), BP had two big goals:  help the Gulf recover (since we were the ones who poisoned it), and learn from what happened ('cause at the time, we had no fuckin' clue) so we could be a better, safer energy company.  (Not petroleum.  Energy, dammit!)  I've been with BP for 24 years (but I'm still too young to retire, so I'm making this stupid TV ad for a nice, fat bonus).  I was part of the team that helped deliver on our (forced) commitments to the Gulf.  I can tell you that safety is at the heart of everything we do.  (Well, at least now it is.  And look -- "safety" is written on the back of their hardhats.  What more do you need?)  We've added cutting-edge safety equipment and technology, like a new deep-water well cap (better late than never) and a state-of-the-art monitoring center where experts watch over all drilling activity 24-7.  (Lord knows, we need to be watched.)  And we're sharing what we've learned so we can all produce energy more safely (if you consider an off-shore drilling platform 11 miles out into the Arctic Ocean "safe").  Safety is a vital part of BP's (required) commitment to America and to the nearly 250,000 people who work with us here (including all the 3rd-shift gas station clerks).  We invest more in the U.S. than anywhere else in the world, over $55 billion here in the last 5 years (much of it in fines and legally mandated reparations), making BP America's largest energy investor.  (Investor, gambler, payer of damages, what's the difference?)  Our commitment (to repairing our image) has never been stronger.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

John Kasich's Black Heart

Black from coal dust, that is.

The head of the Ohio EPA's Division of Surface Water is George Elmaraghy.  He has been with the EPA for 39 years.  His job is protect our rivers, streams, lakes and wetlands.

More accurately, it was his job.  He's been fired/forced to resign by Wonder Guv Kaysuck for simply doing his duty and trying to enforce the law.  Ohio's coal industry keeps asking the EPA for "permits" which would allow them to skirt the law and illegally pollute.  Elmaraghy repeatedly turned them down, stating that what they ask for would have "negative impact on streams and wetlands, and would violate state and federal laws."

The coal companies and their buddies the utility companies clearly don't give a shit about small matters like laws and pollution.  And being major Kasich campaign contributors, they expect to get their money's worth.   So they go running to John Boy and whine about this meddlesome EPA Division Chief who won't let them do what they want.

And in the best/worst tradition of quid pro quo cronyism, the black-hearted Kasich promptly fires the poor guy for doing exactly what he was supposed to be doing.

And Kasich's EPA will now fully engage in the opposite of environmental protection.

Lynn Wachtmann Is Not A One-Trick Pony

Lynn Wachtmann is a bat-shit State Rep from the mighty metropolis of Napoleon, Ohio.  It may seem that all he does is write ridiculous anti-abortion legislation, but no, Mr. Wachtmann is not some single-issue ideologue.  Recently, he co-sponsored a bill that actually had nothing to do with abortion.

It was HB 29, the "Boater Freedom Act", and Gov. Kasich signed it into law last month.  It prohibits law enforcement from stopping any boat unless the officer has reasonable suspicion that the boat's operator has broken the law.  Wachtmann and fellow sponsor Rep. Rex Damschroder say their new law "eliminates intrusive searches."

Yes, the Ohio GOP is here to protect our freedoms.  They will not put up with intrusive searches, unless we're talking about intrusions into the female reproductive system.  But Wachtmann and Damschroder don't have that kind of plumbing, so what do they care?

Interestingly, back in 2000, Wachtmann was arrested and charged in Michigan for drunken boat operation.  Thirteen years later, he sponsors a bill that will prevent similar arrests in Ohio.

Today's Ohio Republicans are all about freedom, aren't they?  Freedom for concealed guns, freedom for drunk boaters, and freedom for people without a uterus.  Brilliant!


Wachtmann & Hagan announce their unconstitutional bill

Ohio State reps Lynn Wachtmann (R-Napoleon) and Christina Hagan (R-Canton) are what you might call "gyno-ticians" -- amateur gynecologists posing as politicians.

Like zombies, Wachtmann and Hagan just won't go away.  They've introduced yet another anti-abortion "Heartbeat" bill which would severely shorten the time frame in which a woman could end an unwanted pregnancy.  Their previous attempts to pass such bills have failed, but they seem undeterred.

"I forget -- are you #17 or #18?  Who the hell are you?"
This pair of narrow-minded zealots kicked off their latest foray into writing unconstitutional law by having Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar (TLC's 19 Kids & Counting) appear beside them as they announced the reintroduction of their hateful bill.  The Duggars are not only extremely prolific, they're also clinically insane.  When you believe they're not, when you believe that "reality" TV crazoids add credibility to your war on women's choice, you're probably insane as well.

One of the few good things retired Ohio Senate President Tom Niehaus did was prevent these nut-job anti-abortion bills from ever getting to the Senate floor, even though the Ohio Senate was packed with his fellow Republicans.  Perhaps current Senate President Keith Faber (R-Celina) will follow Niehaus's lead in this regard.

One can only hope.  Faber's email is Keith@KeithFaber.org.  Send him an email and tell him what you think.

The Articles Of Faith

The scene:  A large auditorium somewhere in Midwest America, filled to capacity.  Four shadowy figures take the darkened stage.  Slowly, the stage lights come up to reveal the four:  Paul Ryan, holding Ayn Rand’s book Atlas Shrugged; Roger Ailes, holding the transcript from last night’s Sean Hannity telecast; Grover Norquist, holding his Taxpayer Protection Pledge;  and from the US Chamber of Commerce, Tom Donohue, holding a copy of the Citizens United decision.

As the audience whispers in appreciative recognition, a giant 30-foot tall photo image is projected onto a screen behind the four.  It's Charles and David Koch.  Suddenly a disembodied voice – rich and deep, like a cross between Orson Welles and NFL Films John Facenda –  booms from the PA system through the hall:

“Loyal minions, having already sworn a vow of allegiance upon the Sacred Texts displayed upon our stage, please rise now and remain standing as I recite the eternal verities, our Articles of Faith:

“We assembled here today promise to always oppose worker rights, consumer rights and civil rights.  Instead, we will speak euphemistically of enterprise and self-reliance and liberty.

“We oppose liability lawsuits brought against corporations and the insurance/hospital/medical industry.  We call this tort reform.

“We oppose organized labor.  We will work to destroy unions with right to work laws.

“We oppose minimum wage laws.  We prefer free market principles.

“We oppose public education.  We favor private, for-profit schools at all levels.  In this area, we will speak in code words like vouchers, parental choice, charter schools, and under-performing city schools.  Remember that ‘private’ is always good and ‘public’ is always bad.

“We strongly support Big Oil, Big Coal, Big Agriculture, Big Pharma, Big Medical, Big Insurance and Big Banking.  In exchange for massive campaign contributions, we promise to always do their bidding, for they are the holiest of holies, they are The Job Creators.

“We oppose renewable energy.  We support fracking, tar sands and coal-burning power plants.  We believe in clean coal and energy independence.  When we say ‘Drill, Baby Drill!’, we understand that it means investing in American energy and creating American jobs.  (Notice how rarely we say ‘oil’ or ‘coal’.  It’s always ‘energy.’)

“We oppose all environmental protection laws, including simple recycling.  Such rules are costly job-killing regulations and unnecessary government interference.

“We oppose voting rights, and support all voter suppression efforts in an attempt to rig the game for our own benefit.  We prevent voter fraud.

“We encourage gerrymandering to unfairly give us guaranteed seats for decades in the U.S. House and in state legislatures.   This is redistricting reform.

“We adamantly oppose Obamacare, mainly because we’re so beholden to our Big Insurance/Big Medical benefactors.  We will continue to insist it’s a job-killing/Death Panel/Big Government takeover of your healthcare (although we know it’s not).  We will continue to pass frivolous, symbolic repeal votes in the House, e.g. ‘The Keep the IRS Off Your Healthcare Act of 2013’.

“We proclaim that Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid are Big Government entitlements and are going broke.  Therefore, they must be privatized and/or have their benefits severely cut.  This would bring flexibility and choice.

“We support the private, for-profit prison industry which exists to exploit inmates as a source of ultra-cheap labor.  This is reduced cost vocational training.

“We oppose immigration reform and citizenship for immigrants (because then they could vote).  We prefer to raise a stink about border security and penalties and going to the back of the line.

“We support the NRA, Stand Your Ground laws, concealed carry, civilian purchases of military-grade weapons, and guns in classrooms, businesses and government buildings.  We oppose background checks and limits on ammo.  We emphasize self-defense, public safety, and our proud American gun heritage.

“We oppose safe, legal abortion services.  We oppose a woman’s right to choose.  We will work to repeal Roe v. Wade.  We talk about right to life, fetal heartbeats, and transvaginal probes.

“We deny the undeniable fact of global warming/climate change.  We speak instead of incomplete science and natural warming and cooling cycles.

“We oppose gay marriage rights and will work to ban it at the state level (since that federal DOMA thing didn’t work out).  We have special knowledge of God’s intention and family values.

“We promote Christianity to the exclusion of all other religions, citing (incorrectly) our founding as a Christian nation.

“We believe that all taxes and all social welfare are inherently evil and must be cut or eliminated.  All government expenditures are always bloated, wasteful and intrusive.

“To get our way, we will hold our breath, stomp our feet, filibuster, threaten federal shut-down, create fiscal cliffs and sequestrations, and obstruct every damn thing.  Our boilerplate code-words are:  Tax & spend.  Fiscal responsibility.  Culture of dependency.  Welfare queen.  ‘Get a job, ya lazy [insert favorite ethnic slur here].’ 

These are the Articles of Faith.  Mind them well.  And now, good minions, go forth from this blessed spot to the 114th Congress and do what you always do -- abso-friggin'-lutely diddly-squat, zippo, zilch, nada, nuthin!  Until next time, farewell.  These gentlemen will show you out.”

Don't Be Downstream

Aubrey McClendon is America's foremost fracking advocate.  He's the former CEO of Oklahoma-based Chesapeake Energy, the most active natural gas driller/fracker in the country -- "former" because good ol' Aubrey was forced out by the Chesapeake Board (comprised entirely of his close friends) after he nearly bankrupted the company while raiding the company cookie jar to fill his own pockets.  Pretty bad when you're fired by your best friends.

Under McClendon, Chesapeake Energy operated as a highly-leveraged Ponzi scheme, making more money from flipping land and gas leases than from actual natural gas production.  He'd buy a lease to frack on Farmer Brown's property, then sell that lease to an actual producer for 7-8 times what he paid, then use that money to buy up more leases and sell them, and so forth.  McClendon also borrowed $1 billion personally against his stake in the company, and used company employees to do over $3 million of personal work for him, including home repair.

Aubrey McClendon is a high-rollin' dog infested with fleas.  And guess what?  He's back in the game.  McClendon has just launched his latest fracking enterprise in southeastern Ohio.  Oh, goody.  He's calling the company "Upstream".

Buster's advice:  When Upstream comes to your neck of the woods, don't be downstream.

Stickin' It To The Dispatch Propaganda Machine!

Blogger buddy Dave Girves (see Buster's Links) wrote a great letter to the editor similar to this one, de-bunking another Dispatch attack on Obamacare.  But as is almost always the case, Dave's wasn't published.  This one was, and it's also excellent.  I don't know Dennis Pearl, but I think I like him!

To the editor:

"Young Men Face Higher Premiums" declared the front-page headline in the Dispatch.  (The focus is on young men because young women benefit from new birth-control and maternity coverage under Obamacare.)  But wait . . . 

Most young men are 18 to 25 years old and eligible for coverage under a parent's or spouse's health care plan, thanks to Obamacare, so we are really talking about 26-to-29-year-old single men.  But wait . . . 

Most men in that age group are eligible for a subsidy under Obamacare, so we are really talking about 26-to-29-year-old single men making more than four times the poverty level.  But wait . . . 

Most men in that income group work for a company that already provides insurance or a for a company that will be required to do so under Obamacare.  So we are only talking about 26-to-29-year-old single men without pre-exisitng conditions who must buy insurance on the exchange.

It turns out that a more accurate headline would have been "Fred Faces Higher Premiums".

Well, I just called "Fred" to ask him how it felt to be the only guy in Ohio who has to pay higher premiums under Obamacare in an apples-to-apples comparison.  He said he didn't mind so much since an anti-Obamacare blogger just paid him $2,000 for an exclusive interview, and he used the money to buy insurance.

Dennis Pearl
Bexley, Ohio

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Does This Make Sarah Palin Happy?

In early 2011, long-time Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak was overthrown during the "Arab Spring" uprising.  Back then, Sarah "Puddin' Head" Palin declared herself worried that Barack Obama would turn over Egypt -- as if it were his to give -- to those freedom-hating terrorists, the political party known as the Muslim Brotherhood.  'Cause, ya know, Muslim!

Instead, Egypt conducted its first-ever democratic presidential election, and a Muslim Brotherhood candidate, Mohammed Morsi, won.  Well, a couple years went by and a lot of Egyptians had grown unhappy with their President Morsi.  They couldn't just let him complete his term and then vote his ass out.  They wanted him to resign from office immediately.  They demonstrated nonstop and protested angrily.

Morsi refused to step down, so last month the Egyptian army staged a coup, toppled Morsi's government and threw Morsi in jail.  His many supporters have been protesting ever since.  Yesterday, the Egyptian military cracked down hard.  They fired on "camps" of Morsi supporters.  Over 500 were killed.

I don't know much about this Morsi guy, but I do know this:  Egyptian democracy lasted less than two years.  The only freely elected president is imprisoned.  Some of his supporters have been murdered.  The Muslim Brotherhood Party is out, and the country is once again firmly in the control of a military dictatorship.

Are you happy now, Sarah?


Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Can We Build It? Yes We Can!

Nothing unique.  Just a small slice from the life of Buster (a.k.a. Bob the Builder), father of a college student and volunteer pool "janitor".

In the past four days, I have put together a desk, a chest of drawers, a bed frame, a futon, a 6-burner gas grill, and a chlorine pump.  Some assembly was required.

The 4-drawer chest involved 42 different parts, not including knobs, nuts, bolts, screws, etc., and an inscrutable set of directions.  Forty-two!  For a stupid chest of drawers.

And how many parts for the grill?  More than the stars, my friends, more than the stars.

But it's all done, and now it's gin o'clock.  Yay!

Self-Analysis By Ted Cruz

In a recent interview, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex) had this to say:  "There is a tendency to describe conservatives as stupid or evil or crazy."

That's an excellent analysis, Teddy Boy.  Very perceptive.  You have met the enemy, and he is you.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Shoot-Em Up Charlie Discovers ALEC

Morbidly cute, and basically true.

Click "Fun Facts About ALEC" under Buster's Links for more on this insidious organization.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Why I Don't Golf

Golf is an activity which is popular among the most vile, despicable elements of our society*.  Just the other day, for example, these two notorious rat bastards were discovered playing golf together on a New Jersey course.       

After the round, the Blowhard Birther Hairball (if that's really hair) reportedly stroked a check for $100,000 to the Orange Crybaby's Super PAC, the Congessional Leadership Fund (oxymoron).  Apparently, the leadership of the Congress can be purchased for one hundred large.

It's people like these two that can really spoil your day, and they tend to congregate at golf courses.  That's why I don't golf.

(*  To all my friends who play golf, you know I'm kidding!)

Thursday, August 8, 2013

The Koch Brothers Want You To Be Afraid Of Obamacare

Have you seen this TV ad?  It's from the Reich Wing -- Americans For Prosperity, the 501(c)3 formed by those beacons of truth, the Koch brothers.  Not sure what they've got against Obamacare, but it's a high-sleaze, fear-mongering  30-second spot, designed to frighten low-information right-tards.  (Is there really any other kind?)

The "doctor" in the ad has worries and questions about Obamacare and she just can't figure out any answers.  Since her questions are dreadfully simple, she must be about the dumbest doctor in the world.

Buster's got the breakdown, and the answers:

"Dr. Mary Ellen Gallagher, Pediatrician."  Do you know how many pediatricians there are in this country?  Why the hell is this one so special?  Why should we care what she has to say?  She's just a sell-out, a stunt doctor.

"I've treated sick kids for 15 years."  Better than treating the ones who aren't sick.

"I've always put my patients first, taking time to listen."  Good.  Obamacare has not one bloody thing to do with your ability to listen.

"Can I still work with parents to decide what's best for their kids?"  Yes!!

"Or will the government be in the middle of things?"  No.

"Will my time be spent navigating a complicated system?"  Obamacare does very little to change our health care "system".  It will remain largely the same grossly inefficient, over-priced, over-administered, paperwork-intensive clusterfuck of confusion with which you're already well-acquainted, doc.

"What will happen to my patients if I have to close my practice?"  Well, duh, ya dumbass -- they'd have to find another doctor!  But the question intentionally implies, quite wrongly, that Obamacare will somehow put doctors out of business.  In the main, Obamacare ends abuses and expands access and coverage.  So with a growing population and Baby Boomers entering retirement, we're gonna need all the doctors we can get -- even dumbass doctors like you, Mary Ellen.

"I think there are still a lot of questions."  Which I just answered.  Hope you were paying attention

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

The Selfishness Of A-Roid

Back in early 2009, after initially denying it, NY Yankee 3B Alex Rodriguez, aka "A-Rod", the world's highest-paid baseball player, admitted that he used steroids when he was with the Texas Rangers.  This admission came only because others uncovered undeniable evidence that he was indeed a juicer, and A-Rod figured that copping to the truth was the better course, PR-wise.

The contrite A-Rod in '09 swore he hadn't used PED's in several years and would never, ever use them again.  I felt at the time that he was likely to get a large measure of forgiveness for his confession, however forced and awkward it may have been.

Guess I was wrong, eh?  Turns out A-Rod is a big, fat liar who was steadily using PED's while claiming otherwise.  He was a regular customer at the BioGenesis clinic, along with 12 other current players.  Yesterday, MLB handed down 50-game suspensions for those twelve, and a whopping 211-game suspension for Rodriguez -- for chronic lying, obstructing the investigation, intimidating witnesses, and tampering with evidence.

Everybody knew it was coming.  The other twelve accepted their suspensions without complaint.  A-Rod immediately appealed his.  He'll play the rest of this season with the Yankees and his appeal will go to arbitration in November.  Maybe his suspension will be reduced somewhat, but the Yankees will certainly be done with him, and A-Rod may be done playing altogether.

And he's done in the court of public opinion.  His ego and selfishness are astounding.  Yesterday, he never once denied any of the things MLB says he did, he merely whined about the length of his punishment, said his "life was a nightmare", and that he had to "defend" himself.

Well, good luck with that shit, Alex.  Surely A-Rod noticed that Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, despite stellar careers, were not inducted into the Hall of Fame this spring, and that the Hall continues to shun Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, Rafael Palmeiro, etc.  The big, slimy asterisk of The Steroid Era hangs over all of them.  It will hang over A-Rod too.

The problem with steroids/PED's is this:  Most of athletic history is steroid-free.  PED's are a recent phenomenon.  They do improve strength, speed and endurance, and thereby enhance performance.  But to what degree?  No one can accurately say.  How many homers would Bonds have hit without steroids?  It's impossible to tell where the person ends and the drug begins.  

The majority of baseball players have never used PED's, but some have.  So here's the rub:  In the high-stakes world of Major League Baseball, every little thing matters -- each pitch, hit, throw, catch, steal might be the deciding factor in making the team roster, or winning a game, or winning the World Series.  The accumulation of all these little things can impact jobs, income, success and failure.  Each individual has his own abilities and skill set, but the guy who takes PED's gives himself an advantage over the guy who doesn't, and that unnatural advantage can influence outcomes.

Meyer  is a former Phillie pitcher.  Bastardo is a current Phillie pitcher and one of the 12 players suspended.

A single game can make a difference.  Imagine a frequent scenario on the last day of the regular season.  Two teams in the AL East are matched up on the final day.  For both teams, it's "win and you're in" -- win the game and make the post-season playoffs, lose and go home.  In a scoreless tie in the bottom of the ninth, Alex Rodriguez hits a walk-off home run to win the game for the Yankees, and they rejoice.  But was it the real A-Rod who smacked the HR, or was it A-Roid, the Anabolic A-Rod?   We'll never know.  Does it really matter?  It sure as hell matters to the other team.  It should matter to all sports fans.

Buster's final baseball thought:  Both of my Ohio teams are right in the thick of the pennant races.  Go Indians!  Go Reds! 

A-Rod?  Go home.


Monday, August 5, 2013

The Surveillance Society

[Excerpts from the 8/12/13 Time magazine article by David Von Drehle]

In 1980, IBM introduced its Model 3380 disk drive, the first device capable of storing more than a gigabyte of data.  It was roughly the size and weight of a refrigerator and cost an inflation-adjusted $100,000. Today a flash drive costing one-thousandth as much can store 50 times the data and fit on a key ring.  The amount of data that can be stored is almost infinite.

Perhaps there's consolation in the magic of the microchip.  Technology makes all secrets more difficult to keep -- not just our personal secrets but the government's as well.

This, ultimately, may prove to be our best protection against the rise of the surveillance state.  The same tools that strengthen it strengthen those who protest against it. Privacy is not the only illusion in the new age of data -- government secrecy is too. Big Brother might be watching, but he is also being watched.

A New Level Of Nothingness

Back in the campaign of 1948, President Harry Truman famously railed against what he called the "Do-Nothing" Congress of his first term in office.  That particular Congress put an average of 453 bills per year upon Truman's desk for consideration.  Most of those were, in Give-'Em-Hell Harry's opinion, obvious minor must-do's, or simply meaningless -- hence do-nothing.

The current 113th Congress just broke for its August recess.  In its first seven months, only 22 bills have made it to President Obama's desk.   All have been obvious minor must do's, or simply meaningless.  It's some sort of sad-ass record for ideological obstruction.

There's nothing, and then there's nothing.