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, September 30, 2014

Lazy Man's Lawn Care

Bite The Bag!

California has just banned the plastic bags so common at grocery stores and other retailers.  These ubiquitous bags are cheap and handy, and they're also an environmental disaster.  Each bag is "used" for only 20 minutes, on average, yet will remain in the landfill for a thousand years.  They have no recycling value and we've produced billions of them.

Many regular readers are old enough to remember when these bags simply didn't exist.  The neighbor hadn't yet recommended his one word -- "Plastics" -- as a career choice to Ben in The Graduate.  Back then, bags were paper -- a natural, recyclable, biodegradable product -- and we got along just fine.

It would now appear that today's flimsy little plastic bags are just a passing fancy, a "convenience" with unacceptable downside costs.  California has the right idea and other states should follow suit.  Until that happens, say "paper."  In this instance, we can all change our habits without real hardship.

The plastic bag industry will cry foul and try to scare us about job loss, but sometimes certain products just have to go away.  Once, we had a lead paint industry and an asbestos industry, but not anymore and we're better off without those jobs.  It's time to bite the bag.

(A good friend has a company which maintains and repairs the machinery used in plastics manufacturing, including equipment which makes grocery bags.  Hey bud, I'm not trying to put you out of business.  If the little bags are outlawed, there's still enough need for other extruded polyethylene film products to keep you busy for a long, long time.)

Allah Does Not Follow Football

Kansas City Chiefs safety Husain Abdullah is a devout Muslim.  In the Monday night NFL game, he returned an interception for a touchdown, slid into the end zone on his knees, then bent down in prayer.  He was immediately flagged by the referees for unsportsmanlike conduct/excessive celebration.  (The penalty had no impact on the game -- the Chiefs beat the Patriots in a blow-out.)

Many fans took to social media to complain about the penalty on Abdullah, correctly pointing out that God's own QB, Tim Tebow, was famously fond of praying on the field and Saint Timothy was never, ever penalized for his "Tebowing."  These critics decried the apparent double standard:  white Christian praying on the field = OK; black Muslim praying on the field = not OK.

The image-conscious NFL, these days stumbling all over itself to try and do something right, something totally PC, now says the play did not deserve a penalty and such religious displays will not be flagged in the future.  What's good for the Tebow is good for the Abdullah, so gentlemen, start your prayers.

Pardon me, I have to puke.  Can we not have a separation of church and sport?  

People follow sports for the competition, for the game itself, not to watch some athlete pray, and not to listen to some jock "give all the glory to God."  What's next for the NFL's new freedom of religious expression?

The Hindu linebacker calls timeout for some meditation mantras?
The Catholic placekicker has full communion before attempting the game-winning field goal?
The Jewish wide receiver celebrates his TD catch by having Rabbi Glickman recite a few of his favorite Psalms?

Hey athletes!  Play the damn game and practice religion on your own time.  And remember, Allah doesn't follow football, and God doesn't have ESPN.


The Kid With The Stick Must Be John Boehner

From the "Awww, how cute!" files, it's future President of the United States Barack Obama with his grandfather Stan Dunham, circa 1965.

John Cleese On Stupidity

A minute well-spent:

Friday, September 19, 2014

Free-Range Idiot

Remember when Cliven Bundy and his merry band of armed-to-the-teeth tax-dodging patriots freed his cows to roam free and graze on federal land? Only 48 hours later, several of his cows made their way onto busy Interstate 15, where a couple traveling on the road were unable to avoid them:
According to the Nevada Highway Patrol’s accident report, Beck and her boyfriend, Matthew Zanatta, were headed north on I-15 about 75 mph when they encountered cows in both lanes of the road. Zanatta tried to stop the car, but it hit one of the cows. The animal rolled up onto the roof, and the car swerved off the road and into a culvert.
And Cliven Bundy was too busy to come to the scene:
“The cow’s owner never arrived on scene after being contacted by NHP dispatch,” the report said.
Does Bundy feel responsible? Nah. Despite illegally setting his cattle loose on the land, he's just not into that personal responsibility stuff:
“It’s a state problem. It’s not our problem,” Bundy said. “We really feel bad when it happens. We sure don’t want it to happen. But we’re not liable.”
The victim is suing to recover $20,000 in medical expenses and lost income. Given Bundy's past record, she may have a hard time collecting if she wins.

(Published 9/19/14, Daily Kos.com)

Six Months For "Happy" Feet

Remember back in May when six young residents of Tehran made a video of themselves dancing to Pharell Williams' "Happy" and were promptly arrested by Iranian authorities?  Well, today they were finally sentenced for their "crime" and the judge gave each of them 6 months in jail and 91 lashes.

Lashes??  Are you friggin' kidding?  Lashes?  Is Adrian Peterson serving his suspension in Iran?  (Just kidding!  Too soon?)

Luckily, all the sentences were suspended and none of them will do jail time or be lashed.  The judge released them and told them to behave themselves, i.e. don't dance!

What Democrats Can Run On In 2014 Mid-Terms

The 2014 mid-term elections are coming up fast.  Numbers guru Nate Silver (538 Blog) predicts that while Democrats are likely to gain a few governorships (Ohio not among them), they're also likely to lose their majority in the U.S. Senate.

Is there any way to make a liar out of Nate Silver?  Beats me, but here are a few things the D's should run on, or run against, in the November mid-terms:

First and foremost, don't be a chicken-shit.  Embrace President Obama and his two huge, historic accomplishments -- economic recovery after the Great Crash of '08, and the health care expansion of the ACA/Obamacare.

When Obama took office, our economy was in the worst place it had been since 1929.  Millions were financially damaged, many were ruined.  Today, unemployment is down, the federal deficit is down, stock markets are up, home values are up, and business is healthy.  Remember Carville's famous words:  It's the economy, stupid!

Obamacare is working, so don't run away from it.  People like it.  None of what the naysayers predicted has been true.  Obamacare opened a door, and for decades to come, it will be a catalyst for further needed changes in our healthcare system.  There's no turning back.  Might as well get with the program.  If you're a Democratic candidate in a toss-up, purple district and you think you'll win by tap dancing away from the ACA, you've already lost.

The world can be nuts, so we can all be thankful that our foreign policy is appropriately thoughtful, cautious and non-reactionary (mostly).  We've ended the unfunded full-blown "wars" in Iraq and Afghanistan, and have avoided unnecessary foreign entanglements.  We've resisted the hawk-ish militarism of Dubya's neo-cons, John McCain, and other morons (so far).

Obama's philosophy of "Don't do stupid shit" may be mocked by the wing-nuts, but it sounds just about right to me!  (Disclaimer -- our bombing of ISIS in Iraq and our arming/training of Syrian rebels may turn out to be stupid shit.  I am not enthused.)

D's can and should run in proud support of all civil rights, including LGBT rights and gay marriage, and should remind us all that the hate-based, short-lived and now defunct Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was a Republican creation.

Dems should run in vigorous opposition to the blatant voter suppression laws being enacted in so many states, including Ohio.  Laws requiring photo ID and arbitrary reduction of voting access are almost always illegal.  That's why they're being overturned everywhere.  Dems everywhere should remind voters whose craven idea this was in the first place.

D's everywhere should gleefully remind their constituents that the contrived shutdown of the federal government in October 2013 was an idiotic Tea-Bag stunt -- Ted Cruz's bright idea -- and a horrible GOP failure.  Again, real people got hurt, and for what?  The GOP owns this turd-pile.

Citizens United.  McCutcheon.  Hobby Lobby.  Three horribly misguided Supreme Court decisions championed by Republicans, and all three are solidly opposed by American public opinion.  D's should tell us all once again that corporations are not people, money is not speech, and business is not religion.

House R's have uselessly voted 54 times to repeal all or part of Obamacare.  Fifty-four times!  Call 'em out for this stupid waste of time and money.

And call 'em out big-time for their blatant obstructionism!  Infrastructure funding, minimum wage increase, immigration reform, gender-based pay inequity, income inequality, alternative energy initiatives -- all these issues with popular support sit dead in the water because the GOP blocks them and filibusters them to death every time.

Here in Ohio, gerrymandering has fairly well rigged the game in the R's favor, but Dems ought to make sure no one forgets SB 5, Kasich's failed attempt at union-busting.  Nor should we forget his de-fanging of the Ohio EPA, the Ohio Consumers Council, and the PUCO.  Our Wonder-Guv has privatized portions of state government and the Ohio Turnpike.  He gleefully hopped into bed with the fracking industry, consequences be damned.  He wanted to drill in our state parks.  He's for regressive sales taxes and against progressive income taxes.  "Jawhnny" is a hot-tempered ass who'll be reelected easily, mainly because FitzGerald has stumbled so often.  

In the big picture, the most important and effective thing the Democrats can do is simply show up.  Voter turnout is the big key, especially among young people and first-time voters.  If we show up, we'll win some races and we'll be OK.

(Forward the link to anyone who may need it.)


Thursday, September 18, 2014

"Reasonable" Destruction

Defying decades of past precedent, the Ohio State Supreme Court has OK'd strip mining of coal on state-owned lands, including state parks and other protected areas.  The ODNR did their best, testifying against the practice and arguing that strip mining destroys the natural landscape and therefore is not a reasonable use of public land.

The Supremes ruled 6-1 that such destruction has now magically become "reasonable."  Absurd.

"Hey kids!  It's a big family outing!  We're gonna spend the day at the Salt Fork State Park and Mining Company!" 

A Brief History of NFL Worries

It ain't easy being the NFL . . . lots of things to worry about:

1933 NFL Championship.
Lots of empty seats
Not enough fans or money.

Kenny Washington,
NFL's first black player, 1946.
Black players.

Competition from other pro leagues -- All American Conference, AFL, WFL, USFL.

1946 AAFC Championship

AFL, 1960-1969
WFL, 1974-1975

USFL, 1983-1985

Gambling -- Alex Karas and Paul Hornung were suspended for the entire 1963 season for betting on NFL football games.

Tony Mandarich, 1989

Over 4500 former players sued the
league for compensation for
concussion-related injuries.
Concussions and head trauma.

Michael Sam
Gay players.

And now -- Wife beaters and child abusers!!!
Ray Rice
Adrian Peterson's 4 year-old son

Hey, Commissioner Roger Goodell, what do you have to say?

Monday, September 15, 2014

To Spite Our Face?


The Well-Dressed Coach

Watching football recently, it occurred to me for some strange reason that there are no more football coaches who wear a jacket and tie on the sidelines.  In the college ranks, Jim Tressel may have been the last, but even he was vest and tie.  Or maybe it was Joe Paterno, if windbreaker and tie counts.  In the pros, the last coach to regularly "dress up" was, I think, Dan Reeeves, and he retired in 2003.

It's a reflection of our society, where Casual Friday has gradually turned into Casual Everyday.  OK by me.


Of course, once upon a time, jacket-and-tie was de rigueur for football coaches everywhere.  Bud Wilkinson, Bear Bryant, John McKay, Darrell Royal.  (Woody Hayes had the tie but never a jacket -- just shirt sleeves.)  George Halas, Paul Brown, Vince Lombardi, Tom Landry, Hank Stram.  My high school coach.



Zimmer, circa 1980, rockin'
the polyester
Why the tradition of suit and tie for football coaches back then?  After all, baseball managers had dispensed with such formality long ago.  Connie Mack was the lone exception, but he left the dugout back in 1950.  Baseball tradition dictates that managers dress in the full team uniform, just like the players.  That's probably even sillier than a football coach dressed like an ad executive.  And certainly Don Zimmer would have looked better in a sport coat and tie than in those Red Sox double-knits.
Philadelphia A's manager Connie Mack greets NY Giants
manager John McGraw prior to the 1911 World Series.
Even then, Mack was the only manager not in uniform.

Times change, traditions change.  Football coaches now dress more sensibly, for function and comfort more than style.  Hell, Bill Belichick wears stuff he found in the dumpster at the Goodwill!

Only basketball coaches remain sartorially splendid.  College or pro, the vast majority still do the suit-and-tie thing.  Especially in the NBA, head coaches wear some mighty fine, expensive threads.  That's nice.  But particularly for a basketball coach, why would you want to wear a suit while spending three hours inside a hot, humid gym?  You guys look good, but seriously, why?

"Man, I'm hot, Phil.  Ain't you hot
wearin' that suit?"

"My hair gel is melting."

"If I get sweat stains on this Armani,
I'm gonna be pissed!  

It cost me a grand plus tax!"

"I'm just sayin', how come we can't
wear golf shirts?"
"So we can get rid of our team's racist owner,
but we can't get no damn air conditioning
in this arena?  Is that what you're
tellin' me?"

You Say ISIL, I Say ISIS . . .

Tomato, tomahto, potato, potahto, let's call the whole thing off!

Iraq is the "gift" that keeps on giving, isn't it?  ISIS, ISIL, OMG, WTF?  

We were out of there, now we're back in.  Sort of.  No "boots on the ground."  Except for a few hundred or thousand or whatever.  Just a "strategic" bombing campaign.  For now.  Just in Iraq.  But maybe in Syria too, where we'll work with both the Assad regime and his rebel opposition.  Huh?  Civilian casualties will be "limited" (but unavoidable, of course).  We'll be joined in our efforts once again by a "coalition" of the world's leading democracies, as well as several key Arab nations, such as . . . ???  So far, our global partners have promised to help out by writing letters, making a few phone calls, and folding some of our laundry.  Hey, thanks.

These ISIS people are horrible, murderous rat-bastards.  Public opinion is inflamed by the grisly beheading of three westerners, but bottom line, ISIS may be ambitious but they're just a bunch of crazoid zealots, terrorist punks.  They're not going to take over the world, but because they've shocked us, we're gonna send in the world's armies, navies and air forces and nuke 'em!  Really?  We need to continue our anti-terrorism activities.  We don't need to go to war.  (Lindsey Graham and John McCain can stuff it!)

What happened to Obama's "don't do stupid shit" foreign policy?  (Which I think is a great philosophy for world affairs, even if the hawks and neo-cons and Fox-bots disagree.)  This re-engagement in Iraq looks suspiciously like stupid shit.  What's the plan?  "Degrade and defeat" ISIS.  Fine.  How long will that take?  Oh, approximately forever!  Swell.  Can't we just leave bad enough alone?  When there's lots of oil and money at stake, apparently not.

Of course, were it not for the utter fiasco of the Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld invasion of 2003, we would not be having this conversation right now.

But in the bigger picture, this region has been beset by religious strife, tribalism and bloodshed for a thousand years.  As Jon Stewart often puts it, "MESS-OPOTAMIA." 

Call me war-weary and skeptical.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Droppings From The Dispatch

My local rag is so pitiful.  From Monday's Columbus Dispatch:

1.  An op-ed column from Dispatch favorite David Harsanyi.  He's a conservative crank who used to write for the Denver Post but now, like Buster, exists only in the ether of the blogosphere.  He devotes an entire column to his infatuation with the cable TV show 19 Kids and Counting, about the very fertile Duggar family of Arkansas.  Harsanyi writes that he finds this program "fulfilling," "extraordinarily fun," "wholesome," and says that "it's impossible not to be charmed."  I watched it once for ten minutes and found it to be . . . oh, what's the word?  Oh, yes -- insane!     

2.  Then a Dispatch editorial which correctly advises against HB 269, a Tea-Bag-sponsored bill to require photo ID for voting, but it does so in only the most back-handed fashion.  The editorial opens with, "Proving that Democrats have no monopoly on election-law demagoguery . . . ", and later on kvetches about "those who insist that Ohio law already suppresses voter participation even though it includes some of the most generous voting terms in the country."   (Generous compared to what?  Mississippi?)

What the Dispatch does not stress nearly enough is that "election-law demagoguery" is a strictly Republican monopoly.  For the past 10-plus years, under the guise of non-existent "fraud", the Ohio GOP has an unbroken streak of trying everything they can think of to restrict and reduce voter participation.  That's the textbook definition of voter suppression.  Don't blame the Dems for pointing this out and squawking about it.

If Ohio is in fact still among the "most generous" states when it comes to voting rights, it's no thanks to the Republicans.  It's courtesy of our courts, who've consistently struck down the GOP's unconstitutional attempts to restrict the vote.

The Dispatch editorial boils down to a frightened plea to their R buddies:  "Please don't do this shit.  We'll just get sued again!"  Good advice.