Monday, June 29, 2015
A couple days ago, a friend posted a meme on his FB page. It was the image of a hard-hat worker covered in dirt, standing by a manhole. The text offered thanks to Florida, Kentucky and Missouri (a redneck trifecta) for requiring drug tests for welfare recipients, and asked why it's "OK to drug-test people who work for their money, but not OK for those who don't? If you can afford to buy drugs and extra illegal things (wha'?), then you can afford to buy your own groceries."
The post ended with the typical FB command to "re-post if you agree." And my friend did exactly that, adding the screaming comment, "TOTALLY AGREE!!"
This is the zombie lie Reagan told 35 years ago with his "Welfare queen" story, and too many people still believe it -- that public assistance provides a luxurious existence and poor people are just running a con on society that costs the rest of us a ton.
Those who believe that lie are so freaked out about it that they insist on humiliating the poor and punishing them for their poorness. In their minds, if you accept public assistance you better not have any money at all. You better not have any "extras" -- no phone, no car, no movies, no new shirt, no lobster, and, god forbid, no drugs or alcohol. Bread and water only, and get a job, ya bum!
Dear friend, if you and I indulge in a little beer and a little smoke, we've earned it, we're entitled. But you think if the poor person does, he's scamming, he's not entitled. The poor man must suffer sincerely and soberly. No laughing allowed. And if the poor man tests positive for some drug or alcohol, you'd like to sentence him to starvation.
You might also want to consider the content of the post and decide if it's a valid point or just a reactionary bumper-sticker viewpoint. You can't buy drugs or alcohol with a government SNAP/EBT card (food stamps), so they can't use "our" money for it. There is no evidence of widespread substance abuse among those receiving food assistance benefits. It's a favorite conservative myth, like voter fraud. Drug-testing the poor accomplishes exactly what, then? It's a punishment in search of a problem.
In contrast, the average American family pays $2436 per year in business subsidies and grants, corporate tax incentives, and other state and local business incentives. Who's the real Welfare queen?
I hope my post-happy, research-challenged dear friend might dig a little deeper in the future.
As rehabilitation, I sentence him to click the links and read these three posts:
I also sentence him to enter "Facebook" in the Buster's Blog search window and read everything that pops up.
Friday, June 26, 2015
Today, the Supreme Court legalized gay marriage. Like the earlier Obamacare decision, their ruling didn't really surprise too many people, except for all the righties living under the Fox Dome. Antonin Scalia went apoplectic, spitting and stammering incoherently about "this f***ing Court." (If it's so bad, he should quit.) All the GOP presidential candidates have been placed on suicide watch. Huckabee and Santorum had to be restrained with strait-jackets.
|"Aaagh! My gay nightmare |
is becoming reality!"
The wheels of progress often turn slowly, but eventually they turn. It's nice to be here when it happens.
Thursday, June 25, 2015
Wednesday, June 24, 2015
As southern states like South Carolina, Alabama, Virginia and Tennessee call for the removal of the Confederate flag from state property, and numerous retailers like Amazon, eBay, Sears, WalMart and Target pull all Confederate flag merchandise ("Say, is that a real rebel flag or just a Sears rebel flag?"), we have a curious holdout here in Columbus. A small, family-owned flag store says it will continue to offer Confederate battle flags for sale to the public.
This is of special interest to me because the store's owner is a neighbor of mine. On the plus side, she has generously donated American flags displayed at the entrances to our subdivision. On the other side, she says she'll keep selling the Stars and Bars because "we've always categorized it as an historic flag."
Funny -- that's what I've always categorized as wrong! And stupid! The Confederate flag was the home jersey for Team Slavery. Yeah, it's history, but it's very bad history. We remember it, and acknowledge it with shame and regret. It's just not cool to try to profit from from it.
Does my neighbor sell Nazi flags? Khmer Rouge flags? Historic, but c'mon! No way. She should stop selling Confederate flags. Yesterday.
I fully expect SCOTUS to find against the plaintiff and preserve Obamacare intact. It's been the law of the land for five years and has helped tens of millions of people already, including your humble correspondent. But what do I know?
Hard-ass conservatards hate Obamacare because it dares to tweak our existing profit-driven system. It's a tiny tweak, but a tweak nonetheless. The righties fear that Obamacare is just the first step toward a government-run, single-payer, universal health care system . . . a public option, like Medicare.
My God, let's hope so! Here's Robert Reich:
Tuesday, June 23, 2015
A faithful reader has sent a pertinent comment on the previous "Business of Government" post. Well said, faithful reader. Thank you!
There are no purely Capitalist or Socialist societies in this world. The most efficient economies seek to have a blend where business delivers more narrowly defined goods and services to individuals and profit is the driving force.
But, some things, mainly services (police, fire, highways, sanitation, education, etc.), do not lend themselves well to any business models. These services are necessary in every community and intended to serve the needs of the entire community rather than individuals. These services do not lend themselves well to any business model where profit is the driving force.
This is where government fills the gap. Government takes on services that do not work well under a business model. Sure, it's inefficient. But public"CEO's " (read: Mayor, Superintendent, City Council, Board of Education) regularly answer to the public. No business could ever consider utilizing "a business model" where the public (the customers) decide what they are going to pay and what kind of services they are going to receive.
Monday, June 22, 2015
Talking with a friend the other night, and he said, "Government should be run like a business. We need a business person to run the country." And didn't I agree?
(First, I had to establish that he was not suggesting that Donald Trump be president. No, he was not a fan of the bragadocious blowhard. Good!)
But based on the real, underlying meaning of such statements, no, I don't agree, not really.
If you're looking for a hard-charging CEO-type to take charge, kick ass, break the log-jam and get shit done, forget it. You're seeking a king or a dictator, and our system of government simply doesn't permit it.
That leaves two other interpretations of government should be like business.
1. You believe government -- any government -- is, by definition, always too big, too inefficient, too wasteful. This is the popular pablum famously dished out by Reagan, lapped up by lamebrains and taken to new extremes by the Norquistian Tea Baggers who want to shrink it, slash it, cut it, privatize it, drown it in a bathtub, etc.
2. You feel that government isn't handing out enough goodies to business. Corporate America must have more tax cuts and subsidies, and fewer rules and regulations in order to survive. In this theory, the business of government is business. Government's role is to ensure business profits and make things as easy as possible for business. Welfare, no. Corporate welfare, yes!
Our government is big and sometimes inefficient, but hey, it's a big country. I can tolerate a little waste in exchange for all the things our tax dollars provide for all of us, especially for the least fortunate among us.
And business does not need more "help" from government. Business likes it, wants it, will take it, but does not need it. The endless calls for "business friendly" this-and-that are ransom notes. Business needs to take responsibility for its own success and quit whining about the goddam gummint. If your business really can't hack it without a 0% tax rate and slave wages, it's not the government's fault.
Just heard the news -- the State of South Carolina has just decided to remove the Confederate battle flag from its statehouse. (Or more accurately, the Governor says it should come down, and wants the legislature to "debate" it and agree with her to take it down, and soon. I assume it will happen.)
Gutsy move, Palmetto bugs! What courage! Lost the Civil War, lost the slave economy, lost the Jim Crow segregation wars, and lost the respect of all intelligent people, but for 15 long decades, you somehow just couldn't lose that hateful, divisive banner. You kept telling yourselves it was a symbol of southern pride and heritage, of states' rights. Sure it was.
Pretty damn sad it took a murderous act of racial terrorism to finally wake up the bozos of official South Carolina, after a mere 150 year slumber.
Mississippi, it's your turn.
Friday, June 19, 2015
The NRA has wasted no time in blaming the victim.
"Dedicated" NRA board member Charles Cotton has declared that the murdered pastor and state senator Clementa Pinckney essentially caused his own death and the death of the eight others.
It's hard to imagine a more incorrect, inappropriate and insensitive response.
But the NRA never disappoints. The depths to which they willingly sink are bottomless, unfathomable.
A young racist white man walked into a black church in Charleston, SC -- the Emanuel AME -- and slaughtered nine people. Shot them to death. He methodically reloaded his handgun as necessary. It was a clear hate crime. His motive was racial terrorism. And this little fuck seems proud of it.
Where did he get the gun? His father gave it to him for his birthday. (Nice "gift", dad, you asshole.) And where did the shooter get his white supremacist beliefs? Probably another gift from dad.
Sad and angry, President Barack Obama said this:
"Once again, someone who wanted to inflict harm had no trouble getting his hands on a gun."
"At some point, we have to reckon with the fact that this typre of mass violence does not happen in other advanced advanced countries . . . with this kind of frequency."
"It is in our power to do something about it."
Will we? Not if the right wing keeps getting its way.
Politician Bobby Jindal said the President's comments were political and "completely shameful." Wrong! Obama was completely truthful and you are the completely shameful political wanker.
Some idiot on Fox News suggested the outcome would have been different if the church members were carrying guns. Oh yes, the solution is always more guns! Wrong! We've tried that, done that, are still doing it. America has more guns per capita than any other nation in the world, by far. The result? We average 32,000 gun deaths per year. Our rate of gun homicide is 20 times higher than the combined rates of 22 other high-income, developed countries.
More guns = more gun violence, and less public safety. Period.
Our problem -- our shame -- is that far too many of our conservative politicians are paralyzed by fear and greed. They won't even pass a federal law requiring background checks. Yes, I'm talking about you, Sen. Robbie Portman, and all the other spineless worms just like you. You've sold your pathetic souls to the NRA.
Time after time, our hearts are torn apart by one gun-related tragedy after another. And the greater tragedy is, as Jon Stewart said last night, "we're not gonna do jack-shit."
Wednesday, June 17, 2015
OMFG! Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ho ho ho ho ho ho ho hee hee hee hee hee hee hee haw haw haw haw haw haw -- snork! -- ha ha ha ha ha ha! Oh ho ho! Oh man, I think I just peed in my pants a little! Trump! Oh, Jesus! Nice fucking hair! Hilarious! "I'm so rich!" "You're fired!" "I'm on an escalator, bitch!"
The GOP is like that little car at the circus -- open the door and the clowns come pouring out.
I'm not religious, but this guy Francis is about the coolest, smartest Pope you can imagine. He's so good, he pisses off a lot of Catholics, including some GOP presidential wanna-be's.
Even so, the Pope has blinded some dim-witted Republican Catholics with science!
Jeb's clear implication is that economic concerns are always more important -- broader and deeper -- than those petty little environmental concerns.
Jeb is B.S., a bad joke.
Enough willful ignorance. Go science! Go Frankie! School those slow learners! Buster hears that in tomorrow's little chat, the Pope will endorse the Tyson-Nye 2016 ticket.
American Big Oil & Gas has been engaged in a public relations blitz for the past few years. The frequency of the self-congratulatory ads seems to have picked up lately. Evidently, the industry believes the damage of big pollution can be obscured with big advertising buys.
|Koch cowboys ride into the heartland's sunset|
|Blah-blah-blah from BP|
BP is still sucking up to the American public, five years after their disastrous Deepwater Horizon oil spill. They continue to run ad after ad telling us about the "continuing commitment to the Gulf Coast," and how much they've learned, and how much money they've spent. Behind the scenes, BP is engaged in a legal fight to reduce it's fines from $13.7 billion to 2.3 billion. Poor BP.
|It's un-American to be #2|
|"We leased our land to the frackers for a big chunk of|
change. The trees are still green and our dog is still
alive. Fracking must be safe, right?"
Worst of all may be the treacly, gag-inducing spots from EnergyFromShale.org. Their TV spots feature "real" people who are enjoying the fracking boom. These citizens say things like, "We all know fracking will help the community, but there has to be a balance." (A balance? Between environmental protection and quick-buck profiteering?) "I learned that we've been fracking safely for 65 years." (That's a stretch -- Halliburton's first frack wells in 1949 were small, shallow, and few. Today's operations are far different.) "That really got the conversation flowing." (There's no conversation. There's a debate, a disagreement, an argument, a fight.)
While the oil and gas industry feeds happy horseshit to the unthinking masses, states like Oklahoma, Ohio and others have concluded that fracking definitely causes earthquakes. New York has enacted an outright ban on fracking. Ohio Gov. Kasich is trying to convince his own R-dominated legislature to increase the state's "severance tax" on drillers from one of the very lowest in the nation to something a bit more appropriate. But his lawmakers are so well-greased by the industry they probably won't do it. Nationally, the U.S. Dept. of Interior issued rules for fracking on federal land (mind-boggling it's allowed to begin with): Frackers must have uniform construction standards, reveal the many chemicals they use, and guarantee safe disposal (what's that?) of their contaminated waste "water." The oil & gas industry reacted to these rules with a lawsuit. It figures.
They hide the truth and sue to preserve the illusion. When will we ever learn?
Monday, June 15, 2015
And it sucked.
It just wouldn't be summer without some lame-o remake trying to squeeze the last bit of life out of some tired old genre. No, I'm not referring to Jurassic World, although that's a good example.
Bush: The Sequel to the Sequel.
Bush: The Day After the Next Day.
Bush Part Three: The Bushiest.
Just don't say Bush. It's like Voldemort: The Campaign That Dare Not Speak Its Own Name. Even Jurassic World pays homage to its Jurassic Park forebears. But John Ellis Bush would like you to forget his surname. The legacy has become a bit embarrassing for him. "Pay no attention to those Bushes behind that curtain. 41? 43? Never heard of 'em. I'm just Jeb from Florida, and I wanna be 45, OK? And remember, I'm really conservative. Really."
Jeb is from Florida like I am from Mongolia.
Grandson of Prescott, son of H.W., brother of Dubya, Jeb Bush was born to a life of privilege, influence and connections. He's American royalty, an enormous pile of cash in a nicely tailored suit.
He symbolizes what old money can do, and who they can do it to. (And in case you were going to bring it up, the Clintons are in no way equivalent. Not even close. Puh-leeze!)
Bush III would be like Jurassic World -- a hugely expensive and stale remake, historically inaccurate, and proof that we are suckers for formula. We'd be a bunch of damn fools if we let another Bush buy the White House.
Thursday, June 11, 2015
But none of that is the best part. The best part is that BrewDog has a real sense of humor, and it brews some ultra-limited quantity, ultra-high ABV products that we Yanks could never previously even come close enough to sniff without an American site. And now we'll have one, and it'll be right in our back yard.
(Buster has blogged about BrewDog in the distant past. Long-term faithful readers may remember, but probably not. Click the links below for instant recall. I can't wait to try a Tactical Nuclear Penguin.)
Monday, June 8, 2015
They just can't help themselves.
Republicans have always hated two things: Income taxes, and the fact that income taxes have always been "progressive", i.e. higher incomes pay higher rates. They howl that the system is impossibly complex and unfair, especially to such patriotic job-creators as themselves.
I read with some amusement that Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who's been AWOL while testing the GOP primary waters in Iowa and New Hampshire, has trotted out the old flat-tax concept. Not a new idea, not a good one, and not a surprise, given that Jawhnny the Wonder Guv has long dreamed of the total elimination of the Ohio state income tax.
Remember this: Whenever right-wing politicians start talking about tax reform, tax code simplification, flat tax rates, lower tax rates, and more fairness, it always sounds good, but it's not good -- it's complete bullshit. If the right must have taxes, they want regressive taxation. Their "reform" means bigger breaks and more advantages to those at the highest income levels. It means they pay less, a lot less, and that's all that matters. They don't care about who has to pay more to make up the shortfall. The Norquistians and Tea Baggers don't even want to try to make it up.
Republicans think you're stupid. (Wait -- You like movies based on toys and comic books? Maybe you are stupid.)
There is one thing about our current income tax system that's unfair: It's not that the gajillionaires and corporations have to pay so much, it's that they don't pay nearly enough.
Saturday, June 6, 2015
Consequently, Hughes is trying to outlaw it via a tack-on amendment to the state's budget. Of course, boning a sheep has absolutely no budget implications, but, you know, what the hell.
It's not that I condone piss-drinking or sex with farm animals. I just happen to believe that trying to legislate against it is both fruitless and funny.
Tuesday, June 2, 2015
And now the local rag features grammatically-challenged headlines, such as today's example:
"How it all come together for LeBron and the Cavs."
Huh? If I'm not mistaken, it should be either "How it all comes together . . . " or "How it all came together . . . "
The Dispatch sucks. Yes it do.
Monday, June 1, 2015
The fear-mongering chicken-hawk announced his candidacy by claiming that he's a foreign policy expert and saying that "radical Islam is trying to kill us" and "the world is falling apart." He vowed to send 10,000 troops back into Iraq and wants to scuttle any deal with Iran. He said if you don't like it, he'll "send a drone and kill you."
And Graham is the guy some hard-ass South Carolina Tea Baggers thought was a soft, wimpy RINO. I guess he's gonna show them. Yeah.
That shit may play in Aiken, SC, but not too many other places. Lindsey Graham has comedic value, a history of belligerent craziness, and no chance of becoming president.
We're now up to 9 official GOP candidates. Soon to be 15, 16, 19, or more. Good luck with that.
|Two of three vote GOP.|
Does this eliminate most Republican voters in The Land of Enchantment?
That would be rather enchanting.
Suddenly, all those smart phones that take really great photos are passe. What's hot is technology from 1948. It produces -- OMG!! -- an actual physical image you can hold in your hand. Frame it, sign it, give it to others, etc. What a concept!
The camera spits out photos on thick paper which take about 60 seconds to develop. (No, you don't have to shake it.) The color is sort of washed out. The image sharpness is less-than-sharp. There is no digital memory, no online capability. While digital photographs are truly instant and essentially free, the Fuji Instax-Mini costs $70, and a film pack of 20 exposures is $17. Today's teenagers got bucks!
And now they crave old-school photos. There may yet be hope for books and newspapers.