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, November 22, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving!

Ivanka, Thanksgiving Problem Solver

Daughter-wife Ivanka has a "lifestyle company," whatever the hell that means.  Last week her company tweeted a suggestion for Thanksgiving table decor:

Responses were immediate and hilarious!

I'm going with champagne Popsicles and an elephant tusk centerpiece.https://twitter.com/IvankaTrumpHQ/status/931303381464965122 

View image on Twitter

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

An Unforgivable Turkey (And His Family)

The photo is from today's annual White House ceremony pardoning a Thanksgiving turkey.  I have no interest in the trivial tyrant in the center of the shot.  It's the other two who intrigue me.

The one on the left looks like America's next serial killer.  And on the right is the animatronic Bride of Trumpenstein wearing what appears to be my grandmother's carpet.

Taxes, Ronnie And Donnie

"I love paying income taxes," said no one, ever.  Yet government does require sufficient funding and taxes are the cost we pay for a civilized society.  The urge to cut taxes for the sake of cutting them is wrong-headed and unworkable.

President Reagan -- the right's beloved Saint Ronnie -- discovered this in his first year in D.C.  In the thrall of supply-side ideology, Reagan pushed for the Economic Recovery Tax Act of 1981, a.k.a. the Kemp-Roth Tax Cut.  It slashed all tax rates, and he hailed it as the "World's Largest Tax Cut."  But the ERTA didn't work.  It did not produce any of the anticipated miracle revenue growth.  Instead it ballooned the federal deficit and sent interest rates from 12% to 20%.  So in 1982, Reagan began a series of corrective tax increases.  (Most conservatives have conveniently forgotten this history.)

Then in 1986, Ronnie and Democrats Tip O'Neill and Dan Rostenkowski brokered the Tax Reform Act of 1986.  It was billed as a "simplification," but it wasn't.  Such things never are.  But its changes were sweeping enough that to this day, federal tax code is know as the Tax Code of 1986.

TRA86 reduced the number and rates of individual tax brackets. From 15 brackets ranging from 0% to 50%, we went to just two brackets of 15% and 28%.  TRA86 "broadened" the tax base by reducing or eliminating many tax deduction/shelters, especially those for corporations.  It retained and enhanced favorable treatment for individual real estate ownership and investment.

Given funding necessities and the march of time, we eventually grew back to seven tax brackets with current rates ranging from 10% to 39.6%.

Today's GOP says that, after 31 years, the time has come for another major revision to the tax code.  Maybe.  They claim that TRA86 was an economic shot in the arm.  Debatable.  It was a boon to the real estate/home equity markets, but did not by itself spur any other real economic growth.

But the 1986 Act had two qualities notably absent in today's tax "reform" circus:  
1.  It was bipartisan, with Republicans and Democrats working together for almost two years before enacting it.
2.  It was "revenue neutral," meaning it was paid for, designed to maintain revenues and not increase the deficit.  It raised taxes on corporations to give tax cuts to individuals.

Contrast that with what Donnie Distemper and the Congressional Republicans are trying to shove down our throats today:  Another GOP-only rush job (if they can manage it) which will cut taxes on corporations and wealthy individuals and raise the deficit by the maximum "allowable" amount of $1.5 trillion!  This would result from significant tax cuts on individual incomes of $250,000 and up, from corporate tax rates slashed from 35% to 20%, and from cutting the tax rate on pass-through entities to a max of 25%.  (*Pass-through tax treatments are a trip through the tall weeds, but they're kind of important and maybe Buster will explain it some day.)

Ronnie at least tried to fair.  Donnie makes no such attempt, and doesn't even lie about it very well.  It's a Merry Christmas hand-out to those who need it least -- the Donor Class!


*Oh hell, I'll 'splain it now.  Most large corporations are C-corps, and they pay corporate tax rates.  Pass-through entities are non-C-corp businesses where the owner's personal income "passes through" the company and is taxed at the individual rate (up to 39.6%), not the corporate rate.  Pass-throughs include partnerships, sole proprietors, LLC's and S-corps.  Ninety-five percent of all U.S. businesses are pass-throughs.  Only five percent are C-corps.  Pass-through entities generate 40% of total U.S. business income.  They are not necessarily "small" businesses.  The GOP tax plans propose to cap the individual tax rate on pass-through owners at 25% max.  But 90% of all pass-through owners are at 25% tax or less right now.  They won't benefit at all from the new cap.  However, the pass-through landscape does have few high-income players -- half of all pass-through income is now taxed at the top 39.6% individual rate.  For them, a cut to 25% would be huge!  The Trump Organization owns over 500 pass-through companies.

Rules For My Fellow Members Of The Male Gender (In Case You Missed The Memo)

And so many, many more.
You are not allowed to behave like an out-of-control perverted pig with members of the opposite sex (or with anyone else, for that matter).

No random/ambush kissing, touching, hugging, or grabbing of ass (or other parts).  It's not cute or sexy.  It's assault, and it's somewhere between creepy and criminal.

No "accidental" nudity.  No greeting female guests/co-workers in your towel, robe, or birthday suit.  It's nice to have a penis, and it's great to be proud of it, but you're not allowed to take it out in public, or wave it around in people's faces.

No manipulation or exploitation of women for sexual gratification.  No using your power, position or status to extort sexual favors.  Really scummy, and probably criminal.

No "dating" of children.  That's called statutory rape or child molestation.  Definitely criminal.

Women are lovely, and sex is nice, but it must be consensual.  If you're not sure it's consensual, it's not.  It's rape.  Very criminal.

No excuses.  Think with the big head, dummy!


It's much in the national news right now, but it's nothing new, and it's not limited to the U.S.  The problem of men behaving badly is global and age-old, going all the way back to whoever it was who first believed that women were somehow not equal, were a bit inferior, and could therefore be oppressed, abused, sexually harrassed, underpaid and denied equal rights forevermore.  But the times, they are a-changing, and women are no longer willing to just quietly "accept it."  The #MeToo movement has helped a lot.  We've finally reached a tipping point.  Good.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Beavis & Butthead On Safari

Continuing their pattern of doing every awful thing imaginable, the Trump administration/wrecking crew has reversed a rule banning big-game hunters from importing African elephant parts for display as "trophies."  Can't you hear Beavis & Butthead (Don Jr. & Eric)? -- "Oh, Daddy, please!  We just gotta have more elephant tails!  Please, Daddy, please!"

African elephants are an endangered species.

The rationale for this fish-in-a-bowl "sport hunting" is that it creates necessary revenue for animal conservation efforts.  Wealthy trophy hunters pay very large fees for the privilege of killing these magnificent creatures, and all that money helps protect and preserve the animals and their habitat.  The hunters have convinced themselves they're actually saving animals by killing them and mounting their heads on a wall.

I call big BULLSHIT!  I will readily grant that African animal conservation takes a bunch of money.  But if the primary concern of these high-minded hunters is really the preservation of elephants, lions, leopards, etc., they should just donate the fee or an even larger amount, and skip the killing part.  That would literally save an animal and help the cause.

And I can hear their reply:  "Hell no, you pantywaist lib-tard!  If I'm coughing up $50 large, I'm friggin' shootin' something!  Yee-ha!" 

A whole lot of "conservation" going on here.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Ohio's Next Governor?

Ohio's next governor?
After serving for five years, Richard Cordray will step down as Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau at the end of the month.  In his tenure, Cordray did important and necessary work at the CFPB.  The CFPB was created by the Obama administration and Elizabeth Warren as a response to the abuses in the financial and real estate markets which caused the financial crash and Great Recession of 2007-2009.  It operates as a counterweight to discriminatory, deceptive and predatory practices.  It has levied heavy fines against banks such as Chase, Wells Fargo, Bank of America, Ally, and Citibank, and returned that money to affected consumers.  It adopted a new rule allowing consumers to join class-action lawsuits against banks.  Cordray was its first director.

We will always need a CFPB.  We should have established one a long time ago.  The reason we didn't is that conservatives believe in the fairy tale of self-regulation, and resent the idea of any government oversight of business dealings.  Republicans have loathed Cordray and the CFPB from the get-go.  In a recent party line vote, Republicans spit in his eye and overturned the class-action rule, returning to the bad old days of bank-controlled forced arbitration (where banks always win and consumers always lose).

Cordray's sudden departure leaves the CFPB in a weird spot.  The agency will continue to exist and do its work, but without his leadership and vision.  Control will initially fall to Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, who will appoint an interim director.  Don't expect much.  Mnoosh and Trump will undoubtedly select the one individual who can do the most harm to consumer finance.  They may pardon Bernie Madoff and give him the job.  But take heart -- our turn will come again, and soon.

It's reported that Cordray will enter the 2018 Ohio governor's race.  As much as I hate to see a strong consumer advocate like him leave D.C., I'll be glad if he runs for governor.  He's a former Ohio Attorney General and he'd clearly be the strongest Democrat, with a good chance of winning next November.  He'd make a great governor.

Although he hasn't even announced his candidacy, Ohio Republicans wasted no time in attacking him.  Ohio GOP Chairperson Jane Timken said yesterday, "Ohio voters know a swamp creature when they see one, and just like Hillary, Crooked Cordray can't be trusted."

Jane, you ignorant slut!  I give you a D for originality with your recycled Trump-speak, and an F for your knowledge of swamp creatures.

Jane, these are swamp creatures.