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

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Sex Addiction (2010)

So, after much consultation with a host of medical doctors, spin doctors, and witch doctors, it now seems that Tiger Woods' myriad indiscretions result from a "sex addiction", for which he's undergoing treatment. This leaves me with two simple questions:

1. Just what the hell, exactly, is a "sex addiction"?

2. How can I get one?

Unreality TV (2010)

In the past few years, there's been an explosion in the number of so-called "reality" TV shows. They're suddenly everywhere. The reasons for this proliferation? Such programming is cheap to produce, and it is apparently popular enough. Lots of people watch. Do you?

Personally, I don't. Have never watched a minute of any reality show, ever. Why? It's all about as far from reality as you can get. It's fake-real. Having a video crew follow you around and film your every move is not reality. Under those conditions, everything becomes an act.

The first American reality show was Survivor. It has proved remarkably successful and durable, even without any help from me -- I've never seen it. I'm in the same camp with the late, great Johnny Carson. Just before the debut of Survivor, Carson quipped, " 'Survivor' my ass! They can just walk off camera and get a ham sandwich."

For my money, the only true reality programming is live sports. Which, I suppose, is why I watch so many ballgames of one sort or another. They offer a compelling and real "Situation".

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Does This Look "Fair And Balanced" To You? (2010)

Buster usually tries his level best to avoid Fox TV (sports are an exception) but recently I somehow stumbled upon the geniuses pictured here "analyzing" Obama's State Of The Union address. No need for me to tell you what they thought about Cousin Barry's little chat. They're a regular right-wing rogues gallery. Not even a token liberal. I mean, holy shit, the only one missing is Attila the Hun!

Radio Days With Ernie (2010)

Kindly indulge me in a bit of nostalgia.

In the prehistoric days of my youth, there was no cable TV. In the summer, a baseball game would be televised once a week, twice if you were lucky. But there was radio -- AM radio -- and the real seam-heads could always be found near some static-filled squawk box, trying to catch a bit of a ballgame. My father was such a creature. He spent almost every summer's night sitting on our screened porch, with the radio tuned to baseball. Sometimes, he'd turn off the lights and just sit in the dark, listening.

Our local Mansfield station was an Indians affiliate, so the Tribe games always came in crystal clear, called by Herb Score and Bob Neal (and later, Joe Tait). But, as we all knew back then, that crazy AM signal could actually improve at night and you might be able to pull in some far-away station, at least temporarily. (Had to do with the atmosphere or curvature of the earth or something.) Dad was a dial-twirler. The Reds usually came in fairly well, with Al Michaels and Joe Nuxhall at the mike. Bob Prince and the Pirates came in pretty well at night, too. You could often catch a bit of a Cubs broadcast with Lou Boudreau, or a Cardinals game with Harry Caray and Jack Buck. (KMOX in St. Louis would come in loud and strong, like it was next door. After 10 or 15 minutes, it would just fade away completely. Such was AM radio at night.) Once in a great while, you might get a few minutes of the Yankees or the Phillies.

Dad's favorite was Ernie Harwell calling the Detroit Tigers. After dark, WJR had fairly reliable signal -- a little fuzz and hiss now and then, but mostly clear. And Ernie was a wonderful baseball broadcaster. With that sweet, southern drawl, he could read you the phone book and you wouldn't care.

Ernie's been retired for awhile and is, unfortunately, now in failing health. He's not long for the world. I found what follows on the inter-web. Here's to you Ernie!

Broadcasting style of Ernie Harwell
He is known for his low-key delivery, southern accent (Detroit "Ti-guhs"), and conversational style, which included:
• Pausing periodically to allow the sounds of the ballpark to be heard.
• Frequently referring to the location of Tiger Stadium: "the corner of Michigan and Trumbull," or simply "the corner".
• Following up foul balls into the crowd with, "That one was caught by a fan from _____ ," and inserting the name of a nearby town or city. Before ticketing was computerized, blocks of tickets were shipped to retailers in certain cities. Harwell reportedly knew in some cases which city a particular ticket was originally sold in. As the tickets were available electronically, Harwell would simply choose whatever city struck his fancy. (Unless listeners realized that this was a jocular invention by Harwell, the catch-phrase could leave them wondering how Harwell "knew" where particular fans hailed from.)
• After a double play, "It's two for the price of one for the Tigers."
• Exclaiming on a called third strike, "He stood there like the house by the side of the road and watched that one go by." (This was an allusion to a poem by Sam Walter Foss.)
• Also exclaiming on a called third strike, "He's out for excessive window shopping; looked at one too many."
• Describing a home run, "That ball is looooong gone!"
• Using the phrase "And the bases are loaded with Tigers" when Detroit had runners on all bases.
• Exclaiming "The Tigers are looking for some instant runs" when Detroit had fallen behind by more than two or three runs late in a game.
• When describing a meeting on the mound of a pitcher and manager or catcher, "They're having a confab at the mound."
• Describing a controversial ball/strike call, "And there's a strike on the outside edge, Mr. _____ (surname of umpire) said so."
• Beginning the first spring training broadcast of each season with a reading from Song of Solomon 2:11-12 (KJV): "For lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone; the flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land."
• Describing a swinging strikeout, "He took his cut, and now he takes his seat."
• On a Tiger manager's decision to allow the pitcher to work himself out of a jam: "He has decided to ride the rapids with the incumbent."
• When an opposing team was starting a rally, he would customize, e.g.: "The Blue Jays are flapping their wings a little...The Mariners are marinating...The Rangers are ranging all over the place..."
• Referring to some teams by their city names, e.g. "The Bostons" for the Red Sox, "The Clevelands" for the Indians, etc.
• When the Tigers had scored already and were threatening to score more: "Oh, the Tigers are kickin' up their heels here!"
• In the 1960s and '70s, when the Stroh Brewery Company was a sponsor of Tiger broadcasts, Harwell would punctuate tense moments late in a game with, "Hang on to your Stroh's!"

So Much For the Health Care "Summit" (2010)

Thursday's televised Health Care Summit meeting was:
(a.) A noble attempt to find bipartisanship
(b.) A scripted political dog-and-pony show
(c.) A waste of time
(d.) All of the above

The correct answer, of course, is (d.). The whole idea was a long shot to begin with. Before the meeting even began, Republicans tipped their hand by being overly concerned about the seating arrangements and the shape of the table. After the President's opening remarks, the first speaker was Sen. Lamar Alexander (R), who immediately announced that his party's big plan for working together on health care was to toss out a year's work, start all over again, and this time do everything that the Republicans and insurance companies want. Now that's bipartisanship! If you looked close, you could see the thought balloon over Obama's head -- "Well, shit! Here goes 6 hours of my life that I'll never get back again!"

It remains clear that the D's will have to do this themselves via the 51-vote reconciliation route. Buster hopes they have the guts to do it, 'cause it needs to get done. Our health care status quo is disgraceful and getting more so by the minute.

In a related note, deep thinker Ben Stein told us that the main reason Republicans are opposed to health care reform is because reform means "Republicans will pay for health care and Democrats will use it." In The-World-According-To-Ben, it seems Republicans are uniformly responsible, wealthy and healthy while Democrats are shiftless, poor and disease-ridden. Sure, Ben. Now please shut the fuck up.

(By the way, Ben's credentials for such insightful commentary are an economics degree and a couple years as a speechwriter for Richard Nixon. Wow. Tricky Dick's mouthpiece. What an unimpeachable source. Ha!)

Girls Just Wanna Have Fun, But I.O.C. Poops On Party (2010)

The Canadian women's Olympic hockey team won the gold medal, then came back out onto the ice after the medal ceremony and started partying like true Canadians. They swilled beer and champagne, smoked cigars and put on funny glasses. They laid down at center ice and kicked their legs in the air. They posed for silly photos. All in all, they behaved like typically congenial Cannucks with a couple of pops in 'em.

But International Olympic Committee Chairman Juan Rogge took a dim view of their celebrations. He said it was "disrespectful" and "not the sort of thing we want to see." Hey Juan -- If you feel around behind you, you'll find that big stick up your ASS! Pull that thing out!

You go, girls! Sure looked like fun to me.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Tony Kornheiser's Fashion Critique (2010)

ESPN suspends Tony Kornheiser for his comments on Hannah Storm

Tony Kornheiser is reported suspended by ESPN for his comments made on ESPN anchor Hannah Storm. Network spokesman from ESPN announced his suspension.

On his weekday local radio show on ESPN Radio’s Washington, D.C. affiliate, he spoke about ESPN anchor Hannah Storm and said a lot of unexpected things that has landed him in a lot of trouble.

He commented on her outfit saying it was “horrifying” and he also said that her “very, very tight shirt” looked like “sausage casing” and that her “Catholic school plaid skirt” was “way too short for somebody” her age.

Tony Kornheiser later apologized to Hannah Storm and made his apology on-air.

(Buster is a fan of both parties, but in this case, Tony was right on. I happened to be watching ESPN when Hannah walked on the set in the above ensemble. My first reaction was "Hannah!! WTF??" And although Tony probably shoulda kept his mouth shut, it's a safe bet she won't wear this get-up again!)

If Newspapers Were Like Health Insurance (2010)

Op-Ed Columnist, N.Y. Times
I Cost More, but I’m a Specialist

Published: February 20, 2010

Our health care has been memorably compared, by Jonathan Rauch of The National Journal, to the airline system. That made me wonder: What if the news industry were like our unreformed health care system ... ?

First, enjoy this column! We Americans have the greatest news care system in the world, and we in journalism are proud of the cutting-edge punditry that we provide.

Columnists in other countries simply scribble illegibly in notebooks, but here in the United States we administer CAT scans to interviewees, just to rule out the chance that our subject is dead. Expensive, yes — but we Americans must never settle for second-best.

But wait! Before you read this column, please fill out this 18-page questionnaire. And good news — if you already filled it out previously, then you only have to fill out seven additional pages. I pride myself on my efficiency.

No, no, you’re mixing up the forms. Those are the ones for Maureen Dowd’s column; you’ll find David Brooks’s forms on the right and Paul Krugman’s on the left. You must file separate paperwork to read each columnist.

Good, good. All righty then: now the co-pay, please.

Oh, it doesn’t matter that you already submitted your co-pay for another columnist. We all work independently and, as you may have noticed, sometimes at cross-purposes.

By the way, columns such as this one about health care reform are out-of-network. Your insurance plan fully covers columns about many important topics, such as nephrology and Gregorian chant. But politics, health care, international affairs and anything that I might actually write about are all out-of-network.

So I’ll be billing you soon. I’ll tell you how much after you’ve read the column. Don’t worry: the invoice will clearly lay out cost codes, footnoted in cuneiform.

Typically, out-of-network benefits will provide substantial reimbursement for nouns, especially subjects. Unfortunately, you’re on your own with predicates. In particular, insurers stipulate that adjectives and adverbs are cosmetic and at your own expense.

A side note: Those with pre-existing conditions that may lead to excessive consumption of news may be excluded from coverage. An example of a pre-existing condition is literacy.

Upon submitting an initial claim to your insurance company, you will find it summarily rejected. If you wish to appeal the rejection, call the insurance company’s 800 number. No one will ever actually answer, but you’ll have the satisfaction of dialing a number and being placed on indefinite hold. Then you’ll hear a human voice say, “This is Jennifer, may I he— ” And the line will go dead, enabling you to start over.

Such telephone systems are an effective way to reduce the costs both of hiring and of appeals. The aim is to lower premiums for you, the consumer — and it’s all about you.

By the way, if this were December, the rest of the column fee might be fully covered by your news insurance. But it’s early in the year, and I’m afraid you haven’t met your annual deductible yet.

Of course, none of this applies if you are over 65, poor or a veteran. In those cases, you get single-payer news coverage financed by the government, through Newsicare, Newsicaid or the V.A.

For those of you with flex-spending plans, you may seek reimbursement from your pre-tax “news care spending account.” Another miracle of simplicity!

In addition to bills from me, you’ll also receive bills from your newspaper carrier, The New York Times itself, the forest products company that makes the newsprint, and the copy editor for this column. Don’t forget to pay the copy editor, or future columns will omit headlines.

I’m trying to be polite because, of course, if you don’t like this column, you may sue me. Malpractice suits are a part of the landscape, resulting in defensive journalism (that’s why we administer those CAT scans). For your convenience, I just add the cost of malpractice insurance and defensive journalism right onto your bill.

Speaking of which, the bill for this column is $1,681.63. I appreciate your prompt payment. You can send envelopes of cash to me at The New York Times, in unmarked bills.

Ah, you notice I didn’t actually get to discuss health reform? Frankly, that’s because I’m too busy dealing with the news insurance companies to practice any journalism. These days, gosh darn it, I have time only to bill readers.

Thanks for reading this. And I do hope you’ll resist those silly calls for news insurance reform. We mustn’t tinker with the finest news care system in the world.


Deficit Growth As Republican Strategy (2010)

Op-Ed Columnist, N.Y. Times
The Bankruptcy Boys

Published: February 21, 2010

O.K., the beast is starving. Now what? That’s the question confronting Republicans. But they’re refusing to answer, or even to engage in any serious discussion about what to do.

For readers who don’t know what I’m talking about: ever since Reagan, the G.O.P. has been run by people who want a much smaller government. In the famous words of the activist Grover Norquist, conservatives want to get the government “down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub.”

But there has always been a political problem with this agenda. Voters may say that they oppose big government, but the programs that actually dominate federal spending — Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security — are very popular. So how can the public be persuaded to accept large spending cuts?

The conservative answer, which evolved in the late 1970s, would be dubbed “starving the beast” during the Reagan years. The idea — propounded by many members of the conservative intelligentsia, from Alan Greenspan to Irving Kristol — was basically that sympathetic politicians should engage in a game of bait and switch. Rather than proposing unpopular spending cuts, Republicans would push through popular tax cuts, with the deliberate intention of worsening the government’s fiscal position. Spending cuts could then be sold as a necessity rather than a choice, the only way to eliminate an unsustainable budget deficit.

And the deficit came. True, more than half of this year’s budget deficit is the result of the Great Recession, which has both depressed revenues and required a temporary surge in spending to contain the damage. But even when the crisis is over, the budget will remain deeply in the red, largely as a result of Bush-era tax cuts (and Bush-era unfunded wars). And the combination of an aging population and rising medical costs will, unless something is done, lead to explosive debt growth after 2020.

So the beast is starving, as planned. It should be time, then, for conservatives to explain which parts of the beast they want to cut. And President Obama has, in effect, invited them to do just that, by calling for a bipartisan deficit commission.

Many progressives were deeply worried by this proposal, fearing that it would turn into a kind of Trojan horse — in particular, that the commission would end up reviving the long-standing Republican goal of gutting Social Security. But they needn’t have worried: Senate Republicans overwhelmingly voted against legislation that would have created a commission with some actual power, and it is unlikely that anything meaningful will come from the much weaker commission Mr. Obama established by executive order.

Why are Republicans reluctant to sit down and talk? Because they would then be forced to put up or shut up. Since they’re adamantly opposed to reducing the deficit with tax increases, they would have to explain what spending they want to cut. And guess what? After three decades of preparing the ground for this moment, they’re still not willing to do that.

In fact, conservatives have backed away from spending cuts they themselves proposed in the past. In the 1990s, for example, Republicans in Congress tried to force through sharp cuts in Medicare. But now they have made opposition to any effort to spend Medicare funds more wisely the core of their campaign against health care reform (death panels!). And presidential hopefuls say things like this, from Gov. Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota: “I don’t think anybody’s gonna go back now and say, Let’s abolish, or reduce, Medicare and Medicaid.”

What about Social Security? Five years ago the Bush administration proposed limiting future payments to upper- and middle-income workers, in effect means-testing retirement benefits. But in December, The Wall Street Journal’s editorial page denounced any such means-testing, because “middle- and upper-middle-class (i.e., G.O.P.) voters would get less than they were promised in return for a lifetime of payroll taxes.” (Hmm. Since when do conservatives openly admit that the G.O.P. is the party of the affluent?)

At this point, then, Republicans insist that the deficit must be eliminated, but they’re not willing either to raise taxes or to support cuts in any major government programs. And they’re not willing to participate in serious bipartisan discussions, either, because that might force them to explain their plan — and there isn’t any plan, except to regain power.

But there is a kind of logic to the current Republican position: in effect, the party is doubling down on starve-the-beast. Depriving the government of revenue, it turns out, wasn’t enough to push politicians into dismantling the welfare state. So now the de facto strategy is to oppose any responsible action until we are in the midst of a fiscal catastrophe. You read it here first.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Onward Christian Dipshits (2010)

(From the Buster Gammons column of 1/29/10)

Rifqa Bary, a mischievous 16 year old Columbus girl with Muslim parents, was “converted” to Christianity and persuaded to run away from home by an online Florida church known as The Global Revolution Church. (Nice name for a church, huh?) This outfit goes trolling for souls on Facebook and other social sites. There it found Rifqa, sent her some cash and a bus ticket, and off she went to the Sunshine State. Her parents tried to bring her back, but the church down there refused to let her go at first. Without a leg to stand on, they eventually coughed her up and Rifqa returned to Ohio, but not to her parents. No, the church loaded her lips with some story about how her evil Islamic parents were going to kill her. So now Rifqa is a ward of County Childrens Services, lives in a foster home, and is completely estranged from her parents. Nice job, dipshit church.

Also from central Ohio we have former public school science teacher John Freshwater. He’s one of those proselytizing boobs who never shuts up. Despite repeated warnings to stop, Freshwater persisted in displaying his Bible in the classroom, posting the Ten Commandments in the classroom, and teaching creationism (in science class!) The capper came in a classroom “experiment” wherein he heated small wire crosses and branded several students! Sign of the cross, indeed! Naturally, he was fired. And now he’s suing to get his job back. Can’t figure out why he was let go. “Don’t all science teachers do that?” Dipshit teacher.

Yet another central Ohio figure, Rev. Rod Parsley, had financial problems around the end of the year. The televangelist told his flock that his mega-church, the World Harvest, would be forced to – sniff, sob – shut down its ministries unless substantial additional funding could somehow be found. (Probably meant Rod was overdue on his yacht payment.) After pondering this dilemma at some length from the comforts of his 12,000 square foot mansion, Rod of God concluded that the only possible solution would be, as always, for the faithful to pony up. “Yes, the good Lord always has a plan, and we place ourselves humbly in His hands . . . ‘cept for when I’m runnin’ low on cash! Then it’s Praise Jesus and pass the collection plate!” And the foolish lemmings sent him millions. Gullible parishioners, dipshit minister.

Finally, Pat Robertson told his TV viewers that the terrible earthquake in Haiti was actually Holy payback. According to Pat, 200 years ago the Haitians made a pact with the Devil in exchange for the end of French colonial rule on the island. The quake was God’s revenge on the Haitians for dealin’ with the Devil. Looking into the camera, Pat said with a straight face, “True story.” OK, dude, sure. King of all dipshits!

It’s an old saying, and it’s never been more true: Religion is the last refuge of a scoundrel.

More Restroon Perversions (2010)

(From the Buster Gammons column of 1/29/10)

We seem to have a thing for restroom perversions here in Columbus. My faithful readers will recall the infamous piss-drinker some months ago. This one is not as gross, but similar. At one of our local schools, video security cameras caught an adult man who repeatedly entered the building, bypassed the school’s sign-in checkpoint, and walked straight into the girls restroom. He was apprehended when he stuck his head underneath the door of a toilet stall and the occupant – one very surprised little girl – screamed her lungs out. School officials immediately escorted the offender to the front desk and made him sign in properly.

Buster's Douchebag Roundup (2010)

(From the Buster Gammons column of 1/29/10)
(A compendium of fools, folly and fiascos.)
On the subject of obscenely wealthy athletes, we have, of course, Tiger Woods. Or as some refer to him these days, “Poor Tiger”. Not because people feel sorry for him or because he’s literally poor (although sponsors are dropping him like a bad habit and his soon-to-be ex-wife will relieve him of many, many millions of dollars). No, it’s Poor Tiger as in Poor Stupid Tiger. Not only can you not keep the snake in your trousers, you can’t be even the least bit discreet about it? Voice mails, emails and texts to the ho’s? Ever hear of electronic footprints? Welcome to 1995, Tiger. Dumbass.

And how about Mark McGwire? Got the gig as the Cards hitting coach, so it was time to finally fess up. And he did, tearfully of course. Yes, he did the ‘roids for years, including 1998. But not for strength or performance, just “health” reasons. So you see, it was just doctor’s orders. Same for me. My doctor told me to shoot the juice until my neck was the size of a Sequoia and my nuts fell off. Man, I feel healthy!
What bullshit from McGwire! Buster hereby proposes a return to the asterisk. This time there will be two guys and three asterisks. Like so:

* Babe Ruth. In 1927, hit 60 HR in 154 games. In that season, he was fortified by countless whores, hotdogs, and glasses of beer.
** Roger Maris. In 1961, hit 61 HR in 162 games. His performance was enhanced by coffee, Coca-Cola, and Chesterfields.
In judging all subsequent batters, draw your own conclusions.

Take Your Guns To Work Day. That’s what Wizards guard Gilbert Arenas thought it was. He brought a couple of pistols to practice to settle a grievance with a teammate. Kinda like a duel, old-style. Oh, how honorable! When first asked about this, Agent Zero-Brain said he was simply storing his guns in his locker rather than at home as a safety measure for his children. Tiger Woods said he’d taken similar steps to protect his kids by keeping his spare ho’s in his locker.

Did you happen to hear any cut from the recent Bob Dylan album “Christmas In The Heart”? Bob croaks out covers of Christmas carols as only he can. It is ridiculously, hilariously awful! Totally un-listenable. To his credit, all proceeds went to charity. But proceeds were disappointing as only four or five people actually bought the turd. And didn’t Bob used to be a Jew? Oh well. Next up, “Dylan Sings Rigoletto”.

Poster child for corporate mismanagement on a grand scale? General Motors. What a mess! Bailed out, bankrupt, plants closed, dealers terminated, four model lines eliminated, etc., etc., and still they struggle to sell lemonade in the desert. They were indeed “too big to fail”, but they aren’t now and their current business plans are no guarantee of success. They found buyers for Saab and Hummer, but couldn’t do a thing with Pontiac and Saturn. So GM will bet its future on Chevy, GMC, Buick and Cadillac. That’s a car/truck line, a truck-only line, and two old fart lines. While Cadillac has some spice with the big-pimpin’, rapper/drug dealer must-have Escalade, Buick has . . . what? For decades, Buick’s image problems have been known as “The 90/90 Rule”, which states:

Ninety percent of Buick drivers are 90 years old. The other ten percent are borrowing their grandparents’ Buick.

Good luck, General Motors.

Sarah Palin has taken a job as commentator on Fox News. Oh boy! She’ll join Glen Beck, Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity – a clusterfuck of right-wing ideologues all in one convenient spot (to avoid!) Actually, Dear Sarah is at last properly placed. She’ll get herself profession-ally dressed and made up, read some happy horseshit from the teleprompter for about two minutes, and be done. Perfect! Scripted and controlled, none of her unfathomable verbal meanderings, and none of those doggone sneaky questions from Katy Couric.

Sarah’s new book is titled Going Rogue. I’ve got a book coming out soon myself. Mine’s going to be called Going Rogaine.

“The system worked.” So said Homeland Security director Janet Napolitano, in regard to the failed attempt of the Christmas Day airplane bomber. The “system” requires a would-be bomber to easily board the plane, whereupon he is to be tackled and beat to shit by half a dozen passengers. If passengers are unwilling to accept this responsibility, the system calls for them to pelt the bomber into submission with their complimentary peanuts and mini-pretzels.

(But semi-seriously for a second, there’s no such thing as perfect security, and if the bad guys are now coming at us with exploding shoes, exploding shampoo, exploding underwear, and nail clippers, we must be doing a little something right, no matter the howling on the right.)

By equating poor people with stray dogs, South Carolina’s Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer (R) earns himself a spot in the Douchebag Hall of Fame. What he said was his grandma taught him not to feed stray animals “because they breed. You’re facilitating the problem if you give an animal or a person ample food supply. They will reproduce. . . . They don’t know any better.” What he meant was “I’m runnin’ for governor and I know all those darkies are never gonna vote for me, so I’d just as soon starve ‘em and cut off their nuts.” Add this idiot to Appalachian Trail hiker Gov. Mark Sanford and U.S. Rep. Joe “You lie!” Wilson, and South Carolina’s going for some sort of d’bag record.

John Edwards: Going, going, gone. From serious Presidential hopeful to disgraced footnote just like that. But he still has great hair!

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid put his foot in it. He was quoted in a new book saying that Obama won the Presidency because he was “light-skinned” and spoke without any “Negro dialect.” Hey, Harry – they stopped being Negroes about 45 years ago. I guess the news to Nevada travels slowly.

“Negroes” themselves were not offended by the comments, which they found to be essentially accurate. And why worry about some mousey old dude like Harry Reid when Rush Limbaugh is around? Yes, the Fat Toad came up with another gem. Limbaugh told his Dittoheads that the earthquake in Haiti “will make Obama look good to both light-skinned and dark-skinned blacks in America.” (Hey Rush – you look good to the lightly-brained and no-brained.) Limbaugh apparently believes that a couple hundred thousand dead Haitians will somehow be helpful to our Prez. Rush also shared his opinion that the U.S. should not donate a single nickel to Haiti. What heart, what compassion! Go overdose on oxycontin and die, you pig!

The lure of Libertarianism is still weaving its spell on Fox News watchers, TEA partiers, and other muddle-headed types. It has a simple and seductive premise for those who don’t care to think too deeply. As Ronnie Reagan memorably put it:

Government is the problem, not the solution.

What a convenient thought – Yes, if only the government would get out of our way, we’d be so much better off. There are too many rules. Why can’t I do everything I want? And I don’t like paying all these taxes for this, that, and the other. Individual liberty is the ideal. Let’s have ultimate free will and free markets and let each individual fend for himself, carve out a niche for himself, and live independently and free of all state interference. It’s the American way.

That’s a beautiful speech, and a total crock of shit. The natural end point of true Libertarianism is anarchy, mob rule, jungle law, slave wages, child labor, and worse. No services. No police, fire, or military. No nuthin’ unless you figure out a way to get it for yourself. But you get all the individual liberty you can stand.

Here’s the way of the real world, dear readers:

Government, taxes, regulations, and the ceding of some individual liberties for the common good are the prices we pay for a civilized society.
And you really wouldn’t want it any other way.

Unless you’re John Kasich. The former Republican Congressman from Westerville spent the last few years on Wall St. working for Lehman Bros. (That worked out well, didn’t it?) Now he’s brought everything he learned ruining that company back to his home state and he’s running for Governor. And his one big idea is . . . the abolition of the Ohio income tax. Fine idea, John. That’s what the State of Ohio really needs right now – less revenue. Didn’t we just tap dance on the precipice in our latest state budget crisis? So John’ll fix that by eliminating the major source of funding. Brilliant! Taxin’ Ted and the rest of the D’s ought to flog Kasich mercilessly with his own douchebag words.

Mentioning Lehman Bros. reminds me that recently the CEO’s of the remaining big banks and brokerages appeared before Congress to apologize. They said they were “sorry” for creating the financial meltdown by inventing and promoting worthless investments and then betting against their own lousy advice. They said it was mere coincidence that the profits they posted in 2009 were the dollar equivalent of the TARP funds they received in 2008. They said those profits would still justify the payout of bazillions of dollars in executive bonuses, because in their industry ya gotta pay for “talent.” Talent? Pardon me. Talent, especially at their pay grade, implies something rare. Peyton Manning is talent. Meryl Streep is talent. The Beatles were talent. Lloyd Blankfein, Jamie Dimon and John Mack are not talent. They are bean-counters and manipulators of the all-too-common sort.

In his last epistle, Buster wondered rhetorically how far the government’s head was shoved up the insurance industry’s ass. And now we know the answer is, pretty damn far. Especially the Republican heads. Just a couple weeks ago, it looked fairly certain that some sort of health care reform would become law. We had (and still have) two bills – one Senate, one House -- needing to be reconciled and smooshed into a mutually agreeable sausage. Neither bill was great, and neither did what could have and should have been done, but it seemed the end result was destined to be an historic step in the right direction.

Then came the special election in Massachusetts for the so-called Ted Kennedy Senate seat. A surprising victory went to Scott “Pants On The Ground” Brown, (R). The former male model and Cosmo centerfold campaigned on a one-sentence platform: “I will vote against any health reform bill.” His Democratic opponent and supposed shoo-in, Martha Coakley, campaigned on nothing, said nothing, and went nowhere. You’re a douchebag, Martha. Brown’s election proved the old maxim that half of winning is simply showing up. And by the way, Scotty, old buddy, if your daughters are still available, I’ll take one, please.

It also “changed the math”, in the current vernacular. No longer do the D’s have the 60-vote, filibuster-proof, super-majority in the Senate. They have 59. Isn’t 59-41 still a rather significant majority? Yes it is, but the R’s could filibuster with those numbers, and they promise to do exactly that. Meaning that health reform or any other bill the R’s don’t like could simply die in the Senate.

I’m sure no expert or scholar on the subject, but I don’t recall another time in my life when this country was so split, with philosophies so diametrically opposed. I can’t remember another time when the political conversation was so acrimonious. Real bipartisanship? Are you kidding? It died the day Obama took office. With Republicans in the minority of both houses (which really pisses ‘em off), they don’t really have a legislative agenda. Their agenda is obstructionism. Says House Minority Leader John Boehner (an ass-faced douchebag if ever there was one) regarding health care legislation, “Let’s be clear about this. Our goal is to kill this thing.” Sounds just like a spoiled brat in the school-yard: “If I can’t be quarterback, I’ll just take my ball and go home!” Or “I’ll just take my Senator Brown and go filibuster!”

Now, all of you know I love Barack Obama, and not just because he’s family, but he’s earned a little douchebag sticker himself too. He’s been too slow, too nice, too willing to let Congress fiddle-fuck around with what should have been his signature piece of legislation. He should have showed more leadership and been stronger and clearer about what he wanted.

Cousin Barry lately seems to have figured this out. He turned a little bit feisty in his State of the Union, calling out the R’s for their do-nothing roadblock tactics and wagging his finger at the Supreme Court. Was even feistier a couple days later when he ventured into the lion’s den and paid a visit to the House Republicans Conference, where he took their questions for over an hour and told them they were basically full of shit. Good!

As Obama took the podium, Boehner handed him a document with all the R’s big ideas on the economy, health care, energy, etc. ‘Cause, as you know, the D’s say the R’s have no ideas, but here they are, Bucko -- right in your hand. This document was 9 pages, including a cover page, table of contents page, blank buffer page, and blank back page. The remainder summed up a wealth of GOP wisdom with, as Stephen Colbert put it, “large font, double-spaced text with the sort of generous margins typically found in 8th grade term papers.”)

So this new Big Balls Barry is on the right path – the R’s were never going to play nice, so fuck ‘em. Gotta move on without ‘em. And he should keep telling it like it is and remind everyone of the following:

I inherited two wars and the worst economy since the Great Depression. Thanks, Dubya!

You wanna bitch about bailouts and stimulus packages? One, they started before I got here. Two, every genius, guru and brainiac out there – everyone! – agreed that this was the right thing to do. In retrospect, the stimulus should have been larger.

You wanna blame me for budget deficits? There was no deficit when Dubya took office. The vast majority of today’s deficit results from his wars and tax cuts. (Deficits, by the way, are not at all uncommon. They come and they go. They are reduced or eliminated by some combination of increasing receipts and decreasing disburse-ments. Once we quit spending mega-jillions in Iraq and Afghanistan, the picture will brighten considerably.)

We’re gonna get something done on health care reform, because it’s the right thing to do. It may not be perfect, but it’s gonna be better. It’s gonna help more people get coverage and it’s gonna curb some insurance industry abuses. It will subsidize some costs for some people, but it’s not a give-away government freebie. (We already have Medicaid.) It will spur competition by offering you and your employer some choices you don’t have right now. Keep what you have if you like it, but if you see an interesting alternative, you’ll be able to consider it.

You wanna crucify me for unemployment? Again, I inherited this fuckin’ mess and have taken steps to keep it from getting worse. Some things are improving and I’m gonna do what I can about the jobs situation by proposing a variety of projects and more stimulus money. But this is serious shit. It will take time, we can’t tax-cut our way to prosperity, and I can’t make everyone a government employee. The private sector needs to get off its whiny dead ass, get creative and do some of the heavy lifting, too.

And you R’s are feelin’ all spunky ‘cause you think 41 is larger than 59? You’re gonna stop me cold by threatening filibuster every single time? Really? Go ahead. I fuckin’ dare you. It’s bluff-calling time, assholes! Filibuster whatever you like. Bring the Senate to a grinding halt for days, weeks, months. The news media will have a field day. Can’t wait to see Mitch McConnell on TV holding the floor by reading his grocery list. Let’s see how the public reacts as you drag this shit on and on. After awhile, the outcry will be loud and clear – sit down and shut up! This country has passed shitloads of legislation with less than 60 Senate votes and without filibuster. What makes you think you’re so special?

Former VP and Douchebag Lifetime Achievement Award winner Dick Cheney recently left his undisclosed location and showed his Dick-head long enough to say that, when it comes to terrorism, “Obama likes to pretend we’re not at war.” Presumably because he doesn’t say the word “war” enough. Cheney was last seen shuffling back into the shadows, muttering, “War . . . war. . . at war . . . war good . . . for business . . . war . . . war . . . war . . . . . . . . .”

Meanwhile, Obama was winning the Nobel Peace Prize and simultaneously sending 30,000 additional troops to Afghanistan. So there, Dick!

But Buster’s gotta give another tip of Douchebag Cap to Obama for being hornswoggled by the military into more foreign misadventures, namely the ongoing build-up in Afghanistan. We’re finally winding things down in Iraq (Hey Iraqis – Sorry about your country. Oops!) and now we gotta go to the worst place on earth and do . . . what?

Get Bin Laden and Al Qaeda and punish ‘em for 9/11.

And they’re in Afghanistan?

Some of ‘em are, maybe. Hard to tell. They go everywhere. Bin Laden was there for sure ten years ago.

Yeah, right after 9/11 we went over there and threw out the Taliban and installed Hamid Karzai as head of the Afghan government. But we didn’t get Bin Laden, and today we still don’t know where he is.

Yep, he hides pretty good. Only one guy. Could be anywhere.

Are Al Qaeda and the Taliban the same thing?

No. The Taliban are Afghan natives and Islamic fundamentalists who want to take over Afghanistan and run the country. Al Qaeda are Islamic fanatics from the Arab world, Indonesia, and God knows where else. They’d like to rule the world, but they’ll settle for killing people now and again. The Taliban just wants Afghanistan. But some of the Taliban are chummy with some of Al Qaeda.

Weren’t we ourselves once chummy with the Taliban?

Oh yeah. Back in the early 1980’s the USSR tried to invade Afghanistan and was fought off by the Taliban. We gave weapons, training and money to the Taliban. They were our buddies ‘cause they weren’t Commies. They were “freedom fighters.”

But they’re not our buddies now?

Not so much, ‘cause they let Bin Laden hang out with them ten years ago. Although some of the Taliban are warming up to us again ‘cause we’re throwing plenty of cash around over there.

So we’re bribing them?

We’re winning hearts and minds.

So what about the real bad guys, Al Qaeda?

What about ‘em?

That’s why we’re in Afghanistan, right, ‘cause that’s where Al Qaeda is?

I don’t know. They could be there. You ever see those fuckin’ Afghan mountains? You could hide all sorts of shit in that godforsaken dump.

So Al Qaeda has no country, no base of operations, no uniforms, they left no forwarding address, they could be in Afghanistan, or they could be any other place in the en-fucking-tire world??!!

True ‘dat.

So why are we in Afghanistan?

National security. The generals say if we withdraw, underwear will be exploding all over the place.

So Buster now gives you Country Joe Obama’s updated version of the classic “Fixin’ To Die Rag”:

Now come on all of you big strong men, Uncle Sam needs your help again. Cousin Barry’s in a hell of a jam Way on over in Afghanistan. His generals told him “Please don’t run, We’re gonna have a whole lot of fun!”

So it’s 1-2-3, what are we fightin’ for? Don’t tell me the Taliban. Next stop Afghanistan. And it’s 5-6-7, open up the pearly gates. Ain’t got time to wonder why. We’re givin’ it up for Karzai.

The U.S. Supreme Court gave a big flip-off to a hundred years of precedent in campaign finance law when it ruled in favor of allowing unlimited corporate contributions to campaigns and issues. And I was just saying to myself the other day that what this country really needs is a good $2 mocha latte and shitloads more corporate influence in politics. You think politicians are bought and sold already? You ain’t seen nuthin’ yet!

Here’s a rare douchebag trifecta: Spineless CBS has decided to allow an anti-abortion TV spot during the Super Bowl, filmed and funded by dipshit Christian outfit Focus On the Family and featuring our favorite altar boy, Tim Tebow. False piety and bumper-sticker faith. Tim, you’re a tool.

Health Care Reform: Buster Explains It All (2009)

(From the Buster Gammons column of 9/9/09)

And then there’s the whole health care “reform” thing. Remember the old kids TV show “Clarissa Explains It All”? Call this “Buster Explains Some of It”. Here goes . . .

A. It’s ridiculous to suggest that the various House Bills on health care are “moving too fast” and we need to “slow down and reform health care the right way.” When it comes to health care reform, we Americans are nothing if not slow. The idea of changing or improving or “reforming” our health coverage has been around for decades, and at every turn it has been met with hysterical fear-mongering disinformation from the medical/health care industry. In the 1930’s the scare tactic was, “Germany has national health insurance. It’s a Nazi idea.” In the 1950’s it was, “Russia has it. It’s a Commie plot.” In the 1990’s it was Harry & Louise, and now it’s “ObamaCare” – that horrible public, nationalized, socialized, government-run monster. Ooh, scary! And those who talk about the “right way” never say what that way is. It’s just pure obstructionism. Reminds me of that old Groucho Marx song in Horsefeathers, “Whatever It Is, I’m Against It.” We’ve been waiting for years for any sort of serious reform. Further waiting and study serves no purpose. Get on with it!

B. It is utterly indefensible to suggest our current system is just fine and changes are unnecessary. You won’t even catch a Republican saying that. Everybody knows it sucks and why:

-- We pay more and get less than any other major country in the world. All of our health care costs -- insurance premiums, hospitals, doctors – have for years increased at rates far above inflation, and will continue to do so under the status quo. Yet we are no healthier. Among industrialized nations, we’re way down the list in terms of preventable deaths, healthy life expectancy, and access to care.

-- Only 62% of small employers (under 200 workers) offer health insurance coverage and the number is falling fast. Even with workers sharing in the cost, more and more companies just can’t stand the premiums.

-- Fifteen percent of Americans (47 million) are uninsured. These people are not scumbag leaches. The vast majority are working people not old enough for Medicare, not poor enough for Medicaid, but still not making enough money to afford health insurance premiums. For brief periods in my adult life, I’ve been among the uninsured and it’s not a comfortable feeling.

-- Health care may not be a god-given right, but neither should it be a straight financial proposition wherein the rich get theirs and otherwise, fuck you. The monied classes will always have their advantages, and let’s not begrudge the wealthy their wealth. But this isn’t about fancy houses and cars. Broad access to basic, affordable health coverage is an ethical issue. Nobody’s looking for a free ride, just more affordability and better value-to-cost. We are the only industrialized nation that does not see fit to cover all of its citizens, that doesn’t have a “public option”. England, Canada, Germany, Italy, Japan, Sweden, et al, yes. USA, no. Are you really OK with that?

-- Even with the best of coverage, costs to the individual are still potentially devastating. Sixty percent of all bankruptcies in America are medical. We are each one doctor’s visit away from financial, if not physical, ruin. You OK with that, too?

-- The Reagan Era-Gordon Gecko “greed is good” mindset has, in the health insurance industry, led to some despicable practices. A pre-existing condition may be excluded or cause you to be rejected altogether if you are seeking new coverage. Let me give you a couple personal examples:

I’m self-employed. Have been for a long time. When my wife has held a job, we’ve
bought health insurance through her employer. When she’s between gigs, we must purchase individual health coverage, which is substantially more expensive and less comprehensive than employer group plans. Back around 1991-1992, in the pre-internet dark ages, we needed to pick up individual coverage. Since we already had other insurance with State Farm, we went with them. Just one stipulation. Because Kathy had recently undergone infertility treatments, anything resembling pregnancy would be excluded. We had already given up the treatments and believed that kids would just not be in the cards for us, so we agreed to the exclusion and signed the forms. And – who’da thunk? – John Jacobsen was born in 1993 in a thoroughly normal and natural delivery. The tab from Riverside for this blessed event? Over $14,000. Full retail. Every bit on us. That was over 16 years ago. Wonder what it costs now? (That’s another quirk of our current set-up – the uninsured are charged more than the insured. Insurance companies and Medicare do not reimburse at “full” price, and all the doctors and hospitals cash those checks pronto. The full price is the sucker price.)

Just last year we were in the same position of needing to again pick up individually issued coverage. Researching online, we picked a policy from United Health and applied. John and I were accepted, Kathy was rejected. Her sin? A pre-existing condition. She was covered by United Health at a previous job and was diagnosed with mild high blood pressure. One office visit and one prescription results in one big fuck you. Nice, huh? So now we have a high-deductible – and I do mean high – HSA (health savings acct.) compatible policy. It boils down to catastrophic coverage – better than nothing in the sense that a stale slice of bread is better than a moldy one.

-- Then there are those charming insurance industry practices known as post-claim underwriting and rescission. In the first, a certain type of claim generates a red-flag code wherein the insured person’s application and medical history are scrutinized trying to find any discrepancy, any flimsy reason to turn down the claim. And they find reasons. Major companies like United Health, Anthem and Assurant have acknowledged they each employ 1500+ such red-flag codes. The second, rescission, means you’ve had the nerve to get really seriously and expensively sick, say, with cancer. On some dubious trumped-up basis, the insurance company then promptly rescinds/cancels your coverage just when you need it most. They drop you like you’re hot and then dare you to fight for yourself. These fucks are not on your side, they aren’t good neighbors, and you are most assuredly not in good hands.

-- Our current system is grossly inefficient. We are the only developed country which does not employ a single-payer system which allows doctors and hospitals to bill and be reimbursed by a single government entity. Our good old America know-how has given us instead over 1300 different private health insurers, with different forms, procedures and fee schedules for each and every fuckin’ one of ‘em! Ever see all the endless files and filing cabinets at your doctor’s office? All those clerks constantly on the phone? That’s the name of that tune. A full third of all our current health care costs are administrative/ paperwork. Clean it up and you save literally hundred of billions of dollars each year.

C. How to pay for the necessary health care revisions? First, if a genuine public option is made available at a truly attractive price, such a government plan would be hugely popular and would find itself swimming in cash in no time. Even so, any insurance company must establish sufficient reserves prior to start-up. So . . . paperwork is reduced & simplified as much as possible, medical records are shared, high-income individuals ($250 K +) get fewer itemized tax deductions, all but the smallest employers are required to offer health insurance (not pay for all of it, but offer it), all working people are required to carry health insurance, and some/many/most/all health benefits are taxed as income, to some degree. That’ll do it just fine.

Think about this. If you were allowed a big do-over, starting from scratch, would you design our American health care system to be what it is today? No, you wouldn’t. You’d want universal coverage with government-regulated rates and fair rules, and you’d want an efficient, cost-saving single-payer system. But the bitch of it is, even though everybody from Obama to Ron Paul knows it’s true, nobody has the balls to say it. Because single-payer would effectively wipe out private health insurance companies. (Convince me why this is a bad thing.)

So, although it makes tremendous sense, single-payer was never on the table. Nevertheless, Obama wants some sort of legislation, and it seems that something called “health care reform” will pass. The questions are: What will the legislation contain? What will be “reformed”? There’s still plenty of room to do great good without single-payer. But the aforementioned sources of August ugliness are doing their best to derail the whole thing.

These opponents of reform don’t give a shit about the details of any plan. They have no interest in what they know will be beneficial short-run and long-run for us, our children, our grandchildren. They don’t care about right or wrong. They care only about “winning”. For them, the only point is that Obama must fail, and anything which advances that end is a good thing. (Who’s a Nazi?)

Thus far, Obama has been way too nice and accommodating about all this. He’s dithered and lost control of the issue. The Senate is unraveling. Had he jumped on health care quickly after election, he would’ve had enough good will that it’d be law by now. Instead, he sought bipartisanship, tried to make everybody sing Kum-Ba-Yah, allowed August to hammer his ass, and showed all the decisiveness of Brett Favre. Now his dick is stuck out all the way, what he really wants is in deep yogurt, the bipartisan dream is dead, so is Ted, and he’s gotta make a big, big speech tonight and then really start twisting arms, LBJ-style. If it’s good, if it works, he’s FDR. If it doesn’t, he’s Jimmy Carter.

In tonight’s little chat, you’ll hear about covering pre-existing conditions, and guaranteed issue, and portability in job change/job loss, and many other good ideas. But, dear readers, there are really only two key things to listen for when Ol’ Cousin Barry talks, and they’re important (especially for my younger readers – this is much more about your future than mine):

1. The Public Option. Call it whatever you like – government-run, nationalized, socialized, blah-blah-blah. Any meaningful change must include a government program as an alternative to private insurance. If our Prez starts talking about co-ops and consortiums and the like, you’ll know he’s caved and you’ve been fucked again by the insurance companies.

2. Negotiated Rates. If Obama signals openness to “negotiated” health care reimbursements, you’ll know real reform is dead. Negotiated rates are the status quo. The “negotiations” are between insurance providers and care providers (hospitals & doctors). It is obviously in the interests of all these parties that rates continue to escalate, which is exactly what’s been happening for years. If, on the other hand, Obama talks about regulated rates, controlled rates, Medicare-based rates, then you’ll know some genuine change and help is afoot.

Medicare is a very successful and popular government-run health insurance program
for those 65 and older. Those covered by Medicare report notably more satisfaction with their health coverage than younger folks with private coverage. Medicare reimbursements are less than employer group plans and far less than full-retail sucker prices. Yet Medicare is so large and influential it cannot be denied. Today, the health care industry gladly accepts Medicare payments, likes it just fine, and is in no danger of going out of business. Any claims to the contrary are complete horseshit. Just like those payday lenders who were gonna go out of business if they were capped at a meager 28% APR! Same shit, people!

If we can get a public-option health plan with Medicare +5%-based rates, plus some of the other niceties, we’ll have something which will drive down costs and will force private insurers to compete. If we don’t get that, it’ll be a thin broth, it’ll be “reform” in name only, and we’ll know just exactly how far the government’s head is shoved up the insurance industry’s ass!

America The Ugly (2009)

(From the Buster Gammons column of 9/9/09)

All month long in August we were treated to America The Ugly (and Dumb). Congress took a break and the far-right foamy-mouth brigade shifted into hyperdrive. You know, the standard-bearer of the Old Conservatism was none other than William F. Buckley. Whether you agreed with him or not, he was always a class act – elegant, calm, with a spectacular vocabulary and a lightning-quick, razor-sharp wit. He appeared on PBS. Now the New Conservatism is led by the Three Stooges – Rash Dimbulb, Sean Insanity, and Glen Peckerhead. They’re on Fox. If you spend more than 30 seconds a day listening to any of these guys, please stop now before your brain turns to mush! I care about you!

These leading lights of the Right did some serious pot-stirring in August, while Buckley spun in his coffin. We enjoyed:

TEA Parties. The party-goers are short on teeth and brain cells. Let’s try no taxes of any sort and see how that works out.

People packing heat – legally! -- at an Obama speech in Arizona. “Yes, but it’s a dry heat . . . in the muzzle of my AK-47!”

Shout-downs at town hall meetings. At one of these, a woman called Barney Frank a Nazi. Barney suggested she possessed the intellect of a dining room table. Barney held the high ground.

Senior citizens on Medicare getting all irate about government health insurance. Yo, old dude! Medicare is government health insurance.

Lou Dobbs giving credence to the “birther” myth that Obama was born in Kenya. He was born in Hawaii, Lou. You were born on Mars!

Glen Peckerhead telling us that Obama “hates white people.” No, he just hates you, honky!

That beacon of accuracy, Sarah Palin, telling us that health care reform would include “death panels.” Not even close, sweetie. And anyway, Sarah, we already have death panels. They’re called insurance companies.

Right-wing, redneck radio persuades some spineless school districts to not carry the President’s national address to school children on the topic of education. Brilliant! How educational.

Minnesota, Alaska, and South Carolina (2009)

(From the Buster Gammons column of 7/9/09)

States of the Union:
Minnesota has finally settled on a Senator. After all the votes had been counted and recounted ad nauseum, after seven months of fruitless lawsuits, Norm Coleman finally conceded defeat. Norm has always been a voters’ favorite in the Land O’ Lakes, unless Minnesotans had the chance to vote for a big-time wrestler or a late-night comic. Yes, Norm now has the dubious distinction of losing to both Jesse Ventura and Al Franken.

Governor Sarah Palin said it just wasn’t fair to the good people of Alaska for her to be a lame-duck, just going through the motions and traveling on the public nickel. She said it would be “sort of like quittin’ ”, so in the best interests of her state, she decided to . . . wait for it . . . quit. You betcha! Some people think she’s trying to position herself for a Presidential run in 2012. Early polls indicate she’s the leading candidate among those who favor ill-spoken, muddle-headed, arch-conservative wackos.

Don’t Cry For Me, Argentina. In a rambling, weepy news conference, South Carolina’s Governor Mark Sanford fessed up to having an affair with an Argentinean woman and lying to his staff as to his whereabouts so he could hook up with her. Sanford said the woman was his “soul mate” and it was a “love story” which began when he “counseled” her on her pending divorce. When at last the affair was found out, the Guv flew to Buenos Aires one more time for what he called “five days of crying (and screwing)”. Later, Sanford volunteered he had “crossed the line” before with many other women. At that precise point, an aide handed the Governor a big, steaming cup of shut-the-fuck-up. Too late.

And just the other day, officials of the Atlantic Coast Conference, responding to protests, decided to cancel next year’s ACC baseball tournament scheduled to be played in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. They’ll play it in another state. That’s because those dumb crackers in South Carolina persist in flying the Confederate flag on state buildings, and just can’t understand why anyone has a problem with it. All the (white) state politicians howled with indignation at the ACC’s decision – Those dirty ACC bastards! How could they do this to us?

Hey, SC douchebags! It ain’t them, it’s you. The Civil War has been over for 150 years. You lost. Time to take down the flag.

The final results are: One score for Minnesota, one score for Alaska, and two for South Carolina. South Carolina wins!

The Piss-Drinker (2009)

(From the Buster Gammons Column of 3/24/09)

An example of bizarre beverage weirdness on the local scene:

“An amusing vintage – tart citrus up front, with lingering notes of oak and spice.” This is just too strange. A couple months ago, some guy was caught hiding in a men’s room stall in a state of arousal while watching little boys pee. The boys’ fathers beat the shit out of him and had him arrested. It turns out that this guy is the very definition of sick bastard – but he’s not a child molester at all, he just gets off by watching kids piss . . . and then drinking it! He’d put a wad of toilet paper in the urinal, then wring it out after a kid pissed on it. And it also turns out he has a history of doing this. So ridiculously, spectacularly perverted, it’s almost funny.

So they sent his twisted ass to the county lockup, but in a short while he was released. Why? He was in for public indecency, a low-grade misdemeanor. He isn’t a molestor or sexual predator, he’s just a simple piss-drinker, and there’s no law against that. (And who’d have guessed we might actually need one?)

What? No law against piss drinking? This is shocking! The public must be protected!

And riding to the rescue comes State Senator Jim Hughes (R, Dublin). Naturally, he is appalled and outraged by the absence of a piss-drinking law. So, for the safety of all Ohians, he will introduce legislation to “prohibit the consumption of another person’s bodily fluids without their permission.” (It’s the permission part that cracks me up.) I feel so safe now.



"Good afternoon, ma'am. Would you have any young children at home, preferably boys?"

“Yes, Jimmy here is 5 years old.”

“Splendid. If it’s not too much trouble, and with your permission of course, would it be possible for little Jimmy to urinate for me? Here, I’ve brought along my own Dixie Cup.”


Bristol Palin's Family Values (2009)

(From the Buster Gammons column of 3/24/09)

Remember back on the campaign trail when it was revealed that Gov. Palin’s 16 year-old daughter was pregnant via her high school boyfriend, but this was actually a joyous, family-values, photo-op moment, that daughter Bristol and the sperm donor loved each other and they were going to get married and have that baby and it was all good? Well, the baby came, but then came the news that – surprise! -- Bristol and her Baby Daddy had split up, proving yet again that marriage is a sacred union to be foisted upon two unwilling teenagers. Amen.

Limbaugh and Steele (2009)

That great gasbag Rush Limbaugh, a.k.a. Rash Dimbulb, recently got his name in the paper by asserting that Obama was a “fascist” and by saying he hoped our new Prez would fail. This verbal shit-bomb prompted Michael Steele, the new RNC chairman, to say that Limbaugh is not the spokesman for the Republican party, adding that in his opinion Limbaugh is merely an “entertainer” (don’t know about that) whose comments were “ugly and incendiary” (Bingo!) Whereupon the party leaders immediately prevailed upon Chairman Steele to apologize to Limbaugh for daring to say such things. Kinda tells you all you need to know, doesn’t it?

Now, does Dimbulb actually want Cousin Barry to fail? Does the fat toad really equate Obama with Mussolini? Who knows? It’s probably just the oxycontin talkin’.

Casual Fridays? (2009)

(From the buster Gammons column of 2/17/09)

Bush’s former chief of staff Andrew Card is PO’d that Obama sometimes appears in the Oval Office without a jacket or a tie. Card said such casual attire was “disrespectful” and that Bush and Cheney insisted on jackets and ties at all times, even during those occasional Oval Office water-boarding sessions.

Obama replied, “What’s the big deal? Clinton didn’t wear pants!”

Cheney on Gitmo (2009)

(From the Buster Gammons column of 2/17/09)

President Obama signed an Executive Order to begin the process of closing the detainee camp at Guantanamo. From his still-undisclosed location, former VP Dick Cheney grumbled that, “It’s a sad day for America when we’re more interested in reading prisoners their rights than we are in torturing them until they shit themselves and scream for mercy.”

Dubya on Dubya (2009)

(From the Buster Gammons column of 2/17/09)

My Legacy, According To Me. Offering up a self-assessment, George W. Bush said his major accomplishment as President was “preventing another 9/11.” Yep, ever since then, the jillions of terrorists, evil-doers and freedom-haters who want to fuck with us have checked the U.S. government website, noted the orange threat level, and thus deterred, decided to have lunch instead. Bush also noted that, on his watch, the last time Great Britain invaded remains 1812, the last time Japan bombed us was 1941, and Canada has been generally well-behaved.

Octo-Mom (2009)

(From the Buster Gammons column of 2/17/09)

California is the “Granola State” – full of fruits, nuts and flakes, the most recent example being the unmarried 30-something woman who dropped a litter of eight, thanks to in vitro fertilization. These octuplets will join the six kids she had already, those also via in vitro. And they’re all gonna live with the woman’s bankrupt mother! There’s nothing at all wrong with in vitro fertilization, but eight (pardon me, fourteen) is way more than enough. And did no one catch a whiff of crazy about this whole thing? Who pays for all this? (Probably us.) That doctor should lose his license and that woman should have her pussy sewn shut.

Rod Blagoevich (2009)

(From the Buster Gammons column of 2/17/09)

Crazeoids In-The-News. Illinois lawmakers wasted no time in showing Rod Goblowyerself the door. In his last moments as Governor, the Hair Helmet showed up at his impeachment to protest that, even though it sure sounded like he was trying to sell a Senate seat, he was “taken out of context” and we still “didn’t know the whole story.” Well, OK Roddy, go ahead and put it in context and give us the whole story. We’re waiting. Got nuthin’? Then fuck off!

Steroids: To Fess Up or Not To Fess Up? (2009)

(From the Buster Gamons column of 2/17/09)

Surprise, surprise, there was more evidence that Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens were indeed steroid users. And, oh yes, Alex Rodriguez too. Watching his squirming, tortured spin-answers to Peter Gammons questions was unreal. (How can you stick a syringe in your butt and not know what it is you’re injecting?) But yet A-Rod did, belatedly, admit the truth.

Obviously, the asterisk for baseball’s Steroid Era will be a big one. All this shit has done the game no favors and there is plenty of blame to go around. To me, the interesting aspect is the public’s attitude toward the various stances taken by the juiced or otherwise discredited players. Basically, the tainted players fall into three camps:

“Let’s Change the Subject”. This group includes Mark McGwire (“I’m not here to talk about the past.”) and Sammy Sosa (“I forget how to speak English.”)

“I Did Not Have Sex With That Woman!” Here we have those who, despite a pre-ponderance of evidence, steadfastly deny the undeniable. Included are Barry Bonds, Rafael Palmeiro, Roger Clemens, and Pete Rose. (Pete eventually reversed course, but it took him a couple decades.)

“Now That You Caught Me, Let Me Fess Up”. These folks decide, sooner or later, that honesty is the best policy. Here we have Jason Giambi, Andy Pettitte, Miguel Tejada, and now A-Rod.

It seems to Buster that the last group gets the easiest treatment in the court of public opinion. Giambi, Pettitte and Tejada all said, fairly quickly, “Yep, I did it.” Giambi cooperated with the Mitchell inquiry. Though not forgotten, there seems to be a lot more forgiveness for those who cop to the truth. I think A-Rod will eventually get his fair measure of forgiveness, too. Will it keep him from the Hall? Who knows? It’s keeping McGwire out. And of course the Pete Rose approach didn’t work out too well either.

(Maybe the two most infamous confessers were the first – Ken Caminiti and Jose Canseco. Neither received much in the way of forgiveness. Caminiti fessed up, then promptly retired and died. Canseco confesses frequently and very publicly, but remains an unforgivable asshole.)

One Toke Over The Line (2009)

(From the Buster Gammons column of 2/17/09)

In a viral photo, Olympic God Michael Phelps was shown at a party in N. Carolina sucking on a water pipe. Phelps apologized profusely and said he could explain his bong use: “I forgot to bring the E-Z-Widers.”

In a related note, Sheriff Goober of Possum Stew County is going for his 15 minutes by saying he may bring charges against Phelps and everyone else at that party on the basis of that photo. Are water pipes illegal? Good luck, Goob.

And in the Department of Liquid-Not-Herbal Refreshment, ex-Buck Alex Boone attempted to impress NFL scouts by drinking all the beer in the state of California and then punching a pickup truck. “Alcohol makes me think more better.” Sure it does, Alex.

Gay Marriage (2008)

(From the Buster Gammons column of 12/22/08)

Out on the left coast in California, they’re just all twisted into knots over gay marriage. Some cities and the state Supreme Court said it was OK, then the voters approved Prop 8, which banned it statewide, then AG Jerry Brown said Prop 8 is unconstitutional and wants the court to overturn it. Jeez! In Buster’s opinion, much ado about nuthin’. To each his own. Gay marriage poses no threat to conventional marriage. How is my marriage threatened by where you stick your dick? Why should I care? I say you should be able to marry any man, woman, or farm animal of your choice. The American Association of Divorce Lawyers awaits your future business.

Baseball Revenue Sharing (2008)

(From the Buster Gammons column of 12/22/08)

Baseball still has shitty revenue sharing, compared to other pro sports. MLB shares the national broadcast dollars (Fox, ESPN, etc.) equally among the 30 teams. However, each team still keeps all of its local TV & radio money, and there’s a hell of a discrepancy between New York and Kansas City, between Boston and Pittsburgh.
The same thing occurs with ticket sales/gate receipts. Each team keeps this gelt to itself, no sharesies, but there is again a wide gap between the top and the bottom. Yes, there’s still some lame-ass “luxury tax” on some high revenue clubs, but it’s similar to Bill Gates giving a shiny quarter to a homeless man – it’s nice, possibly it helps in the short-run, but it doesn’t change long-run circumstances.

The result is that a good many MLB clubs simply can’t compete when a high-priced free agent hits the market. Baseball is a team game and one big-name player doesn’t guarantee a winner. Neither are big-money teams guaranteed of success. (Tampa went to the Series while Yankees didn’t even make the playoffs – hah!) But in Buster’s opinion, a more equitable revenue sharing plan for baseball would make for a more level playing field and give more teams a financial shot at top free agents.

The NFL, on the other hand, equally divides damn near every dollar from every source, because they see it as good for competitive balance and hence good for the league as a whole. MLB could take a lesson.

Mean, Stupid Cocksuckers (2008)

(From the Buster Gammons column of 10/18/08)

At this late date, there aren’t many “undecideds” left. The party faithful on both sides will be just that – faithful. Race will play its role on both sides – those who’ll never vote for a black man and others who’ll vote for him just because he is. But the bigots are fewer and fewer, and the tide seems to be turning.

The last 8 years of Bush, Cheney, et al. have left us a legacy of lies and fuck-ups: Iraq, Katrina, Gitmo, Abu Gharaib, warrantless wiretapping, bank failure, recession, and on and on. The Bush record is so odious that “change” is the big theme for both sides. By that measure, Obama is clearly the more credible candidate.

(Full disclosure: Obama is a distant relative – and I do mean distant – of your humble correspondent. Time magazine reported that Obama is a cousin, many many times removed, of Gabriel DuVall, a Supreme court Justice from 1811-1835, and my 4th great grandfather. Of course, each of us has 32 4th great grandfathers, so the connection is pretty thin. And as my father always said, “If you go back far enough, we’re all related.”)

Over the years, Buster has quietly been all over the political spectrum. I’ve voted for Republicans, Democrats and Independents and have had very little to say about it, sticking to the old advice that politics and religion should not be discussed in polite company. But now I’ve obviously (and please forgive me for being obvious) become disenchanted with the R’s.

The quick and easy reason is Dubya and the last 8 years, but it goes beyond that. It just seems to me that the party of Lincoln has sold its soul. Genuine Republican values have become corporate largesse and tax cuts, and otherwise just say and do anything to get elected. Their true constituency is the Multi-Millionaires Club, but there aren’t that many of them. So great effort is expended by the R’s to “energize their base” with cynical lowest-common-denominator pandering and scare tactics.

Thus the Republican “base” is now populated with fundamentalist Evangelicals who’re sure they’re going to heaven and you’re not, egregious gasbags who claim to know God’s will, Puritanical crusaders who want to legislate morality, gay-bashing chickenshits, zero-tolerance anti-abortion Nazis, gun loonies who believe the right to bear arms means they can “hunt” with assault weapons, stiff-dick law-and-order prosecutors who incarcerate and execute with reckless abandon (see “Texas”), dentally-challenged “love it or leave it” rednecks, and other mean stupid cocksuckers.

The party of Lincoln has devolved into the party of John Hagee, Karl Rove and the NRA. It’s just not right and I won’t have any part of it.

And I’ve never forgotten something an old friend once told me: “You don’t have enough money to be a real Republican.” It’s true, I don’t. Do you?

McCain & Bush (2008)

(From the Buster Gammons column of 10/18/08)

There are some eerie similarities in upbringing between John Sydney McCain III and George Walker Bush. Both are the third generation of dynasties, children of privilege who advanced by pulling strings and through family connections. Both were intellectually incurious and academic fuck-ups in prep school and in college. Dubya wasn’t going to Yale without the family ties, and McCain got into Annapolis only because both his father and grandfather were four star Navy Admirals. (His grandfather “Slew” commanded the carrier fleet in WW II, and his father “Junior” was commander of the Pacific Fleet in Viet Nam.) McCain was a classic Navy brat, whose school nicknames were “Punk” and “McNasty”. His Navy career never came close to the heights established by his famous forebears. Yes, he was shot down, captured and tortured – wouldn’t wish that on anyone – and we honor him and thank him for his service, but being a bad pilot and a POW doesn’t make him Presidential.

In his private moments, I’m sure McCain’s a good guy. They say the press corps on his campaign bus enjoys his company. They say he’s the sort of fellow you’d like to have a beer with. And they said they same things about Dubya. Didn’t make him a good President.

Dubya took us to Iraq to “finish” his father’s business. McCain keeps talking about how the surge is working and how we’ve got to “win” in Iraq, and has said he still believes the Viet Nam War was “winnable”.

We just don’t need another bellicose blowhard with daddy issues as our Prez.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Trickle-down Economy (2008)

(From the buster Gammons column of 9/19/08)

Stock market volatility, the housing mess, the credit crisis, bailouts of Fannie, Freddie, AIG, and now probably a huge federal lifeline thrown to banks and brokers. The cherished principles of Reaganomics – government is the problem, all taxes are bad, all deregulation is good, trickle-down prosperity – are at last revealed to be a house of cards. The only thing trickling down is some fat cat above you pissing on your Wheaties!

Sarah Palin (2008)

(From the Buster Gammons column of 9/19/08)

Would-be Veep Sarah Palin is a diabolically inspired choice. The list of people less qualified than her is a very short one (you, me and four or five other people) but that’s beside the point. Caribou Barbie is there because she has things that ol’ Straight Talk doesn’t have: youth, a pair of tits, the ability to read a teleprompter, rifles, horseshit “family values”, and of course those Ab-Fab eyeglasses. She’s a female Dan Quayle with more self-confidence.

There are two things on Caribou Barbie’s resume which should, in Buster’s book, be automatic disqualifiers: she’s Alaskan and she’s a beauty pageant contestant. Having family in Alaska and having known a few beauty pageant babes, Buster knows whereof he speaks. Both Alaskan-ism and pageant-ism are thoroughly marinated in deep, deep weirdness. Alaska is the last refuge of scoundrels. Alaskans are marginal U.S. citizens who are far removed from the rest of their country, and they like it that way. Many would like to secede. The beauty contest world is one of competitive vanity, where cosmetically enhanced girls think it’s perfectly normal to parade around in heels and a swimsuit, under lacquered hair and a pound of makeup, and give saccharine answers to silly questions – “I think the world would be a better place if everyone had a puppy!” Neither Alaskans nor pageant princesses should be allowed to hold national office. They’re far too strange. The two attributes combined is a truly frightening prospect, especially a heartbeat away from the Oval Office.

And if you can’t figure out what a community organizer might do, you’re way too stupid to hold public office.

Clyde, Ohio (2008)

(From the Buster Gammons column of 9/19/08)

The small town of Clyde, Ohio has run afoul of the gun nut Concealed Carry cowboys. Clyde had a city law which prohibited packing heat in their city parks. Fairly reasonable, isn’t it? But no, our state Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional because everybody knows that parks are a haven for perverts and creeps and it’s our God-given right to shoot them! Oh brother, it’s a stupid world sometimes.

Skip Caray (2008)

(From the Buster Gammons column of 8/26/08)

Thirty years ago, in 1978, I was finally a college grad. (I went on the 6 year plan, with 2 years off for some really bad behavior!) I got a new color TV as a graduation gift, and got cable for the first time. Gave me something like 15 channels. One was WTCG, Ted Turner’s Channel 17 out of Atlanta. Now back in those olden times, NBC broadcast the Saturday Game of the Week, and a local station showed one, maybe two, Reds games per week, but that was it. WTCG was different. Because it was relatively cheap to do so back then, WTCG televised lots of sports – far more than any station had ever done before. Yes, they were all Atlanta teams, but if you were in the mood for a ballgame instead of the Love Boat, it was okey-dokey.

Soon I became a semi-frequent viewer of Hawks basketball (decent teams – Tree Rollins, Dan Roundfield, Tom McMillan) and Braves baseball (rather less decent – Jerry Royster, Biff Pocaroba). The unusual play-by-play announcer for both was Skip Caray. He was an unapologetic homer who was also quick to point out when the Hawks and Braves sucked, which they often did. Once, at the start of a homestand late in another dreadful season, Skip began the game by saying, “And like lambs to the slaughter, the Braves take the field.” What a hoot! Listening to Skip was often the best part of those games.

In 1982, the Braves put together a good team, went 13-0 out of the gate, and went wire-to-wire to win the NL West. They were on the tube damn near every night, brought to me by Skip, Pete VanWeiren and Ernie Johnson, and I got hooked. I can recite the starters to this day: C Bruce Benedict, 1B Chris Chambliss, 2B Glenn Hubbard, SS Rafael Ramirez, 3B Bob Horner, LF Dale Murphy, CF Brett Butler, RF Claudell Washington, P’s Phil Niekro, Bob Walk, Pascual Perez, Rick Mahler, Rick Camp, and the closer was Gene Garber. (God, that’s kind of pathetic and embarrassing that I can do that, isn’t it?)

WTCG became WTBS and then just TBS, and Skip gave up the hoops to focus solely on baseball. He was the voice of the Braves throughout the consecutive playoff years of 1991 thru 2005. And it was a great voice – a dry sense of humor mixed with tell-it-like-it-is honesty.

The glacially slow pace of some games annoyed him. At a pitching change, he’d always sarcastically say something like, “And so Cox comes to the mound yet again, and we’re just zipping along tonight.”
Skip had good-natured fun with players’ names. The St. Louis 2nd baseman Tommy Herr was a favorite. Pete: “. . . and Herr is safe at second!” Skip: “Yes, Herr is.” Or maybe Ernie said: “You know, Skip, Herr leads the league in walks.” Skip: “Does Herr really?” And of course Atlanta reliever Jung Bong was an easy target for Skip: “That’s another hit off Bong!”

A couple years ago, the Braves left TBS for the regional SportSouth network, and so Skip’s voice faded from the national scene. He began to do more radio than TV. Skip Caray, a true classic, died in early August. His last broadcast was July 28th. I raise my glass to you, Skip. I’ll miss you.