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

Thursday, April 28, 2011

FOR SALE OR TRADE: One Used Mother-In-Law. High Miles, High Maintenance. New Paint Job. No Reasonable Offer Refused.

In January, I will have been married 25 years. This means I've had a mother-in-law for the same length of time. My wife's good, but I'm ready to dump her mother. Way back when, I thought she was OK. I've had two and a half decades to revise that opinion.

My mother-in-law has had three husbands so far. She divorced the first one. The second marriage lasted 47 years, until he died. In her mid-70's she quickly married husband #3, who lived a few more years until he too kicked the bucket.

Which husband is the father of her two children, the guy who indulged her as she made them change homes like you and I change socks (all in the same town, including the infamous move literally across the street), the guy who provided for his family, paid for the girls to go to college, and left his wife with lifetime financial security? Husband #2, of course.

And as long as I've known her, which husband has she bitched about constantly, with never a good word to say, even to this day? That'd be husband #2 as well. Go figure.

And now she's 89 and has been in a senior facility since last fall, which is the right place for her. She could have been there a couple years earlier if she had followed our advice to pay a deposit and get on the waiting list. She found that suggestion offensive and ignored it. When she eventually decided to move there, she couldn't believe she had to wait. For months, she complained senselessly. (We tried to tell her.)

She'd been getting fuzzy, especially about money. She swore she had no money and had to "borrow" from Chuck the Magic Broker. (She had plenty. Make that "transfer", not borrow.) She had to pay "$50,000" in income taxes. (Not even close.) Her trip to the dentist cost "$8,000". (Or was it $800? Or $80?) Damn slippery decimal points!

She's also grown quite fuzzy about possessions. She "gave" us a set of dining room chairs that were not hers to give. (She told us she and husband #3 bought them together. Actually, he and his first wife bought them 40 years ago.) We made a 4 hour round trip to pick them up, then another one to take them back. She'd told my wife that she'd give her the old family silver, then changed her mind and literally hid the silver chest. She'd decided she would sell the silver. (For pennies on the dollar? Why? Its value is sentimental, not monetary.) Happily, she relented. After she moved into the retirement village, she became fixated on certain "missing" or "stolen" things. (Nothing was missing.) Oddly, her biggest concerns centered on a bathing suit and an umbrella which she couldn't find. (Going swimming in the rain?)

This weekend she was going to move from her 2 bedroom unit into a 1 bedroom, which was the original plan, but a 2 bedroom was available first and she couldn't wait to get there. But now she tells us she's cancelled that move and will stay put. Why? She's hoping/planning to be married again! And she'd like Dreamboat #4 to move in with her in her 2 bedroom. WTF??!!

She has known her latest boy-toy for all of 3 weeks. We haven't met him. He's 90 and had a "girlfriend" in the same building, but she fell ill and was hospitalized. So he dumped her and took up with my mother-in-law. Nice! The old folks home is just like the commune in Easy Rider! They have not had dinner together yet ("He sits at a different table") but they have walked down the street for lunch. Neither one drives.

And with that, wedding bells? At their age, why bother? You wanna shack up, go for it! Neither of these old coots knows five minutes ago from last Tuesday, and it won't get any better. Why get married if you're gonna forget that you did?

Bottom line, my mother-in-law is a deaf, paranoid, self-centered complainer who's happy only when a man -- any man -- pays attention to her. Her streak of Vanity (yes, capital V) is a mile wide and an inch deep. And no man has successfully dealt with her for very long. Her getting married again at her age wouldn't be some sort of old farts' cutesy fairy tale. It'd be a train wreck.

My advice for her Intended #4: Run, brother, run. Run fast, run far, and don't look back. And if ya can't run, push that friggin' walker!

More Fun On The Kasich Front

Last week, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Ohio Consumers Council in a case they brought against AEP for improperly applying a rate increase retroactively. Yesterday, via the PUCO, the OCC sought an immediate rate reduction or refund from AEP. This is the same OCC that Kasich seeks to neuter in his proposed budget by slashing their funding by half, even thought the OCC is not funded by state tax dollars. Might want to rethink that one, genius!

SB 5 would make the ultra-subjective concept of "merit" the sole factor in determining teacher pay. Yesterday, John The Wonder Guv had the chutzpah to actually ask the state's teachers for their ideas on how to implement merit pay. The teachers replied that since Kasich himself has shown so little merit so far, their plan would be to first put the Governor on merit pay and see how he likes it. They're recommending a plugged nickel per annum.

Big Day For Blowhards And Barkers

If you had to be stranded on a desert island with your choice of Barack Obama, Donald Trump or John Kasich, who's your pick? If you went with either of the last two, you're probably not reading this blog to begin with. Buster will roll with his good old Cousin Barry. He ain't perfect, but there's definitely something wrong with those other two.

Yesterday, President Obama arranged for the release of his full birth certificate, proving once and for all that he was in fact born August 4, 1961 at 7:24 p.m. in Honolulu. He said, "We don't have time for this silliness, for these sideshows and carnival barkers." Amen! Shameless publicity turd Donald Trump had the unmitigated gall to claim the document's release as an "accomplishment" for himself, and said he was "honored" to have played a role in this. Donald, you dolt, the only honor and accomplishment would be when you stuff a fucking sock in it!

In a related item, a survey found that 100% of Fox News viewers believe the birth certificate is false anyway.

On Tuesday, in an oblique reference to Ohio's slimy SB 5, Obama told a Cleveland interviewer that we should "not blame public employees for a financial crisis they had nothing to do with, and let's not use this as an excuse to erode their bargaining rights." Amen again! Yesterday, Governor Kasich responded with childish petulence, saying he (Kasich) had balanced Ohio's budget, and asking, "Why doesn't he do his job? When he [balances the federal budget], maybe he can have an opinion on Ohio." Maybe? Hey, John-Boy! He's the President, our Chief Executive and the Commander In Chief. He's eminently entitled to his opinion on this or any other topic, you disrespectful dickwad! And your hack-job budget is "balanced" with magically increasing non-tax mystery revenues and it hasn't yet been approved. So shut up.

It becomes clearer every day that John-Boy is an arrogant hot-head with some real anger-management issues. He's never met a piece of bait he wouldn't rise to. He's a dangerous little fuck.

She Went To The "Jon Kyl School Of Math"

Buster is happy to report that the "Pence Bill" (sponsored by Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind.) recently died a well-deserved death in the House of Representatives. This bill would have prevented Planned Parenthood from receiving federal funds. The Pence Bill was just a stunt, without hope of passing, but whether by bill or by budget, Planned Parenthood is under attack from Republican wing-nuts.

During the floor "debate", Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-Cincinnati), a.k.a. "Mean Jean", (and from the looks of her, the name fits) rose to to inform the assembly that "32 of 33 pregnant women who visit Planned Parenthood get an abortion."

Jean, dear, that's not true and you know it. It's not even close. So you're a meanie and a willfull liar. Lovely combination.

Both Mean Jean and Orange John come from Cincinnati. Is there something in the water down there? Jesus!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Patients Are Not Consumers

by Paul Krugman
published 4/22/11 in the NY times

Earlier this week, The Times reported on Congressional backlash against the Independent Payment Advisory Board, a key part of efforts to rein in health care costs. This backlash was predictable; it is also profoundly irresponsible, as I’ll explain in a minute.

But something else struck me as I looked at Republican arguments against the board, which hinge on the notion that what we really need to do, as the House budget proposal put it, is to “make government health care programs more responsive to consumer choice.”

Here’s my question: How did it become normal, or for that matter even acceptable, to refer to medical patients as “consumers”? The relationship between patient and doctor used to be considered something special, almost sacred. Now politicians and supposed reformers talk about the act of receiving care as if it were no different from a commercial transaction, like buying a car — and their only complaint is that it isn’t commercial enough.

What has gone wrong with us?

About that advisory board: We have to do something about health care costs, which means that we have to find a way to start saying no. In particular, given continuing medical innovation, we can’t maintain a system in which Medicare essentially pays for anything a doctor recommends. And that’s especially true when that blank-check approach is combined with a system that gives doctors and hospitals — who aren’t saints — a strong financial incentive to engage in excessive care.

Hence the advisory board, whose creation was mandated by last year’s health reform. The board, composed of health-care experts, would be given a target rate of growth in Medicare spending. To keep spending at or below this target, the board would submit “fast-track” recommendations for cost control that would go into effect automatically unless overruled by Congress.

Before you start yelling about “rationing” and “death panels,” bear in mind that we’re not talking about limits on what health care you’re allowed to buy with your own (or your insurance company’s) money. We’re talking only about what will be paid for with taxpayers’ money. And the last time I looked at it, the Declaration of Independence didn’t declare that we had the right to life, liberty, and the all-expenses-paid pursuit of happiness.

And the point is that choices must be made; one way or another, government spending on health care must be limited.

Now, what House Republicans propose is that the government simply push the problem of rising health care costs on to seniors; that is, that we replace Medicare with vouchers that can be applied to private insurance, and that we count on seniors and insurance companies to work it out somehow. This, they claim, would be superior to expert review because it would open health care to the wonders of “consumer choice.”

What’s wrong with this idea (aside from the grossly inadequate value of the proposed vouchers)? One answer is that it wouldn’t work. “Consumer-based” medicine has been a bust everywhere it has been tried. To take the most directly relevant example, Medicare Advantage, which was originally called Medicare + Choice, was supposed to save money; it ended up costing substantially more than traditional Medicare. America has the most “consumer-driven” health care system in the advanced world. It also has by far the highest costs yet provides a quality of care no better than far cheaper systems in other countries.

But the fact that Republicans are demanding that we literally stake our health, even our lives, on an already failed approach is only part of what’s wrong here. As I said earlier, there’s something terribly wrong with the whole notion of patients as “consumers” and health care as simply a financial transaction.

Medical care, after all, is an area in which crucial decisions — life and death decisions — must be made. Yet making such decisions intelligently requires a vast amount of specialized knowledge. Furthermore, those decisions often must be made under conditions in which the patient is incapacitated, under severe stress, or needs action immediately, with no time for discussion, let alone comparison shopping.

That’s why we have medical ethics. That’s why doctors have traditionally both been viewed as something special and been expected to behave according to higher standards than the average professional. There’s a reason we have TV series about heroic doctors, while we don’t have TV series about heroic middle managers.

The idea that all this can be reduced to money — that doctors are just “providers” selling services to health care “consumers” — is, well, sickening. And the prevalence of this kind of language is a sign that something has gone very wrong not just with this discussion, but with our society’s values.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Shouldn't Somebody Be In Jail?

It'll soon be three years since the Crash of 2008, our country's worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. The stock market tanked, home values plummeted, investments lost 40-50-60% of their value, our economy went into the ditch, foreclosures exploded, credit dried up, and unemployment soared. Since then, we've had some recovery, but we still have a long way to go.

Remember the rogues gallery of that autumn? Angelo Mozillo of Countrywide Mortgage, Joe Cassano of AIG Financial Products, Dick Fuld of Lehman Bros., Lloyd Blankfein of Goldman Sachs, John Thain of Merrill Lynch, Jamie Dimon of JP Morgan Chase, John Mack of Morgan Stanley, Ken Lewis of Bank of America. Just a partial list of thieves.

Almost 3 years later, none of these financial alchemists has been prosecuted, none of them are in jail. They're all walkin' around fat and sassy, many of them doing business as usual.

Any of them/all of them could be/should be charged with something, such as:

Criminally predatory lending practices.
Intentional failure to disclose risks completely and accurately.
Making shitty mortgage loans, which were then sliced, diced, repackaged and resold over and over again in the most opaque and obscure manner possible.
Giving themselves huge bonuses based on the wildly-overstated valuations of their mortgage-backed assets, which they knew was bullshit.

And how about those spineless whores at Standard & Poor's and Moody's who sold out for a shiny nickel and gave gold-plated AAA ratings to steaming piles of excrement otherwise known as CDO's? Surely they ought to be sued for something.

With the Savings & Loan collapse of the 1980's, over 1100 cases were criminally prosecuted and over 800 bad-actor bankers went to jail.

The Great Scam of 2008 was far, far worse than the S&L crisis, yet so far the collective might and authority of the SEC, Congress and the 50 state AG's has managed to sue one executive from the now-defunct Washington Mutual, and has extracted a $550 million fine from Goldman Sachs (which is like a parking ticket to them). And that's it.

All the money men and the Wall Street players are up to their old tricks, while running PR ad campaigns to remind us just how wonderful they all are. Goldman has glossy two-page print ads telling us how they "helped" build a new arena at the University of Louisville. My personal favorite: A Chase Bank TV ad which promises a "second look" at your loan application. If you don't like their first credit decision ("You're turned down"), Chase will review your app again and give you a second answer ("You're still turned down. Happy now?"). What service!

Buster's idea is this: Take just one of the above miscreants -- let's say Lloyd Blankfein -- and throw him in prison for 6 months. Not a white-collar "country club", but a real prison.

Six months of Lloyd Blankfein taking a daily pounding up the ass, and all his old buddies would get religion real quick. That's all we'd need -- just one of these bastards doing hard time. Wall Street would clean up its act in a heartbeat.

The Donald?

So, Donald Trump suddenly fancies himself as a Presidential prospect.

Buster has just one word to say about that:


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

BP Is A Still A Slimeball

One year ago, BP's Louisiana Deepwater Horizon oil platform blew up, killed 11 people, and for months barfed ungodly huge amounts of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico. Nobody knows exactly how much, but rest assured, it was shitloads.

Last week, some government entity announced that the Gulf Coast had recovered "substantially", and was "almost" as good as it had ever been. If that's true, then evidently the Gulf Coast has been a gooey mess forever. Because there's still plenty of oil all over the place. Just one example among many -- a CBS TV crew scooped up a teacup of beach sand somewhere on the Louisiana coast, and there, underneath, was a little puddle of bubblin' crude. Jed Clampett was nowhere to be found.

I bring this up merely to report that, in this tax season, BP will write-off the entire insufficient $32 billion cost of its post-spill rehab efforts -- clean-up, victim compensation, fines, legal fees, etc. Probably even the cost of their skeevy, self-serving TV ads where some good ol' Bayou Boys tell us how wondermous their BP financial settlement was.

This huge write-off will result in $10 billion in U.S. tax savings for BP.

So I guess the lesson is this, boys and girls: You can sacrifice safety for production and profit, you can kill a handful of workers, you can despoil the environment for decades to come, and still get a $10 billion tax credit for your trouble.

What a deal!

Kasich: Bob Evans Has "Shabby" Health Care; So Let's All Get Shabby!

Another day, another pearl of wisdom from Kasich, the Wonder Guv.

Yesterday, John-Boy commented that when he goes to a Bob Evans restaurant and sees "a woman working in there who doesn't have a pension and I don't even know that she has health care benefits, and if she does, they're shabby at best, to ask public workers to do a little more to provide balance to that mom who is trying to educate her kids -- it's fairness."

What a spectacularly ignorant thing to say! Instead of aspiring to raise all boats, Kay-suck is advocating going the other direction, dragging more people down to a lower level. Instead of trying, as a state and as a society, to help the waitress obtain better benefits and more financial security, he wants to take those things away from others so maybe our waitress might somehow feel better about her circumstances. It's "misery loves company" as social policy, and it's simple-minded dumb-fuckery.

Cutting labor rights, pay, and benefits for public workers does nothing to help our waitress. Making those folks pay more for their pensions and health care doesn't give those benefits to her, and it doesn't help educate her kids. Calling it fair and balanced is just Fox-speak, and it's bullshit.

One last thought: This "shabbiness for one, shabbiness for all" rationale is strangely socialistic, especially coming as it does from our Tea-bagging, Libertarian-leaning Guv. I wonder if he's noticed that. Probably not.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

A Whiff Of Decency From Arizona? But What About Bobby?

What's this? Arizona Governor Jan Brewer has momentarily put down her crack pipe of conservative crotchety-ness and done something which could easily be construed as reasonable, sane, and decent.

She vetoed two absurdly stupid bills which had somehow made it to her desk. (Well, Arizona will be Arizona.) The first bill would have allowed guns to be carried, openly or otherwise, on the state's college campuses, supposedly as a safety measure. Puh-leeze! The second was a so-called "birther bill", which would have required candidates to show proof of citizenship to get on any ballot in Arizona. This proof would include, per the bill's language, a birth certificate or a baptismal certificate or a record of circumcision, I shit you not.

These vetoes were a surprise and something out of character for Brewer, who is not known for handing out the warm-and-friendlies. But they are welcome nonetheless. Thanks, Jan.

Sensing that the mantle of craziness had fallen from Arizona's shoulders, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal promptly picked it up and vowed he would happily sign a birther bill. Then he spun the propeller on his beanie, and skipped back to his office.

Good Start For Ohio Baseball

Can we put the season on hold right now? The 12-4 Cleveland Indians have the best record in all of major league baseball and sit atop the Comedy Central -- I mean American League Central -- Division.

Behold the power and the glory of Shelley Duncan, Travis Buck, and Jack Hannahan. Marvel at the mound mastery of Josh Tomlin and Justin Masterson. (All together now: "Who?")

It's a wonderful thing and most unexpected, but you better hurry and do your beholding and marveling real soon. Because it's just April 19th and this can't possibly last. Can it?

The Cincinnati Reds are 9-7 and, despite a recent rough patch, are on top of their division too. They won it last year and should contend again this year. Now if they can just get their starting pitchers to quit shoplifting $10 t-shirts. (Hey, Mike Leake! You make half a mil a year. C'mon, man!)

The Most Powerful Appointee In Ohio?

Stuffed somewhere in the middle of John Kasich's proposed budget are a handful of lines that would make Tim Keen the most powerful un-elected person in Ohio. Who is Tim Keen, you ask? He's the Director of the Office of Budget & Management.

Kasich's budget authorizes the OMB Director to issue state contracts (for up to 75 years!) for any state service to any applicant that he alone deems "qualified to more efficiently and effectively provide those services." And those lucky hand-picked winners would pay no taxes on gross receipts or on any income "derived from providing public services."

There are zero requirements on a winning "bidder", and there is no review mechanism or approval process. Just the say-so of a single political appointee.

This sleaziness takes cronyism, patronage and secrecy to new heights, and is just the sort of "speed of business" horseshit that Kasich revels in: Openness? Public record? Fairness? Legislative oversight? Fuck it, man, too slow!

The Big Bus Driver's lead foot could put us all in the ditch.

Happy 100 Days, King John! Here's Another Lawsuit.

John Kasich, our Big Bus Driver, has been sued yet again by ProgressOhio. They say that JobsOhio, Kasich's hastily conceived private entity which would replace the Ohio Dept. of Development, is unconstitutional.

This privatizing of a state agency is authorized by HB 1, which also says that:

Any legal challenge to JobsOhio be filed directly with the Ohio Supreme Court (leap-frogging over all lower level jurisdictions).

Private entity JobsOhio may take on debt and liabilities, which would ultimately be the responsibility of the State.

The governor is not only governor, he's also the Chairman of the Board of private entity JobsOhio.

For these and other reasons, ProgressOhio and two Democratic congressman say that "JobsOhio is obviously unconstitutional." And it very probably is. How will the Republican-dominated state Supreme Court see it? Who knows?

But it's great fun fuckin' with John-Boy!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Thoughts On Tax Day

Today is tax return filing day. Filed mine awhile ago. Had to pay a bit more to the state and the city, but got a decent refund from the feds. My refund wasn't quite as decent as these:

ExxonMobil made $19 billion in profit in 2009, paid no federal income tax, and received a $156 million rebate from the IRS.

Last year, Bank of America made $4.4 billion in profit and got a $1.9 billion tax refund. Previously, BoA received almost $1 trillion in TARP bailout money.

Chevron chalked up a $10 billion profit in 2009, and got a $19 million IRS refund.

Last year, Boeing was given a $30 billion contract from the Pentagon to build 179 airplanes. They also got a $124 million tax refund.

In the past 5 years, General Electric has reported $26 billion in profits while receiving $4.1 billion in tax refunds.

And these are but a few examples among hundreds, maybe thousands. Against this backdrop, consider all the penny-ante squabbling over the 2011 budget (with R's insisting on cutting out NPR and Planned Parenthood -- ooh, that'll help). Consider the rancor to come in the election year 2012 budget (with the first salvo fired by Paul Ryan's silly "Path to Prosperity", filled with tax cuts for those who don't need them and the elimination of social services for those who do).

Obama responded by correctly calling Ryan's proposal crazy, punitive and "not right". He said the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy would be extended over his dead veto pen. Right on, Cuz! 'Cept you coulda and shoulda said so much more.

Boehner said any tax increases in 2012 would be "a non-starter." This is such an incredibly stupid statement. I realize Orange John is just a Beltway parasite, but even he must know he's tellin' the Big Lie when keeps saying "no taxes". If he doesn't, his brain is the non-starter.

Look, nobody "enjoys" paying taxes. It's been a big bone of contention from day one, whenever that was. No matter what's in or out of the tax code, somebody will be unhappy, something will be unfair. But if we truly want to do something about this deficit "crisis", the solution is not the R's endless Libertarian slash-and-burn rhetoric. It's not the Cato Institute crap. We're gonna have to do something about the revenue side too. And that means more taxes, on somebody, maybe lots of somebodies.

Revenue is revenue, we need more revenue, and it doesn't matter where it comes from. Buster submits that there is no better source at this precise point in time than some of those above-mentioned corporations who are rolling in it, paying nothing, and somehow getting massive refunds to boot. It's obscene.

Paul Ryan thinks blowing up Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, combined with tax cuts for fat cats, is a masterstroke of financial genius that will solve all our problems. If less is more, says Paul, then nothing is most. And if you can't afford to live this way, then please hurry up and die.

Alternatively, the late Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes famously put it this way: "Taxes are the price we pay for a civilized society."

Buster will roll with Justice Holmes.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Who Came Up With That Brilliant Friggin' Idea?

If you're talking about the Ohio Senate, the answer is probably the porcine pinhead pictured here, Sen. Tim Schaffer, (R-Lancaster). He's the sponsor of the stupid gun bill known as Sub. SB 17, which was, incredibly, passed in the Senate last week by the heavy R majority. With any luck, it will die a well-deserved death in the Ohio House.

Schaffer's bright idea would allow those Ohioans with a concealed-carry gun license to bring their lethal weapons into bars and restaurants, as long as they don't drink alcohol or show up already drunk. I guess bartenders and waiters would not only ask for your ID, but frisk you for weapons and if one was found, ask for your concealed-carry license and then administer a breathalyzer to see if you'd already had a few.

It would also permit the concealed-carry people to openly display their guns while traveling in motor vehicles, freeing them from the "oppressive" current rule which says keep your piece in the goddam glove box, cowboy! Schaffer's bill would let a person hold a gun while driving, stick a gun out the car window, twirl it on a finger, or hang it on the rear-view mirror like fuzzy fuckin' dice! Lovely!

Both law enforcement and the food and beverage industry are strongly opposed to this bit of idiocy, and even the Columbus Dispatch has come out against it. You know you've got a turd when even the Dispatch gives it a thumbs-down.

Previously, Schaffer introduced a bill which would have required a urine test to qualify for state aid for things like heating, housing, medical or food assistance. Tim wanted to protect us from addicts mooching off the system. Appropriately, the bill went nowhere. Apparently, everybody except Timmy knows that you can't buy liquor or drugs with food stamps. What a moron!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

The Best Excuse Ever!

During all the bickering before the recent budget agreement (the one that takes us through 2011, not Paul Ryan's ludicrous "Path To Prosperity", which is for 2012 and is DOA anyway), you might recall that Republicans tried to make the deal contingent on eliminating funding for Planned Parenthood. Sen. Jon Kyl (R, Ariz) argued for cutting them off, telling his fellow Senators in his gravest tone that, "Ninety percent of Planned Parenthood's expenditures are for abortions."

Turns out that Kyl was just a teeny bit off with his statistic -- like a margin of error of plus or minus 87 points! Planned Parenthood actually spends just 3% of its money on abortion.

A spokesman explained that "The Senator's statement was not intended to be factual."

Hot damn! That's the best excuse ever! Now we can all say bunches of ignorant things and engage in wild exaggerations and reckless behavior, and if someone objects, we're covered! It's beautiful, and there's no end to the usefulness of this technique:

"You see, Professor, all those wrong answers on my mid-term exam were not intended to be factual."

"All the degrees and experience on my resume? Not intended to be factual."

Richard Nixon: "All my comments captured on the Oval Office taping system? Not intended to be factual."

George W. Bush: "When I said 'Mission Accomplished', my words were not intended to be factual."

John Boehner: "Neither my tears nor my skin tone are intended to be factual."

"My tax return? Not intended to be factual."

"Honey, remember our wedding vows? Well, I didn't intend my statement to be factual."

"But Osh-ifer, my blood alcohol content ish not intended to be fak-shull, OK?"

Monday, April 11, 2011

Beware The Revenge Of The Intellectuals!

Not long ago, the repressive union-crushing SB 5 sailed through the Ohio House and Senate, and was promptly signed by Gov. Kay-suck. As the House voted its approval, a crowd of teachers, nurses, safety workers, and other public employees showered them with a chorus of boos and shouts of "Shame on you!" House Speaker Bill Batchelder had the protesters removed, then sarcastically quipped, "Now that the intellectuals have left, . . ." Oh, ha-ha. That same day, a (Democrat) Representative asked the Speaker for a bit of floor time to honor a deceased friend. The inexplicably surly Batchelder snarled, "Well, you may or may not goddam get it!" What a classy guy. (Obviously, Buster cannot credibly condemn profanity. Then again, I'm not the Speaker of the Ohio House of Fuckin' Representatives!)

I have a piece of advice for King John, Batchelder, Niehaus, and the rest of Ohio's Republican "leaders": Beware the revenge of the intellectuals!

King John's approval ratings are in the 25%-30% range. Could Ohio be made of 70%-75% intellectuals?

A recent national poll found 48% of Americans support the public employee position, 39% back the dipshit GOP governors, and 13% admit that they've been napping, but say they are nonetheless intellectually inclined. At least a plurality of the nation is intellectual.

It was reported that of the thousands upon thousands of emails on this topic received by our genius Guv, 16% support his bald-faced attempt to destroy unions and their political and financial clout, while 84% are opposed. We are 84% intellectual! In a pathetic spin-job, a Kasich spokesman said this shows that the Governor "doesn't stand alone" (yep, the lunatic fringe is right there with him) and he is "prepared to govern by his own convictions" (while utterly disregarding anyone else's).

This past Saturday, 15,000 intellectuals went to the Statehouse to once again protest against this rotten law, and to learn how to use the referendum process to overturn this abomination. That's a lot of intellectuals!

In the weeks to come, somewhere on the order of 250,000 intellectuals will sign a petition to put this damn thing to a vote of the people in November (as opposed to what was basically a royal edict from His John-ness.) Even more intellectuals!

And in November, you'll notice John-Boy walking around with some expensive, high-quality paper sticking out of his rear end. That's because millions of Ohio intellectuals will have gone to the polls and voted to stuff SB 5 up his ass!

I hope.

The Supremes Go Gospel

No, not those Supremes. I mean the U.S. Supreme Court. Recently, the Court narrowly upheld a peculiar Arizona law (that goddam state again!) which allows a 100% state tax credit for donations to "school tuition organizations". This is Arizona-speak for private Christian schools. Under Arizona tax law, you give up to $1000 to the Little Lambs of God Christian Family Academy, and the state of Arizona pays you back with $1000 off your taxes. Obviously, somebody pays. It's all the other Arizona taxpayers who are, in essence, paying some of the tuition costs for religious schools. And 5-4, our Supreme Court says that's just fine. Hallelujah and Amen. Buster is confused. What ever happened to the separation of church and state?

In their next case, Justice Scalia will explain the Constitutional requirement to tithe.

No, Dude, It's Just A Budget

It's a miracle! After much high-minded posturing and finger-pointing, an agreement on the federal budget was reached late Friday, and a government shutdown was averted. This was a disappointment only to some Tea-Bag tyros in Congress, who gathered earlier in the week to chant, "Shut it down! Shut it down!" (When certain public servants are loudly calling for closing the very institutions which allow them to serve in the first place, we've really stepped through the looking glass.)

The whole damn thing was an exercise in silliness. Both sides had already agreed to some fairly hefty spending cuts, then decided to have a last-minute stand-off over chump change. Yes, it was a few billion dollars, but in the context of the total budget, it was the precise equivalent of trying to buy a $20,000 car and arguing about $40. Jeez! Sucking up to the Tea-bugs, Boehner even tried (in vain) to defund Planned Parenthood. What a shameless turd. Anyway, it all worked out somehow and we're done with it (until the next time).

Prior to the agreement, in the midst of the haggling and negotiations, those on the far-right wing of Congress stirred the pot by unveiling their very own 2012 wish-list budget. It was presented by Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, boy wonder and supposed budgetary savant. I think the savant's been hittin' the sauce!

Paul's Big Plan claims to save us $12 trillion (ooh, that's big!) by repealing the Patient Protection Act, privatizing Social Security, and abolishing Medicare, which it would replace with cheap-ass vouchers for private health insurance. And of course, Paul's Plan has lots and lots of tax cuts, all of which magically increase revenues! (Sure they do!)

This reckless budget proposal is a complete bad-math crock without the slightest chance of actually being implemented. It's a stunt, just the Tea Baggers itching to show us how their minds work. (And it would seem they work crazily.)

When Ryan introduced his happy horseshit, he said, "This isn't a budget, it's a cause." No, dude, it's just a budget and a bad one at that, and you're just an opportunistic ass.

[To read an excellent opinion piece on this topic, read Paul Krugman's column of 4/8/11 in the NY Times.]

This Just In: Even Fox News Has Its Limits

From its inception, Fox News has made no secret of its agenda. With the stated purpose of celebrating all things conservative, Fox has delighted in giving airtime to every right-wing windbag and crackpot cause it could find: from Sean Hannity to Ann Coulter to Andrew Breitbart to G. Gordon Liddy to Sarah Palin to Karl Rove to the Tea Party, the list seems endless. Among such commentators at Fox News, the truth and the facts were held in such high regard that they were used only sparingly. Seemed like you could say any old awful, ignorant thing and get away with it, even have it encouraged.

But now it appears that, even on Fox, you can go too far, you can be too much of a controversial asshole, and of course your ratings can be way too low. Yes, Glenn Beck is "transitioning" away from Fox News (i.e. he was shit-canned). Chairman and CEO Roger Ailes put it this way: "Glenn's a clever guy and his presence helped us a lot, but once people figured out he was just a bat-shit crazy douchebag, they quit watching him." (Well said!)

So bye-bye Beckie. And don't forget to take your fuckin' chalkboard!