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

Monday, March 31, 2014

Hipster Douche "I'm A Republican" Ads

Happy to say I've missed this GOP ad campaign targeting young people.  If you're a young person and you find this hipster douchebag "Scott G." persuasive, then I fear for our future.

Here are four short videos.  The first and the third are the actual "I'm a Republican" ads.  Number two and number four are parodies by John Oliver and Josh Gondelman.  The parodies win!

Video #1

What specific legislation is he talking about which "makes it impossible to hire anyone"?

Video #2

Video #3

The first one I know to utter the phrase "all of the above" was Barack Obama.

Video #4

Sunday, March 30, 2014

I Dare You To EXPAND Voting Access -- Uniformly, Of course

Voter Suppression Song:  New Lyrics, Same Shitty Tune

Around the country, wherever they can, R's are pushing new laws that make registering to vote and exercising the right to vote more difficult -- from ID requirements to restrictions on voting days, hours and locations to reducing absentee ballot availability.

Anyone with half a brain understands this is de facto voter suppression, modern-day Jim Crow without the poll tax and the literacy test.  Having read the demographic tea leaves, the R's have been hot to trot for this sort of stuff for the past few years.  At first, they floated the trial ballonn of "voter fraud".  But voter fraud is virtually non-existent, as has been shown repeatedly, even by Republicans.

So now the new spin is "uniformity and fairness".   Ah yes!  What could be wrong with those things?  Nothing, really, except the R's version of these concepts uniformly restricts voting access and makes it harder to comply for some seniors, young people, working poor and minorities, which is patently unfair (and precisely the intention).

Hey GOP!  If you're really so committed to uniformity, if that's what 's fair, if that's what you really want so much, then I challenge you fucks to EXPAND voting access -- uniformly, of course.

What?  No can do?  Why not?  Oh, I see.  Sure.

Another day, another dollop of sugar-coated crap for the low-info masses.

Conservative cheats and liars are working the states-rights angle like crazy to carve this rip-off into legislative stone, while they give us the finger and dare us stop them.

To do the right thing, we're going to need a new, modern-day federal Voting Rights Act to counteract these forces of regression.

Friday, March 28, 2014

His Own Private Primary

"Kiss my ring, sonny!"
Sheldon Adelson is a Las Vegas casino tycoon and a major GOP donor worth $37 billion.  He is hosting an event this weekend.   Sycophantic Republican presidential hopefuls will go to Vegas to pay homage to him and, more importantly, his money.  Among those bowing, scraping, and groveling at Adelson's feet will be Scott Walker, Chris Christie, Jeb Bush, and Ohio's own John Boy The Wonder Guv Kasich.

Money has always been a part of politics and always will be.   But in case you haven't been watching, the formula has been changing over the past few years.  The corruption, the perversion, of the democratic process now comes not from money itself but from the really BIG money, the off-the-charts money.  We're at the point where just a handful of people with self-serving personal agendas exert ridiculously out-sized influence over politics, public affairs and society as a whole.

Sheldon Adelson spent $100 million in the last presidential election cycle.  He's vowed to do more in 2016.  He desperately wants to be a king-maker.

Charles and David Koch spent $400 million last time, most via their nefarious network of 501-C-3's, like Americans For Prosperity.  They're ready to step it up, too.

So far in the current 2014 mid-term elections cycle, Americans for Prosperity has run 17,000 TV ads across the country.  Actual Republican Party groups have run 2,100.

In the 2012 presidential race, both candidates combined took in almost $2 billion in campaign contributions.  President Obama took in slightly more than Mitt Romney, but it was fairly evenly split.  The average donation to Obama was under $100.  The average Romney donation was over $1000.

We're closer to genuine American oligarchy than we've ever been.  We're making the "Gilded Age" look like a bunch of five-and-dime pikers.  Only an organized, large-scale, grass-roots political movement can stop it.  Sooner or later, it'll happen.  It always does.

Mr. & Mrs. Adelson.
You'd think $37 billion could
buy a couple decent haircuts,
but apparently not.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Shocker Alert! -- My Attorney Has Found Me Innocent

Surprise, surprise!  N.J. Gov. Chris Christie's long-time personal law firm was appointed by Gov. Christie to conduct a taxpayer-funded investigation into Gov. Christie's role in the George Washington Bridge lane closure debacle last fall.  The investigation has concluded that -- hold onto your socks -- Gov. Christie had nothing to do with it.  It was just a couple of unaccountable rogues on the governor's staff, but His Heftiness was not involved at all and did nothing wrong.  Yeah, that's it!

Is anyone ever fooled by this sort skeevy shit?

Bill Clinton's lawyer checked out the Monica Lewinsky allegations and corroborated Bill's claim that he "did not have sex with that woman."

Richard Nixon's lawyer investigated the Watergate affair and found that Tricky Dick had no recollection of any of it.

Well Said, Mr. Maher

Bad Spelling Is Our Constipational Right


Hobby Lobby Can Stuff It!

"Hobby Lobby is not legally required to compensate its employees with health insurance at all."  [i.e. they could pay a penalty instead.]  "The regulations imposed by the ACA are on insurance plans, not on the corporations per se.  What is erroneously described as a 'mandate' simply means that if corporations choose to take advantage of the tax benefits for compensating employees in health insurance rather than wages, the insurance has to meet minimum coverage standards.  As is often the case with specious religious freedom arguments, the corporation wants it both ways -- to get the tax benefits without providing the the full benefits to employees." -- Scott Lemieux, Poli-Sci Professor, College of Saint Rose, Albany, NY


Not An Onion.Com Parody

Nope, not a parody.  It's a real campaign ad.  From the "hog castrator."  The GOP sure can pick 'em!


"Vote for Joni Ernst.  She has balls!"

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Obamacare Signup Deadline: A Faux News Manufactured Crisis

You may have heard that March 31st is the last day to apply for health insurance through the federal or state "marketplaces" and thereby avoid a $95 penalty on next year's tax return for being uninsured in 2014.  My local fishwrap and other conservative media outlets are treating the date like it's the Mayan calendar -- the end of the world.  The breathless front page headline in today's Douchepatch read, "Obamacare Signups Down To The Wire!"

The original projections for this first year of full implementation of the ACA were 7 million people signed up by March 31st.  It looks like it might wind up around 6 million, and the righties can't wait to jump on any number less than 7 million as "proof" that Obamacare is therefore an abject failure.  Do you hear me?  Failure!!  Benghazi!!!

Laughably ridiculous, but uninformed people are easily manipulated.  Hence, Fox News, Columbus Dispatch, et al.

Five, six, seven million, whatever.  It really doesn't matter much right now because this is only the start of a long-term program, not the finish.  Gotta give it time.  Get back with me in 5 or 10 years.  But today, from an actuarial standpoint, more is obviously better, so a small army of volunteers is working tirelessly here in Columbus and across the country to answer questions and help people get signed up.

Dave Girves at CSCC
The Dispatch article highlighted a recent enrollment event at Columbus State Community College.  It featured a photo of my blogger buddy Dave Girves, working as a volunteer.  Good job, Dave, and thank you!

(As you may know, Dave has written numerous letters to the editor, all of them excellent, none of them published.  True to form, the paper didn't quote him in the article.  But at least they ran his picture this time.)

The article also shared the "story" of one Steve Salmen, 57, of Columbus, who said he was frustrated and angry that the premium for his family's existing health insurance increased from $774 to $1673 per month.  (Again true to form, the Dispatch offered no details as to coverage or carrier, no explanation for the premium hike.  They expect us to simply take Mr. Salmen's word for it.)  And Mr. Salmen is upset that accepting ACA marketplace coverage comparably priced to what he paid last year means he'll have to accept government assistance.

"In December, my policy was affordable, and in January it was no longer affordable," said Salmen, who also said he was planning on purchasing coverage through the ACA marketplace exchange.

"Now I have to take take government subsidies." 

Oh, the shame!  Mr. Salmen is a red, white and blue patriot, and a blithering idiot.  He opposes government "subsidies" on principle, even if they might help him significantly.  Here are a couple points for dullards like Mr. Salmen to consider:

Obamacare does not set minimum or maximum premium rates.  Obamacare has nothing to do with rates (because Republicans refused to allow any such thing).  Insurance premiums are set by insurance carriers and approved by state insurance departments.  If you object to a rate increase, take it to those folks.

On his income tax return, if Mr. Salmen has ever followed Mitt Romney's advice and taken the allowable deduction for mortgage interest, or dependent children, or tuition expense, or medical expense, or sales tax, then he's taken a government "subsidy."  If he's ever had an FHA home loan, or VA benefits, or used the GI Bill, he's taken a government "subsidy."

Government obviously does far more for Mr. Salmen than he realizes or cares to admit.  If government benefits are really so hateful, then Mr. Salmen should shut the fuck up and just pay whatever his current insurance company tells him to pay.  On the other hand, if he'd like to have the same coverage for $900 a month less, maybe he'd better sign his ass up on the Obamacare exchange.

A Business Decision

You're undoubtedly aware of the ignition switch problems inherent in certain General Motors vehicles.  It seems that the weight of a heavy key ring can cause the ignition switch to flip from the "run" position to the "accessory/off" position while the car is being driven.  This simultaneously kills the engine, the power steering and the power brakes, leading to vehicle crashes which have caused many deaths and injuries.

In February, GM acknowledged the problem with a limited recall of some Chevrolet Cobalts.  But soon it came to light that the defect was widespread, affecting at least 1.6 million Chevys, Pontiacs and Saturns from 2003 through 2007.  GM just issued a recall to replace the ignition assembly on those vehicles, but won't have parts until next month.

The total number recalled  is bound to grow, because now GM has admitted it knew about this ignition problem going back to 2001 and did literally nothing about it until 2005.  At that point they began to issue "technical bulletins" to their service departments.  These bulletins amount to "silent" recalls -- no public announcement, but if a customer bitches, the complaint is suddenly covered by factory warranty.

Yes, we're talking about mass-production, and yes, shit happens.  But bottom line, GM knew about a potentially deadly problem for 14 years and purposely did next to nothing about it.  More than one of their execs has termed it "a business decision."  That's exactly what it was -- a cold, hard commercial calculation about the value of a human life versus the cost of a large vehicle recall.  Wrongful death dollar settlements can range from hundreds of thousands to tens of millions.  The U.S. Dept. of Transportation says the "value of a statistical life" is $9 million.

The bean-counters at GM clearly saw financial advantage in risking a few wrongful death payouts instead of stepping up to the cost of a full-scale recall.  What a cheap, stupid business decision.  GM wound up issuing the recall anyway, and now they're gonna pay one hell of a lot more than that.  The lawyers will have a field day, and they should.  And the feds just fined Toyota $1.2 billion for similar malfeasance.  GM is on deck, wondering how big their fine will be.  It ought to be large.

Even so, big business always gets off easy in America.  Some dumb schmuck from the ghetto gets caught with a baggie in his pocket and -- 3 strikes and you're out! -- that poor bastard is going to jail for life.  Meanwhile the titans of finance and industry crash the economy and manufacture unsafe products, and get off with apologies and writing a few checks.  (Sometimes I think some of these callous job-creators need to do some real jail time with the general prison population.  Six months getting ass-raped in a federal pen might give 'em a whole new outlook.)

And GM's full recall is still bogus.  When they finally get the parts, the prescribed repair will remove the old ignition assembly and replace it with a new one.  But even after that, GM recommends that the car be operated only with a single ignition key and nothing else -- no other keys or rings or other things weighing down the key ring.  That brings us right back to where we started, and isn't much of a "fix" at all.  It's a load of crap.  The market value for these cars is in the toilet from now on.  And who the hell uses a single key and nothing else?

General Motors ought to commence a buy-back campaign.  Contact all the owners of these vehicles and instruct them to take their cars to any GM dealership and park those turds. Through the dealership, GM would literally buy back each of these defective vehicles and give every owner a check for the pre-recall retail value or payoff amount of their car, whichever is greater.  No questions asked, no obligations whatsoever.  Return the car and get a check.  Expensive for GM?  You bet, but it would create a lot of good will and probably spur some car sales as well.

And it would be the right thing to do.  Which would be a really good business decision.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Simple Truth

(Humor sent by a  faithful reader.  Thank you, faithful reader!)

Lovers help each other undress before sex.
However, after sex they always dress on their own.
The Simple Truth: In life, no one helps you once you're screwed.
When a woman is pregnant, all her friends touch her stomach and say, "Congrats!"
But none of them touch the man's penis and say, "Good job!" 
The Simple Truth: Some members of a team are never appreciated.
Five Other Simple Truths:
1. Money cannot buy happiness, but it's more comfortable to cry in a Corvette than on a bicycle.
2. Forgive your enemy, but remember the asshole's name.
3. If you help someone when they're in trouble, they will remember you when they're in trouble again.
4. Many people are alive only because it's illegal to kill them.
5. Alcohol does not solve any problems, but then neither does milk.
Bonus Truth:
Condoms don't guarantee safe sex. 
A friend of mine was wearing one when he was shot by the woman's husband.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Because Heaven Is, You Know, Way Up In The Air Behind That Door

(We now know the sad but unsurprising fate of Flight 370, but a couple days ago Sister Sarah had her own explanation.  From the Daily Currant, 3/20/14.  And to think this person was once potentially a heartbeat away from the presidency.  Yikes!)

Palin Wonders If Flight 370 "Flew Directly To Heaven" 

Palin:  "Too high"
Sarah Palin claimed today that Malaysia Flight 370 may have vanished because it mistakenly flew too high and ended up in heaven.

During an appearance on Fox News last night, Sean Hannity asked the former vice-presidential candidate for her thoughts about the aircraft, which has been missing for nearly two weeks.
The former Alaska governor stunned viewers with an unorthodox new theory that international investigators have so far ignored.
“I see all these smarty pants people on CNN saying that it was terrorism or a fire in the cockpit,” she explained to a bewildered Hannity, “but I don’t hear anyone talking about the God possibility. I mean what if they accidentally flew too high and got stuck in heaven?
“I’m no expert on international aviation. But I do know that God is up there looking down on us. And everyone knows that once you go to heaven you can’t come back. This would explain why we haven’t found any wreckage in the ocean and why no one saw the plane land.
"The radar had the plane at 45,000 feet, well above its usual cruising altitude. Who knows how much higher they went?
“Of course the looney liberal media can only imagine secular explanations for this mystery. They would never tell the American public that God might be involved! But I hope the Malaysian authorities and the NTSB take a look at the facts and seriously consider the idea that this flight crossed into Christ’s kingdom and isn't coming back.

Above the Clouds

Palin's bizarre idea proved too much even for the devoutly Catholic Hannity.
“You realize that heaven isn’t actually in the sky, right?” he pleaded. “The concept of heaven is metaphorical. Some people believe it’s in another dimension or in another universe. It’s not something you can just fly into.”
“Sean, I think it’s incredibly arrogant for us as humble human beings to claim that we know how heaven works,” Palin responded. “How do you know there’s not a door to heaven in the sky between Malaysia and Vietnam?”

Winning the Word Game

"Jesus was for feeding the poor.  Rename food stamps 'Christ Coupons'. " -- Bill Maher

We Probably Have Enough Stuff

Harmful If Swallowed


"I've learned that only two things are necessary to keep a happy wife.  First, Let her think she's having her way.  Second, let her have it." -- Lyndon Baines Johnson

"All men make mistakes, but married men find out about them sooner." -- Red Skelton

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

A Sign Of Spring

The last bit of snow in the entire neighborhood is in my front yard.

Their Vision Needs Correction

Coal ash sludge in the Dan River
The Republican governor of North Carolina is a former executive for the utility company Duke Energy.  He and his state's Republican-dominated legislature rewrote and relaxed the state's environmental laws such that when Duke Energy recently polluted the Dan River with a 70-mile long, 39,000 ton spill of toxic coal ash, the company now can avoid both large fines and clean-up responsibility.  The North Carolina Republicans see nothing wrong with this arrangement, and say they're just being "business friendly."  A federal investigation is now underway.

When asked her thoughts on legislating equal pay for women via such measures as the Lily Ledbetter Act and the Paycheck Fairness Act, Beth Cubriel, the Executive Director of the Texas GOP said, "Men are better negotiators.  I'd encourage women, instead of pursuing the courts for action, to become better negotiators."  Texas Republicans see nothing wrong with her statement.  They do not see pay inequity as workplace discrimination.  They just see an entire gender with weak bargaining skills.

Ohio Rep. Andrew Brenner
Andrew Brenner is a Tea Bag Republican state rep from Powell, Ohio.  He recently wrote on his wife's wingnut website (she's on the Powell City Council) that "public education in America is Socialism."  He would like to "bust up [public education] and privatize everything."  Public schools in America date back to the 1600's, but Brenner saw nothing wrong with expressing his urge to destroy the whole thing.  When many people criticized his views, he just couldn't see their point and again took to the family website to deride his critics:  "I'm guessing those people had a public education."  By the way, the Brenners' Brief News website also posted an article entitled "Was Sandy Hook a Hoax Designed to Advance Gun Control Laws?"  Neither of the Brenners saw anything wrong with that, either.

(How can a clown like this get elected?  I know I have a few Buster-readers in Delaware County.  I sure hope this crackpot asshole is not from your district.  If he is, don't ever let me hear that you voted for him.)

The Change-Agent
Chuck Todd interviewed RNC Chairman Reince Priebus this morning, and reminded him of the party's desire to change its image, to reach out to women and minorities, and to stop being the "stupid party."  Then he played Ms. Cubriel's quote and asked Priebus for his reaction.

Priebus tried to dismiss her words as those of an insignificant "staffer", but Todd reminded him that Cubriel is the party's executive director for an entire state.  So the peeved Priebus said, "Well, one side doesn't have a monopoly on these kinds of comments."

Yes they do, Reince, and it's your side.  But you just don't see it!  Your party keeps looking in the mirror yet somehow never sees itself.  You need a vision correction.  Only then will you see what is obvious to everyone else:  that at every level, from lowly staffer to RNC Chair, the GOP is all about exclusion, discrimination, game-rigging, unfairness, meanness and greed.  It's who you are at your core, and no amount of re-branding or focus groups or marketing whiz kids is going to change that.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The New Richter Scale For Fracking

I wish columnist Joe Blundo owned the Columbus Dispatch, instead of the Wolf's media monster.  Joe is a regular columnist whose marching orders are to be amusingly topical but controversy-free.  He usually writes in a non-partisan, "meh" sort of way, but every so often he strikes the right satirical chord and lets his true colors fly.  Like today.

Reacting to the recent earthquakes in Youngstown and the mealy-mouthed, responsibility-denying  comments from the ODNR and the fracking industry, Joe has proposed a new 1-to-10 Richter Scale for seismic use in Ohio and other fracking regions.  My favorites are Levels 1, 4, and 9:

Level 1.  Quake?  What quake?  I felt nothing.

Level 4.  Yes, the building did sway slightly.  But I think it was just the effect of the economy growing from responsible oil and gas exploration.

Level 9.  We've been given a unique opportunity to rebuild our state from the ground up.

Monday, March 17, 2014

In Observance Of St. Patrick's Day

A few lines from the opening of Frank McCourt's classic autobiographical novel, Angela's Ashes:

"When I look back on my childhood I wonder how I survived at all.  It was, of course, a miserable childhood:  the happy childhood is hardly worth your while.  Worse than the ordinary miserable childhood is the miserable Irish childhood, and worse yet is the miserable Irish Catholic childhood.

"People everywhere brag and whimper about the woes of their early years, but nothing can compare with the Irish version:  the poverty; the shiftless loquacious alcoholic father; the pious defeated mother moaning by the fire; pompous priests; bullying schoolmasters; the English and the terrible things they did to us for eight hundred long years.

"Above all -- we were wet."

A Photo Gallery Of Big Ten Basketball Greats

March Madness will be upon us very soon.  I've been getting warmed up with some conference tournament games (the Buckeyes were compelling, but ran out of miracles) and thinking about the Big Ten.  So, just to celebrate the season, here's a gallery of some the best basketball players ever to appear in the Big Ten.  (Apologies to non-sports fans.)

The list is totally subjective and Ohio State-heavy.  (Was thinking of calling it Ohio State and a bunch of people I hate, but nah.)  There were only two rules:  1. Players had to be from the original Big Ten, so Penn State and Nebraska are not represented.  2. Current players are ineligible.

I'm sure I missed a few, so leave a comment and let me know who who I forgot.

John Havlicek 1960-1962
Ohio State Buckeyes
Jerry Lucas 1960-1962

Bill Hosket 1966-1968

Gary Bradds 1962-1964

Dave Sorenson 1968-1970

Jim Cleamons 1969-1971
Luke Witte (L) 1971-1973
Allan Hornyak (R) 1971-1973
Kelvin Ransey 1976-1980
Herb Williams 1977-1981

Clark Kellogg 1979-1982
Dennis Hopson 1983-1987

Jim Jackson 1989-1992

Michael Redd 1997-2000

Scoonie Penn 1998-2000

Mike Conley (L) 2006
Greg Oden (R) 2006

Jared Sullinger 2010-2012

Evan Turner 2007-2010

Cazzie Russell 1964-1966

Michigan Wolverines

Bill Buntin 1963-1965

Rickey Green 1975-1977

Phil Hubbard 1975-1979

Gary Grant 1984-1988
Glen Rice 1985-1989

Juwan Howard 1991-1994

Jalen Rose 1991-1994

Chris Webber 1991-1993

Robert Traylor 1995-1998

Trey Burke 2011-2013

Indiana Hoosiers
Scott May 1972-1976

Walt Bellamy 1959-1961

Kent Benson 1973-1977

Mike Woodson 1976-1980

Isiah Thomas 1979-1981

Steve Alford 1983-1987
Calbert Cheaney 1989-1993

A.J. Guyton 1996-2000

Victor Oladipo 2010-2013

Michigan State Spartans
Greg Kelser 1975-1979
Jay Vincent 1977-1981

Magic Johnson 1977-1979

Sam Vincent 1981-1985

Kevin Willis 1981-1984
Scott Skiles 1982-1986

Steve Smith 1987-1991

Kalin Lucas 2007-2011
Mateen Cleaves 1996-2000

Derek Harper 1980-1983

Illinois Fighting Illini

Nick Weatherspoon 1970-1973

Kendall Gill 1986-1990
Nick Anderson 1987-1989

Kenny Battle 1987-1989

Deon Thomas 1990-1994

Marcus Liberty 1988-1990

Deron Williams 2002-2005
Dee Brown 2002-2006

Iowa Hawkeyes
Ronnie Lester 1976-1980

John Johnson (L) 1968-1970
Freddie Brown (R) 1969-1971
Kevin Gamble 1985-1987

Roy Marble 1985-1989

B.J. Armstrong 1985-1989
Reggie Evans 2000-2002

Minnesota Golden Gophers

Lou Hudson 1964-1966
Jim Brewer 1971-1973

Kevin McHale 1976-1980

Mychal Thompson 1974-1978

Randy Breuer 1979-1983

Trent Tucker 1978-1982

Bobby Jackson 1995-1997

Wisconsin Badgers

Trent Jackson 1985-1989

Michael Finley 1991-1995

Devin Harris 2001-2004
Alando Tucker 2002-2007
Trevon Hughes 2006-2010

Jon Leuer 2007-2011

Jordan Taylor 2008-2012

Purdue Boilermakers
Terry Dischinger 1960-1962

John Wooden 1930-1932

Rick Mount 1967-1970

Joe Barry Carroll 1976-1980

Robbie Hummel 2007-2012

Glenn Robinson 1992-1994

JaJuan Johnson 2007-2011

Northwestern Wildcats
Evan Eschmeyer 1995-1999

Otto Graham 1940-1944

Kevin Coble 2006-2009

Tim Doyle 2004-2007

John Shurna 2008-2012

The "Lou-Do" and the "Keady Combover"

Head Coach Gene Keady, Purdue 1980-2005
The "Keady Combover" came from somewhere
far down on the back of his head and was
shellacked into place with plenty of gel.

Head Coach Lou Henson, Illinois 1975-1996
The "Lou-Do" was a multi-hued style with a
heavily-sprayed Frisbee of hair on the top.