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, February 29, 2016

John Oliver: "Make Donald Drumpf Again!"

I cannot stop watching this.  If you haven't seen it already, please, please watch it now.  It's your civic duty -- a 22 minute investment in truth, humor and the future of the United States.

The conservative candidate for our time -- DRUMPF!!

Donald J. Drumpf is the Frankenstein's monster created by a quarter-century of unchecked right-wing media hate speech.  That speech may be free but it's not always without consequences.

If you're a fan of Fox News, Limbaugh, Beck, Drudge, Breitbart, et al, you have been a co-creator of the monster candidate you deserve.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

They're All The Same

The current "GOP For Dummies" narrative holds that Donald Trump is dangerously nuts, Ted Cruz is just as nutty plus he has a nasty streak of religious zeal, and one-time Tea Party darling Marco Rubio is somehow moderate-ish.

Three peas in the same unpleasant pod 
An op-ed in today's Washington Post by Catherine Rampell points out that these three wanna-be's are all pretty much equally right-tarded.


Each of these Three Stooges:
  • Wants to build a wall along the entire Mexican border.
  • Favors handing trillions of dollars in regressive tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans.
  • Wants to repeal Obamacare and replace it with . . .  magic.
  • Is a proponent of torture -- more torture, better torture, "a hell of a lot worse."
  • Would refuse entry to all Muslims, and also to all Syrian refugees.  (Cruz is OK with Christian Syrians.)
  • Is a climate-change denier.
  • Favors even further reduction in our gun control laws and regs.
  • Wants to make same-sex marriage illegal again.
Yes, those are your leading GOP candidates and some of their big policy positions.  Charming, aren't they?

Today's Republicans are a banquet of all-you-can-eat crazy!

Dear Rita & JoAnne

(My email sent to a pair of Dispatch reporters.)

To:  Rita Price, rprice@dispatch.com, and JoAnne Viviano, jviviano@dispatch.com
cc:  Alan Miller, amiller@dispatch.com

Dear Rita & JoAnne -- 

Your article in today's Dispatch about the conservatives' slimy Planned Parenthood Punishment Bill, HB 294, which was recently signed into law by John Kasich, is an excellent and informative piece of writing.  It raises important points and sheds light on the way Ohio's rigged, gerrymandered legislature operates and how they can so blithely ignore the majority of our citizens.

My only question is:  Where was this article several weeks or months ago, when it might have opened more eyes and made a difference, when it could have spurred more Ohioans to voice their opinions to their legislators?

Why wait until after we've been bamboozled to tell the story?  (A cynic would call it editorial policy.)

It's a well-done piece that will go to waste by being much too late.

Buster Gammons


Saturday, February 27, 2016

Bring Back Melissa Harris Perry

(My better-late-than-never email sent this morning.  MSNBC has lost their way.)

To:  Andrew Lack, NBC Chairman, andrew.lack@nbcuni.com, Phil Griffin, President MSNBC, phil.griffin@nbcuni.com, letters@msnbc.com

You guys are fucking up.

You persist in diluting your brand and your content.  You got rid of Keith Olbermann.  You got rid of Ed Schultz.  You killed Al Sharpton's regular show.  Joy Reid was reassigned.  "Morning Joe" has turned into a joke -- Scarborough and Mika are running three hours of free daily publicity for their buddy Donald Trump.

And now you've told Melissa Harris Perry to go away and be quiet until the elections are over.  You intend to fill her slot with endless, breathless, up-to-the-minute, meaningless "coverage" of the campaigns.  All you're really doing is running the same hour of stories, videos, polls, and speculation/analysis over and over all day long.  You're hellbent on homogenizing your network into just another CNN.  And who needs that?

What once set you apart were your intelligent hosts who could take an hour or so and cover a handful of issues in relative depth.  Some remain, but their numbers are dwindling.  Chris Matthews is still good, Rachel Maddow is great, Chris Hayes and Lawrence O'Donnell are pretty good too.  

Melissa Harris Perry is most definitely one of those intelligent hosts, and she's a real asset to your network's lineup.  Her expertise in racism and the black experience is unequalled.  I was a regular viewer of her weekend morning shows.  Those discussions were always relevant, and a welcome break from the droning, constant regurgitation of the day's "top" stories.  But in the past couple months, I couldn't help but notice that the MHP show was increasingly pre-empted by inferior programming.  When her show returned, she dared to cover the conservative backlash to Beyonce's Super Bowl performance, and you yanked her off the air completely.  

Your decision to bench her looks awful.  It gives the appearance that someone at MSNBC decided Ms. Perry was just too black for comfort.  You will deny that motivation, but it will be the perception nevertheless.  (FYI, I am a 62 year old white man.)

You can correct that perception by immediately reversing course, apologizing, and reinstating Melissa Harris Perry's show on its normal days and times.  She is under contract.  Bring her back.  Let her fulfill that contract by doing her job.  And if you have a shred of good sense, you'll offer her a contract extension and a pay raise while you're at it.

Buster Gammons

Friday, February 26, 2016

Great Photo From Thursday Night's GOP Primary Debate

And I Thought Mitt Was A Treasure-Trove Of Material

What a year it was in 2012!  During the primaries and presidential election, Mitt Romney gave the world so much.  His plastic Mormon weirdness provided a reliable stream of parody, satire, and general fun-poking opportunities.  Couldn't get any better, could it?

Well, we may need to redefine "better," but in 2016, when it comes to source material for political humor, Donald Trump stands poised to make Mittens look like an abject piker.

The Donald is a walking mass of clinical personality disorders.  The national implications are frightening, but the comedic possibilities are infinite.  And as an added attraction, Trump is not plastic -- he's 100% authentic asshole.

I laugh so I don't cry

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Reality TV: Keeping Up With The Real President Trump

From The Mouths Of Conservatives . . .

. . . Come the most ridiculously ignorant things.

The city council of Charlotte, NC voted to allow transgender people to tinkle in the restroom of their choice.  Hooray for Charlotte, an oasis of sense and reason in a desert of dumb.  Speaking of dumb, NC's Republican governor, Pat McCrory, called the council's action an "extreme change in the norms of society," and claimed it violated the right to share a restroom only with people born with the same anatomy.  Say whaaaat??  There is no such "right."  It seems McCrory himself has a different anatomy -- shit for brains.

Big headline in my local fishwrap.  Gun store owner: "No laws could stop what happened."  The "happening" he was referring to was the Michigan Uber driver who shot and killed six people and wounded two more.  The store owner's reactionary comment about laws being useless is the same logically false B.S. the gun nuts spout after every mass shooting (which happen damn near every day).  Let's try this again, gun nuts:  Laws don't prevent or eliminate crime, they reduce it.  Laws against murder don't prevent homicide, and laws against theft don't eliminate robberies.  But you wouldn't conceive of a society without such laws.  America needs to join the rest of the civilized world and enact or reinstate common-sense gun control laws.  It took us a couple hundred years to get so gun-stupid, and it may take just as long to wise up and reverse the trend.  So let's not waste any more time.  Let's begin.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Comment And Response To "The Definition Of Stupid"

Every so often, someone leaves a comment using the link provided at the bottom of each post.  And occasionally a comment is worthy of a response.

In my "Definition Of Stupid" post of 2/22/16, I criticized Republicans for again threatening obstruction, this time over President Obama's eventual nominee to fill the current Supreme Court vacancy.  Senate Republican refuse-niks have told Obama not to even bother picking a person, because they will deny that person a hearing, but even with a hearing, they'd all automatically vote against confirmation.  Because . . . Obama.

I and a great many others called bullshit on their claims that waiting for the next president to take office is standard procedure in such cases and the way things have always been done.  Some conservatives hopped on a video snippet from an old Joe Biden speech as proof-positive of some age-old precedent.  My commenter Mr./Mrs. Anonymous was among this group:

“The Senate Judiciary Committee should seriously consider not scheduling hearings on the nomination, until after the political campaign season is over,” Biden said in a floor address on June 25, 1992, about reforming the Supreme Court confirmation process.

He said the cost of keeping the court split 4-4 would be "quite minor" compared to the "bitter fight" that would ensue if the president tried pushing through a nominee.

Beware the two-sentence quote from a ninety-minute speech given 24 years ago!

Biden was speaking in the aftermath of the contentious Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings (a total circus if you're old enough to recall).  In June of 1992, there was no vacancy on the Court, no nominee in waiting.  Biden was speaking hypothetically of the entire confirmation process itself.  He did not urge his colleagues to categorically deny a nominee a hearing as today's Republicans are;  instead he was complaining about the politicization of the process, and asking for more executive-legislative teamwork in making Court selections.

He made the statement quoted above by Mr./Mrs. Anonymous in the context of some future president picking justices without any Senate consideration or cooperation.  And then, Biden said this: 

"I believe that so long as the public continues to split its confidence between the branches, compromise is the responsible course, both for the white House and the Senate.  Therefore I stand by my position.  If the President consults and cooperates with the Senate, or moderates his selections absent consultation, then his nominees may enjoy my support as did Justices Kennedy and Souter."

And yesterday, Joe Biden released this statement:

"Nearly a quarter century ago, in June 1992, I gave a lengthy speech on the Senate floor about a hypothetical vacancy on the Supreme Court.  Some critics say that one excerpt of my speech is evidence that I oppose filling a Supreme Court vacancy in an election year.  This is not an accurate description of my views on the subject.  Indeed, as I conclude in the same statement critics are pointing to today, I urged the Senate and White House to work together to overcome partisan differences to ensure the Court functions as the Founding Fathers intended.  That remains my position today."

Biden was not calling for spiteful, partisan delay and obstruction.  There is no precedent for eleven months of inaction just because the Senate majority dislikes the duly elected President.

Joe is charmingly idealistic in his wish for us to all just get along.  It would be lovely, but it ain't gonna happen.  Everything is politicized and polarized to the max, and there's no going back.

Republicans do not give a shit about the cost of any "bitter fight," and have specialized in perpetually stalling Obama's nominees, judicial and other.  They see no reason to treat a Supreme Court vacancy any differently.  But it is different.  This is not an obscure District Court in Idaho, it's the SCOTUS!  Obama will choose a nominee, and it will be a good one.  And yes, it is an election year, not only for President but for a lot of sitting Republican Senators as well.  Everyone will be watching.

If the Republicans make a mockery of it, if they again blockade and obstruct at every turn, if they refuse to give the nominee a hearing, or if it's just a joke hearing with a quick party-line "no" vote, they will again look BAD -- the return of the shut-down geniuses!  They will pay a price at the polls.
Even if they succeed in running out the clock on Obama, what if Hillary wins the White House?  What then?  Ignoring the vacancy will not fill it.  Might as well deal with it now, because the issue is not like wine -- it will not get better with age.

Overbearing Paternalistic "Protection"

So let's combine the gist of the last two posts with this excellent article by Emily Bazelon in the NY Times Sunday Magazine.  Excerpts, then the full article link.  Then we finish with a brilliant John Oliver video on the topic.

Laws Designed For the "Protection" of Women?

"Having grown up in the years when women, by law or custom, were protected from a range of occupations, including lawyering, and from serving on juries, I am instinctively suspicious of women-only protective legislation." -- Ruth Bader Ginsburg

After decades of battling for the life of the "unborn," abortion opponents have started arguing that for the sake of women seeking abortions -- to protect their health and safety -- the state must impose strict new regulations on clinics.  In 2013, Texas passed a new law requiring clinics to employ doctors with admitting privileges at nearby hospitals.  Clinics must meet construction and equipment standards for an "ambulatory surgical center."  The cost of such renovations is $1.5 million to $3 million per facility.  [Ohio and 20 other states have similar new regs.]

On March 2, the Supreme Court [minus the late Scalia, now down to eight] will hear a challenge to the Texas law.  The plaintiffs operate four Texas abortion clinics and will argue that the law has no real medical purpose, and instead imposes an "undue burden" on women's rights to reproductive care.

The Texas law and its ilk play to our usual assumptions that the impulse to protect is benevolent, and to the notion that women are especially deserving of solicitude.  The image of the domestic violence victim who receives a protective order is female, though men have the same right to go to court.

There's no phrase for men equivalent to "damsel in distress."  No one suggests sending men to surgical centers for colonoscopies (which have a mortality rate 30 times as high as abortions).

The American College of OB/GYN and the AMA have been blunt in disputing the rationale for the Texas law, saying there is "no medical purpose" for requiring surgical center standards or hospital admitting privileges.

"I'm wishy-washy, and all this stuff
gives me a Supreme headache!"
The main audience in this legal challenge is the court's lone swing voter on abortion, Justice Anthony Kennedy.  He has previously upheld Roe v. Wade but in his latest opinion on abortion in 2007, he hinted at old-school paternalism.  "Some women may regret their choice," he wrote, "and some doctors may prefer not to disclose precise details."  So to spare women from hearing about a type of late-term procedure, Kennedy permitted Congress to ban it.

Last summer, for gay couples, Kennedy championed the "autonomy" to make "profound choices."  He has yet to express the same faith in women.


Now watch John Oliver as he utterly destroys all these idiotic anti-abortion laws.  You need to see it.  Click the link and watch it.  Watch it all.


Monday, February 22, 2016

The Definition Of Stupid

A friend called the office of Sen. Robbie Portman (R-OH) to ask about the Senator's position on filling the vacancy on the Supreme Court.  He already knew the answer.  Scalia's carcass was barely cold when Portman publicly joined the chorus of Republicans calling on President Obama to do nothing and make no appointments.  My friend just wanted to hear what silly stuff Robbie's staff would say.

"Yep, that's all I got."
The staffer dutifully regurgitated the party line:  "Sen. Portman believes it would be best to wait for the next president to make the appointment."  Why's that?  "Because that's the way it's traditionally been handled."

Complete and total bullshit!  My friend informed the staffer that a Supreme Court appointment in the final year of a president's term has occured 6 times before, and that a Justice has been confirmed in an election year 14 times before!

At that point, all the staffer could do was offer to recite Portman's entire official statement on the matter.  "Well, that is the Senator's position.  Shall I read you his statement?"

No thanks.

Congressional Republicans agreed on their big strategy years ago, before Barack Obama set foot in the Oval Office -- no deals, no negotiations, no compromises, ever, on anything.  If Obama was for it, they'd be against it.  They would sabotage, oppose and obstruct at any cost.  They'd filibuster repeatedly.  Make threats.  Shut down the government if they didn't get their way.

They did this time after time after time.  And what did it get them?  Worm-level approval ratings and Obama easily reelected.

So, how will the GOP deal with the SCOTUS vacancy?  Obstruction!  Again.  The American public is sure to be impressed.

One definition of stupid:  Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

Do You Support Planned Parenthood?

It's not a surprise because that's just the kind of guy he is, but it's awful just the same.

Soon-to-be-former presidential candidate John Kasich is, unfortunately, still the governor of Ohio.  In that capacity, he signed a wretched bill into law yesterday -- signed it privately and silently  -- then returned to the GOP campaign trail to await his inevitable demise.

HB 294 stops the Ohio Health Dept. from giving any federal grant money to Planned Parenthood of Ohio, because Planned Parenthood performs abortions.

But that federal money was never used for abortions in  the first place, because since 1976 the Hyde Amendment has prohibited the use of federal funds for abortions.  This bill then has no effect on abortions.

Planned Parenthood used that federal grant money for other health services, like HIV and STD testing, and screening for breast and cervical cancer.  This stupid, punitive bill ensures there'll be less of that at Planned Parenthood, and hence, more of those life-threatening conditions in Ohio.

Pro-life, my ass!

This new law is a slimy part of a cultural war on Planned Parenthood and against a safe and legal medical procedure.  It is being waged by socially retarded, narrow-minded, misguided, moralizing assholes.  And Kasich is cultural warrior asshole #1.

There is no gray area on this issue.  Where do you stand?  Do you support of Planned Parenthood and safe, legal, affordable abortion services?  What will you say when I ask you?  Yes, I hope.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Henry Kissinger?

Dr. Strangelove?
My friend walked into the bar the other night and announced, apropos of nothing, that "I just have to say that Henry Kissinger did a lot of good things and he sure was one smart man."

Well, OK, dude.  What brought on that comment?  Probably an afternoon of listening to those gob-shites Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh on WTVN squawk radio.  In last week's Democratic debate, Kissinger's name improbably came up.   Bernie called him "destructive" and "not my kind of guy," while Hillary maintained he was incredibly useful in U.S.-China relations.  I do not listen to WTVN radio but my friend does, and you can bet that Beck and Limbaugh were ripping Bernie and defending Alte Herr Kissinger.

(And honestly, if Kissinger's so damn smart, how come he never lost the Bavarian accent?)

From 1969 through 1977, Heinz Alfred "Henry" Kissinger served as National Security Adviser and Secretary of State under Presidents Nixon and Ford.  He's known as the leading practitioner/proponent of realpolitik, a goal-oriented theory which elevates short-term national interests above broader principles and standards.  Realpolitik is closely associated with nationalism, and in practice has too often led to an "ends justify the means" mentality.   Elected governments are overthrown, "friendly" authoritarian regimes are installed and propped up, and abuses are tolerated.

On the job, Kissinger injected the U.S. into the affairs of Cambodia, Laos, Chile, Argentina, East Timor, Bangladesh, and other "unstable" countries.  He oversaw a clandestine "diplomacy" wherein civilian populations were bombed into oblivion, certain politicians, journalists, soldiers and clergymen "disappeared" forever, and whatever fallout resulted was just insignificant fluff, the cost of doing business.

"The illegal we do immediately.  The unconstitutional takes a little longer." -- Henry Kissinger, 1975.

Kissinger has been criminally indicted by courts in France, Spain, Argentina and Uruguay.

In his book The Trial of Henry Kissinger, the late author Christopher Hitchens wrote "Kissinger should have door shut in his face by every decent person and he should be shamed, ostracized and excluded."
  • Yes, Henry Kissinger's detente efforts helped ease tensions with the USSR, although things are still somewhat tense with Russia today.
  • Yes, his trips to China helped "normalize" relations, but that new normal eventually led to American corporate profiteering in China and the loss of American jobs.
  • Yes, he did negotiate the 1973 cease-fire agreement which ended official U.S. combat operations in Viet Nam.  He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, America withdrew, but the cease-fire didn't last.
Henry Kissinger travelled the world and was a top-level political player.  There's no question he knows a lot.  But on the whole, he's a mixed bag at best, and one could very easily make the case that he did more harm than good.

In today's political world, no candidate on either side of the barricade should be rushing to embrace old Henry.

(Check the link for some quotes from Henry the K.)


Friday, February 19, 2016

Tell PUCO: No To AEP/First Energy Profit Guarantee

They have some nerve!

I'm referring to a pair of large electric utility companies in Ohio.  They want the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio to allow them to charge consumers above-market rates for the next eight years.

AEP and First Energy continue to operate some of the oldest, dirtiest, most-polluting coal-burning power plants in the country.  Although the writing has been on the wall for decades, the power companies have resisted doing anything about it (significant emissions reductions, conversion to alternative fuels, more renewable energy) until it's too late.  Now they're whining about losing money at their old plants or closing them altogether, and blaming the situation on anyone except themselves.

Some of us have already paid for this in health costs.
AEP and First Energy want us to pay again.
Their "solution" is a bailout -- a profit guarantee for their old plants paid by consumers to the tune of $5.5 billion in higher electric bills over the time frame.  Their shitty old plants will be "modernized" and all ratepayers will cover the cost.  This, they argue, will protect us from future "volatility" and "rate spikes."

I'm sorry, but f*** these bastards!  AEP and First Energy are "public" utilities but are operated privately.  Their top executives are compensated lavishly.  Profitability and shareholder return are their prime concerns.  At every turn, their desire is to socialize the risks and costs, while privatizing their profit.

They expect their customers to pay for every conceivable circumstance, fluctuation and regulation.  You want cleaner air?  You pay a surcharge for smokestack scrubbers.  You want more renewable energy?  Here's a little fee for that on your bill.  A windstorm or icestorm brought down a bunch of our shitty old power lines?  We'll charge you for repairs to our ancient infrastructure.  So what if it's Edison-era technology?  Why should we pay to upgrade?  It's cheaper to just cut down your trees.  You want electricity, don't you?

I'm fed up with these greedy liars.  Asking us to pay for their negligence is unfair and it's bad policy.  Neither AEP nor First Energy is going to go out of business, no matter what happens with their rate proposal.  Both are sufficiently profitable.  Maybe their stock prices go down a bit.  Maybe dividends suffer a little.  Maybe the CEO's take pay cuts.  Suck it up!  I'm tired of paying for their stubbornness and lack of vision.  Time to put some "public" in public utilities.  This one ought to be on the power companies for a change.

The links are to the PUCO comment form, and also an online petition, if you're interested.  For the PUCO, the issue is known as the Affiliate Power Purchase Agreement (PPA).


(Surprisingly, Buster finds him in agreement with both the Columbus Dispatch and former PUCO chief Todd Snichtler, a sneaky little Republican SOB if ever there was one.  Will miracles never cease?)

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Buster's Top 50 Non-Blonde Bombshells

Can't serious all the time!

Mid-winter of 2013, I put up a boredom-induced, frivolous post titled "Top 30 Blonde Bombshells."  To my surprise it is my third-most viewed post ever.  Now it's mid-winter 2016 and I'm again in the grip of ennui and old movies.  Must be time for a silly follow-up list:  Buster's Top 50 Non-Blonde Bombshells.  (Be sure to check out #50!  Chronologically last on this list, but always #1 in my book.)

The same loose rules apply:
  • It's totally subjective.
  • It begins with actresses of the Golden Age and stops in the 1970's.  Old school!
  • It's limited to those with fairly high name recognition.
  • She must generally be known as a non-blonde.
So, just for fun, and for whatever else it's worth . . .

Norma Shearer, 1902-1983

Clara Bow, 1905-1965

Joan Crawford, 1905-1977

Myrna Loy, 1905-1993

Mary Astor, 1906-1987

Katharine Hepburn, 1907-2003

Barbara Stanwyck, 1907-1990

Bette Davis, 1908-1989

Merle Oberon, 1911-1979

Loretta Young, 1913-2000

Vivien Leigh, 1913-1967

Hedy Lamarr, 1914-2000

Ingrid Bergman, 1915-1982

Ann Sheridan, 1915-1967

Olivia DeHavilland, 1916-present

Lena Horne, 1917-2010

Rita Hayworth, 1918-1987

Jennifer Jones, 1919-2009

Maureen O'Hara, 1920-2015

Gene Tierney, 1920-1991

Jane Russell, 1921-2011

Esther Williams, 1921-2013

Ava Gardner, 1922-1990

Dorothy Dandridge, 1922-1965

Gina Lollobrigida, 1927-present

Audrey Hepburn, 1929-1993

Leslie Caron, 1931-present

Rita Moreno, 1931-present

Elizabeth Taylor, 1932-2011

Pier Angeli, 1932-1971

Sophia Loren, 1934-present

Diahann Carroll, 1935-present

Suzanne Pleshette, 1937-2008

Marlo Thomas, 1937-present

Natalie Wood, 1938-1981

Claudia Cardinale, 1938-present

Nancy Kwan, 1939-present

Ali MacGraw, 1939-present

Jill St. John, 1940-present

Katharine Ross, 1940-present

Raquel Welch, 1940-present

Ann-Margret, 1941-present

Stephanie Powers, 1942-present

Jacqueline Bisset, 1944-present

Jaclyn Smith, 1945-present

Barbara Bach, 1947-present

Barbara Hershey, 1948-present

Pam Grier, 1949-present

Olivia Hussey, 1951-present

The Lovely Mrs. Gammons, 1956 -present