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, February 28, 2013

My Computer Has A Problem . . .

And I keep clicking "Yes".  No wonder I can't get anything done.

March Madness, Uniform Style!

Is it just me, or is this shit ugly?

As shown, at least six schools will allow adidas to tweak their uniforms for this year's NCAA tournament, for a fee of course.  Not sure what the adidas designers were smoking, but these uni's look like big boxer shorts to me.  Maybe jammy pants.  Or Zubaz cut-offs.  (Remember Zubaz pants?)

When Notre Dame takes the floor in sea-barf green, with matching socks and shoes, you know it's a Pope-less world and the apocalypse is near.  :)

Civil Rights And Wrongs

So as not to be ousted by a Democrat, my former congresswoman Deborah Pryce wisely retired in 2008.  As my rep, she was a backer of the successful 2004 GOP "fear the queer" bill which legally prohibits gay marriage in Ohio.  But now, only now, five years out of office and nine years removed from her support of that odious law, she's changed her mind and signed a brief in favor of repealing such laws.  Deb, you're a spineless worm and you're way too late, but finally, you're right.

The U.S. Supreme Court does not acknowledge the irony, but at the end of Black History Month and on the very day a statue of Rosa Parks was unveiled in Washington D.C., they heard arguments to overturn part of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, relative to minority voting protections in the redneck South.  The plaintiff is Shelby County, Alabama.  Its' essential position, which has strong Republican support, is that congressional oversight is no longer needed -- the problem is fixed, Jim Crow racism is dead, voter suppression doesn't exist, and everything is hunky-dory in Dixie.  Well, you can believe that shit at your peril.  The Righties on the Court seem eager to repeal these essential protections.  If they do, they'll be wrong.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

This Idiot Is Still Around?

Local readers may recall one John Freshwater, evangelical dipshit and former 8th grade science teacher here in central Ohio.  Two years ago, he was fired for teaching creationism, distributing religious pamphlets to his students, and displaying a Ten Commandments poster and a Bible in his classroom.  He also gained notoriety for a "science experiment" in which he branded some students with a heated wire in the shape of a cross.

Twice, he has unsuccessfully appealed his dismissal.  Even so, tomorrow the State Supreme Court will hear a third appeal.  Freshwater's case will hinge on two points:  1. The school district did not give him clear guidelines on what he was supposed to teach, and  2. His firing violates his constitutional right to free speech.

Seriously?  Even if the school district never carved a curriculum in stone, why would a science teacher believe it would be OK to teach creationism instead of, you know, science?  What if the algebra teacher suddenly decided, "Fuck the math -- these kids need to be taught English Lit"?  As for "free" speech, that does not mean any speech anywhere.  Employers have a reasonable expectation that employees will do what they were hired to do:  Barbers will cut hair, salespeople will sell their product, and teachers will teach their subject.  And they will refrain from preaching and proselytizing to the customers, let alone branding them, while on the job.  Do that shit on your own time.

Not a leg to stand on.  I can't believe the Ohio Supreme Court is wasting their time on this nonsense.

In this video, a priest schools some douchebag on the proper perspective on such issues:

The Real Problem With American Health Care: "All The Prices Are Too Damn High!"

Regular readers know that Buster is a big fan of the Affordable Care Act of 2010, a.k.a. Obamacare.  This landmark legislation has expanded access to 30 million people, and has ended many unfair and abusive practices by insurance companies.  Fully implemented, it will trim the deficit.

It does a lot of good, but there is much more to be done because one thing Obamacare doesn't do is address health care costsAnd American health care costs are insane.

A lengthy yet excellent piece on the subject is in the current issue of Time.  It's a worthwhile read.  Click the link for the full article.  http://healthland.time.com/2013/02/20/bitter-pill-why-medical-bills-are-killing-us/ 

What follows are excerpts from that article, but I'll begin with a quote from "Health Care Reform:  Buster Explains It All", written 9/9/09 and posted to the blog 2/25/10:

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

But as the Time article illustrates, it's not only insurance companies that play a role in our ever-escalating health care costs -- the larger culprits, the real drivers of the cost bus are hospitals (including non-profits), medical centers, pharmaceutical companies, medical products companies, nursing homes and certain doctors groups.

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

In America, we spend more on health care than the next ten biggest spenders combined:  Japan, Germany, France, China, the U.K., Italy, Canada, Brazil, Spain and Austria.

We spend 20% of our GDP on health care, compared with about half that in most developed countries.

We will spend $2.8 trillion on health care this year, $800 billion via Medicare and Medicaid, the other $2 billion via private health insurance and via those who have no insurance.

Janice S., 64 years old, had chest pains and was taken by ambulance to the ER.  Tests determined she just had indigestion.  She was sent home.  Janice was unemployed, had no insurance and was not yet eligible for Medicare.  Her bill for a false alarm?  $21,000.

Every hospital has an internal price list called the "chargemaster".  It's a compendium of the full-retail sticker price for every conceivable item, service and procedure offered. 

No hospital's chargemaster prices are consistent with those of any other hospital, nor do they seem to be based on anything objective, like cost.

The only consistency among hospitals chargemaster prices is that they are all exorbitantly high.

Medicare reimbursement rates are much, much lower.  For any given service, Medicare reimburses hospitals for their direct costs plus overhead, capital expenses, executive salaries, insurance, regional differences, and even the education of medical students.

Hospitals complain of losing money on every Medicare patient, yet the reports hospitals are required to file with the Dept. of Health and Human Services refute this claim.

Jonathan Blum, deputy administrator of the Centers For Medicare & Medicaid Services:  "When hospitals say they're losing money on Medicare, my reaction is the market is overflowing with Medicare patients and all those hospitals are expanding and advertising for Medicare patients.  They don't lose money when they serve Medicare patients."

Patients with private insurance also get big discounts off the chargemaster prices, though not nearly as steep as the Medicare markdowns.

Janice S., unemployed, uninsured and 64, was asked to pay chargemaster prices.  She was charged $199.50 each for three tests.  Medicare would have paid the hospital $13.94 per test.  She was charged $157.61 for bloodwork for which Medicare would have paid $11.02.  For a dye test using a CT scan, she was billed $7997.54 for the scan and $872.44 for the dye.  Medicare would have paid $554.

If covered by Medicare, Janice S. would have paid $500-$600 out of pocket, or even less than that if she had supplemental insurance.

If you are confused by the notion that those least able to pay are the ones singled out to pay the highest rates, welcome to the American medical marketplace.

And it's not just Janice S.  Examples abound:

A hospital charged $18 each for diabetes test strips which cost 55 cents each at the local drugstore.

A patient was billed $333 for a chest X-ray.  Medicare pays $23.18.

$24 for a single Niacin tablet which retails for about 5 cents; $1.50 for a single Tylenol tablet which retails for about 1.5 cents.

A cancer center charges $7 each for "alcohol injection prep pads" -- little cotton squares.  You can get a box of 200 at Walgreen's for $1.91.

An Oklahoma man with a bad back was told by a specialist that he needed a small spinal cord neuro-stimulator implant.  He had the procedure at an out-patient clinic.  For the simple use of this facility, he was charged a $6289 fee.  They also charged him $7882 for medical and surgical supplies, including $32 for a reusable blanket, $31 for a reusable table strap, $3 for a reusable pen to mark the incision site, and $39 for the surgeon's gown.  He was charged $1837 for pharmacy supplies, including a $108 tube of antibiotic ointment.  The implant device itself (wholesale price $19,000) was billed at $47,237.  The man's total bill from the out-patient facility for his one-day adventure was $86,951.  This did not include the surgeon's bill. 

A cancer center required a man to pay $83,900 in advance for one round of cancer treatment because it was determined he had substandard "discount" insurance coverage.

One of this man's chemotherapy drugs was Rituxan.  A dose of Rituxan costs $300 to manufacture.  That dose was sold to the cancer center for $3000.  The cancer center sold it to the patient for $13,702.

The CEO at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center is paid $5,975,462 annually.  The CEO of the New York/Weill Cornell Medical Center is paid $4,356,039.  Both hospitals are "non-profit".

Over the past few decades, we've enriched the labs, drug companies, medical device makers, hospital administrators, and the purveyors of CT scans, MRIs, canes and wheelchairs.  Meanwhile, we've squeezed the doctors who don't own their own clinics, don't work as drug/device consultants, or don't otherwise game a system that is so very game-able.  And of course, we've squeezed everyone outside the system who gets stuck with the bills.

Gerard Anderson, health care economist at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, says the obvious and only issue is:  "All the prices are too damn high."

*      *      *      *      *      *      *      *

In that old post mentioned above, Buster suggested that part of the solution would be "regulated rates, controlled rates, Medicare-based rates."  Do I mean nationalized, government-run health care?  Like those friggin' Socialist Canadians? 

You may call it what you want.  What I mean is that capitalism and the profit motive are appropriate and work well in many areas, but health care is not one of them.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Sequester Blame Game

"Sequester."  Sounds like a long shot at the Kentucky Derby. 

No, it's the latest fabricated, fake financial crisis to hit Washington D.C.  It's a group of mandated cuts to federal defense and domestic spending set to begin March 1st.  Many people believe the combined impacts will be drastic, leading to job losses, economic slow down, and another recession.

Where did this sequester (lousy name) idea come from?  It dates to the summer of 2011and our first-ever "debt ceiling" impasse.  Remember?  Periodically, the Congress votes to increase the federal debt limit, which simply allows the government to pay bills already owed.  It's totally routine, and has happened scores of times in every administration.  Raising the debt ceiling does not increase the national debt or budget deficit.  That water is already over the dam.  It just permits the government to make its payments.  If we can't pay, then the government is technically in default, and that's not good.

In July of 2011, the torch-and-pitchfork faction of the GOP decided they could put the screws to Obama and his reelection chances by flatly refusing to approve an increase to the debt ceiling.  They demanded spending cuts first (which had nothing to do with the issue), and would not budge.  "Default?  Whatever, dude.  Don't really care."

At the last minute, Obama and Congress agreed to some short-term spending cuts with no new revenue in exchange for no more of these phony crises until after the election.  Default was averted, but Standard & Poor's nevertheless downgraded the U.S. government's credit rating for the first time in history.

At that time (see posts of 8/2/11 and 8/7/11), Buster bemoaned the Republicans "suicide-bomber mentality" and declared the entire episode to be "total horseshit!  Please remember who brought you these road apples."

The sequester cuts were part of that last-minute 2011 agreement and were intended to produce a deficit reduction deal:  Unless deficit reductions of $1.5 trillion were passed by December 2012, the supposedly unthinkable, draconian sequester cuts would kick in on January 1st.  The recent tax deal pushed the sequester cuts to March 1st.

Obviously, no deficit deal happened and here we are.  And Republicans are now saying it's all Obama's fault and the sequester was his idea in the first place, so blame him if bad things happen.

That's a rather creative revision of recent history, and it insults our intelligence.  The simple fact is, if Tea-Bag Republicans had not turned into hijacking, hostage-taking assholes in 2011, we wouldn't be having this frickin' conversation!

We know where to place the blame.

A Little Civic Action, A Little Lunch

This morning, I accompanied a small group on a visit to the Columbus offices of Sen. Rob Portman.  We were there to air our opinions on federal efforts to curb gun violence, and to inquire about the Senator's position on the topic, even though we already knew where he stood -- up to his ass in NRA money but trying to spin the illusion of impartiality.

You see, a couple in our little Gang of Six had been in D.C. last month for the Inauguration, and while there had stopped by Portman's office.  They asked for the Senator's views on gun control and were told he was studying the issue.  They asked the staffer to ask the Senator why anyone would need to possess an assault rifle.  The staffer said he'd pass it on.  Eventually, they received the Senator's reply. 

It was the exact same vague non-answer form letter that I had received in response to an email I'd sent to Portman.  Pretty disappointing.  And so it was decided that we should make an appointment to descend upon his Columbus office and ruffle a feather or two -- politely, of course.

As we got off the elevator, we couldn't help but notice a big sign with the universal red slash displayed on his office door:  "NO GUNS ALLOWED."  As the number two recipient of NRA cash in the Senate, Robbie shows a fine sense of irony.

We were greeted by Jason, a young assistant, and ushered into a very small, very hot waiting room.  Packed like sardines, for the next twenty minutes or so we made our points -- rather eloquently, I thought -- about background checks, assault weapons, and high capacity ammo clips.  Jason dutifully took notes and explained once again that the Senator was still gathering input and studying the issue.  What a studious guy!

"Can you tell us if the Senator is still opposed to a ban on assault rifles?"  "Is he in favor of universal background checks?"  "Is the Senator an actual member of the NRA?"  Jason didn't know about any of that, but he'd look into it and let us know.  Well, okey-dokey.

We were all well-mannered and nobody got pissy.  What I really wanted to ask was, "If we gave Rob twice as much money as the NRA does, would he listen to us and do what we say?"  But I refrained.

He gave us his card, I gave him a letter for Portman (maybe I'll post it later), we all shook hands and left.  I couldn't wait to get out of that little hotbox -- had to be at least 80 in there!  We speculated that the over-heated waiting room was a tactic to discourage . . . waiting.

I'd like to think our little chat with Jason will have some impact, make a bit of difference, but I have my doubts.  In any event, it certainly didn't hurt!  If more people do it more often, who knows?

We adjourned to lunch at a little spot on South High called the "Explorer's Club".  Not my usual neck of the woods, but they had very good food.  My crabcake sandwich was delicious  -- a nice little reward for a little bit of civic action.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Why We Really Need All Those Guns

(Sent by a faithful reader -- my bro-in-law -- who recently travelled to Colorado and saw these lovely light fixtures.  He says they're the best use of guns he's seen so far.  I must agree.  Thanks, Bro!)

What?  You still haven't turned all those old firearms sitting around your house into attractive and practical lamps?  Well, get with it.  It's all the rage! 

Republican Technology

Yes, it's more "kickin' 'em while their down", but it made me chuckle.  And besides, they deserve it!

(from this Sunday's New York Times Magazine)




Tuesday, February 19, 2013


(Sent by a faithful reader.  Thanks, faithful reader!)

Sister Sarah was dumped by Fox News, but will once again be a featured speaker at this year's CPAC conference.  So don't throw away all those old Sarah Palin jokes just yet!
Subject: Palinpropism: Urban Word of the Day

February 19: Palinpropism

1. The unintentional use of wrong words: the misuse of a word through confusion with another word that sounds similar, or the creation of a new word in an attempt to sound scholarly or educated.
2. absurd or humorous misuse of words, terms, or phrases especially by confusing terms, words or historical events with others.
3. The act of creating new words out of frustration when one has limited knowledge of a particular event or subject matter.
"'Refudiate,' 'misunderestimate,' 'wee-wee'd up.' English is a living language. Shakespeare liked to coin new words too. Got to celebrate it!'" --a Tweet sent by Sarah Palin in response to being ridiculed for inventing the word "refudiate," proudly mistaking her illiteracy for literary genius, July 18, 2010.
In this example, both refudiate and misunderestimate are examples of palinpropism.


DJesus Uncrossed

It's two minutes of comedy -- just a Saturday Night Live parody, a spoof of Quentin Tarantino's movies "Django Unchained" and "Inglorious Basterds", with a dash of "Pulp Fiction".  Fox's Sean Hannity found it "disgusting and offensive", so you know it's gotta be good: 

(The NBC overlords keep taking this down as a copyright issue.  Watch it if you can.  I'll try to re-post when necessary.  If it doesn't stick, just go to YouTube.)

(This one has poor image quality.  It's undoubtedly 2nd generation -- a video of the original video.  But it does finish with "commentary" from an anonymous Christian dipshit who's so wrong it's funny.)

Monday, February 18, 2013

"Does Lindsey Graham Need An Intervention?"

That's what Joe Scarborough asked today on MSNBC's Morning JoeIn  recent weeks, Graham, Republican senator from South Carolina, has grabbed every possible moment of TV face time and brought truckloads of crazy while doing it.  To wit:

He's got a bug up his ass about Benghazi.  He blew up Susan Rice before she even had a chance. 

He treated the Benghazi hearings like the Spanish Inquisition and said Hilary Clinton "got away with murder."

He held up the Hagel and Brennan confirmations so he could continue to showboat about Benghazi and his "unanswered questions."  (Never mind that one has nothing to do with the other.)

During his clownish turn at the gun hearings, he asserted that semi-automatic weapons with large capacity ammo clips are pretty much required for proper home and self defense.

And in his latest, he says we should kill Obamacare as a means to avoid sequestration.  (Oh, Lindsey!  The sequester forces a number of budget cuts in order to cut the deficit.  The CBO long ago found that Obamacare will, uh, reduce the deficit.  So . . . WTF?)

Graham has had occasional moments of clarity and reason (e.g. on the environment), but in reality he's an orthodox conservative who votes the GOP party line more than 90% of the time, and sounds like Gomer Pyle while doing it.  But that's not good enough for the rednecks in the red state of South Carolina.  Many of them think Lindsey's a wuss, a RINO.

Therefore, Ol' Lindsey's trying to placate the local Tea Baggers and show 'em he can be just as facts-be-damned crazy as they are.  Lately, he's been pretty convincing.  And if he's lucky, his silly suck-up act will prevent a serious primary challenge in 2014.

If you prefer traditional Republican nuts to Tea Party nuts, like Joe Scarborough does, then Graham may need an intervention.  Myself, I don't care for either variety, so I'll leave Lindsey to his own devices and South Carolina to theirs.  Politically, that state is beyond help.  Mark Sanford, the vanishing governor, is making a comeback, for Chrissakes!

But I'm intrigued by the theory that a couple more batshit Tea Baggers, ala Ted Cruz, in Congress might actually benefit the progressive cause by further driving the the GOP into two irreconcilable idiot camps, thereby shining an even brighter light on the equally unattractive Beavis or Butthead sides of the same Republican coin.  Graham unseated by another troglodyte, all to the advantage of Democrats?  Might be a plan.  Or not.

In any event, whatever tiny respect I may once have had for Lindsey Graham is gone.     

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Repeating The Lie

They always repeat the same complaints:  the national debt, budget deficits, fiscal cliffs, sequestration, economic recession, unemployment, kicking the can down the road, too big to fail, bailouts, health care costs, and our supposed spending problem.

Who are they?  Republicans, of course.  And who do they blame for all fiscal problems?  Democrats, of course.  Those terrible "tax-and-spend liberals," it's all their fault.

Well, no, it's not.  That's because for the last ten Congresses going back to 1995, Republicans have been in the majority most of the time.  The GOP has controlled the House for 16 of the last 18 years, and the Senate for 14 of the last 18.

So don't buy the lie!  Their bitch list is a thing of their own making, the residue of their own design.

Republicans would do well to look in the mirror and contemplate the message of Walt Kelly's Pogo

(Content suggested by a faithful reader.  Thank you, faithful reader!)

Alternate Uses Of Weapons

cartoon about use of murder weapons (guns have no other use)
by lunchbreath, www.dailykos.com

The Bare Minimum

President Obama has proposed increasing the federal minimum wage to $9.00 per hour, up from the current $7.25.  Like many states, Ohio has established its own minimum wage slightly above the federal level.  We're $7.85.

I don't know if it'll go to $9 or not, but the sky-is-falling warnings from the right were immediate and predictable.  John Boehner and others recited the age-old Republican dogma:  Increasing the minimum wage makes it harder for small business to hire.  It makes it harder for unskilled workers to acquire skills.  It costs jobs.  Boehner said, "When you raise the price of employment, you get less of it."

(Orange John makes over $225,000 a year, so the price of his employment is pretty steep.  Can we get less of him, please?) 

Some of the right-wing talk-radio gasbags were fixated on the fact that since the federal minimum wage was established in 1938 (at 25 cents per hour), it has been increased 22 times.  Do you hear me?  TWENTY-TWO times!!!!  I guess their point is that 22 times is somehow "enough", that we oughta be done by now, and that a 23rd increase would plunge us into the pit of economic hell.

What a crock!  For the past 75 years, the GOP has been opposed to the very existence of a minimum wage.  In the recent GOP primaries, Mad Michelle Bachmann was still advocating the complete elimination of the minimum wage.  She claimed such a move would "wipe out unemployment completely because we'd be able offer thousands of jobs at whatever level."  Yeah, like the 25-cents-an-hour level.

The minimum wage has never been enough to actually live on.  It's bare-bones subsistence-level pay.  But without such a mandated bare minimum, many employers would be happy to pay less -- much, much less.  Those who today rail against minimum wage hikes are descended from the Scrooges of the past who swore their enterprises would collapse if child labor and the 16-hour work day were outlawed.  And as I recall, the antebellum Southern slaveholders were not real big on any sort of minimum wage either.

So, as a counter-balance to such purely capitalistic instincts, we have labor laws and we have a minimum wage, and as time marches on the minimum wage must be periodically adjusted upward.  It's happened 22 times so far and we've survived just fine.  The sky has not fallen.

Outside of my other job, for the past ten years I've also served as the volunteer manager for our community swimming pool.  We hire 6 to 8 lifeguards each season, with any rookies starting at minimum.  The more experienced guards are paid more.  In my tenure, we've seen three increases in the minimum wage, and it's not really a big deal.  If we need to make pricing adjustments to cover increased costs, labor or other, we do it, maintain our margins and move forward.  The Republican argument that I will hire a new lifeguard at $8 an hour but won't hire one at $9 is just absurd.

If a small increase in the minimum wage truly spells doom for the future of your business, then I'm afraid your business was doomed already.


Saturday, February 16, 2013

Comment To My Ohio Reps, Portman's Reply, A Video He Should Watch

A few days ago, I sent the following comment to the U.S. congressmen who represent me, Rep. Pat Tiberi (R), Sen. Sherrod Brown (D), and Sen. Rob Portman (R):

I am a constituent.  I am strongly in favor of federal bans on military/assault weapons, semi-automatic weapons, and high capacity ammo clips/magazines.  I am strongly in favor of universal background checks for all firearms purchases, and the establishment of a federal registry of all known firearm owners.  I hope you favor these things as well. 

I strongly support the Brady Campaign, Mayors Against Illegal Guns, and Americans For Responsible Solutions (the new Giffords/Kelly advocacy group).  I hope you support them too. 

I am adamantly opposed to the NRA’s dishonest leadership and their lobbying and legislative tactics.  I hope you also oppose the NRA, and I sincerely hope that you will henceforth refuse all contributions from the NRA, financial and other, to your office and to your future campaigns. 

If you accept contributions from the NRA, I cannot support you.   The NRA is political poison.  It’s time to do the right thing.  As Gabby Giffords said, “You must act.  Be bold.  Be courageous.”
Thank you.

I heard back from all three. 

Sen. Brown said that while he is not in favor of a general ban on all firearms, he essentially agrees with me. 

Rep. Tiberi gave me a polite tap dance.  He said the problem is crazy people (not how easily crazy people can get guns).  He said we should enforce existing laws (but avoided any mention of gun show/private sales loopholes).  He acknowledged that half the states don't send mental health records to federal databases as required (but didn't say he was going to do something about that).  He closed by saying "This is a matter I take very seriously."  I wish I could believe him.

Sen. Portman had an unctuous reply that immediately changed the subject from my thoughts on gun control into Robbie's thoughts on Obama's supposed attack on the 2nd Amendment.  Here it is in its entirety, now adorned with my smart-aleck insertions:

Dear Robert, 

Thank you for contacting me to express your views about the President's gun control proposals.  [I wasn't talking about the President's proposals, just my own opinions.]  It is good to hear from you.

As you know, President Obama recently issued 23 executive actions and endorsed gun control legislative initiatives following the terrible tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

I had hoped President Obama would look to address the root causes of senseless acts of violence and work with Congress to develop a comprehensive plan to lessen the likelihood of these kinds of tragic incidents in the future. [Universal background checks and bans on assault weapons and high capacity magazines are not comprehensive enough for you?]   Unfortunately, the President has chosen to act unilaterally wherever he can and focus on new gun bans which I believe would undermine the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens.  [Adam Lanza's law-abiding mom kept a law-abiding paramilitary arsenal at her goddam law-abiding house!  How about the rights of the law-abiding first graders and their law-abiding teachers who were slaughtered with these legal guns?  When do the rights of the innocent trump the 2nd Amendment rights of killers?] 

In response to tragic attacks like the one at Sandy Hook Elementary, I remain committed to ensuring that those who suffer from mental illness, a common thread in these instances, receive proper care, that current gun laws are enforced, and that school safety is enhanced [the President's proposals are at least a start in this direction] as we address the deeper issue of violence in our society.  [OK Robbie, you go ahead and think deep thoughts.  The rest of us will be trying to get high-kill military-grade weapons off our streets and out of our society ASAP.]

Thank you again for taking the time to contact my office. For more information, please visit my website at www.portman.senate.gov . Please keep in touch.

You'll note that Robbie had not a word to say about the NRA.  That's because Robbie ranks 2nd among current Senators in accepting NRA campaign contributions.  Robbie is a tool.  He needs to watch this short video.  Maybe I'll send it to him.


Friday, February 15, 2013

GOP Channels Groucho: "Whatever It is, I'm Against It!"

Whatever it is that President Obama is in favor of -- his Cabinet nominees, sufficient government revenue, social services, gun control, women's rights, gay rights, pre-K education, increasing the minimum wage, bringing a 102 year-old lady to the State of the Union, Michelle's new haircut -- you can be sure the Republican Party is against it.

They oppose every-friggin'-thing at every turn.  It's pathetic.  They are FOR nothing, and they DO nothing.  They are a clot in the artery of history.  They are craven little saboteurs whose sole reason for being is to "defeat" Obama in any way possible, no matter how petty or insignificant.

It's like Obama really enjoys the minestrone at the Congressional cafeteria, but every time he gets a bowl, the GOP takes it away from him:  "No soup for you!"  Soup Nazis.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Boehner at SOTU: "I Am Not Pleased"

For me, the best part of last night's State of the Union address was watching John Boehner's body language as he sat behind President Obama.  The Weeper of the House had obviously been practicing his "grumpy old man" routine.  Throughout the speech, he sat there looking like a dyspeptic hound dog -- couldn't stand, couldn't applaud and, unlike Joe Biden, was just not having a good time.

Afterward, Wonderboy Marco Rubio scorched his windpipe delivering the official GOP response.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

"Illegal Immigrants"

It seems the chances are good we'll soon see some real progress on immigration reform, including eventual citizenship for most of the 11-12 million undocumented "aliens".  That will be a positive step, although some don't see it that way.

When you see these angry old white people of European heritage bitchin' up a storm about illegal immigrants and talking about deportation and electric fences and heavily-armed border enforcement, do you ever wonder what our few remaining Native Americans think about it?

They're probably thinking, "Hey, all you murdering, land-grabbing, treaty-breaking, lying Pale Faces -- we know who the original illegal immigrants are!"

Mr. Nugent Goes To Washington

For tonight's State of the Union address, some members of Congress are bringing victims of gun violence as their "honored guests".  So of course some right-wing idiot (Rep. Steve Stockman, R-Tex) has invited Ted Nugent to be his guest at the SOTU.  Stockman calls Nugent a "patriot".

If Ted Nugent is a patriot, I'm the friggin' Queen of England!  Here's but a small sampling of the warmth, charm and understanding of the Motor City Madman, in his own words:

Obama supporters are "pimps, whores and welfare brats."
Feminists are "fat pigs who don't get it often enough."
What would Ted do with undocumented immigrants?  "I'd like to shoot them dead."
Conservatives should "chop the heads off" liberals.
If Obama wins reelection, said Ted, "I'll either be dead or in jail."

Well, Teddy Boy, I'm sure you've noticed than Obama won.  So what'll it be, dead or jail?  May I pick for you?  Please?

When Is An Apology Not An Apology?

When it's cloaked in the ass-covering, I'm-not-really-sorry qualifier, ". . . if I offended you." 

That's what we got yesterday from Debe Terhar, Tea Bag president of Ohio's State Board of Education.  A couple weeks ago she posted some ignorant gun-nut comments on her Facebook page, one a re-post comparing Obama to Hitler.  For that, she caught a raft of well-deserved shit and calls for her resignation.

Yesterday, she finally came up for air and appeared at the Board's meeting on her future.  Outside the meeting room, protesters again called for her to step down.  (I was invited to join in the booing and hissing, but alas, couldn't be there, except in spirit.)

Inside the room, Debe said she'd be more careful but still insisted that she meant nothing by her post, and said, predictably, "It was never my intention to offend, so to anyone who may have been offended, I apologize."

Smirking a little, don't you think?

Translation:  I said exactly what I intended to say and posted exactly what I intended to post.  It's only those people who disagree with my views who are offended.  So if that's you, Bub, I guess I'm sorry, sort of.  Sorry mostly that I got whipped out for being a dumbass user of social media.  I am not at all sorry for what I actually said, and I'm not sorry for my right-tarded viewpoint which led me to say what I said.  I just sorry I got caught saying it.

Her fellow right-tards rode to her rescue and in a close vote,  Terhar was allowed to keep her job.

She should have been gone.  For the undignified, unjustified, partisan decision to let her stay, I apologize!  I apologize to the rest of America for the backwater bumpkins who are running the show here in Ohio. 


Monday, February 11, 2013

The Next Pope

Big news in the Catholic church -- Pope Benedict is breaking with centuries of papal tradition and is stepping down before he dies.  Retiring before expiring.  Kind of a big whoop-de-doo in Vatican circles.  Who will be the new Pope?

In Buster's decidedly secular opinion, there can be but one choice.  I refer of course to none other than the world-renonwned Father Guido Sarducci. 

Sarducci is an Italian priest living and working in the U.S. as a gossip columnist and rock critic for L'Osservatore Romano.  He's also the creator of the popular "Find the Popes in the Pizza Contest", where the hungry faithful search for pepperoni slices in the image of famous pontiffs.

Some of Father Guido's best-known observations:

On the Last Supper:  "It was-a actually a brunch.  The check-a reveals that-a one guy only had a soft-boiled egg and-a tea, while everyone else-a stuffed themselves.  But when-a the bill was-a paid, it was-a divided equally.  The moral:  In groups, always order the most-a expensive thing."

On the Missing Commandments:  "There were-a actually more than-a ten, but Moses was-a old and-a grumpy, and-a after he broke-a the tablets he could only remember the negative ones -- 'Don't-a do this, don't-a do that.'  The truth is, most-a of them were more like-a advice.  The Twelfth Commandment, for example, was-a 'Whistle while you work.'  People think it's from-a Disney, but Disney stole it from-a God."

On former Vice President Dan Quayle:  "That-a Dan Quayle, he was-a going around the country giving C-students a bad name."

On Sainthood:  "To be made a saint in-a the Catholic church, you have to have-a four miracles.  That's-a the rules, you know.  It's always been that-a.  Four miracles, and-a to prove it.  Well, this-a Mother Seton, they could-a only prove-a three miracles, but the Pope-a, he just waived the fourth one.  Just waived it!  And do you know why?  It's-a because she was American.  It's all-a politics.  We got-a some Italian people, they got-a forty, fifty, sixty miracles to their name.  They can't-a get in just-a 'cause they say there's already too many Italian saints, and this-a woman comes along with-a three lousy miracles.  I understand that-a two of them was-a card tricks."

On Life:  " 'Vita est Lavorum'.  Life is a job."


Friday, February 8, 2013

Ideologue Johnny 2.0

Merriam-Webster defines an ideologue as: an impractical, blindly partisan adherent of a particular sociopolitical program.

Then you find a picture of our own Wonder Guv, John-Boy Kaysuck.

One of the things the Guv touted in his proposed budget was a $1.3 billion increase in in the state's education spending.  Naturally, school administrators were pleased with this news.  The money would be distributed per Kasich's super-secret funding formula. 

Then yesterday the actual distribution figures were released.  Sixty percent of Ohio's school districts, including many of the poorest, would receive no increase in state funding.  Many educators are pissed, and feel that they were blatantly lied to.

When asked if he had actually reviewed any of the data on his school funding scheme, Kasich said, "No, I don't look at those because it's the philosophy that matters."

OK Guv, we get it:  Real-world outcomes are unimportant.  It's only the philosophy that really counts.

His statement is a classic example of ideology in action, and a damn good illustration of why Kasich is a dangerous little SOB.

Ideologue Johnny 1.0

Merriam-Webster defines an ideologue as:  an impractical, blindly partisan adherent of a particular sociopolitical program. 

Then you find a picture of our own Wonder Guv, John-Boy Kaysuck

And if there's one sociopolitical program that wingnuts like him adhere to, it's tax cuts.   Kasich and his merry band of Baggers take it as an article of trickle-down faith that tax cuts are always in order -- the magic cure for any perceived economic ill.

Hence, Kasich's proposed state budget is a study in conservative tax ideology, and in John-Boy's fervent desire to say, "I cut taxes."  So he does.

His budget would cut state individual income tax revenue by $3.1 billion (with the biggest rate drop for the top income bracket).  It would cut state business income tax revenue by $1.2 billion. 

It would cut the state sales tax rate to 5.0%, down from 5.5%.  However, sales tax revenue would actually increase $3.2 billion, because a lengthy list of services and products would now be subject to sales tax:  parking fees, movie tickets, haircuts, laundries, dog grooming, downloaded e-books, and on and on.

It is, in essence, just a shifting of the tax load -- a move away from a progressive income tax and toward a regressive sales tax.  It will impose a larger burden (relative to resources) on lower-income citizens and a smaller one on those with higher incomes.

Adding a 5% sales tax to a whole host of previously untaxed things inevitably raises prices, and often by more than just the 5%.  Will the $13 haircut now be $13.65?  Nah, screw those odd cents.  Make it $15, and it'll all come out in the wash.  Speaking of wash, is the 75-cent load at the coin-op laundry now going to be 79 cents?  How's that gonna work?  It won't, so let's just make it a dollar.

Who can more easily withstand all these little price increases, the rich man or the poor man?

John-Boy's income tax cut has a similar end result:  The rate on a $40,000 taxable income drops from 4.109% to 3.287%, producing a tax savings for that individual of $329.  (Every little bit helps, but not exactly huge.)  The rate on $250,000 of taxable income goes from 5.925% to 4.740%, yielding a $2963 tax savings.  (The guy who needs it the least benefits the most.)

There is not a shred of evidence that this sort of tax "policy" has any positive impact on the economy.  It's just a rich-get-richer shell game, pure ideological flim-flam.