Through years of tradition and arbitrary custom, decisions in the United States are often made by random groups of people whose legitimacy owes itself to nothing except that tradition. Exhibit A, the Electoral College. Exhibit B, the House of Representatives. Exhibit C, the Baseball Writers Association of America.
The first one isn’t going anywhere and except in random cases like the 2000 election, hasn’t actually thwarted the will of the people. Sure, it does give outsized importance to states like Ohio and Florida that really should be sold back to the French and Spanish, respectively, but it doesn’t make me hate myself.
The House of Representatives, on the other hand, is where intelligence and common sense go to die. Take Rep. Paul Broun of Georgia who sits on the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology as an example. Rep. Broun’s membership on a relatively unimportant committee wouldn’t matter too much except for one thing. He believes that “evolution and embryology and Big Bang theory, all that is lies straight from the pit of hell.” Broun also has stated that he believes that the earth is about 9,000 years old. That an idiot of this magnitude could be elected to Congress, and is running unopposed this year as well, is indicative of the collective intelligence of the body (and the American people, unfortunately).
Need more proof? Take the House Republicans’ hearing on Libya that took place last week in which they not only failed to resolve anything but also managed to blow the CIA’s cover in Benghazi in the process. Seriously, this is more appropriate to the plot of a Coen brothers’ movie than it is to the lower house of of our esteemed national legislature.
And finally we come to the Baseball Writers who have the power to hand out post-season awards as well as decide who is elected to the Hall of Fame. Considering that the list of members includes Woody Paige and Buster Olney, I’m not inclined to give much credence to anything they say. The only good thing about having them around is that there’s a good chance they’ll give the AL MVP to a Detroit Tiger for the second consecutive year, despite the strong case that could be made for Mr. Trout. And, at the end of the day, if I had to wish for the unholy death of one group of people, I’d probably give the nod to the House over the sportswriters. That could all change if Miggy doesn’t get the MVP, though. Writers, you have been warned.
Take for instance former Wisconsin Senator Joeseph McCarthy whose last name became synonymous with unfounded witch hunts. I have no doubt that Senator McCarthy cared very much about the United States and I also have no doubt that Communism was a very real threat in the 1950s. However, going around accusing Americans of being Communists with little or no proof turned out to be pretty bad for his career and should serve as an example of how Americans don’t act.
Except that 60 years later we appear to be living the same thing all over again. Much like McCarthy’s allegations of Communist spies in the State Department, the Armed Forces and in the Executive Branch, another representative of the Northwest Territory, Minnesota representative Michele Bachmann, launched spurious claims of Islamist infiltration of the State Department, the Armed Forces and the Executive Branch. And Bachmann’s claims appear to hold about as much water as those of McCarthy.
Now, this should go without saying but people in sensitive positions like that of Huma Abedin, Secretary Clinton’s deputy Chief-of-Staff, are subjected to rigorous background checks that can lead to disqualification because of excessive debt. Don’t you think that someone who’s delving that deep into your background might notice if you had been developing ties with groups like the Muslim Brotherhood? On top of that, although some Muslim Brotherhood affiliated groups are considered terrorist organizations by the US government, as a country we have reopened diplomatic ties with the group so why would it even matter if she did have ties?
Bachmann is no stranger to idiocy and this most recent story only shows what kind of a bullet we dodged when she finally dropped out of the Presidential race. But sadly, she still has a lot of supporters. Add in the fact that an uncomfortably high percentage of the US population still believes that our Evangelical Christian president is a secret Muslim and you can see where this is a problem.
The only positive development in this latest Bachmann debacle is that even people from her own party have finally had to start admitting that she’s out of control. And unlike McCarthy’s four years in the limelight, throwing around allegations like confetti, Bachmann was roundly scolded within a few days. But if there was ever any doubt, I think we can all safely admit now that the former Northwest Territories are still a special place with some very special people.
Whether or not the US Congress came up with a deal to avoid default really doesn’t matter. The issue is a symptom, not the disease itself. The disease is the ideological purity embodied by the Tea Party. Yes, they have some worthwhile ideas and I do think the government should have to pay for the programs it enacts. However, the Tea Party solution of gutting government programs and getting rid of taxes would leave a shell of a country ill-suited to address the challenges of the 21st Century.
Let me go back just a bit here. Since the second world war the US has raised the debt ceiling more than 100 times. However, this time around it became a debate that threatened the economic foundation of the United States. It often helps to get a little objectivity by asking someone outside the situation to take a look and give their viewpoint. Well, how about we turn to our closest friends, the Brits and see what they have to say: “We now have a group of US politicians seeking political purity, who seem to have much in common with the Taliban. They are Tea Party members; and because of blind adherence to smaller government, they seem intent on risking destroying what American political leaders have constructed in more than two centuries of hard, often painful work.”
Now, I understand that the Taliban comparison is probably the new equivalent of Godwin’s Law but there is something to take away from this. When you consider political movements that require ideological purity from their adherents you don’t end up with a list of the most open-minded people on the planet. In fact, the first two that jump to mind are the Taliban and the Wahhabis in Saudi Arabia. That’s not exactly good company.
The Conservative movement in the US under the guise of libertarianism (which it isn’t) or other -isms has begun to embrace more and more of these whacko ideas. A recent exchange on Fox News about volcanoes on the moon involving Bill Nye (yes, the science guy) should help put this in perspective. Watch his face when the global warming question is posed.
Like I said at the beginning, the debt ceiling and the default argument aren’t so important in themselves. What matters much more is the underlying disease from which the tumor grows. Let’s just hope that when 2012 rolls around the Tea Party will have served its purpose and the voters will see fit to relegate them to a historical footnote.
Back in April, if you would have told me that our Democratic president would support a federal resolution that would forgo taxing the über rich while opening the door to make major cuts to programs like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, I would’ve thought that I’d perhaps gotten a bit too tipsy during happy hour.
But I’m as sober as a Mennonite on Christmas.
Might not be too bad of a deal though really. I mean, back in April, reflecting on the season ending injury to Adam Wainwright, I also thought the Cardinals didn’t have much of a chance to get anywhere in the 2011 postseason — that they might not even get there at all. Add Pujols’ early struggles and several untimely injuries to Holliday, Skip, Punto and Berkman and I thought we really were just on borrowed time.
But John Mozeliak went out and made things happen this past week. He sent Colby (and his dad) packing to bring us Edwin Jackson, Scrabble, Octavio Dotel and Corey Patterson, plugging up some bullpen holes while bringing in a surging starter and a journeymen utility man, TLR’s favorite type of player. Then Mo went out and made shortstop better by bringing in a healthy Rafael Furcal.
The Cardinals went out and took care of business.
Now I know my malleable and oft gloomy colleague, Mr. Allen Krause, would like to think, as he put it, that the Cardinals had a “lack of trade deadline imagination”, but let me assure you: he is blind.
And when it comes to imagination, his beloved Tigers are full of it if they think a 3-12 Doug Fister is something to get excited about.
Hate me. Just don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.
Since when have shutdowns become a good idea? The NHL nearly folded after its stoppage and has only begun to recover thanks to Crosby and Ovechkin. Unless Keanu Reeves leads the way, no one wants to see replacement players take the field again in place of the NFL stars. MLB relegated itself to a decade of irrelevance after their last strike. So why does the government think it will work for them?
I understand the difference here. Stoppages and lockouts due to strikes are different than shutdowns due to budget impasses. But they do share some important characteristics, one of the main ones being that its a really good way to piss people off.
To be fair, only one group of people has really clamored for the shutdown. Democrats and Republicans both know that cutting off your nose to spite your face will cost both sides in 2012. However, the Tea Partiers haven’t learned that lesson yet and appear more than happy to shut everything down. What happens then? Well, here’s a partial reckoning.
As I write this, it ain’t over yet. The Congress has until midnight to either pass the spending bill or try to ram through another continuing resolution. They better hope they do. Baseball learned the hard way that the best way to turn off an entire generation of fans was to shut down the game for the season. People already hate Congress. Do they really want to give us more reasons?
Now that we have had some time to reflect on the long awaited senate floor victory in repealing the “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy which banned homosexuals from openly being… themselves while serving in our nation’s military, I have to ask just one, important question:
WHY DID IT TAKE SO FRIGGIN’ LONG?!?!?
Because we are not talking about a fine Scotch that needs to sit in a smoked barrel for 18 years, we’re talking about human beings — human beings who are who they are because they are who they are, just like human beings are White or Black or Asian or Cubs fans because that’s just who they are. The fact that we allowed our government to implement such an anti-liberty policy in an institution meant to protect us and our allies, granting and preserving liberty, of all things, is a goddamn travesty, dear readers!
This is US America. We are supposed to set the bar high. And when it comes to treating our fellow man as we would want to be treated, we are really f***ing bad at it. Yeah, yeah, I know haters g’on hate… but why? What is there to hate? What difference does it make to you where so-and-so puts his thing-a-ma-bob while in the comforts of his bedroom with his lover? Huh? WHAT DIFFERENCE DOES IT MAKE?
Unless you’re ignorant.
And unfortunately, a lot of people are really, really ignorant.
I can only hope that some day, somehow, someway, people wake up to the simple reality that life would be a lot better for ALL OF US if we just learn to treat each other with respect, like we would want to be treated. The golden rule, my friends. The golden rule.
And the golden rule would definitely welcome the current “homosexual political agenda” in the United States, which is simply:
“To be protected against violent crimes driven by bigotry, to be able to get married, to be able to get a job, and it’s to be able to fight for our country.”
—Barney Frank (D-MA)