Tagged: Politics

Remember When…

Remember when…

The Pirates were a perennial losing franchise?

Remember when…

Bob Costas’ pretentious Olympian superlatives weren’t pretentious because they were about baseball, something the man truly loves?

Remember when…

I mocked Sarah Palin’s mocking of Obama’s proposed “hopey-change” politics?

Remember when…

Everyone discounted the Cardinals’ playoff hopes with three weeks left in the season?

Remember when…

The GOP wasn’t an absolute joke?

Remember when…

Christopher Nolan’s Batman franchise was the greatest thing that ever happened in comic book film history? (WARNING: Major spoiler alert with that link)

Remember when…

NBC didn’t ruin every single sporting event it broadcasted?*

Remember when…

US American politicians really worked for the people?

Oh, wait.

Remember when…

Clint Hurdle was orange?

And remember when you didn’t hate me ‘cuz I was right?

Peace,

Jeff

*Not including the XFL, which was a brilliant endeavor, even if it was extremely stupid.

We Breed ‘Em Special in the Former Northwest

Having grown up in Michigan, a part of the former Northwest Territory, I know that the people who hail from this region are a special brand.  Unfortunately, special isn’t always a good thing.

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.

-A

Applying Some Common Sense

Baseball has rules against corked bats, pine-tarred balls and drugged up athletes.  Simply put, the idea is that these rules keep the game pure and provide neither side with an overt advantage in the duel between offense and defense.  When a batter goes down on strikes, he can’t claim that he needs a corked bat to counteract the pitcher’s pine-tar aided screw-ball.  Similarly, when a pitcher gets jacked for a three-run homer, he can’t lobby for the aid of pine-tar or some “foreign substance” to even the odds against the batters unnaturally sped up cork-filled bat.  As fans and as a sport, we require equality of equipment.  It’s common sense.

So after this past week’s most recent horrific shooting in Colorado, why have we still not come to the conclusion that we need to apply the same common sense to our gun laws?  Look, I have no problem with licensed hunters owning guns with which they can shoot deer and other sport animals.  The key word here is “licensed,” meaning at least subject to the same sort of procedure we require to operate a vehicle.  There also needs to be some sort of sanity rule applied to what constitutes appropriate equipment.

Let’s face it, guns serve only one purpose and that’s to kill.  You can argue that they also represent a deterrent in that their ability to kill can deter someone from doing something.  But the fact of the matter is that even that ability to deter comes from a gun’s ability to kill.  If you’re hunting, there’s a legitimate reason for you to kill.  If you’re a law-enforcement officer, there’s a reason for you to carry a visible deterrent.  But if you’re a 24-year old graduate student, what possible reason could you have for owning “a military-style semi-automatic rifle?”

This latest incident will bring out the usual hand-wringing from liberals and the usual ignorant denials from the NRA and other gun-rights groups but it’s unlikely that it will provoke any change in our nation’s gun laws.  Eventually the furor will die away until the next time someone decides to shoot up a school or movie theater and we have the same pointless debate all over again.

Here’s an easy way for you as a baseball fan to look at it.  How would you feel about Jose Bautista or Prince Fielder being able to use an aluminum bat in games?  These are guys with a record of mashing long home runs with simple wooden bats and you have to figure it would be madness to give them aluminum bats, right?  So why would you allow students, the mentally ill or even just normal everyday people like us access to infinitely more dangerous weapons?

-A

A Winning Strategy

A couple years ago I was out with some friends and even though it was still early in the night, one of the guys started dancing with a relatively unattractive young lady and making overtures to convince her to come with him and get out of the place.  When I say early, it wasn’t even midnight yet and the place was open for another couple hours.  It didn’t make any sense to me because a bevy of beautiful young ladies were still floating around, getting drunk and and seemingly unattached.  I couldn’t understand what was happening because this guy isn’t bad looking, has an interesting job and should be able to do better.

As soon as possible, I pulled him aside and asked what he was thinking.  He listened to my arguments for a moment and, once I had finished, responded with three words: “Go ugly early.”

In retrospect, he had a point.  At the end of the night, all the pretty girls left and the rest of us were still there, desperately and drunkenly hitting on what was left.  His thought was, why delay the inevitable when you can take care of things early and be assured of some sort of result.  It may not be a winning strategy in terms of quality but it seems to work in terms of quantity.

This is why I’m not all that surprised to see the Presidential race already shaping up to be nasty.  I guess if there’s any surprise, it’s that Obama, Mr. “Hope and Change,” seems to have gone there first and seems to be doing so pretty effectively.

Now, I’m actually of the opinion that Obama’s first term has been relatively successful.  His actions and those of his team prevented the recession from deepening into a depression.  Whether you agree with his politics or not, stepping in to save GM prevented catastrophic job loss at a moment when the economy could have crumbled under the weight of all those jobless people.  However, it’s hard to prove a negative so Obama is instead saddled with the weight of continuing economic sluggishness and jobs numbers that just refuse to grow.

But that’s not the story at this point.  Sure, it’s the summer and that means the undecided voters haven’t really tuned in yet.  But it was also summer when the Bush campaign launched its “Swiftboat” campaign against John Kerry and when people finally started paying attention, that had become part of the narrative.  Obama has managed to “Swiftboat” Romney with the tax return issue and if history serves, the issue will still be front and center come September when voters tune back in.

The story becomes even more interesting if you buy into the theory floated by Businessweek earlier this week.  Romney has adamantly refused to release his 2009 tax returns despite calls by some in his own party to do so.  This “lack of transparence” has damaged Romney’s standing but still he holds firm.  Why?  Well, Businessweek’s hypothesis is, maybe Romney didn’t pay any taxes that year!

It makes sense.  The very wealthy took a bath in the 2008 crash but losing a lot one year often means a huge tax break the following year.  So, if Romney’s fortunes took a dive, it’s natural and perfectly legal that he didn’t pay any taxes the next year.  However, try explaining that to the millions of unemployed out there or the sizable number of voters already paying a higher tax rate than Romney in a normal year.  The American electorate is notoriously immune to nuance.  News of Romney not having to pay taxes in 2009, justified or not, could pretty much lock up re-election for Obama.

So, Team Romney sits tight and continues to get battered from all sides.  Maybe they’re playing a Muhammad Ali rope-a-dope and want to wait until the news cycle is in their favor before releasing what might be completely innocuous tax returns.  Or maybe they’re just going to play it this way all the way through to the end.  All I know is that if Obama does win in November, you can chalk part of it up to my buddy’s strategy.  Go ugly early.

-A

Pelosi’s Inscrutable Boehner

We all know people who are absolutely inscrutable.  You study the face but you have no idea what’s going on behind the eyes, what gears are turning inside the head.  It’s maddening.

That’s why I like Nancy Pelosi and John Boehner.  There is absolutely no doubt what either one of them are thinking:

Pelosi – “Oh my god, I’m so happy I think I might cry!”

Boehner – “I will wait until they become tears of sorrow then lick the salt from your face.”

Maybe that’s why I like baseball as well.  Guys get emotional and even when they’re wearing a game face like “Bulldog” Hershiser, it’s not hard to imagine what they’re thinking.  Kind of like these guys:

Napoli – “C’mon, let’s get this guy…..oh my god, we’re all gonna die!”

Doumit – “Die?  I don’t wanna die!  Wait a minute, where are you going!?”

Oswalt – “Not gonna lie, my balls are tinglin’ a little.”

No inscrutability there.

-A

And Upon Further Review…

In football, instant replay makes sense.  Even with a team of seven officials covering each play, sometimes you just can’t be in the right place at the right time to make the right call when 22 guys are flying around at super-human speeds.  What’s more amazing is how often they get the call right despite those circumstances.  When it’s unclear whether or not they get it right, though, instant replay is there to confirm or overturn the call.  The game goes on.

Reviewing close plays in baseball is a little more contentious.  Generally I’m in favor of the evolution of the game, especially in contrast to my friend, Mr. Lung, who would prefer that all baseball players wear wool uniforms and be issued a chaw of chewing tobacco prior to the playing of the Star Spangled Banner.  But official review is one place where I’m not so sure.

The problem is, baseball is already a slow-paced game.  If you open it up to review, even that flow gets messed up.  Even the limited official review capacity that now exists for home runs seems ridiculous.  Either you make all plays reviewable or none at all.  Honestly, although I’m all for baseball’s future facing development, review is not an area where I think that makes sense.

Review does make sense in the American Democratic system, though.  Last week’s Supreme Court decision on the Affordable Care Act proved that.  More surprisingly, John Roberts showed himself to be a model Chief Justice in his Constitutional application and limited justification in the majority opinion.  For me, it’s telling that although most Republicans are angry that the law was upheld, they’re not angry at Justice Roberts.  In fact, he basically made it clear in his decision that although he may not agree with the policy aspects of the law, that it met the necessary threshold to be held constitutional.

That’s one of the beautiful things about our sometimes maddening and often baffling system of government.  Laws get checked at three points by three different bodies and only after that process runs it course does the law go into effect.  Granted, the application of the same system to baseball would mean that individual games could continue indefinitely but that’s why the choice of arbiter is so important.  The Supreme Court doesn’t hear every single case that comes up through the courts or face challenges to every single law passed by Congress.  It only deals with the game-changers, events that can redefine precedent or application or laws that are unclear.

Football is similar.  Coaches choose when to throw the challenge flag and generally save it for events that are unclear, that could change the complexion of the game or that seem completely erroneous to them.  They don’t always win but they at least have the option to challenge the initial ruling.

That’s one of the big areas where review in baseball fails.  Yes, it’s not awful to review homeruns to make sure they were fair or be absolutely certain that a fan didn’t interfere.  I’m sure there are quite a few Baltimore Orioles fans who wish that review had been in place in the 90’s.  But what about that phantom final out of Armando Gallaraga’s almost perfect game?  If Leyland had been able to challenge the ruling, Gallaraga would have had the mark and we wouldn’t still be talking about it.  But, if you start making plays like that reviewable, it’s not long before you have to start making called strikes, check-swings and everything else reviewable, too.  The fact of the matter is, it just isn’t feasible and if you can’t do it right, you shouldn’t be doing it all.

Here’s how I’d call it.  Review: good for football, great for government but bad for baseball.

-A

People Who Look Like Their Reputations

Some folks have the gift of hiding their flaws.  Then there are the rest of us.

Mitt Romney.  So fresh and so clean.  Such a good speaker.  Smooth to the max.  He’s as politician as politicians come: smarmy, creepy and full of s***.

How is Lindsay Lohan still getting work again?

And of course, in baseball, it doesn’t get any more pathetic then Mario Mendoza.  Not only is his career .215 BA and dismal .507 OPS a benchmark for awful, but just look at the guy.  Awkward.  Awkward.  And more awkward.

I don’t know this for a fact, but I would also be willing to bet Mendoza is a mouth-breather.

Hate me ‘cuz I’m crass, just don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.

Peace,

Jeff

*Programming Note*

Mr. Krause got married.  YES!  HE GOT MARRIED!  So he’s off with his lovely wife, gallivanting the seven seas or something, til next week.  Until he returns, I’ll be driving the RSBS ship, and I admit, I have had a bit too much to drink.