Tuesday, November 22, 2005

The Middle East and baseball

All this fuss over Senator John Murtha's comments on pulling out of Iraq is nothing more than both sides mugging for the cameras, political style. After Bush's political attack dogs all but called Murtha a terrorist himself, Bush softened a bit and said that Murtha has a fine record of service, but he's just wrong about Iraq. A fine Washington version of good-cop, bad-cop, I think. As for pulling out of Iraq, of course Bush would think Murtha's wrong; Murtha probably doesn't have friends in position to profit from what's going on over there. One of the press conferences said that a quick troop withdrawal would put American lives in danger. Yeah, those Americans working for Bechtel, Halliburton, and all the rest. They're the real reason the troops were sent there in the first place. If Bush would just admit that, he might find that he'd gain just a modicum of respect from the American people, just before the White House came crashing down around him out of sheer inanimate contempt for its main occupant...

Bud Selig, an actual baseball commissioner?

It looks like I may have to take back some of my comments about Bud Selig being only a caretaker commissioner. The new steroids rule isn't something a caretaker would come up with. I'm glad to see that, if the rule is enforced, there won't be any more situations like Steve Howe, who seemed to be in trouble over cocaine or some other drug every other week, only to wind up back in uniform for somebody or other the very next week. (Of course cocaine is NOT a performance-enhancing drug, it's only illegal.) Let's see what they do with the players whose names keep popping up now, like Barry Bonds, who was the subject of a back-page feature articel in the sports section of this past Sunday's New York Daily News.

I still think Selig would look more like a real commissioner, though, if he (or his so-called "blind trust") would just sell the Brewers once and for all. I don't care how "commissionerly" Selig turns out to be, having his old team run by his daughter creates a very real appearance of conflict of interest. Maybe after they finish clearing up the Washington Nationals mess, Selig will finally decide to be a commissioner and not an owner. But will he be free to act without restraints, or will he make real fans fondly remember the days of Giamatti and Vincent? Because if he's restrained by the (other) owners, then Congress should think seriously about investigating baseball's antitrust exemption. One of the conditions for granting the exemption in the first place was that baseball had a strong and independent commissioner. He worked for the owners, but they had to grant him a measure of authority over them and their investments (their teams) in order to keep the exemption. So, though they grumbled when Bowie Kuhn started fining teams for excessive amounts of money changing hands in trades, they went along with it. But when Fay Vincent came along, they did their best to make him uncomfortable. He took the hint and left, and baseball has been rudderless ever since. Losing that exemption and having to answer to some degree of federal oversight would wake up the owners for real. Time will tell...

Pakistan vs. the Gulf Coast

There were reports in the news lately that, while Pakistan receives billions in aid from the US Government, Louisiana is having serious financial problems because of the cost of rebuilding in the wake of hurricanes Katrina and Rita. A few weeks ago, there was a political cartoon in the NY Daily News, showing a road sign somewhere near the southern Mississippi coast, giving directions to "Biloxiraq," "PersianGulfport," and "Bay St. Baghdad." Also pictured were two locals, one saying to the other, "That's one way to get the government's attention."

Isn't it odd that the man who had been famously portrayed as turning his back on the rest of the world to "take care of his own" is quicker to send aid to Indonesia (which didn't really want it) and the Persian Gulf area (which definitely didn't want it) than to his own countrymen? Hotels around the country are telling Louisiana refugees that they have to get out, largely because FEMA has informed the hotels that they won't pay for the refugees' stay past December 1, and yet more and more money and resources are being dropped into the bottomless pit of Iraq and Afghanistan.

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